March 20/21 - April 20/21
Cardinal Fire: Primal Will
Objectively: Sun crosses the celestial equator, moving northwards at its fastest pace. Spring begins. A green fire vitalizes winter's barrens. Dormant seeds germinate and sprout, skeletal branches bud and leaf. Hibernating animals awaken. Migratory birds and herds surge north across the flowering land. A new cycle of life starts, in both biological and human nature.
Subjectively: Dawn. Aries shines forth with the radiance of a fresh day. 'Let there be light.' And so there is. This has a positive connotation.
But ego's sunrise also disrupts the tranquility of sleep, burns away a subtle dream glow. It activates self-consciousness, creating contrast, competition and conflict. Individuality emerges and asserts its will in the world.
Aries: First Cause. Original motive. Fundamental principle. A principle is a spiritual axiom around which psychological drives organize themselves. Its truth orients their actions. Aries embodies the Prime Directive behind personality, the intention generating its behaviors.
Aries means initiating impulse. The spark igniting movement and consciousness. An emergence of being from nothing. The thrill of creation.
It points to the origin of individuality. The blink of an I out of a collective dream trance. A coalescence of ego from instinct, existential identity from intangible potency. Diffuse possibility focused into actual purpose.
Aries demonstrates the spontaneous combustion of unconscious currents into known and active powers. A spiritual force field flares out into the world as an urge to individual expression. Awareness awakens out of its background matrix of animal vitality. Aries emphasizes the primordial nature of consciousness, unmodified by relationship or feedback. Its elemental essence carries a general soul charge seeking experience through the medium of a unique personality. That stimulates one to emerge from the herd, self to rise out of the common sea. All else flows from this statement of singularity.
Aries = Creation. Not the deliberate creativity of a developed ego, but raw creative force. It bursts into life as the light of mind, heat of desire, strength of will. Aries evokes and fuses these motivating factors into a distinct psychology.
At the vernal equinox ego-consciousness achieves escape velocity from the gravity of an unconscious collective past. It attains autonomy. The exhilaration of this freedom, and the initiative it generates, are Aries' main characteristic.
Aries makes a core identity statement. Where Aquarius offers a theory, a detached vision of the Big Picture, Aries proposes an action imperative, meant to mobilize behavior. Aries is not an idea, but the electrical voltage transmitting a spiritual potential into a living entity. Aries converts an abstract psychological genome (soul) into an actual ego able to assert its reality in a gritty, sweaty world. It is the will body. The principle of self-assertion. It operates across an entire spectrum, from boorishly egocentric to an expression of universal spirit.
Aries exemplifies the violence inherent in any beginning. The Big Bang was the ultimate act of violence, ripping space/time out of infinity/eternity. The nuclear fusion generating all material elements out of simple hydrogen, and the stellar novae spewing it out as world-making gas and dust, are destructive processes of creation, death throes of birth. Human birth means a labor of pain for the mother.1 Even more so for the infant, ejected from womb bliss into life struggle. ('Our longest and most dangerous journey takes us four inches down the birth canal.'2) Aries forcefully breaks out from one state of being to another. Only thus can anything happen.
Aries = aggression. Any manifestation of individuality necessarily challenges its environment. Aries battles an old dispensation to bring forth the new. The son must psychologically overthrow the father and take his place; the daughter leaves him for another man. Whether he is better remains to be seen. Aries is not about results. It means beginnings.
Aries sounds the birth cry. It makes the first presentation of self, from which all future words and deeds flow. A newborn has an inherent temperament, an overall disposition, long before conscious ego arises. Character orients its development from that starting point. Its growth proceeds from an initial psychological premise. This is but a tiny seed. Yet a seed holds all the promise of a great tree. It may or may not flourish. But it has the resolve to sprout. Without that, there is nothing.
Aries focuses felt urgency into immediate expression. It channels emerging excitement, instinctive dynamism into activity at whatever level of sophistication one has achieved. This can manifest as skillful enterprise, pioneering thought, immature impatience or brutal rage. It acts unilaterally, not so much to dominate others as to express its authenticity. It sends instead of receives; stimulates rather than relates.
