Satellite Radio XM: Vital Signs
Can astrology help us deal with the pervasive and sometimes overwhelming experience of stress?
Yes, it certainly can!
Stress tops America’s list of leading health problems, ranking number one and soaring. The daily bombardment of challenging conditions, pressures, opportunities, and even imagined change results in varying degrees of chronic worry for most people. It can all add up to just too much.
Although a degree of stress is vital for life, an excessive amount leads to physical illness, mental dysfunction, and separation from our goals and desires. We know we have to manage it, but often we do not know how.
Zipping through the signs at breakneck speed, the inner planet transits don’t last long—an hour, a day, or a little more if stationary or retrograde in motion. Apart from coinciding with passing trends and sometimes “triggering” outer planet transits into action, we tend not to give them much weight. Can the inner planets reflect more than a momentary event or activation? When gauging daily stress loads, they certainly can.
The transits of the inner planets, Sun to Mars, signal fluctuations in our day to day experiences that can link to stress. Through the observation of these fast moving bodies, we can become more aware of our daily stress load and develop management techniques specific to the astrological signatures involved. As stress tops America’s list of prevailing health problems, why not use astrology as a tool to understand and reduce stress levels for ourselves and our clients?
Stress is change—physical, emotional or hypothetical—and whether we perceive the change as a good or bad generally has little effect on the physiological results. Planning a wedding or doing a tandem parachute jump can elicit the same stress response in the body as losing a job, battling illness or getting into an argument. Consider these three major categories of stressors (situations or experiences that cause stress) and the inner planets associated with them.
Sun and Mars link primarily to physical stress, as when fighting
off a cold, allergy or more serious illness. A sedentary life
contributes to the stress load, as does too much physical exertion,
either from overdoing it at the gym or from double shifts at
Stress may be emotional in origin, as when close relationships change. This kind of stress mostly relates to the Moon and Venus. Fights, manipulations, disappointment and let down can effect our emotional stress levels. The exhilaration of new contacts or deepening relationships can also elicit stress. Families expanding, from childbirth to in-laws taking up residence, is as stressful as when the family diminishes from death or offspring striking out on their own.
High levels of stress can arise from hypothetical change, commonly known as worry. Her Mercury is in play, as well as the imaginative Moon. We worry about getting another job if this one falls through. We worry about what will happen if we can not solve problems that may rise in the future. We worry about the past.
Some of this worry involves vicarious concerns. We may worry about our children, a beloved pet, car or sports team. We worry about our government’s actions, or the planet’s resources. The contemplation of all these things can be important and necessary in our daily lives—worrying desperately about things we have little or no control over makes up some of our greatest stress load.
From new furniture to long awaited visitors, from the loss of a home, to the complications of building a new one, stress links to anything that constitutes change. We all find different influences, in different amount, challenging, yet once stressed, the body goes into a specific and measurable reaction.
The Physiology of Stress
confronted with a stressful situation, the body responds in
primitive ways over which we have no control. For milleiumn,
this response allowed us to fight our enemies or flee from
This fight or flight mechanism links to Mars (aggression) and Saturn (fear), both planets ruling the adrenal glands. It provided excellent protection for primitive humankind, although what it does for modern Homo Sapiens is not always so beneficial. Often we experience stress yet are unable to physically fight or run, leaving blood levels of adrenaline dangerously high.
These elevated hormone levels links to heart disease, memory loss, increased abdominal fat, gum disease, respiratory infection, diabetes, depression, anxiety, colds, flu, intestinal track disorders, skin rashes and some forms of cancer.
Most significantly, prolonged stress hormones in the blood suppress the immune response, leaving us open to infectious disease and alter the chemical messages in the brain, effecting mood and outlook. It becomes a vicious circle.
Although the physical response to stress in the body is predictable, not everyone experiences stress from the same things. Some people have a high threshold for stress, where other people’s tolerance is quite low. Up to ten percent of the population feels overwhelmed by daily stress that others handle routinely. To demonstrate this variance, consider how the four elements might react to daily stress.
