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Semantics of the Zodiacal Signs
(Introduction to Zodiacal Physio-Semiology)
by Patrice Guinard

-- translation E. P. --

This text corresponds to chapters 11 and 13, annex 4 and a section of chapter 51 of my PhD thesis (1993).

1. Physio-semiological elements

"The one who will be able to make the link between language and physiology -- will know much." (Paul Valéry, Notebooks)

     The reflexological zodiac is a semantic and cyclical decoding of the various forms and phases of excitability underlined by Pavlov. This physio-semiology applies to the signs of the zodiac and revives their bi-millenarian symbolism. Each physiological process facilitates certain actions indicated below, with between brackets, the consequences of an excess in the considered process, with regard to the environmental conditions. In that case, the responses are inappropriate, unreasonable or regressive, always in discrepancy with the situation or with the requirements of the surroundings : the excitement is transformed into doggedness or unbridled exaltation, and inhibition is transformed into prostration. When the excess further increases and crystallises, when it goes beyond certain limits, more or less irreversible neurotic and psychotic states are reached.

NATURAL EXCITEMENT : Positive reaction to a new excitement factor.
ARIES/GEMINI : to accept, to activate, to spend, to undertake [versatility, activism, dissipation, exhaustion]

NATURAL INHIBITION : Negative reaction to a new excitement factor.
TAURUS : to refuse, to resist, to retain, to save, to control [obstinacy, stubbornness, miserliness, opposition to change]

PROTECTIVE INHIBITION : Preventive defence reaction.
CANCER/VIRGO : to protect, to retain, to bound, to wait [isolation, inability, cowardice, pusillanimity]

DELAYED EXCITEMENT : Delayed positive reaction.
LEO : to loosen, to release, to free oneself, to extricate oneself [excess, exuberance, ostentation, exhibition]

TEMPORAL EXCITEMENT : Reaction to a temporal rhythm.
LIBRA/SAGITTARIUS : to integrate, to coordinate, to synchronise, to participate [servitude, dissolution, uprooting, depersonalisation]

DIFFERENTIAL INHIBITION : Selective reaction to resembling excitement factors.
SCORPIO : to discriminate, to discern, to isolate, to deepen [exclusivism, contraction, sinking, decay]

EXTINCTIVE INHIBITION : Rejection reaction to useless excitement factors.
CAPRICORN/PISCES : to abandon, to eliminate, to purify, to forget [disengagement, degradation, disillusionment, discouragement]

RECREATIVE EXCITEMENT : Positive reaction to the interruption of the excitement factor.
AQUARIUS : to re-establish, to reconstruct, to reanimate, to regenerate [inconsistency, verbosity, disguise, proselytism]

The Taurus is 'an Aries' with a high degree of concentration : he is able to display an intense activity and to show the greatest violence, even though this concentration of the excitement is masked by the related induction and inhibition. In the same way Leo represents maximum protection, the strongest and longest-lasting affection, Scorpio the maximum degree of implication, Aquarius the absolute disengagement. The induction phenomenon (natural inhibition of Taurus, differential inhibition of Scorpio, delayed excitement of Leo and re-creative excitement of Aquarius) rebalances the tendency to extreme intensification due to the concentration of the processes.

NATURAL CONCENTRATED EXCITEMENT - TAURUS : specialisation, appropriation [intolerance, greediness]

PROTECTIVE CONCENTRATED INHIBITION - LEO : perpetuation, sacralisation [mystification, hoax]

TEMPORAL CONCENTRATED EXCITEMENT - SCORPIO : passion, temporisation [fanaticism, sectarianism]

CONCENTRATED EXTINCTIVE INHIBITION - AQUARIUS : neutralisation, imperviousness [annihilation, sterility]

2. Structuring modes of reality and purely theoretical points of view (and supplement to the matrix understanding of the history of philosophy)

    The three successive moments undergone by the nervous processes during their unfolding, generate within a single fourth of the zodiac a differentiation which allows a complement to the above-mentioned analyses.

POLARISATION (grasping of opposites) : to distinguish, to polarise
[excessive polarisation (egalitarian stage) : unilateral reactions, equalisation]

COMPOSITION (grasping of proportions) : to combine, to compose
[excessive composition (paradoxical stage) : disproportionate reactions, imbalance]

TOTALLING (grasping of entirety) : to synthesize, to total up
[excessive totalling (ultra-paradoxical stage) : confuse reactions, jumble]

     The equinoctial signs are related to an intensification of the process, the median signs to a qualification, the solstice signs to an extension.  [1] These concepts have an obvious grammatical equivalent through the notions of comparatives (as ... as, more ... than), and the superlatives (most).

In Aries, polarisation is opposition [exclusion]
In Virgo, polarisation is reciprocity [ambivalence]
In Libra, polarisation is balance [hesitation]
In Pisces, polarisation is neutrality [abnegation]

The coordinating conjunctions illustrate the four types of polarisation of the equinoctial signs:
In Aries, opposition translates into the exclusive OR : either A or B.
In Virgo, reciprocity translates into the inclusive OR : A or B.
In Libra, the balance translates into AND : A and B.
In Pisces, neutrality translates into negation : neither A nor B.

     For Descartes (Aries), the opposites are strongly opposed to each other. The reform of metaphysics requires the forsaking of an obsolete scholastics. Access to the first certainty requires the Cogito to be opposed to everything which is put into doubt; it is the only thing which escapes the "table rase", and it must also absolutely be distinguished from the "substance étendue". Philosophy is a battle : it is about overcoming obstacles, defeating enemies, winning fights.

