Reverence For Life

 

The other day, I happened to think about a woman that I used to date when I lived in Baltimore. The thought seemed to come totally out of the blue, like : “I wonder what she’s up to these days”.

We pretty much lost touch, and I didn’t have any relevant information on her, so I googled her. To my surprise, I found out that she passed away in November of 2009. I sat with that for a minute. I really didn’t know how to feel. She was 34 years old, and one of the first things I wondered is if she had a good life. I wondered if she’d enjoyed herself on this earth and claimed her corner of the world which was mainly designed by her.

A couple of years ago, my Dad wasn’t doing so well physically. I’d never witnessed him in that condition before. As I stood in the hospital, I tried to keep my mind from moving into the territory that asks: “what if he’s not here anymore?” It’s these types of experiences that remind me that it’s important to let people know how you feel about them when you have the chance. Yes, it may sound cliche’ and some may even say “corny”, but there are millions of people everywhere who wish they had one last chance to speak to their friends, family and even those that may have irked them in unfathomable ways.

Every day, I talk to people who have “issues” with a certain individual; people who despise their job, or feel as if they’re in a dead-end relationship. Or, they’ve reigned themselves to the fact that they’re never going to find the type of love they desire. I log into social media and see people complaining about almost every single thing that you can possibly name before I can even take my first sip of morning coffee.

My fundamental questions to everyone are relatively simple: When do you make time for the goodness in your life? Are you enjoying yourself? Are you participating in activities which are aligned with your true interests? Are you pursuing a life’s work which speaks to a deeper part of you? Keep in mind, this doesn’t have to be written on a business card or in some corporate directory. It can simply be a niche that you’ve carved out for yourself. A space where you simply get into your “zone”.

Sometimes we have to rewind.

If only in our minds, Most of us have that time in our lives that we can return to which we view as being relatively simple. We must ask ourselves:  What really turned us on? What made us laugh? Where did we find our enjoyment? What enhanced our life’s?

The more I live, the more I realize what we ALL have to do to being MEANING to our lives.

It’s up to us.

Very few of us are going to get hit by a rock falling out of the sky followed by revelation “from the heavens” that we should be a doctor, lawyer, astrologer, etc..

There’s a certain amount of introspection we need to undertake to decide what we want our lives to look like. Then, we decide a realistic means for getting there.

I think that this really starts with a reverence for life. A profound respect for what we’re here to do, whatever that may be.

Not all of us are going to be rich, famous, “conventionally” sexy or attractive or “brilliant”, but we can practice the perfect enjoyment of becoming.

We can create a life for ourselves which bears our unique signature.

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The Virgo Mixtape: Refined Design

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Shout out to the Virgo’s !! You’ve played the background with a patient, humble demeanor and now it’s time to put your gift out into the world which you’ve been refining and perfecting behind the scenes. After all, the sixth sign of the zodiac is known for it’s immense capacity to serve and improve on an individual and a collective level.

Virgo wants to be adeptThey want to hone their skills and become masters of their craft. Whether these abilities are released in the form of  Kobe Bryant’s triple doubles, or Nas’monumental hip hop verses, the design is stellar.

Sometimes, we see your immense talent more clearly thanyou do. Even though your sign symbolizes the harvest season, I encourage you never to hide or lose your light underneath a bushel. It’s essential that your positive attributes shine through to be noticed by others. The world needs this and so do you.

Without further delay, I present you with the Virgo mixtape. Enjoy.

Side One (Mercury)
(1) Tru Master- Pete Rock + Inspectah Deck + Kurupt
(2) Skillz in 95′ – Skillz
(3) Masta I.C. – Mic Geronimo
(4) Build Ya Skillz – KRS ONE + Busta Rhymes
(5) Come Clean – Jeru The Damaja
(6) Plug Tunin’ – De La Soul
(7) Thinking Man’s Session – Grap Luva
(8) The Purist – Polyrhythm Addicts
(9) Microphone Mathematics- Madlib
(10) Where Yo Skillz At? – Artifacts
(11) Flawless- Phife
(12) Sincerely Yours- Little Brother
(13) Change It All- Goapele
(14) Cold Shoulder- Adele

