Earlier this month, Nancy Humphreys had the opportunity to interview Cynthia L.C. Wood, author of the fascinating new book Earth Rise: The Case for Studying and Using Earth in Astrology, which suggests that adding Earth as a planet to an astrological chart opens up valuable new laters of insight. (The book is available on Amazon.com (affiliate link), createspace.com and smashwords.com.)
Nancy: Astrologers need to include planet Earth in natal horoscope charts. This is a main theme of your new book, Earth Rise. Why is a “missing Earth” important for astrology?
Cynthia: Astrologers aren’t using Earth as a planet at all and symbolically, I think we may be missing something important. Of course we use the Earth as a framework for our charts but the astrological wheel is more a subjective background in our minds. We don’t consider Earth as its own independent entity with qualities, like we do Mars or Jupiter. We just see it as part of our everyday life.
This small and single representation of Earth as the house wheel doesn’t allow us to think globally, to see the Earth as whole and separate from us. Consequently, we may not understand Earth like we think we do. Astrology is a symbolic language, everything we know about the world we extrapolate from our symbols and apply them to our lives. Here we have a very important symbol that is missing in our charts and it’s the one we’re standing on. What does Earth really represent to us? What is the meaning of Earth to astrologers and our clients? Is there a sign that belongs to Earth? We haven’t included it, we haven’t studied it, so we don’t know.
We are also a planet short in our discipline with the ongoing Venusian co-rulership of Taurus and Libra. Some would say that Virgo and Gemini are still co-ruled as well but I have assigned Virgo to Chiron. With all the new planets like Eris, Sedna, and Ceres being added to our ranks is there really any excuse to continue dual rulership of signs? What happens when more of us start to spend time off our planet like the crew on the international space station does? When we aren’t on Earth for a length of time wouldn’t we have to include the Earth glyph in our charts then?
When we insert Earth in astrological charts there is a permanent opposition between the Sun and Earth. This was strange at first but the more I considered that symbolically, the more sense it started to make not only when it comes to other metaphysical teachings out there describing the duality of the earth plane (male/female, light/dark) but also astrology’s ongoing study of the human condition.
I’ve always been painfully aware of the duality inherent in life. I think it’s hard for people to achieve balance, a middle ground, between say, being assertive or passive, and when faced with important decisions we constantly ask ourselves do I think or feel this out? We live with a whole litany of these little schisms every day. The opposition between the Sun and Earth got me thinking not only about those annoyances but much bigger divides in our lives like our current health issues stemming from the fact that our bodies want us to eat brown rice and our psyches want potato chips. There are the endless political dualities of conservative versus liberal and one of the biggest dualities affecting the globe today: what we want as a single species and what the ecology of our Earth must have to survive. Right now we’ve got a “humanity versus the environment” scenario set up and I think we all know which side is going to win that one.
As astrologers, we know how to handle an opposition. Both sides must be honored and supported in some way. Adding Earth (and the Earth opposition) to astrological charts gives us another dimension of awareness, not only about ourselves but the world at large. It gets us to a place of understanding how to live comfortably with opposing forces that frustrate and confuse us. If we can learn balance in everything we might even be able to finally figure out how to save the planet.
Nancy: How would you add Earth to a chart? You’ve written that the circumference of the zodiac is a symbol for Earth. Where and how would Earth fit inside the circumference?
Adding Earth to an astrological chart is so easy to picture because whatever sign your Sun is in, the Earth will be 180 degrees from it. So, if you are a 15 degree Leo Sun, your Earth sign is 15 degrees Aquarius. (The signs of Leo and Aquarius are opposite to each other.) Naturally it would fall in the opposite house from your Sun as well. This creates an axis, the fulcrum of which can bestow a new sense of wholeness and balance to the native. As far as traits, Earth in the chart does just what you’d think it does. Like the element earth, it grounds the house or other planets and points it touches. It’s about manifestation, fertility, and practicality. It’s also about basic beginnings, the foundation of a project. The easiest way to think of Earth in the chart is to take the traits of Taurus and use them as a planet instead of a sign.
Whenever we add another planet or point to the chart we get another layer of information. For example, here I’ve inserted the planet Earth into the natal chart of Marie Antoinette. Marie Antoinette was queen of France (wife of King Louis XVI) when the French Revolution began. Some even say that she was, if not the cause of it, then someone whose attitude and lifestyle perpetuated it. After the revolution, she was guillotined with the rest of the royals.