Fire signs can thrive on excitement, risk and danger. They don’t often mind being kept on the edge. This element has a high tolerance for stress and may not respond negatively to loads that would cripple others. An accent on fire signs in the natal chart makes challenge and conflict a welcome stimulation.
Earth signs tend to abhor the stress of change, especially when sudden and unexpected. There is a desire to experience life through the senses, meeting events in steady, predictable and enduring ways. An emphasis of earth in the natal chart makes project planning, productivity and tangible results a must.
Air signs tend to handle moderate levels of stress and the pressure of deadlines. The more there is to do, the more they get done. An accent on air in the natal chart may welcome high-tension, social environments that require quick and varied intellectual responses.
Water signs take on the nuance and character of their environment, having semi-permeable boundaries. Their personal stress levels can reflect the energy of those around them. An emphasis of water in the natal chart often indicates someone who can cope with emotional turbulence and the inner needs and demands of others.
Although the ideal amount varies from person to person, stress is necessary for creativity, stimulation and production. Looking at the elemental balance in the natal chart is the first step in gaining a sense of healthy levels of daily stress for each individual. Listing the planets, luminaries, nodes and Ascendant by element and placing them in order—fire, earth, air, water—quickly highlights any emphasis .
Noting the decanates can be helpful too. Decans divide each sign into three lots of 10 degrees. The first decan takes on the full nature of the sign itself. The second decan takes on qualities of the next sign in the same element and the third takes on the subsequent sign of its element. The following table shows the decanates and their rulers at a glance.
Sara has 6 planets or points in air, 5 in fire, 2 in water and 1 in earth. True to the emphasis in air and fire, she thrives on the exhilaration of demand, dead-lines, presentations and performance. Sara is a woman who requires an abundance of stress to keep her life entertaining.
Extremely active, she is an equestrian who trains in martial arts and weights. Aggressive, eccentric, dynamic and brilliant, she studies music, art and the occult. A performing artist, stage manager, tarot reader and teacher, she leads an extremely dynamic life, relishing in each and every venture and hazard. Her relationships are outlandish. Her nemesis is boredom, isolation and the banal.
As the fire element prompts, she burns off excess adrenaline at the gym, on horseback or repelling down cliffs. She deals with emotional and relationship issues by talking things out with close friends, (air), or sometimes by creating major dramatic upheavals, (chart ruler Mars in water in the 8th,). If she can’t talk or fight her way out of a stressful situation, she retreats (both air and fire need space) disappearing into an Aquarian ivory tower of ideals, i.e. her tee pee. Most of the time, she finds resolution in up front, assertive, rational communications or actions. Murky emotions make her squirm.
The decanates of the signs offer added information. The North Lunar Node, Chiron, and Ascendant are all in the first decan of Aries, highlighting raw, assertive punch. With ruling Mars in Scorpio, she really needs to be the boss, in control. Subservience equates with great stress.
Venus in the Sun ruled Leo decan of Aries adds heart, conviviality and a drive for distinction through personal relationships and values. She needs to feel special! Saturn is in the last decan of Aries, taking on Jupiter’s restless impulse towards exploration and meaning. Stress ensues if Sara feels she isn’t getting somewhere.
Mercury is in the first decan of Aquarius, giving a strong, willful, eccentric, if not sometimes fixed, mind. The sun is in the Mercury ruled Gemini decan, adding flexibility, friendliness and the need to multi-task. The Moon falls into the Venus ruled Libra decan, giving Sara an innate artistic sense and refinement. To feel nurtured, she needs the words and the social gestures.
Based on elemental assessment, excessive stress for Sara includes lack of command, challenge, action and raw energy (fire), inability to form ideals, dialog with like minded others, objectify (air) and too much emotional exposure or demand and too little intensity (chart ruler in water). The scanty earth emphasis hints that Sara would find it uncomfortable being committed to routine, pragmatic tasks. Avoiding the traditional, she doesn’t wait patiently or punch industrial clocks.
