What Is “Love?”

Tonight I am thinking about relationships I have had, and I will share a few things that I have learned about what most of us call “love.” As I’ve written before, English is poor in words about love; in Greek, there are many distinct words that translate to “love” in English. Tonight, I am thinking about 7th house relationships, “I—Thou” exclusive relationships in which one has an intimate dance with “the other” and learns about oneself in the process.

Even more interestingly perhaps, I’ll share how doing charts has enabled me to discover a new way to think about relationships and love.

What Is “Love?”

In 7th house relationships, the key ingredients are commitment and vulnerability. 7th house relationships may carry the context of romance, business, rivalry (lawsuits, open enemies), or professional (think counseling, law, medicine), but the key point is that each party is vulnerable and committed to relating. Rivals are very committed to each other, as are lovers.

Cultural Ideas About “Love”

Although I have never “dated,” I have many friends and clients who have shared their experiences of trying to find a partner, using dating sites, etc. And they invariably find the whole endeavor very difficult and frustrating. But I note that a key cultural idea about this is that we should look for traits in our desired beloved. Or activities we would do together. And I think that these are false trails for anyone looking to co-create an intimate relationship, whether sexual or not. Completely. So it’s no wonder that people struggle to find someone. More on this in a minute.

Let’s return to “love” and “relationship.” To me, “love” describes a certain type of relationship. Relationship literally refers to the [prolonged] act of relating, dancing, with an other. Hence, commitment and vulnerability. Intimacy means showing one’s neck, exposing one’s jugular, showing weakness, because we only do that behind “closed doors,” if ever. Showing strengths is expected and done readily, weaknesses notsomuch.

Trust is a huge part of all 7th house relationships, and few people are aware of trust; they only, if they are lucky, know it when they feel it. This is because trust is developed nonverbally, and our neocortexes work with words (see the Ethic of Engagement). The most common phrase that correlates with trust is “gut feel” in English.

Getting Deeper With Your Self

First and foremost, where are you at with your self? If you long for a “relationship,” what would that mean to you? Are you looking for companionship, sex, distraction, to feel “loved,” or what? You will save yourself and others a lot of time and angst by exploring this. Your answers to the questions are less important than your awareness of the subject.

Even more important, how do you relate to your self? Because you relate to your self in some way. Few people are aware of this, but it’s key to know what you are looking for in other people whom you invite to relate to you. For example, do you accept your self when you “fail” at something? How well do you know your shadows? (parts of your self that you don’t like, which means that people in your family of origin and former relationships didn’t accept)? How honest are you with your self? How do you relate to your self when you feel weak or insignificant or [other undesirable feeling]? In answering these questions, politically correct or “positive thinking” responses do not count; it’s your true truth that counts, whatever that is. “Negative” is often repressed; we have all been conditioned to “be positive,” but truth is beyond “positive or “negative.” Truth is a sacred space.

Your answers to these questions have a huge impact on how you can relate to an other. For me, since I have worked a lot on shadows (they are so human and humbling), I am repelled by fakeness and attracted to someone who can refer to her shadows in a spontaneous (i.e. unrehearsed) way. This is a far deeper connection than what she likes to do or what genre of films or books she likes.

How Astrology Gave Me a Deeper Insight

Okay, all of this is pretty unsurprising to those of us who have done work with our selves and relationships. I am thinking of several relationships I’ve had with women whose charts I have cast. Here are some insights I’ve had that may be helpful to you:

  • All of us have a natal chart that details our vibrations. We are truly snowflakes, not only in terms of our charts but in terms of how we are living them. What I mean is, if you have a “difficult” chart, how are you living it? The chart describes your vibration, but we all create our lives through our actions, how we “wear” our vibrations. For example, let’s say you have a lot of hard squares (as I do). How are you relating to your squares (conflicts, difficulties)? Do you feel helpless and martyred? Do you find meaning and learning in the situations they lead you into?
  • Our natal charts are vibrations that we live with whether or not we’re aware of them. But it’s our attitude towards our selves and vibrations that is far more telling than the vibrations themselves. This is the effect of the “spirit” or ethereal part of our selves.
  • A chart, when cast and interpreted by a skilled practitioner, will reveal the vibration, but the attitude is the result of the person “wearing” her vibration, relating to it.

Because how she relates to her self will govern how she is able to relate to you or other people in your life (family, friends, community).