Side Two (6th House)
(1) Be Healthy – Dead Prez
(2) The Medicine – Show + A.G.
(3) The Perfect Beat – Talib Kweli + KRS ONE
(4) Evaridae – O.C. + Pharoahe Monch
(5) Get Er Done – Jake One + Doom
(6) Perfectionists – Invincible + Helixx
(7) Raw – Big Daddy Kane
(8) Moment of Clarity – Jay Z
(9) Dr. Knockboot- Nas
(10) Hot Potato – Naughty By Nature + Freddie Foxxx
(11) Mincemeat – Danger Mouse + Doom
(12) No Excuses – Chaundon
(13) Precisely The Right Rhymes – Gangstarr
(14) Perfect Decision – Vivian Green

Bonus Tracks : “So Fresh, So Clean” by Outkast; “Virgo” by Nas featuring Ludacris + Doug E. Fresh

Virgo roll call: Alice Coltrane, Jay Electronica, Nas, Chaundon, Grap Luva, Ludacris, Keith Murray, M.C. Shan, Idris Elba, Dave Chappelle, Larenz Tate, Noreiga, Sophia Loren, Greta Garbo, Doug E. Fresh, Beyonce, Big Daddy Kane, Foxy Brown, Pink, Khrysis, Karl Lagerfeld, Adam Sandler, Kobe Bryant, Moby, Trugoy (De La Soul), Eazy E, Taraji Henson, Macy Gray, Fiona Apple, Michael Jackson, Eldridge Cleaver, Ricky Bell (New Edition/BBD), Sean Connery, Charlie Parker, Sugar Shane Mosely, Ron O’Neal, Otis Redding, River Phoenix, Blair Underwood, Sanaa Lathan, Rosie Perez, Salma Hayek, Freddie Mercury, David Copperfield, Keanu Reeves, Tommy Lee Jones, Celia Cruz, Oliver Stone, Xzibit, Hugh Grant, Richard Wright, Jack Black, Luke Wilson, Lance Armstrong, Althea Gibson, Lord Jamar,, Faith Hill, Valerie Simpson, James Gandolfini, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Understanding Your Mercury Sign : Aries – Gemini

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“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms they’re interested in.” -Bill Gates

Communication.

Yes, it sounds simple enough. We talk, we listen and we understand. According to Merriam-Webster, communication is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behavior.”  Fair enough. To Astroland we go…..

Enter the Astrological Mercury. The planet, which represents communication on all levels: speech, writing, thought, opinions, connections. Mercury is how we learn. It’s what we talk about and what we think about. Getting the word out is one of this planets primary drives, as it excels in the distribution of information. We even assign the word mercurial to those who exhibit the qualities of shrewdness, verbal dexterity and ingenuity. True to it’s speed as a planet in the cosmos, Mercury ‘s energy allows us to make perceptions with lightning speed. In fact, so fast that “right” , “wrong” , “good” and “bad” don’t necessarily have time to be calculated, as the planer is highly impersonal.  Remember the one about “don’t shoot the messenger?”

The sign where Mercury falls in your birth chart gives you clues to the manner in which you express your communicative faculties. Also, what you prefer to discuss or what subject matter occupies a significant bit of brain space.
Since we’re all here, let’s chop it up about how you do your Mercury…..

Mercury in Aries

“On Fire” by Redman; “Pronto” by Cru “War Zone” by Black Moon

Mercury in Aries wants what they want and they want it now! There is a communication style filled with immediacy in this placement. No time to beat around the bush. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. You might even find yourself being a little steamrolled if you’re more of a sensitive type. You can best believe that whenever Aries shows up to the party, a keyword is going to be action. Fire is evident in the speech of those with Mercury in Aries. If you’re ready to get the ball rolling with no holds barred, call on these folks.

Mercury in Taurus

“Play It Safe” by Oddisee; “Ain’t Sayin’ Nothin’ New” by The Roots

At first listen, you may want to start to label those with Mercury in Taurus as dull, unimaginative and rigid. However, upon further examination, you will find someone who has simply found comfort in the lines of established thinking. Furthermore, they have probably experienced some degree of success with it. Truth be told, yes… there are more creative placements that exude more style and flash, but Mercury in Taurus has mental stamina. The ability to take an idea and see it through to the end, whether bitter or sweet. The downfall of this placement is when they think their ONE idea is the ONLY idea and they sacrifice a chance at productive change for the comfort of cushy mental pillows. Sometimes life really is”no pain, no gain.”