The Capricorn Midheaven, however, implies potent ambition and solid public image. With Mars, the chart ruler, in the Moon ruled decan of Scorpio, she wants it all, immediately. Sara is a woman who can make things happen, on many levels, when given plenty of materials to work with and room to move.
Although living obsessively out of the ephemeris can create stress on its own and is not recommended, keeping a periodic eye on the inner planet transits can help track the daily bombardment of activities and experiences that constantly challenge us. The idea is to determine our optimal level of stress and see if the daily pressure is under, over or just right.
Transiting conjunction and opposition aspects are generally the most potent for this study, especially when contacting personal planets, points and angles. Other aspects, notably the parallel and those in multiples of 45?, show significant too. The 135? sesquiquadrate can be abrasive, crucial and activating. Squares are impelling and/or obstructing, semi-squares milder yet also agitating. The inconjuncts, 150? quincunx and 30? semi-sextile, can be moderately strong in a contrary, goading way.
and trines are often so smooth they can go unnoticed, but not
always. The impact from any transit can depend on natal aspects
to the target planet.
The Sun through the ninth can awaken the desire for explorative travel, mental, physical or spiritual. Stress here occurs if we don’t expand our horizons during this time.
Where the Moon is by transit is where things change in little ways, including domestic needs, emotional perceptions, bonded relationships, and experiences with women, children, nature or pets. The Moon awakens the unconscious, the inner female and the desire to nurture, or be nurtured.
When we see an upcoming lunar transit, we know that the planet(s) and house effected represents the area of life brought into focus. It shows were we may meet emotional extremes that could evoke habit patterns from the past. Depending on the contact, it might be where we feel exhilaration, isolation, connection or loneliness.
Solar stress effects levels of vitality, the career or self-expression and our drive to be outstanding. It can represent challenging situations from external circumstances. It can be clashes or congruity with authority figures, men, and the creative process in general. The house stirred designates the environment or people that push us into awareness or confrontation.
The Sun is spirit and this energy longs to shine forth, doing, achieving and adventuring. Transits from the Sun indicate prominence, reward and recognition. They can also bring conflicts of will, character and life direction. All these encounters imply stress, pushing and goading us to become everything we can possibly be.
Mercury transits represent direct, short, sharp and snappy contacts. The focus is on communication, thoughts, daily activities, commerce and crossroads. Solution oriented, animator of the link between mind-body-spirit, bane of boredom and listless response, Mercury taunts, teases, beckons, entices, tricks and synchronizes us into more authentic perceptions of life.
Mercury carries an auxiliary bag of tricks as well, manifesting commonly during the retrograde period where the planet appears to travel backwards in space. This infamous Mercury retrograde occurs three to four times a year, lasting for about twenty-two days. Depending on the contacts made, and the element Mercury occupies, this time heralds an increased awareness of the smooth, or not so smooth, functioning of daily life and requires us to reflect on it. Direct or retrograde, Mercury transits tend to stir things up.
Venus, named for the goddess of love, has much to do with our values—what do we find pleasing, sensual and aesthetically beautiful? The answer is like art, it differs for each of us based on our taste, appraisal and mood. Venus is also associated with personal, socially significant, relationships. The people we call intimates, the foods we like to eat, what we wear and how we decorate all link back to Venus—what do we find delightful, engaging, charmed?
Although Venus transits are short lived and generally pleasant in nature, they can still herald addition stress. Gatherings with friends and romantic interludes can mean late nights, rich food, strong drink and lose of sleep. Artistic outpourings can keep us up late at the computer, studio or library, skipping meals, exercise programs or basic relaxation. Fluctuations in finances, whether through a loan, heavy spending or recent boon, can cause worry and strain as well.
Mars is raw, animated energy. It represents the force that gets us out of bed in the morning, staking claims, winning battles and achieving whatever it is we want. Vital in our ability to move through each day, the transits of this planet can be used as a physical energy gauge, suggesting just how much dynamic force we need to wield and where. As Mars links to accidents, burns, cuts, and violent outbursts, this transit can also be a warning to watch out for impulsive, rash behavior.
