By Unknown author – Photo courtesy of the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division under the digital ID ppmsc.06257 {{PD}}

When we consider a return to the family atmosphere (as we do at holidays, or for summer BBQs, to name just two occasions), we may find those gatherings of togetherness and food and sharing inevitably bring us back, to some extent, to our place within that family, with all the feelings, attitudes, closeness, and knee-jerk reactions that go with it. Even the best of relationships can grow strained with time, distance, and conflicting choices. We’re almost sure to both look forward to these reunions (especially after the scourge of Covid) and dread them–at least, we are likely to fear falling back into less-than-positive patterns in interacting with these familiar others, adding to the stresses already extant in our grown-up, everyday lives.

One thing that can help immensely is determining what element dominates within the family, and whether that is your dominant vibe. Sorting this out can explain on what level and through what mechanism (mental, emotional, action-oriented, material) the family is operating (in the Collective sense), and if this is the element through which we are most likely to channel our responses. At its simplest, this is a very straightforward process: draw a ‘family tree’ (or your own version of one) and list the Sun sign and its element for each individual. I can (almost) guarantee you’ll immediately begin to see correspondences, connections in behaviors, the grouping together of some individuals in social settings while others retreat to a lone ‘branch’–and you’ll have the beginnings of where you fit in the mix.

Though, as we know, Sun sign astrology doesn’t provide many answers by itself, we must in this case acknowledge that the Soul (Sun) element is a vital part of the individual’s unique expression; nobody is alienated from their own Soul (no matter how it may appear from the outside!) so when we look at the Sun’s element, we are looking at a crucial vibrational chord for the individual. No matter what else we have in our charts, we respond to that Soul element.

Naturally, the more detailed we can be in our assessment, the more we will be able to draw connections and understand interactions. If we know the Moon and/ or rising sign of the individual, or if we have access to the whole horoscope and can determine the overall dominant element, even better. In particular, the Moon will help us see those close connections that may not be explained with Sun sign elements. For example, I was very close to my maternal grandmother, whose Sun element is Water; mine is Air. Those would seem to ‘talk’ past each other, except that my Moon is in Water–I could empathize and relate to her need to see the world (in essence) through the emotions, even though my predominant viewpoint is a mental one, and she could relate to me, through her Air Moon, making for a kind of personal ‘mutual reception’ that balances shared elements between individuals. We often thought and felt remarkably alike; and this was in contrast to her daughter, my mother, whose Fire Sun and Moon often left us completely in the dark as to her thought processes and her motivations, a double Fire, ‘leap without looking’ approach.

It also helps, though, to consider the Earth sign of the individual (always found exactly opposite the Sun). For example, in the case of relating to my mother, it is possible for me to relate by light conversation, using wit and verbal sparring to find out what she thinks and feels, as her Earth is in Gemini Air; the fact that the body involved is Earth suggests that the conversation must focus on material matters, or at least start out there–then she will open up to relating, to exchanging information. Of course, the more you know about a person’s chart, the easier it is to see why they do or don’t blend with others in a group.

Let’s take a look at a family like any other, the Royal family of England. Specifically, let’s look at how the ladies who’ve married into the family have fit in, or failed to. HRH Elizabeth II (21 April 1926 2:40 AM London United Kingdom) has the Sun at 00 Taurus (some call this ‘the Hitler degree’, as it was also Hitler’s Solar placement, but I find that a little harsh)–so an individual who sets a grounded tone in the family; you’d probably do best to chat about her dogs or hunting or her castles, as finding common points of reference and common comforts and values are the way to relate. Son Charles (14 November 1948 9:14 PM London UK) has Sun in Scorpio–he’s a feeler!–but Earth in Mom’s Sun sign of Taurus–so they relate easily, especially through material matters, and Mom’s Water Earth sign reciprocates–and bonus! Charles’ Moon is exactly conjunct Mommy’s Sun (not an especially unusual parent/ child contact)–so there’s a lot of harmony there, with Charles for the most part bowing to his mother’s preferences–though when feeling triumphs it really triumphs, the case in point being his marriage to Camilla (17 July 1947 7:10 AM  London UK). Her Water Sun and Moon fit in with her husband’s temperament well and relate to the Queen through material commonalities (Camilla’s Earth in Earth! Perhaps representing that Camilla’s family is of the same milieu as the queen’s). Her Water-Earth Sun-Earth combo relates well to her husband through shared feeling about material matters, as well as the strong feeling nature. But what about his ‘old’ wife?

Diana Spencer (1 July 1961 7:45 PM  Sandringham UK) has what should be a very sympathetic placement of Sun in Water, Earth in Earth–so what made for such discord and alienation between herself and the family she entered through marriage? Probably that Aquarian Air Moon of hers. It may have required things make sense, be explained, and be subjected to logic and intellectual examination–not to mention taking her vows quite seriously, at least until she found she’d been deceived by her husband, who never stopped seeing old flame Camilla. The need for ‘shared Air’ may have driven Diana from the family; it could’ve felt like no one spoke of anything important, that information was never really shared–is that really surprising, from a family that lives in a series of castles, who have feelings deeper for their corgis (or at least seemed to, from Diana’s point of view) than what they felt for a woman who essentially just needed to relate?

