Monday September 21st 2015

Dr Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person validates something astrologers have always known — some people are more sensitive than others. Dr Aron puts this figure at about 20% of the population. In other words, it’s perfectly normal, but sensitivity is not always valued by our culture.

Here are four important characteristics of the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

  • Depth of processing. HSPs tend to ponder deeply, but there are broadly two types: those who are interested in everything, and those who focus keenly on just a couple of things.
  • Over aroused (easily compared to others). This can be a big problem for HSPs. Crowds. bright lights, loud music, powerful smells, or just going to school can be tough. Then when you’re over-aroused, it’s hard to come down again, and you have trouble getting to sleep.
  • Emotional reactivity and high empathy. This makes HSPs great carers and healers. They may just know what works.
  • Sensitivity to subtle stimuli. A walk in the park for an HSP can be as exciting as whitewater rafting, because of the series of sensations: the scent of chrysanthemums, grass, dog, lambent leaves, the distant sound of children singing, starlings. The downside is that some HSPs literally have low pain thresholds.

One of the key questions asked of a potentially highly sensitive person (HSP) is this: Are you easily overwhelmed… ? That question fits in with the spirit of the times, the current Neptune-Jupiter opposition, which was described here as overwhelming. To take the test and see if you fall into the category of highly sensitive, click here.

So that’s watery types then, especially those with Moon or Mercury in Cancer, Pisces or Scorpio, Moon-Neptune conjunction, 12th or 4th house Moon, to a lesser extent 8th House. Having a lot of personal planets in water, or the 12th or 4th house sensitizes you too. I suspect an opposition or conjunctionn of Jupiter and Neptune might exaggerate this, as well as a highly aspected or strongly placed Neptune.

Right now, with the Jupiter-Neptune opposition in Virgo-Pisces, Highly Sensitive People will be fully extended, so we should be extra-kind to them, or to ourselves.

Being sensitive has its upside. You cry at movies, fall into nature, feel the atmosphere. Strong emotions can be thrilling. The downside is that sensitivity equals permeable boundaries: you suck in other people’s moods, over-react, feel shame and guilt intensely, and some of you may have trouble forgetting, especially if you have Cancerian type sensitivity. It’s no accident that Cancer is the repository of sense-memory.

The antidote to some of the problem side of being so sensitive is Saturn, who can help us to firm up our boundaries and keep our feet on the ground. Right now he is squaring the opposition from Sagittarius, maybe giving us some creative or adventurous ways of doing that. Take a look at this Jupiter-Neptune-Saturn T-Square in your chart.

cups13Sensitivity is, of course, on a sliding scale. I’d guess you could add another 5% to Aron’s 20% and make it an even quarter of the population. In other words, we are back to one of our four types — earthy, airy, fiery or watery; choleric, melancholic, sanguine or melancholic (sensitive).  And it manifests differently for people. Some may have physical reactions — allergies, stomach ache, headaches, or even chronic illness — whereas for others its emotional or artistic. Often everything is intertwined and hard to unpick.

Here is a classic a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) from the astrological back catalogue. The great French writer, Marcel Proust spent a large portion of his final years writing in bed, his room was lined with cork to keep out the noise. Proust’s most famous book, Remembrance of Things Past, begins with the sense-memory of eating a little cake.

“He was attentive to his friends to the point of seeming a flatterer, though he thought friendship was valueless and conversation represented the death of the mind, since he believed only passion and suffering could sharpen the powers of observation and the only word of any value was the written. He could stare transfixed at a rose–or at anything else or anyone who was on his peculiar wavelength–but though he read everything and was deeply cultivated, he had little interest in disembodied ideas. He wasn’t an intellectual, though he was supremely intelligent. He applied his attention to flowers and people and paintings, but not to theories about botany nor to psychology nor aesthetics. He never read a word of Freud, for instance (nor did Freud ever read a word of Proust). He was hilariously funny and entertaining, but he emanated a calm spirituality except, perhaps, when he was doubled up with a crazy bout of laughter (his famous choking fit of hilarity, his fou rire, which could go on so long it struck strangers as weird, even slightly mad). He was such a presence that many people spoke of him as tall, but in fact he stood just five feet six inches.” — from Proust by Edmund White

Proust — Sun, Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus in Cancer in the 4th House. Neptune Rising.

Alanis Morissette, whose first album Jagged Little Pill is a must-listen for the anguished young adult HSP, has said that Dr Aron’s book helped her to understand herself. She has Mercury, Saturn and Mars in Cancer; Mars in the 12th, Moon-Uranus in the 4th, Moon in Scorpio.

Dr Aron’s movie — Sensitive — came out on September 10, under the highly sensitive opposition (and here’s a link for the trailer). What she offers are tools for navigating a world that is not always welcoming to the sensitive — and increasingly less so. A real issue for these individuals is overstimulation, and that is hard to get away from. I recommend her books to anyone who identifies him or herself as HSP or if you are close to one of these watery types. Her website is also full of useful information, click here to go to it.

