More Reference

Every sign has a description commonly known as a "Mode." The three Modes are called Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. While a sign's Element acts a description for that sign's association with our continued existence, its Mode refers to the way the sign functions within that association.

Ahem...right. Here's the plain English version of that: Modes are the different ways the signs operate.

If you look at the three branches of the U.S. Government, you'll find the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. Each one of those branches represents the government in a uniquely different way, does a different job, and has a different basic setup and authority. Nevertheless, they all work together to govern the country. This is very similar to how the three Modes work to represent any one Element.

Anyway, I am planning on giving each Mode its own post, but I thought a bit of indentification might be helpful first:

For the Fire signs: Aries is Cardinal, Leo is Fixed, and Sagittarius is Mutable.
For the Earth signs: Capricorn is Cardinal, Taurus is Fixed, and Virgo is Mutable.
For the Air signs: Libra is Cardinal, Aquarius is Fixed, and Gemini is Mutable.
For the Water signs: Cancer is Cardinal, Scorpio is Fixed, and Pisces is Mutable.

By the way...if you're the kind of person who likes rhythm, you might try the following: Find a list of signs in sequential order (the list should start with Aries). Go through the signs one by one and write down the Element it represents. Then go through and do the same thing with the Modes. You'll find there is a method to the madness.

Oh, and P.S.: Astrologers didn't set it up that way or anything. It worked like that to begin with.


And so...

I am not feeling very concise today. Which sucks, because I wanted to post, but I really don't feel like blathering on. I already dumped not one, but two posts today because of it.

Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.


Water From The Rock

There is a fable I always remember, though I don't recall where it came from:

A group of scientists once found themselves at the foot of a Mountain, and they decided to climb it, to see what was at the peak. They did a few experiments to figure out the best way to go about it, threw their energy into developing innovative ways to scale the rocky surface, and at long last began to climb. It was not easy...sometimes they had to fix their equipment, or come up with new answers to unexpected problems. It was also often quite dangerous, and not all of the scientists made it. But along the way and through those hardships they all learned much about the Mountain, and found reason in the way it worked, and discovered the logic of what it really was and what it meant.

Finally, at long last and with triumph in their hearts, the group of scientists climbed over that final ledge. And to their surprise they found a group of holy men sitting there, furiously debating the true nature of the Mountain, as they had been all along.

Earth and Water are the polar elements that represent the body of existence, just as Fire and Air represent the continuity of it. On the one hand (Earth's) there is the sensual reality we know. On the other hand (Water's) there is the existence of the spirit.

In contrast, they might be easier seen, for in being polar they can sometimes come into conflict. Like the eternal struggle between science and faith. Or physical needs versus emotional ones, morality versus pragmatism, imagination versus actuality...the defined versus That Which Cannot Be Defined.

Earth is tangible, and so it tends to be more easily recognized. I often lean towards physical descriptions to illustrate things, like writing about pencils and planets when what I'm really discussing is energy and interaction. Earth qualities are basically sensual...you can feel, touch, taste, hear, and see them. They are also quantifiable and knowable reality, defined reality, whether you are quantifying sound in decibels, or using visible symbols in MS Sans Serif font to communicate, or calculating a person's psychology through the pattern of degrees in a natal chart.

Or feeling pain when you accidentally cut yourself.

A broken heart feels pain too. But that is Water's side, not Earth's. Quantify your sorrow or your happiness for me, would you? Where's the insta-scale for measuring your faith in yourself, or in a higher power? And even though those that are scientifically minded often scoff at what they see as the fantasies of religion and beliefs, they should not. Those "fantasies" have impacted our existence through countless passions, held up millions with its strength, and illustrated the actual meaning and point to being alive, rather than merely rendering us biological organisms just a few steps up from plankton. If Earth is everything starkly defined in reality, Water is everything that is not.

There is no greater proof of the balance between these two than our own existence. We feel, and yet we are flesh. We must obey the needs of both, or we are off balance, crumbling. While you can notice the biological changes of emotion, can witness them in the flashes of the brain's synapses, these physical things simply are. There is no depth of meaning. They are only physical representations of a greater emotional reality.

So is art. And countless other things. Physical manifestations compelled by the spirit, to represent that spirit.

And the same goes for spiritual manifestations compelled by the physical. The satisfaction of a good meal, the sensation of your lover's kiss or caress, the thrill in the rush of adrenaline when a song you love reaches that perfect tempo. Like a rock thrown into a pond, the physical resonates through our emotions. Our emotions and our faiths, in turn, push us to mark reality with beauty and comfort and all the possiblities of living, and to defend and uplift our human spirit through the use of very physical means.