Aries promotes independence. It cannot allow a social consensus to stifle its own conscience. Aries does not rebel from the group in order to reform it; but leaves, or leads, it to a new destiny. Aries' best gift to others is not knowledge or love, but the inspiration of following its bliss.3 Aries performs best and gives the most by just being itself.
Aries tends, and needs, to act autonomously. For better or worse it must do its thing rather than live up to others' expectations. It does not integrate with a larger whole; it opens a new frontier. It develops confidence and competence through risky exploration instead of conventional achievement, seeks discovery more than approval.
Aries leads, not by skill or experience, but by the courage of its convictions. Done right it means leadership by example. That works when Aries goes with instinct, lets the a spiritual power act through it. Of course uninhibited assertion can go too far. Or not far enough: Aries falters when it seeks to rationalize its projects in terms of social criteria rather than its own intuitive vision.
Aries refers to basic drive. The Ascendant, Aries' subjective correlate, and any planets in its first house, constitute a personal Aries: one's core motivation. It describes a subjective perspective: self-consciousness. The house cusp that the sign of Aries occupies indicates ambitious endeavor in a specific area of life or type of activity. The position and aspects of Aries' ruling planet, Mars, provide insight into the circumstances and challenges of its enactment.
Aries = the will to exist. It kindles winter's ethereal spirit into spring's vibrant joy. It transforms compassionate sensitivity to passionate intensity, Piscean redemption to April's resurrection.
Aries' fresh, youthful nature expresses with clarity and simplicity. It strips things down to their central principles. Seeks direct engagement with essential meaning. It reasons through an intuitive grasp of self-evident truths. Direct perception supersedes complex rationalization and hoary precedent. Aries always crosses the line into uncharted territory. Here there are no maps. One can only launch into the unknown future driven by an 'impulse of delight.'4
Aries apprehends things as an extension of its existential truth. Its characteristic problem arises when it mistakes energetic projections for objective perceptions. It can confuse the vigor of its enthusiasms for their validity.
Aries does not register facts so much as create them. It learns to apply its aspirations to the world: first as innocent enthusiasm, then through ego assertion, finally as the direct channeling of a higher purpose.
'Where there's a will there's a way.' This succeeds surprisingly often. Self-confidence can generate heroic effort that inspires others. Faith can move mountains. Sometimes.
Aries' greatest challenge is to develop a strategic sense of how to effectively engage burning intention with cold hard circumstance. To do so Aries requires, and demands, a reality check. This often involves a combative confrontation with its environment. It asserts positions to assess their comparative validity. If the ego is not too invested in these assertions Aries accepts the verdict of experimentation and learns from its mistakes. The adversarial method of discerning truth works well if one fights for it, and not for personal justification. If self-respect becomes entangled with these speculative forays the likelihood of disaster is obvious.
Aries encourages excellence through competition. The stimulation of opposition eliminates weakness, the exhilaration of rivalry enhances performance. The race itself is the reward. Aries is often portrayed as a warrior. It brings battle as well as blossoming. The battlefield can be physical or emotional, mental or spiritual.
It also acts as a very cerebral sign, pioneering new realms of thought and sensibility. It probes established boundaries with innovative propositions. It tests accepted views with challenging perspectives. Being relatively free of preconceptions it can appreciate fresh insights and novel approaches. Because it has the courage implicit in new beginnings it pursues truth without fear of authority or conventional wisdom.
Aries learns by doing. Its bold clear vision is essentially innocent because it does not have a load of past baggage. Innocent does not necessarily mean naive. It means approaching experience with a clean slate.
Aries takes that leap of faith without which nothing would ever happen. It embodies the bravery to engage with life by simply being who one is. The determination to go for it, with no guarantees except that of its own courage. We see it in the audacity of every newborn organism, frail and helpless, joyfully setting forth into a dog eat dog world.
Aries projects its inner rebirth as an inspiration to explore, conquer or redefine its environment. Life presents a page on which to write its message, an opportunity to shine. Aries seizes the moment, acts on a primal sense of truth and immediate strength of aspiration more than on cool calculation or judicious process. Yet we could never act at all if we had to know all the probabilities and possible consequences in advance. Aries makes rather than accepts reality. By doing so it bends the arc of events in its favor.
