JUNGS APPROACH TO PERSONALITY
AND THE ASTROLOGICAL WAY TO SELF-REALIZATION
What is "personality"? The answers to this question differ widely, as widely as the psychological approaches which men have taken to the central problem of human life. According to some medieval philosophers, only God is endowed with the supreme attribute of personality, for He alone is a complete, self-sufficient, and self-sustained being. In recent theosophical or so-called occult literature, the term "personality" has been used in contrast with "individuality," the former defining the ever-changing and earth-conditioned nature of man, while the latter refers to the relatively permanent and spiritually conditioned entity thought to be the essential reality of man.
Personality, in classical psychology, is definitely connected with consciousness; but Freud sought to reduce the previously taken for granted unity of the personality into unstable components, subconscious energies, psychic mechanisms, complexes, and somewhat hopeless yearnings for unattainable perfection. Adler reacted against the Freudian approach by stressing the unity of the personality, identifying personality with ego, and brushing off unconscious factors in the psychic life of the individual as residual and toxic by-products of an ineffective and unwholesome type of adjustment to life and society an adjustment controlled by man's everlasting will to power and superiority.
In studying Jung's psychology, we find that his concept of personality is a very broad and inclusive one: that personality is an evolving organism, the wholeness and integrated character of which should not be taken for granted, but instead should be considered as the essential (but hard to attain) goal of life for individual human beings. The integration of the personality is not only a complex and arduous process; it has no conceivable end, because personality is essentially the result of the reciprocal interpenetration, harmonization, and integration of two fundamentally distinct and apparently opposite (yet complementary) types of factors in the psychic life of man. These factors refer either to consciousness and the controlling center of consciousness, the ego, or they belong to the realm of the unconscious. As the realm of the unconscious has no knowable boundaries, but extends theoretically ad infinitum in the direction of an ever-vaster experience of the universe, it follows that no set limits can be placed to the scope of personality. The field of consciousness may always encompass a more inclusive totality of previously unconscious
contents. A few brief quotations from Jung will help to bring his idea of the relationship between conscious and unconscious to a still clearer perspective.
''Just as the human body shows a common anatomy over and above all racial differences, so too, does the psyche possess a common substratum. I have called the latter the collective unconscious. As a common human heritage, it transcends all differences of culture and consciousness and does not consist merely of contents capable of becoming conscious, but of latent dispositions toward identical reactions. Thus the fact of the collective unconscious is simply the psychic expression of identity of brain-structure irrespective of all racial differences. By its means can be explained the analogy, going even as far as identity, between various myth-themes and symbols, and the possibility of human understanding in general. The various lines of psychic development start from one common stock whose roots reach back into the past.
''Taken purely psychologically, it means that we have common instincts of ideation (imagination), and of action. All conscious imagination and action have grown out of these unconscious prototypes and remain bound up with them.'' (p. 83).
''Without a doubt, consciousness is derived from the unconscious. This is something we remember too little, and therefore we are always attempting to identify the psyche with consciousness.'' (Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower, p. 119)
''The distinction between mind and body is an artificial dichotomy, a discrimination which is unquestionably based far more on the peculiarity of intellectual understanding than on the nature of things. In fact, so intimate is the intermingling of bodily and psychic traits that not only can we draw far-reaching inferences as to the constitution of the body, but we can also infer from psychic peculiarities the corresponding bodily characteristics.'' (Modern Man in Search of a Soul, p. 85)
''The "psyche" is both physical and mental.'' (Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower, p. 131)
''The psyche is a self-regulating system that maintains itself in equilibrium as the body does. Every process that goes too far, immediately and inevitably calls forth a compensatory activity. Without such adjustments a normal metabolism would not exist, nor would the normal psyche. We can take the idea of compensation, so understood, as a law of psychic happening. Too little on one side results in too much on the other. The relation between conscious and unconscious is compensatory.'' (Modern Man in Search of a Soul, p. 20)
''No personality is manifested without definiteness, fullness, and maturity,'' (p. 285)
''The development of personality means fidelity to the law of one's being,'' (p. 289)
''When all is said and done, the hero, leader, and savior is also the one who discovers a new way to greater certainty. Everything could be left as it was if this new way did not absolutely demand to be discovered, and did not visit humanity with all the plagues of Egypt until it is found. The undiscovered way in us is like something of the psyche that is alive. The classic Chinese philosophy calls it "Tao," and compares it to a watercourse that resistlessly moves towards its goal. To be in Tao means fulfillment, wholeness, a vocation performed, beginning and end and complete realization of the meaning of existence innate in things. Personality is Tao.'' (The Integration of the Personality, p.304-305)
These quotations, however fragmentary, outline for us the basic picture of personality which Jung develops with a great wealth of details through his various writings. They also bring to mind the reason why the techniques devised by the astrological tradition can be of extreme practical usefulness to the individual seeking to tread the arduous path of integration of the personality provided these astrological techniques are used in a new way, in a way consciously directed toward the attainment of a positive, definite, full, and mature personality.
