THE PLANETARY MAP OF INDIVIDUAL POTENTIAL
What is below is like what is above.
And what is above is like what is below,
so that the miracle of the One may be accomplished.
— Tabula Smaragdina
Fate and soul are two names for the same principle.
The Birth Chart
Any understanding of the language of astrology must commence with a realization of what the birth horoscope can and cannot tell us. The horoscope is a highly complex astronomical map, based not only on the date of birth but on the time/year and place as well. We must first, therefore, discard all preconceptions and prejudices based on popular magazine astrology, which has virtually nothing to do with the real study.
The birth map does not plot the fate of the individual in a predestined way. Rather, it symbolizes the basic lines of their character's potential development. It takes a minimum of thought to realize that a person will act and shape their life according to their needs, fears and abilities, and that these needs, fears and abilities stem from their inherent disposition. In this sense character is fate, and if we are ignorant of our own natures — as most of us are who have never explored the unconscious — then the stars cannot be blamed for the fact that we run headlong and blind along the course we ourselves have chosen. This fundamental point is critical to an understanding of the entire study of astrology. The more shallow interpretation of fate and free will - fate is what I am "destined" to do, while free will is what I "choose" to do myself — makes it impossible for me to see the subtle paradox that these two opposites are one and the same.
We know that behind all life, whether psychic or material, lie the archetypal patterns, the bare bones of the structure of existence. We do not yet know whether there is any material basis for the fact that astrological data correlate with human behavior, although through our research on biological clocks and sunspot cycles it will not be long before we have our evidence. (See Lyall Watson's Supernature, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1972.)
(Readers are referred to the work of Arthur M. Young for more in this area.)
Michel Gaugelin's laborious and thorough statistical research (Cosmic Influences on Human Behavior) has demonstrated in a dramatic way that such correlations are valid, but the reason for their validity still eludes us. The material facts pertaining to astrology, however, such as the possibility of energy emanations from the planets that effect the energy field of the sun, are only one end of the spectrum of the archetype. The other end is symbolic, and the positions of the heavens at a particular moment in time, by reflecting the qualities of that moment, also reflect the qualities of anything born at that moment, whether it be an individual, a city, an idea, a company or a marriage. One does not cause the other; they are synchronous, and mirror each other.
So far as the reason for this synchronicity is concerned, we are left, on the one hand, with Jung's archetypes of the collective unconscious and, on the other, the teachings of esoteric doctrine. These two viewpoints seem to disclose the same truth, which the findings of quantum physics and biology in the last twenty-five years are beginning to affirm. Life is really one organism, and the various parts of that organism, although different in form and apparently separate, partake of the same whole and are interconnected with every other part.
Paracelsus, writing on astrology in the 16th century, says:
"If I have "manna" in my constitution, I can attract "manna" from heaven . . . "Saturn" is not only in the sky, but also deep in the earth and in the ocean. What is "Venus" but the "artemesia" that grows in your garden? What is "iron" but "Mars"? That is to say Venus and artemesia are both the products of the same essence, and Mars and iron are both the manifestations of the same cause. What is the human body but a constellation of the same powers that formed the stars in the sky? He who knows what iron is, knows the attributes of Mars. He who knows Mars, knows the qualities of iron."
(Paracelsus, Life and Prophecies, Franz Hartmann, Rudolph Steiner Publications. N.Y., 1973.)
The solar system is not only an arrangement of physical sun and planets bound together by the force of gravity and or biting through space, it may also be seen as the symbol of a living energy pattern, reflecting at any moment the smaller forms of life which are contained within it.
In attempting to understand the symbolism of the birth horoscope, it is useful to consider what we know of the psyche, for the chart at birth is really a model, in symbolic terms, of the various energy patterns or psychic components which make up the individual. We know that the ego, as the center of the field of consciousness, is a regulating center which serves the function of illuminating those areas of the unconscious, both personal and collective, which are striving for light; and we know as well that the ego is the surrogate or reflection of that mysterious center which Jung calls the Self, and which esoteric teaching calls the Soul. We know too that as an individual develops it is likely they will block from their field of awareness those aspects of their nature which in reality belong to them, yet which for one reason or another are incompatible with their values or with the values of their family or society. Finally, we know that it is extremely important, if one seeks self-fulfillment and a meaningful life which fulfills also the larger purpose for which one has been born, to bring these aspects of their own nature to light, rather than condemning them to the perpetual darkness of the unconscious. As it is ideally projected from the early days of childhood, the personality is almost never fully expressed; only a part is enacted, and for many people this part is far smaller than that which constitutes their real birthright. In such cases, we say that a person has not really fulfilled their potential, that they have wasted opportunities or talents, or that they have never really been ''true to themselves".
The birth chart is a seed or blueprint of all that potentially belongs to a person's personality — If it were in full flower, and fully conscious, it is a road map in the truest sense, for the object of studying it is not to "overcome" the "influences" of the planets, but rather to allow room in one's life to express all those qualities and drives of which the chart is a symbol. Only then can the individual approximate the original plan for their life's development as if is "conceived" — for we must in the end infer intelligent, purposeful development — by the Self.
If this seems too abstruse or lofty a definition of the birth horoscope, it is pertinent to remember that astrology, before it became the property of popular magazines and newspaper columns, was once a sacred art. Through it, the student had access to an intuitive perception of the workings of the energies behind life, which no other ancient system — except perhaps its Eastern equivalent, the I Ching — could offer. The great is reflected in the small, and the fact that astrology can also be used to illumine more mundane problems is not a repudiation of its deeper psychological value. It is only a reflection of the fact that even in the minutest details of our lives, we reflect that which is our essence.