Most of the problematic episodes of transiting Mars result from frustrated energy, when we can’t get our way, be assertive or initiate desires. Mars wants an outlet and often the form of expression needs to be physical. With links to the flight/fight response, Mars transits equate directly with increased adrenal activity. The best way to assimilate the stress hormones in the blood stream before they cause damage is to burn them up—fight or flee. This doesn’t have to include a boxing match or a marathon sprint. It does mean working the body though consistent, appropriate exercise.
How do we know if there is too much stress in our daily lives? If one or more of these symptoms persist, stress may be the culprit.
Reducing Daily Stress
What Wont Work
The following is a short list of quick fix stress relief that actually adds to the stress load instead of reducing it:
me ups like coffee, tea, cola drinks, sugar, alcohol and drugs
increase the stress load, physically and mentally.
The signs of the zodiac can alert us to authentic needs and modes of stress reduction. We each have all twelve signs in our charts, although some will be emphasized more than others. Looking at the natal signs of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant and Ascendant ruler(s) offers a good starting point.
A person with Sun in Sagittarius may find active sport or exercise an authentic stress relief where someone with Sun in Taurus may want a massage or a fine meal to unwind.
Natal planets and points in Aries need to express through assertion and action. Stress accumulates when physical restrictions are imposed or there is a lack of self-authority and clear direction. Effective stress relief includes defining goals, regular exercise, and developing areas of life where authority is possible.
Natal planets and points in Taurus need to express tactile. Stress can accumulate when there is physical isolation, deprivation of intimacy or lack of comfort and security in the environment. Stress relief may come from healthy physical contact, bodywork, regular meals, intimacy, and good financial planning
Natal planets and points in Gemini need to express through communication and multitasking. Stress builds up when there is no one to talk to, too little to do, or no way to disseminate ideas. Stress relief comes with the adjustment of activity levels, new projects, cultivating friends, study, and varied types of playful exercise.
Natal planets and points in Cancer need to express through emotional bonds. Stress can arise from discordant surroundings, moving house, loss of nourishing family ties, minimal creative and emotional outlets and financial insecurity. Stress reduction includes building self-nourishment, creativity, domestic security and emotional ties.
Natal planets and points in Leo need acknowledgement, distinction, and an audience. Stress can arise from situations of restricted authority, humiliation or insignificance. Anything that adds luster and specialty will help reduce stress, as will exercise, playful joint activities, romance and creative or dramatic self-expression.
Natal planets and points in Virgo need to categorize, refine, plan and examine. Stress can arise from emotional or environmental chaos, inactivity and lack of order or meaningful tasks. They need to feel their work reflects a valid contribution, great or small. Control over diet, communication and the day to day environment is critical.
Natal planets and points in Libra need to harmonize, share, beautify and relate socially. Stress can arise from imbalance, injustice, harsh environments, social isolation and lack of image control. A stressed Libra needs to talk things out, sharing feelings and experiences with a caring other. Wanting to please, trouble builds if they never say No.
Natal planets and points in Scorpio need to interact intensely, get behind the scenes and live on the edge. Stress can occur when life is too sedate or lacking in emotional intimacy. Some risk or danger can be nourishing for Scorpio, as is fortifying personal relationships and allowing time and space for passionate expression.
Natal planets and points in Sagittarius need to explore, find meaning, direct others and adventure. Stress can arise when life is too confining and predictable. There is a strong need for social contact and a longing to lead the group. Physical exercise in natural outdoor settings is beneficial, as is spontaneity. Goals and diversity appeal.
Natal planets and points in Capricorn need self-authority, structure, achievement and results. Stress augments when this sign has little or no control, security, plans or power. Complete social isolation is not healthy. Self-sufficiency, planning, and wise time management reduces stress, as does exercise that stills, strengthens and refreshes.