To so use astrology is not easy let there be no mistake or misunderstanding about this point! It is not easy, because an astrology geared to the integral fulfillment of "the law of one's being" has first of all to be purged of all the attitudes, beliefs, and traditional expectations which frequently create, in the student as well as the consultant, fears, a sense of inferiority, or a false optimism. Worst of all, astrology in its popular state often promotes a psychologically unhealthy dependence upon the advice of highly fallible and insufficiently trained practitioners of this most exacting of the arts. This dependence would not be worse, in principle, than the client's dependence upon his psychotherapist or "analyst" if the astrologer were a trained psychologist, and were truly dedicated to the
psychological welfare of his consultants; but this unfortunately is not often the case. It is not the case, not because astrologers are less honest persons than psychologists, but simply because the approach the astrological public expects of an astrologer is one which on the whole is not psychologically constructive.
If a person goes to consult a psychotherapist, his purpose is usually to reach a better condition of psychological development, and perhaps to be healed of some acute mental trouble. He expects healing or greater wholeness of being. But the average person seeking advice from an astrologer expects the kind of information which normally does not lead to a fuller, richer, more definite, and more mature personal life.
To "know the future" even if it is understood that there can be knowledge only of the potentiality of future events is not, of itself, conducive to personal integration. It is not, of itself, sound psychological knowledge. Even the knowledge of what course of action is more likely to be "successful" in a given circumstance is not, of itself, psychologically valuable. It can be unfortunate if, while producing external success or even because it produces external success this knowledge creates a state of dependence upon badly understood astrological procedures and a false sense of psychological security.
What then is the psychologically valid use of astrology from the point of view taken by Jung? It can only be the clarification (the making more conscious and objectively, real) of the "law of one's being." Any astrological procedure or practice which does not have this purpose, and which the practitioner or consultant does not expect to have this purpose, is detrimental to psychological health and cannot contribute to the process of personality-integration. This does not mean that astrological applications which are not concerned primarily, or at all, with the psychological welfare of individuals should not be practiced. It simply indicates the one basic goal of any constructive application of astrological methods to individuals, whether the astrological techniques be birth-charts, progressions, transits, etc. If this is the case, the question for us to answer is: How can astrology help any individual to gain a clearer and more objective consciousness of the law of his being and thus of his own real self?
All my writings in books and astrological magazines have been essentially occupied with the answer to this question. Astrology, I have shown, can be used as a means to "self-realization," as a powerful help in the "process of individuation"; that is, in the process of becoming, in actuality and in the fullness of conscious living, what one is, at birth, only in potentiality. Individuality (that is, structural uniqueness of being) is potential or latent in every new-born child. It becomes a fact only through the persistent and consistent efforts of young and old alike as they seek to reach inner maturity. What astrology can do to make these efforts more successful is to present to the would-be individual or to the confused
older person who carries the burden of too many failures the blue-print of the structure of his individuality.
Astrology, in other words, presents to an evolving personality, perhaps groping in unconsciousness and psychological immaturity, the archetype of his potential selfhood that which he will be, if he becomes what he potentially is. An archetype is like a seed: the potentiality of a particular structure of organic being. The seed may never grow into a fully developed plant. But, if it does grow, it will become in actuality what the seed contains in potentiality. No acorn will ever become an apple tree; but seeing an acorn falling into the soil does not indicate whether or not, in that place, an oak will ever grow to maturity. Astrology deals only with potentialities; never with definite or fated events.
