Where’s your Moon?

If you know one thing about your birth chart, it’s probably your Sun sign, the part of the sky the sun was in when you were born. In casual conversation, when we say things like “I’m a Leo” we mean that our sun is in Leo.

But the birth chart has more than the sun - it has a number of planets, plus several important points, all of which combine to make up the complete chart. The sun is important, but it’s not all there is to astrology by any means.

Most astrologers place a strong emphasis on the “Big Three” in a horoscope, that is, the sun, the ascendant (the sign that was rising when you were born), and the moon. Briefly, we can say that the sun is about your “life,” the ascendant is about your “strategy for meeting the world,” and the moon is about your emotions and feelings.

Sometimes, I hear people say things like “I’m an Aries, but I don’t feel much like one.” What they mean is, Aries are supposed to be self-starters, always getting into things, sometimes even pushing themselves in, out-front, bold, and directed. They are into sports and all kinds of physical activity.

It’s true that your sun sign says some very important things about your life. It tells you, in a way, where your life is, what you can do to make the most of your life. People with their sun in Aries do benefit from asserting themselves, writing themselves into the script. That’s what their life is about in a big way, the organizing principle around which everything revolves. But it’s not how they appear to others (that’s mostly the ascendant) and it’s not how they feel.

The emphasis on the sun is relatively new to astrology, having come about in the last two hundred years or so (astrology has been around for more than two thousand years). Many people are surprised to find that traditionally the moon was given at least as much, and sometimes more, emphasis than the sun. This is still true in Vedic (Hindu) astrology, where the moon has its own set of “mansions” or special moon signs.

The moon in a chart tells us about our feelings and emotions. Where we feel comfortable, and how we nurture and give comfort. It is, for many of us, our “soft spot.” In our culture, we don’t make a big deal out of our feelings, and we tend to keep our emotions hidden. Public displays of temper, or sadness and grief, or even joy, are not really encouraged. When we do show emotion in public, it tends to be in a very controlled way. You can cry at a funeral. You can scream at a sporting event. But please, we’re told, don’t cry or scream elsewhere.

The moon is in many ways more personal to us. The sun sign has a lot to do with our self-image. When you meet someone at a party, you tell them about your sun: your job, relationship status, and so on. You don’t tell them - generally - that you like to go home at night and pretend to conduct an orchestra while downing gin blossoms. Yet that personal comfort zone is just as important to you as the image of yourself that you project outwards.

Because we tend to keep emotions hidden, or even “bottled up,” we often don’t even realize what’s going in our emotional world. We know about the stock market, we know about our favorite sports team - we know about what’s going on out there, in the world. But we often have only a vague idea what’s going on in here, with our emotions and feelings.

When we explore our astrological moon, we can learn something valuable about our inner world. As we recognize the patterns that our feelings and emotions weave together, what was once a vague sense of our inner self crystalizes into a clear image. Then we know better what we need to feel comfortable and secure, and can constructively decide how to achieve it.

The moon sign describes how we approach our feelings. We all have, more or less, the same set of emotions and feelings, but we regard them differently. Some people feel emotions directly and embrace them, some hold them out a distance. A Taurus moon will probably feel them as actual physical sensations, while an Aquarian moon might observe emotions as though they were objects on a table.

Like any astrological symbol, the moon can manifest in many ways, some constructive, some less so. Let’s say I have a bad day. With my moon in its home sign of Cancer, I’m likely to look for comfort with Cancerian things - home, family, food. If I allow the “baseline” moon-in-Cancer reaction to take over, I might find myself locked in the house with a box of Pop-Tarts, stewing (another Cancerian trait) on my problems. On the other hand, if I take a little control, I might take myself away from my troubles by taking the time to prepare a nice dinner to share with friends. My moon also happens to be in the ninth house, which means I feel very comfortable with philosophy (and astrology), and so can take comfort by looking at “the big picture” and seeing that my own issues are not really so important.

But let’s say that your moon is in Aries. If you need to take comfort after a hard day, going home might be the last thing on your mind. An Aries moon is active, and a trip to the gym might be more in order. Or perhaps a night out, or maybe even working late. I remember one time when a friend with an Aries moon had a horrific day - and he was glad that he was going out on a first date that very evening! That sounded anything but comforting to me, but his Aries moon saw a new beginning as exactly the right way to settle down his emotions.

The moon is about more than comfort, it’s about how we nurture and grow things - relationships, businesses, plants. A Capricorn moon works and toils to nurture, while a Leo moon shines attention and love. A Virgo moon serves, and a Pisces moon will make a sacrifice.

The house placement of the moon is also important, because it tells in which area of life you both give and receive comfort and nurturance. A fourth house moon is likely to focus on the home, whether the actual dwelling or “home” in the larger sense. A seventh house moon might give and receive nurturing through a partner - and some seventh house moons actually manage to “feed” themselves though enemies and opponents.

The sun changes signs every thirty days, but the moon changes signs about every two days. In that way, as the fastest moving “planet,” it is the heavenly object most personal to us, the gateway to our inner world.