According to Richard Idemon, an astrologer whose brilliant lectures have been edited in two books entitled Through the Looking Glass and The Magic Thread which I highly recommend, and from where I gathered much of the information for this article, the Greeks have a definition of love correlated to the four fixed signs of the zodiac that is far more diverse and sophisticated than our modern Western approach.
Epithemia correlates to the sign Taurus and is about sheer horniness and satisfaction of the bodies’ needs, drives and desires. It is self-oriented.
Philia, associated with Leo is a fiery, romantic love stirred by another and enflames the creative spirit within in order to feel special and unique as an individual. It is love dependent on another person to make us feel good about ourselves and has to do with romance, courting, wooing and enflaming the creative spirit which leads to a sense of solar individuality. The other helps us strive to be our individual best. Philia sees the other as different from the self whereas epithemia is willing to objectify the other and does not view the other as a separate and distinct self.
Eros, or erotic love, associated with Scorpio occurs when two or more entities combine in such a way that they are totally transformed by the experience. This is the watery side of love. Typically we associate this erotic love with the sexual act but the strict sexual act devoid of feeling is a Taurus trait. With Scorpio we add the element of water which immediately imbues the relationship with pain, suffering, passion and merging two souls and psyches which is why, though often sexual in nature, Eros also involves relationships between therapist and patient, student and teacher. How often do we hear about a patient falling in love with their therapist or the student/teacher affair? This occurs when the Scorpio/Taurus polarity becomes out of whack because people confuse passion with sex. Archetypal Taurus is more concerned with the body and touch whereas Scorpio, its opposite sign, takes the body and combines it with feelings, emotions and the Soul. There is a strong desire to balance the Taurus/Scorpio polarity as there is with all opposite signs. The French have a great expression for the sexual act as represented by Scorpio called “Le Petit Mort” which means “The Little Death”. Eros involves pain and the merging of two separate egos, however momentary, into one.
Finally the love symbolized by Aquarius is called Agape which to the Greeks is defined as godlike and detached, where each partner allows the other freedom and independence and the right to come and go as they please with no strings attached. Remember in Greek mythology how the Gods were always partnering and having sex with mortals but there was an unattached sexuality about it since they never married or formed permanent relationships with a mortal. Aquarius is not a sexless sign but it brings what was learned from the other three forms of love and goes a step further by saying, “I love you enough to let you be who you are.” It is an awakening and shattering of ego involvement and probably the most difficult kind of love to understand in our society, so we desexualize it by making an adjustment to love something from afar. Aquarius says, “I love you for who you are even if it means you have to leave me; I allow you your freedom”. That’s a difficult concept for Western society, so we tend to put our “platonic” love into causes, charities, groups and associations.
The Greeks made no judgments upon the four different loves and there was an honored place in society for all to be expressed whereas we in modern times tend to judge some kinds of love as better than others. We expect one special person or soul mate to fulfill all four forms of love which is literally impossible and places a tremendous and unrealistic burden on people causing all sorts of emotional and physical stress leading to a vast array of problems. And we wonder why so many relationships and marriages fail.
I want to discuss further the Taurus/Scorpio – Epithemia/Eros axis. Richard Idemon defines Eros as “a force that brings two or more separate entities together in such a way that they are totally transformed.” Sex can absolutely be erotic and our Western culture is preoccupied with this in a rather unhealthy way because there is the endless search for erotic sex when often the sexual act can be just a fulfillment of the basic Taurean urge to be touched and getting ones physical needs met. I don’t mean to say all Taureans are selfish people but the purity of the sign is about self-gratification and if it involves another person, so be it, but it better feel good to me first and foremost.
Scorpio is about emotional security and the intimacy we feel when being in love with another person. It demands the merging of two souls which Taurus does not. Taurus is about mine and Scorpio is about sharing mine with yours and that includes the body, its fluids and the trust of emotionally letting go and bearing one’s soul and deepest feelings. Taurus is masturbatory while Scorpio implies sharing the sexual act with someone else through intercourse or the myriad ways one can share the body through the sexual act. Taurus is the safety of my ground and the earth beneath my feet and the pleasures of the Garden of Eden, and Scorpio is the death and transformation of all that through the urge to die and be reborn. I give up my ground to merge and share with another and must take a chance to die in the process and transform physically and emotionally through the merging process. Scorpio is about trust and intimacy. How much are we willing to compromise?