Mercury in Gemini

“Extra, Extra” by Paula Perry “Think Twice” by Erykah Badu

Mercury in Gemini is insatiably curious. There is not enough intellectual Gatorade present in the universe to quench this thirst.  Unlimited phone plans were tailored for these people. If you were able to hear brain wave activity with any type of clarity, it would probably sound like Twista and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony rapping. This is the quintessential Jeopardy, Scrabble, crossword puzzle and word search placement. Here’s the deal, though: one of the chief tasks of Mercury in Gemini is to be able to turn mere information into knowledge; theory into practice. These folks can’t be so busy gathering that they never stop and question the meaning.

Stay tuned for part 2, which will feature Mercury in Cancer, Leo and Virgo……..

Photo Credit : allthingseurope.tumblr.com

Understanding Your Mercury Sign: Capricorn-Pisces

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Mercury in Capricorn: Mental focus. The practical thinker. The “steel trap” mind. When placed in Capricorn, the intellectual faculties have the potential to operate with structure and organization. There’s a leanness with words, suggesting more of a concern with using the “right” ones which will ultimately carry weight, versus overloading the airwaves with superfluous explanations. There’s an inclination for individuals with this placement to study subject matter of a serious nature. Also, light office chat around the water cooler is strictly prohibited. Developmental areas consist of transcending the fear of being “wrong”, which can paralyze or inhibit the capacity to communicate effectively. Remember: the steel trap mind can also be resilient, which can help you ward off the criticisms of others. Allowing the potential negative reviews of others to restrict your avenues of communication robs you of your gift of becoming a potential wordsmith.

Mercury in Aquarius: The futurist. Mercury in Aquarius suggests the potential to communicate in a manner that’s uniquely one’s own. With this placement, you’re forming your personal language that speaks to your spirit. There’s a progressive. liberal and tolerant bent to one’s intellectual faculties, being open to the new and untried. Avant- garde and fresh approaches excite you. There’s also potential for the lightning-quick, instantaneous grasp of holistic understanding, which could be considered flashes of brilliance.  Developmental concerns are “giving up” on one’s own mind because others don’t seem to be thinking the way that you do. Also, intellectual rebellion which isn’t based on principle, but on a need to detach from the herd.

Mercury in Pisces: The Intuitive creative. Mercury in Pisces suggests a mental connection to the intangible realms of life. Also, potential access to ethereal worlds and the ability to obtain information that defies logical explanation. An acute picture-making faculty as well as an active dream and fantasy life are strengths of this placement. Dysfunctional expressions of this placement are selective memory, using words to deceive, confuse or manipulate; the inability to distinguish fantasy from reality or the creation of another mental world to escape feelings of discomfort.

Photo: www.brit.co

Astrological References in Hip Hop

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“I’m a Pisces, I like to drink iced teas.”
Grand Puba- “Lickshot”

“Born a Cancer zodiac with features that attract.”
Pete Rock feat. Vinia Mojica- “Mind Blowing”

“What is a Scorpion? An animal that stings.”
Pharoahe Monch- ‘Behind Closed Doors”

“A cheeba cheeba ya’ll, well I’m a Libra ya’ll”
Wyclef(Fugees)- “Nappy Heads”

“August the 1st, So I guess I’m Leo.”
Rampage- “Abandon Ship”

“I always roam through the forest, just like a brontasaurus, born in the month of May, so my sign is Taurus.”
– Busta Rhymes “Abandon Ship”

“Me I’m a Pisces, blame it on my birthday.”
Oddisee- “What’s Crazy”

“Hand combat Tai-Chi, fight me, I’m Sagittarius, so I don’t like Pisces”
Canibus- “The Mic Disease”

“Important, Am I? Gotta ask myself, but then I think twice like a Gemini.”
O.C.- “M.U.G.”