When seen in this light, it will be apparent that an understanding of the birth horoscope affords a new dimension to the understanding of one's life path. Likewise the comparison of two horoscopes will provide considerable information about the inter-workings of two lives; and it is from this art of chart comparison that synastry — the use of chart comparison to explore and evaluate relationships — has developed.
Astronomically, the birth horoscope is simply a map — accurately calculated so that it cannot be faulted by the most pernickety astronomer — of the heavens as they appear from the exact time and place of the individual's birth. The circle of the twelve zodiacal signs is a symbol of totality, and in its totality it represents all life's possibilities. In this respect, the zodiac is like any other universal symbol of wholeness, such as the egg, or the Urobouros (the serpent devouring its tail), or the equal-armed cross. It is a mandala and as Jung has shown, mandalas are the symbolic expression of the potential wholeness of life and of the human psyche. They are at the same time symbols of the Self, and symbols of God, for these two are, in terms of human perception, the same.
Against the backdrop of this circle of the zodiac (which is called the ecliptic and which is in fact the apparent circle of the sun traversing the heavens) lie the sun, the moon and the eight known planets. The positions of these planets as they are placed around the zodiacal wheel at the moment of the individual's birth form the internal pattern of the birth chart. Thus we have a symbolic picture, with the wheel of wholeness around the outside and the individual combination of psychological components on the inside Every chart is made up of the same ingredients: twelve zodiacal signs, eight planets, and the sun and moon. Yet every chart is different because at any given moment the arrangement of all these factors is different, both within the planetary pattern and in the relationship between the planets and the horizon of the earth itself.
In other words, human beings are built of the same raw stuff, the same drives or energies, needs and possibilities; but there is an individual arrangement of these energies which gives the stamp of uniqueness to the pattern. The same forces are present in all of us, a fact with which one is confronted endlessly in any work involving counseling or therapy. But there is a creative individuality which makes of these basic energies a unique work of art, which is the individual life.
This creative shaping does not, we must assume, stem from the ego, which is hardly capable of such a feat; it stems from the Self, and the Self, as such, is not mapped out on the birth chart. It is the entire zodiac. Nor can the chart show the individual's decision at any point in their life to voluntarily cooperate with their own psyche's endeavor to achieve greater consciousness, and therefore to make fuller use of those potentials which are theirs' from the beginning. In this decision lies the deepest meaning of individual free will.
The basic building blocks in astrological symbolism are the eight planets and the sun and moon. In astrological jargon, the sun and moon are also referred to as planets, because doing so makes things easier. In astronomy, these ten heavenly bodies are the components which form the organism of our solar system. Symbolically, they form the organism of the human psyche. In ancient esoteric teaching, it was believed that space was not "empty", but was in fact the living body of a gigantic life, an organism which possessed the attributes of consciousness and purpose. Its physical form was the solar system, and the sun expressed the heart, around which the moon and eight planets served as organs or centers of energy — in the same way that the organs of the human body serve the primary function of the life-giving heart. Prior to the discovery of Uranus in 1781, only five planets were known; but we may see shadowy intimations of the other three in mythology/where they are invariably symbolized as gods who are invisible, who live beneath the waters or the earth. Although we may find this esoteric concept of the solar system abstract and difficult to imagine, it is an indispensable symbol for any attempt to understand how the planets function in the birth chart.
"Astrology, like the collective unconscious with which psychology is concerned, consists of symbolic configurations: the 'planets' are the gods, symbols of the powers of the unconscious." (C.C. Jung Letters, Vol. II, edited by Gerhard Adler, Routledge & Kegan
Paul, London, 1976.)
We can now proceed to explore the meaning of each of the heavenly bodies In accordance with the basic urges or archetypal patterns they symbolize in the individual.
Sun and Moon
The sun, which is the heart of the solar system and the single most important symbol within the birth chart, suggests by its pictorial representation — a point at the center of a circle — that it reflects the individual's urge to become themselves. Although this sounds simple enough, it is a lifetime's task. The circle is the ancient symbol of wholeness, of divinity, and of the eternal oneness of life, because it has no beginning and no end; the dot at the center suggests that spirit, or life, or the Self, manifests itself (at a particular place and a particular point in time) as an individual ego which possesses, as one of its attributes, the impulse towards self-realization. Like any other living symbol, the sun on the birth chart cannot be reduced to a few well-chosen keywords. But we may obtain some hint of its meaning if we know that it suggests the path which the individual must follow to fulfill his basic urge for a sense of identity. We could say that the sun symbolizes the urge for self-expression, self-realization, self-awareness or any of a number of other terms which do not really make sense unless one is conscious of the underlying need within oneself to be oneself — and unless one can see this need at work in all the creative acts one performs not for any ulterior motive, but as a genuine reflection of the essence of individuality.
The planets on the birth chart symbolize the archetypal experiences of life, and astrology is only one way of portraying them. Another, as we have seen, is myth and fairy tale, and the sun may be considered a reflection of the same principle which is expressed as the Hero. The Hero's Quest is the same journey that is expressed through the symbolism of the birth chart; and the Hero always and forever seeks first their other half, so that they may be whole, and then their source, so that they can truly recognize their parentage and their purpose. We might say also that the sun on the horoscope is a symbol of the urge within the individual to recognize that life force or center of which their conscious ego, their personal "I", is a reflection.
