Among the questions I hear most frequently are those that involve astrological compatibility, the idea that some signs are better for us than others. For instance, Aries is said to get along with Leo but not with Scorpio. Cancer should avoid Libra but is good with Taurus. Why is this? What thinking lies behind this astrological segregation?
The answer can be found in the gender of the sign. Half the signs of the Zodiac are traditionally labeled male, half are female. The fire and air signs are male, the earth and water signs are female. Plainly put, male signs should avoid female signs, and vice versa, or so traditional astrology would have you think.
This view of conflict between certain signs is one of astrology's worst old wives' tales. Using gender to categorize, then separate the signs really doesn't help one gain insight into the meanings of the signs. In fact, it is a hindrance to chart interpretation. Assigning gender to the signs of the Zodiac creates limitations on the imagination and scope of the astrologer's perceptions. It is difficult to avoid ingrained attitudes toward gender. For example, historically, fire signs were described as heroic and confident (they’re masculine), while the water signs were vulnerable and insecure (they’re feminine). There are plenty of hackneyed value judgments attached to the signs based on gender. Just read an old astrology book’s description of Pisces as the dustbin of the Zodiac, or Scorpio as mean and difficult. Both are water, therefore feminine, signs. On the other hand, the male signs are associated with courage (fire) and intelligence (air).
I have seen many successful relationships and marriages between people whose charts would send traditional astrologers into fits if anxiety and cautionary warnings about the inevitable failure of the relationship, simply because the signs in their charts are not “compatible”. While most astrologers don’t realize it, gender is at the bottom of this presumed incompatibility. This notion of the irreconcilable differences between certain signs originated with the ancient Greeks, who did in fact, socially separate men from women, and were also responsible for much of today’s astrological theory. They passed this cultural gender prejudice onto the astrological theory of their day, where it has remained unquestioned for centuries.
Is there any truth to the idea that some signs are better for us than others? The answer is NO! Forget compatibility based on signs. Don’t look to astrology to determine whether a relationship will work out or not. Instead use astrology as a way of understanding another human being, not as a way to create more barriers and limits in our hearts. Sometimes we are drawn to people who are just like us, in which case there may be a lot of overlay between the charts – shared signs, houses or aspects, or other indications that there could be some interior similarity. At other times we may be drawn to people who are entirely different from us because some kind of complementarity is occurring and each partner supplies qualities that the other lacks.
Astrology is a useful way of gaining insight into the interior world of another person. Insight into other people’s character can heighten our compassion and understanding of what motivates another person. Astrological charts can help to explain why someone acts the way he or she does. When we understand what drives someone’s conduct and behavior, it is easier to not personalize it, judge it or be hurt by it. Astrology’s greatest gift lies in its ability to help us understand and empathize with our loves ones. It should not be used as a way of deciding who we should or shouldn’t get involved with. Like predicting the future and fortune telling, traditional chart comparison based on compatibility of signs is a function that 21st century astrology can leave behind in the ashes of the past.