If our true nature is permitted to guide our life, we grow
In Susan Cain’s rave-received book, “Quiet,” she breathes fresh air into the inborn personality style of the introvert.1 She does so from the inside out. By exposing the judgmental bias against this gentle temperament, the sizable numbers of introverts are now liberated from their hiding places and can relinquish the charade of an extroverted persona! For those solitude-seeking ones of us who are the reflective and soft-spoken introverts, in a fast-paced Western world that venerates the “Extrovert Ideal,” we are vindicated. We are released from a lop-sided value system that enthrones and honors the outgoing, showy, loud, competitive person who insists on leading the pack.
We introverts are neither “maladjusted,” as astrologer Donna Cunningham put it, nor require repair for being true to our contemplative nature and the rich inner life that is immensely satisfying to us. Rather, it is the inwardly directed and cerebral ones whose legacies include a substantial share of the world’s finest science, literature, art, music, movies, and inventions. Eckhart Tolle describes the seemingly passive, outwardly unremarkable people as the “frequency holders,” whose role is as vital as the “creators, doers, and reformers.”2 Living their lives in sacred mindfulness, Tolle suggests the task of these mild-mannered, unassuming ones is “to anchor the new consciousness on the arising new earth.”
To infer that a person is strictly one “pure” type or another is to miss the point of the complexity of the human personality with its variety of traits and unique familial contexts. Carl Jung, who first divided temperament into the “attitudes” of introversion and extroversion, believed each person tends to experience the world from one or other of these predominant viewpoints—an inward, subjective focus or an outer-directed emphasis. Extroverts refuel via incessant action and “people” activities, whereas the introvert thrives by being alone to think, read, imagine, and feel. One tends to talk, the other to listen. But Jung counseled, “there is no such thing as a pure extrovert or pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.”
Similar to the natal birth chart, which is also composed of many interacting factors that collectively create a whole individual, there are as many “kinds” of people across the personality continuum as there are distinctive astrological templates. Our natal imprint and temperament are both givens. For example, I chose to be born with the Sun in Pisces and intrinsically introverted, so this will remain the same. I get to keep what I chose!
And, yet, in the same way that we age and evolve over the course of our lives, the birth chart also “progresses,” bringing in differing energies, challenges, and aptitudes during various periods of our lifetime. So, for me, when the Sun progressed from the watery impressionability of subtle Pisces into the fiery, initiating sign of go-getting Aries, there to remain for 30 years, my temperamental style naturally incorporated much more of the outer-directed, gregarious way of the extrovert. Mixing it up as part of the “in” crowd in activities like cheerleading and student government, I was a bolder, adventurous version of myself, accomplishing a lot on the outward scene! Those sorts of interests were appropriate for me at that time in my life, but I returned to my essential core as an introvert. Following our “true nature,” as psychologist Abraham Maslow notes above, is the only authentic way to create a healthy and joyful life.
In a general sense, there are a number of astrological correspondences to the introverted nature—the style that favors environments that have a minimum of stimulation. A rather obvious similarity is to the elements of Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) and Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn), which are the receptive, more withdrawing, reflective energies. Cancer, as one of the Cardinal signs, is associated with “outgoing-ness” but this quality is apt to be under the surface in this protective, maternal sign. Capricorn, in keeping with its “Cardinality,” is meant to express in an outward, worldlier way. These two elements comprise the (six) Feminine signs, denoting a responsive and intuitional approach, as well as symbolizing a sensitive, cautious, and indirect but deliberate manner. A rich emotional and interior life keeps their essential energy self-contained. Feminine signs are inclined to tap the Source of life by allowing and flowing—known as yin in the Taoist tradition.
Representing the physical life, the Earth element prefers a continuity of effort that brings gradual, tangible gains. Earth is the sensation function in Jungian typology. The instinctive and fluid element of Water, which relates to the emotional and spiritual planes, is the most softly personal and malleable. Water is the feeling function in Jungian typology. When these two elements are highlighted in a natal chart, it can suggest a tendency toward shyness, modesty, privacy, and self-doubt.
The phlegmatic and melancholic dispositions, in the realm of temperament theory, are those related to the elements of Water and Earth respectively, hence closely akin to introversion. Some of the key words that describe the distinctive qualities of the phlegmatic are: likes to be alone, reserved, shy, silent, thoughtful, slow-moving, easy-going, contemplative, often lacking in social skills, and outwardly disinterested in the opinions of others. A few of the descriptors for the melancholic nature are: not outgoing, quiet, deliberate, steady, persistent, good-hearted, loyal to the few, eschews the latest fashions, and prone to pessimism.3 Temperament, like the balance of elements, can express itself in culturally positive or negative ways, as can the extreme introvert who may be reclusive to the point of being dysfunctional.
