"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
This is one of most famous opening lines ever written. The author is a man consumed by horror and fascination with families and family life, a man who had 12 children and an intense relationship with his much younger wife, and whose own parents and older brother died when he was quite young.
The book is "Anna Karenina". The author is Leo Tolstoy.
Many of Tolstoy's novels concern families and family life issues. In "The Kreutzer Sonata", a husband murders his wife in a fit of jealous passion.
Tolstoy's family life was far from perfect and yet profundity of family life consumed him for a lifetime. He asked to be buried near "the green stick", a legendary place his older brother told him about when they were kids.
What about you? Does your Family Tree bear fruits of pain or perfection? What about family you’re creating or plan to create? And your spouse’s family?
Do your people fit Normal Rockwell stereotype? The Partridge Family? How about Royal Tannenbaums? Were you raised by a single parent? Relatives? Foster homes? "Where do I come from?" is an important question at some time in our lives and especially when we have Saturn in 4th, 8th and 12th houses of chart.
For all of us, really knowing ourselves means knowing about families we come from. This is great mystery of bottom of chart, IC, Imum Coeli. Translated literally this means deepest most part of Heavens. This is 4th house.
Erin Sullivan has written a very interesting seminal work on family chart interpretation in her latest book, "The Astrology of Family Dynamics." She thinks families come in two different types: Uranian and Neptunian. Let's take a closer look at this.
So, what's it like to come from Uranus? Uranus is planet that rules individuality, freedom and ability to stand alone against insurmountable obstacles. There is a Promethean heroism in basic Uranian character. As you recall, Prometheus stole fire from gods and gave it to humans. For this willful act of transgression, he was chained to a rock for all eternity. Every day an eagle (the bird of Zeus, his tormenter) eats out his liver. And every night it grows back. Many an Aquarian soul will identify with agony and ecstasy of this myth. Uranus is ruler of Aquarians and astrologers. Sometimes truths we bring are not welcome though they are spectacularly life sustaining.
Uranus is planet that gives us will to stand up and break chains that bind us. Uranus rules revolutions such as French Revolution and American Revolution. When it's time for a revolutionary change in status quo, in rides Aquarius on hurricane winds of change. (Aquarius is an air sign.)
The mythological Uranus, some might remember, ate his own children because he thought they were ugly. Still he and Gaea created protogods of Greek pantheon.
What on earth does this tell us about family dynamics? Well, reason Uranus thought his children were ugly is an important consideration. It was because they didn't fit his ideal. The Uranian personality can be consumed with a vision so pure that it dreadfully devalues any tangible reality.
Families adopting Uranian model will be comprised of strong individuals who are encouraged to think for themselves as soon and have opinions of their own as soon as they can talk. The family is seldom at home because their family ideal is to contribute to society. The members of these families are serving on committees to preserve ethnic folk dances, getting elected to school boards, organizing fund raisers to pay for a neighborhood child's prosthesis or starting a group like MADD.
The children in Uranian homes are escorted to door at 18 or 21 and out in to world they go, never looking back. These are not kids who are expected to call home every Sunday afternoon at 6 pm. For some readers this is sounding like a horror story but for some, it should be oddly consoling and even quite highly amusing. You are thinking, "At last, someone is describing a family like mine."
The siblings in Uranian families, not to mention parents, often go for years without talking to one another. It is always interesting to discover what brings them back into contact. (If you know a family like this, be sure and ask.) Needless to say, in these families, everyone is black sheep!
The Uranian family has few traditions since they don't value tradition. Family reunions are rare. Maybe they read about each other in newspaper!
Because every Uranian is at heart living in a future which doesn't exist yet, images from science fictions books and films come to mind. Stanley Kubrick is a quintessential Uranian type. Here's a world view quote:
"The most terrifying fact about universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent, but if we can come to terms with indifference, then our existence as a species can have genuine meaning. However vast darkness, we must supply our own light."
- Stanley Kubrick
Many astrologers and metaphysicians, myself included, would agree with Kubrick; however this description is sure to strike terror in hearts of Neptunians everywhere. Indifference? Yikes!
Uranians meditate on pure energy and rarely see images but if they do, it is likely to be very abstract (and “indifferent”) such as light spirals, galactic cosmos starry nights or extra terrestrials. Neptunians on other hand can conjure angels, fairies, auras, Divine Mother and her Suffering Son. Medicine Men, Shamans, Isis … beings with faces and eyes that connect and beckon kindly.
Which one is better? That’s not a question to ask in a paradigm like astrology that presents world fundamentally in polarities as do many of world’s great religions. Uranians:Neptunians as yang:yin as air/fire:water/earth.