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.
Sensitivity 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.