(c)2007 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
Note: the following article is one of the essays in Donna’s ebook, AstroAnalysis: Select Topics in Chart Interpretation, available at Moon Maven Publications.
Until recently, medical research seemed to prove that stress-triggered hormones condition the body to respond in one of two ways—fight or flight.[i] However, the five decades of research focused on men, ignoring the fact that women’s hormonal balance is very different.
Six female researchers at UCLA have now demonstrated that rather than the testosterone cascade that men’s bodies produce under threat, women’s bodies release high levels of oxytocin. This hormone encourages nurturing behavior and has a calming effect, counteracting stress. Further studies show that women in crisis are more likely than men to talk it out with friends and bond tightly. Rather than the “flight or flight” approach men take under duress, the female coping model is being dubbed “tend and befriend.”
When a woman is in crisis, therefore, we’d find clues to her support network by analyzing the 11th house of her astrology chart. Friendships can be diverse and complex, especially if several planets and more than one sign are involved in that house. Not all factors are equally important, so the list of possible placements below is given in order of strength, the strongest first:
- Any natal planets in the 11th
- The sign those planets fall into
- The sign on the cusp of the 11th plus any other signs in that house
- The condition of the ruler of the 11th
- Transiting outer planets moving through the 11th house
Consult the brief readings that follow, blending all that apply together for a more complete picture.
Aries/Mars Influence on the 11th: Those who regard competitiveness as an undesirable quality might not see Mars or Aries planets as the best placements for friendship. However, successful athletes like tennis or skating champions often develop deep connections with their toughest competitors. Friendly rivalry with peers can challenge us to go further than if no one pushed the envelope. Martian types provide leadership, encourage us to take action, and enliven our lives with their energetic pursuit of goals and interests. You’re likely to have more men friends than women, except for women of the yang variety. One bit of advice—don’t let peers bully you; if you stand up for yourself, they’ll respect you for it and the quality of the relationship will improve.
Taurus Influence on the 11th: If your 2nd house is empty or challenged and there’s little earth in your chart, you may lack financial savvy and money-making skills. Taurean friends can be a saving grace, being well-grounded with a sound approach to finances. They can advise you on how to save money or earn spare cash. Another type of Taurean loves plants, food, and things of the earth, passing along garden surpluses, great recipes, and beautiful bouquets. A fixed sign, Taureans are likely to be on hand for years, providing calm, practical support in times of stress. They tend to be conventional, even conservative, so give adequate warning if plans or needs change, so they have time to adapt.
Gemini/Mercury Influence: With this 11th house signature, you doubtlessly have lively, funny, verbal friends. With communication technology almost unlimited, you’re likely to be in constant contact by cell phones, pagers, instant messaging, and online chatting. When you’re in crisis or downhearted, there’s no shortage of buddies to listen and divert you with a joke or a bit of news. Among this well-informed group, doubtlessly someone’s up to date with developments in the area of current challenges, so put the word out. Just don’t expect them to keep your secrets, for many of them can’t resist a bit of gossip!
Cancer/Moon Influence: When the Moon or the sign Cancer appears here, the individual tends to create a family-like circle of women friends or else their mother or other female relatives are their best pals. Social life often revolves around food, home decorating projects, or family-based occasions at their house. Their homey gatherings nurture all concerned and provide a haven against an insecure world. Depending on the Moon’s sign or which Cancer planets are in the 11th, emotional ties and sharing of the inner life can be an immerse asset. The downside of this tight bond is that one of you may rigidly play Mom, not allowing the other to leave the safe womb of the friendship, even when it would stimulate growth.
Leo/Sun Influence: With Leo planets, Divas R Us, so be prepared to share the spotlight with these strong presences. Often magnanimous, they know how to entertain and create memorable events. So what if they tend to run the show and to forget that when you have a crisis, it’s not about them. They’re still valuable friends because their sunny nature provides uplift when you’re down.
With the Sun in the 11th, your peer group from adolescence onward has played a powerful role in forming your sense of self—for better or worse. In times of chance and stress, these friends help to remind you of who you are—and that you are NOT your problem, your situation, or your physical being, but something far beyond that.
Virgo Influence: You may form your best friendships on the job, for these hard-working folks often have little time to socialize but can be invaluable coworkers or employees. They open up while working side by side on meaningful shared tasks. Typical Virgos can be stellar examples of the friend in need, for they yearn to be helpful, put their own needs aside to be there for others, and possess a wealth of practical skills that meet challenging developments. Many are informed about health and nutrition, so when you need advice or support in that area, they know the best sources and products. They can be critical of others, but no more so than of themselves. Their well-meaning efforts to help you improve can be an asset if you establish boundaries on their input that are comfortable for you.
Libra/Venus Influence: You’re likely to surround yourself with appealing, popular folks who love to socialize and include you in their gatherings, maybe acting as a matchmaker. You may be among the blessed folk whose life partner is their best friend, and even if the romance ends, the friendship continues. Venus aspects and the 7th house in your chart may alter this picture, and if you’re single over any length of time, your friends are one way you fill your need for love, warmth, and caring. A mistake people with this placement make is allowing a new love interest to monopolize their lives, forgetting how crucial a resource friendship can be. Or, when they’re in a relationship, they only socialize with their partner’s group of friends, finding themselves out of the loop if the relationship ends.
