Jung & Astrology
Carl G. Jung believed that there is an indisputable connection between our minds and our bodies. Most people today would agree with that assessment. Our bodies affect our minds, and our minds affect our bodies. Our external situation affects our bodies, which affects our minds, and vice versa.
Taking it a step further, he believed that we affect our physical environment, and that ultimately, we affect the solar system. The solar system affects us, we affect the solar system. Our lives are not “caused” by the stars – the stars do not initiate anything, but there is an ongoing two-way relationship between ourselves and the stars.
Taking it another step further, he believed that the singleness of the solar system paralleled the singleness of human experience, and that “we are one.” That there is a single external world, and a single internal world. The single internal world is not accessible by our conscious selves, rather it exists in the unconscious mind. He believed that each person’s unconscious mind contains not only personal unconscious, but at a deeper level contains collective material that in inherited – the “collective unconscious.” Jung felt that we can learn a lot about the human psyche through astrology, not only because the stars and planets are an external reflection of our inner selves, but also because the inherently symbolic nature of astrology allows us to consciously correlate symbols with unconscious knowledge. Jung felt that astrology is a language of symbols that mediates between levels of consciousness.
You may be familiar with Jung’s concept of “archetypes,” which make suggestions to the conscious mind as mystical images or symbols, and which spring from “known” patterns of behavior within the collective unconscious. For example, Jung thought that we essentially “know” how to act in a given situation, but that this knowledge is not present in the conscious mind until the situation arises, and it will never be brought to consciousness if the situation never arises. An “instinctual archetype” exists in the unconscious mind that contains the knowledge of how to act in that situation, until the archetype is constellated into the conscious mind. This is different from an “archetypal archetype,” which is not instinctual or behavioral, but represents a more complex knowledge or understanding of something that we haven’t realized with our conscious mind.
Since much of Jung’s work was focused around the collective unconscious and its archetypes, he was probably interested in anything that had a long-standing presence in human history. Since the collective unconscious has been bringing forth astrology into human experience for so many centuries, Jung apparently that it must be important enough to deserve some attention.
Jung associated different archetypes with specific planets, and believed birth charts would generate archetypal images to him that told him something about the subject of the chart. He frequently looked at the birth charts of his patients, and believed that the symbols in the charts made suggestions to him from the collective unconscious about that person’s psyche.
Jung believed strongly in the I Ching, and invented the term synchronicity to describe psychic “coincidence.”
Carl G. Jung is widely recognized as a genius in the field of psychology who made great strides towards understanding the complex human psyche. His most well-known work formed the basis of Psychological Type, later turned into the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator psychometric instrument.
Carl Jung was among one of the earliest psychologists to recognize the value of astrology. He explored the theoretical basis of astrology in addition to the relationship between archetypes, and the planets and signs. He also demonstrated an interest in the technical interpretations of the houses, transits, and equinox precessions. In his writings, Jung referenced astrology in connection with his theories as well as noted his respect for its practice. It appeared likely that he believed astrology could contribute to the study of the human psyche and asserted to using it in his practice for this purpose.
Jung’s concepts exposed a comfortable relationship between psychology and astrology, creating a natural inquisitiveness regarding the connections between the two subjects. Many astrologers have devoted significant time studying the relationship between Jungian psychology and astrology; nevertheless, no strong standard exists today between the planetary meanings and his psychological system. A basic study of Jung’s writings however, compels us to make comparisons between the two topics.
There appeared to be many parallels between astrology and Jung’s psychological theories, too numerous to give proper consideration here. However, we will briefly address some of the astrological correlations that relate to the premises touched on above. It is likely that many astrologers associated the two psychological types – extrovert and introvert – to the polar opposites of the positive (Yang) and negative (Yin) zodiac signs. Furthermore, Jung’s four functions – intuition, sensation, thinking, and feeling – may be correlated strongly to the four elements – fire, earth, air, and water, respectively.