“Off the hook with (droppin visions), so the Leo of the trio.”
– Tash (The Alkaholiks)- “Coast 2 Coast”

“I’m a true Capricorn, and I admit to being a complete control-freak,” but falling in love can be so deliciously scary because you’re having the time of your life, meanwhile leaving yourself open to being completely crushed. You feel like asking every other minute, ‘But you’re not going to hurt me, right?”
– Interview with Amerie

“Baby girl won’t you come and hold my hand Won’t you come and chill out with the Virgo”
Nas- “Virgo”

“Two fish, one swimmin’ up stream, one swimmin’ down livin’ in a dream ”
Erykah Badu- “On &On”

“It’s derived from the film and the book of the same title. But beyond that, the reference to the water represents my water sign [Pisces], and the chocolate represents the soul and the Blackness of the music.”
-Common when asked about his album titled “Like water For Chocolate”

“D.A. wanna indict me cause fish scales in my veins like a Pisces.”
-Jay Z ” Blue Magic”

“I’m a, rhymer, with a tim-er attack to your mind, a reminder of what kind of headliner you’ll see, when you come to the show Blast Master KRS-One, Leo — the Lion.”
– KRS One (BDP) “Duck Down”

“Sting ya like my sign do, I’m a Scorpio.”
-Rock (Heltah Skeltah) “Eye of The Scorpio”

“No one (no one)I’m the scorpion And Ill probably bite the bullet cause I live by the gun.”
-Onyx “Last Dayz”

“Aries is my sign, I know that I can rhyme sometimes I rhyme in riddles, plus I make the honeys wiggle.”
-Q Tip (Tribe Called Quest) “God Lives Through”

“Pardon me, my mind wonders in the worst way, also a Pisces, blame it on my birthday.”
-J- Live “What’s Crazy”

“My Cancerian flow is all water like baby weight.” – Tiye Phoenix

Basic Astrology For Hip Hop Heads: The 12 Astrological Houses

 

(photo: thoughtsstorieslife.blogspot.com)

To break it down, so it will forever and consistently be broke, when it comes to astrology, we are basically dealing with four main areas : planets, signs, houses and aspects.

The planets in your birth chart symbolize universal principles and energies.

The signs in your chart represent the styles in which those universal energies/principles are expressed.

The houses in your chart symbolize different areas of your life development, or fields of experience.

The aspects denote planetary relationships, i.e: how do Mercury and Neptune “get along”  in your chart?

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Here’s a basic primer on the themes of the 12 houses:

1st House- Yourself. Your presentation. Your identity thrust into the larger world.. Think: De La Soul’s “Me, Myself and I”, or “Me!” by Bumpy Knuckles.

2nd House- Your money and personal resources. Think: Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents.” 


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3rd House- Early education, local travel, your immediate environment, i.e. the neighborhood. Siblings, mental faculties and communication. Think: A Tribe Called Quest’s “Mind Power“. Or, Meshell N’degeocello’s “Mass Transit.” Even Scarface’s “My Block” or Queen Latifah’s “Just Another Day [Livin’ in the Hood] and Afu Ra’s “Whirlwind Thru Cities”

4th House- Home, family, roots,  racial and cultural origins. Mother, early childhood. Instinctive responses, your “storehouse” of memories. Think:Gangstarr’s “The Place Where We Dwell ” or Grap Luva & Pete Rock’s (feat. Kev Brown) “Collector’s Item”.

5th House- Creative self- expression, entertainment, pleasures, children (physical children and “pet projects”), recreational pursuits, gambling, sex , romance, love affairs. Think: Enjoy Yourself by A+.  Amel Larrieux’s “Shine”. Or “I Sparkle” by Slick Rick.

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6th House- Work,  craftsmanship, mastery,capacity for service, daily routine, overall well-being, health, hygiene. Think: Gangstarr’s “Work.” , De La Soul’s “The Grind Date” or Rakim’s “Don’t Sweat The Technique.”

7th House- Marriage, partnerships (business and intimate),One on one interactions.
Think: Smif-N-Wessun’s: “Won on Won”,  Erykah Badu’s “The Other Side of The Game.” Or, “You” by Evidence.

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8th House- The partner’s resources, death, fear of loss, inheritance. Think: Common’s “Resurrection”

 9th House- International travel, higher mind, religion, expanding horizons, far away places, colleges and universities, universal law, experience, exploration, aspiration. Think: J-Live’s “The Understanding.” , Dwele’s “Truth”, or “Church” by De La Soul.

10th House- Career, vocation, public life, reputation, i.e. what you’re known for, status and ambitions. Think: Nas’ “The World Is Yours” or Gangstarr’s “Just to Get a Rep” or “What I’m Here For.”