     For Hegel (Virgo), the opposites change and interchange until they come together. The dialectic is a movement of surpassing and maintaining (Aufhebung) opposite propositions. Every reality is in itself (an sich) and develops out of itself. Working on the negative is a condition for the accomplishment of the Mind, which is unique but intrinsically dissociated.

     For Nietzsche (Libra), the opposites balance themselves in their complementarities. The Will for power (Wille zur Macht) brings forces to their extreme tension. The tightrope walker of Zarathustra crashes on the ground, because he couldn't maintain the balance. The "Éternel Retour" is the joint affirmation of the Same and the Other, of the Being and the Becoming, of Dionysus and the Crucified.  [2]

     For Schopenhauer (Pisces), the opposites neutralise each other and both disappear. The world is Representation (appearance, construction, and illusion of the mind) and Will (blind, unconscious, inexplicable aspiration). Only negation of the will (Wille) and of the Representation (Vorstellung) allows escaping from their double subservience, which is suffering.

In Taurus, composition is assimilation [overwork]
In Leo, composition is merging [over-valorisation]
In Scorpio, it is dosing [dramatisation]
In Aquarius, it is conciliation [laxity]

     For Kant (Taurus), the parts order themselves within a unity which subsumes their reality. Speculative reason poses the principles of an a priori knowledge, and transposes the multiplicity of phenomena into a unifying perspective. The transcending assimilates the phenomena. Transcending truth resides in the adequacy of the concepts for understanding the objects of the manifest world.

     For Malebranche (Leo), every part is closely united to its source. Creatures are occasional beings, depending on the perpetual setting into motion of divine efficacy. Everything is perceived in Him (vision in God). The slightest movements at all times require divine presence. And the smallest created portion only acts under the aegis of divine will.

     For Max Stirner (Scorpio), every part maintains a precise relation with the others. The Unique (personal, ineffable, irrational, instinctive power) aspires to an exclusive relation with its property (its field of intervention, the more or less undefined object of its desire) until the exact moment when enjoyment becomes alienation, submission to abstract ideals, internal submission. Fleeing the multiple ghosts which subdue consciousness is finding oneself again, always different from that which an intrusive exteriority fabricates without one's knowledge.

     For Francis Bacon (Aquarius), parts assemble themselves loosely and redistribute themselves. The analysis of detail takes precedence over the general concept. Undoing the mind's idols and prejudice allows each element to find its place within a self-organising assembly. The Novum Organum recommends a new approach of reality, mediate and instrumental, which reconciles the most different understandings and talents for a collective task.

In Gemini, totalling is generalisation [coercion]
In Cancer, totalling is sedimentation [indistinctness]
In Sagittarius, totalling is harmonisation [heterogeneity]
In Capricorn, totalling is crystallisation [petrifaction]

     For Pascal (Gemini), the whole is limited to a few general features which dynamize diversity. There is no escaping nor alternative to man's misery without God. Freedom of choice implies the obligation of choosing, involvement (as for Sartre, also a Gemini). The decisive argumentation of the bet makes it possible to sensitize the atheist, to convince the non-believers, to subdue the libertine.

     For Leibniz (Cancer), the whole is syncretic, eclectic. Every isolated rational difficulty is resolved in the system's internal cohesion, by concretion and fitting of perspectives. Every Monad distinctly expresses some relationships, and confusedly expresses the undefined whole of the other relationships. The pre-established harmony of the Monads resides in their concomitant nature (concordance and hierarchy) and in the simultaneous possibility of states of being, in their compatibility within a more inclusive perspective. .

     For Spinoza (Sagittarius), the whole is complete harmony. Divine substance is identical to the world : Deus sive Natura. There is no "creation", no finality, no transcendence, or back-world, but an immanent, unique and total reality, which is power of being, as an act of all eternity.

     For Auguste Comte (Capricorn), the whole builds itself, freezes, stabilises itself. The sciences, everyone of which possesses its specific object, articulate along fitted together layers which are perfectly delimited, leading to fixity : astronomy is limited to the solar system, biology asserts the permanence of species, sociology excludes any questioning about the origins of societies..

3. Signs of the zodiac and 'inclusive factors of consciousness'

    The physio-semiology of the various excitement processes is based on the differentiation between four 'conditional environments' called inclusive factors of consciousness, Energy, Space, Time and Structure.

     Natural excitement (the positive reaction to new excitement factors) induces an energetic perception of reality : to accept the excitement factor is to recognize its Mana. Protective inhibition (preventive defence reaction) favours a spatial perception of reality : establishing limits is isolating specific locations with particular properties. Likewise, temporal excitement obviously induces a temporal perception of reality, and extinctive inhibition, since it only leaves the skeleton of what is perceived, induces a structural perception of reality.

     In this context each inclusive  factor of consciousness appears under three distinct modes, because the associated physiological process is goes through three successive phases. The protective inhibition of the summer, in its three respective phases, expresses three ways of grasping space : totalling of space by sedimentation (Cancer / Earth), composition of space by merging (Leo / Temple), polarisation of space by reciprocity (Virgo / Mirror). Each of these three phases of a fourth of the zodiac expresses the particular mode of an inclusive  factor of consciousness. Let's take the case of energy : polarisation of energy by opposition (Aries/Shock), composition of energy through assimilation (Taurus/Bomb), totalling of energy through generalisation (Gemini/Flow). The Aries energy is mechanical , the Taurus energy is nuclear , the energy of Gemini is radiant.

