“Astrology is a system of divination that connects our universal, soul nature to the everyday life we are living. When correctly understood, Astrology gives insight into the full spectrum of human experiences, including relationship happiness and marriage. The tradition of arranged marriages in India stems from having this insight.”
Life through the mind is dualistic. The pendulum of duality swings between rhythms of opposites: good/bad, night/day, life/death, and masculine/ feminine. Especially with human interaction, the qualities of assertion and expression (masculine energy) are always being harmonized with the qualities of receptivity and reflection (feminine energy). This is not only in romantic relationships, but in all forms of social interaction, and within each of us individually.
According to the enlightened minds that taught the world Yoga and Vedic Astrology, our lives on Earth unfold through five elements. There are two feminine and two masculine elements. The fifth, Space, is not charged with gender. Space extends into infinity. Space is the part of our being that is the inherently free, pure consciousness, beyond the Karma of the four gender elements. The four gender producing elements in life are: Earth and Water (Female), Fire and Air (Male).
The Feminine Elements – Earth and Water
The Earth element shows our physical body as well as all things that are practical, useful, tangible and material. Our life unfolds through a physical body. Its needs are the most urgent when they arise. The element of Earth is related to rest, structure and stability – feminine principles. Earth is the heaviest element. It will remain at rest unless acted upon by another force or object. Earth provides the tangible structure through which our life unfolds. But Earth may also be the stagnant quality that prevents our life from moving forward.
Everyday Example of the Earth Element: Think of your couch, TV, dishes in the cupboard – all the objects in your house, both seen and unseen. They are at rest. They will remain at rest unless acted upon by another force, like another person or act of nature. They will remain at rest for a million years, if nothing or no one moves them.
Feel the nature of stable solid forms and objects at rest, contrasted with the dynamic world of movement. Safety, comfort and things that are practical and useful are also the Earth element. Our body and mind need structure and stability, so the Earth element is also related to money and the paradigm of safety and protection it gives us. Our enduring values and the concepts that anchor our identity are also related to Earth.
“The female elements are related to sensitizing (Water) and stabilizing (Earth). They are reflective, psychological, cold, damp, oriented toward the past, sentimental, careful and feeling-centered.”
The Water element shows the flow of emotions and our senses into the environment. There’s a deep connection between our senses and our emotions. Sensitivity and connection, or feminine principles, come from the Water element. Water and Earth together create growth, in the form of plants. Plants provide food and sustenance for all creatures as well as oxygen for us to breathe. Water gives a connection to love and the feelings that give rise to a caring heart and a compassionate life. Water rests upon Earth and nourishes it, just as the senses feed our body, and love nourishes our soul. Yet, water may bring a lot of attachments, and make us cling to fantasies, memories, or emotions.
Everyday Example of the Water Element: I live in San Francisco, a city of hills. Early morning shopkeepers often hose the sidewalk in front their shops, at such times the water trickles down the hill. When the water hits a crack in the pavement it fills the crack, overfills that, then moves on if there is enough water to keep flowing. But water will not flow uphill, it flows from high to low, from our higher self to our lower self. Water is the most versatile element as it flows according to its environment. If heat is applied, the water will boil. If cold is applied, the water will freeze. Water is the most enduring and sustaining of all elements. Just like love, water endures everything – it endures all external conditions, trying to adapt to its environment. As we know, the body is approximately 75% water. Water permeates the tissues in the body (Earth element). Water is essentially the stuff of life. Without water our body will die quickly – without love our soul will die.
The female elements are related to sensitizing (Water) and stabilizing (Earth). They are reflective, psychological, cold, damp, oriented toward the past, sentimental, careful and feeling-centered.
The Masculine Elements – Fire and Air
Fire shows our actions, drives, motivations and digestion of all sorts. As water and the senses feed the body, fire digests what it is fed. Earth and water creates plants; fire is hidden in plants (wood). Not only is food digested, all information and sensory input must be digested. This process of digestion warms the colder, feminine elements, and also gives light that illuminates our path. Once the path is illuminated, our direction becomes clear, thus fire also gives a single-minded focus to our actions. But fire also may burn others or us, or create smoke that obscures our path.
Everyday Example of the Fire Element:Look out the window; the Sun is shining (even if it is cloudy). This light allows you to distinguish many different objects and characteristics about these objects – their color, shape, etc. Contrast that with a dark room, a dark night. With no light, there are no green trees, white flowers, yellow birds, blue cars – just blackness, with everything the same color, murky and confusing. Fire gives radiance, clarity and brilliance. Fire gives motivation and ambition. In the dark we have very little ambition as our path is not visible, there is no light. When we add light, we add the capacity to see where we are going and thus we get direction. Do you feel your heartbeat? That is also fire. Do you have a case of heartburn? That is excess fire. Fire is the body’s digestion. When a person has “good color,” it is the radiance of fire you are seeing. They are digesting food well, filled with vitality, and they are probably enthusiastic, focused and motivated about their goals.
