THE POLITICS OF RELATIONSHIP
By Astrologer Bob Makransky
every relationship there is a power equation: someone has more
control than the other person. The power in a relationship at any given
moment resides in the hands of that one of the partners who has the
least stake in the continuance of the relationship. Typically, therefore,
the power equation in a relationship will teeter-totter back and forth
over time (and over different lifetimes) - now this person, now that
one, being the one presently calling the shots.
no astrological way of determining who is on first in a relationship
at any given moment. What horoscopes do reveal, however, is how the
individual partners wield the power when it teeters their way; and this
is shown primarily by the planet Venus.
Where Mercury is the planet
of mind, Venus is the planet of desire. Desire is always couched
in terms of power - the balance of power between an individual and
his or her environment. To want is to cede power to whomever or whatever
can satisfy that want.
individual's satisfaction is reckoned in terms of the value of what
he or she possesses. In the first instance this means the body, its
physical beauty or usefulness in work. Anything of measurable value
is symbolized by Venus - it is the impulse to score points for the
Where self-consciousness (mind, or Mercury) has no measure,
self-worth always has a measure. The coin of meaning in the individual
case can be Mommy's love, money, social success, sex, heaven; or it
can be merely the sense of worth that comes from all the patient suffering
undergone in a lifetime. But there must always be something to
show for it all in the end - some little blue ribbon or other, some
measure of control over the environment, some sense of personal power
and effectiveness that translates into self-worth. Venus symbolizes
both the native's manner of adapting himself or herself to the environment,
and also the concomitant adaptation of the environment to the native
- the measure of his or her satisfaction and success (worth).
contrast to Mercury (mind), Venus (desire) shows a person's dark or hidden
side. People readily communicate what's on their minds, but it takes
deeper intimacy before they reveal what they're really after. Too, most
people know their own minds; and their minds are made up, or they can
change their minds. However, they often don't really know what they
want out of life; or how to go about getting it; or why it is that their
efforts haven't been rewarded.
Where mind is expressed as an attitude,
desire is expressed as a yearning. It is more symbolic in nature
than mind, and it reveals itself to awareness not so much in conscious
thoughts as in the imagery of fantasies and dreams. For example,
in our fantasy conversations, mind is the logical train of our argument,
and desire is the longing for whatever response we hope to elicit from
the imaginary interlocutor with whom we are conversing or interacting.1
where mind is concerned with superficial order - rationalizing, filing,
and sorting - desire is concerned with power - weighing, maneuvering,
and manipulating. Where Mercury presents himself, Venus offers
herself, but with the clear intent of subduing that which cannot be
seduced. With Venus we're talking about people's strategies of control,
manipulation, and avoidance of intimacy (loss of control).
Venus is oriental - that is to say, a morning star, when she rises
before the Sun in the east - the desire nature is said to be possessive;
and when Venus is occidental - when she is an evening star, setting
after the Sun in the west - the desire nature is said to be dispassionate.
Just as eager mind (oriental) exhibits the Gemini side of Mercury and
certain mind (occidental) exhibits the Virgo side of Mercury, so too
does possessive desire exhibit the Taurus side of Venus and dispassionate
desire exhibit the Libra side of Venus.2
desire seeks a sense of owning and being owned, and is primarily concerned
with alliances and matters of community belonging. Dispassionate desire
seeks a sense of personal privilege and prerogative, and is primarily
concerned with preserving individual liberty against encroachment.
tenor of the times for the past several centuries has been a gradual
shift away from possessiveness and towards dispassion - at least in
the human economy. For example, the gradual shift from feudalism
to democracy in political, social, religious, and cultural institutions
throughout the world is a shift from a possessive to a dispassionate
perspective on power relationships.
The institution of marriage, which
in its broad outlines has been fundamentally possessive in nature, has
been undergoing severe dislocations of redefinition in the past century,
and has not yet stabilized itself in a recognizable pattern, except
that it is evidently becoming more dispassionate.
This has entailed,
for example, some diminution of emphasis in the popular mind on marriage
for romantic love or pecuniary advantage (which are possessive ideals)
and has given more emphasis to the idea of marriage as therapy or a
creative collaboration between individuals (dispassionate ideals).
is not to reject or endorse either possessiveness or dispassion:
the former is manipulative but warm and gay; the latter is just but
cool and somber. However, that half of the population which is
dispassionate (those born with Venus placed later in the zodiac than
the Sun) are more in tune with the times, because the times seem to
differences between the possessive and dispassionate Venus types show
up most clearly in each one's expectations of marriage. Possessive
types are interested in commitment to relationship as an end in itself,
to which all else is subordinate; hence, they are less interested in
the question of whether or not there is a sharing of philosophies, hobbies,
Possessive types bring to marriage expectations
of mutual self-sacrifice - especially by the other person; fidelity,
and the expectation that marriage is above all else a task, which should
entail a common purpose, as opposed to mere common interests.
