We all know there are 12 zodiac signs and chances are you also know where your Sun is located. I’m an Aries, you say? Well, what type of Aries are you? If you didn’t know that there are subdivisions within each of the zodiac signs, then welcome to the 36 decans.
Each of the 12 zodiac signs is divided into 3 distinct parts of 10 degrees each. So if your Sun is at 8 Aries, it’s in the 1st decan of Aries but if it’s at 26 Aries, it’s in the last. We can consider the decans as 3 distinct acts in a 3-act play, the overarching theme of which is the specific characteristics and challenges inherent to the zodiac sign involved.
For example, Aries is oft thought of as the head-strong ram who races into life full of the need to engage with his/her next conquest and/or adventure : keywords for Aries include, courageous, bold, naïve, spirited, independent, and pioneering. The inherent theme of Aries is about our passion and the uses we choose to make of it.
‘And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour? In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle your eyes.Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (on Freedom)
1st decan – This decan of Aries, ruled solely by Mars, marks the overwhelming need for self-differentiation. The personal will is asserted fiercely and powerfully pitted against any and all obstructions/resistance. The name of the game here is to carve out a place for yourself in the world – whatever the cost. The tarot card in the Rider Waite deck associated with this decan is the 2 of Wands. Here a man stands high on a battlement looking out at that which lies beyond. Holding a globe in his hands, it is only too obvious this man intends to conquer the world, or at least his personal space in it. Known as the Lord of Domination, this decan is good for winning wars and dominating your foes as well as all creative endeavours by which you struggle to make a name for yourself. Natives of this highly polarised decan (note the two poles in the tarot card) tend to fall into one of opposing two camps: convinced they are winning or convinced they are losing. However, there is nothing in this history and symbolism of this decan to suggest whether at the end of the day, winning will make one happy. Likewise, there is nothing to suggest whether or not the loser has really lost all that he is convinced that he has.
2nd decan – With the Sun (in his degree of maximum exaltation of 18 Aries 56) as the sole ruler of this decan, the image is one of a sovereign in his or her own sphere. In the 1st decan, the native must fight for his space and secure the borders of his sphere; in the 2nd decan, he/she must take ownership of that space. But like the protagonist in a novel, the story may revolve around you but you are never the only character in that story. How you behave toward those others will necessarily have a huge impact on your success. The tarot trump card associated with this decan is the 3 of Wands, the Lord of Virtue. No longer polarised as it was in the 1st decan, the energy now is stable. The name of this game is responsible, visible, authentic leadership, with the emphasis on authenticity. Authenticity and personal responsibility are all important themes in 20th and 21st century Existentialism. As all the existentialists advise, exercising authentic and personal responsibility is never easy. But it does become less painful when we choose to see life not as saying ‘no’ to something but instead to saying ‘yes’ to something else. This is especially true when that which you’ve chosen to say ‘yes’ to is nothing less than life itself.
3rd decan – This decan has two rulers, Venus and Jupiter, neither of which are dignified. Worse, Venus is considered in detriment in Aries, and so struggles with the execution of the usual Venusian themes of grace and harmony. What we then have – for better or worse – is a ‘raw charisma’ that is difficult, if not virtually impossible, to control. Consider Marilyn Monroe who had her Venus in this decan of Aries; as one of the most popular sex symbols (the blond bombshell) of the 1950’s and 1960’s, she certainly had an interesting love life. But did it make her happy? It would seem not. Likewise, Sigmund Freud, whose psychological theories posited that all men/women were motivated by unmitigated (sexual) desire, enjoyed his Venus here. If you’re getting the idea that passion really is the name of this decan’s game, you’d not be far from wrong. The tarot card associated with this decan is the 4 Wands – the ‘let’s party’ card. Yet because this card is early in the series of ten, there’s every reason to suggest that celebrations of this sort are premature. Although people influenced by the decan may be tempted to say – yeah – ‘mission accomplished’, more times than not that is not true. Nonetheless, the energy of this decan does suggest a certain amount of craft, and skill. It is also suggestive of highly motivational people who, depending on other energies in their natal charts, may use their gifts for either good or ill. Consider Adolf Hitler, whose Mercury was found in this decan.
(to be continued)