Here is Björk — Scorpio Sun, Scorpio Rising and Scorpio Moon in the 12th, Pisces on the 4th — proof that being highly sensitive can make you a great artist.

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  1. Rachel says:

    Yep – that’s me! Grand Trine in Water with Mercury in Pisces (5th house), Mars in Cancer near my MC and Neptune in Scorpio. Interestingly I have Dr Aron’s book sitting in the “Saved for Later” part of my Amazon account. I just haven’t found the catalyst yet to exploit my sensitivity, even though I keep wanting to do creative or artistic things – I never get round to it or am scared I will fail…!! 🙂

    • isabellium says:

      The great breakthrough that freed me *enough* from the fear of failure was reprocessing the idea of failure. Simply doing something in a way that didn’t work wasn’t failure, it was R&D. It was a learning moment. Working with engineers, who (according to my old paradigm of failure) tried and failed hundreds of times a day, I calmed down enough to realize that they simply didn’t even give head-space to the idea of failure; it was simply learning. Every thing that didn’t do what it was intended to do, did do something, and that alone provided insights.

      From there, I went to the idea that, in writing (which is my main channel), writing that doesn’t work has the same relationship to writing that does work, as compost does to roses. So what if it stinks? Give it a little time to mature, and it will produce amazing things.

      For what it’s worth 🙂

      My 12th house is overpopulated. Most planets are in Aries but the key signature of my chart is at the top of my 12th in Pisces: Saturn, Chiron, and Pallas. Ouf.

  2. lynn says:

    that’s me…4th house Pisces Moon, Neptune in 12th, Scorpio Asc, Yod with Moon apex quincunx Neptune and Pluto

  3. Les says:

    Elaine Aron’s books were a godsend when I discovered them years ago. But most useful to me was finding out the Sensation Seeking scale (I think in her second book), which shows you can be both highly sensitive and high sensation seeking – get overwhelmed but also bored easily (“one foot on the gas pedal, one foot on the brakes”). That’s me. I have the Moon and Uranus conjunct my Ascendant (in Leo, plus a lot of Virgo stuff in the 1st). Saturn is a good antidote. I remember when Saturn transiting over my Ascendant, far from being an unhappy time, I felt so calm and centered. (I also have natal Saturn in Sag trine my Ascendant.)

    • Christina says:

      I tick all the boxes too — and I had the same feeling with Saturn over my ASC, Les. Interesting. A lot of people find it lonely, but if you’re OK in your own head anyway, it’s an excellent transit. Also depends on what Saturn is doing in your own chart of course!

    • Les says:

      I also have Neptune in Scorpio conjunct my IC and sextile my early Virgo planets. So I guess that adds to it, too.

  4. mimi says:

    You mention Moon in Cancer in 12th or 4th house.
    How about 1st House, Christina.

    I have Moon in Cancer in 12th house and Neptune on my IC. It makes me sensitive to other people´s feelings and thoughts to a point of sometimes being psychic. I can´ t explain this to other people however ! I have long struggled with this, but now I have finally accepted that this is the way I am.


    • Christina says:

      Oh, first house too! I have just been talking to mother of a little girl with moon-neptune conjunction in the first – so sweet and sensitive.

      • Kerstin says:

        Moon conjunct Neptune in scorpio in the first house. Overwhelming.
        I’m feeling it particularly badly right now. I’m not very good at thinking (despite 6 planets in 3rd and sun in Aquarius).
        I just immerse myself in things. I feel swirled around by intense feelings and I’m not sure why. I don’t know what’s my stuff and what’s other peoples.
        I just lost a big client because I couldn’t cope with his ‘stuff’. I couldn’t strategise my way out of it.

        • Kerstin says:

          Ha! Just scored very low on her test. It’s not so much bright lights and noises though, that’s too simplistic. In fact I hold no truck with all this millennial anxiety fragility bollocks. For me, it’s the fog of feelings that I can’t stand.

  5. Nancy says:

    Great thread. Always been my curse or blessing. When I was younger, I didn’t get it and it overwhelmed me completely. W/ Mars/Pisces, too, didn’t have a sure foot on any one road to travel. But, it’s gotten easier. You can’t unwire yourself to be different, but you can use it to your advantage in many situations. It’s probably a blessing, but yet difficult, too. I think hardest for me is feeling “different.” It’s just the way some of us are wired. I have a Jup/Neptune conj/ 7th. And, a Merc/Neptune aspect and Mars in Pisces Thankfully, a Taurus Sun, which grounds me down a lot!

