Lack of fire
How would we describe someone who has a dominant fire element, with several planets in fire signs?
Audience: They will be optimistic, dramatic, radiant, forward-looking, and they will believe in themselves.
Clare: Yes. For people with several planets in fire, these qualities
will be an intrinsic feature of their conscious psyches. They have 'fire
within', or true fire, which means that they will usually have plenty of
faith in themselves, and an instinctively optimistic approach to life which
feels natural, comfortable and relaxed. They have nothing to prove. People
with a lot of fire don't have to make an effort to be optimistic; they
are just naturally optimistic, because that is how they are wired. And
they don't need to preach optimism and faith, because neither of these
things are a problem for them.
With a lack or absence of fire, however, then the quality of the fire expression will be significantly different. Someone with a lack of fire within will need to find their faith and meaning out there in the world, and this may well drive them in a fanatical, compulsive and extreme way which can actually be quite exhausting for that person, and even burn them out. This is an example of false fire, which can never be easy or comfortable, and which cannot be taken lightly or joked about. There is an important and very noticeable difference in the quality of these two types of expression. A lack is harsh, exhausting, and obsessive, which immediately gives us the clue that this person may not have that element.
Audience: This sounds like the difference between trines and squares.
Clare: Yes. A strong element is like a trine, relaxed and comfortable. An element lack or imbalance is like a square; there is a confrontation, a striving to resolve and manifest something in the world, and it is out of this struggle and tension that the most amazing achievements come. A shorthand way of thinking about the issues that might arise with a lack of fire in the chart is to think about the themes that belong to the signs of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. Some fire words would therefore be: passion, competition, fame, recognition, self-belief, self-expression, risk-taking, the excitement of the chase, enthusiasm, optimism, and adventurousness. Without these qualities as conscious components of our own psyches, we will be driven to demonstrate them in the outside world. It is no accident that many famous people and film stars, such as Elvis Presley and Sean Connery, are lacking in fire, because there can be a tremendous drive for recognition by the outside world. Or that successful entrepreneurs and risk-takers, such as Aristotle Onassis, lack fire. Or that cult figures, visionaries or religious leaders, those who fire our imaginations and give us faith - anyone who is consumed by a cause - may lack fire. Inner faith does not have to be preached, it just is. Nostradamus, who had a lack of fire in his chart, was overwhelmed by powerful visions of the future.
Audience: Does this kind of overcompensation sometimes take a long time to show up? I know several people who are lacking in fire, but they are very passive and earthy. They are procrastinating all the time, and dreaming about doing things but never actually doing them. They don't seem to have any driving energy. I keep wondering if this will come later on.
Clare: It may be that they are already living the fire in their imaginations and dreams, and perhaps it is these dreams and fantasies that are more important to them than reality itself. Their driving energy may well be going into the imagination. Alternatively, they may have fiery partners who are living this out for them.
Audience: Let's say you are doing a chart for someone who has no fire. Do you assume that they will be lacking in basic energy and faith and self-belief, or do you assume they are going to be all fired up with some kind of goal? How do you approach this?
Clare: I think both are true. Most of what I am talking about tonight has been drawn from my own experience of working with clients. When I first started seeing clients and, for example, had a chart with a lack of fire, I might suggest that they had a lack of basic optimism, faith or energy. And I learned very quickly that this was not the right approach, because there was almost bound to be a kind of rigid defensiveness, a flat denial or over-compensation going on, and the client would often feel offended and start saying things like: 'No, I haven't', and then go on to give many instances to prove that what I had said was not true.
Audience: I was doing the chart of a friend of mine the other day, and I explained that she had no fire. She said that everyone was always telling her how fiery she was.
Clare: Yes, that tends to be the response you will get - something along the lines of, 'What do you mean?', or 'How can you possibly say that?', because it is a sensitive issue.
Audience: It is interesting that you say that Elvis Presley had no fire, because to me he is the archetypal fiery character. And yet he was a Capricorn Sun, wasn't he?
Clare: Yes, and yet he is one of the most famous cult figures of all time. He has become mythic, almost godlike, which is also a common theme with people who have a lack of fire.
Audience: And he was, in fact, very interested in religion, because a lot of his music was based on gospel music.