     The Shock (Aries energy) is a linear energy of impulse and projection. The movement is done in a straight line. Bodies are materialised and distinct. They stand up to each other. The Shock originates from bipolarity and produces an instantaneous release. Intensity arises from the tension between two comparable and antagonist forces, from the confrontation of two bodies projected upon one another. Christiaan Huygens (Aries) studied the consequences of the collision of bodies, and formulated the principle of conservation of momentum.

     The Bomb (Taurus energy) is a 'nuclear', potential, conservation energy. Forces accumulate and produce a specific charge, a recharge. They generate an explosive potential. The Bomb originates from concentration of forces, from accumulation which leads to qualitative transformations. The American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Taurus) fine-tuned the first atomic bomb.

     The Flow (Gemini energy) is a radiant, streaming, vibrating, diffusion energy. Forces propagate, extend and cause a multi-directional flow. The Flow originates from the inequality of two forces. Propagation is the extension of the quantitative aspect of the force. James Maxwell (Gemini) studied diffusion of gases at thermal equilibrium, and established the electro-magnetic nature of light.

     The signs of the zodiac create a ternary division of each of the four inclusive factors of consciousness, which strengthens their symbolism. Persons of the spring (through the Sun) maintain a privileged relationship with Energy : the signs of the spring are energetic operators, since they favour the energetic reorganisation of perceived reality. The same goes for the summer signs with Space, for the autumn signs with Time, and for winter signs with Structure.  [3]

SHOCK is the ARIES energy of opposition.
BOMB is the TAURUS energy of assimilation.
FLOW is the GEMINI energy of generalisation.

EARTH is the CANCER space through sedimentation.
TEMPLE is the LEO space through merging.
MIRROR is the VIRGO space of reciprocity.

RETURN is the LIBRA time of balance.
MOMENT is the SCORPIO time of dosage.
SPIRAL is the SAGITTARIUS time of harmonisation.

CRISTAL is the CAPRICORN structure of crystallisation.
CODE is the AQUARIUS structure of conciliation.
MATRIX is the PISCES structure of neutrality.

     Thus a logic of inclusive factors of consciousness is based on the logic of the cycle of the zodiac : the reason is that differential ternary division of these inclusive  factors is not independent of the zodiacal structuring of the nervous system. The organisation of the zodiac (quaternary, in first instance), forbids any unilateral or bipolar concept of formed reality, by a dualist thinking unable of grasping the existence of four irreducible and successive poles. Structural astrology is in first instance instigating a four-polar ontology, written down in the zodiacal dynamic.

4. Psychological predisposition and cultural habituation

     The speed of spring excitement favours extraversion, i.e. an attitude of mind directed outwards. The 'persons of the spring' (through the Sun or through a planet) set themselves a target to be reached, an obstacle to be surmounted. They act in order to conquer an object, to achieve a project, to impose an idea, which increases their feeling of power. Their aggressiveness translates into assimilation of reality, control of the environment, mind taking the power over the world, construction of a ruling ego. Sprig persons are Energy persons : they aspire to transformation of the environment.

ARIES : I want (I will)
TAURUS : I found

     Wanting is giving the orientation; founding is establishing it; capability is cultivating it. The movement from equinox to solstice is at the same time opening, adaptation, and in a certain sense, the beginning of disillusionment.

     The slow summer excitement favours externalisation, i.e. an attitude of mind which brings outward what is inside. The 'persons of the summer' project on the world their personal feelings, they model it according to their affective values. They perpetuate the clarity of proven models while blending images of their imagination into them. The other person becomes the privileged relation of dependency with the world, the condition of their balance, and the foundation of their conviviality. The search for mutual trust guarantees their sociability. The persons of the summer are persons of Space : their aim is to win over the environment.    .

CANCER : I imagine
LEO : I create
VIRGO : I choose

     Imagining is outlining a territory; creating is building it; choosing is occupying it. The summer dynamic, from solstice to equinox, goes from the imagined object to the selected object, and is at the same time closure and adaptation, but here again the beginning of disillusionment.

     The slow autumn inhibition favours internalization , i.e. an attitude of mind bringing within what is outside. The 'autumn persons' are stimulated by the imponderable manifestations of a situation. They perceive and evoke the unnoticeable; they merge with the most tenuous texture of reality. The various potentialities of living vibrate in them because their sensitivity encompasses the world in its immanent complexity, in its indefinite variability. They feel the beings and rather intuitively grasp phenomena than defining or explaining them. Autumn persons are persons of Time : they aspire to integration to the environment.

LIBRA : I feel
SCORPIO : I live

    Feeling is accepting the world; living is to appropriate it; seeing is sharing it.

The speed of winter inhibition favours introversion, i.e. an attitude of mind directed inward. The 'winter persons' grasp the world as a network of connexions between elements which are the links of a maze which they belong to themselves. Their disengagement makes them independent of constraints and events. They can abstract themselves from the world, describe it, explain it, outline it. Their mind identifies with complexity of reality. Understanding demands a distanced adaptation of the person with the world and with society. Winter persons are persons of Structure : they aspire to describing the environment.

AQUARIUS : I am acquainted with, I am aware of (French : 'je connais')
PISCES : I know (French : 'je sais')

    Thinking is abstracting oneself from reality; being aware is solving it; knowing is completing it.

     Extraversion and introversion, exteriorisation and internalization, characterise attitudes of mind, psycho-mental predispositions, not manifest behaviour. Taurus for example is an extravert although his behaviour is marked by inhibition responses. And Jung is not mistaken when he sees in Freud (Taurus) a model of extraversion, and in Adler (Aquarius) a specimen of introversion. Spring persons are globally excited and winter persons inhibited. Summer persons are 'exhibited' and autumn persons 'incited'.