The sun, then, is a symbol of the ego, in the sense that Jung employs the term. Ultimately, it is the vessel or vehicle for the totality of the psyche, the Self, to become manifest. As we have already noted, the chart does not show the Self, which is symbolized by the zodiacal wheel as a whole. The birth chart is only the route the ego takes, the particular quest of the individual Hero; and those qualities which the individual can potentially actualize in consciousness — their little share in the larger spectrum of life — are symbolized by the sign in which the sun is placed at birth.
Much unintentional damage has been done to astrology by sun-sign columns in newspapers and popular magazines, and unfortunately even the more serious astrological student is often caught in the same trap as the reader of such columns: the sun-sign is generally interpreted as a set of pre-existent and crystallized behavior patterns. We may read that if one is an Aries, one is headstrong, impulsive, rash and fond of challenge. If one is a Taurus, one is stable, reliable, sensuous, stubborn and fond of material well-being. And on and on. But it would be much more meaningful and more in keeping with the understanding of the psyche afforded by the work of analytical psychology, to see the sun not as a mere catalogue of character traits, but as that which one is striving to become, and what one is in potential, in essence.
In fact, this symbol of the fully integrated ego is rarely attained before the first thirty years of life are over; and the dawning of some real self-questioning usually follows on the heels of the 29-year crisis point called the Saturn return. Living out the full potential of the sun is a lifetime's journey. So we may say that your sun-sign does not "make" you anything in particular; rather, it symbolizes those energies, that particular myth, of which you are trying to learn how to become conscious, and trying to express in a creative way. It is each individual's task to make conscious and bring through the channel of his own unique individuality the meaning of the sun-sign symbolism, so that it is stamped with the mysterious essence of one's own Self.
Being born with the sun in Aries may not make a man headstrong and impulsive; but it suggests that he needs to cultivate a sense of the vitality of life, an ability to assert himself in the outside world, a capacity to initiate change and meet challenges creatively, if he is to become whole. At risk of oversimplifying, we may say that in a similar fashion the Taurus must learn to relate to the earthy world and build a sense of permanent worth in it; the Gemini must learn to develop his powers of intellectual discrimination so that he can learn more about the world around him; the Cancer must learn to open the flow of his feelings to others so that he can nurture the budding consciousness of those he loves; the Leo must learn to recognize through his creative efforts that center within himself which is the true creator and to which he must offer allegiance; the Virgo must learn to perfect, and refine himself as a vessel of service so that he can take his part in the transmutation of all that is base or undifferentiated in life; the Libra must learn how to recognize the opposites within his own nature and balance them so that he can relate to others; the Scorpio must learn to love and integrate his own darkness, so that he may heal the darkness around him; the Sagittarius must learn to see the underlying consistency in all human aspiration so that his sense of the meaningfulness of life experience can be taught to others; the Capricorn must learn to master his environment and then himself, so that he shines as an example of the power of human will; the Aquarius must learn to become conscious of the group life of which he is a part, so that he can offer his share in the growth of collective consciousness; and the Pisces must learn how to offer himself as a gift to the larger life. so that he can perform the work of salvaging what has been lost.
The sun-sign is hardly as personal as a set of behavior patterns, and will not make anybody anything. It is a symbol of that which needs to be attained. Most probably the individual will only attain it with difficulty.
It is well to bear in mind that the sun is not a personal point on the chart, in the sense of pertaining to personality behavior. It symbolizes the path, the goal, not the machine in which one travels — until such time as these become one thing. The sun is the heart of the human being, and how many of us truly know our hearts?
The planets, like all the symbolism in astrology, fall into two groups of masculine and feminine energies. The sun is considered to be a masculine planet, because it is associated with that side of life which concerns will, consciousness, decision, and impact on the environment — in other words, an active principle. As might be expected, it is more "accessible" to men than to women because it reflects an easier impulse for a man to make conscious. By the time they turn sixteen, most men are well aware of the necessity of having an individual identity; many women, on the other hand, are content to find their identity, during the first half of life, through their partners and family. The principle of self-fulfillment through radiating the light of the ego into the world is much more a prerogative of masculine consciousness than of feminine. In a woman's horoscope, therefore, the sun often suggests what she seeks from the masculine side of life, and from her men, in order to complete herself. But ideally, of course, both the masculine and feminine polarities of the chart need to be expressed by each individual. This is part of the challenge of our growing consciousness.
The sun reflects the urge within every human being to express themselves, and to grow into what they potentially are. The moon in contrast, symbolizes the urge towards unconsciousness, towards the past, and towards immersion in the flow of feeling which allows the individual to be part of the mass currents of life without undertaking the struggle required for self-consciousness. The moon is also a symbol of the mother, both personal and archetypal, and it is to this womb with its blessed security and safety that the lunar side of us longs to return. The moon portrays the urge to sink oneself into the experience of living, without having to evaluate or understand the experience; it also symbolizes the urge for comfort, and for the satisfaction of emotional needs. While the sun strives for differentiation, the moon strives for relationship and merging of identity. The sun eschews personal relationships in favor of developing the independent ego; the moon eschews identity in favor of relationships, and longs for the peace of the night in which all colors blend and everything sleeps. Esther Harding, in her book on the psychological meaning of moon symbolism, states:
"In the days of moon worship, religion was concerned with the unseen powers of the spirit world, and even when the state religion was transferred to the sun, a god of war, of personal aggrandizement, and of the things of this world, the spiritual qualities remained with the moon deities. For the worship of the moon is the worship of the creative and fecund powers of nature and of the wisdom that lies inherent in instinct and in the at-one-ness with natural law. But the worship of the sun is the worship of that which overcomes nature, which orders her chaotic fullness and harnesses her powers to the fulfilling of man's ends." [Woman's Mysteries, M. Esther Harding, Rider & Co., London, 1971.]
