Feature article in The Mountain Astrologer, Oct./Nov. 2004
Many of my closest friends are Sun-Uranus conjunctions-we seem to attract each other. Non-conformists all, we’ve long been convinced that the traditional model of marriage and family was not for us. In spirit, we lean more toward the ecstatic archetype of the feminine-variously called the Wise Woman, Muse, Courtesan or even the Siren, whose seductive song lures sailors to their death.
The Greek story of the Sirens who enchanted Ulysses and his men, echoed by similar tales throughout mythology, has several layers of meaning. On one hand, it symbolizes the magical effect of a woman in the full glory of her feminine power, singing her song. Men cannot resist her. You could even say that the crashing of the boat on treacherous rocks represents man’s awakening to his true self. He is lured by his unconscious feminine to plunge into the deeper aspects of his soul. It’s only the false, outer self that dies, so that something more powerful can be born.
On the other hand, this sounds rather painful for the man. And, what kind of life is this for the Siren? She is forever set apart, excluded from the “normal” joys of committed relationship, doomed to being the initiator. Her sense of fulfillment, though intense, may be fleeting.
Now in our 40s and 50s, my friends and I are beginning to gain some perspective on our Siren-like tendencies. This society doesn’t offer much support for the woman who chooses that rock in the middle of the ocean, or is thrust there by the dictates of her nature. Liz Greene, in her book Relating, points out the need for the Sun-Uranus woman to bring her personal relationships into a more transpersonal sphere, one in which the less-individualized Uranian archetype has more room to express itself and therefore wreaks less havoc in her life. In other words, perhaps there’s a more graceful way to bring about awakening than by crashing the relation “ship” on the rocks.
After much crashing about (as well as plenty of excitement!), my friends and I have instinctively begun to move toward this state of grace through such avenues as spiritual sex, celibacy, strong friendships with men and our own unique, creative work. None of us is married or even in relationship at this time. Which isn’t to say we don’t want this kind of intimacy; we’re just not willing to sacrifice our freedom to have it. We share a deep delight in solitude. Though we do enjoy a man’s company, we don’t need him around in order to be happy.
We have some inspirational Sun-Uranus role models, like Taurus Shirley MacLaine, who famously went “Out on a Limb” in the 80s as the first celebrity to actively embrace Aquarian concepts like past lives and astrology. Cancer Meryl Streep has made a career of playing unconventional characters so masterfully that she’s won two Oscars and been nominated 13 times. Her character in The French Lieutenant’s Woman was a classic Siren. Yet Streep has sustained a happy marriage since 1978, probably because she channels her Uranian nature into her work.
And then there is Madonna. This iconic Sun-Uranus Leo is the ultimate rule-breaking Siren, at least in her public image. Still making waves at 45, she has succeeded in staying on top by continuously reinventing herself-from “material girl” and sex goddess to yoga advocate and spiritual explorer. Once disastrously married to another Sun-Uranus Leo, Sean Penn, she now seems content in her union with director Guy Ritchie, who is ten years her junior. And the 16-year-old girls her music caters to still love her as much as their counterparts did 20 years ago.
Sometimes it seems as if Sun-Uranus types have found the key to eternal youth, which is undoubt-edly part of our Siren-like appeal. We’re trend-setters, not followers, who always seem to be ahead of the curve. As a young fashion editor in the early 80s, I made the most of my newly-discovered ability to see where the cultural zeitgeist was headed. I jumped on the astrology bandwagon around the same time, largely due to my driving need to know what was going to happen next.
What astrologer Zip Dobyns called the “freedom-closeness dilemma” is painfully familiar to me as a Sun-Uranus Cancer. Still unmarried and childless at 48, I am both drawn to and repelled by the Cancerian comforts of home and family. I have enjoyed many liberating relationships with men, which as Liz Greene also predicted in Relating, have served to shake me and wake me up, often through the shattering of the relationship itself. I used to prefer relationships with younger men, in which I often played the role of initiator into the deeper mysteries of sexuality. Yet recently, during the “maturing” transit of Saturn to my Venus, I discovered the exquisite joys that an older man can bring.
The Greek god Ouranos (Uranus) was the original Sky Father who mated with Gaia, the Earth Mother, to create new life. Uranus therefore represents the essential force of creation. So, it stands to reason that a woman with Uranus conjunct the Sun might carry more than her share of erotic power. We are modern-day priestesses, channeling Uranus’s high-voltage energies of awakening to mankind. Because it is our nature to act as a conduit for “higher love,” we are rarely satisfied with “normal” relationships. Still, with our all-too-human desires for attachment, it’s difficult to sustain the freedom that Uranus requires. We long for the embrace of protective arms, yet our innate need for autonomy demands equal time.