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11th House- The expression of independence, the urge toward individuation, impact on humanity and the collective, lovability(love received), aspirations, clubs, organizations, the money or benefits reaped from your profession, society at large. The urge to go beyond limits, the future. Think: Gangstarr’s “Mass Appeal” or Eric B & Rakim’s “Move The Crowd”

12th House- Places of retreat and hidden from public view..
Think:  Common’s “In My Own World (Check The Method)” Or, Madlib’s “Solitude”.       

 

Hip Hop Astrological Archetypes (Part 1)

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Astrology and hip-hop share so many connections, and the wonderful thing about it is that there are many, many more that have yet to be unearthed. As your hip-hop loving Astrologer, I’m here to do the work for you. To give you a clearer sense of how the beautiful  Astrology is all around us and permeates through our everyday lives.

So….I was  thinking the other day about the planets. The energies and principles which they symbolize. While simultaneously engrossed in thoughts about how certain emcees and producers exude those very drives.

I thought about the feelings which are continuously evoked within me when I hear these greats grace the mic.

Of course, there are many emcees or producers which have been chosen for these spots, but there will be more articles to come which will alleviate that dilemma.  Here’s the lineup:

The Sun:

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KRS- ONE radiates hip-hop. His verbal expression shines like the solar entity itself. He brings heat, warmth and light to hip-hop culture and has illuminated the way since his entry into the game. Astrologically, one of the most important ideas to remember about the Sun, is that we must not create or yield to anything which will inhibit it’s expression in order to become authentic human beings.

The Moon:

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Tiye Phoenix has emerged as a nurturer of hip-hop expression. She cares about the state of hip-hop and would like nothing better than to see it grow and thrive in it’s expression. The Moon does not shine as the Sun does, but it reflects. The reflection of Tiye’s intelligent verbal wizardry expressed with lunar sensitivity and feeling speaks for itself.

Mercury:

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Big L and Skillz are two emcees which personify Mercurial energy.Quick witted and verbally adept with a touch or irony and humor. Both of these artists are great communicators on the mic and embody the skills of a true emcee: they make you listen.

Next, in Part II, I will discuss Venus, Mars and Jupiter.

Virgo Sun, Cancer Moon

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(photo via thatsomethingsomething)

Sometimes we wake up in the morning and our bodies just don’t feel right.

If this discomfort motivates us to visit our physician, one of our hopes is that they’ll be precise in their diagnosis. Cutting through the medical jargon and explaining what’s wrong in practical terms. and offering viable alternatives as to how me might neutralize what’s ailing us.

It’s also a bonus if this individual possesses a bedside manner which is warm, sensitive and responsive. In fact, the ability to put us at ease and help us feel like they know exactly “where it hurts” does wonders. In the best case scenario, we’ve found a healer of the mind and body as well as the heart.

In a birth chart, when the Sun is in Virgo and the Moon in Cancerthe core life energy or fuel which motivates the individual is service in the name of utility. To use their powers of discriminating analysis in order to discover how things may function more efficiently.

Whether it’s the human body, or general process improvement Virgo’s inclination is to leave things better than they found them.

The Cancer Moon uses the light of the sun and reflects a personality who needs to experience depth and range in feeling and foster a sense of emotional and domestic security.

Cancer is nourished by experiences which allow them to nurture and support the development of others. To anticipate and fulfill their unspoken needs via their heightened intuitive faculty, which also aids in establishing  strong, intimate bonds.

While the Virgo Sun is stimulated by analysis and loves the process of dissecting parts to find out how they work logically, the Cancer Moon individual thrives on emotional connection.

Their sensitive attunement to feelings makes them absorptive and able to “tune in” on a rich and meaningful level, exhibiting a nonjudgmental acceptance which encourages people to open up and bare their soul.

If this sounds too good to be true, there’s most certainly another side of the story on how this sun/moon blend may express itself dysfunctionally:

When the Sun in Virgo overindulges in it’s functioning, the same fuel which motivates the individual to serve is misdirected toward behavior that’s obsessively rigid.

This person blindly adheres to rules, regulations and schedules which leave little room for flexibility and exhibits harsh criticism of those who are unwilling to adhere to these exacting standards.