Clare: For some reason it seems that exceptionally talented people with a lack of fire can also die young, but at the same time become immortal, because they take on a mythic quality. This was true of both Kurt Cobain and Mozart, to take two extremely different examples. One of my favourite examples is that of Johannes Kepler, the sixteenth century astrologer and astronomer. Kepler had no fire in his chart except for the north Node in Leo. In spite of having double vision, he worked obsessively on the planetary orbits, producing 900 pages of tiny writing on the orbit of Mars. This is a good example of unbalanced behaviour, but his work led him to the discovery of the three great laws of planetary motion, which made him famous. What drove him was his desire to prove mathematically that the cosmos was an expression of divine perfection and harmony. We can achieve tremendous things where there is a lack in the chart, but they are never achieved easily, or without stress or tension.
Audience: Bruce Willis is another one without fire, isn't he? And yet he is out there being heroic and saving the world all the time in his films.
Audience: And I think there is a film where he actually goes out into space to blow up an asteroid that is heading for the earth. That is a combination of the extreme adventurer and risk-taker acting as the saviour of the world.
Clare: Quite. And we could certainly see this as a good example of over-compensation. But films - particularly science fiction - are flights of the imagination, so they can be a fiery medium, and it is through film that he achieves the fame and recognition he is seeking.
Lack of earth
With a lack of planets in earth signs, we can start to think about the kind of issues associated with the earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. These will include money, security, the body, sexuality, food, health, work, practical skills, professional status, and responsibility. But I have learned never to say to someone with no earth that they may have issues about money, or about their bodies or their careers, because they are most likely to deny it, and say things like: 'I am very embodied - I go to the gym eight times a week'. The point about this is that it does not prove they have a good relationship to their bodies - it just proves that they have an obsessive relationship with their bodies, because it is not normal to go to the gym eight times as week. This will be a sensitive issue, but the point is that it is this kind of obsession which makes exceptional gymnasts or dancers or athletes, so it can be very creative.
Audience: I have a friend who is a great nutritionist, and she only has one planet in earth.
Clare: That is a good example of two earthy themes, work and food, coming together. And I would imagine that she is quite obsessive in her own life about food and diet, so working as a nutritionist is a very good way to earn money and to be of practical service, while at the same time, it gives her a reason to focus on the thing which obsesses her.
Audience: Yes, that's right.
Clare: I have often noticed that people with a lack of earth can have real issues about authority figures or professionals or people who represent structure and organisation. There can be a rather fanatical mistrust or despising of people in authority, and yet at the same time, the individual often longs for a position of authority and professional recognition themselves. Having a lack of an element often means that we will simultaneously despise and crave those things that are associated with that element. It sounds irrational and it is irrational, but it is very useful to understand that this is an important component of human nature.
Audience: That sounds fairly similar to the way oppositions work.
Clare: Yes, that's right. Bill Gates is an example of someone with no earth, who is one of the wealthiest men on earth and who has built a huge empire. And now that he has become a philanthropist, a great deal of his money is being spent on medical research, which is an interesting manifestation of a lack of earth and a corresponding interest in health issues.
Audience: It's as if he is not actually interested in the money itself.
Clare: That's right. He may well despise wealth and status on some level, and yet, on the other hand, work fanatically hard to achieve it. This can be a very useful way of helping us to see and accept our inner contradictions. This is not easy to do, but very helpful in understanding ourselves more fully. Bill Gates has now made himself whole by 'finding his earth' out there in the world. But that still doesn't give him any earth within. So, if he was your client and you mentioned 'money issues' during the consultation, he would probably agree with you - unless, of course, he had an unconscious complex about money, in which case he would feel offended and defend himself rigorously.
Audience: I only have Mercury and Chiron in earth, so I suppose that means I have a problem with the earth function.
Clare: It means that the earth function will be extremely important. You will find yourself driven to achieve something concrete and useful and practical, and that is where your particular gifts and talents may lie.
Audience: What I really hate is when people are tight and mean.
Clare: It sounds as if you judge people who hold on to their money, and yet, no doubt, you also work hard to build up enough of your own and to hold on to it, because this represents personal security for you. This could be an example of the kinds of contradictions that are inherent when we have a lack or absence of an element. Does this make any sense to you?
Audience: Yes, you are right.
Clare: I will just mention a few more examples of people with a lack of earth in their charts, before we move on. As I mentioned before, this can be a feature in the charts of people with highly developed and controlled bodies, such as athletes and ballet dancers. Or we might see this in people's life work - for example, Charles Darwin, whose life was devoted to studying nature, and Thomas Hardy the writer, whose novels strongly evoke the seasons and the English countryside, and Rodin, the sculptor. Or even the model Elle Macpherson, who has no earth in her chart, but who is known as 'the body'. An extremely unpleasant example is that of Dennis Nilson, the serial murderer who was obsessed with bodies, chopping his victims into pieces.