The constantly changing Sun-Uranus Gemini nature includes an extremely bright mind and active imagination, coupled with a stubborn independent streak. As a young girl, Celeste knew how she wanted to live. She once told a teacher, “I want to get married, raise horses, and live on the same street as my husband.”
Celeste realized even then that she was going to need some space in her togetherness. But with the moon in the relationship-oriented sign of Libra, she first needed to experience a closely bonded union. After traveling the world and having many adventures, she fell in love at 23 with a famous poet-singer in her home of Quebec. Though never married, the couple lived an earthy and artistic life together on a farm for many years. The musician matched Celeste’s inner image of the beloved, that of “an earthly man who would relate to me in the most heavenly way possible.” (Pisces on the 7th house cusp). As many of us did at that age, Celeste lost herself in the relationship, and it ultimately fell apart.
Her next serious encounter, in the late 80s, was with a Sagittarian spiritual teacher who surrounded himself with beautiful women at a California retreat center. “It was all about union and communion,” she recalls. “I was with him 24 hours a day, and I was in heaven the whole time.” But there was a problem. After 11 years Celeste could take the lack of earthy sex no longer and opted for a very sexual-but brief-marriage instead, to someone outside the spiritual community.
The vivid fantasies of Celeste’s Sun-Uranus Gemini mind, combined with the lack of earth planets in her chart, had led her into yet another situation that didn’t suit her-and she had to break free from it. “Freedom is the most important thing for me,” says Celeste, “but it has also created a lot of pain for myself and others. I’ve been abandoned a thousand times and done my own abandoning.”
And yet she has also been a mythological force in her men’s lives. “I think that the Courtesan, or Muse, is my archetype. Women like myself are schools for men. That’s why, for us to look for conventional or enduring relationships is to miss our calling. We have an incredible task, which certainly isn’t more important than being a faithful wife, but because society only honors the faithful wife and not the courtesan, we are not honored. I love the Lilith myth; she was like the dark Eve. I see us as that, too. Kind of tricksters of the heart, not to deceive but to jar men’s inner images of women, which are so limited.”
In a nod to her Virgo Ascendant, Celeste bought a cabin in a small, high-desert town some years ago to help ground herself. “I even put up a little white picket fence around my cabin,” she laughs. “Before I would have died before coming anywhere near a white picket fence. But I wanted to befriend the conventions I had run away from most of my life.” Being a rule-breaker is an inherently Uranian trait. But Celeste, 57, says she has learned over the years what freedom really means. “I’m doing a lot of things now that are conventional, but they allow me unconventionality in other areas, like my art or my writing. I don’t have to dress weird anymore, or drive a really outlandish car.” With three planets and the North Node in Gemini near the Midheaven, Celeste also channels her restless nature into a creative career as an antique dealer.
Menopause gave Celeste much relief. “Now that I look back on my life before The Change, I see that it was deeply dominated by the erotic force. I was seeking this electric union with everything: music, food, men, God, dogs, all of it. It brought me a hugely interesting life, but also a very painful one, because it didn’t bring me peace. I was always hungry for that intensity. Now the quality of it has changed, because I don’t need to act on the impulse like I did.”
Celeste has still not manifested her ideal of living down the street from her husband. Instead, she has been cohabiting for the past year with her much-younger boyfriend. The couple moved slowly, taking four months to finally dive into sexual waters-with satisfying results. “Much of what I believed about myself in relationships, the opposite turned out to be true,” she says. “For example, I never thought I could live happily and freely with someone, and now we’re sharing a one-room cabin.” This works, she adds, because she and her partner are so similar. “We both have a great need for complete trust and freedom and an equally great need for physical contact.” Celeste’s partner, an unconventional Aquarian, is sometimes away on business for months at a time. “But we love our lives apart as well as together,” she says. “We do have issues to work out, but this is done with love. It’s a whole new ballgame.”
The Sun-Uranus Cancer often appears deceptively mellow on the outside, but a rebellious nature lurks not far below the watery surface. “I’ve always been different,” says Diana, an easygoing Sun-Uranus Cancer. “Always done things that weren’t totally acceptable at the time.” By the age of 13 Diana was pushing her rather frail body (Chiron in the 6th square Saturn) to its limits by hard core surfing and dropping acid. By 18 she was traveling the world, smuggling hashish out of places like Afghanistan. Even with music, her chosen profession, when she played the sax she “had to be out front channeling Coltrane and being wild.”
