The English language has a problem because it has only one way to say “I love you.” Romance languages offer more flexibility in expressing love for each other. There are ways to soften the sentiment and make “I love you” a suitable thing to say to friends while leaving a stronger form of saying “I love you” for more intimate situations.
Astrology has its own way of talking about different kinds of love and it has to do with the so-called “water houses.” These houses relate to the signs of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces and embody the different facets of human emotion. Cancer relates to the fourth house of family and, when healthy, embodies familial warmth and gentleness. It is the love we feel for our family members—for our brother, sister, son, daughter, father, and mother.
Scorpio relates to the eighth house and has to do with wanting to merge with the person that we love. This eighth house sentiment yields a passionate and intense kind of love and, when developed, allows us to know union with another person. From this experience springs the realization that we are not separate. For if we can merge with someone in body and emotion even once we know that love, when strong enough, dissolves the barriers between people and makes them feel unity.
Physical union is, however, only the beginning of this experience. It finds fulfillment in the realization that you and the person you love are connected by a spiritual bond—that you are in her and she is in you.
The evolved form of eighth house love (or the “love of unity”) manifests through self-sacrifice to help another. And it is done less out of a sense of chivalry or nobility but out of a feeling that you are saving a part of yourself. Therefore do lovers find the strength to die for their loved one.
But this love born of unity is not only the province of lovers. Anyone who loves another enough to sacrifice themselves or to die for them expresses this love. Soldiers exemplify it when they risk their lives to save another.
People get caught up talking about the eighth house and Scorpio in narrow ways. Most conversations revolve around intimacy and sex but this is only the beginning of it. Once someone is capable of realizing unity with someone else they can realize it with anyone (and physical intimacy doesn’t have to factor into the equation). And the flowering of this love is selflessness. Therefore what starts out as desire for unity with a lover evolves into knowing that you are one with the people you love and that their wellbeing is not just helpful to you but it is a part of your wellbeing. Their life is not only an influence on your life—it is a part of your life.
When this love is experienced deeply enough, we would lay down our life so that another might live. Christ said that, “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And he equated loving “thy neighbor as thyself” to the first and great commandment of loving “the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37-30).
Loving thy neighbor as thyself is the fulfillment of the love of unity. And any kind of relationship can reach this height for friends can die for each other, a father can die for his son, a mother for her daughter, a brother for his sister, a lover for his love. Therefore does the love first experienced as intimacy with a lover lead us to ultimate self-sacrifice and even to self-transcendence.
The eighth house is much more than finding intense intimacy with another person, which can actually feed our egos and make us attached. It is meant to be a place where we overcome our egos by our willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the people we love.
After eighth house love comes twelfth house which is where the love of unity experienced with some people turns into the love of unity with all people and all things. This love is expressed by the sign of Pisces.
Pisces, like the ocean, knows no bounds. It builds on the selflessness of great personal love and extends it to loving all of creation. Its love is universal and spreads everywhere. It does not discriminate between saint and sinner, between sweetness and bitterness, because it is a love for Life itself. In the eighth house we are willing to sacrifice ourselves so that someone we deeply love might live. And in the twelfth house we would sacrifice ourselves for a stranger or, like Christ did, for all of humanity.
The rain feeds the river like the love we learn from our family influences and empowers us to love people in the world. The river flows to the ocean like the love we feel for people in the world evolves into a love we feel for everything. But the rain feeds the rivers which flow to the sea and the moisture from the sea feeds the clouds which, once again, turn to rain.
Maybe these different kinds of love are not really so different but are rather just different manifestations of the same water. And to truly know love, then, we should be able to shift between the different kinds of loving and one day be a raindrop experiencing the gentle love of the family, and another day a raging river lost in a torrent of emotions, and yet another day, the ocean—calm or stormy, but always experiencing a love and empathy for all Life.