Astrology is one of the earliest attempts made by man to find an order hidden behind the apparent chaos that exists in the world. The human race has learned to associate the events of life with ordered patterns coming from the cyclical nature of the heavens, and thus astrology has become a symbolic language with enough vitality to survive to this day.
Its long-standing framework seems to fit perfectly with many modern concepts in psychology, many of which come from the psychiatrist and creator of analytical psychology, Prof. Carl Gustav Jung. Thanks to his work on symbols, much of the astrological content has an updated and enriched interpretation.
Archetypes and the collective unconscious
In his anthropological work, exploring different cultures around the world, he found that certain motifs from mythologies and fairy tales are repeated, regardless of location, religion and lifestyle. This makes these motives almost universal, especially since they are still found in fantasies, dreams, hallucinations of patients with fever or delusions of mentally ill people. Thus, Jung gradually collected material with which to build a common working model of the human psyche. It includes the personal conscious and the personal unconscious, both of which are complementary spheres of the psyche that have opposite characteristics in order to balance each other.
The conscious encompasses everything with which we consciously identify, and the unconscious is characterized by a lack of control over instincts and contains in itself, all the contents that we reject as part of ourselves. In addition, Jung includes in his model of the psyche the collective unconscious, whose contents are not specific to the individual self and are not the result of individual experience, but derive from the inherited structures of the brain and the potential for mental functioning as a whole. It is made up of all kinds of mental reactions and all kinds of human experience dating from the very beginning of human existence.
One could make a natural assumption here is that
we are all part of a whole and that we share an unconscious mind with all other people.
Moreover, it is in the collective unconscious that all universal motifs are stocked, so later Jung calls them archetypes for they are the same all over the world, but at the same time play an important role in the individual psyche of each person.
Just like we inherit our physical characteristics from our parents and grandparents, we also inherit archetypes found in the collective unconscious that we share with the rest of humanity.
Construction of the archetype
According to Jung, the archetype is a formal element, that appears only when it is filled with content, coming from the personal experience of the individual. Archetypes cannot be present until they manifest themselves in a concrete form. That is why, they are in the darkness of the unconscious until they are expressed through specific images in our psyche and thus are not “filled” with content.
It is important to distinguish the archetype from the archetypal image. For example, the archetype of the mother, which is part of each person’s collective unconscious, can manifest itself in an extremely unique way in each person. Some of the main contents of the mother’s archetype are the idea of motherhood, nourishment, care and protection, growth and giving a concrete form to something. Any object or idea that evokes a sense of security in a person could be regarded as a symbol of the mother’s archetype, as an example of the feeling of shelter and security in everything that can envelop us, like the womb that envelops, protects and nourishes embryo.
Each archetype could be reduced to a unit that contains two basic opposites such as light and darkness, male and female, above and below, and so on. As for the mother one, it could be polarized as the one that gives life and the one that takes life (as an example it is the suffocating and controlling “care” of a mother, that does not allow her children to grow up and become independent individuals).
Archetypes in astrology
The whole astrological world of ideas could be interpreted as a significant arrangement of symbols, which respectively lie on an archetypal basis. Due to the common origin of the archetypes of the collective unconscious, the signs of the zodiac, the planets, the homes, etc. could be found in the psyche of any person. They are archetypes that suggest certain forms, representative of the psychic material and processes that man has learned to deal with and handle for centuries.
However, whether something is perceived as a symbol or not depends entirely on the behavior of the observer’s conscious mind. Because the variety of symbols is so great, some of them tend to be seen as objects that we encounter in our daily lives. For example, the tree could be considered as an entirely natural phenomenon, in which case it is not a symbol, or as a symbol of human life.
In addition to the symbols taken from everyday life, there are those that have no direct connection with a person’s sensory experience, but are rather paintings that have their own symbolic power. A very good example is the eye, which stands against the background of a triangle. Since such compositions are not taken from objective reality, they should be considered through their symbolic nature, which brings with it the need to have knowledge for the symbolic language. Thus, the perception of a symbol depends on whether it is still alive in people’s minds or has not been used for a long time, and therefore is dead.
Therefore, there will always be people who, due to their symbolic mental framework, could delve deeply into the content of a symbol. There will also be those who, due to a lack of understanding of this hidden world of meanings, will not be able to reach the deep knowledge that lies beneath the surface of an “ordinary” image. For them, the phenomena hide nothing and remain as they appear in the tangible world of the senses.
Acceptance and “belief” in astrology depends entirely on the way in which a person’s conscious mind is built on the symbolic point of view of things or entirely on the sensory-rational one. For this reason, not everyone is able to understand the symbolic language of astrology. This, of course, does not stop anybody from trusting it!