    Westerners and more particularly Europeans rather recognise themselves in the spring-like values, even when they are marked by the signs of Virgo, Sagittarius or Capricorn, because the collective mentality impregnates consciousness as much as their astral condition. To understand summer, autumn or winter dispositions one should probably have lived long enough in Latin America, India or China.  [4]

     Under the term western ideology I understand the totality of values (moral, aesthetic, intellectual, affective,...) which govern the behaviour and mental representations of westerners. These are normative values of the threefold power of 'magic', law and war of the Indo-European gods of Capture (Varuna), Contract (Mitra) and Battle (Indra), put forward in the works of Georges Dumézil  [5] , and translated into their astrological equivalent : Uranus, Jupiter and Mars (but also Individuation of Houses III and VIII, and the speed of excitement of the spring signs).

5. An exemplary Cancer : the novelist Marcel Proust
(and Critical Analysis of "The Strong Cancer Type", Jean-Pierre Nicola, The solar condition, Paris, Éditions Traditionnelles, 1965, p.110-117)

"The abstract feeling with introversion cannot openly manifest itself. The dialogue is interiorised : the enthusiast or depressive states about human institutions, about atmospheres, about all this epidermal subtlety of Gemini, taken from love, become thrilling with emotion. The Cancer I is supported by the multiple ties which invigorate him, but outside an elective circle he does not clearly externalize his feelings."  [6]

     The text oscillates between internalization (confused with introversion) and an externalisation limited to a specific action field. Now internalization is linked to the 'slow inhibition' of autumn signs, not to the 'slow excitation' of summer signs (see above). The Cancer type tends to project his own aspirations to the outside, to measure reality according to the resources of his subjectivity, to colour the perceived with the solicitations of his imagination. Reality shows through a very personal way of 'feeling' ; it is a variable creation of his mind, a projection of his 'substance'. The imagination of the novels is a privileged illustration of the Cancer tendencies.  .

"According to I.P. Pavlov, the excitement inertia (L+) is linked to obsession, to stereotypes, to iteration, and mainly to paranoia. (...) The paranoid elements exist in Cancer : pride and distrust, partisan judgment, need for greatness and power, inflation of the Ego."  [7]

     The Cancer sign, in these paragraphs dedicated to the 'strong' type, mainly deals with its negative aspects, which allows Nicola to avoid repeating 'slow excitation' what was said for 'protective inhibition', and which masks the non-assumed similarity of these processes. Marcel Proust illustrates with verve, and in a positive fashion, the Cancer universe, whatever our astrologer may think : the Cancer type testifies of the importance of memory in the elaboration of an 'imaginary' affective universe, of the reconstruction of the past through present incitements, of the spatialisation of emotions and memories :  "I knew in which room I was effectively finding myself, I had rebuilt it around me in the darkness and—either by orienting myself through memory only, or by helping myself with a feeble perceived glow as indication (...) I had put back the mirrors and replaced the chest at its habitual position."  [8]

    The reality of the world and of the individuality takes shape through the mediation of 'affective memory'. Behaviour is guided by the intelligence of space and of the affective state. "The memory of the most successive being establishes for him a kind of identity and causes him not wanting to break promises he remembers, even though he has not countersigned them."  [9] This 'promise' relates to the permanence of a past acceptance; the past weighs on the present state and defines it by the persistence of relived emotions. The Cancer type builds himself in this permanent spatial and temporal expansion. The similarity of the object of recollection (for example the shell-shaped cookie) with the object which brings about its re-emergence, this similarity which is induced from their olfactory connection, brings back consciousness in related emotional states and gives rise to this feeling of continuity, or rather durability, which is the recognition criterion of the person.: "Only a moment of the past? Much more, maybe ; something which, at the same time common to the past and to the present, is much more essential than both."  [10]

    The Cancer type lives, re-lives the past and its most significant, emotionally charged moments, which are an indication of his present being. Creative imagination invests this mnemonic potential which evokes the present. The past reorients the present time and re-stabilises it. One only needs to explore the buried strata of consciousness to make them live again, because they are still there. Writing does not result from canvassing, but from reminiscence, as for Plato, probably another 'strong Cancer type'. "This essential book, the only true book, a great writer in the common meaning does not need to invent it, since it already exists in each of us; he only needs to translate it."  [11]

"The man who would realise the Cancer formula in its fullness would reach a climax of power. He would probably live in the feeling of being God setting the world clock and the works of his flock."  [12]

     Let us not linger about this representation of power and on the hackneyed metaphor of the watchmaker! It is inappropriate to attribute to the Cancer type and to the summer idiosyncrasy (including Leo) power (in the vulgar sense) and efficiency issues. The values and motivations of spring persons are foreign to summer persons.   Proust's fascination for the small world of high society is explained by its resonance with his consciousness due to his personal history. Proust has no desire (French : 'envie'), but 'in-life' (French : 'en-vie'), a life which is linked to it and evolves in it, with its little stories, like everywhere else. One should think of the Mexican gods, which are human gods, too human, and of Indian and South American mentality, which 'brings back the world to zero', according to the expression of Antonin Artaud.

    This world which I bring to life again, this world which shapes me and moulds me, is the same world for everyone, or at least an equivalent world. The ego is only a variable of the social community. With this putting down of roots, Cancer is the most sociable sign. Nicola confuses sociability, which is always the result of a limited integration, with 'associability' of the autumn signs. Temporal integration and synchronisation relate to the most ethereal realities, to the most subtle periodicities of the environment, and thus the psychic investment of the living world precedes the one of the socio-cultural world. Inversely, sedentarisation, territorialisation and the resulting socialisation processes fit with the summer function, which establishes barriers and protected spaces.

