pressed, the water temperament will either go sullen and silent, or begin to offer some very half-baked and patently absurd rationalizations. The language of the heart is not translatable.
It's amusing to speculate about things like the development of language and rational thought. We in the West place great emphasis on the processes of the intellect. Our inheritance is largely that of ancient Greece, with its concentration on philosophy and meaning and balance and rationality. The classical Greece which underpins our modern systems of law and education is an air-sign phenomenon. We have forgotten that there are other languages, other modes of communication. Touch, for instance. Feeling. Images and symbols. Colour and music. All these belong to the realm of the water signs. Many water people do not think conceptually, but imagine things in pictures. You can see them as children, excelling at languages, the arts, history, finding a lot of difficulty in mastering algebra, logic, chemistry and physics. It isn't that they lack intelligence. It's that their intelligence is more gifted in other areas. Today we consider the 'smart' child as the one who does well in IQ tests. But as a water-sign friend of mine once said, IQ tests are excellent determinants of how well a person does at IQ tests. Nothing more.
For water signs, the most important thing in the world is feeling, and in particular, the objects of feeling - which are usually human beings. Relationships with people are the breath of life to the water signs. More than any other element, they fear aloneness and isolation. They need the constant contact of other people, the constant flow of feeling, the security of love and relationship. A water sign who has pulled in on himself and withdrawn from others is a sad creature. For many water signs, others are the most important thing in life - hence their sometimes rather suffocating tendency to live through others at their own expense.
Let's take a typical example of this tendency to live through others. Carl Jung uses an interesting analogy, in his work, of a relationship being a combination of two factors: a container and a contained. Picture it like this. One person is usually something like a large house with many rooms, most of them unexplored. The other person is like a small, comfortable, self-contained flat within that house. Both people, for a while, are content to remain in the warmth of the flat. It's safe, it's cosy, the alien world outside can't intrude. It's secure and unchangeable. You know its boundaries.
But the person who is the container becomes aware that the house is really much bigger than anybody thought. He - or she - begins to become restless. What's in all those unexplored rooms? What's the world like outside? Granted, it's unknown and probably unsafe. But it's fascinating just because of that. So the container begins to fidget, and finally he gets up with a torch and a length of rope and decides to explore the basement. The contained panics. Will he come back? Will he shatter the peace and security of their world? What will happen?
The contained in relationships are usually the water signs. Within their own world, they create anything, for imagination is one of the strongest gifts of this element. Water people have wonderful imaginations. They are also sensitive, perceptive and profound. It is rare to find someone with a strong water emphasis in his horoscope who is shallow and superficial. But they are frightened of anything that might disrupt the peace of the nest.
Not that water people never change. They change all the time - with a rapidity that is upsetting to the air signs in particular. But it's their feelings that shift and change. One day up, the next day down. Most water-sign people are moody. Now moodiness is something we tend to see as neurotic. This is our air-sign education again, establishing standards of consistent behaviour. In fact the feeling nature in any person is not consistent. Feeling is like water. It flows and shifts and takes a new shape depending on what it meets. And water people, at least those that are brave enough to express their real selves to others, are not consistent in their moods. It never bothers them. They're used to it;