Scorpio/Pluto Influence: Women with this placement value quality over quantity in their relationships and often choose a few intense friendships where they reveal their true selves, secrets, and emotions. Plutonians generally possess depth, psychological astuteness and a capacity to heal others through a concentrated one-on-one exchange. Whether you are the healer or the healed in your friendships depends on aspects to Pluto and Scorpio planets—but also on whether it is your turn to need the healing or to give it. The key to keeping these friendships healthy is to steadfastly resist possessiveness and giving away or taking on too much power. Keep finances clean as well, for borrowing, lending, or giving money is often a trigger for murkier Plutonian dynamics.
Sagittarius/Jupiter Influence: You probably attract and enjoy cosmopolitan, well-educated, and well-traveled types, even if their real-life education is limited to the public library and second-hand bookstores. Restless and ever eager to grow, they’ve explored and digested a wide variety of pursuits in the course of living, and they’re only too happy to impart what they’ve learned. When they’re philosophical by nature, they will help you see your trials from a broader perspective, often providing uplift and hope in your darkest days. Another sort of Sagittarian is the hearty sportsman/rover who takes big and sometimes ill-advised risks, but knows more than most people in specialized areas like baseball statistics. Either type can’t resist giving advice on how to live your life. Weigh it carefully, as much of it is based on untested pet theories, beliefs, or moral codes. Check their recommendations with the nearest Virgo or Capricorn.
Capricorn/Saturn Influence: Seldom warm, fuzzy types, Capricornian or Saturnian friends can be invaluable assets in your development. In times of crisis, these sensible, well-grounded stalwarts provide a good grasp on realities of the situation and long-term consequences of any action you’re contemplating. If they offer help, they’re reliable, capable, and conscientious, but also expect you to act responsibly and maturely on your own behalf. They form relationships slowly, only as they’re certain that you measure up to exacting standards they set for themselves and others. Once committed, they’re usually loyal for the long haul, far into the golden years. When you’re young, your friends are older than your peer group, and in later years, younger friends lend vitality. Depending on the aspects, you may reap the rewards of solid, mutually-respectful relationships with bosses, older relatives, and other authorities. Saturnian types are often invaluable mentors to young people with good potential and are quality sounding boards for professional peers.
Aquarius/Uranus Influence: Friends may range from unusual to eccentric and even to the occasional outlaw, if chosen for shock value or to live out your own secret maverick side. Cultural diversity is the norm here, with several widely different groups of pals that don’t mingle well together. The perks are that these cohorts expand your consciousness and expose you to leading edge ideas and edgy subcultures. Aquarians are friendly yet not intimate, so don’t be surprised if they don’t respond well in emotional crises—maybe distancing themselves until the storm passes. They won’t hold your hand, but if social injustice is part of the problem, they might write your senator or demonstrate at city hall.
Pisces/Neptune Influence: Your friends are not entirely of this world, being sensitive and a bit fragile, but many of them have special artistic gifts, boundless creativity, a capacity to feel compassion for the underdog, and a deep spiritual core. They can be a great source of inspiration and of support in your worst times, for they do care, understand, can feel your pain. This house is one of special vulnerability for you, as you sense people’s potential and are prone to making considerable sacrifice to help them realize it. Codependency can enter into your friendships when you confuse potential with reality and ignore their self-defeating patterns like addictions or submitting to abuse, so know when it is wise to let go.
Additional Support Networks
Suppose you’ve gone through this entire article without finding the support system you need. If there’s nothing in your 11th and the ruler of the sign on its cusp is inert, does this mean no loving input from others in times of stress? Not at all—every house involves people, so find the strongest and best houses in your chart. Which have the most planets? Where are Venus and the Moon, the two planets most commonly seen as feminine? If the 3rd is strong and positive, your closest ties may be with siblings, extended family, or neighbors. If it’s the 6th, coworkers may be a powerful resource. If the 8th is strong, you’d encounter excellent healers, the 9th might represent members of your church or college classmates, and so on.
Note: This article is an excerpt from the 2014 edition of Astrological Analysis: Select Topics in Chart Interpretation, which can be ordered at Moon Maven Publications. Download a sampler here: Sampler–2014 Astrological Analysis
Women, what does your own chart say about your friendships? Let us know in the comment section below this article.
More Articles about friendship on Skywriter:
- 11th House Transits—New Departures in Friendship
- Venus-Uranus Aspects: Two-Minute Friends and other Modern Relationships
- Libra Alert: Personal Power & What It Looks Like in a Friendship
- Libra Alert: How to Stop Being a People Pleaser
- The Incredible Vulnerability a Stellium Creates (An 11th house meltdown)
- Neptune in the 11th House–Setting Boundaries in Friendship
- What your Astrology Chart Says about your Boundary Issues
- Boundaries 301: How to Deal With a Moocher
- Feeling Drained by a Relationship? Cut those Psychic Cords!
[i] The original study was: Taylor, S. E., Klein, L. C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. (2000). Female Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight” Psychological Review, 107(3), 41-429. The diges, “UCLA Study on Friendship Among Women” by Gale Berkowitz was originally at:
http://www.psc.uc.edu/news/stressfriendshipwomen.htm. The link no longer works, but the article is widely disseminated throughout the internet.