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Fundamentals of Archetypal Astrology

Many people may wonder where to begin in regards to learning the language of astrology. One fundamental piece to the puzzle is understanding the archetypes of each planet, sign, and house. My basis of astrological understanding has developed from six years of continuous observation of the planets in transit as they aspect my natal planets. Each of the aforementioned underlined words represents a key component to developing a solid grip on archetypal astrology.

You may wonder, what is it that makes astrology 'archetypal?' Or what is an archetype in the first place? An archetype as understood psychologically and developed by Carl Jung and his school of thought, with modifications coming later through the writing of James Hillman, is a cohesive pattern, a bunched-up mixture of things which together create a composite metaphor or mytheme. Archetypes can contain oppositions within, and are difficult to define in a single word. However, some common archetypes such as 'The Mother,' 'The Trickster,' 'The Wise Elder,' and 'The Healer' can be easily understood.

In astrology, the planets are the major bearers or archetypal information. Without even jumping into what sign or house a planet is passing through, the celestial bodies themselves represent powerful core experiences in human life. In future posts, I plan to dedicate space to each planet, but for now, I will summarize the basic archetypal structures of each (traditional) planet.

  • Sun: The Self, Vitality, Ego, Being-ness, The 'I.'

  • Moon: Emotional Nature, Moods, Space of Comfort, Self-Nurturing.

  • Mercury: Mind, Intellect, Communications, Cognitions, Language, Plans, Logic.

  • Venus: Intimacy, Relationships, Friendship, Gentle Love, Luxury, Lusciousness.

  • Mars: Assertion, Drive, Actions, Force, Power, Doing-ness.

  • Jupiter: Expansion, Growth, Learning, Success, Luck, Broadening Horizons.

  • Saturn: Challenge, Hard Work, Duties, Responsibility, Labor, Concrete Gain.

  • Uranus: Spontaneity, Revolution, Sudden Moves, Innovation, The Unexpected, The Unique, Electricity, Shock, Breakthrough.

  • Neptune: Dreams, Fantasies, Illusions, Spirituality, Compassion, Oneness, Intoxication, Lost-ness, Confusion, Memories, Deceit.

  • Pluto: Transformation, Upheaval, Crisis, Death & Rebirth, Creation & Destruction, Manipulation

Without the knowledge of what these core planets embody energetically, it can be hard to start comprehending astrology. For a deeper analysis of each of these planets and the roles that each have played throughout human history's most pivotal moments, check out Cosmos And Psyche by Richard Tarnas, and stay tuned to my blog for more.

In addition to the archetypes the planets embody, each sign and house portray a different aspect of human expression. To define astrological signs and astrological houses simply, a sign is the unique expression of a planet's particular archetype, whereas a house is the unique field in which that expression occurs. The signs and the houses replicate similar archetypes, with the signs moving from Aries to Pisces and the houses moving from House 1 to House 12, (with Aries as 1 and Pisces as 12). So for now, I will give a brief description of each of these archetypes of character.

  • Aries/House 1: The Self-Starter, Warrior, Spontaneous Creator, Selfhood, Burst of Inner Flame, Me-ness.

  • Taurus/House 2: Security, Values, Self-Protection, Stability, Safety, Grounded, Stubborn, Strong, Tactile, Financial Resources.

  • Gemini/House 3: Intellectual, Awareness of Paradox, Communicator, Wordplay, Short Travels, Breadth of Knowledge, Quick Wit.

  • Cancer/House 4: Sensitive, Home-Centered, Emotional, Mothering, Caring, Rememberer, Nurturing.

  • Leo/House 5: Performer, Self-Expression, Pride, Self-Power, Confidence, Regality, Fun, Children, Playful.

  • Virgo/House 6: Self-Care, Healer, Detail-Worker, Critical Mind, Service, Health & The Body.

  • Libra/House 7: Partnerships, Harmony, Balance, Art, Beauty, Connection, Tranquility, Mediator.

  • Scorpio/House 8: Transformer, Intensity, Sexuality, The Occult and Taboo, Death & Rebirth, Other's Resources, Depth.

  • Sagittarius/House 9: Higher Knowledge, Wisdom, Long-Distance Travel, Cultural Understanding, Education, The Vagrant.

  • Capricorn/House 10: Career, Vocation, Public Face, Tradition, Determined for Success, Practical, Responsibilities.

  • Aquarius/House 11: Innovator, Radical, Rebel, Group Dynamics, Pure Individual, Genius, Freedom, Social Justice.

  • Pisces/House 12: Mystic, Lost Soul, Shapeshifter, Dreamer, Wise Elder, Compassion, Openness.

All of us have each of these archetypes within us, to varying degrees, and in varying relations. This is where aspects can come into play. Aspects are degree angles between the placement of two or more planets. For example, if a person was born with their natal Sun in Gemini in the 5th house, they may find their sense of self to be very intellectual and willing to learn and communicate, particularly in the field of performance, the arts, a position that requires confidence, or work with children. Now, if they also happen to have their natal Saturn in Virgo in the 8th house, that would form a 90 degree angle aspect to their Sun, also known as a "square." Squares can be challenging aspects, and this person may find that they have a strong sense of responsibility to take care of their own body, watch their health, or to serve others, particularly in the realm of sexuality, other people's finances, or all that is too taboo to be spoken of. They might make a great tantric practitioner or teacher, but the square aspect will force them to constantly re-evaluate their sense of purpose.

In addition to the aspects and degree angles (more of this to come later) that can be found in the acute observation of one's birth chart, the planets are always currently in transit, making squares, oppositions, conjunctions and trines to each other in the sky above, resulting in experiences that affect the collective human experience. These transiting planets also create aspects to our natal planets, which can add perspective to our own phases of life that we are continuously passing through. Faster planets such as the Moon make brief aspects that hold their orb for about half a day, while a planet such as Neptune may make a sextile (60 degree) aspect to one's Mars for two years!

This already might feel like a lot of information. I urge you to take it in at your own pace, and if you don't understand something, websites such as astro.com and cafeastrology can be great resources. I am always happy to teach you whatever you wish to know via an analysis of your chart! When all else fails, stick with the sensation of not knowing. A lot can come from having patience with yourself and the process of learning archetypal astrology, for it is a lifetime's work. Stay tuned for more posts from me!

Southwest, copyright Greg Tilden 2017