What Is It You Need?

While on a road trip recently, it struck me that there might be another way to approach relationship questions in the birth chart other than looking at basic compatibility. We often consult astrologers in order to find out if we're going to get along with a potential mate, business partner or friend. We might even try to understand our partner's motivations, desires, or personality traits - all with an eye on how "perfect" they might be for US. But consider the possibility that the new Leo in your life might be there for another reason. In the short list below, I'll describe the ways in which certain archetypal patterns show up via other people at different times in your life, and what they might be there to teach you.

I see life as an evolutionary journey. Maybe you've heard the metaphor that life is like a school. I think that's a good starting image. But much of life has to do with what we might call "karma" and also with what we might call "healing". Our lessons aren't always easily learned and the image of a "life school" can start to seem a little too simple. But one thing is certain - we aren't here to do this alone.

I like to believe that as we heal ourselves we are also healing the greater organism, in the same way that one little white blood cell in your body is fast at work, chomping away at harmful pathogens that, in the moment, may be overwhelming the system. But after some diligent work, many times our amazing immune systems triumph, and homeostasis is once again achieved. White blood cells work in partnership with a vast and complex array of other cells. And you can think of the people in your life in the same way. Paying attention, working together, listening, communicating - all of these skills are needed to decipher life's messages and to grow.

This list is a starting point for thinking about the ways in which the people in your life help you to achieve internal homeostasis and also growth. The people you're connected to in life can stimulate you to ask the question "What is now awakening in you that needs outside input in order for you to discover?"

This article is also a good starting point for a discussion. If you have insights to add to the list, join the discussion in the comments area. And with that, we'll dive in.

Why has this new person shown up in your life?

AriesAries: If an Aries has plowed his way into your life, part of you is ready for action. Not sure what you're ready for? No problem, the Aries says. Just go for it! Aries likes to dive in head first, kicking butt and taking names. An Aries can help you ignite a new project, muster up the energy you need for a new physical routine or sport, and remind you that inertia is not a virtue. Sure you might disagree about things from time to time, but sparring is part of the fun with Aries. And in that playful back and forth, a part of each of you gets stronger. So what part of you is ready to develop the courage to face life head-on?

TaurusTaurus: If a Taurus has meandered into your life, a part of you is ready to relax. The Taurus engine has one speed - slow. Plodding along methodically, suspect of abrupt change, a Taurus can help you remember to stop and smell the roses. Life rushes by us at a blinding pace, and the Taurus knows that if she doesn't put on the brakes, she'll never get to enjoy it. With your new Taurus friend, enjoy nice meals, remind yourself of the good things in life, make time to chill out, and slowly but surely that wonderfully simple (and healing) Taurus wisdom will help take the edge off. What part of you is ready to slow down?

GeminiGemini: If a Gemini has grabbed your attention, part of you is ready for new stimulation. Entering the Gemini archetype is entering the fast-moving world of ideas. Your Gemini friend may rattle off ideas faster than you can keep up with, but part of you needs that kind of stimulation now. Always questioning, a good Gemini reflects the eternal spirit of curiosity about life. And with that, you'll never grow old. No, really! Science now shows that in old age, our brains encounter far greater degenerative problems if they sit inside the head of someone who thinks they have nothing left to learn. Meanwhile, those of us who are endlessly amazed by the wonders in the world run circles around our more stodgy elderly counterparts, who have sadly let that twinkle in their eyes grow dim. If a Gemini has come along, it may be time to remember that curiosity is one of life's sweetest antidotes. What part of you is ready to get more curious?

CancerCancer: If a Cancer has latched onto you, part of you is ready for a hug! Perhaps the most innately nurturing of the zodiac archetypes, a good Cancer is the best type of person to have around when you need a shoulder to cry on. A high-functioning Cancer will make you feel truly heard, and not just intellectually. The heart connection will be even more deeply healing. So now that a Cancer has come into your life, some hurt or vulnerable part of you might just be ready to peer out of its shell, and make its way into the arms of the "great mother" - where it can feel safe enough to release those pent up emotions. What part of you needs to feel more safe? And what part needs more nurturing?

LeoLeo: If a Leo has heralded her arrival in your life, a part of you is ready for more expression. Leo is an archetypal expression of the King, but it also represents creativity and performance. A good Leo doesn't demand attention with obnoxious gravitas - she commands naturally it just by virtue of her radiant presence. Leo is ruled by the sun, so some part of you is now ready to shine, and to gracefully claim its *rightful* place on the throne. Be sure to lavish your Leo friend with praise and affection when it is due, and you'll learn more about what this archetype is here to teach you. What part of you needs to express itself more fully?

VirgoVirgo: If a Virgo has worked his way into your life, part of you is seeking information about what could be even better. A Virgo at his best will point out areas in your life, and well, everywhere, in which more growth can occur. Now, this is tricky, because that type of information almost always sounds like criticism. But evolution is inevitable, and so is transformation. A good Virgo can help you "clean up your act" and "get your affairs in order" as you work towards the higher vision you may have set for yourself. The trick is to see the shortcomings as workable obstacles in the path, and to stay focused on the growth, fully accepting of the process, and not too attached to the end result. Sounds easy, right? Time to get to work! What part of you is ready to improve?