Jung constantly uses the term "archetype," and the way in which he defines it is of great significance to the astrologer who seeks to evaluate the proper psychological meaning of a birth-chart an "archetype" of a special kind. Archetypes are, in Jung's philosophy, focal points or fields of force in the collective unconscious; that is, they are images determining and controlling the most fundamental activities of what we have called "man's common humanity." They express the most primordial and most common responses of all human beings to a few basic situations; and they appear as symbolic images in our dreams, as well as in all myths or religious conceptions. These symbolic images have enormous power. They can sway vast collectivities, resulting in religious conversion or leading to rationally inexplicable crimes. They have a dark as well as a light side.
What is important to realize, however, is that only their form is determined, not their contents; that their "ultimate core of meaning may be delimited but never described." "The form of these archetypes," says Jung, "is perhaps comparable to the axial system of a crystal, which predetermines as it were the crystalline formation in the saturated solution, without itself possessing a material existence." This "axial system" determines only the possibility of a certain characteristic's concrete formation. Which of these possible formations will actually become substantially realized depends upon the nature of the "saturated solution" that is, in the case of the archetypes, upon the common experience of humanity, or of a particular race and culture to which an individual belongs.
When the dreamer dreams about a mysterious mother figure endowed with cosmic attributes or when the inspired painter paints such a figure the image aroused is not actually the creation of the dreamer, or artist, as an individual. The image is already latent in his unconscious as the leaf pattern of the oak is latent in the acorn. The archetype has thus a kind of objective being in an unconscious realm of potentiality a realm to which Goethe refers in the second part of Faust as the "realm of the Mothers." Indeed, Jung makes it plain that "the unconscious is the mother of the consciousness." Occultists have also spoken, with much the same meaning, of the realm of the "astral light" which is creative in its higher aspects, and reflective in its lower regions. They have also used the expressions "Anima Mundi" (the Soul of the World) and the "Virgins of Light," relating the latter to the signs of the signs of the Zodiac, considered as symbolical expressions of the great "Creative Hierarchies" that are builders, of the universe and of generic man. These Hierarchies are seen as collective agencies, or spiritual hosts, through which the Anima Mundi operates; Jung also speaks of the archetypes of the unconscious as "organs of the soul.''
These "organs of the soul," however, are concentrates of the common experience of myriads of generations of human beings. They are inherent in mankind as instincts are inherent in animals and indeed in men as well. Instincts and archetypes are of the same nature. And, if this be understood, we also see how, in esoteric or "gnostic" cosmologies, the above-mentioned creative Hosts are considered as concentrates of the spiritual experience of vast collectivities of beings who lived through, and achieved immortality in, previous universes or solar systems.
''[The number of archetypes is] relatively limited, for it corresponds to the "possibilities of typical fundamental experiences," such as human beings have had since the beginning of time . . . [yet] the sum of these archetypes signifies for Jung the sum of all the latent potentialities of the human psyche an enormous, inexhaustible store of ancient knowledge concerning the most profound relations between God, man, and the cosmos. To open this store to one's own psyche, to wake it to new life, and to integrate it with consciousness, means therefore nothing less than to take the individual out of his isolation and to incorporate him in the eternal cosmic process . . . To remove this isolation and confusion of the modern [individual], to make it possible for him to find his place in the great stream of life, to assist him to a wholeness that knowingly and deliberately binds his light conscious side to the dark one of the unconscious this is the meaning and aim of Jungian guidance.'' (J. Jacobi; The Psychology of Jung, pp. 45, 47, 48)
I have italicized some of the above sentences, because they clarify the link between Jung's psychology and astrology. The symbolic meaning of the birth-chart of an individual, erected for the exact moment and place of birth, is actually, and as far as its psychological value is concerned, an archetype in his unconscious. It is perhaps the most powerful of all archetypes, when it is brought up to the light of the consciousness, inasmuch as it can determine the entire conduct of the individual, his entire attitude toward himself and his life, and the quality of his expectancy with reference to future events and to his destiny as a whole. The birth-chart is a symbol of extraordinary power, and this symbol, because it is based upon mankind's primordial experience of the sky a wondrous realization of transcendent order in the midst of a life of earthly chaos opens the door to man's ability "to find his place in the great stream of life" in terms of an archetypal pattern of order. This pattern of order is actually presented to man by the pageant of ceaselessly moving points and discs of light in the sky. It is his to behold. For a person to study his birth-chart means to discover the order of the sky at the root of his being. It is to discover the particular phase of the Anima Mundi (the Soul of the world, the Great Mother) which became the mould into which generic and collective human nature was poured, as the individual emerged into the world of air and light as a breathing new-born infant.