Diana was determined to be fearless in ways that women usually aren’t. “A lot of what I’ve done was to prove that I can do whatever guys do.” Rather than the seductive Siren archetype, here we see the androgynous side of Sun-Uranus-which has its own magnetic appeal. Often the only woman in a group of men, Diana learned early on how to be one of the guys. The result, she says, is that men have always seen her as being very real. “I don’t play girl games. There’s nothing that shocks me, which seems to be a relief for men. I think I really see them, and they like that. Especially now that I’ve taken on the role of a teacher, they find me fascinating because I’ve done so many things and lived such a free life. I’ve never had kids, never been tied down by anything.”
Diana has moved almost every year of her life (Uranus conjunct the Sun, ruler of her 4th house) and had a number of career changes along the way. “Every time I move, I meet whole new circles of people, so that now I have friends who are like family all over the U.S. and Europe. It used to bother me that I didn’t have roots, but now I realize I have roots wherever I go.” (Since Sun-Uranus rules my 4th as well, I also move quite frequently. Perhaps it’s part of the compelling need to break free of tradition and create family in unorthodox ways.)
Diana now makes her living doing a form of healing work she calls “tracking,” in which she tunes into another person’s body to release energy blockages. But in another age, Diana could well have been a courtesan. “I’d rather be a mistress and keep my own space than have to deal with the mundane aspects of relationship,” she says.
Even at 54, her arthritic legs barely functional due to the early abuses of surfing, men still gravitate to Diana. “I think I will always be attracting men no matter how decrepit the body is, and I also see that in my Sun-Uranus friends. We’re very interesting women who have a lot more going for us than just the physical. I think of us, who happen to be women who never had children, who do interesting things in their careers, as being similar to what courtesans were. Able to discourse with men on a wide variety of subjects, loving great sex and companionship and beautiful gifts. Men give me beautiful presents. I know there’s something about me that almost demands that.” (A regal moon in Leo, perhaps?)
Though she has had several intense, monogamous relationships, one of which lasted for 12 years, Diana was often on the road touring while her partner was off doing his own thing. She admits that the idea of a long-lasting marriage is still a bit scary for her. “I think I’m threatened by permanence. My nightmare is being in front of the TV all comfortable and cuddling up.” After living alone for so long, she adds, “I may be too set in my ways. Plus, I get all the intimacy I need from my men friends.”
But doesn’t she miss the sexual aspect of relationship? “I like sex and I’m always open to it,” she explains, “but if there’s no man around I’m interested in, there’s nothing to miss. I’m really not looking. I find something sad about people who are looking, because in some way it takes you away from the sweetness of your life.” Diana has reached a place where she no longer feels separate from things. “I can’t say I get lonely; I’ve found a core of connectedness where I don’t have that same longing as I did in my 20s and 30s. In each moment I feel connected to whoever or whatever or wherever I am, that truly feeds me so that nothing is missing.”
Lovemaking, for Diana, is similar to playing jazz. “It’s like being completely improv, never knowing where you’re going next. In my last relationship, we were in past lives together during sex. Things were happening in so many dimensions at once. When two people are in the same vibration, it’s an amazing journey.”
Not surprisingly, Diana has remained friends with most of her exes. “With the men I’ve been intimate with, the love never goes away. We are still connected; we’ll love each other till we die.”
The Sun-Uranus dynamic reaches its wildest, most colorful expression in the fiery sign of Leo. Caryn is a dynamic Sun-Uranus Leo whose pals call her the “Redhead Deadhead.” For many years, she has supported herself as an administrative assistant while following underground bands all over the country in her spare time.
With Sun-Uranus sitting on her Ascendant along with four other planets in Leo, Caryn has the energy and passion of five people. “You can call me many things, but not normal or boring,” she says. Men love Caryn’s youthful spirit. “I think it’s exciting for them to see somebody who’s very vibrant and passionate about music and sports and travel. Who’s really living in the now, taking chances and jumping in with both feet.”
This includes her sex life, which began at the age of 16. “I was able to have sex the way a man would have sex,” she explains. “I didn’t even need to get a phone call later. It’s been very much for pleasure, without any intimacy or commitment. But now I’m trying not to use sex as a drug. Before it was a way for me to feel better about myself, and now I’ve found other ways to get there.”
At 46, she toys with the idea of settling down-but is loathe to give up her free-wheeling lifestyle, which brings her into contact mostly with younger, often irresponsible men (Chiron in the 7th in Aquarius). “I like things that are a little bit off the grid, and that’s why I found this music scene,” she says. “But it’s not the greatest place to go husband-hunting. Hopefully anybody I’d get involved with would join me and enjoy it too. And if not, I’ll see him when I get back.”