Anything erotic feels risky and dangerous because true eroticism involves hovering around the border of your basic ground which doesn’t feel quite safe. It’s the Taurus/Scorpio polarity of control and safety vs. losing control and taking a chance. Erotic relationship evokes deep feelings and intimacy but does not necessarily have to be sexual which is why a parent/child relationship or therapist/client relationship can be erotic. In Western culture we tend to sexualize eroticism. Keeping eroticism in a relationship means keeping it at a transformative level. Obviously one can’t do this 100 percent of the time but when something becomes dull and stagnant (Taurus), having the awareness and allowing the erotic transformative energy (Scorpio) to keep it alive and passionate produces growth. It’s about moving out of the Taurus world toward the Scorpio one by taking the risk. What scares most people from avoiding eroticism in any relationship is the possibility that the risk and transformative energy may lead to a separation rather than a continued merging. We’ve been conditioned to believe that relationships must last forever but in truth relationships have no set timeline and some people are meant to come into our lives for years, months or weeks depending on what it is we are meant to learn from them. All relationships eventually end because of physical death but most relationships end in our lifetime because of other factors. There are no guarantees and isn’t it better to let go with awareness and love rather than hang on till death do us part without any self awareness. Scorpio is about pain and honoring the process that with pain is growth and transformation.
Saturn in Scorpio asks us to face with hard work, effort, discipline and testing by trial and error all those issues discussed in the above paragraphs and at its highest to gain consciousness and grow past our fears, control, rigidity and limits to build something greater which makes us more complete, mature adults. With this effort through Scorpio we will be stung and sting others because Saturn works on how we structure our world on the material plane.
For instance, if you are a very promiscuous person whose experience of sex is all about one night stands and not getting intimate with another then Saturn in Scorpio will ask you to work harder at sexual intimacy. Slowly you may find little of the satisfaction once gained by casual sexual conquests and encounters and you’ll question your motivations and behaviors and yearn to build a stronger sense of intimacy with sexual partners. You may limit your partners and search for one or two that bring greater emotional satisfaction and deeper commitment where one must learn to trust.
Alternately, those people who have never trusted themselves within the intimacy of a personal and sexual relationship will be forced to deal with why they are limiting themselves to this wonderfully erotic human experience as Saturn transits Scorpio. What is it that you are truly afraid of in bonding with another person as an adult? Is the fear something that stems from childhood and the family as represented by the 4th house and Cancer in the chart? How do I carry the past over to my adult relationships as delineated by Scorpio and the 8th house? One comes face to face with intimacy and trust vis-a-vis too much sex or too little sex. They are the flip side of the same coin.
Both instances are a denial or block in intimacy and Saturn demands an acknowledgment and, if you are willing to do the work, helps one discover how to build better habit patterns. Saturn gets you in touch with trusting yourself and others but often through pain. It is scary in an erotic relationship to talk to your partner about what is bothering you and have a free flow of communication to express honestly what you feel, want and desire. Issues of anger and resentment are the natural landscape of this territory and it can be like walking through a battlefield strewn with land mines. But think of the rewards Saturn can bring in navigating, working on and eventually shining the light on this area of life. It is something many people are uncomfortable doing and then often only in the privacy of a therapeutic session and often not even there. An evolved erotic relationship allows for greater independence and variety.
Saturn in Scorpio may require you to pay the consequences for your sexual excesses. If you’re rampantly promiscuous and you refuse to change those sexual behaviors or at least modify them in some way then Saturn can have the nasty habit of teaching you a lesson that may be painful by perhaps contracting a venereal disease every time you have a casual sexual encounter. That would be one of the manifestations of taking more responsibility for sexual conduct or misconduct. I am not passing judgment on sexual promiscuity (I can hear countless friends of mine laughing at that remark even emanating from my mouth!) but merely using this as a very practical example. Likewise, the person who refuses to be intimate with others may encounter a sudden love affair where seething passion and intense jealousy overtake take them with an emotional intensity that is frighteningly irrational eliciting emotions such as sexual addiction or obsession, unbridled lust, jealousy and anger. Or they may feel the unbearable pain of years and years of not having opened themselves up to love forcing a personal process of what all that means. And to take it a step further that person may need to experience, relative to their own definition, a type of promiscuity that helps them experience losing control.
Saturn makes us conscious. In Scorpio it says, “Look I can’t promise that I’ll be with you till death do us part because my feelings may change but I can promise you honesty and an open communication of my feelings in the relationship”. That is very erotic and very sexy because it keeps things in the present moment. Really talking with honesty about emotions and feelings is risky and dangerous because one must bare ones soul and run the risk of confronting anger and resentments but with the ultimate goal of resolving them, or at least processing the feelings, understanding them and moving on.
In closing remember that as Saturn enters Scorpio on October 5 it will bring to our awareness how well we are integrating the four forms of love as defined above into our life. It demands that we pay specific attention from the Scorpio point of view. It’s the Scorpio, Eros, erotic side of our nature that will come under careful and cautious inspection. Observe any planets in the fixed signs for the next two years to see how your Scorpionic nature gets under their skin.