LibraLibra: If you've attracted a Libra into your life, part of you is longing for connection and fairness. Libras learn by relating, and thrive on interpersonal dialogue and exchange. A Libra may have shown up in your life to help coax you out of your own myopic sphere of influence and focus, and help you start to receive input from others. At her core, a Libra knows that we can't get through life on our own, and that others have information that just might hold the key to creating balance in any given moment, whether it's figuring out where to eat for dinner, or when it's better to compromise to keep the peace. Libra seeks that balance and will help draw that quality out in you too. As you learn to relate equally, value each other equally, you naturally find yourself in a state of fairness and equilibrium. And that makes the Libra sigh with a nice relaxing "Ahhhhh". So what part of you is ready to connect?

ScorpioScorpio: If you've drawn a Scorpio into your life, a part of you is probably ready to probe a little deeper into darker territory. We all face internal processes that scare us or that repulse us. And we see a lot of that externally in the world too. A good Scorpio will never shy from such material, in fact, he seems to thrive on it. The deeper the subject, the more lively the conversation with a Scorpio. No subject is too taboo and Scorpio seems at home in the mixed up labyrinth of the underworld. The Scorpio in your life signals that it's time to "get real" in the area in which you relate. The good news is that at its best, the Scorpio archetype is about deep soul healing. We often need to soberly face what scares us in order to move into the next phase of our growth. What part of you is ready for transformation?

SagittariusSagittarius: If a Sagittarius has bounded onto the scene, part of you is ready for adventure. Sagittarius at its best is boundless, exuberant, and full of positive joie de vivre. They may very well talk your ear off in the process, but a Sag may join you on stage in order to get your creative juices flowing in new directions. Sag is on an eternal quest, one that can go wrong in two ways - either she thinks she has it all figured out (think fundamentalism), or her unbounded approach to "jumping in" to life has lead to some unexpected pitfalls that bring down her spirits. But many times in life we can't move forward without a leap of faith. And if a Sag has shown up, that may be just what you need. What part of you is ready to expand your limits?

CapricornCapricorn: If a Capricorn has established his presence in your life, a part of you is ready to get down to business. A good Capricorn can help reveal to you your more immature parts - the aspects of you that are just now ready to become more mature and start facing life with what we might call a "wiser" approach. Capricorn at its highest symbolizes the wise elder or the supportive father. A good Capricorn father will meet the physical needs of his children, but also teach them the limits within which they can establish strong foundations for long-term growth. If a Capricorn has shown up, it may be time make a business plan, set long-term goals, or get more serious about some part of your life. Use this time wisely, and the driving force behind the archetype promises lasting results. What part of you is ready to build stronger foundations?

AquariusAquarius: If an Aquarius has suddenly appeared in your life, part of you is seeking to make more complicated connections about life in a way that will open the doors to flashes of insight. Your connection with an Aquarius may feel electric - and that stimulating current between you might help charge up the generator of brilliant ideas and new ways of thinking which is now lying dormant in you. A good Aquarius will ask new questions - but often they are the "obvious" questions that no one has thought to ask. This kind of stimulation can lead you into completely new territory. And while hugs and cuddles might be in shorter supply, the part of you that craves a revolution will feel completely sated. What part of you is ready to express genius?

PiscesPisces: If a Pisces has materialized, part of you is ready for deeper merging - with yourself, with others, and with the divine. A good Pisces understands inherently that "we're all one" and wonders why everyone else doesn't get the joke. If a Pisces has shown up, it may be time for you to release your attachment to something - some idea, some process, some material goal, to which your attachment has now become a barrier to deeper spiritual growth. Deep in the well of the Pisces energetic field is the source of true inspiration - the universal womb from which all life emerges and by which all life is connected. Spend time in silence with your new Pisces friend, dissolving into some beautiful music, drifting away into a nap on a warm summer day...and in those places the inspiration you're seeking will arise, as if it was there all along. What part of you is ready to dissolve into oneness?

Hmmm, you're thinking. I know a Taurus, and he was no "walk in the park". Good observation. None of us are as simple as the above descriptions, in part, because we're each our own unique complex combination of symbols in living dialogue, and in process. And we're all at different stages of our evolutionary journey.

While I've hinted at some of the higher expressions of each sign, I've mainly omitted the lower expressions. I did this to point the way towards your own growth. So begin to see your Taurus friend symbolically. Don't expect your Taurus friend to "do" these experiences alluded to above for you (although they might). As we start to know in our hearts that the "primal world is ensouled," (as Richard Tarnas so beautifully illuminates in Cosmos and Psyche) we also start to view our own experiences and connections with new eyes - aware of and open to synchronicity as a vehicle for lighting the way on our journey forward.

So take your new friend as a hint - a gentle (or not so gentle) nudge from the universe - that it's time to take in some of that specific kind of wisdom. Sure, your friend may very well be demonstrating a "low end" experience of his sun sign. But you can ultimately still take in the same lesson, either through his living wisdom, or by witnessing his mistakes. And he surely has something to learn from you too.

And here's a fun thought. We're not just our sun signs. There's a whole universe of other archetypes at play in each one of us. So what else are learning from our new Taurus friend? The possibilities are endless...