Psychological Astrology


Further Discussion:
Psychological Astrology

Astrology is based on the correlation of celestial motions with terrestrial events and experiences. There is as yet no full scientific explanation of why this is correlation occurs, but as modern science becomes increasingly holistic in its outlook, and as technological advances allow the observation of previously invisible forces, it is only a matter of time before such an explanation materialises.


Our distant ancestors realised that the motions of lights in the sky are cyclical and orderly, and then began to notice that a similar terrestrial event or experience would tend to recur each time a particular point in a celestial cycle was reached. A very obvious example of this is the way in which the lunar cycle reflects various agricultural, meteorological, biological and behavioural cycles.


In the interpretation of celestial cycles, four types of factors are considered: celestial bodies, zodiacal signs, houses and aspects.


Celestial Bodies


In astrology, a celestial body is a symbol of a function operating within the entity or situation being considered. The most important celestial bodies in astrological interpretation are the Sun and Moon, the seven planets which share the solar system with Earth, and Pluto – the first kuiper belt object to be discovered. Many astrologers also use other kuiper belt objects and also some of the many asteroids in our solar system. Chiron, whose orbit lies between those of Saturn and Uranus, is particularly widely used.


In the case of an individual, these functions are experienced as psychological drives. The Sun symbolises the drive to blossom and shine as a unique individual; the Moon symbolises the drive for sustainment, both psychological and physiological; Mercury symbolises the drive to translate perceptions into understanding, and to exchange ideas with others; Venus symbolises the drive to experience harmony and value, both internally and externally; and Mars symbolises the fighting spirit with which we assert our individuality and pursue our desires. These planets are referred to as the personal planets; they are concerned with the individual personality and with personal values.


The next planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are referred to as the social planets; they symbolise functions through which the individual integrates into society and the wider world. Jupiter symbolises the drive to expand, and to align oneself with some greater power or plan (society, God or whatever); and Saturn symbolises the drive to know one’s true nature and thereby to perform, with integrity, a useful role in a collective.


Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are referred to in astrology as the outer planets; they are not visible to the naked eye, and symbolise functions which operate from the collective unconscious to bring transformation to the lives of individuals and collectives. Uranus symbolises the drive for innovation and truth; Neptune symbolises the drive to experience unity with the rest of life; Pluto symbolises the drive to heal or purge that which prevents growth.


The movement of the outer planets through the signs of the zodiac, and the patterns they make with one another, symbolise shifts in collective consciousness: Uranus’ position reflects newly emerging ideas and principles; Neptune’s position reflects newly emerging moods in fashion, cinema and spirituality; and Pluto’s position reflects the kind of purging processes in which humanity is currently engaged.


The Arab Spring, the parliamentary expenses scandal, the financial crash (and the consequent exposure of the practises of banks and corporations through the financial crash) are all very clearly reflected in the current positions of the outer planets.


The placement of the outer planets in an individual’s chart shows how she or he can best act, potentially at least, as a channel for changes to the collective, and also how the forces of the collective unconscious will prevent her or his sense of identity from stagnating.   




Zodiacal signs are measured along the ecliptic, which is the path which the Sun appears to follow around the Earth; there are twelve signs each covering 30 degrees of arc along the ecliptic. In the Tropical Zodiac, which is widely used in the West, the first point of Aries is defined as the point occupied by the Sun at the March equinox. Consequently, the Sun occupies: the first point of tropical Cancer at the June solstice; the first point of tropical Libra at the September solstice; and the first point of tropical Capricorn at the December solstice. These points are referred to as the cardinal points of the zodiacal cycle, and Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn are therefore referred to as the cardinal signs.


The Tropical Zodiac is thus a product of the inclination of the Earth’s equator to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. We experience the Sun’s movement through the Tropical Zodiac as the seasonal cycle. As the Sun appears to move north and south of the equator during this cycle, the activity of the natural world is adjusted. Such practises as germination and hibernation are obvious examples of how different activities must be prioritised at different times of the year in order that an individual plant or animal, and its species as a whole, has the best chances of surviving from one year to the next. Each celestial body is involved in its own zodiacal cycle. Astrologically, this means that the operation of each function (celestial body) is coloured by particular values and priorities (the sign in which the body is placed).