With Neptune in the 4th house squaring her Sun, Caryn has suffered from her stern father’s disapproval. “The four men I’ve lived with were fun and exciting and had the good recreational drugs,” she says, “but being with them was also a way of getting a father figure to take care of me, to provide some stability in my life. Yet at the six month mark almost to the day, I was up and gone.”
Like Diana, Caryn often plays the role of gal pal with guys, and has always been a bit of a tomboy. “I had three brothers and no sisters, so I never learned how to be a lady. But it totally hinders my relationships, because a man wants to be with a woman who’s soft, and where he can be the leader. Every time I go to dance with a man I instantly start to lead. It’s going to take someone with a lot of self esteem to be my mate.”
Like Celeste, Caryn is a horse-lover who never wanted kids. “I had my own horse for ten years and that was the closest I came to having a child. I’m just too selfish to be a mother; I don’t want to take all that time and energy. I’ve never even had the yearning to have a baby.” (Saturn in the 5th). She also admits to a fear of commitment, or being boxed into a corner. “That’s why I never live in one place for too long, I’m always moving around. I’m like a gypsy.”
Caryn’s colorful, offbeat nature is her Siren call. Most people can’t believe she’s in her 40s, she says, “because I dress like a teenaged hippie and run around with younger people.” Her desire to stand out from the crowd stems from having half her planets in the approval-seeking sign of Leo. Couple that with the high-frequency vibe of Uranus, and you get a person who commands attention. “I see people looking at me all the time; I must have an aura or energy that’s just a little more captivating than the average bear,” she says with a grin.
Caryn’s feelings about her Siren nature have changed over the years. “I used to think there was something wrong with me because I didn’t have a man, but now I really get that I may be better off without one. I’m not so needy that I’m just grabbing anything I can get. So many women I know did that, and they’re not happy. And they’re jealous of me ’cause I’m traveling around and having this exciting life.”
Caryn admits there’s a part of her that refuses to grow up. But she has recently begun to address her childhood insecurities through therapy, with encouraging results. “I’ve been working on learning to love and accept myself fully, and now all these guys are looking at me going, God she’s a woman who’s in her own power, and they’re attracted to that. But the funny thing is, now I am being pickier and pickier. I’m not sure I’d want to get married, even if I found the right man.”
IS MARRIAGE IN THE STARS FOR US?
I do know a few Sun-Uranus people, men and women, who are happily married or in long-term relationships. A Sun-Uranus Cancer client of mine, who’s been married 19 years to a man who is also her business partner in an interior design firm, shared the keys to their success:
- Affection: “Though sex isn’t like it was in the beginning, we are always lovey-dovey.”
- A sense of humor.
- Separate trips: “so we realize how much we appreciate each other during the absence.”
- Being spontaneous: having surprise dinner parties or taking last-minute trips together.
- Respecting each other’s spaces, privacy and dreams.
- Allowing each other freedom “to do what we need and allow the other person to grow.”
Working and living together can make things complicated for this couple. But the husband’s unflappable Aquarian nature helps balance the wife’s high-strung temperament. Plus, he’s seeking exactly the nurturing yet electric qualities she has to offer (his Descendant is in Cancer with Uranus conjunct it) and he matches her Aquarius Descendant perfectly. Friendship is the core of their connection, and has seen them through life’s ups and downs.
When one partner is Uranian, the other needs to be fairly grounded and secure in order for the relationship to work. I was once involved with a Sun-Uranus Libra, but the connection was almost too electric. It started out as a friendship and remains so to this day, but the sexual bond proved too hot to handle, literally burning us out. My most successful relationships have been with Taurus and Capricorn types, who provide the earth I lack. As long as they are respectful of my eccentricities and make room for the presence of magic in our lives, we get along well.
I once met a couple, both architects, who had renovated an old downtown building and split it in half for their separate living spaces. In his, a messy workshop vibe prevailed. Her living and dining area looked like something out of Architectural Digest; this was where they took their meals together. They had separate bedrooms connected by a leafy porch, and could choose to sleep together or not. I have no clue about their astrological charts, but I could see the presence of Uranus at work. Rather than live down the street from my mate, I’d prefer the peaceful co-existence of a situation like this (though my lack of earth demands thick, earthen walls).
So yes, I believe a lasting union is possible for the Siren, if that’s her choice. But it’s up to her to seek an unconventional relationship that honors for her highly independent spirit and satisfies her deeper spiritual yearnings. In this relationship, her beautiful music falls on receptive ears and awakening occurs-but no one gets injured too badly in the process!