 "The excitement inertia brings to the verbal signalisation system various revisionist tendencies towards the spring spontaneity. (...) The pompous, turgid, grandiloquent style numbers among the cumbersome revisions. Concision and clarity found in slogans, in watchwords, in didactic style are the best of slow excitement."  [13]

          Although slogans and watchwords does not strictly speaking seem to illustrate the 'didactic style', one must conclude from these words that the 'slow excitement' favours at the same time clarity of style and its opposite! The cancer type operates by sedimentation, and if he is an artist, he uses a sort of cement in the constitution of his works. The pictorial creation requires accumulation of patterns and repetition of operations, leading to shading the expression : "Putting on several layers of colour, making my sentence precious in itself, like this small piece of yellow wall."  [14] The whole is concluded by concretion through successive passages. The artist must 'compel himself to bring an impression through all the successive states which will lead to its fixation, to expression.'  [15] The pictorial or literary work really is the fruit of the emotions and suffering exteriorized by the artist. This results in a thickness, a texture, which precisely sign the great summer works : the Volcano of Malcolm Lowry !

"Force of composition (...) complicated situations (...) ultra-conservative tendencies (...) family quarrrels"  [16]

     The cancer type, in 'composing' mode (term which should be reserved for fix, median signs), is here again interpreted in his negative aspects, and the so-called 'strong ultra-paradoxical phase' which follows (which should logically relate to the weak Cancer type, according to this logic), only increases the confusion between the so-called 'strong' and 'weak' types of the sign, which cannot easily be distinguished. More generally, this presupposed weakness, sometimes interpreted as lack of adaptation to a trivialized social environment, very often results from hasty judgment, and more precisely rooted in values and presuppositions of the spring (and in this case more specifically 'Taurus'). One should avoid translating the darkness and confusion in which many Cancer native sometimes bask, into contradiction terms, interpreting his need for taking root in images which are themselves stereotyped (such as 'infantile regression' or 'maternal complex'), confusing his authentic sociability with a lack of aggressiveness or efficiency, or only grasping in his artistic aspirations the inconsequence and fantasies of a capricious imagination. A zodiac sign represents a complete universe in itself; it lacks nothing.

     The supposedly 'weak Cancer type'  [17]  is treated as if it was lacking the process of the complementary sign, Sagittarius (according to the axial and equinoctial symmetry). It would be more coherent to consider in first instance the excess of investment of the functions of a sign as the sign of a lack of balance, which will not automatically be translated into the proof of a 'weakness' or a 'lack of adaptation'. Equalisation of dissimilar realities, a feature typical for equinoctial signs, results from a too strong polarisation, not from a lack of addition. Similarly, an excess of addition (solstice signs) leads to incoherent amalgam, and excess of composition (median signs) results in a deformation of perspectives.

     Astrologers are generally keen on these little psycho-astrological judgment exercises which give them the feeling to possess the tables of the law of beings, and to be able to judge men according to them. They forget that the abilities of an individual widely escapes the stranglehold of stars, or at least their rough knowledge of this stranglehold. Origen ! The astrologer could have a lot to learn from an important work which its creator expresses much better then he could with his limited means. One judges Nostradamus on a sextile or a half-point, one thinks he understands Van Gogh through an angular cluster of stars, or Descartes according to an arbitrary speculative theme. The news is not forgotten, since this babbling pretends justifying the fire in a casino, political polls, a terrorist attack, and any news item. All the resentment of astrologers, marginalised by the cultural society, is exteriorised in this psycho-babbling in vogue in common astrology which wallows in complacent magazines.

     Nicola, more than Rudhyar  [18] , interprets the signs of the zodiac as a function of socio-cultural pre-suppositions, and limits their virtual possibilities to their common manifestations in modern western society. His analyses presuppose values rooted in the mentality of this society : material and intellectual power, efficiency, competition, effectiveness, 'force' in all its forms. This reduction hinders the grasping of the specificity of the potentialities of the zodiac, independently from their rooting in a given culture. Every sign of the zodiac is first the image of an intrinsic potential, of an inalienable potentiality, which is independent, as far as possible, from any value system, because it represents a specific universe, a typical complex of options . It is no doubt necessary to re-position the interpretation in its socio-cultural context, but only in a second stage, and through a collateral analysis.

    Indeed, the interpretation of a chart is the occasion for each one to become conscious of his aspirations, of his singularity, of what causes an individual to be always somewhat of a stranger in his society and in his time, to possess his own seed of craziness, to disagree with externally imposed prescriptive criteria. The astrologer tends to transfigure the patient's potential abilities and predispositions from the standpoint of fashions and ideologies. This adaptation at al costs is not necessarily beneficial, and the astrologer, who is generally unaware of the progress in anti-psychiatry and post-Freudian therapies, reproduces the common psycho-therapeutic practices which submit the patient to the norms of the social environment, as if the birth chart did not present precisely the individual's 'location of power' , his potential to become and to develop his own inclinations, his own destiny.