In the East, astrologers are more likely to use the Sidereal Zodiac, which is defined by the positions of fixed stars. However, there is disagreement about where the first point of sidereal Aries is placed, and dozens of sidereal zodiacs have been proposed. The original zodiacal constellations vary in size, where as the sidereal signs which were derived from them each cover 30 degrees along the ecliptic.




Each location on the surface of the Earth has its own rational horizon plane which passes through the centre of the Earth and which is perpendicular to a vertical line passing through the location. The point of the zodiac which is emerging above the horizon to the east at a given moment in time is called the ascendant, while the point of the zodiac which is setting below the horizon to the west is called the descendant. The ascendant-descendant axis – or horizon axis – is always drawn horizontally across the chart, with ascendant to the left. The point of the zodiac which is highest above the rational horizon plane is called the midheaven or MC, while the point of the zodiac which is lowest below the horizon is called the lower heaven or IC. These points are referred to as the angles.


Note that while the zodiacal position of a celestial body is the same for all locations on Earth for any given moment of time, the angles and other house cusps are specific to a particular location at that moment of time. This means that a chart cast for a location in England would be approximately upside down compared to a chart cast for the same moment in time for a location in Australia.


There are many ways of dividing the chart into twelve houses. Quadrant house systems take the ascendant as the first point of the first house, the IC as the first point of the fourth house, the descendant as the first point of the seventh house, and the MC as the first point of the 10th house. Like the zodiacal cycle, the house cycle is divided into twelve segments.


Where the zodiacal cycle reflects changes in the expression of the life-force throughout the seasonal cycle, the house cycle reflects the experience of the alternation of night and day. Each house symbolises a particular type of experience – a particular area of life. The house placement of a celestial body or a zodiacal sign shows the area of life in which the individual will tend to meet, and most naturally express, the functions and values represented by those bodies and signs. When a house contains no planets, this does not mean that the corresponding area of life will be insignificant or barren.




When two celestial bodies occupy the same zodiacal degree, as seen from Earth, they are said to form an aspect called a conjunction. The angle between the bodies then increases as the faster-moving body moves away. When they occupy opposite zodiacal degrees, the two bodies are said to form an opposition aspect, after which time they will eventually form another conjunction aspect. Between conjunctions and oppositions, many other aspects are formed, some of which are more significant than others.


We see the aspect cycle of the Sun and Moon very clearly in the changing phases of the Moon. The New Moon occurs at a conjunction between the Sun and Moon; the first quarter at a square aspect (90 degrees); the full Moon at the opposition aspect; and the last quarter at another square aspect.


An aspect between two celestial bodies indicates that the functions symbolised tend to act together – that there is a strong connection between them. The number by which the circle is divided to yield a particular aspect shows the ‘flavour’ of this connection. As an example, the opposition aspect occurs between two celestial bodies when they are one half of a circle away from one another, and so this aspect carries the meaning of the number two. Since the number two signifies polarisation, celestial bodies in opposition aspect suggest that the functions symbolised by those bodies are polarised with respect to one another. Thus, conscious effort may be needed to reconcile an apparent conflict between the functions, thereby transforming the conflict into a dynamic partnership based on objective understanding.


Aspects don’t have to be exact to be significant; the deviation from exactitude is called an orb. The closer the aspect is to exact, the stronger the connection between the corresponding functions; astrologers differ in their opinions on what orb is allowable before the aspect becomes insignificant.


The Moment of Birth


The sign and house placements of the celestial bodies, and the angular relationships between them, as seen from Earth, are continually changing. But when a new entity comes into being – be it an individual, a relationship, a business, a group or a nation state – the quality of energy represented by each placement is somehow embodied in the entity. For example, Venus may be at the 3rd degree of Pisces in its zodiacal cycle, in the first house in its house cycle, and at the opposition stage of its aspect cycle with Pluto. All of the factors shown in the birth chart (plus many more which are excluded because both astrologer and client would be overwhelmed by the amount of information!) together represent the energy pattern embodied by the entity.


Psychological Astrology


(Brief definitions of some other branches of astrology are given at the end.)


Psychological astrology involves the interpretation of the birth chart of individuals. The moment of birth is taken as the moment of the first inhalation of breath – the first act of independent existence.


An individual’s birth chart shows her or his predisposition to experience life in a particular way. Through mechanisms such as selective perception, projection and ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ the predisposition shown in the birth chart gives rise to a particular experience of reality, and a particular sense of identity. The birth chart thus shows the individual’s biases, sensitivities and natural abilities, and also areas where the individual must grow in order to lay to rest her or his inborn fears and frustrations.


