Sunday, February 17, 2008

Androgyny and Astrology?


It's a word that means so many things to so many people. It can mean "someone who displays or adopts characteristics of the opposite sex," or "someone who displays or adopts characteristics of both sexes." It can mean "someone who remains gender-neutral." It can be used to indicate any nontraditional combination of the thousands of social and biological variables that make up our gestalt perception of gender.

It's a word that relates to a very diverse spectrum. Or perhaps it's a loop, a sort of endless Moebius strip of behaviors, patterns, and tendencies that are conditioned both by internal and external factors.

Maybe androgyny is something for which I haven't yet stumbled onto a satisfactory metaphor. I know that as an astrologer, at least, I'm torn about it.

I admit it: looking into personal charts to find indicators of sexual preferences and gender variance is fascinating. I love to watch the interaction of factors and their ultimate expression in a life; the diversity of it all is profoundly beautiful. But linking gender and sex variables to astrology (or psychology or mythology or any other symbolic way of coming to grips with the world) leads to some pretty important quesitons.

If someone fits a certain pattern of indicators, are they fated to live out that pattern? Is it healthier for them to deal actively with patterns that may be "unacceptable" for whatever reason, or is it healthier to resist?

Are astrological or psychological explanations even relevent, in the end? ("You have a Uranus square your Mars in the 12th house, therefore you may not exhibit traditional masculinity," or "You were subject to mixed messages about your femininity as a child which resulted in gender ambivalence.") These are simplistic examples, but the question remains: so what? Now what? Do so-called explanations make anything any easier? Should they?

When we seek explanations (and offer them to others) what are we trying to accomplish? Are we attempting to justify ourselves, normalize ourselves, find a way to make sense of ourselves, make ourselves better? Are we trying to find ways to balance the need to be our own natural selves with the need to belong to some kind of society?

Like any other symbolic system, astrology offers no answers. Or, more correctly, it offers no final answers-- instead, it offers more questions. At its best, it can raise new questions that are more interesting and more productive than one's old habitual set.

Of course, some people demand answers, not more questions. We all do, in some areas and at some point in our lives. There are times when we want things to be clear, to be black or white, yes or no; it's impossible to live with total ambiguity all the time, not without falling into psychosis.

So what about androgyny? How comfortable can we be with someone whose gender raises more questions than it offers answers, especially if that someone is ourselves?

You tell me.

(a couple of links for clickety-clicking, should you be so inlined...)

(an interesting little muse by Jeff Kishner)

(another one, by Melody Scott Zindell)

(scholarly article, very good-- though I don't always agree--by Gerry Goddard)
(assembled at astroqueer.com...not all these links are current)