     The term 'conditionalist' connotes the notion of possibility, as the absolute, incidental condition, but not contingent or imperative, of any manifestation. It translates the relativity of astral conditioning : 'under the condition' of taking into account extra-astrological factors (hereditary, socio-cultural, geo-climatic ...) and illustrates the astral condition of the individual, its unassailable idiosyncrasy, whatever his degree of realisation, his moral strength, his accomplished work, or the weight of circumstances. Finally and above all, it refers to Ivan Pavlov's conditional reflex. The originality of conditionalist astrology, and notably its relation with reflexology and neuro-physiological 'explanation' is transformed in a socio-cultural handicap in the small venal world of traffickers of horoscope products. And the label of soviet, Marxist-Leninist astrology, because of its Pavlovian nature -- 'you know, the dog that salivates!'--, as wrong as it can be, was capable of being the most certain brake to its expansion. This could justify its pragmatic inclinations by compensation, without legitimating them. In the news kiosks one can find some conditionalist or neo-conditionalist magazines, lead by a sense of compromise, and leaving aside the Pavlovian reference, which is embarrassing in a market where there is no place for it. Therefore the initial inspiration of conditionalism discords with its inability to draw the logical and ethical consequences from its principles, its feeble concessions to the market of astro-babbling in which it does not differentiate from its competition, and its stubbornness to use adaptation as a criteria for interpretation.

6. Semantics of the signs of the zodiac

Natural excitement
Spending of energy
Immediate and polarised reactivity
The Shock (opposition energy)

"As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradicting feelings : loathing for life and ecstasy for life." (Charles Baudelaire)

     Aries shows off brute strength without  mediation. He propulses himself into existence, armed against any potential misfortune, and reacts to 'anything which moves'. He is only conscious of his deeds at the moment of action. Reflex action, instantaneous reaction to stimulation, spontaneous and impulsive action, spurt in self-affirmation and in voluntary definition. He seeks to master the existential situation and takes a determined antagonising viewpoint against any potential source of conflict. The use of available force and realisation occur immediately. His practical intelligence adapts to the slightest energy variation. Aries lives 'one day at a time'. He commands an undifferentiated energy potential, without preliminary objective, always available and renewed (pugnacity, optimism, innocence, sense of sacrifice, enthusiasm, eternal youth...)

Natural inhibition
Concentrated excitement
Conservation and stability
The Bomb (assimilation energy)

"I am neither a brother, nor a son, nor a friend, I am a brain. (…) The other existences must contribute to mine." (Honoré de Balzac)

     The possessive power results from an accumulation of forces, from an exclusive reorientation of energy, from a strict regulation of needs, from a specialisation of activity. Taurus organises himself efficiently and utilises his environment for the purpose of a specific objective which matches his interest. This demanding and perseverant worker masters the existential contingencies and overcomes resistance and obstacles (firmness, single-mindedness, carefulness, control, discipline...). Thus all source of energy dwindles with time : existence is a 'shagreen' with limited resources, which he can manage sparingly and give away parsimoniously.

Natural excitement
Conditional spending
Thoughtful activity
The Flow (generalisation energy)

"Today I lived the minute of absolute power and invulnerability. I was an apiary which was flying towards the sources of altitude with all its honey and all its bees." (René Char, Feuillets d'Hypnos)

     Gemini shows off a diffuse, overflowing energy in all directions, in purpose of a varied, broad, intentional and pragmatic activity. The preliminary acceptance of collective norms and social conventions conditions the efficient integration and the plastic adaptation to fluctuations in the environment (availability, improvisation, persuasion, diplomacy, intuition...). Gemini evolves within a rather vast normalised field which allows the development of his tactical plans. He can make compromises and can seize the opportunities of a situation, making good use of his alliances and aides by persuading them to go by his views. It is in the general interest to follow the way in which he engages his responsibility, which often feeds of other's.

Protective inhibition
Plastic adaptation
Diffuse receptivity
The Earth (sedimentation space)

"Finding no more food for my heart on earth, I was little by little getting used to feeding it with its own substance and to looking for all its food inside me." (Rousseau, Reveries of a Solitary Walker)

     Cancer acquires his balance by symbiosis with an environment which he assumes to be built to his measure and which he shapes according to his wishes. He patiently weaves his net around him, by juxtaposition of successive layers and by concretion of external contributions, in a personal and protected space. Maintaining his vital balance requires a mainly vegetative existence, developing away from any competition,  sheltered in a world where the imaginary often takes precedence over reality, in a universe to his measure, which can invigorate him and give him confidence (passivity, dependence, daily routine, memory, affectivity..). Inducements extend into himself. He lingers in reviving the past, to the extent that he feeds of his own matter and is moved by his own emotions. The progressive impregnation of disparate reality shapes his punctual, vague, varying affective ties. He finds his balance in this apparent weakness. A little of everything as it comes.

Trace excitement
Concentrated protection
Spatial radiation
The Temple (fusion space)

"Far too soon it had begun to seem too much of a triumph, it had been too good, too horribly unimaginable to lose." (Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano)

     The concentration of inhibition creates a hollow centre in consciousness, a space which is open to the presence of sacred, and favours the origination of faith. The reason why Leo attempts to distinguish himself is that he needs to free himself from the evidence of this vacuum. Relatively insensitive to the fluctuation of the psyche, immune for reconsidering himself, he masters his behaviour and his emotions. Mundane life, passions and multiple existential intrigues fill his desire without satisfying it. He feigns authority more than he wants to seize it (integrity, loyalty, generosity, magnanimity...). Leo is a king who does not seek power, but who redistributes his powers. He multiplies the masks of his personality and takes on successive and varying roles according to the hazard of his encounters, because he only knows how to exist through the recognition by others of the ideal image he has of himself. He can change himself, become actor of himself, because he has surmounted otherness, because he his other while being himself.