Sun and moon comprise a dyad of male and female on the birth chart which symbolizes the polarity of male and female within each individual, and the tension implicit between them is necessary. Without it there could be no consciousness and no life. Sun and moon are akin to the other paired symbols such as dark and light, spirit and matter, active and passive, mother and father, life and death, and every other pair of antitheses which constitute the great pillars sustaining the organism of life. These opposites encompass everything from the sublime to the ridiculous: the sun not only infers in every broad and deep way the individual's path to fulfillment, but also says something about the image they will project to the crowd; and the moon not only infers the path through which a person may re-establish contact with the life of nature that lies at the roots of their being, but also says something about the way they maintain their house and the sort of personal habits they display. This spectrum of meaning often confuses people about astrology: how can one symbol mean something so significant and so seemingly insignificant at the same time? But every symbol, by its very nature, always does; and moreover, we are dealing here with the archetypes, and the planets which symbolize them are the basic scaffolding of the individual's experience. Everything which belongs to them, from the shallowest to the most profound, will conform to the pattern.
We may discern in the moon's sign at birth something of the way in which the individual expresses themselves when not an individual, but a creature of instinct. In other words, the moon symbolizes the instinctual or non-rational nature. It also suggests by its placement on the birth chart that sphere of life wherein the individual seeks a symbolic sleep, an unconsciousness, an escape or refuge — which is most likely to be dominated by their needs rather than able to rely on their own will and their capacity for decision-making. One may observe the moon when the ego is not striving towards something — when a person relaxes into their instinctual response patterns.
An example may help to clarify the polarity of the sun and moon on an interpretive level. With the sun placed in a particular birth sign, the goals which are symbolized by that sign become part of the individual's aspirations in life in some way. When the moon is placed in a particular sign, the instinctual needs symbolized by that sign become part of the individual's requirements for emotional well-being. So, for example, we may see the person with the sun in Leo striving towards creative self-expression as a major goal in life, with a conscious valuing of honor, loyalty, integrity, and individual uniqueness. We may on the other hand see a person with the moon in Leo responding to life in an intuitively dramatic manner, with a less conscious need for show, acceptance, adoration and a stage on which to perform — not because they value these things, but because they require them to feel secure. The person with the sun in Leo will, if they are truly following their path, strive to become the highest and best that the figure of the Hero has to offer; the moon in Leo simply feels special and reacts accordingly, with a somewhat less discriminating — but more natural and relaxed — assortment of Leonine qualities to offer.
In general, the sun is a symbol of consciousness and the moon of the unconscious in a person's horoscope; and in a woman's the moon symbolizes consciousness and the sun the unconscious. There are exceptions, of course. They usually occur, for example, when a woman has a strong masculine bias, whether because she has a powerfully developed mind or because she is rebelling against her instincts. They also occur when a man has a strong feminine bias because he has powerfully developed feelings, or because he is rebelling against the necessity to struggle for individuality. But the sun and the moon are two halves of the same unity, and both are necessary in their appropriate places. It is the harmonious integration of these two symbols which the alchemists described in their cunjunctio or sacred marriage, and which in fairy tales is the end of the story, the hero and his beloved living happily ever after. As we have seen, however, it is a rare individual who can include all of themselves in their actualized experience. Instinct usually clashes with life's goals, because the goals are either too narrow or too difficult to achieve, or forbidden by society or one's own values; and the individual often feels they must choose between them, when what is really needed is a marriage between them so that both can be expressed as a living unity. If they cannot accomplish this inner marriage, how then can they expect to make a success of an outer one?
We come next to the planet Mercury, in astronomical terms the smallest and fastest planet in the solar system, in mythology a strange androgynous figure who possesses the keys to knowledge and who carries messages to and fro between the gods and between gods and men. Mercury, who is connected with the Greek Hermes, the Egyptian Thoth and the Norse or Teutonic Loki, is a symbol of the way in which we not only perceive, but order our perceptions so that they can be comprehended and communicated. He is primarily the symbol of the urge to understand, to integrate unconscious motive with conscious recognition. This planet does not represent the intellect, although he has been so described in older textbooks; for we must remember that there are other modes of perception besides the rational, which have not, in the past, been accorded much recognition. One may perceive and understand through the feelings, or the intuition, or the five senses. Mercury placed in Cancer at birth suggests a person who perceives through the unconscious and evaluates their perceptions through feeling; Mercury in Capricorn, on the other hand, perceives through their senses and accumulates facts in their rather hard head, evaluating their perceptions according to what has already been tried and proven. The planet is a symbol of the mode in which the individual becomes conscious of their environment as well as of themselves, and it also might be said to symbolize the urge to digest experience, to become aware.
Mercury is connected with the strange figure of Mercurius in medieval alchemy. This suggests that — although he is not considered to be particularly powerful or significant in traditional astrology, which generally relegates him to the definition of "communication" — there may be more to the planet than meets the eye. In alchemy, Mercurius is the great transformer; and perhaps we should recall that it is humanities' urge to understand which raises us above the other kingdoms of nature, which drives us to reflect upon our development and consequently to cooperate voluntarily with the unconscious in its striving toward further integration. Then we can begin to see why, in the Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky says, "Mercury and the sun are one," implying thereby the unity between the little microcosm of man's understanding and the great macrocosm of cosmic purpose. As the planet closest to the sun, Mercury is the sun's messenger, and while the sun is the symbol of the essence; Mercury is the symbol of that function which enables us to know the essence.