Both elements make up reality, and together they represent existence.


Fire In The Sky

Next to me is a broken pencil. I just snapped it in half.

There was a momentary resistance, followed by a small explosion. I'm sure in slow motion it would have looked fascinating. Force expelled in all directions as the sound whizzed through the air, tiny pieces of wood scattering off into the breeze. For a fraction of a second all was chaos, and energy, and change. Obviously no great achievement, but by my will this was done.

And then, swiftly, silence. And I had no power to stop that.

The pencil no longer exists. At least, not as it was. Though all is calm again, everything has changed, and there is a new reality bound by new laws, where the pencil is not one whole thing, but two. What happens to those shards from here on out is anyone's guess.

This is the world of Fire and Air.

Energy, change, and chaos are the hallmarks of the Fire element. Law, relationship, and order are likewise under the element of Air. Between the two, things eternally transform, but then are returned to a stable state in which everything relates...as well as it can, at least. They are not ignorant of each other. Far from it, in fact. But they work in counterbalance. They are polar. And a sign in either element bears alliance to that element, and works for it.

That can make for conflict: Individual ego versus social law. Fate versus free will. Chaos versus stagnation. Inspiration versus the status quo. Revolution versus governance.

But they can also be in balance. That is the more natural state, as evidenced by the fact that where there is too much of one element, the other eventually emerges to tip the scales. But balance is where the greatest strength lies.

The earth is in a constant state of change, propelled along its course by a seemingly limitless energy as it hurtles through space. Stop the world from turning, from moving? Any world? I don't think so.

But the Earth is also bound by its relationship to the Sun, through gravity it obeys the steadying hand of physics. It never flies off into space because of this relationship. We do not freeze in the black depths of the galaxy.

Nor does it "fall" into the sun, into its own fiery destruction, as it would if it had no energy to propel it. In fact, it is the balance between physical forces and physical laws that keeps the Earth moving around the Sun year after year. Controlling energy without stopping it. Through this, the Earth maintains its environment perpetually.

And we continue to exist.


Stained Glass Windows

I'm feeling a bit scattered today, but I'm going to blog anyways, about one of my preferred analogies. But first, a tiny bit of planetary awareness...

Starting with Mercury and heading out towards Pluto, one finds the planets drift from very conscious to very unconscious. Mercury, for example, has more to do with the active voice of thoughts inside one's head than any other planet. Venus and Mars are also well involved mentally. Jupiter and Saturn are both midway influences that we usually only think about through self-analysis or in retrospect. Uranus and Neptune have far more subconscious and universal effects on our personalities, while Pluto tends to be the deep and uber-subconscious of the self.

I find the transition from conscious to subconscious intriguing, especially the way it runs parallel to the inner-to-outer order of planets. That is why I mention it. But there are more powerful internal forces in the Sun, the First House, and the Moon. Those three aspects represent an omnipresent sort of Triumvirate of The Self, like a supra-conscious ego which you are always aware of and engaged with, but so intimately that you need not consider it at all.

I think (Mercurially), therefore I am. But what, exactly, is "I"?

To explain how the Sun, the First House, and the Moon work together, it is helpful to know what they each represent in a natal chart.

Here's one way to describe them:

The Sun is our core energy, the source of our strength and talents, powering everything we do. It is like an engine...but like an engine it does not precisely do anything except empower (a car engine without the rest of the car is useless no matter how much energy it can create). The First House is our self-identity, the way we create a picture of ourselves, giving us a way to say "this is what I am." The Moon is a reflection of ourselves on an emotional scale. It is partially our active feelings, but it is also the result of having those feelings, the way they manifest through us as "bright personalities" or "cheery folk" or whatever else.

That is a rather shallow description of each. But, rather than describe them in dull terms of function, I usually prefer this visual analogy:

Imagine the soul or spirit or inner self (or whatever you want to call it) as a stained glass window. The Sun within a chart would be like the light shining through the window from beyond. Without that light, the entire thing would be pointless, but with that light the purpose of the stained glass window is fulfilled. Different Sun Signs, then, are essentially different sources of light.

There is also a picture there, the event or person or depiction that is being expressed and defined by the artist. It answers the question: "what is that a picture of?" This is like the First House (the Rising sign, or Ascendant), and ranges from abstract to specific images of ourselves, but which basically is a way for us be identified and self-represented.

