PsychologyDecember 20, 2022

The Meaning of Archetypal Astrology

Archetypal astrology is a psychological approach to understanding the impact of celestial movements on human behavior and personality. It is based on the belief that the positions of the planets at the time of a person’s birth can influence their life and character.

Through the study of planetary archetypes and their relationship to the human psyche, archetypal astrology can help individuals free themselves from unknown influences and gain a deeper understanding of their true selves. Read on to learn about the role of the zodiac in archetypal astrology, planetary archetypes, aspects, and transits, and how understanding them can be used in self-transformation.

Archetypal Astrology: A Path to Self-Discovery

Archetypal astrology is a psychological approach to astrology that the philosopher and psychologist Richard Tarnas proposed. It is based on the assumption that the positions of the planets at the time of a person’s birth can provide insights into that person’s life and character.

Exploring the planetary archetypes serves the same mission that is at the heart of depth psychology, uncovering the unknown forces that can govern our lives. In the case of depth psychology, practitioners illuminate the contents of the unconscious, but in the case of archetypal astrology, they study the planetary archetypes in relationship with human life.

According to Tarnas, the study of archetypal astrology can help us unshackle ourselves from unknown influences that might lurk in the shadows of our lives and guide us to know our true self and how it relates to the world.

Many consider astrology to be a pseudoscience due to the lack of empirical evidence supporting it. Even the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung who was highly interested in the subject, critiqued the lack of scientific evidence surrounding astrology. However, he still studied astrology deeply and used hundreds of charts to analyze certain events, concluding that some of the predictions he made with the use of astrology couldn’t be random occurrences.

For all it seems, archetypal astrology isn’t to be taken so seriously, but as Jung pointed out, it is a projection of the human psyche, and it was considered a fundamental practice used to understand the psyche and the world back in ancient times. Suspending disbelief for a brief moment and being open to learning about it could lead to gaining new insights related to the human psyche and yourself.

How archetypal astrology works

A rustic spiral containing the twelve zodiac signs

Universal themes and patterns influence human life and the world.

To understand how archetypal psychology works, we must first define what an archetype is. An archetype is a universal concept or force that influences at various levels human behavior, thought, and emotion.

These universal concepts might take different forms, such as instincts, transcendental principles, or even gods. The famous psychologist Carl Jung believed that archetypes were fundamental components of the human mind, shared cross-culturally and originating from the collective unconsciousness. According to Jung, archetypes can manifest as myths, symbols, and dreams.

On the other hand, Platonists - those following the philosophy of Plato - popularized a belief system in which the archetypes were not just psychological but also cosmic, being part of a universal order that is above the individual human experience. Astrology supports this notion and describes the relationship between celestial movements and the human psyche. It also gives credit to the idea of a universal soul of which the human psyche is an integral part. Based on this viewpoint, the cosmos and psyche are deeply connected.

Astrologists look at the placement of stars and planets within our solar system at the time of an individual’s birth and create a holistic picture of a person’s personality, potential, and challenges. These narratives provide guidance as to how people could use the archetypal energy associated with their birth to lead meaningful lives.

The role of the zodiac in archetypal astrology

The zodiacs are a band of constellations through which the sun, moon, and other planets appear to move. Each of the 12 zodiac signs is associated with an area within this band, and each area is associated with a specific archetype, all of which can be used as a basis for examining the personality traits and characteristics of a person.

The archetypes of the zodiac include Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Libra, Virgo, Cancer, Leo, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Each of these archetypes is linked to specific and unique aspects of human experience, such as the relationship of a human with his own self, others, and the world.

For example, an individual born under the sign of Aries, which is associated with the Warrior's archetype, is said to exhibit traits such as assertiveness in relationships with others, courage to take the initiative, and persistence in the face of challenges.

On the other hand, an individual born with the sign of Cancer, which is associated with the archetype of the Caregiver, may manifest personality traits such as sensitivity and compassion. Those with the zodiac sign Cancer may be nurturing and tend to put the needs of others before their own.