The wedding ring is a possessive invention: a pledge of undying
constancy; a sign of ownership more humane than a brand.
the "loyalty" on which these types pride themselves is not
so much to the people themselves as to their images of them; and when
the image runs out, they can turn on people with a cry of betrayal.
Their warmth can turn in a trice to cold severity. Other people
can sense this, which is why they tend to distrust the motives of possessive
types in spite of how noble they believe themselves to be.
the dispassionate natives are afraid of consciously acknowledging hurt,
the possessive types use their hurt as a fuel to fire resentment. Their
security lies in their pride, in their fidelity to their own images;
thus, they anchor their emotional stability to the bedrock of their
fantasies - to whether this or that illusion is being actualized in
reality. They unabashedly relate to other people in terms of the service
they might render or the use to which they might be put; although they
are quite willing to serve others in turn. When all is said and done,
they are at least willing to trust other people to some extent.
types, on the other hand, bring to marriage expectations of mutual self-sufficiency,
little diminution of individual choice for the sake of the relationship
- i.e., the expectation that marriage is, above all else, a friendship
and should entail nothing more than benevolent interest and good faith.
Marriage is viewed as a pooling of common interests insofar as such
interests can be shared, with only a generalized feeling of goodwill
and well-wishing beyond this point. To these natives, there is a relationship
only to the extent that there is a commonality of interests.
dispassionate types are friendly and democratic; they draw no distinctions
between people, but are equally open, or closed, to strangers and spouse
alike. When they are interested in someone, they can be genuinely
solicitous and sympathetic listeners; but when they are not especially
interested in someone they can be brusque to the point of rudeness.
When they give their attention, they do so wholeheartedly: they stop
everything they're doing to help. But most of the time they are too
busy for people (unless other horoscope factors intervene – e.g.,
Aquarius emphasis). Their reactions to people are more a function of
the mood they're in at the moment than what they expect to get from
the people. They always maintain a reserve and privacy that they allow
no one to breach. They prefer relationships with a minimum of
clinging, self-adjustment, or inconvenience. Where people happen
to meet, they meet; and where they don't, they go their separate ways.
Within a relationship they feel a strong need for psychological elbow
room, some way of distancing themselves through personal activity.
They must have a life of their own. They will never permit any
relationship to become the centerpiece of their existence, nor permit
themselves to critically depend upon anyone if they can help it.
The wedding ring is a dispassionate invention - something the woman
can sell after the divorce.
natives will not commit themselves emotionally to any situation or relationship
over which they do not exercise decisive control, so they find it difficult
to fully appreciate just how emotionally dependent on other people they
actually are. They are impersonal and impassive, quite simply unwilling
to allow themselves to be hurt. And when they are hurt, they make
a conscious decision to slough it off, to ignore it, and then to turn
their attention to their other affairs.
Their security lies in maintaining
an unobstructed exit, thus emulating the ostrich in strategy and effectiveness.
They try to gloss over conflicts and to accentuate the positive.
As a result they never really know what their true feelings are, since
they refuse to acknowledge their emotional dependencies. They
go out of their way to please, to placate, as long as no real sacrifice
is required of them. They are quite capable of maintaining a pleasant
front while nursing a deep resentment. But at least they are free of
the vengeful "I told you so" mentality of the possessive types;
they let bygones be bygones, and try to maintain a hopeful, positive,
Venus wants to possess and be possessed - to merge individual identities
and surrender individual initiative in order to create something greater;
whereas Occidental Venus prefers a free, easy, laissez faire relationship
that serves merely as a springboard or a base of support from which
dispassionate types, the idea of commitment to a relationship as an
end in itself seems quite foreign and bizarre, and these natives tend
to view possessive types as clingy, overbearing, and a bring-down.
Possessive natives, on the other hand, regard the idea of a community
of interests as quite superficial, and these natives see dispassionate
types as cold, aloof, and selfish.
might suppose, therefore, that marriage would be more likely to succeed
between natives of the same type: both possessive or both dispassionate.
In a "mixed" marriage the individual partners soon discover
that they're not going to get what they want from each other, nor is
the other person going to be satisfied with what they have to offer.