And if that stained glass window has an image of a woman (for example)...was it done with rough glass in dark blues and reds and flecks of fiery orange? Or is that same woman shown in sterling whites and greens, beneath a halo of gold? Does it seem like her smile is one of dark temptation, or blissful satisfaction? Our Moon sign is like the very mood being expressed by that window, the intangible aura of emotion we give off and experience.

In my personal opinion, if you are looking at someone else's chart and not your own, it is easier to see this...their light, their depiction, their aura of emotion, the very essence of their "I".

People are often quite beautiful.


The Skinner Box

No, that is not a taxidermist's toolbox.

B.F. Skinner was a behavioral psychologist, and his Box is an abstraction, not an actual item. A so-called Skinner Box is a environment designed to direct the development of a person's behavior. For example, letting your child play with children of many ethnic groups will theoretically result in more racial acceptance, therefore one aspect of a Skinner Box could be having your child play only in groups where there is an multi-racial presence.

The morality of purposefully doing that is definitely debatable, because I think an error in judgment could have drastic effects. Rumors that Skinner raised his daughter in such a Box, and that she later went crazy, sued him, and then committed suicide are unfounded (mostly because she refutes it, being quite alive and living reasonably well as an artist). But the potential for screwing up severely while playing God is there.

But astrology adds its own dimension to the Skinner Box concept. If the idea behind the Skinner Box is that a designed environment will impress itself upon the psychology of a human being in a foreseeable way, astrology holds that the viewpoint of a specific person in any environment is also determinable. In astrology, the natural viewpoints you have had from Day One are as much a part of your psychology as the sum of your experiences, and can determine what you take away from experience after experience after experience.

Why can two people experience the same event yet walk away with two different attitudes towards it? Given a set of circumstances and a person's natal chart, an astrologer is capable of predicting reaction, focus, feeling, importance...all sorts of variables that the individual themselves would look at logically and say:

"I am that way because..." and follow up with what they've learned from the past. To which I answer, but why did you learn that from your experience? Why do you remember that the dog that bit you as a child had brown fur, how much it hurt? It bit Jimmy, too, but all he remembers is the way he ran home crying, and even that memory is rather fuzzy.

The natal chart helps note where the mind naturally focuses in a given situation. In fact, it is so natural and so automatic that there's usually no need to even think about it. You'd have to slow your mental process down to a crawl to get an idea of what was happening, and people usually see no reason to do that, with the exception of some pretty deep introspective work. This is the main reason many astrologers - myself included - advise against trying to read into one's own chart too hard. We're just so close to ourselves that we cannot completely avoid our own subjectivity, which means fewer true and clear answers.

So if you are viewing the world through a sort of psychological lens that can be shown with a natal chart, and have always viewed the world through that lens, does that mean experience means nothing because we all have a natural psychology adopted at birth? Does it mean we have no way of viewing from another perspective?

Actually, I'll hit that second question first. Yes, everyone has a way of viewing from another perspective. It is kind of built in to our psychology, that ability. The way we do it differs from person to person, and why we do it, and how, and when. But it is a part of us.

As for whether experience matters, it may seem from what I am saying that we would develop in a certain way no matter what we experienced. And that is basically true. It is the central process that helps natal astrology work...that an astrologer who analyzes your chart understands how you have developed and how you would see things because it has always been so, and because it is natural to you.

Ahh, but here's the rub: experience happens whether it is natural to you or not. And that is where the concepts behind the Skinner Box come back into play, because a person's perspective only has very limited control over environment. Events force us to do things that we feel are not natural, or "right." They go against the grain of our personalities, make us alter our behavior in ways that leave lasting impacts. When that happens we experience trauma and stress. But we are forced to learn and grow based on those very conflicts, and that makes experience anything but pointless.

In fact, not having enough experience can be a problem. Sheltered lives lead to stunted growth. People whose lives are relatively easy have trouble dealing with serious conflicts. Or, a continual flood of events that directly conflict with a persona can cause severe psychological damage, as is the case with abuse. And these are just a few extreme examples of events affecting personality irregardless of what the natal chart says, even though the natal chart would still give clues as to how that damage is likely to manifest.

The inner self and the outer world both act independently of one another, yet they are constantly interacting at the same time. We just don't often think about it that way. We don't usually feel any need to. Because we are fully half of that interaction already, we concentrate on the other half...the world around us.



Astrology uses symbols as abbreviations like the periodic table uses double letters, and looking at a chart may seem confusing when you see various symbols instead of straightforward descriptions.