Fascinated with mythological figures and lore, Jung spent considerable time committed to exploring its depths and relation to the unconscious. As touched on above, mythology became fundamentally integrated with Jung’s theory of archetypes. In his search for greater understanding about the human psyche, Jung studied eastern philosophy, occult practices, physics, and astrology.
In his astrological studies, Jung mentioned in a letter to Freud that:
astrology seems indispensable for a proper understanding of mythology.
Jung further disclosed that astrology was also an archetypal language that defined the drives of human beings. “Astrology,” he says:
like the collective unconscious with which psychology is concerned, consists of symbolic configurations: the planets are the gods, symbols of the power of the unconscious.
Summarizing his findings, Jung wrote:
The collective unconscious. . . appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious. We can see this most clearly if we look at the heavenly constellations, whose originally chaotic forms are organized through the projection of images. This explains the influence of the stars as asserted by astrologers. These influences are nothing but unconscious, introspective perceptions of the collective unconscious.
Based on these quotes and the material covered thus far, we know Jung viewed archetypes, such as astrological constellations, to be part of the collective unconscious. He believed these archetypes to be inherent and deeply embedded in human nature, and when they pushed into a more conscious state, they often displayed themselves as instincts, conditioned attitudes, or compulsive behavior.
Based on his opinions of archetypes and their external manifestations it is likely that Jung believed astrology was beneficial primarily as a tool to explore the depths of an individual’s psyche.
He indicated the truth of this in a letter to Freud (1911):
I make horoscopic calculations in order to find a clue to the core of psychological truth. . . .I dare say that we shall one day discover in astrology a good deal of knowledge that has been intuitively projected into the heavens. For instance, it appears that the signs of the zodiac are character pictures, in other words libido symbols which depict the typical qualities of the libido at a given moment.
He also noted astrology’s use to explore the psyche while attempting to sooth Freud’s concerns on the rewards of his astrological meanderings:
Please don’t worry about my wonderings in these infinitudes. I shall return laden with rich booting for our knowledge of the human psyche . . For a while longer I must intoxicate myself on magic perfumes in order to fathom the secrets that lie hidden in the abysses of the unconscious. . .
Jung further described his use of astrology to acquire a deeper understanding of a client’s unconscious motivations in a letter to B.V. Raman:
As I am a psychologist I’m chiefly interested in the particular light the horoscope sheds on certain complications in the character. In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand. From such experiences I formed the opinion that astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call ‘projected’ – this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations.
The above collection of letters and writings clearly support the premise that astrology was a tool to explore the human psyche. Jung was a psychologist first and foremost, and used astrology primarily as a tool to uncover the depths of the psyche.
Jung also recognized that astrology could be used as a means to identify periods of life crises because human experience was shown to correlate to planetary motion.
I have observed many cases where a well-defined psychological phase of an analogous event has been accompanied by a transit (particularly when Saturn and Uranus were affected).
This discovery must have been exciting for Jung as it provided further insight into the meaning of psychic events.
Carl Jung Quotes about Astrology
“We are born at a given moment in a given place and like vintage years of wine we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything else.”
“…astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity.”
“The collective unconscious appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious. We can see this most clearly if we look at the heavenly constellations, whose originally chaotic forms are organized through the projection of images. This explains the influence of the stars as asserted by astrologers. These influences are nothing but unconscious instrospective perceptions of the collective unconscious.”
“…the journey through the planetary houses boils down to becoming conscious of the good and bad qualities in our character, and the apotheosis means no more than maximum freedom of will.”
“In the metaphorical descriptions of the alchemist, Luna is primarily a reflection of a man’s unconscious femininity, but she is also a principle of the feminine psyche, in the sense that Sol is the principle of a man’s. This is particularly obvious in the astrological interpretation of the sun and moon, not to mention the age-old assumptions of mythology. Alchemy is inconceivable with the influence of her elder sister astrology, and the statements of these three disciplines must be taken into account in any psychological evaluation of the luminaries.”
Last updated on November 27, 2017 at 12:19 am. Word Count: 1786