  6. Iris says:

    Lovely to see this topic recognised, lovely post Christina. It’s a difficult gift alright. I have an airy Moon and Venus but in watery houses. I have a fiery Sun and Mercury and an earthed Mars. But Pisces rising & Neptune in Scorpio widely conjunct the MC and the aspects between planets seem to have had the same result. I used Saturn in h1 to hide it, and that became too rigid after a time. I’ve had to relearn to relate to my own sensitivity.
    Love the description of Proust.

  7. Gavin says:

    I have a Moon-Neptune-Mercury Grand Water Trine, with my Asc also in Scorpio and have been chronically ill all my adult life. People who know me wouldn’t put my illness down to being a sensitive soul but then I was brought up not to show it Interesting stuff!

  8. Grétar says:

    What about the midpoint Asc/MC on Neptune.

  9. SD says:

    Interesting post Christina. I don’t know if I’m necessarily a HSP, but I do have a fair few sensitive points in my chart:

    Sun Mars conj in Cancer in 8th house
    Moon and Mercury in 8th house [in Leo though]
    Neptune in 1st house in Cap
    Saturn in Scorpio in the 12th house
    Moon trine Asc and quincunx Neptune [if one counts quincunxes]

    The 1st house Neptune is the obvious one here – I’m very open to the energies of the outside world, and a 12th house Saturn means that I don’t acknowledge my ability to establish boundaries.

    Lots of 8th house/Scorpio energy, so I think about things a lot.

    Not sure if it’s that relevant but if you take the MC/IC axis of my chart, all my personal planets are in the collective half [houses 4-9] and all the outer collective planets are in the personal half [houses 10-3]. I wonder if that means something.

  10. SD says:

    Yeah, just did so. Most of the questions I ticked ‘yes’ to.

  11. aqua says:

    Kite here – moon conjunct venus in cancer trine neptune, in scorpio trine chiron in pisces, sextile pluto.
    Ascendant and sun square neptune. Neptune being the most elevated planet. Not called Aqua for nothing….

  12. Jassi says:

    Moon in Libra at 13 and Neptune at 15 both in the 1st House, and Grand Water Trine Uranus in Cancer, Jupiter in Pisces and Mars in Scorpio. sometimes I am selective about the misfits I get attracted to.

  13. DP says:

    Yep yep- Moon in Scorpio, conjunct Neptune, in 4th house!

    Interestingly, Moon conjunct Neptune runs in my family matrilineally, and my maternal grandmother was considered something of a witch, such was her prescience.

  14. Yeah, I’m totally a HSP person, always have been.

    Sagittarius Sun, Venus, Uranus in the 12th. Neptune conjunct the Sun & Asc from the first house. Pisces Moon in the 3rd. Mars conjunct Pluto in Scorpio in the 10th

    Saturn and Mercury are on the very edge of the 11th just about to sneak into the 12th house.

    Hoping my newly progressed Moon in Taurus will help to settle me down.

  15. Vesta says:

    This is one of my favourite posts. Thank you for tweeting it again, it prompted me to order the book at last. I’m sun scorpio, and a I have a grand water trine with sun, jupiter in cancer and saturn in pisces. Pisces is quite busy in my chart. Cancer is my MC. I also have mercury in scorpio. To cap it all, I have uranus/pluto conjunct in virgo 12th house. My neptune is conjunct my sun-moon midpoint. I also have a lot of fire with a stellium in Sag, but very little earth apart from virgo. I’m one of those interested in everything, especially with my north node in Gemini, which is all about curiosity. Then that expansive Sag. Looking forward to reading the book, I want to learn how to manage this better. I’m only just starting to learn about boundaries. I’m over-nice, guess what, I have Libra rising. I need to learn to toughen up a little. 🙂

  16. barbara says:

    12th house sun, aqua rising, gemini moon in the 4th, jupiter in the 5th, cancer in the 6th house and leo in the 7th. Think it over, why i put all my beloved, best german and austrian actors: allmost formula 8 / 10 / 11, in a unordinary, just developing script for a film.

    They all – family, actors and casual guests – meet in an oldfashioned “GDR-Inn”. Like Chateau Marmant at outer Potsdam. Eidinger, Schiling, Hochmair, Brandt.

    While all these sensitive actors are now forced to get used to new locations (Babelsberg is ‘out’, they found cheaper places to act like military airfields at Glienicke), they are vice versa required to order “nice” and cheap place for a relaxing sleep . The management won’t pay for it anymore. And there’s no coffee inluded anymore.

    There will be a tiny pool for the kids, guniea pigs in the garden, a fireplace and bar – and a shy girl, cooking “gulash” and serving “Spätzle” and “Blutwurst”. And in the evening, after work, she is is very tired -and excited, how to rebuild the bath of the Villa Savoye for her guests. In former times she was the “best girl” at a private theatre.

    A coffee or more will be always included, because even artists know, that a simple cup of coffee can be higly overrated . You pay for what you need.

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