Natal planets and points in Aquarius need stimulation, challenge, knowledge and freedom. Stress can arise when life is banal, restrictive, subdued, or routine. Linking with like minded others, making sudden decisions and daring to be different can reduce stress. Exercise is vital as mental focus causes this sign to forget the needs of the body.
Natal planets and points in Pisces need to imagine, commune, restore and escape. Stress builds when they ignore physical needs, lack emotional bonds, have pressure to perform or no visible way to create and/or escape. Pisces thrives on an active and imaginative inner world where they can retreat to regain balance.
This example looks at the elemental balance and inner planet transits of a woman called Lea. She leads a busy, often hectic, daily life, maintaining a convoluted schedule of activities and deadlines. Sometimes she copes well with stress, taking time out for deep breaths, yoga, nutritious food, supportive relationships, plenty of water and rest. Other time, she does not, letting herself get into a nervous spin of mental agitation!
To assess this chart for ideal stress load and tolerance, consider the elemental balance. The emphasis in air gives her a propensity towards multitasking, social energy and bountiful communication. The Sun and Saturn fall into the Venus ruled decanate of Libra, highlighting her sensual, artistic, social and attracting nature. She definitely doesn’t like to do things alone!
The Ascendant, Moon and Neptune are in the Saturn/Uranus ruled decanate, suggesting she has issues with routine, thinks big (and sometimes dogmatic) and thrives on excitement, stimulation and surprise, when she feels in control!
In terms of stress, Lea needs social communication and a lot of activity to keep her challenged and inspired. Interestingly, her chart ruler, and final dispositor , is Mercury, found in earthy Virgo. Strong in its own sign and natural third house, this position can add some grounding, although Virgo often copes with stress in obsessive ways. The Venus ruled decanate gives a less high strung, compulsive nature, though the need for stimulating, creative outlets remains strong. There can be a great deal of nervous energy! She has to talk.
The Aries Decan of fire is highlighted with Jupiter, Pluto and Mars found there. inner conflict arises between her need for social grace and nicety and the raw, impulsive drive for independence. She is not unlike a deceptively quiescent volcano at times.
The paucity of water implies an uncomfortable aversion to excessive emotional demand, intensity or need from others. She wants to please, but forget about fusion! The sticky world of cloying feelings puts her right on edge.
Listed here are the rapid transits for a two day period . The outer planet transit are, of course, always significant, implying longer-term changes and challenges. For this example, only the inner transits appear, concentrating on stress of a daily nature.
During this time, Lea planed an excursion by car to a town 500km away. The purpose was practical, she had to get a computer out of a storage locker to sell, and social, she wanted to catch up with friends and sort out a lingering romantic involvement. She was also minding her son’s large breed Rottweiler cross, who would be traveling with her.
As the transiting Sun had just passed over all her Libra planets, trine her Gemini Ascendant, her spirits were high, optimism strong. It would be a fun, profitable trip!
As the journey began, transiting Moon in Aquarius was moving through the eighth house, bringing the theme of surprise and excitement in the sphere of shared resources, other people’s money, deep encounters and intimacy. This Moon awakened much for Lea, making opposition and sextile to her natal fire planets and trine to the air, warning of unexpected, dynamic encounters of an electric, emotive nature.
As Lea was packing the car, about to call the dog, her electrician arrived, blocking the driveway. She had not expected him until later in the week. While she showed him the problem with her internet phone line, the dog ran off to the beach and, unknown to her at the time, ate a large portion of decayed bio-matter. The interruption lasted for over an hour.
pressured now and ruing late, Lea could have taken control
by ringing friends and appointments, informing of her delay.
Instead, she rushed about to make up time while having another
cup of coffee. Finally, the electrician left, the dog returned
and she was off.
She was not long on the road before realizing her mobile phone had no charge and the car, due for a service, was making funny noises. The dog also was making funny noises. Pulling over to stop as transiting Moon opposed her sixth house ruler Pluto, the dog jumped out and proceeded to exhibit an extreme case of gastrointestinal flux. While her car was looked at by the service station attendant, she gave the dog some water and had another coffee. There after, she had to stop once ever 20 minutes, for the dog. Now she was really ruing late.
