On the Gender(ing) of the Planets
On the Gender(ing) of the Planets in Astrology
How do you reconcile gender theory with energetic polarities? Or the planets as beings yet mere omens?
This is such an important topic. I hear folks talking about, stumbling through, and struggling with how to reconcile gender theory and basic energetic principles.
Here's the trouble:
In a very broad range of esoteric and metaphysical traditions there's talk about what's essentially polarized energy. Call it dark/light, day/night, postive/negative, sky/earth, air/water, spirit/body, yin/yang. We can talk about whether a particular person's use in a given time/place/culture is appropriative or appropriate or not, but we can all usually agree that those juxtapositions (aka polarities aka binaries) are more or less out there in the world we all observe and interact with.
Enter this troubled/ing addition: masculine/feminine.
Now we've got a gender theory problem.
What's Bear got to say about Gender and Astrology?
TL;DR right up front: queer activist Bear wanted either no discernable way to see sex, gender, or sexuality in the chart or for it to be possible to see the nuances of all of the above – the tension between whatever the fuck one's internal sense of gender is and the thing we experience externally with all its concomitant performativity and social-construction, ones energy vs. body vs. expression vs. the way we're classed and read.
And truthfully, the preference would have been for the former.
After years of working with traditional ancient astrological techniques and source material, it seems that one can indeed see sex, gender, and sexuality in the chart. Uncomfortable as it is, even the calculations that differ based on assigned sex at birth seem to "work".
Though to be clear there are other ways of getting at the same answers. And the times that assigned sex at birth ends up playing a role in such techniques reveals just as much about underlying cultural assumptions as it does "pure astrological information".
Just like everything else in astrology there's a decided gap between what can be symbolically divined and what people ultimately choose to do in the present moment. But we won't be getting side-tracked with conversations about causation and determinism here.
His*, Hers*, and Theirs* - Pronouns and the Planets
You'll notice Bear typically uses a gendered pronound when talking about the planets and that he capitalizes the gender pronoun when he does. That's because he has a cultivated personal relationships of (planetary) devotion with each of the seven traditional planets and their spheres / intelligences / spirits. Like any other friend, Bear would never call Luna, or Mars, or Saturn, 'it'.
You might also notice that Bear occasionally does use the word 'it' when referring to the planets.
In the former instance, Bear is talking about the Planets as Beings who have stewardship over particular biomes and niches (different types of essential dignity like rulership over houses, or terms).
Even when he does that you might notice that when referring to the Moon She* might be referred to as an Uncle and They* might also be called Mx. Moon. That's because when we look back at the source material for the so-called "western" branch of astrology (which really emerged in the eastern mediterranean basin) we see the Moon referred to as "both male and female"; and when we look across many cultures throughout time we see that folks seem to refer to the Moon as both male and female.
Whereas Venus and Mars seems to be pretty consistently associated with femme/woman/feminine and butch/man/masculine. Mercury? With both/and, neither, and does not apply or else very fluid and queer.
What about when it's "it" though?
Then again, there are times when we're talking about astronomical phenomena like visibility, orbits, and the like – literally talking about the celestial body's "objective facts" as opposed to the planetary principles/archetypes/spirits...
The Moon in its orbit, defines a month. The Sun casts its light and that's what defines daytime.
You get the idea.
The Planets as Beings
The Planets as Beings
This understanding and relationship building with the planets is something that's informed Bear's approach to astrology and a large portion of his work – from his co-creation and co-presentation of the Planets as Movement Ancestors talk at Allied Media Conference in July 2020, to his Practical Magic with the Planetary Days lecture for Synchronicity University in September 2021.
In the not-too-distant future you'll have the pleasure of reading work which retraces the path Bear has travelled following the lead of Nature and his Ancestors that's led him to his current understanding of the stars, time, the Earth, and what it is we're here for.
Of course, you don't have to think or believe the same things. You don't even have to agree in order to make sense of the forecasts and horoscopes here, and it's not necessary that you view the planets as having the same – or any – gender.
Besides, it's certainly not the same type of 'gender' as the socially constructed/performed type that we navigate in our political lives. That type of gender, its binary, and the biological essentialism that go along with it are the kind of the thing Bear was organizing and campaigning against way back circa... the turn of the century.
You can even hear a little bit of his presentation on queer youth activism at the Bioneers Conference in... 2006 by the sound of it (from back when he was still a – teenaged! – queer youth activist) in a clip included in this blog post.
Connect with astrologer Bear Ryver
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If you'd like to reach out to Bear directly you can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org