Lack of air
How are we going to approach a chart with a lack of air?
Audience: Will they have difficulty with detachment and with thinking logically?
Clare: That's right, and they are likely to have difficulty with intellectuals, or with the education system, or with people who are experts in their field, while seeking to be respected for their intelligence and ideas themselves. An air complex is likely to be fanatical, opinionated and rigid. Or they may well try to do their thinking by using one of the other elements, which is not the same thing as true air. For example, there may be a passionate drive or desire to communicate (fire acting as air), particularly strong feelings about relationships or social issues (water acting as air), or an obsession to objectively prove one's intellectual ability to the world by learning several languages or gaining several degrees or doctorates (earth functioning as air), none of which are ultimately the same thing as the thinking function itself, which is cool and logical and rational. All of these functions masquerade as the air function, but none of them is capable of genuinely replacing or truly compensating for the lack of air in the chart. But if we are comfortable with our intellects, we don't need to prove our intelligence to the outside world.
Audience: My boyfriend only has his Ascendant in an air sign, and he is obsessed with studying.
Clare: And no doubt he has made great achievements intellectually?
Audience: Yes, he has.
Clare: I think it is important not to see this as some kind of handicap, but as the source of our unique talents and achievements. The issues are likely to be those which are associated with the air signs of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. This is not just about learning and studying, but it also includes the principles of equality, justice and harmony, relationships and involvement with social or political issues. And it is certainly true that there is a long list of famous scientists, writers, thinkers, politicians and philosophers who have a lack of air in their charts. When the air function erupts from the unconscious, it can bring real genius and brilliance, although the lack of an integrated air function can also mean difficulty functioning on the ordinary levels of thought and communication. The philosophers Bertrand Russell and Descartes lacked air, as did the writers Tolstoy, Goethe and Walter Scott, to name just a few examples. This can also be the case with brilliant scientists, such as Albert Einstein, whose only planet in air was Jupiter. I believe that he was literally unable to work out how to tie his shoelaces.
Lack of water
A person with several planets in water is likely to be in constant touch
with the natural ebb and flow of their emotions. They are sensitive to
changing rhythms in themselves and in others, and normally able to ride
the emotional waves as they rise and fall. A lack of water, on the other
hand, can describe someone whose emotional responses can be rather inappropriate,
absent, or overwhelming. Emotions can erupt from the unconscious in such
a way that the individual can feel as if they are being dissolved or drowned
by their feelings. The issues are likely to revolve around the themes of
Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces - feelings about belonging and nurturing, emotional
dependence on others, empathy and compassion, and emotional pain.
With a lack of water, we may well try to feel by using one of the other elements with which we are more comfortable. We might try to feel with our fire function, dramatising or acting out our feelings without actually processing them on an emotional level. Or we might use our air function to learn a range of theories about feelings, and talk about their feelings all the time, whereas the water function itself is mute. Or we might use our earth function and work with feelings, by becoming a therapist, for example. A more self-destructive way of trying to access our feelings with the earth function might be to cut our bodies. These are all examples of compensating for a difficulty in feeling and processing emotions on an inner level. A lack of water is often found in the charts of exceptionally talented musicians, such as John Lennon, or Claude Debussy, who wrote the Sea Symphony. The same thing is true of many outstanding psychoanalysts, such as Jung, Freud, and Rollo May. It is well recognised that psychotherapists and counsellors often seek to heal themselves by working with their clients' emotional problems.
There can also be a very concrete obsession with water or liquid, as in the case of alcoholics, or people who use drugs to block out their feelings, or swimmers such as Mark Spitz, who won five Olympic gold medals, or even those, like Virginia Woolf or Percy Shelley, who drowned. In one way or another, the missing water function seems to demand outward expression in the lives of those who have a lack of this element in their charts.
Audience: I have certainly heard that people who are afraid of their emotions also have a fear of water.
Audience: Just before we end, can you say something about unaspected planets?
Clare: Yes, although the themes are identical to the ones we have been looking at tonight. A planet is considered to be unaspected if it makes no major aspects - conjunctions, oppositions, trines, squares or sextiles - or perhaps just one aspect. An unaspected planet, by definition, lacks integration with the other planets in a chart, and therefore it is not modified by other chart factors. It is therefore likely to function in a pure, archetypal and autonomous way, unmodified by the influence of other planets in the chart. Unaspected planets are always important, and deserve special consideration in a chart analysis.