A general over view of her chart shows someone who is amiable, charming, and adaptable, Gemini ascendant, Moon in Libra, though we have to add some fixed emotional intensity with that Sun in Scorpio. Right on the Sun is a Venus conjunction, with a pretty loaded 5th house in the Placidus system. This very young lady wanted fun and a gentle, easy time of it. She was probably very nice (Libra, Gemini, Venus) but also capable of keeping her secrets to herself. In addition to France, she was probably the queen of passive-aggressive, too. Venus on the Sun, in Scorpio, is not going to bestow a generous or practical nature on the native. Romantic, self-centered, lazy, and idealistic comes to mind. She had the ability to be far reaching and imaginative and she was in some respects but she also didn’t want life to get too real, too ugly.
In the beginning, the French people embraced her. She was popular, and, well, with all that charm and beauty, why wouldn’t they? Later, of course, she was reviled. She was fascinated by peasant life. My favorite phrase for the 6th house is “day-to-day life,” life on a daily, mundane basis resides here. She has Pluto and Mercury in Sag there. One interesting fact about Queen Marie is that she had a fake peasant farm (farm = Taurus) built on palace grounds, a sort of Disney-peasant-land for royalty. Here, she could pretend she was a commoner and play at milking the cows and feeding the chickens. It was her version of a simpler or more basic (basics = Taurus) life I think she wanted to be a deeper part of (Pluto/Mercury Sag 6th) as long as it didn’t get gritty.
Here is where the missing Earth sign in Taurus could’ve really helped her. She longed for a balance to her 5th house ease, glamour, and special-ness. She certainly didn’t want to give up her power and privilege but she wanted more of a connection to something real (Taurus), real in the sense of true (Earth in Taurus).
Marie’s chart shows Earth in the 11th house, the house of future vision, friends, acquaintances, and community. Aries is on the 11th house cusp. She has Aquarius on the MC and Uranus sextile Earth in the 10th! I think a part of her really wanted to be out among the people (there are some stories of her compassion to a few villagers). I imagine that might’ve been frowned upon by the other royals. Of course she enjoyed the glittering parties and the luxuries her wealth and status had to offer but the older she got the more she longed for deeper (Pluto in Sag) meaning in her life (6th house).
Instead of a fake village with pretend chores, she wanted to understand commoners (Earth/Taurus) and to know what they knew. She wanted to participate in a more meaningful everyday (Taurus) life. She could’ve been the people’s queen, friend to all. How might that have changed the course of the tragic events to come?
Pluto in the 6th is inconjunct Earth in the 11th. She would’ve had to have the fortitude to transform her lifestyle and an emotional courage that Moon in Libra and Venus on the Sun were not going to offer her. Her generation (Pluto in Sag inconjunct) rebelled against her lack of practicality (Earth in Taurus in the 11th).
Ultimately, she went from tentative friend to all (Uranus in 10th Sextile Earth in 11th) to that weird foreigner (Aquarius on MC, Uranus square Pluto) who is way too extravagant and leaving us to starve (Earth opposition Venus). The famous and frivolous phrase attributed to her was: “The peasants have no bread? Let them eat cake!” She never said that but it stuck because there was an emotional ring of truth to it.
Lastly a T-square with Sun and Earth square Neptune is exact in her chart. In this case, Neptune becomes the planet of deceit, ignorance, fantasy, and vulnerability at odds with a somewhat stubborn (Earth/Taurus) secretive Sun/Venus Scorpio fixed axis. Good communication (Neptune in the 3rd inconjunct Uranus in 10th) was gnarly at best. Not facing reality (Neptune square Earth), love and money scandals (Sun/Venus Scorpio square Neptune), and a terrible blind spot to common sense (Earth/Taurus) was her downfall.
Yet, if she could’ve embraced and balanced the simpler, baser, realities of her local community, Earth in Taurus in the 11th that she longed for on some level with the glitz and power of Sun/Venus in Scorpio in the 5th, she could’ve gotten a great deal of satisfaction out of life and used her money and power to improve the lives of everyone (10th house Uranus + MC Aquarius) around her.
Nancy: You feel that Taurus should be ruled by the planet Earth rather than by Venus. Other ruling planet rulers of horoscope signs have been changed in the past, but why replace Venus with Earth?
Cynthia: When approaching the shared rulership of these two signs one has to ask the question: “which sign stays with Venus and which sign goes?” Simply put, Venus’s function in astrology fits Libra far more than Taurus. The sociality of it, the expression of love and affection, the gentle, airy, nice-ness of Venus all works with Libra, with Taurus? Not so much. As to why pick Earth and not one of the other newly discovered planets, well, Ceres does have some things in common with Taurus. But it makes more sense to complete and fill in the last blank of the local universe rather than go further out into space.