Charles and Diana’s son William (21 June 1982  9:03 PM Paddington UK) was born in the lee of a partial Solar eclipse, while wife Kate was born on the same day as a total Lunar eclipse (9 January 1982 ntk Reading UK). Weird, no? There may be an implied energy balance of extraordinary extremes in the pairing of these two–William’s dual Water Sun-Moon and Earth in Earth fits the family dynamic neatly (and his 00 Sun placement may sympathize with grandma’s 00 Sun energy), and Kate does, too, with Sun in Earth and Moon-Earth in Water. She may come across as super-practical, and on the inside could be a little more sensitive than other family members, but likely doesn’t let that show except to her husband–who has the freedom of those born into an extraordinary situation to be a little looser in expression and choice. These two fit into the current Royal family like hands in gloves–but as we’ve seen lately, his brother and his spouse haven’t.

Prince Harry (15 September 1984 4:20 PM Paddington UK) has Sun in Earth, Earth in Water–so he should fit in well, right? His Moon in Earth only reinforces this. The answer to Harry’s recent defection might lie in other areas, which I’ll note later–but we have been presented with the family’s treatment of his American wife as the reason, so we need to look there, at least for the trigger to Harry’s leave-taking. Meghan Markle (4 August 1981 4:46 AM Canoga Park California USA) has a Fire Sun and an Air Earth. Uh-oh–she tires them out, agitating for clarity, and probably for due respect (that Fire is Leo, after all!) Meghan’s Earth in Air echoes Diana’s Moon, probably stirring up fears in Harry that his wife may suffer the same hounding and ill-fate his mother did. So, we have our trigger–but is that enough to make Harry dump the institution, and consequently his family, since they can’t seem to see themselves as separate from it?

Though there are many interesting ties between Harry and Meghan, I’m going to point to only two that I think tell the story: Her Chiron conjoined his Moon, and his Sun square her Neptune. She may stir emotional feelings and fears he didn’t even know he had, and she may register to him as ideal (as a media star, the epitome of a particular shad of Neptune) but the dream she represents may present difficult circumstances, challenges to overcome (the square) that speak directly to who he is (Sun). Add to this in Harry’s own chart that his Sun is closely conjoined Zeus, melding his Beingness with his ambitions and desires–and can you imagine a more unfortunate placement for someone who, before William had children, was considered the ‘spare’ to William’s ‘heir’? Leaving may have been the only way for that Sun to fulfill itself–and certainly, he’d already distinguished himself in the military, and in creating the Invictus games, taking a special interest in those wounded in war, just as his mother similarly did in her crusade against landmines. Add to this his Nodal axis at 29 degrees, suggesting pressure, a do-or-die need for fulfillment in the life direction, and he may have felt a kind of unfocused urgency to create an exceptional life–and after a point, leaving the family may have seemed the only way to do it.

Some things to consider: those we are related to, those with whom we’ve grown up, and/ or those with whom we feel ‘obligated’ to share holidays or to gather with for larger reasons may not necessarily need to be a part of our current lives, especially if we associate significant pain with this individual or group. Though we may have quite an internal conflict over the appropriateness of spending the holidays at a distance from some we would normally include, our primary duty is to look out for our own health and well-being. The truth is we can hardly be kind to others if we mistreat ourselves.

A Brief Guide to Families by Element

Some of this might seem a little obvious, and of course there will be variations–I didn’t get into the sub-groups, where a family has a main element and a secondary one, or where there are splinter groups within the larger groups that carry their own elemental themes–but I think you can see where I’m going, and can figure this kind of thing out. It often jumps out as we outline our family tree, revealing alliances we always knew were there, somehow, but hadn’t really consciously acknowledged.

Water families communicate through feelings–and everything, even those things that seem to be material (like gifts) or cut-and-dried (like contracts or wills) are driven by emotion. Water families are often emoters and everything is expressed to extremes–and they’re also the group most likely to punctuate gatherings with fights, swearing, accusations, and copious numbers of tears. They’re as well the group that opens their get-togethers to strangers most easily, who are warmest and most demonstrative, and who may be very uncomfortable if you’re not letting every feeling show, too.

Fire families are just that, full of fire, which means they’re assigning tasks, organizing games, playing sports, or running errands non-stop. All this fosters lots of interaction but with little depth; it’s a matter of each group member doing doing doing beside the others, so engagement is on the surface or minimal. That’s the way they like it, though; to them sitting for hours around the table chatting or watching the snow fall is pointless. This group loves to include anyone who’s a good sport and willing to get their hands dirty; balk at their tasks and you might be seen as ‘being mopey’.

Earth families are all about comfort, and making everyone feel secure; they find fast movement risky, too much talk distracting, and crying a sign of emergency. The stars of this family are the carpenters, cooks, craftspeople, and anyone who offers physical comfort through skill or effort. Their all is aimed toward creating a cozy environment, seeing to plenty of sustenance, and a satisfying material experience–which can be lovely if your idea of a great holiday is to wrap yourself in a ham cocoon in front of the fire, but most of the non-Earth oriented may find the low level of interaction or exercise frustrating, especially as any expression of dissatisfaction is likely to be met with an offer of warm slippers, cocoa, and a big, crush-the-unhappy-out-of-you hug.

Air families communicate endlessly–everything means something, has a message, must be discussed, and is in danger of being misunderstood. For all their emphasis on mental exchange they can be terrible listeners; but they do think about what might make everyone happy, and in that way they can be the most accommodating of the groups, as long as they can relate to what someone else might need. The stars of this family are the witty and the intelligent, the co-operative and the artistic. Words are the currency in this group, followed by expressions of ‘thoughtfulness’, and because there’s so much attention to communication they can be uneven in departments like decorating, activities, or buying enough food–because who’s counting portions when you’re thinking of all the stories you’ll tell at the dinner table?

This work first appeared in ECLIPSE, and has been edited, and modified with the addition of the material on Prince Harry and Meghan.