The Cancer Moon hypersensitivity blends with this obsession. Not only does one with the Moon placed in Cancer need to nurture others, but they also require an ample amount of reciprocation. When they feel like this isn’t the case, it may also manifest through dysfunctional behavior. Astrologer Stephen Arroyo expands on this:

“They desperately need to participate in a lifestyle that gives them a sense of security. In fact they feel most secure when engaged in protecting and nurturing other, but they also need to be nurtured and protected themselves in their private lives in order to feel inwardly secure.

The Cancer tendency to forcefully protect their own feelings against any threat, real or imagined – a characteristic often noted by others who are in relationships with them- can lead to their being so overprotective of their private emotions that communication and true sharing become difficult.

This need for protection is so real, for they are easily hurt by even small insensitivities on the part of others or by what seems to them to be personal slights. Those with Cancer Moons thus tend to withdraw and hide at the slightest provocation , because they need the security of complete personal privacy.”

The picture of a successful integration of this sun/moon combination looks like an individual who has relinquished a need to retreat into their analytical and emotional shells.

The Virgo Sun no longer needs to focus in a narrow manner, thinking that no one is capable of meeting their perfectionist standards when it comes to critical thinking. Simultaneously, The Cancer Moon avoids the tendency to hide from life living a limited existence because they think no one loves, cares for or understands them.

When Virgo’s psychological motivation to be useful through competent analysis harmoniously merges with Cancer’s emotional need to provide a soothing presence, it produces an environment where the seeds of physical, mental and emotional healing have the potential to be planted and cultivated.

Reference: “Person-to-Person Astrology: Energy Factors in Love, Sex & Compatibility by Stephen Arroyo

Leo Keywords – Sagittarian Mind Style

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The show. Fly till’ I die. The flyest. Claim to fame. Baby, I’m a star. Overnight celebrity. Enta da stage. Flashing lights. The light. Heat. Warm it up, kane. Popular demand. Blame it on the sun. In the sun. Still shinin’. Shine on me. 4 da love of the game. Braggin’ writes. Made you look. The world is yours. Down with the king. Gold digger. Good morning sunshine. Make em’ clap to this. Stages and lights. The proud. Happiness. Hot 2 def. Children’s story. Drama. Center of attention. Everybody loves the sunshine. I call you sun, cause you shine like one. Creative control. Move the crowd. Superstar. It’s not bragging if you can back it up. Look at me now. Show stopper.  Rather unique.

Cancer Sun, Gemini Moon

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The combination of Cancer-Gemini in an individual birth chart suggests that flexibility and versatility in the intellectual realm is a pathway to obtaining emotional security. Immersing oneself in the realms of adaptability and youthful curiosity in regard to the everyday world assists in providing a foundation or “home base” of surety.

We’ve often heard that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Well…..the way to a Cancer Sun/Gemini Moon’s heart is through their brain.

As suggested by the Sun-Moon blend, the type of fuel this person needs is both nurturing and connective. What generates vitality is the experience of interacting on an intimate level via personal relationships and understanding emotional approaches; the participation in meeting the unspoken needs of others and the employment of one’s vital warmth and intuition.

This is reflected in a personality which needs variety, the sharing of ideas and fresh approaches to their immediate environment. To feel safe, one must know that life is in motion and they have an abundance of choices from which they can draw at virtually any time.

In regard to feelings, this combination presents a bit of a paradox. On one hand, one is nourished through the verbalization of one’s emotions. However, the devil is in the details.

The same dynamic of talking can be used as a cloak or protective device from the gateway of one’s deeper sentiments. in other words, when operating dysfunctionally, this person has the potential of going straight to their mind and running on “remote control” only talking about what they think, allowing their cerebral functions to dominate. This depletes one’s vigor and contributes to a split in the psyche.

A constructive use for this blend is to remain light enough to handle life’s inevitable shifts. To develop the versatility which can simultaneously entertain multiple approaches.

Meanwhile, honoring the ebbs and flows of your inner life. Knowing that one doesn’t have to operate exclusively in the world of intellect or intuition, but can in fact, become a skillful navigator of both. Thought function in no way negates your access the rich world of emotions, and allowing yourself to feel doesn’t have to obscure your ability to think, but can rather prove to be a formidable ally.