Mercury's sign position at birth suggests the way in which the individual learns, how they perceive and categorize or digest what they learn: what the method is by which they transmute experience into understanding. As messenger, Mercury is a symbol of the bridge between the Self and the ego, as well as between the ego and the environment; he is the great unifier, as well as the great destroyer. By his knife edge, the individual may either recognize the interconnection of all things, or sever themselves from all connections through a proliferation of isolated and meaningless data.
Venus and Mars
Venus and Mars, who were lovers in Greek and Roman mythology, are another male-female dyad. They are another way of expressing sun and moon, that is, yin and yang, or male and female. But here the basically feminine urge towards relating, harmonizing and adjusting in the sphere of personal relationships, plays a delicate counterpoint to the basically masculine urge towards conquest, towards severing and separating and asserting self over others to fulfill desire. Venus symbolizes the need which seeks to share with another, even to the point of being subsumed; Mars symbolizes the passion which seeks to expend itself on another, and to reach an objective goal. Mars desires; Venus is the urge to be desired. Venus allows us to recognize that we are in relationship with others and, by comparisons, seeks to discover the similarities; Mars enables us to impose our way despite others, and through self-assertion, exposes the differences.
The ancient astrological glyphs for these planets are now used as the biological symbols of male and female. These two "gods" are expressions of the great sun-moon polarity in a specialized form: they are the cosmic principles of light and dark, active and passive, acting specifically in the field of human relationships.
If the moon is the mother, Venus is the archetype of the lover or hetaira: these are two faces of woman. If the sun is the father, Mars is the conqueror: these are two faces of man. Each of us has all four of these faces, but we will choose to identify with one more than with the others; as D. H. Lawrence says, women are either wives or lovers, men either husbands or lovers. The expression of that urge which Venus symbolizes may be seen in the way a person adorns themselves, their personal taste, their response to beauty, and their social values; it may also be seen in what the individual values most in relationships, what they seek in the ideal partnership. The expression of the urge which Mars symbolizes may be seen in the way in which a person goes about getting what they want; the quality or mode of their desire is reflected by this planet, the manner in which they carry out the chase, and the form of expression their passions assume.
Because these two planets are so particularly important in interpersonal relationships, more will be said about them later. The same general law seems to apply here as with sun and moon: for men, Mars is a more accessible energy, while for women, Venus is more accessible. In consequence, as with sun and moon, the planet antithetical in its energy to the sex of the individual will usually be projected upon a suitable object in interpersonal relationships, and the individual will try to live out his transsexual side through his partner Often the sign in which Venus is placed, on a man's chart, will describe what he seeks in a woman as ideal lover; and the sign in which Mars is placed, on a woman's chart, will describe what she seeks in a man. A woman with Mars in Capricorn, for example, may find the qualities of earthiness, ambition, strength of will arid determination sexually attractive in a mate; a man with Venus in Pisces may find the qualities of sympathy, compassion, gentleness, imaginativeness and forgivingness lovable in a woman.
Jupiter and Saturn
With this pair of planets we leave behind the sphere of the personal drives and impulses. Sun, moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars are called personal planets because they symbolize urges which manifest in a personal way; they are ego oriented, in terms of the psychic energies they symbolize, and are relatively easily available to consciousness, allowing for the difficulties of integrating the opposites. The realm of Jupiter and Saturn, both kings of the gods in ancient mythology, takes the individual outside the Sphere of his personal ego-consciousness, and he begins to establish contact with that which is transpersonal — both inside arid outside him. Jupiter and Saturn are the great explorers, the guardians at the gate of the personal world; they are both two-faced, one face looking within and one looking without, and both symbolize urges to transcend the limited confines of the little self. One goes up and the other down; they are, respectively, like the carrot which leads the donkey on by promising him future possibilities of reward, and the stick which drives him to move because it is too painful to stand still. Obviously we tend to prefer the carrot to the stick, and are inclined to value luck more than pain: but both these planets symbolize, in opposite ways. urges towards growth of consciousness. It might be said that Jupiter is a masculine urge, and Saturn a feminine one; this is because Jupiter, a god of the heavens and of the thunderstorm, is connected with the "upper" regions of the intuitive mind, while Saturn, a Titan and a god of the earth, is connected with the "lower" regions of the personal unconscious, the dark side of human nature. Both are necessary and create between them yet another variation on the theme of light and dark, this time transferred to the sphere of realization of meaning.
As the symbol of Saturn will be more fully covered later not much will be said about him now. Jupiter, however, merits some further description. This planet is connected with what may be termed the religious urge in man, an urge which Freud and his followers felt was merely a sublimation of the sexual instinct but which Jung has shown to be as basic a drive within the human being as any of the biological impulses. Man needs not only to survive, and to propagate his species; he also needs to know that somehow, somewhere, there is a pattern to life, an intrinsic order and meaning, a whole of which he must have at least some dim intuitive cognizance if he is to maintain any capacity for hope and for growth. It may be that we have created God; but we cannot create that of which we have no experience even if it is an unconscious one, and Jupiter may be said to symbolize the need to experience the numinous. the divine, through projecting it out of ourselves and into symbolic forms which we then worship and call deity. The sign in which Jupiter is placed on an individual's birth chart suggests the way in which he seeks this experience of meaning in life. An individual with Jupiter in Virgo might, for example, seek to experience a sense of meaning through his work, because his work may provide a kind of ritual, a rhythmic self-purification and self-refinement which allows him to become conscious of a larger pattern. Because Jupiter seeks to expand experience so that its meaning shines through its form, Jupiter in Virgo will seek greater means to develop himself through his work, so that he can make something "big" of it and feel that it holds significance of a kind larger than satisfying the demands of necessity. This planet symbolizes the myth-making principle, in the most positive sense of the word "myth".