The following is a quick cut-and-paste of what celestial body goes with what symbol on a chart (though symbols come in different styles, the gist should be there). After Pluto (PLUT), you have various asteroids/moons/polar arrangements that are sometimes examined as well.

Ignore the colors.

The Rabbit Hole Has Basement Levels

Taurus is steady and constant. So is Virgo, but it is a different kind of steady, without as much constant. Gemini and Sagittarius both tend to be social. Leo is willful, and Scorpio has willpower. I could go on and on and on (and on), but I won't.

Merely describing the signs only provides a cursory understanding of them. This was a great annoyance to me when I first looked into astrology. What was going on? Okay, Aries is a vibrant sign and Aquarius an odd one, I can get that much, but why and why? It just is not enough for me to be told that something is so.

Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back.

The twelve signs are more than a bunch of observed traits all mashed together. I always suspected it had to be so, because nothing simply exists out of nowhere and for no reason. There is always a structure and development, however malleable or inconstant it may be. That's true for rocks, flames, faiths, ideas, inventions...all of it. Getting to know the sign traits was easy enough, but understanding them took a lot more time. And it wasn't until I could "see" the underlying structure that I truly was able to accept astrology as something more than an inviting possibility.

The signs themselves are metaphors for psychological traits, but each sign is made up of at least three pieces that can be considered universal metaphors. Those three ingredients mix together like a primordial soup, giving each of the twelve signs its own unique essence. Understanding these allows a person to understand the internal workings of a sign from a more basic level.

While remaining fantastically unspecific, they are:

Elements - Probably the best known aspect of the signs, Fire, Earth, Air, and Water have always been well-used metaphors. In astrology, they represent our core alliance to continued existence, with Fire and Air focusing on the "continued" part, and Earth and Water focusing on the "existence."

Modes - Sometimes known by other names (astrology could really use more universal nomenclature instead of having a handful of terms that all mean the same thing). Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable are the common names for the three modes, and these represent three approaches of direction, structure, and comprehension...loosely defined.

Now, with the Elements and Modes alone you already have 12 signs, as each of the 4 elements has one of the three modes, and four times three is twelve. The possible combinations of mode and element ensures that no sign is going to be a replica of another. But there is a third part:

Cycle Stages - This is the Ouroboros of astrology, the snake swallowing its own tail as the image of infinity, the circle of existence (so cue the musical chanting and monkeys lifting lion cubs above the Sahara).

Thinking in time frames, one does not get to the last day of a sign and suddenly leap a fence into the next sign, adopting a radically different persona in the process. There is a gradual transformation, as one sign becomes the next. Astrology divides the cycle of signs into 12 parts for the same reason people divide any cycle into stages: it's easier that way.

For example, in biological development you don't suddenly leap from being an infant and then BAM! you're a toddler and then POOF! an adolescent. While it is easier to understand and see physical change when you divide it into "Stages of Physical Development," the process itself works gradually. And so it is with the signs. Each sign is part of a universal cycle of beginning, growth, interaction, entropy, ending, and eventually the influence that endings have on new beginnings...rinse, repeat. Each sign takes place on this cycle, and all of them together are one snake swallowing its own tail, even if we choose to view it in segments.

The comprehension of those three qualities working together within a sign gives one more than mere traits or the regurgitation of adverbs. It allows an astrologer to know the reason those traits exist in the first place. The benefit is the difference between knowing that something is, and knowing why it is.


Surreal Shots III

"He hurt me," she told him.

A dog was growling, somewhere out of sight.

"Want to go to the diner?" he asked her. "Maybe have some coffee, if you aren't hungry."


"Talk. Vent."

She shook her head. Her hair flickered in the dying of the light, but no tears were falling. She was in the eye of her storm, and it was anything but calm.

"I want to know what would really hurt him," she murmured. "I can give you...I know when he was born. Where."

He leaned back against the wall. Someone had carved Hell Hath No Fury upon its surface. Black etchings on blood-red brick.

"No," he told her.

"Why?" Her tone was simmering in its dismay. She waved her hand through the air, trying to push away the metallic perfume of her frustration.

"You're supposed to be my conscience," he replied.

"So you won't help me," she fumed.

"I will help you," he told her. "Just not in that way."

"Because of your stupid principles," she accused him, walking away in a huff.

He intercepted her by the cliffside.

"No, that isn't it," he told her as the sun sank into the sea. "Not because of principle. I am not some grandly moral person, and I doubt principle would be enough to stop me."