The moment of the first breath is the great symbol of the individualizing act by which unborn human nature emerges from the "dark mother" (the womb of the earth) and begins to operate in the realm of the "celestial mother." In the womb, man is bound and utterly conditioned by generic human nature, but as he emerges from this womb and finds himself under the dome of the sky (the celestial "church" in which the zodiacal "Virgins of Light" officiate), he finds himself entering a realm of essential freedom. He breathes; and in this act of breathing, man is the symbol-archetype of his individualized state of being. He is free to alter his breathing, and through the power of the breath which is also the power of the uttered Word man can prove himself individual and master, or condemn himself to thwarted and abortive individual living.
Ancient Hindu yoga was based on this realization of the meaning and power of the breath; and so also, in another sense, was astrology. Astrology was the means to relate the first moment of the individualized freedom (the first breath) to the "eternal cosmic process." Astrology was therefore, and can be today, a method "to take the individual out of his isolation and to incorporate him in the eternal process" a method thus aimed at the very same ultimate achievement which Jacobi describes as the goal of Jungian psychological guidance. The purposes of the two approaches are identical in essence; and the means present many characteristic analogies, with equally characteristic differences.
The first point to stress is that the main function of astrology, considered in the psychological sense described above, is to help (in Jung's words) "to acknowledge one's self for what one by nature is, in contrast to that which one would like to be" and, as Jacobi adds, probably nothing more difficult for man than just this acknowledgment (p. 123). The birth-chart, considered as a symbol of the individual's root-participation in the universal process, can reveal to the individual what he is by nature, and thus what he can achieve, if he lives according to the "law" of his individual being. Yet the birth-chart deals with symbolic relations, with formulae of functional interplay, all of which must be interpreted, as dreams must be interpreted, if they are to become psychologically significant and effective. And like a dream, the birth-chart can be interpreted in many ways. It can be seen as a dynamic and creative whole, a challenge to integration, or as an aggregation of fragmentary bits of information about the most common preoccupations of mankind (wealth, home, love-affairs, health, marriage, business, success, etc.)
The ordinary and traditional practice of astrology deals with the latter. As a rule, the astrologer seeks information concerning events, past or future, or the knowledge of disjointed characteristics of his or her client's personal temperament. Astrology has then no psychologically integrative purpose largely because the client or the astrologer himself does not expect it to have such a purpose. Most people approach astrology today in the same way they generally approach the subject of dreams in an unorganized, amateurish, fragmentary and, therefore, unwholesome manner.
Whoever expects the symbols of dreams or astrological charts to lead him to a fuller, more inclusive, more conscious, and more mature personality must take a much more serious and responsible attitude. He should realize that while contact with the archetype of the unconscious and with the celestial patterns of the birth-moment may bring an individual to a rich and serene state of personality fulfillment, such a contact can as well bring dire psychological results. The birth-chart is very different indeed from a mere scientific tabulation of factors. Once it is studied and given vital attention, the chart begins to act as a dynamic power within the unconscious. It "does things" to the astrologer. It forces tendencies into the consciousness (and thus produces events) which otherwise might have remained latent and hidden. Whoever believes in the significance of the chart and in the validity of the interpretation given to it (by himself or by a practicing astrologer) is no longer quite the same person. His orientation to the unconscious has become altered, however slightly. Not to realize this is to court real danger, for a person's orientation to his unconscious is the most dynamic factor in his personality.
The process of integration of the personality is, indeed, always fraught with real psychological dangers. No one recognized this more clearly than Jung; and he bluntly stated that no one could ever succeed fully in this process unless compelled from within by a true "vocation," by an inner necessity.* (the last chapter of Jungs The Integration of Personality p. 281). How astrologers should also realize this fact! There are, nevertheless, collective as well as individual necessities. We are living in an explosive age a global crisis in humanity's development which demands that we all assume new responsibilities and deliberately face new dangers for the sake of a collective purpose we can no longer ignore. This is an age of global integration whether by "globe" we mean the planet Earth, or the sphere of our total psyche, body and mind. We must therefore seek a path of total integration, in personality as well as in society. And we must be willing to accept risks or become less than human. For to be human is to be consciously whole; it is to be a microcosm, a focal point of meaning and power within the vast organism of the macrocosm the universal Whole.
Astrology & the Modern Psyche