Jupiter is thus connected with the urge within the psyche to create symbols, and this takes us into profound depths when we consider the creative power that has shaped the great myths, legends, and religions of the world. It is no less a creative power that shapes the symbolism of our dreams, so that each dream is a masterpiece of meaning and could not be altered in any way for improvement. In this way Jupiter is truly a god of the gateway, for he forms a link between conscious and unconscious through the creation and intuitive understanding of symbols. As we have seen, symbols are the primordial language of life; and Jupiter symbolizes the function which both creates them within man and intuits their meaning.
The Outer Planets
Once we have passed the boundaries of Saturn, we are in the realm of the collective unconscious — the repository of the archetypal images — and of urges which not only have little to do with personality drives, but in fact are often inimical to them. One could almost consider the inner, personal planets and the outer, transpersonal planets as yet another pair of opposites, symbolizing respectively the life of the ego and the life of the larger matrix from which the ego, with its illusion of separateness springs.
The urges which the three known outer planets symbolize are rarely available to the consciousness of the individual; for they all mark the transition from one phase of consciousness to another, and consciousness cannot apprehend such transitions. It can only apprehend the phase in which it is functioning at a given moment. Saturn is the great Lord of Boundaries and the Master of Illusion, playing the part of Lucifer and whispering to us that the personal, world we experience is the perimeter of reality, to penetrate beyond which is at best foolish and at worst mad. Often we believe the whisper, and identify with what we call "objective" reality, failing to see that it is completely subjective and that we are only creating our own interpretations of life. And like Lucifer, who — as Goethe points out — is secretly the right hand of God, Saturn urges us to identify more and more with our interpretations, so that eventually we isolate ourselves so completely that we are indeed in Hell — a hell of dissociation from the deepest underlying currents of life. In this way Saturn is the great teacher, disguised as the bringer of pain and limitation, for it is only at the point of darkness and decay — which the alchemists called the nigredo or the Caput Mortuum, The Dead Head, the first stage of the alchemical work — that we become aware of the Other within us, the true creative power of the Self. This may sound more and more like the mystic's vision; yet it is a psychological process empirically observable in any individual's life — although the ways in which people actualize it are very different.
Uranus and Neptune form another male-female dyad, Uranus being the masculine pole and Neptune the feminine; and we can. learn much about these planets, or "gods", when we look at their personifications in mythology. Uranus is the ancient god of the heavens, husband to his mother Gaia, the earth, and grandson of Chaos, the primordial night out of which manifest reality — or consciousness — emerged. Uranus is a symbol of the world of archetypal ideas, the underlying patterns of what in certain theological thought is called the Mind of God and what in Platonic doctrine is the scaffolding of divine Ideas which support the fabric of the universe. It is no wonder that we have a difficult time coming to terms with what this planet means in the individual psyche.
In the individual chart, Uranus, the first god of the heavens and the spirit, seems to personify the need within the psyche to break free of identification with material reality and to experience the world of archetypal mind. So in traditional astrology Uranus is said to symbolize the urge for change, for freedom, for invention and liberation, and for development of the mind beyond the realm of concrete thought bound by facts and empirical knowledge. Uranus has been called the Awakener, because the urge he symbolizes, like all unconscious contents, is projected. It appears to come back to the individual as a sudden event emanating from "without" which rips away the fabric of what he has previously identified as his reality, often in a highly painful way. At the same time, it allows him to glimpse the underlying collective idea upon which his small personal experience has been built. That the individual himself attracts this kind of experience usually escapes his realization; it looks more like the hand of "fate". But one must recognize that his own psyche is his fate, if he is to understand the meaning of what has happened to him and utilize the experience as it needs to be utilized — as an awakening into larger consciousness.
It is less "coincidental" than synchronous that Uranus, a symbol connected with liberation, freedom and invention, was "discovered" in 1781. That year falls between two great political revolutions — both of which involved ideas of liberty, equality and freedom of the individual from the limitations of hereditary, privilege or penalty — and at the dawn of what we call the industrial age, which, through the power of the mind to discover, master and apply technologically the laws of the physical universe, sought to free man from his bondage to matter. It may seem inconceivable that the discovery of a planet could have any connection with the Age of Technology and with the American and French revolutions; but we must remember that the discovery of the planet did not "cause" these events to take place. It simply mirrored their occurrence. The same alterations in consciousness which produced both the revolutions and the urge for scientific discovery and application also produced the technical means by which the physical planet became visible to the conscious sight of man; and the planets symbolic meaning, in turn, pertains to that spirit of adventure and exploration and liberation which made all these physical events possible. The planet and the state of the world at the time of its discovery reflect each other: they are synchronous.
Freedom from identification with a particular experience, or aspect of an experience, may apply to anything. One may experience Uranus in the urge to change one's understanding of oneself, one's work. one's beliefs, or one's relationships. Relationships are experiences which each individual interprets in his own way — and there is within the psyche of each individual an urge to constantly change his interpretations, so that they may become more inclusive and more conscious.
In Greek and Roman mythology, Uranus — or Ouranos — is the father of Saturn (Cronos), and Saturn, an earth god goaded on by his earthy mother, castrated his father and seized the latter's throne. It is said that these events transpired because Uranus was horrified at his progeny; he was a god of the upper regions; and recoiled from the dark, earthbound creatures which he created. One may intuit many things from this fragment of the myth. Saturn's act of violence against his father brought to an end the rule of heaven, and began the rule of the earthy Titans; and we may have seen the same pattern enacted in human civilization throughout our thousands of years of history.