It’s not surprising that the houses (4th, 8th, and 12th) associated with the tender element of Water correspond with the reticence of introversion. These mysterious areas of the chart point to the subtle, private, hidden, withdrawn, intra-physic side of life. In fact, one of the meanings of “quiet” is “done in private”—those real and symbolic ways of tithing in secret. These houses refer particularly to the subjectivity of human experience and those secluded places and relationships that tend to be intimately enclosed and protected. Thus, the Water houses are places of greatest impressionability.
These three sectors invite us to spend time in solitude and deep introspection. Here, in the silence, we encounter our true self with its intuitive guidance and inspirational messages. Life’s interconnectedness and spiritual consciousness are only accessed in the stillness of voluntary retreat and receptivity—in these houses of depth and liberation. The treasures of eternal value are found within, not in the stressed-out hustle and bustle of an over-driven, over-scheduled existence. Consequently, these Watery domains of life are not ones wherein confirmation is usually sought outwardly through energies expressed in external activities or avenues.
It is interesting that Alfred Adler, in the 1920’s, was the first psychologist to describe what he called the “inferiority complex,” also known as the “IC.”4 In the circle of 360° that comprises the astrological chart, with its “twelve “house” divisions, the 4th house cusp is termed the “IC” (imum caelum) or nadir point, which is the natural house of the home- and family-loving sign of Cancer. At the bottom of the chart (or sky), corresponding with the darkness of midnight, we enter the watery domain of the 4th house that describes the most private, deepest “roots” of our being, the place of silence within where we remove all contrived, outer masks and courageously look into the mirror of our own eyes and heart, there to discover who we really are—a perfect creation of Divine heritage.
Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some,
Yet another grouping of houses, those termed “Cadent” houses (3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th), match up with the cerebral inclinations of introversion. These houses are the least expressive places in the chart in terms of public exposure and recognition, signifying the inner world of thought wherein ideas and energies of the mind are formulated and dispersed. They relate to the studious, reflective, or educational aspects of life that describe an inclination toward being less noticed and outwardly active. The quiet strength of the Cadent areas of the chart have been mistaken for weakness when viewed from the materialist or extroverted (cultural) point of view, similar to the bias against the retiring, bookish nature of the introvert. Even on the physiological level, an introvert is compelled to withdraw from highly stimulating environments, in order to avert the need to engage in small talk, for instance, and hence concentrate on more personally suitable, on-thing-at-a-time endeavors like writing. Although the larger-than-life, mega-star type of personality on the world stage would not grow out of the cadency zones, the “man of contemplation” is as necessary as the “man of action.” Sadly, studies document a preference by many parents for their extroverted children over their demure ones who are introverted.5
The planetary phenomenon of “retrograde motion” and that of the Moon’s void-of-course periods share parallels with the life journey of the introvert. At cyclical intervals, when the planets (except the Sun and Moon) appear to move backwards, we too need “to step backward ” and draw inward (rather than forward and outward) to rest, re-center, and renew, to allow ourselves some well-deserved down time, literally and symbolically. These phases imply a judicious hiatus to retreat for introspective reflection, review, and re-visioning. Meant to invoke calm fortitude, retrograde cycles and the Moon’s void periods (when the Moon makes her last major aspect before entering the next sign) represent a highly purposeful re-aligning in the natural flow and ebb of energy.
In spite of that, the do, produce, achieve, progress orientation in Western culture, which in our extroverted world is frenetic for most people, promotes exhaustion through its quest for tangible results and profitable bottom lines. But life must periodically give way to the yin state of simply “being,” in what the wise Taoist Sages advised, “take no unnecessary action.” Peaceful withdrawal into the solitude of silence is strength. Ultimately, a serene body, mind, and emotions beget heavenly effects.
There is a thread of truth that runs through and binds the above concepts regarding the naturally understated and simple temperament of the introvert. Teresa of Ávila often used a metaphor for Divine grace—and it was water. The mystical waters and feelings of the interior, introverted life are the only place we can touch our soul and drink of the living waters of Spirit. “You can only feed the tree of life from within,” Joel Goldsmith makes clear, “not from without.” Grace—a result of practicing the Eternal Presence—is never bestowed in the incessant activity of being over stimulated or over committed. For things of lasting quality to evolve, we must spend time in and allow for the space of silence and inward retreat. Only in quietude, when we reach the higher spheres and behold our True Self, does grace come in unforeseen moments, enfolding us in transcendent Wisdom and Peace.
1. Susan Cain. 2013. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Broadway Paperbacks.
2. Eckhart Tolle. 2006. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. A Plume Book.
3. Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum. 2005. Temperament Astrology’s Forgotten Key. The Wessex Astrologer Ltd.
4. op. cit. Susan Cain.
5. Donna Cunningham mentions these studies in the series she is currently doing on her Sky Writer blog about the privacy-seeking nature of the 12th house, with a whole collection of excellent articles. On February 5, she posted “12th House People as Introverts: the Power of Solitude.”
Text © by Zane Maser, 2013. Photos from Wikimedia Commons. All rights reserved worldwide.
My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.
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