"Then why?" she implored, pulling her sleeve higher up on her shoulder. She had drawn her heart there in soft pink lipstick, though now the image was streaked and smeared.

"I am afraid," he said simply.


"Because I doubt principle would be enough to stop me."

He leaned forward and kissed her forehead. Then he gently turned her towards the diner, and away from the slippery slope they both stood upon.


Time And Space

I had written a post before this to explain why time and space is so important to natal astrology. Then, after a good page or so of talking about the wobble of the Earth and ecliptic paths around the sun and so on...well, I started getting really technical. And boring. And complicated.

The "why" of it all is complicated, but maybe the explanation is not helpful for a blog. So let's head for Concise Junction, a place I rarely visit because I spend way too much time at the corner of Obsessive Detail and Accuracy Street.

For the time and place of birth, a few minutes or miles variance means very little in the grand scheme of things. Often, you don't know if the doctor took his sweet time filling out paperwork, or if a hospital is truly centered in a city or town. So being slightly off target is not only perfectly normal, but it also falls within what one might think of as "an acceptable margin of error."

(I just happen to have trouble accepting error.)

Anyhow, it is when you only know the date of birth that things become fuzzy. If the natal chart is a galactic snapshot of a birth, then time and space is the camera's shutter speed. With just the date of birth, an astrologer can generalize, but the outcome is sort of like using a disposable camera to take a picture of sign you're passing at 60 miles per hour. The personality can be seen...in all its fuzzy glory.

Of course, some important details might be lost for those planets that are close to the cusp, which is the transitional area between two signs. For example, this year Libra will begin in the early evening (GMT) of September 22nd. Last year it began in the late morning of September 23rd.

(Enter the convoluted explanation of a wobbling earth and ecliptic path here).

But by and large, what is really crucial about having the time and space of birth is not the planets, but the Houses. The planets of a chart are based on where they are in relationship to the Earth and so are easy to spot (seeing as they are pretty huge and relatively slow moving), but the Houses are centered on a point in space and time looking outwards, and the Earth's daily spin means any given point will be facing different places at different times of day. It's like this: if you were to sit down and stare at the Eastern horizon for one full day, by the end of the day you will have faced every one of the signs at least once. If I came to you at dawn, noon, and dusk and noted which sign you were facing, I'd get three different answers.

Side Note: The Eastern horizon is the start of the First House, more commonly known as either the Ascendant or the Rising Sign. It's all the same thing.

Anyhow, even being off by an hour means a marked change in the Houses (thus saying you were born "somewhere around noon" is simply not helpful). As Houses represent a good half of a chart, a lot can be lost without them. Roughly speaking, the planets are one's inner personality, but the way we relate to everything which is not "oneself" is shown by the Houses. In a way, the Houses are lenses through which your inner light is refracted. Though you are not your social circle, or your possessions, or your job, you retain a very personal viewpoint on how to treat all of them.

To generalize as an example: two people born on the same day might both be extremely serious about personal growth, but for one that could mean intellectual enlightenment, while for the other it is the numbers in their checkbook. Or, they may both burn bridges as a way of solving problems, but for one a "problem" may consist of the rise and fall of their social standing, while for the other social appearance means next to nothing...but "cross my family and we're through, buddy." You'd have to look close to see that they were doing the exact same thing, but concentrating it on two different areas of life.

So, regarding time and space:

Exact time, latitude, and longitude = amazing clarity and accuracy.
Day and Year of Birth = Rough generalizations.
Day of Birth = It's probably not even worth asking.


Another Generation

I once went to a meeting of astrologers in my area. I felt entirely out of place; very much the sore thumb. It was a gathering of approximately two dozen people, and as I scanned the room I could not help noticing that it was a veritable sea of gray heads. There was no one even close to my age. And although I have been studying astrology for nearly a decade, most of those present dwarfed my experience by three to five times.

It was intimidating.

I am young compared to many astrologers. I can't really help it; it sort of works that way biologically. But I sort of like it, in spite of the automatic presumptions that come with being less aged in a field that is dominated by the two or three generations before me. Perhaps if had some greater need for validation, I would feel differently. But I don't. What I feel is a sense of cosmic timing, like I have a place on the forefront of the modern age.

It is a fantastic time to be an astrologer, especially considering humanity's technical advancements. Astrology itself may not have changed much, but our technology is so much more powerful that I think people can approach astrology in a way that simply was not viable before. Here are just four of those ways:

#1. Mass communication and computers make it easy to move, store, and process data. Email and cell phones cut down on the time it takes to send information, time and date are recorded on so many things that it is far easier to locate that information these days than it ever was before.