But if we read further, we find that from the drops of blood spilled from the terrible wound upon the earth, the Erinyes, the Furies or goddesses of justice and retribution (karma) arose; and from the severed genitals, cast into the ocean, rose Aphrodite-Venus, goddess of love and beauty and, astrologically, symbol of the urge for relationship. It would seem that through relating, we may find a path through which to bring alive again — or make conscious — the world of the heavens. One cannot comprehend the language of mythology with the intellect alone; it must be heard with the intuition, and with the heart, and only then will it yield its secrets. When one considers this trinity of planets — Uranus, Saturn and Venus — on the birth chart, in the light of the myth, something is implied about a process, a cycle, which exists within each individual psyche. We may also look at the well-known fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast, where the Beast steals Beauty from her father and keeps her imprisoned until she learns to love him for his own sake; for this too tells us about the same process. Something within us disowns something else and that which is disowned wreaks vengeance. It is a question of painful, often violent, confrontation with ourselves — with our origins and birthright, with what we are and what we engender or create. But from this discordant clash, the possibility for a new harmony and integration arises.
In contrast to the god of the heavenly regions. Neptune is a water deity, and although he is a male figure in mythology, the energy he personifies is feminine. God of the oceans and the depths — and, as Poseidon-Hippios, lord of earthquakes and of the underground waterways of the earth — Neptune is a symbol of the sea of collective feeling which moves us from below to immerse ourselves in the mass, offering up our hard-won and precarious individuality so that we may purify ourselves through dissolution. One may see glimpses of this energy at work in any mob, motivated by a single emotional focus: there are no longer any individuals in a mob, only a single seething organism motivated by one dominant emotion which must release itself — often violently — before individuality can be reclaimed. It would seem that the urge for this kind of disintegration of individual consciousness exists in all of us, and it is a highly infectious thing — one need only go to a football match to see a relatively manifestation of it, or to consider Germany forty years ago to find a manifestation rather more sinister.
Neptune is also connected with Dionysius, god of ecstasy, and the holy ecstasy of immersion in the depths was once a part of most ancient mystery rituals. In some way the individual who experienced this "blessing of the god" was purified, born anew, and cleansed of his past; he could offer all that he had accumulated of himself to the god and would be washed ashore naked, ready to begin a new stage of his journey. Although one face of Neptune is unquestionably destructive to what we call civilization, another face is deeply necessary to the psyche, for the experience of cleansing through immersion in the sea of the unconscious is truly a religious experience, in the profoundest sense of that term — which, from the Latin root, means to reconnect. On a very small scale, we perform this ritual each night, when we offer up consciousness and descend into the unconscious to "sleep".
One may also see Neptune at work in all symbols of the collective feeling life which we call fashion. Whether it is a "fashion of music, of dress, of ideas, or of art, the irresistible urge to do what everybody else is doing is present in all of us — much as some of us fight it, at times quite justifiably, because it reduces the supremacy of the individual ego. In these transient fashions which sweep cultures — and often religious beliefs have the quality of a fashion as well — we may see symbols of the currents of underground feeling life, perpetually shifting and changing as do the currents of the ocean. In many ways it is a healing experience to be swept away by these currents for a time, because through it one discovers respect for the power of the unconscious and develops a more balanced perspective on the role of the ego:
On the individual birth chart. Neptune symbolizes the urge towards sacrifice of the personal "I", and sacrifice of personal feeling to the collective feeling life. There are archetypal ideas, and there are archetypal feelings — and Neptune personifies the latter, which we all at some time experience. Fantasy, romance, glamour, ecstasy, the mystical vision — all these are Neptune, and while a steady diet of any one thing is in the end destructive, these aspects of reality are necessary to the psyche and need room for expression in the personal life.
Neptune, like Uranus, is usually unconscious in the majority of individuals. How could the ego be conscious of that which seeks to undermine its supremacy, indeed its very foundations? This would be an admission that other forces exist within the psyche besides the personal will, which is a most uncomfortable admission for the ego. So Neptune, like Uranus, is usually projected and is experienced as an event which the individual has unconsciously attracted into his life and which again assumes the appearance of "fate". Neptunian "events" are generally those that entangle the individual in a situation to whose implications he is in some way blind. Inconsequence, he finds himself powerless at a certain point to do anything except sacrifice some long-cherished desire. He is subjected to a level of collective feeling which changes him, purifies him, and holds him in bondage for a time, gently releasing him afterward and leaving him the same, yet different, for he has been touched by the power of the god and cannot, ever again, honestly say to himself that his feelings are wholly under his own control.
Neptune was discovered in 1846, with an ambiguity which is so characteristic of the quality of the symbol: there were two discoverers, and a considerable amount of confusion about who was responsible for what. Coincident with the discovery was the emergence of widespread interest in spiritualism and psychic phenomena, hypnosis, suggestion and free association, and the real beginnings of that exploration which was gradually refined, tested, checked and rechecked, until it eventually emerged as psychoanalysis, the study of the unconscious psyche of man. Also coincident was a wave of traumatic revolutions that swept like a sea across the whole of Europe, that irreparably undermined the established order, yet were less coherent, more inchoate than those, of the previous century. With the discovery of Neptune, revolution — often for its own sake — itself became a "fashion".
