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The Tao of the Zodiac

The Fundamental Symbol of Astrology: The Yin/Yang

At its most fundamental, I feel Astrology has nothing to do with signs or planets. The cycle as a whole is the basic unit of Astrology. All the cycles of Astrology are based upon primal alternations of light and dark. The daily (ascendant), monthly (lunar), and yearly (solar) cycles can all be divided quarterly according to the naturally occurring empirical processes of lightness and darkness.

Thus, if we correlate the Daily cycle with the lunar cycle's phases and the solar cycle's seasons we can begin to see how the fundamental symbol of Astrology, the primal cycle, operates at all levels. The darkest time of the year is the winter solstice, which correlates with the new moon and midnight. Dawn, being the triumph of light over darkness can be seen to correlate with spring equinox & first quarter, noon- summer solstice & full moon, dusk- autumn equinox & third quarter. The three cycles quite nicely follow one another 'day, month, and year being divisible into four quarters by naturally occurring empirical processes of darkness and light. This is why progressions work. A day equals a year because symbolically they are the same cycle!

Eventually it became obvious to me that if I had to reduce the wisdom of Astrology into one word or symbol it would have to be the yin-yang. This ancient Taoist symbol perfectly illustrates in graphic form the most basic energies of the Astrological cycles. I also have come to understand the fundamental wisdom of the Tao can be translated into astrological language.

My interest in outer planet cycles is fueled by the fact that I was born under a Uranus-Pluto conjunction and I found Astrology through a dream I had during the Uranus-Neptune conjunctions. My look at history and outer planet cycles harkens all the way back to 579-577 BC -when all three outer planets made a conjunction in the sign of Taurus . This was in the Age of Aries when such Masters as Lao Tzu, Confucius, Buddha (in the East), and Pythagoras (in the West) walked the Earth.


While much has and can be learned by studying Pythagoras and his Western contemporaries Plato and Socrates, I believe the essence of the Earth wisdom that can balance our current societal excesses is to be found in the teachings of Lao Tzu and the Tao Teh Ching. Lao Tzu literally means 'old master'. Legend has it he was the keeper of the Imperial Library of China and very famous for his wisdom. Disgusted by the corruption of the government, he left for the countryside. On his way out, the guard at the city gates asked him to write down his wisdom for future generations. He wrote the Tao Teh Ching and walked off into the sunset. The Tao is one of the most influential books in history and is the source of famous sayings such as 'a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.' In fact, Tao means 'the path' and consists of two characters -one signifying 'go forward' and one meaning 'head'. This suggests that your head chooses a path to go forward on and thus denotes the path or way to clarity.

Despite this clear reference to the mental realm of the Air element, one of the most enlightening facets of the Tao in terms of Astrology and Society is its insistence on the superiority of the Feminine 'the elements of Earth and Water. Water in particular is mentioned several times as the most powerful of forces. This follows from the ancient origins of the Astrological elements. The elements came from the yin/yang combinations of cold/hot and moist/dry . Fire comes from the combination of hot and dry (yang and yang). Water is the opposite coming from the combination of cold and moist (yin and yin). Actually, this makes Earth (cold and dry) and Air (hot and moist) somewhat androgynous being combinations of both yin and yang forces. In this light, it is interesting and natural that the elements of Earth and Air are where the dual rulerships of Mercury and Venus fall. Evidently the principle of heat outweighs the principle of moisture because Earth is considered a feminine element and Air masculine. Water being twice feminine is consistent with the emphasis placed upon it in the Tao:

'The highest form of goodness is like water. Water knows how to benefit all things without striving with them.'

The Tao is to the World what a great river or an ocean is to the streams and brooks.'

'Nothing in the World is softer and weaker than water; But, for attacking the hard and strong, there is nothing like it!'

The Earth wisdom is slightly more subtle, but remains clear to those who have studied Astrology. Virtues such as humility, frugality, and common sense are extolled.

'Truly, humility is the root from which greatness springs, And the high must be built on the foundation of the low.'

'In governing a people and in serving Heaven, there is nothing like frugality. To be frugal is to return before straying.'

'Because I am frugal, therefore can I be generous'

'Difficult things of the world can only be tackled when they are easy. Big things of the world can only be achieved by attending to their small beginnings.'

The sum of this Earth/Water wisdom is repeated in a short phrase several times.

'The soft and weak overcomes the hard and strong'the softest of all things overrides the hardest of all things'

Since Lao Tzu offered his immortal wisdom, The Neptune 'Pluto conjunctions occurred in the Earth sign of Taurus through the year 905. The next century saw the shift of the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions to the Fire signs in 1090. The entrance of Neptune-Pluto conjunctions to the Air sign of Gemini in 1398 began almost 600 yrs. of Fire-Air dominance in at least two of the three outer planetary conjunction cycles. The capstone of this period began in 1650 when the Uranus-Neptune conjunctions in Sagittarius joined to form a complete Fire/Air dominance amongst the outer-planet conjunction cycles. Along came Sir Isaac Newton whose synthesis of the knowledge of the Scientific Revolution 'marked a shift from closed, finite, hierarchical, qualitative Cosmos to an infinite, homogeneous, quantitative, Universe'. This completed the transformation from an Organic Worldview to the Mechanical World Picture.

For more than 600 years the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions occurred in the fire signs of Aries & Leo . The subsequent explosion in population and possibilities for humankind was clearly unavoidable. However, the 1966-67 conjunctions were in the Earth sign of Virgo 'ruled by Mercury 'symbolizing the current shift from the Industrial Revolution to the Age of Information. The elemental shift has huge implications. It is time for we humans to stop devouring the Earth (fire) to release its power and begin to be more sensible and practical (Earth 'Virgo) about our resources.

The current crop of outer-planet conjunctions has occurred in the common-sense signs of Gemini (Neptune-Pluto), Virgo (Uranus-Pluto), and Capricorn (Uranus-Neptune). The mutable dominance suggests that we are at a crossroads of human evolution. The mutable quality is about diversification and distribution. The Earth dominance in current outer-planet conjunctions calls for the revival of an Organic Worldview and suggests a slow, steady, conservative approach to global issues. We must become true stewards of our planet. The issue of sustainable growth will have to come to the fore as the depletion of resources and environmental degradation become more and more impossible to deny and hide.


Palden Jenkins: Astrological Cycles in History. 2002

Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching. Translated by C.H. Wu 1961 St. Johns University Press: New York

Neil F. Michelsen, Tables of Planetary Phenomena 2nd ed. 1993 ACS Publications: San Diego, Ca. Pg. 90.

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