Working as a team


Sagittarius and Pisces, Snake and Horse together

With Sagittarius being a "fire sign" and Pisces a "water sign", it becomes very important in a partnership for the two individuals to find a balance; after all, fire can boil water away if it is allowed to dominate, and water can extinguish fire if it becomes overwhelming. One commentator remarks that the ideal symbol for what is to be sought here is a steam engine, with fire energizing water in a controlled way to produce the greatest possible power. Sagittarius can work to help Pisces' dreams come true, while Pisces can teach Sagittarius the power of dreams and imagination.

The special gift of the Angels in the novels can be understood as due to the combination of the clairvoyance of a Sagittarian Snake and the psychic and mystical energy of Pisces. Their ability is binary: neither one alone can raise their visions; a possible model for this is that Kei acts as an "antenna", while Yuri provides a sort of "amplification."

They obtain reinforcement from one another by the fact that they are both of "mutable" birth signs, meaning that they are resourceful, adaptable to change, and open to new ideas. Another interpretation of "mutability" is through its association with change, death and destruction. One should keep in mind, however, the meaning of the Death card in the Tarot: it does not generally imply physical death, but the bringing to an end of one phase of life and the opening to another. Perhaps the Pair's destiny is to help a new era in humanity's existence to begin.

There is a potential danger in a partnership bringing together two "mutables", in that they can become too detached from the World as it already exists and indifferent to the lives of more ordinary persons. An important life experience would come to them through contact with more "grounded" people.

There is an interesting psychological theory that has been put forward that extroverts tend to be "upper-body dominant", while introverts are "lower-body dominant". This shows up in the differences in their activities and combat styles: Piscean Yuri tends to rely on the use of her legs, while Sagittarian Kei does more things that depend on upper-body strength.

A Snake and a Horse together are not generally considered to offer the prospect of a good partnership: the Snake tends to resist the Horse's desire for freedom; both like to have attention paid to themselves and are not likely to get enough of it from the other party. But both are also "half horse" (a Sagittarian and a Piscean Horse), so they will encourage and support each other in their quest for happiness and adventure.


Capricorn and Pisces, Horse and Sheep together

Capricorn is an "earth sign" and so must also seek a proper balance with "watery" Pisces: too much water turns earth to mud, too much earth dams up water. Things will work best if earth helps to channel the flow of water: Capricorn will act as a guide and anchor for Pisces' insufficiently directed energies, while Pisces will help lift Capricorn out of excessive preoccupation with the ordinary world.

Capricorn is also a "cardinal" sign, one which makes the bearer active in the here-and-now, someone who is self-initiating, likes to be the leader, and operates through their senses in the material world. Pisces can work in a complementary way, as one who functions through their feelings and is flexible and adapts readily to change.

A Horse and a Sheep are considered to be a great partnership. The Horse has energy and strength, while the Sheep possesses endurance, sensitivity and compassion. Since she is not especially assertive or confrontational, the Sheep is willing to let the Horse lead and will be happy to stay as long as the Horse makes the Sheep feel secure. Moreover, each will tend to encourage the other in fun and mischief. It also works in this pairing's favor that each member is a "fish-goat" (a Capricorn and a Piscean Goat).



Choices of names

I thought it would also be worthwhile to say something about the characters' names. In most human cultures, people's names actually have meanings and often reflect their parents' wishes for them or the individual's own hopes and aspirations. (Because of the latter, it is not uncommon in some cultures for people to choose a new name upon attaining adulthood that differs from their birth name. In the West, by contrast, names are often chosen for how they sound and the meanings are generally forgotten.)


The question is of some interest, considering that one of the characters, though female, is given what is traditionally a man's name: Kei. This seems particularly odd, since her real-life namesake is named Keiko. (I've noted, though, that there are a number of contemporary Japanese women who do use the name "Kei", choosing to drop the diminutive "-ko".) Incidentally, Keiko means "child who is adored (loved and respected)".

This name has a number of meanings which resonate with her character, so the choice becomes sensible. "Kei" is the Chinese reading <onyomi> of the character for ani, meaning "older brother", which suggests her slighter greater age relative to Yuri, her "masculine" nature, and her feelings of protectiveness toward her partner. It is also the onyomi of other characters which are used to build many other Japanese words which suggest something about her:

keikan -- a police officer; keigan -- keen insight; keikyo -- a rash or hasty action; keiji -- a detective; keishuu -- an accomplished woman; keisei -- a beautiful woman; keisou -- a dispute, conflict, controversy; keihaku -- frivolity, flippancy; keibatsu -- a penalty or punishment

Moreover, the word "keikei" as an adverb means "heedlessly" or "carelessly" and, as an adjective, means "fiery", "glaring", or "piercing", as of one's gaze. In one older dictionary, I found that "Ke-i" (as two kanji) can be read as "strange" or "questionable", a comment on her unfeminine behavior.