Protective inhibition
Defensive limitation
Selective receptivity
The Mirror (reciprocity space)

"Whoever makes a serious return on himself rapidly becomes aware of the fact that he is only one half of a being." (Goethe, Maxims and reflections)

     Virgo sharply perceives his latent affinities and hostilities, as well as the limits of his capability. His affective space narrows around a chosen focus. The slightest detail related to it draws his interest because it is the encouraging indication of the proximity of the desired being. Werther. Virgo is sentimental, susceptible for the most passionate attachments, although 'cold', indifferent and apparently critical (self-restraint, discretion, reserve, devotion, fidelity...) The exchange materialises through affective, almost permanent ties. Virgo is the only one who is capable of loving and giving everything without condition. His receptivity to others is so strong that he picks up his words, gestures, states and desires through some kind of unconscious mimicry.

Temporal excitement
Intensive association
Careful coordination
The Come-Back (time of balance)

" It is the uncertainty that charms one. A mist makes things wonderful." (Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray)

     The psychic plasticity and the acute attention to fluctuations of the living imply supple and fluctuating relationships with the environment. A deed increases in weight with the consideration of all the potential, and is only accomplished with regret for everything which it leaves aside. The difficulty for taking a stand results from a heightened sensitivity for the diversity of consciences. Indecision results from receptivity to various solicitations and from respect for the integrity of beings and of their successive states (authenticity, delicacy, subtlety, refinement, tolerance, charm...) Libra does not have fixed, polarised or definitive feelings or habits : his attachments are undefined, variable, ethereal, vivified by the presence of what can potentially animate them.

Differential inhibition
Concentrated attention
Selective distinction
The Moment (time of dosing)

"As Ego, you have nothing left in common with anybody, and therefore nothing incompatible or hostile." (Max Stirner, The Ego and its Own)

     The sharp discernment allows the apprehension for the appropriate object, for the favourable location, for the sensitive point, for the crucial moment, for the eternal moment (perspicacity, critical sense, demystification, marginality...) Scorpio singles himself out by underlining his differences. He only has relative certainties. The essential part of his being, his vital core, cannot be determined or rationalised, because the 'power' is hidden in the elusive. Impervious to any illusion, refractory to established values, rebel against any enrolment, irreducible for any identification, but sensitive for the rejected, despised, cast-off, he evolves towards dispossession and self-regeneration.

Temporal excitement
Extensive association
The Spiral (time of harmonisation)

"The enterprise of instituting a new life" (Spinoza)

     Openness to universality results from the anxiousness to take into account all points of view and to assemble them in a synthetic inspired vision. Sagittarius only takes into account the least egocentric aspirations (solidarity, fairness, cooperation, fraternization, compassion...). No matter the decorum : no one else has such a fervour to go beyond the limits, to contend for the limits, to fight against alienations, to fight against unfairness and vulgarity in all their forms, even to dare utopia and to challenge it beyond measure. Force obeys duty. Wisdom forms through reality's hardship. No matter the lack of comfort and the annoyance for someone who simultaneously possesses the courage to live and to act.

Extinctive Inhibition
Active and generalised systematisation
The Cristal (structure of crystallisation)

"Moving the assemblage point is everything. (...) So, close the door of self-reflection. Be impeccable and you'll have the energy to reach the place of silent knowledge." (Carlos Castaneda, The Power of Silence)

     Capricorn rids himself of the insufficient, of the superfluous, of the artificial, of the random, of the futile which covers each phenomenon in its manifestation, to retain only the strictly necessary (detachment, exactingness, sobriety, austerity, exactness, probity....). He aspires to perfection. His anxiousness for objectivity and his search for the 'truth', the absolute, imply the definition of invariant, of constant properties and permanent elements, beyond the existential circumstantial conditioning factors. The reasoned construction of the natural and social environment is the design of an uninterested intelligence, serving an abstract ideal without concession. One needs to be serious about the necessary, beyond illusory appearances, and order it in accordance with the purest principles.

Re-creative excitement
Concentrated extinction
The Code (structure of conciliation)

"Believe or do not believe what you will be taught, but never make any objection. Imagine that you are taught the rules of whist." (Stendhal, The Charterhouse of Parma)

     Aquarius is open to everything that gets lost and disappears; he rehabilitates abandoned ideas and updates forgotten values. No prejudice commands this restoration of the past, this assembly of renovated elements (independence, curiosity, cleverness, originality...). The organism no longer has a centre of gravity : he transforms himself according to the solicitations of the moment. Every reality is indirectly in keeping with the environment. Beyond the old and the new, the essential and the incidental, the deep and the superficial, transcending fashions and routines, Aquarius takes pleasure in the abstract exchange without a priori, in the suspension of ego. Nothing is unbecoming, because only the fluctuations of the context of the intellectual game are relevant.

Extinctive inhibition
Global structuring
The Matrix (structure of neutrality)

"And this part of my being and several others are already dead, others half-dead, the most active which held the first rank during the vigour of my age. In this manner I melt and escape to myself." (Michel de Montaigne, Essays)

     Most incitements are rejected, relativized, disintegrated. Pisces escapes any control and any subservience because he only reacts to essential signals. Warned in advance and notified against the unforeseen, he creeps, navigates and lives through situations and environments while blending with them. His mental plasticity protects him against fluctuations of the moment and keeps him at a distance from the variables conditioning factors which he neutralises (disengagement, relinquishment, asceticism, placidity...). He seems all the more impersonal, indifferent, dissolved, 'extinguished' since he does not assimilate anything, does not identify with anything, does not hold to anything. His 'contradictions' are explained by the ease with which he constantly changes his reference point.

