Limerence (part 1)

In our culture we have various terms to describe the kinds of love we experience.  One you may not have heard yet is limerence. This term was coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov in 1977 to describe all-consuming romantic love.  Limerence can be defined as ‘an involuntary state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person combined with an overwhelming, obsessive need to have one's feelings reciprocated’ (Wikipedia).


In this series we will explore the astrology behind one woman’s experience of limerence.  We will call her ‘Jill’ and her love object, ‘Jack.’  Jill has allowed me to share her story here.


At its best, falling in love happens in a reciprocal exchange between two people who are available for involvement, and the exploration leads to a stable and satisfying intimate relationship.  But God knows this isn't always the case.  Jill was unhappily married at the time she fell in love with Jack, who was divorced and still carrying emotional baggage from his own experience.  


The two met while serving on a civic committee together.  Jill's marriage had grown stale; she no longer felt loved or cared for by her husband, who seemed to take her roles as wife, mother, and homemaker for granted while putting his own career above all else.  This was the soil in which Jill’s limerence for Jack took root. 


We'll begin our study with the synastry between Jack and Jill—right?


No :)  Synastry may be fun, but unless two people are actually involved it’s mostly fantasy, and even then its merits are questionable.  Synastry does not get us to the heart of the matter, which is what each individual brings to the relationship.  This relationship potential is best understood through a careful study of the birth chart.  Progressions and returns then show us how that potential manifests for the individual over time. Horary is also an excellent tool for understanding a particular relationship at a particular point in time.  Jill came for horary consultation several times during the years of her limerence for Jack.


Jill is a high-functioning professional with many talents and areas of achievement, including motherhood, community leadership, and artistic expression. However, romantic relationships have been a lifelong challenge.


Let’s take a look at her birth chart (first in the gallery below; 29 Capricorn Asc).


Jill’s temperament is melancholic, with quite a bit of heat as well.  Saturn is Lord Ascendant, strong in its own sign and in the 12th—a good placement for Saturn generally, but difficult for Lord Asc because of the confinement.  The Moon, which is also Lord 7, is choleric by phase.  The Moon is in tight applying opposition to its dispositor, Venus, which is early in its detriment and near Difda, the nasty beast who wants to devour Andromeda.  (We have discussed Difda before; see the "Irene and Bob" posts.)  Note also the mixed reception between the Moon and Lord Asc, Saturn: the Moon exalts Saturn, while Saturn is in the Moon's detriment. Saturn is also Lord of the Geniture as the one planet in its own sign.


The Moon as Lord 7, tied into an afflicted/afflicting Venus and in mixed reception with Lord Asc, tells us that relationships will be a major complication in Jill’s life. There are other challenges, too: an exalted Sun separates from square with essentially strong but accidentally weak Lord Asc, with negative reception (the Sun is in Saturn’s fall).  This internal conflict has expressed itself in Jill's life as chronic low-grade depression, overlaid with occasional major depressive episodes. 


In traditional natal work we examine the relationship between the Moon and Mercury to understand how the mind and emotions are functioning and interacting.  Jill’s Moon is choleric, ruled by Venus.  Mercury is in detriment and fall, hot because oriental of the Sun and moist by placement in Pisces, exalting Venus.  So the two have heat in common, and they both have a strong interest in Venus. They are also in the same sign by antiscion. 


Fortuna, ‘super Moon,’ signifies what we hunger for most.  Jill hungers for Moon stuff—Lord 7 (among other things).  But Lord Asc dislikes the Moon/Lord 7, so there are mixed feelings.  Combined with the Venus-Moon opposition, this gives a sense of conflicting priorities and open battle. 


Jill is now divorcing after a 28-year relationship with her spouse.  Although the marriage had its strengths and produced two beautiful children, she feels that they were never really a team.


Here’s some of what Jill has to say about her patterns in romantic love: 


I've always seemed to have the same type of infatuations with love interests.... set my sights on them and become obsessed and then devastated if scorned or ignored. I would say generally my loves have been unsatisfactory because they don't live up to the kind of transcendent ideal I seem to have. And I seem to have picked narcissistic men.


Jack’s natal chart is the second in the gallery below (1 Leo Asc).  Jack’s temperament is overwhelmingly choleric because his Sun also plays the roles of Lord Ascendant and Lord of the Geniture (as the only planet with any essential dignity).  It is worth noting that his Moon is in the first house conjunct Lord 7, Saturn. Other people love Jack, and Jack loves Jack, and the two are joined together.  His Lord 5, Mars, falls by antiscion right between Saturn and Moon in a tight triple conjunction. There is a lack of the earth element in his chart, interesting given that Fortuna, signifying what we hunger for, is in an earth sign.  Mercury stuff is very important to Jack: Venus, the Sun, Fortuna, and Spirit are all Mercury-ruled.


We will indulge in just a tiny bit of synastry :)  Jill’s Sun is conjunct Jack’s Fortuna at 8.59 Virgo by antiscion. Note also that Jack’s Mars/Saturn/Moon conjunction falls exactly on Jill’s IC, touching her at her core.  In Jill's experience this has been an affliction.


Six months after meeting Jack, Jill communicated her feelings to him openly.  But Jack was never clear with Jill as to what he felt for her in return, nor did he draw a clear boundary between them.  This left room for Jill to fantasize that a relationship might be possible and that he had romantic feelings for her.  They had several conversations and exchanged a number of emails, but nothing further.  Eventually, Jack remarried and moved away.


Jill’s limerence for Jack continued for several years afterwards.  She fell into a major depression and began therapy to explore the issues of her failing marriage and unmet emotional needs.  After many years of hard work and much ambivalence, Jill has filed for divorce.


Next, we’ll look at Jill’s progressions and returns for the years in question to see how the charts show us what was happening.  We’ll also look at one of the horary charts addressing the relationship.


First published Dec 1, 2012 on