Yuri, as already mentioned, is Japanese for the lily, suggesting that one should think of her as a "pale and delicate flower". It is well to bear in mind, however, that lilies belong to the same botanical family as onions and garlic: there is some "bite" to that fragile-seeming beauty.

Her name also suggests a number of other words:

yuuri -- advantageous, beneficial; yuuri -- rationality; yuuri -- isolation, separation (suggesting her ability to distance herself emotionally from her work); yuuryou -- excellent, superior; yuuryoku -- powerful, influential


Iris, Classic Kei's counterpart in DP Flash, has a name which reflects typical Japanese word-play. On May 5th, now Childrens' Day, but originally Boys' Day, many people take a ceremonial bath in which the roots or leaves of shoubu <the iris> are put into the water. This has ties to an older festival celebrating the hunt and the gathering of medicinal herbs, of which the iris is one. Irises were also thought to drive away evil spirits. Shoubu also, however, has a homonym (using different kanji) meaning "martial spirit", which the bathwater was thought to impart to the bather.

Molly, Iris' partner (and Classic Yuri's counterpart), is also named for a plant. In The Odyssey, Odysseus and his crew must visit the island ruled by Circe, a sorceress who possesses the power to transform men into beasts. Prior to this, Hermes gives him a magical plant, variously referred to as moly or molly, which serves to protect Odysseus from Circe's spell. (It is she who in turn advises Odysseus as to how to escape the enchantment of the Sirens, whom he and his men must pass later.) There is some dispute among modern scholars as to what a 'molly' was, but one ancient source (Theophrastus, History of Plants) describes it as a plant with a bulbous root and long slender leaves, rather like a wild onion or garlic (recall the note above on lilies). It may be, then, that The Odyssey contains one of the earliest references to the folklore that garlic can act as a charm against some forms of magic and evil (see the White Goddess site).

The Pair's codename "Lovely Angels" is also interesting. The word "angel" comes to us from the Greek word for "messenger"; indeed, the Japanese rendering, tenshi, literally means "heaven messenger" (probably constructed by the Christian missionaries). In Judaic tradition, angels serve as bearers of God's word and power; their appearance was generally a harbinger of divine admonition or destruction. (The concept of "guardian angels" is a medieval European Christian accretion to the lore.) There is good reason why, in the relatively rare cases when angels brought glad tidings to humans, they announced themselves with the phrase, "Be not afraid." So one should keep in mind that angels don't necessarily act for the protection of individuals or even humankind, but for the perpetuation of what is right and just.


[latest revision -- 24 July 2002]

* * *

"I'm not interested in unscientific stuff like that. I don't believe in the occult."

Kei (DPF, "Mysterious High School Seventeen")


I should tell you a little about why I did this essay, since it is perhaps just a little peculiar to conduct an astrological analysis of fictional characters. My background is in astrophysics, but I have interests in many other things, including mysticism and the history of science. Since astrology is part of the history of my field, I've studied a bit about it, so I can cast horoscopes and do some interpretation of them. I have occasionally, for amusement, done natal horoscopes of people I know.

I have an twelve-year-old niece, born on 7 December, which makes her a Sagittarius*. I was reading up on the characteristics of the sign and hadn't gotten far before it struck me, "Good heavens! I know someone else who's just like this, except she's fictional!" The more I dug into this, the more indications I found that the personalities of our favorite Trouble Consultants appear to have been planned out to a large extent from astrological considerations. There is enough to say about this that I thought it would be worth setting it all down.

*She's also a Metal Horse, by the way, so her parents are finding out what Kei was like at 14...

The descriptions that I've presented here are a sort of consensus as to how the astrological signs are interpreted. It is important to note that there is a fair amount of variation in opinion among both Western and Eastern astrologers; any one book you may choose to look at will not agree on all points with what I've given here.

Those of you who know kanji will have noticed that the characters for Snake, Horse and Sheep are not the symbols shown in my little pictures. Just as Western astrology has special glyphs for its zodiacal signs, the characters used in Chinese astrology are not the common kanji used for the corresponding animals.



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Philippe Cornu, Tibetan Astrology (Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1997)

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_________, East/West Astrology: Combining the Chinese and Western Traditions to Chart Your Destiny (Element Books, 1999)

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Takako Tomoda and Brian May, Interactive Japanese 1: An Introductory Course (Kodansha International, 1996) [for the information on irises]

Tung Jen's Chinese Astrology (Foulsham, 1994)

Jerry Williams, Contemporary Astrology (Para Research, Inc., 1981)

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no author given, Sacred Symbols: The Tarot (Thames & Hudson Ltd., 1995)


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