7. From external zodiacs to internal zodiac

"We are living in the same sky. It finds itself in front of our eyes. The internal sky, however, is not in front of our eyes, but behind our eyes." (Paracelsus, The Paragranum Book)

     The celestial bodies are concrete signals, and the rate of the duration of their diurnal and nocturnal arcs finds a response in the forms of nervous excitement and activity.  [19]  The classical zodiacal framework is not radically transformed (twelve signs, bipolar alternation, seasonal quarts), but regains an internal equivalent, of neuro-physiological nature. The way from astronomy to physiology, and from the external physical existent to its neurological respondent is made clear. As Paracelsus wanted it, exogenous cycles reveal endogenous rhythms.

     The zodiac is no longer a fixed area conferring such and such quality depending on the zone occupied by a moving celestial body, but it is co-extensible with the movement of the planets. It is not a fixed 'band' in which planets come and settle. There are as many 'zodiacs' as there are mobile celestial bodies. These zodiacs are superimposed in the native theme and are coordinated at the level of the nervous system. The unity of the zodiac is legitimated by the unity of the zodiac.

     The zodiac is not 'in the sky' as the siderealists and the opponents of astrology think, but in the brain. One needs to imagine the zones travelled by the planets, the ecliptic circle and its surroundings void of any fixed star : it would be exactly the 'same zodiac'! The signs of the zodiac are internalized temporal moments, linked to the planetary rhythms and crystallised by the psychic apparatus. A sign of the zodiac is a planetary frequency. It is not a delimited surface but a specific phase of the development of a planetary cycle, a moment which is temporally qualified with an energetic rhythm.

     Only the planet has a physical existence. The signs are its phases of tension and thaw. The zodiac illustrates the nervous organisation of these phases, the regulation of these moments. It represents an 'ideal cycle' of nervous organisation : speed and then slowness of excitement, speed and then slowness of inhibition, and triggering, concentration then irradiation of each of these processes.

     The sign is a modulation of the planetary function: it is the translation of a mode of reactivity, or rather the nervous and psychic crystallisation of this mode of reactivity. The 'character traits' which could be linked to it are only a more or less incidental consequence of the fixation of similar impressions through mental representation. The unconscious tendencies which a sign of zodiac engraves into the psyche link the cognitive, aesthetic, affective or moral aspirations to certain forms of investment of the planetary functions.

     The nervous cells grow old and only the most frequent cellular connexions stabilise. In this way the sign, and foremost the solar sign, marks its imprint on the psyche and becomes for each one a sort of incontrovertible archetype, a scheme without defined content, a potential of pre-formation, which orients activity and judgment in a given direction. The solar sign marks the personal ideal; it is the vital centre which invests and canalises the multiplicity of connate desires; More than any other astral operator, the individual aspires to the accomplishment of his solar sign, namely to the encounter of an object, an activity or an environment capable of satisfying the potentialities of that sign.

[1] Gilles Deleuze brings this distinction back to a temporal issue (in Différence et répétition, Paris, P.U.F., 1968, p.293-299). In reality, they indifferently apply to one or the other inclusive factor of consciousness : Energy, Space, Time, Structure (cf. "The four Inclusives of Perception", « Text

[2] I give a detailed analysis of Nietzsche's Balance : cf. the next chapters of my thesis, "Nietzsche : Balance and Eternal Return". These medaillons of philosophers only concern the appropriate phase of their solar sign. More elaborate analyses would take into account all the factors of the birth chart, as well as their relationships. « Text

[3] Cf. my texts, for space: "The Three Archetypes of Space",, for time: "The three temporal functions", in The Cyclical Astral Time, D.E.A. of ParisI/Sorbonne University, 1984, and for structure: "The Threefold Nature of Knowledge", « Text

[4] Cf. the next chapters of my thesis, "Astral Geoculturology". « Text

[5] Cf. Georges Dumézil, Les dieux des Indo-Européens, Paris, P.U.F., 1952. « Text

[6] Jean-Pierre Nicola, La Condition solaire, Paris, Éditions Traditionnelles, 1965, p.113. « Text

[7] Nicola, Op. cit., p.114-115. « Text

[8] Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann [Swann's Way], Paris, Gallimard, 1913 ; 1954 ; coll. Folio, p.223. « Text

[9] Marcel Proust, Le temps retrouvé [Time Regained], Paris, Gallimard, 1927 ; 1954 ; coll. Folio, p.9. « Text

[10] Marcel Proust, Le temps retrouvé, Paris, Gallimard, 1927 ; 1954 ; coll. Folio, p.229. « Text

[11] Marcel Proust, Le temps retrouvé, Paris, Gallimard, 1927 ; 1954 ; coll. Folio, p.251. « Text

[12] Nicola, Op. cit., p.115. « Text

[13] Nicola, Op. cit., p.115. « Text

[14] Marcel Proust, La prisonnière [The Captive], Paris, Gallimard, 1923 ; 1954 ; coll. Folio, p.222. « Text

[15] Marcel Proust, Le temps retrouvé, Paris, Gallimard, 1927 ; 1954 ; coll. Folio, p.241. « Text

[16] Nicola, Op. cit., p.115-116. « Text

[17] Nicola, Op. cit., p.117 et sq. « Text

[18] Dane Rudhyar, The pulse of life ; trad. fr. [Le rythme du zodiaque], Monaco, Le Rocher, 1981. « Text

[19] "The model given by Pavlov has allowed me to operate in a systematic way and above all to follow the paths of deductive thinking. This way, by putting together the excitability of the diurnal arc (equivalent to the duration of the day for each degree of solar declination) and the inhibition of the nocturnal arc, I found in all the zodiac types Pavlov's typology." (Jeane Pierre [sic] Nicola, "Puzzles and models of a research", in The Journal of Astrological Studies [a publication of ISAR], 1, 1970, p.237-238). « Text

Reference of the page:
Patrice Guinard: Semantics of the Zodiacal Signs
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