Like its opposite and complement, Libra, Aries portrays a dynamic more than a content. Libra functions as a process of relationship, uniting its participants in a dance that transcends the dancers. Aries generates the excitement that makes one dance in the first place. It orients all future activity by its original intensity and direction. The nature of that fundamental impulse largely determines the quality of its outcome. This initial surge then unfolds through the developmental sequence of the zodiac.
Like the Big Bang that started the universe, Aries erupts as a burst of energy. It sets a cyclic process in motion. Later this primeval energy acquires attributes (Taurus), differentiates into components (Gemini), takes an emotional coloration (Cancer). Its implicit qualities manifest through encounter with its objective surroundings. Its power to be and to become evokes emergent properties.
Aries invokes the mystery of creation. The ultimate origin of things is inaccessible to reason. In the beginning an inscrutable Providence (Sun) emanated forth as a vibration. It generated a pattern of planetary orbits, including the standing wave of Earth's. This charged force field spontaneously organized into a unique entity (Aries) by guiding countless particles into a proto-planet. Its inherent energy level, expressed as distance from Sun, caused it to take shape in the 'life zone,' that small region where liquid water can provide the medium for biology. The idea of Aries refers to an initial energy configuration like that which made a living Earth possible. Actual development follows from the potentials implicit in this start. For example, the primordial Earth mass consolidated into a globe with specific geological characteristics: magnetic core, molten mantle, solid crust endowed with mineral resources (Taurus). It then split off (Gemini) its Moon by colliding/merging with a 'twin' (Gemini) Mars sized planetoid about 4 billion years ago. Moon's gravity stabilizes Earth's spin and atmospheric circulation, making it more habitable (see 'Moon'). Finally our new planet acquired a life-giving ocean (Cancer), perhaps by a 'heavy bombardment' of icy comets from outer space.
All of Earth's subsequent characteristics derived from its 'will' to form in a certain orbital state. In the same way all psychological development follows from an original energy signature. Aries commits a solar spirit to an earthly identity statement. It sets a course to individualization. All other psychological qualities arrange themselves around this trajectory as attributes of that fundamental purpose.
Aries' sunrise of the year reenacts the emergence of a planet, or a personality, in the nature of its seasonal moment. Just as night's many twinkling stars ignite into day's single Sun, so a swirl of unconscious instincts fuse into one self-conscious agent. Just as winter's dormant seeds sprout into spring's lively flowering, so latent abilities take the plunge into visible activities.
Biological life involves a vital force imprinting its potential on matter, animating their union with an emergent property of organic sentience. What started as a primitive blob with only a chemical itch to metabolize and divide had latent possibilities. These evolved over eons into sophisticated complexity. Such qualities were inherent, but not apparent, in that ultimate progenitor. What appeared, as if by magic or miracle, was a simple ambition to live. That later blossomed into all of biology.
Psychologically, Aries emphasizes the same imperative: it directs the elusive aura of an ideal into an effective incentive. Spirit becomes an action potential. Soul sensitivity mobilizes into a specific ego agenda, on whatever level of evolution it has achieved. Wish ignites into will. Dreams turn to drive.
In Aries a spiritual fire shines forth into individual expression. A personality activates and unfolds against resistance. The inertia of matter, limitations of biology, and restrictions of society constitute real obstacles. The competition of other egos and antagonism of opposing visions demand attention. Aries embodies the ability to assert self against circumstances, to demonstrate a distinct character in contrast to surroundings. This implies an inherent confidence, not yet justified by achievement. Yet the courage of that confidence is its own achievement.
Aries trusts its direct experience of power. It acts through the innocence, and subtlety, of a spontaneous intention prior to the socialized self. Aligned with an intuitive source it channels generic vitality into novel insight.
Aries describes the spirit of adventure, of which everything else is a consequence. The urge to get up and go. Destination unknown, and unimportant. All the details derive from this emergence. Aries motivates.
1. Genesis 3:16: 'In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children'
2. The author was unable to find the attribution for this profound observation.
3. Joseph Campbell, 1904-1987, an American writer on comparative religion and mythology, coined this famous phrase. He was an Aries.
4. 'Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;…
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;…'
'An Irish Airman Foresees His Death'
W.B. Yeats, poet, 1865 -1939