It is fitting that we should give to the outermost planet now known in our solar system the name of the ancient Lord of the Underworld, and it is also fitting that astronomers are not even certain whether Pluto is truly a planet, or a lost moon from some other heavenly body. There is also much ambiguity about Pluto because his density is far out of proportion to his small size, which may suggest that he is actually much larger than we have so far been able to ascertain with our telescopes. Pluto keeps this character in mythology, residing under the earth, presiding over the dead and over the riches of the earth, never venturing above ground except when he is wearing his magical helmet, which renders him invisible to the eyes of man. In the myths of every nation, as well as in many fairy tales, there is a Lord of the Dead, and this symbol appears to be connected with the archetypal experience of beginnings and endings, death and rebirth. Joseph Campbell, in his book Creative Mythology, states:
". . .This ground of being, which is both giver and taker of the forms that appear and disappear in space and time, though dark indeed, cannot be termed evil unless the world itself is to be so termed. The lesson of Hades-Pluto is not that our mortal part is ignoble, but that within it — or at one with it — is that immortal Person whom the Christians split into God and the Devil and think of as 'out there'." (Creative Mythology, Joseph Campbell, Souvenir Press. 1974, London.)
The "giver and taker of the forms that appear and disappear in space and time" is that archetype of ceaselessly cycling death and rebirth personified by the planet Pluto, and the process of endless journey and return exists in every aspect of life. The life inherent in all forms is always life; but life, because it is ceaselessly changing, inevitably outgrows every form, which in turn must die so that life can be released into anew birth, and into a new form. Nature can tell us about this archetypal process in a myriad ways, and if one looks at one's own life, one can see that every experience, every attitude, every relationship, every feeling, every idea — everything, in fact — has a beginning, a middle, an end, and a new beginning in some other form. We instinctively shy away from this cycle, because, like Faust, we want certain moments to last forever. Change is acceptable if it is pleasant but when that inevitable phase of the cycle of change comes which necessitates passage into the darkness, we drawback: we have no trust in the Lord of the Dead. In many ways the Christian era has robbed us of our understanding of him, because Christianity, shrinking from the prospect of perpetual renewal, has fixed our attention on a single fixed afterlife comprising either punishment or reward — has substituted a state of ultimately stagnant stasis for the vital and dynamic process.
The ego, in characteristic fashion, wishes to believe that life is consistent. Fortunately or unfortunately, however, the only consistent thing in it is change. Pluto, in consequence, symbolizes an urge within the psyche which is usually unconscious, and like Uranus and Neptune, the planet appears to operate through experiences which "happen" to the individual and which in some way force him to undergo a death within himself. There is always rebirth after death, and the new form is always greater than the old; but when put to the test, the majority of individuals do not believe this, and feel they have irretrievably lost something. Usually it is some thing (or someone) to whom there is an intense emotional bond, and through which, in some way, the individual is living a part of his life — a part that should be retrieved so that he can live it out for himself. In some way the bond is lost, the relationship changed, and there is the experience of a death. And if one seeks, among these ashes he will find a new perspective and a new birth.
Pluto is especially significant in the sphere of relationships, for it is in this sphere that so many people undergo emotional deaths and rebirths. Pluto is also connected with sexuality, in the sense that the sexual act signifies — or symbolizes, in potential — the death of the sense of individual separateness in the experience of "the other" and of the new creative life force flowing through both. The creation of new life always involves a death of some kind, a change in one's psychological attitude; the procreation of children will inevitably produce this kind of change in the psyche, for one has changed from the child to the parent who has given birth to a child, and a new phase of life has begun. Death also, in its most literal form, is the domain of Pluto, for death while being the end of one cycle, marks the beginning of a new one. Although the West as a whole is slow to consider the principle of reincarnation, many great individual minds — and Eastern thought in general — have found it acceptable for many centuries, either as a literal experience or as a symbol of the eternal livingness of being, "ls-ness", shining through the transience of individual cycles of life and death.
Pluto is a symbol of the urge for self-transformation. In other words, there exists within the psyche an impulse towards growth, which necessitates the constant changing of the forms through which growth is accomplished. The individual must grow, whether he wishes to or not, and the cycle of growth requires a period of death, decay, new germination, gestation, and new birth. The whole of nature upholds this principle. That man should reject it, and attempt to deny it, is characteristic of the loss of contact with the roots of life which is so typical of the time in which we live.
Like Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, alchemy describes the process which astrology calls Pluto in a very beautiful mythologem. There is a king, says the alchemical symbolism, who is old, barren, and can no longer rule effectively because he has lost the power to create new life. His lands are fruitless and his people dying of starvation and thirst. He must first perform a sacred marriage - to his mother, or sister, or daughter, the incest theme suggesting that it is a marriage of two energies or principles which issue from the same source. He must then descend into the depths of the sea, or beneath the earth, to consummate the union. At the moment of the ecstasy of consummation, he dies, and is torn to pieces and devoured by the dark woman with whom he has united. The queen becomes pregnant, and after her period of gestation, brings forth a new life - who is the king, but the king reborn, his youth and virility restored, a new life flowing through him and all that he rules.
(1)Psychology and Alchemy, C. G. Jung, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London,1953.
"Only that which can destroy itself is truly alive."(2)Ibid.
The planets, as we have seen, are symbols of the powers of the unconscious; they symbolize archetypal experiences or energies, which exist in all of life and exist also within man, who is part of life. Once we have learned the vocabulary of the planets, and their meaning on the individual birth chart, we can look at the chart and get some intimation of how each of these energies will express itself individually. The sign in which a planet is placed is like the adjective on a noun, the garment worn on the body: it manifests the mode or quality of the planets expression. We can now begin to learn something of the zodiacal signs themselves, and their division into a polarity of male and female, further amplified into a quaternity of four elements. This basic structure of four is, as we will see, also archetypal, and we must return to our exploration of the psyche through the eye of the psychologist to gain greater insight into the realms of air, water, earth and fire.