When we view astrology in this way, the question of fate and free will naturally arises. On the one hand the birth chart does reflect a kind of fate, but on the other hand, we have freedom to choose how to view and express the potentials shown in the chart. The level of consciousness of the individual determines how creatively this will be done, and this initially depends partly on the level of consciousness of early care-givers and of the community and society in which the individual is brought up. Neither the level of consciousness of the individual or caregivers during the formative years, nor the level of consciousness of the individual at any time in her or his life, can be discerned using astrology.


It is the aim of psychological astrology to assist an individual in becoming more conscious of the various facets of her or his predisposition, so that she or he can express it more creatively. This involves being able to embrace one’s predisposition fully, and yet be able to appreciate that one’s own reality is not the only reality. Any destructive and painful patterns which emerged during the formative years, such as difficult relationship dynamics and self-defeating attitudes, can be illuminated by examining the birth chart in the light of the individual’s current situation and issues.


Astrology as a Typology


The basic similarity of all birth charts reminds us that we all depend on the effective operation of the same functions, and that we all contain the same spectrum of values (signs) and encounter the same types of experiences (houses). And yet we are of course also reminded by astrology that we each carry a unique combination of strengths, values, needs and sensitivities. Since astrological symbolism separates experience into different categories, it is a kind of typology, similar to that used by the Jungian analyst or the Reichian therapist. Even where an individual’s birth chart is unavailable, those who are familiar with astrological symbolism can often spot the tell-tale signs of a particular type, and thus understand the deeper needs and motivations which underlie an individual’s behaviour.


Astrology can potentially be used along side any school of psychological or spiritual thought, since it does not, in itself, propose a model of why things are as they are, what we can do to change things for the better, or indeed what ‘better’ means. In fact astrology is best used in conjunction with something more directly existential, for instance a therapeutic model or a particular spiritual path. Humanistic psychology, and also thinking in terms of subpersonalities, both fit especially well with astrological symbolism. Jungian psychology is also widely used by astrologers. Jung used astrology in his work as an analyst, and Jungian psychology draws heavily from the same archetypes which are represented by the celestial bodies and signs in astrological symbolism. The Jungian functions of consciousness also correspond to the four elements: fire, earth, air and water, which are each represented by three signs on the zodiac wheel:























Fire corresponds to the intuitive function, earth to the sensation function, air to the thinking function, and water to the feeling function. Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable represent the three modes in which each element can be expressed. Cardinality is dynamic and direct, Fixity is persistent and focused, and Mutability seeks synthesis and understanding.


Although astrology is not tied to a particular value-system, an individual’s birth chart reflects the values held by that individual. Thus, we can see in the birth charts of pioneers such as Freud, Jung, Einstein or Marx how their work was influenced by the values inherent in their predisposition. There is nothing in a chart that one could use to reliably predict that an individual will become, say, a psychologist or a scientist, but we invariably see correlations between predisposition and their particular approach to their chosen field of study. We can also look at our own charts and notice that we often share the same biases as the inventors of our preferred schools of thought.


The Unfoldment of the Chart


The birth chart shows a pattern of energy which remains prominent within the individual for the entirety of her or his life, but there are other astrological tools which show how the individual will tend to experience life differently at different times and in different relationships.


Transits and Progressions


Transits are the motions of celestial bodies in real time. Following birth, the celestial bodies continue in their various motions, making aspects to the individual’s natal planets as they do so. For example, if an individual is born with Mercury in the 10th degree of Aquarius, then as Pluto moves across that degree, we would say that transiting Pluto is conjuncting the individual’s natal Mercury. As with natal aspects, there is a range or orb within which the transiting aspect is significant.


Some transits occur at a similar age in all people, because they involve aspects between a transiting planet and its own natal position. The most significant of these involve Saturn or Uranus. Saturn makes a particularly strong aspect to its natal position approximately every 7 years following birth. Uranus opposes its natal position around age 42, and this transit is the main astrological significator of the mid-life crisis. Aspects between a transiting planet and a different natal planet occur at different ages for different people.


There are various other means of moving planets forward following birth, most notably the technique of secondary progressions. Using this technique, planetary motion during the day following birth is seen to reflect the unfolding of the potential shown in the birth chart during the year following birth. This rather strange notion works surprisingly well; it is as though a recording of unfolding cycles is made at a speed of one revolution per day, and played back at a speed of one revolution per year, with both the recording and the play-back beginning at the moment of birth.