More than that, Earth really speaks to Taurians. I’ve never known a Taurian who doesn’t have a deep connection to the natural world, even if they live in the city. There is something almost imperative about their communing with nature, like they have to touch base with it on some level because it energizes them. Taurus’s energy is creative but also fundamental, consistent, and sustaining, just as the Earth is to us. Once you start to really look at Earth and Taurus side by side it’s such a no-brainer that it’s kind of shocking that this hasn’t come up much before.
Nancy: What kinds of astrology would using Earth be particularly helpful for… political? personal? places? events? would including Earth affect the interpretations or validity of other approaches that deal explicitly with mapping, like AstroCartography?
Cynthia: That’s a good question and one I haven’t explored in depth. However, I see no reason why Earth, just like any other planet, wouldn’t be applicable and even revelatory anywhere in our discipline. In Horary (well aspected) it might indicate something indispensable and dependable or conversely, (afflicted) somewhere the querent wasn’t being practical, not paying attention to the reality of the situation and likely to fail.
In AstroCartography, it might offer stability, simplicity, and possibly a good place to make money. The possibilities are intriguing!
Nancy: Why use both science and metaphysics to support your arguments in your book?
Cynthia: Physics is a scientist’s way of explaining the processes of Earth, the way they label and categorize the forces in our world. Astrology does the same thing for astrologers. I think we are all talking about the same things just giving them different names. For me, the signs and planets are like the Periodic Table of Elements. The elements operate both inside of us, (chemical processes) and outside of us (movement/action). Astrological energies also operate inside (feelings) and outside (happenings). Metaphysics is the opposite of science but also the other half of life. We live in a dual plane of existence that I think is a balanced mix of the consistent, concrete, and tangible (science) together with the spiritual, irrational, and energetic (metaphysical). I felt that when introducing a new planet I should explain it using both sides of its energy and contributions. The two halves come together to equal a whole. Not unlike the Sun/Earth opposition I was talking about before, gee, what a co-incidence!
Nancy: Is there anything else you’d like to say about your new book, Earth Rise?
Cynthia: Earth Rise isn’t just for astrologers. it also all about earth energy, period. It is an important source book for shamans, tarot readers, and practitioners of Wicca, anyone who wants to know more about the element earth.
Over the past few years at conferences, etc. some of my colleagues and I have been noticing something strange. Even though astrology is considered avant-garde in mainstream society, within our own profession we have become traditional and even conservative in many ways. I suppose it’s a result of our frustration over not being taken seriously as a profession. I think it’s causing us to clinch up over trying new things. We don’t want to appear flighty.
Now, I am not saying that we shouldn’t study and use the rich history our discipline has to offer us, Project Hindsight has been invaluable in re-instating some of our lost heritage, but at the same time, I think we have to open to new ideas, ideas that may hold answers to some of life’s more pressing dilemmas. Life is change and transformation and like a shark, it has to keep moving forward or it dies. We need to stay relevant to the upgrades, the changing awareness of our population. Besides, Taurus is way overdue for her own planet.
If we embrace Earth as a vital component in astrology we will open ourselves and our clients up to the duality inherent in lives, what we can do about it and how we can make it work for us. Maybe it will even help us to finally live amicably with the Earth itself!
Nancy: Do you have future plans for another book? Or an article?
Cynthia: My next project is a book on astrological transits for the layperson. I have a blog called Living Deeper (livingdeeper.com) that I try and maintain. Its purpose is the re-enchantment of every-day life so to speak, how to get more out of it. It is a mix of astrology, nutrition, nature, seasons, self-help, and just life in general. I also have a Facebook page for my book, Earth Rise, but I haven’t gotten very coordinated enough in my present life to be a consistent contributor there either, soon I hope.
Cynthia L.C. Wood was minding her own business one night in 1968, when a friend of her mother’s started telling her she was born under the sign of the bull. At first she was insulted. She was 13 years old and had no idea what the woman was talking about but by the end of the evening, she did know one thing: she was hooked. She has spent the rest of her life studying and living with astrology.
She has been a professional astrologer and tarot reader, lecturer, and teacher. In addition to astrology, she studies nature, metaphysics, Wicca, Tarot, Shamanism and physics for dummies.
Cynthia has been published in The Mountain Astrologer magazine, a columnist in the alternative weekly The Sandpoint Reader, and the host of the astrological show “All About Us” on Panhandle Community Radio 88.5 KRFY in Idaho. She continues to be an astrological consultant in Sandpoint, Idaho.
“Astrology doesn’t tell you what choice to make; it shows you what choices you have.”