Because I now practice both Western and Vedic astrology, I have become more conscious of the strengths of both approaches. Since it is absolutely necessary in Vedic astrology to take many factors into account in order to arrive at correct assessments, I've begun to apply a similar approach to Western charting.
I'm struck, in particular, that in most Western astrology books, the interpretations are so simplistic and nowhere state the necessity to take each factor in context, nor how other chart factors will modify the expressions of the one being delineated. When you read most books in Western astrology, you encounter interpretations like these:
"When the Moon is in the Fourth House, there will be many changes of residence."
"When the Sun is in Leo (in a person's chart) they will be showy, generous, loud, and dominant"
These "cookbook-style" definitions often fall short, because they pay no attention to anything that could negate or modify their expression.
Let's take the second interpretation above -- the Sun in Leo -- and see what conditions to consider, to give it more accuracy and more depth.
1. What house is the Sun in?
If the Sun is in the 12th house (and to a lesser extent, in the 4th or 8th house), it's flamboyance in Leo will be significantly muted. The person is much less likely to be expressive, loud, or showy.
That's because the water houses (4, 8, and 12) are "behind the scenes" houses that prefer privacy, expressing one's feelings alone or among family, and not calling attention to themselves in a public way.
Similarly, if a person with the Sun in Leo is born at night, their Solar expression will be significantly less than if they were born during the day.
2. What house is the Sun in? (Part Two)
Since the Sun, especially in Leo, means that the person gains importance by their involvement in the activities represented by the house it is placed in, the original delineation is also lacking in its inattention to the object of the Sun's attention. If the Sun is in the 7th, the person is attached to their partners, if the Sun in Leo is in the 2nd house, money issues are very important to their self-esteem, etc.
3. Is the Sun aspected by or conjunct any other planets?
If Saturn influences the Sun in Leo, there is much more self-doubt, self consciousness, and anxiety about expressing oneself. Many of the rote descriptions of the Sun in Leo will no longer apply, and even be areas of conflict (both within the person and interpersonally).
On the other hand, if Mars (or to a lesser extent, Jupiter) influences the Sun, then the Sun in Leo qualities may become magnified and exacerbated. So that generous can become extravagant, showy become pushy or vain, etc. depending, again, upon all of the factors influencing the Sun.
Multiple aspects create even more complex effects, and when either node is conjunct the Sun in Leo, the exaggerating effect of the nodes - either self-negating or self-inflating -- is usually very apparent. The more exact and therefore stronger the aspects the Sun receives, the more significant the effect. (In other words, if the Sun is one degree from Mercury, Mercury's effect on the Sun will be much greater than if Mercury is eight degrees away from the Sun.)
4. What house does the Sun in Leo rule?
A person who has the Sun in Leo ruling the first house is "a completely different kind of animal" than the person who has the same Sun ruling the eighth house or the sixth house. House rulerships strongly affect the expression of planets, and can change the tenor from friendly to adversarial, for example.
When planets (i.e. other than the Sun or the Moon) rule two houses, then the effects of rulership become even more significant and complicated. E.g. If someone has Libra rising, Jupiter rules the Sixth house and the Third House, and therefore Jupiter can take on an adversarial role much more easily than, for example, in a Sagittarius rising chart.
5. Is the person with the Sun in Leo male or female?
While contemporary Western culture sometimes tries to equate men and women, there are very clear cut differences between the two genders. E.g. a woman with the Sun in Leo will generally behave more responsively (all other factors being taken into account) than a male with Sun in Leo. The gender differences are actually huge, in terms of how astrological factors express themselves, but this arena is sorely neglected in astrology.
6. Is the Sun conjunct an angle?
If the Sun is conjunct an angle (rising, setting, culminating, or anti-culminating), it becomes spotlighted and expresses itself more intensely.
Which angle it occupies again strongly flavors its expression, so a Leonine Sunrise person is likely to be much more dominant and expressive (especially if also male) than a person born at midnight (with the Sun anticulminating), where they may "rule the roost" but appear much more contained to those other than family.
7. What is the Rising sign?
As I have written in other essays on my website, the rising sign (aka Ascendant) controls the expression of every planet in the chart.
If the person has an Earth sign rising, for example, the Sun in Leo is certainly going to be controlled by the person and directed towards accomplishment. A Water-sign rising person will "dampen" the expression of the Leo Sun (at least a portion of the time) as they don't want to make waves. An Air rising person may actually dis-identify with their Sun in Leo (because they identify with the opposite element to Fire, which is Air) and live a pattern of over-accommodation (Air) followed by explosion (Fire) -- especially if they are male.
8. Additional factors to take into account.
In our example, we used Sun in its own sign, but with all other Sun signs, we would need to evaluate the ruler of the sign the Sun is placed in, too.
E.g. if the Sun is in Capricorn and Saturn is in Gemini, then the Sun itself will be more cerebral and distractable due to Saturn's Gemini placement.
We can also see the modifying affects on the Sun in Leo of its placement by decanate, duad, quadrant, major configurations (e.g. T-squares, Grand Trines), etc. For other planets, we would need to consider the effects of combustion and retrogradation, and the analogous lunation cycle for the Moon.
The above example begins to elucidate the problems that arise from delineating one factor by itself, out of context, in a chart.
Therefore, what books should say in describing the Sun in Leo might begin to look like this:
If you have the Sun in Leo, you will be moved to invest yourself deeply in the arena of life where the Sun is placed. There is a deep need to express yourself which, depending upon many factors in your chart, will or will not be allowed to flow. Your instinct here is to share your thoughts, resources, and feelings openly, but your rising sign, the Sun's house position and aspects, and other factors may inhibit these desires or reinforce them. Part of your life journey, then, is to develop environments and relationships that support your self-expression, where you feel safe to take charge, and where your sharings are well received.
As modern Western astrology takes the time to address the context in which each part of the chart exists, it will grow and prosper accordingly.
Post Script: In the above essay, I did not mention the importance of evaluating the strength of each planet, and its likelihood of giving positive results, in generating interpretations. Planets are strong if they are in their own signs or exalted, or retrograde (or the Full Moon) and weak if combust, debilitated/fallen, or the New Moon. As an example, the lord of the First House in the Ninth House usually indicates luck, faith, optimism, and openness, but if that planet was conjunct Saturn and in its sign of Fall, the results would be exactly opposite: many obstacles in life, a cynical, fearful, doubtful and/or depressed approach to life, and a general scepticism -- all of which would need to be worked through in this lifetime.
In other words, the strength of each planet, and its relationship to challenging planets (Mars, Saturn, and the Moon's nodes) and to uplifting ones (Venus, Jupiter, strong Mercury, and strong Moon) have important influences on how the planet expresses itself in a chart.
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