No transit or progression is inherently easy or difficult. Some tend to be more difficult, but the more difficult phases tend to be the ones that bring the greatest potential for personal development.


We are often aware that a particular theme is prevalent in our lives during a particular time span, and this may manifest in part as a tendency to meet a particular type of person. Those who are involved in one-to-one work in a helping profession may be particularly aware such themes. Such themes are reflected in transits and progressions to the birth chart, reminding us that when helper and client meet, the encounter can be timely and creative for both.


Chart Comparison (or Synastry)


Another tool available to the astrologer is synastry, by which two charts are compared to see how the two entities will affect one another. This can be applied not only to person-person relationships of all kinds, but also the relationship between a person and a country or business, or even the relationship between two countries or between two businesses. The predispositions (i.e. temperaments) of the entities can be compared, and aspects between planets in one chart and planets in the other can be interpreted. The astrologer can also draw up a new chart which is a composite of the two charts. This composite chart is also ‘susceptible’ to transits, and to synastry contacts with natal charts.


Thus, when another entity ‘pushes a button’ for us, positively or negatively, we can find astrological significators for this which help to clarify what we are supposed to learn about ourselves from the encounter.


Synastry also accounts for the phenomenon whereby an individual loses a lover to a friend or sibling, etc. If there are strong aspects between the individual’s chart and the chart of her/his lover, and there are also strong aspects between the individual’s chart and her/his friend or sibling, then there will probably be strong aspects between the lover and the friend/sibling. The ‘change-over’ period will be accompanied by transits to relevant placements in the natal and composite charts involved. As noted above, while we are fated to deal with particular energies at particular times, we have free will in how we deal with them.


If an individual has changed location since birth, an astrologer might also cast a relocation chart, which is a chart cast for the moment of birth, but cast as though the individual had been born in her or his new location. The original birth chart remains the fundamental reference, but additional information about how the individual will experience life in her or his new location can be gleaned from the relocation chart. Sign positions of celestial bodies, and the aspects between them, remain as in the natal chart – only the angles and house cusps move, which alters the house placements of the celestial bodies and signs.


The Importance of the Sun Sign.


Even the basic chart contains great deal of information, and we can see from this that Sun sign astrology is very crude by comparison. Since it is not possible to reliably predict what will happen to an individual using their birth-chart, it certainly isn’t possible to predict what will happen to one twelfth of the population by virtue of their shared Sun sign. Where Sun sign columns are helpful, it is because they are written in such a way that remind an individual of her or his core values. The Sun symbolises an extremely important function in the psyche – as reflected by the fact that it’s gravity holds the solar system together and its energy makes possible life on Earth. By embracing the values and way of being associated with our Sun sign, we feel more vital and more able to take centre stage in our own lives.


While all parts of the chart should be honoured, failure to honour the Sun has a particularly negative effect on individual’s health and happiness. With this in mind, there follows an account of how people of each Sun sign can take further steps towards a more creative and fulfilling life. You will no doubt also be able to relate to other signs besides your Sun sign; in each case, that sign will also be prominent in your chart, either because one or more significant celestial bodies or angles are placed in that sign, or because a celestial body which has a natural affinity with that sign is strongly placed. By all means reflect on these additional signs also, but be sure to cultivate the qualities of your Sun sign even if, at this time, you do not relate to this sign very strongly.


If you were born with the Sun in Aries, you are revitalised when acting with courage and initiative, especially when this is done in a forthright and honourable manner. If you find this difficult, try to learn more about what inhibits you. If you already express these qualities frequently, check out whether you do so compulsively and if so whether you harbour doubts about your strength and your ability to stand alone. Some people with this placement benefit greatly from physical activity.


If you were born with the Sun in Taurus, you are revitalised when making creative use of your talents and resources, especially when this has the effect of enhancing the stability and simplicity of your life. When doing this, notice if you are affected by issues of confidence and self-worth, which may manifest as stubbornness or acquisitiveness. Many people with this placement feel better for spending time in nature, or by nourishing the senses in some other way.