Understanding the archetypal forms of the zodiac can help us gain insight into how these universal themes might influence an individual’s life and personality. In order to have a complete picture of archetypal complexes influencing a person’s life, an astrologist will analyze a person’s natal chart in relationship with multiple planetary positions, aspects, and world transits.

The influence of the planets on archetypal astrology

Within the zodiac, the positions of the planets in the solar system at the time of a person's birth are said to provide important insights into a person’s character, challenges, and opportunities. Each planet, including the Sun, Moon, Saturn, Uranus, and others, corresponds to a specific archetype. Their position can indicate how that archetype manifests in a person's life.

For example, the Sun is seen as the embodiment of vital energy and self-awareness in a person’s birth chart. It is thought to be the central force of an individual’s psyche, similar to its role as the center of the solar system. The Sun is associated with one’s sense of self, personal identity, and ability to assert one’s will. In myths and stories, the Sun is often associated with the hero archetype. It is characterized by having a yang or masculine energy that stays in contrast with the Moon, which is associated with a yin or feminine energy. When the Sun forms a strong connection with another planet in a person’s chart, it highlights the importance and influence of that planet in their life.

Mercury is another planetary archetype linked to the workings of the mind. This particular archetype governs the ability to understand and express oneself. The messenger of the gods from Greek mythology, Hermes, is typically associated with the planet Mercury. A strong connection between Mercury and another planet in a person’s natal chart highlights the importance and influence of that planet regarding one’s mental process, communication style, nature of education, and intellectual vision.

Examining the natal chart for personal insight

An individual’s natal chart, or birth chart, is a powerful tool for self-discovery when analyzed through the lens of archetypal astrology. Each planet, sign, and aspect in the chart is linked to a specific archetypal energy. The energies are interconnected, and together they shape the unique personality, potential, and motivations of a person. Through the exploration of the archetypal patterns of one’s natal chart, we can gain a profound understanding of the person’s strengths, weaknesses, and life purpose.

Someone with a natal chart showing a strong emphasis on the archetype energy of the rebel, such as having Uranus in a prominent position, may be inclined to question social norms, challenge authority, and carve their own path in life.

Whether the associations shown in one’s chart are viewed as legitimate or speculative, these archetypes encourage thoughtful self-analysis, which can be used for a deeper understanding of the mind.

Relationships between planets

Investigating the aspects between planets can provide valuable information regarding an individual’s behavioral patterns and potential areas for personal growth. An aspect refers to the way in which planets align with one another in space, measured by the angles between them.

Understanding this alignment helps astrologists consider how different aspects might interact with one another. For instance, a challenging aspect between Saturn and Uranus (approx. 180 degrees) can indicate a personal struggle between the need for structure and stability alongside the desire for innovation and freedom. Understanding these aspects can help a person find a balance between harmonious or conflicting energies and grow as a person.

Planet transits

Tracking the movement of planets in relation to one’s natal chart provides insight into the potential timing of certain events and experiences in one’s life. This is known as the study of transit and is considered one of the most significant and practical applications of astrology. Through the analysis of the current positions of the planets and the positions of these planets at the time of one's birth, astrologists believe it is possible to reasonably forecast the individual’s experiences.

For example, a planet such as Jupiter travels through our solar system, and it will form various aspects with the planets belonging to each person’s natal chart. A trine indicates a period of good luck, opportunity, and growth. A square indicates a time of tests and challenges.

A tool for self-transformation

Spread out on a table are various drawings of astrological symbols, herbs, notebooks, palo santo incense, and a person’s hands drawing a diagram.

Archetypal astrology can be used to gain deeper insights into your personality, character, and life.