I observe that each person creates within her abilities and limits, and relationships are co-creations. “Love” is very relative, but I encourage you to look for how your partner relates to her self. This will be pivotal in how she is able to relate to you or others you care about. How honest is she with her self? How robust is she when she encounters difficulties? What is her attitude toward difficulty? Or joy? Can she accept joy? Can you?

You can try asking the other person what s/he wants for her/him self and your relationship, but that is less helpful than it may appear—few people know. So, if you can muster the openness to look at this, pay attention to your beloved’s actions. Few people are aware of themselves and what they really want, but deep inside they know, and that deep inside animates their actions. So you don’t need to ask; you need only observe without having an agenda for him/her or your relationship.

This is hard; if you are emotionally invested in a relationship, you can only relate “without agenda” by emotionally letting go of the relationship. This does not mean “not caring”; it means recognizing your love/vulnerability/caring, how you feel about him/her and you, and being willing to let that go, understanding that you cannot “own” or possess an other. You may only have this dance. So I propose feeling your pain and joy and uncertainty about the other—your love for him/her—and being willing to let that go, realizing that you don’t know whether it is “meant” for you to be together while simultaneously validating your feelings and desires. Only then can you consider the other without agenda. I realize that this is a tall order. It takes practice and courage, but it is courageous and completely transformational when you do it.


Each of our charts has a vibration, and even more exciting, when we relate to an other, our vibrations create a third vibration that is unique. You have your unique vibration, the other has his/hers, and your two vibrations create a third vibration that has its own chart (a composite chart).

Here’s an unusual astrological insight: for people who are seeking a deep, durable relationship, pay special attention to how the other person’s Saturn relates to your chart. According to Dane Rudhyar, Saturn represents structure at all levels, and this includes one’s incarnation itself (which is a structure after all). He asserts that all the energy of the universe was focused on the moment you took your first breath and became incarnate. The Saturn placement reveals your “pure self before you started accommodating your environment. Therefore, a key element of one’s spiritual journey is discovering the accommodations you made and returning to your original pure self. So how does the other’s Saturn placement relate to your chart? And vice versa? This is incredibly revealing in relationships, and few astrologers are even aware of it!

One of my most unusual relationships has the Saturn placements conjunct the Ascendants, so this is a very spiritual connection. If you are astute, you will not need a chart to tell you this, you will feel it. But, in relating to an other, realize that your ability to relate begins with how you relate to your self. And vice versa.

In “real life,” pay close attention to how you and your other react in adversity. I recommend going tent camping with someone you think you want to marry or move in with. Or do something else together that takes you far outside your comfort zones, whatever those are.

In another relationship I had, which had many twists and turns, I realized years later, haha, we each had Uranus in the 7th house! So that is a textbook sign that this relationship was going to be very unconventional and subject to sudden changes and illuminations. Depending on your circumstances and outlook, you can identify strengths, weaknesses, and risks in relationships by knowing your individual vibrations and your composite vibration.

Love and Vibration

One thing I am pondering right now is my experience of love. In one relationship, I have experienced what I now think of as “extreme harmony” because many of my most unusual traits and expressions of self animate the other. I can see her body, hear her voice, see her gestures, when I express, without meaning to really, my quirks. And they seem to give her energy. And I have experienced this with her quirks. She is so unusual, and her most unusual expressions move me in ways I cannot describe. We seem to have “extreme harmony” that way.

And this shows up in our individual charts, how they map to each other, and in our composite chart. But here’s the thing: the resonance we have, the “extreme harmony” of our snowflake vibrations relating, are not love although they create, I think, an unusual intimacy. They are harmony, resonance. Love is the attitude, the striving, the commitment. But extreme harmony is indeed an elixir. And it does not prevent love, but I think now that it’s important for me to realize that it is not love. Love is independent of harmony. Love is striving, the willingness to be honest with one’s self and with the other. The willingness to be vulnerable with one’s self and with the other.

Another key point that most conventional wisdom overlooks is that love is totally based on and governed by one’s relationship to one’s self. To be able to relate to an other, one must recognize and honor one’s self (see Relationship). One must be willing to be honest, to admit one’s uncertainty, weakness, pain (Ego hates this) and to accept them (“desirable” feelings are easy, Ego loves them, but “undesirable” are more challenging).

2 thoughts on “What Is “Love?”

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