If you were born with the Sun in Gemini, you are revitalised by learning about something which interests you, especially if this involves increasing your network of contacts. Notice whether you are inhibited by doubts about your ability to learn and articulate ideas. Also notice whether you stick too rigidly to your existing understanding, or whether your curiosity ever becomes frantic and compulsive; if this does happen, then try to get in touch with the underlying feelings which trigger this.


If you were born with the Sun in Cancer, you are revitalised as you become more conscious of your feelings and instinctual responses. Having done this, let your attention be directed to the nurture of yourself, another, or some budding project which begins to take shape within the womb of your imagination. Notice any strong feelings of attachment to particular people, locations or situations – these may arise from a lack of confidence in your capacity for self-nurture, and a lack of trust of life in general.


If you were born with the Sun in Leo you are revitalised by simply being yourself. Acts of wholehearted self-expression are your way of witnessing and celebrating the creative power at the centre of your being. Notice how you feel when it is someone else’s turn of another to shine, and if you easily become despondent in the absence of an appreciative audience. Any pretence of invulnerability is probably an indication of deep-seated self-doubt which requires careful examination.


If you were born with the Sun in Virgo, you are revitalised as you harmonise with the rhythms and requirements of nature and the material world. You shine most brightly when developing your skills, and when cleansing your body and psyche of impurities which impede your efficiency. Notice any intolerance of disorder and disruption, and any tendency toward destructive criticism of yourself or others. If the cleansing or organisation of yourself or your environment becomes frantic, try to slow down, relinquish control, and look at the underlying fears.       


If you were born with the Sun in Libra you are revitalised when embodying your ideals of co-operative living and social harmony. This is especially so when you have a new idea to contribute to a group in which you participate. Notice if a strong need to harmonise with others prevents you from being true to your individual needs and values, or prevents your from fighting for your ideals. Notice also if you try to fulfil most of your idealism through a romantic relationship, rather than participating creatively in the life of a larger group. 


If you were born with the Sun in Scorpio, you are revitalised when you allow intense feelings into consciousness, especially when you do not try to lessen the intensity of the experience by trying to control some feature of the world around you, or by giving your power away to someone else. As you gain more trust in the process of transformation and empowerment through surrender, you enhance your natural ability to forge mutually healing relationships with others, and to play a creative role in the transformation of society as a whole.    


If you were born with the Sun in Sagittarius, you are revitalised by viewing your own experiences in the broader context of a belief system or a philosophy of life. Ideally, this will infuse your life with a sense of meaningfulness and optimism, and provide a moral compass with which to navigate. Notice if you get too wrapped up in maintaining this perspective – warning signs include: ignoring practical necessities, applying intuition in a child-like manner where either feeling, logic or pragmatism would be more appropriate, and lacking tolerance of alternative views.         


If you were born with the Sun in Capricorn you are revitalised by applying yourself with self-discipline to the achievement of a goal. This is especially growthful when you are able to cultivate an increasing sense of integrity, while at the same offering yourself as a disciple to a greater power, or as a contributor to a group or society. Notice any tendency to conform excessively to the expectations of others, to shy away from trying to achieve your ambitions, or to hunger for personal prestige and power. All of these issues arise from fears which typically inhibit or distort the creative potentials of this sign.     


If you were born with the Sun in Aquarius, you are revitalised when opening your mind to the ideas and ideals which are either established or newly emerging in a particular group. This will usually involve interacting with other like-minded people who share your interests, and especially those who share your vision for a better world. You shine most brightly when being loyal to an ideal, especially when you are also able to respect those who do not share it, and accept that a human individual (including yourself) never measures up to a perfect ideal of human potential.


If you were born with the Sun in Pisces, you are revitalised when you feel at-one with all life, and when you are helping to lay to rest the confusion and suffering which haunt the group or collective of which you are part. However, you are at your best when you remain conscious of your own needs, and when your artistic inspiration and compassion are offered through acts of individualised self-expression. You may need to spend time away from others on a regular basis, in order to re-establish your boundaries and allow yourself to be nourished by connecting to the spiritual and imaginal dimensions of your being.


Different Branches of Astrology


When an astrologer chooses a time to begin something, with the aim of instilling that thing with a favourable energy pattern, this is called Electional Astrology.


The retrospective interpretation, or the attempted prediction, of a political or sociological event or trend, or an accident such as a crash, is called Mundane Astrology.


When an astrology tries to answer a particular question by casting a chart for the time and place at which the question is asked, this is called Horary Astrology.