#2. Astrological software takes what used to require mathematics and an ephemeris (an astronomical reference book that notes where a planet was at at a specific time and date) and does automatic calculations and presentations. With the astrological software I have, a chart is available to me in a matter of the seconds it takes to type in information (www.astro.com has prefab chart creation that uses such software). Proper and full analysis of that chart, of course, still takes hours or longer, but to create a basic chart previous astrologers had to do the math, refer to books, and painstakingly draw out the chart. And corrections...well, they were a pain.

But now we have software. And we have PDAs.

#3. Atomic clocks. You can have one on your computer, on your wall, wear one on your wrist. And by the very nature of an atomic clock, you're not going to get any better precision of time.

#4. Global Positioning System satellite tracking. This does for space what atomic clocks do for time. With a handheld GPS you can be in the depths of the Amazon and know your exact latitude and longitude.

Just over a decade ago, most of these technologies were not available to the public, or at least were not as accessible. How times change.

Anyhow, yes, I am young. Perhaps that means I lack wisdom or maturity, and that I do not have the depth of experience that my predecessors do. As for those who came before me, I am thankful to them for doing so much work for me, because they tried to share what they knew so that it would go on down the line, and survive into future generations.

For what it's worth...that's me.


Affairs of the Heart

Horary astrology may get more time onstage because it is meant to predict the future, but natal astrology deals in one area of human interest which often trumps even the chance to know the future. That is, love.

Of course, natal astrology is just as good with other kinds of relationships - anything from employers and employees, to parents and children, to friendships - and I personally get just as much of a kick out of the self-empowerment through self-awareness potential of personality astrology. But by and large, when people turn to natal astrology it's with relationship compatibility on the mind.

A number of books have been written on that subject, many of them talking about how one sign interacts with another. While generally informative, most use vague overviews to dodge the complexities that are inherent to using natal astrology to examine a relationship. For example, writers usually concentrate on the sign people are likely to know: the Sun Sign. So plenty of info is available about how Aries gets along with Scorpio, how Gemini and Sagittarius fight, the sex lives of Leos and Capricorns, and so on. But as I have noted before, the Sun Sign is but one of many parts of a individual's psychology.

Unfortunate as it may be for those seeking astrological insight, affairs of the heart are better determined by planets other than the commonly known Sun Sign. And even if you knew where to look, relationships as a whole are often complicated and messy. Of course, anyone who's been in one can tell you that.

Don't get me wrong, the Sun Sign can indeed be a factor. But then again, each planetary or House aspect in natal astrology is technically a factor. Emotional love, however, tends to be more easily seen through the Moon sign primarily, and Venus secondarily (more or less). This is often whitewashed in relationship books, probably to avoid a confusing explanation of How It All Works and also because most people don't know what their Moon and/or Venus signs are to begin with.

This means that two people with "traditionally incompatible" Sun Signs that also share compatible traits in areas like the Moon and Venus could very well find their way along quite nicely. I mean, lovers who are seen as "like night and day, yet so in love" are everywhere. And the reverse is true as well; for any two signs that are supposedly Super-Great-Totally-Awesome together, having a few planets or Houses out of sync can quickly result in zero chemistry. The Sun Sign cannot stand alone, and cannot account for the totality of one's personality.

In the same way, though, the Moon and Venus cannot account for love entirely either. As an example, take Mars, which has a great deal to do with our methods of problem-solving (via change). If two mostly compatible people have a pair of Mars aspects that just don't get along, then the first time there is a serious conflict in the relationship the love that two people previously enjoyed in serenity may suddenly find itself inside a battle zone, as both sides try to solve the issue in ways that just aren't acceptable to the other party.

If, in retrospect, those two people realize that they don't resolve conflicts together very well, that is also a problem which both sides may try to address in the name of love. And naturally, Mars will again come into play because they are problem solving again. Such a cycle can easily degenerate into all kinds of unhappiness, which isn't going to be a healthy relationship factor even if the compatibility of the Moon and Venus is solid.

That kind of problem may not be a "deal breaker" for the relationship either, but this is just an example of how using natal astrology for relationship issues is anything but cut-and-dry. Most people don't think in terms of planets, but they would recognize how it appears on the surface:

You love them with all your heart but...

Or perhaps something more familiar:

You once loved them with all your heart, but...

You might check out relationship books if you are a person inclined to do so. I suppose they can be insightful, for what they are worth. But in relationships, there are precious few simple answers.