Air shows our thoughts, philosophies and motion of all sorts. Fire disperses into the air, into the atmosphere. The food we eat, after it is digested leads to movement of all sorts, both in the body and the mind. Air is related to the breath, the vitality (also called “Prana” or “Chi” in eastern medicine). The motion of air can have a worthy goal and bring great understanding, or it can be scattered and devoid of meaning by disturbing our peace of mind and emotions (like air creating waves on water).
Everyday Example of the Air Element: Gaze out of the window at a single point, then breathe slowly. Gently fix your eyes on that fixed point. Do you notice the constant movement? That is the Air element, movement of all sorts. The fire of digestion creates energy, which gives movement. Not just physical movement, mental movement also. The body (Earth) needs fuel and sustenance (Water), which must be digested (Fire) before we can actually get moving. Air is invisible, just like thoughts are invisible. Air increases fire, but can also extinguish the flame or disperse it. Similarly, focused ideas towards our goals increase our motivation – scattered thoughts in many different directions distract our energy and deplete our drives.
The male elements are related to digestion and expansion, growing beyond our current state. They are externally focused, hot and light, oriented toward the future, intellectual in nature, action-centered, individually-oriented.
Space is related to pure consciousness, the witnessing Self, that which is not identified with the previous four elements. Space is the container of the other elements; everything exists in space. This is why we are able to perceive our thoughts, watch them move and witness them. If there were no space between our thoughts or no space operating behind them, from what vantage point would we be able to observe them or our Self?
Everyday Example of the Space (Ether) Element:No matter what happens to you or what you think or feel about it, the largest part of you, the deepest most essential part of you, is absolutely free. You are absolutely free to choose how to handle anything that comes your way. This is the realm of space, the part of you that is not bound to the karma of the Earth. Look around at the room you are in. You see many objects. Yet, notice how much space is between each object. Today as you walk around in the world, notice how much space is between every object. In many ways, the universe is mainly filled with nothingness, Space.
This Earth extends into the atmosphere (Air element), after which point we cannot breathe without artificial means. Yet who we truly are does not come from this Earth. Truth will only be found in the space of consciousness, in the relentless and radical truth of being that contains and permeates all form.
Reestablishing freedom and truth in the midst of form (Earth), feeling (Water), motivation (Fire) and thought (Air) is the meaning of our lives. Space allows us to move freely amidst the objects of the world and the objects in our psyche with autonomy, toward an inherently free and Universal Self.
It is easy to see the attributes of men and women in the masculine and feminine elements. Yet, each person has all five elements within them. Men also have feminine energy and women have masculine energy. Yet, women will identify more strongly with their feminine elements, especially in a relationship. The same is true for men; they will identify more with their masculine elements especially in relationships. In general, women are more comfortable when energy is sensitized and stabilized and they can feel into a situation. Men are more comfortable when using their mind and acting. Women follow their intuition more, but in general their powers of intuition may be inferior to their intellect – but they trust their intuition more. The same is true with men. Most men follow their ideas and actions more, but they may have better powers of intuition and should pay more attention to it.
Based on these “elemental” principles it is understood that women bond emotionally in relationships through the power of being receptive and men bond through the power of being assertive. This does not mean that women should be powerless to men; rather it means feminine strength comes from the courage to be receptive. When she receives what feels good, she can trust and relax. Masculine strength comes from the courage and clarity to lead. A man who knows where he is going is attractive to a woman who in turn will reflect that comfort back to the man and reaffirm his confidence. It is simple yet very powerful. (The same masculine/feminine principles work on gay couples).
When two individuals get together and the masculine/ feminine dynamics supports this natural flow, a positive relationship is much more likely. Assessing the empowered masculine and feminine qualities within a partnership is the job of the thoughtful relationship astrologer.
Of course, this is a huge subject and one worthy of a lot of time and space. But this much can be said with confidence; when understood and practiced correctly, Vedic relationship astrology gives very accurate information about the relationship dynamics between two people. This information is based on the same timeless wisdom that forms Yoga, Ayurveda and all the great holistic healing systems in the world. When we consider how distracting, detrimental and costly a bad relationship can be to our life, an astrological assessment before things get serious may be something to consider. In fact, for thousands of years people have been considering it and benefiting greatly as a result.