Once at her destination, she dropped the sick dog at the vet’s then proceeded to her first appointment—meeting a friend who owed her money. Being so late, she had to track him down. With transiting Mars just over her chart ruler Mercury, the encounter degenerated into a heated argument when it became clear he had no resources to pay her back. As transiting Moon opposed her Mars/Pluto conjunction (in the Mars ruled decan of Leo), she seethed. The friend was apparently terrified at the rage just under the smooth surface, yet still unable to pay.
Upset and irritated, Lea raced off to her next destination. Mars transits function best through action or release of some kind, yet Lea remained seated, driving to the storage locker to retrieve the computer, tension building.
Unfortunately, as transiting Mercury on natal Saturn might warn, she had inadvertently left her storage locker keys on the kitchen counter at home! Two hours later, after chasing down the owner of the locker, she had the computer, and was on the way to her next destination. Late, late late! That transaction went well, except the buyer did not have all the money and Lea would have to return the next day to collect the balance.
The day’s ordeal ended finally with a dinner gathering of friends. At least that should be fun! However, at a declination of -23?, transiting Venus was now contra parallel her Ascendant at +23? 09` and natal Uranus at +23? 05`. Although it was her first balanced, delicious meal of the day—surprise—someone had thought (or not thought) to invite along her ex-husband’s new love interest to the gathering. They were seated directly across from each other! Lea released some tension through conversation and connection with friends, although she remained, understandably, somewhat strained.
The following morning, the Moon moved into Lea’s ninth house in Pisces and opposed her natal Venus. She then met with her male friend in the hopes of coming to some relationship resolution. It was an on-off, on-off affair and she couldn’t decide what to do about it. With the Pisces/9th house emphasis, it was a perfect time to take a long, soothing walk on the beach to talk things out. Instead they drove to a crowded café and had double shot coffees and cake.
Retrospectively, it would also have been best for her to leave her now fully charged mobile phone switched off. As transiting Mercury made an exact conjunction to natal Saturn opposite Jupiter/MC square Uranus, she found herself deep in conversation with her friend. Just as he was pushing to take their relationship to the next level, she received an overseas call from a former lover who, out of the blue, wanted to try again. Juggling the two conversations, they both degenerated rapidly, resolution of either far from sight. Her male friend left the table in a huff and drove away as the foreign friend hung up, exasperated.
Alone, emotionally and physically exhausted, tense and strained, this would have been a perfect time to have a massage and a healthy meal before the long drive home. Instead, she ordered one more coffee and a sweet pastry, collected the sedated dog, (paying the large vet bill with most of the delayed computer money), and headed back up the coast.
Arriving home just on midnight, she found three telephone messages waiting. The first was from the office, requesting she forgo her normal day off and be at work in the morning. The next was from the person who bought the computer, saying it kept crashing and to please call immediately. The third was from the male friend who left the café, asking her also to ring immediately to sort things out once and for all.
Being a sensible woman ultimately, as the transiting Moon moved to trine her natal Uranus in the first, Lea finally called her astrologer and close friend. At that point, I suggested she unplug the phone, give the dog his pill, make an omelet and a cup of relaxing herbal tea for herself then take a hot bath. She could go to and early yoga class in the morning before work, get her son to call about the computer problem and ring back the man when she had time to reflect. No Pressure. Of course, the next day did not go quite as planned either, though she followed the suggestions and was able to cope more effectively with her next set of challenges.
Stress is everywhere, often unavoidable, and although some amount of stress is necessary for productivity and the creative process, too much is linked to numerous leading health problems. Using astrology to detect and anticipate change can help us plan our stress management.
The elemental and decanate emphasis in the natal chart can portray our natural approach to confrontation and change, while the inner planet transits reflect current susceptibility to daily stress loads. The natal signs give valuable suggestions on how to work with the inevitable bombardment of these predictable pressures. Health awareness then increases, leading to a stronger and more authentic life.
Astrology & Health by Kim Falconer
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