Love defines us as human beings. We seek it, we want it and sometimes we desperately try to lose it. Above all other emotions, love is the one that creates peace, harmony, and beauty. In most languages, different words are ascribed to the various types of love that more closely define the nature of the specific feeling, whereas in the English language we use adjectives to clarify just what sort of love we are experiencing, such as “erotic’ love, “familial” love, “platonic” love and “principled” love. Today, as astrology gains a wider audience, it can also be used to facilitate a deeper understanding of this most important emotion and lend us some insight into how we can better apply it in our day to day life. The twelve signs of the Zodiac are archetypal representations of different modes of being and through an exploration of these twelve archetypes, we can gain a broader understanding of this ‘thing called love’.
In koine Greek which was the form of that language in use from about 300 BCE-300 AD and which language was used when the ‘New Testament’ part of the Bible was written, there are, for the purposes of this little exploration, four words which are used for the one English word, “love”; storge, philia, eros, and agape. Let’s explore each of these four faces of love and the connection that each face has to the archetypes of the zodiac.
“Storge” or familial love or ‘familiar’ love is the love that comes from that sense of familiarity that can be had in a family experience or with people who become de facto members of one’s family. When experiencing familial love, we desire to protect and nurture, train, and discipline, feed and keep safe those who are ours. “Storge” is affection and fondness. It is natural, emotive, and is the love that is most often expressed without coercion or judgment. Astrologically, “storge” is co-related to the archetypal signs of Cancer, Capricorn, and Virgo. Cancer desires to protect and nurture; Capricorn wants to teach and discipline and Virgo wants to care, feed and nourish her loved ones. If you have any of these three energies within your psyche, you are comfortable in family situations or you may be working through issues related to this dynamic. You most easily and naturally express love through a warm, nurturing, and protective demonstration of emotion. You are a householder and server, par excellance, and once you have actualized your own internal energy, you are everyone’s best ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘sister’ or ‘brother’.
“Philia”, the love of friendship is, possibly, the most fulfilling type of love. This is the love that can spring up between two unrelated people and that does not entail either familial ties or erotic compulsions. Rather, it is the love that comes from a sharing of like mind, a mutual interest; not so much based on the need to receive in return but rather just the joy of finding a compatible partner in crime with whom one can communicate, play, be together in silence and without censure. In true friendship feelings like jealousy and covetousness should, ideally, not be present. We are told that we cannot choose our families but that we can choose our friends, indicating how desirable a thing true friendship can be. Astrologically, “philia” is best exemplified by the archetypes of Aquarius, Libra, Gemini & Sagittarius. In these energies, we discover the joy of companionship, group alignment, shared fun, common viewpoint, both personally and globally. Aquarius draws us into groups and communities that share common values and ideals. Libra invites us to find companionship with another. Gemini creates an environment of childlike playfulness and Sagittarius sparks us to seek adventure and forge bonds of friendship with others. If you have these energies within your psyche, you innately understand the “hows” of friendship. You easily create commonality and peace between yourself and the other. You know how to play and have fun. Joy is gained from shared partnership and the gift that you bring to the collective is the ability to bring diverse groups together and to create gateways of connection.
“Eros” is the love that is most misunderstood and the most desired. We all want to be “in love” though if asked, most of us would not be able to adequately explain what this really means. “Eros” is linked to sexual impulse but not limited to it. When we experience erotic love, we want to consume the object of our desire, to absorb the “other” into ourselves, to become “one” with that “other”. On the highest of levels, it is the search and discovery of the “beloved”. Astrologically, erotic love can be accessed through many of the archetypes, but especially through, Taurus, Scorpio, Aries & Leo. In Taurus, we seek union physically through sensuality and pleasure. This is the long lazy loving of a weekend afternoon, the indolent walks along the shore while holding each other’s hands, the communal baths and the feeding of finger foods to each other in soft romantic candlelight. It is “courtesan” energy to be enjoyed and savoured. Scorpio is dark love, the energy of possession and submission to the other. It is intense and all-consuming; a passion that does not need any words, that flows between two people like a river. It is the touch that becomes larger than the touched, the exchange of breath, the absorption of the intrinsic essence of each other through the sexual process, and beyond. In many ways, it is a magical journey into the deep, dark and mysterious depths of love.
Leo energy delights in the game of love. Here “eros” is fun and expansive. We can feel like royalty when Leo energy is involved. There is optimism, happiness, and abandon between the partners with a great deal of sizzle and romance.
Aries likes it hot, steamy and right now. There is an immediacy to the erotic love found in Aries and the focus is on the shared experience rather than each other. Love can become an acrobatic free for all, full of challenge and accomplishment. The Kama Sutra must have been devised by someone with a focus of Aries energy—the more challenging, the better, as far as this energy is concerned.
The last of the four faces of love is “agape” or the love that is based on the purest of principles. This is unconditional love that is not dependant on any return or any intrinsic worth inherent in the object of said love. It is love for love’s sake, pure, powerful and potent in its effect if appropriately accessed and implemented. In the main, this is the love with which the Christian scripture and, for that matter, all religious scripture is concerned. When Jesus instructed his followers to “love their neighbours”, he meant it on this highest of emotive levels. In a way, this is the use of emotion to transcend emotion, to detach from the base expression of the love vibration. This is the vibration that will ultimately “save” this world because when we act from this place, we seek nothing in return and we recognize the connection that exists between all living things; how can we harm that which is a part of ourselves?
Astrologically, the archetype of Pisces co-relates to “agape”. Pisces is able to love all and it is in Pisces that we can most easily access the love of “god/dess” or spirit. Herein we can locate the very essence of being or god and exist in a state of ecstasy or bliss. This is the place of true forgiveness and non-judgmental acceptance. To most fully express this exquisite love, there must be a spiritual focus. This spiritual purpose will provide a grounded foundation and an unbreakable structure that is so necessary when attempting to demonstrate “love to all”.
In ordinary life, we can all find ways to demonstrate the “four faces of love”. Understanding how love works can facilitate a more authentic expression of this most complex and satisfying emotion. As they say, “Love is in the air!” We just have to reach out and grab it!