The basic principle behind archetypal astrology is that the configurations of stars and planets within our cosmos while existing hundreds of thousands or even lightyears away, may influence the human experience on a very personal level.  Astrology makes the case that the human psyche is connected to the collective unconscious and the cosmos itself. It aims to help people see that life is not disconnected from the rest of the universe and that it is, in fact, an integral part of it.

Understanding the influence of planetary archetypes, signs, aspects, and transits can help people identify potential areas for personal growth, their inherent strengths, and their higher purpose.

Whether the information provided through the means of archetypal astrology is reliable, the topic is up for debate. Those interested in the subject find it useful to use the tools provided by astrology to analyze their personality. Even if the information provided is not accurate, the process of analyzing your personality and your psyche can contribute to a journey toward finding true methods for self-understanding and self-transformation.

To learn more about the archetypes explored here and how they might provide intriguing insights, consider checking our Psychology Program Overview or speak with an Admission Advisor to learn more about our programs.

People Also ask

What is an archetype in astrology?

In astrology, the concept of archetype refers to a vast array of symbols, behavioral patterns, motivations, and intentions associated with the human psyche and represented by astrological signs and planets. Each archetype has unique characters and symbolism. The Sun represents consciousness and the self, the Moon represents emotions and the subconscious, Mars represents drive and aggression, and Venus represents love and relationships.

Understanding the archetypal influences linked to one’s natal chart can prompt reflection on an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, leading to personal growth. Astrological archetypes are not limited to planetary influences but also include signs, aspects, and transits, which each shape a person’s supposed personality and may influence events in one’s life. For example, an individual born under the sign of Aries is thought to be courageous, to take the initiative, and to be persistent in the face of challenges.

Archetypes provide a path for self-discovery and understanding of the behavioral patterns and energies that shape our lives and connections to one another.

What did Carl Jung say about astrology?

The famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung had an interest in astrology but also critiqued it. He saw astrology as no more than a projection of the psyche, where the position of the planets and stars reflect the inner workings of the mind and the collective unconscious. Jung believed that astrological symbols and archetypes could be used to understand human behavioral patterns and the unconscious.

Astrology inspired Jung to create the concept of “synchronicity,” which refers to coincidences between events in one’s psyche and the real world that appear unrelated and yet have some unknown connection. For example, talking about a friend and meeting him on the same day would seem coincidental, but synchronicity suggests there could be a reason for this unexpected meeting.

Jung pointed out that astrology as a cultural phenomenon had a psychic effect on society and individuals, especially in ancient times. He saw the value in the symbolic and psychological dimensions of astrology, but he was also critical of its limitations and how it was used.

What is a planetary archetype?

A planetary archetype refers to a set of characteristics and symbolism associated with planets in astrology. Every planet is believed to represent an archetype that reflects certain universal human traits and experiences. These are the planets and corresponding archetypes:

  • Sun (consciousness, self, ego)
  • Moon (emotions, subconscious, nurturing)
  • Mercury (communication, intelligence, adaptation)
  • Venus (love, pleasure, beauty)
  • Mars (aggression, anger, drive)
  • Jupiter (expansion, optimism, higher wisdom)
  • Saturn (restriction, discipline, responsibility)
  • Uranus (change, freedom, innovation)
  • Neptune (spiritual transcendence, imagination)
  • Pluto (transformation, power, intense and hidden aspects of psyche)

By understanding the planetary archetypes, we can gain a deeper insight into how the archetypal energies could shape our personality, character, and behavior. For example, someone with a strong placement of Mars in their natal chart might be more assertive and driven, with a strong desire to take action and achieve their goals. A weak placement on Mars may indicate a person’s struggle with assertiveness and difficulty taking action.

What archetype is Neptune?

Neptune in astrology is linked with the archetype of spiritual transcendence, imagination, and the dissolution of boundaries and limits. It is connected to the spiritual realm, intuition, and psychic abilities. This archetype represents the breaking down of boundaries. Neptune is associated with escapism, illusion, idealism, and deception.

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