The respective partners have contradictory expectations of marriage.
In the politics of relationship, the fact that the power in a relationship
resides in the hands of the party who has the least stake usually gives
the dispassionate party an edge in the normal course of things; but
possessive types have a way of upsetting the apple cart when they feel
they've been dispossessed. In yin-yang fashion, at the bottom
of the dispassionate psyche there lurks an unrecognized possessiveness,
a dependency usually unacknowledged until the relationship terminates
(or threatens to terminate). And at the bottom of the possessive
psyche there lies an unrecognized dispassion - a cold, brusque, utilitarian
independence to which the native resorts when he or she is blocked.
between two Venus oriental natives or between two Venus occidental natives
is in some ways easier than a mixed marriage, because then the partners
possess a like spirit of cooperation and can take the same assumptions
about marriage for granted: they at least share the same basic map of
marriage. However this is no guarantee of success because even
in this case one usually finds the other partner reading the map upside
down. Even though their basic expectations of marriage may be
in accord, this does not mean that the common interests that bring two
dispassionate natives together at the beginning will be enough to sustain
them through the years; nor does it mean that the total union, which
the two possessive natives seek will be harmonious in all its specific
universal struggle of marriage is the slow and excruciating acceptance
of the fact that this person who stands before you doesn't fit the image
that you had of them; nor will they satisfy the needs you hoped they
would. A marriage between two natives of the same phase is as
likely to underscore respective insecurities as it is to address respective
needs. On the other hand, mixed marriages have greater potential
for growth - if the initial divisiveness can be overcome - because
each partner is challenged to defer to the other, to give up something
of his or her self (which when all is said and done limits one's scope),
to find happiness in a situation that he or she cannot fundamentally
control. In other words, mixed marriages require and teach greater trust.
we are going to manipulate other people and exploit them for our own
ends - and everyone is doing this all the time with everyone else
(this is what the action of the planet Venus is all about) - there
is no point in being shameless and pretending that we aren't doing this.
We should try to be skillful in our machinations. This means appreciating
other people and what they do for us (also the action of Venus), being
able to see things from their point of view and not taking them for
granted. We should be gentle and kind to them, instead of just
grabbing what we want from them and then tossing them aside.
possessiveness and dispassion can be strategies for avoidance of intimacy:
possessiveness a strategy of control and dispassion a strategy of escape.
Both can become strategies of self-protection, refusal to take responsibility
for there being a relationship, and thus both can be wrong. The
right strategy is to be willing to make a total commitment (as the possessive
types do), while also maintaining one's own individuality (as the dispassionate
is avoidance of intimacy. The dispassionate types aim for control in
a day-to-day sense, whereas the possessive types seek long-term control;
thus dispassion and possessiveness can be viewed as natural divisions
of labor in the economy of marriage. It's up to the dispassionate
types to keep things on an even keel - to keep things light and in
perspective; and it's up to the possessive types to keep things grounded
and take a long-term view. Then the types can work in collaboration
instead of competition.
1. "Dreams'" contents are
symbolic and thus have more than one meaning. The symbols point in different
directions from those we apprehend with the conscious mind; and therefore
they relate to something either unconscious or at least not entirely
conscious." C.G. Jung, Man and His Symbols [New York: Dell
Publishing, 1972, page 80]. It's not that symbols have more than
one meaning - a symbol has but one meaning, but different rational interpretations
of it are possible. A symbol is how desire reveals itself to mind -
symbols are to desire what thoughts are to mind: they mean what they
mean, but the manifoldness arises when we try to analyze, to use mind
/ thought to try to encompass desire / feeling. Hunger is just hunger;
but a fantasy or dream of eating is a symbol for the desire and thus
2. See my book Thought Forms
for a complete discussion of the Mercury cycle in the natal and progressed
horoscopes. As is the case also with the eager/certain distinction
at Mercury's conjunctions with the Sun, there is no hard cusp effect
between possessiveness and dispassion at Venus's conjunctions with the
Sun. On the contrary, the conjunctions exhibit an exaggerated form of
the preceding quality: Venus superior conjunction Sun can be super-possessive
and smothery; Venus inferior conjunction Sun (indeed, Venus retrograde,
period) can be super-dispassionate and don't-touch-me. But this
is another story for another day.
Bob Makransky is a systems analyst, programmer, and professional astrologer. For the past 30 years he has lived on a farm in highland Guatemala where he is a Mayan priest and is head of the local blueberry growers association.
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