Jungian Psychology in Astrology – Complexes and Projection
By knowing our client’s individual conflict or karmic lesson, astrologers can apply knowledge of psychology to guide them to freedom.
Conflict resides within us all and is seen by its projection onto our outside world especially upon those that we have a close relationship with. To find conflict we need only look at the planetary aspects which symbolise the various types of relationships between the archetypes / planets. A planetary aspect describes what we expect from a relationship or situation. For example, Moon in Virgo opposite Saturn shows that we expect our mother (or mother or wife figure) to be cold and critical. We expect the relationship to be difficult and we will struggle to cope with her negative demeaning comments. It also shows that we expect society at large to be restrictive and unemotional.
Conflict, as seen in the planets, their sign and house position and aspects, is one of constant activity. Conflict is fundamental to life, it is a constant and so by finding the conflict we can see the patterns of our behaviours, dysfunctional relationships and exactly why we repeat the patterns of failure in our lives. We actively seek that which is going to hurt us – Moon in poor aspect to Saturn shows that we seek out a nurturing mother figure despite expecting her to reject and dominate us. It is like the moth attracted to the flame, it just can’t stay away, even to its death it will continue to fly back to the life-extinguishing flame.
We find an individual’s conflict by looking particularly at the hard or challenging planetary aspects in the natal chart. Hard aspects between inner and outer planets and outer planets on the angles and stelliums will be the conflicts we seek. They are the personality traits that challenge us in our daily life.
We all have complexes, they are what keeps us grounded in life, they are our teachers, they are essential to our life’s Quest. Liz Greene says,
“The subject of complexes is, if you will excuse the expression, highly complex. But it is immensely valuable as a psychological model, because it can give us remarkable insight into the dynamics of a horoscope. Of all the many available psychological perspectives, that of complexes is one of the most useful to the astrologer, and one of the most profound. We can view complexes reductively to understand personal conflicts and family dynamics more clearly. Or we can view complexes from an archetypal or mythic perspective and get a glimpse of the deeper meaning behind a person‘s experiences and development pattern. Both views are valid. What we are really looking at is a psychological model of life.” (The Horoscope in Manifestation, Liz Greene, 1997, page 1).
Sigmund Freud touched on the concept of complexes to help describe the workings of the unconscious. Carl Jung took this idea further by describing how the unconscious is formed from primal energies or in Jungian terms, archetypes, that also reside in the Collective Unconscious. We, as astrologers, call them planets, signs and constellations.
How the archetypes become complexes
When we identify too strongly with an archetype on an unconscious level due to trauma or emotional neglect, we manifest that archetype as a complex. The planet is the primary archetype while the sign shows us how the archetype will manifest.
For instance, if a child has a father who rejects his son (emotional neglect) then the boy begins to seek a father figure to replace him. If Sun were in Sagittarius square Saturn then Dad is a hero, often outgoing sporty or well traveled and liked by others (other kids say they idolize his Dad). When Dad tries to direct and control his son a father complex appears. This boy will seek fathers (heroes) out in the world and will often compete with men or other boys for attention. The square aspect will manifest as being unable to trust men who are sporty, there will be conflict with them. The boy turns his anger and frustration and yearning onto these men. He projects his needs, for a father who is a hero to him and only him, he also projects his anger and frustration at his own Dad back onto these men.
The Saturn archetype is an element in the ‘Oedipal Complex’ which is one of control and domination. Saturn competed with his children and ate them as they were born so that he would maintain sole rulership over his dominion. He represents the ‘father’ complex, a father who is the disciplinarian, domineering and controlling who always knows what is better for his children. Sun is the hero father, the ‘hero’ complex, one who is courageous and brave.
Jupiter is the generous and knowing father, Mercury is the smart, chatty father, Mars is the dynamic sporty father who is also impatient and aggressive, Pluto is the brooding father who is deep often having paranoid fits, explosive anger, powerful and controlling. Uranus is the outside father, always out saving other people’s problems not able to get close to their child. Neptune is the dreamer father with plans for the future that never get done. Chiron is the wise father often emotionally wounded but able to steer the child in the right direction. Venus too can be a father archetype, the sexually active father who thinks more of his own appearance than putting food on the table. Moon is the fussing father who is so identified with his children that they can’t go outside without an adult to supervise.
The Moon is the feminine Goddess, she is the archetype that gives us milk, the food for our body and nurturing love for our soul. When we do not get the nurturing that we need from our mother or mother caregiver we get ‘fixated’ or stuck in the need for love, a conflict within ourselves – “I want my mother’s love even though I know that I will be hurt by her.” This is the classic ‘double-bind’, damned if I do and damned if I don’t, a no-win situation. It is from this situation that we develop a complex, with the Moon it becomes a mother complex.
For example Moon in Pisces shows a huge need for the person to be enveloped into the mother, into the universe, a protective escape from the harm of the world. The planetary aspects to the Moon show whether this will form a complex.
With Moon in aspect to Neptune the native needs a lot of affection and will become fearful of abandonment and expects nurturing and unconditional love. The mother complex for a man, if it develops, will be for a woman who is literally a mother, not necessarily just a lover (wash the socks, clean the car, put on the band-aid, kiss good night, etc.), the projection is one of the ideal mother / lover.
Moon in a positive aspect with Venus is pleasant, getting along nicely with females and expecting affection. If it develops as a mother complex through planets in negative aspect to the Moon then it would manifest as needing a woman to do mother things while he goes out and plays around with other women. For a woman this aspect is one of needing a mother who shows her how to love, mother as a model of sensual femininity.
Moon in poor aspect with Mars is seen as an impatient, hurtful and aggressive mother. The complex is one of seeking pain, perhaps as a sadomasochist, “hurt me when you love me“. A mother complex for a woman manifests as controlling though punishment. Moon conjunct Saturn is a cold controlling mother, the complex would become one of seeking a mother figure who is depressing, demanding and domineering. In women the complex is one of seeking a nurturing love relationship despite knowing that she will be rejected. For a woman it becomes a complex in which she controls her partner though the giving and withdrawing of love.
Our standard “Mother Complex” is one in which the native needs a mothering partner or mother support figure, she may be an older woman or a woman with overbearing needs to nurture. The male projects his needs out into the collective unconscious and finds his match, a nurturing or manipulating mother figure. A woman needs to be aware that she may easily manifest this complex herself when the Moon is poorly aspected in her chart just as a man may manifest a father complex when the Sun is poorly aspected.
The aspects to the planet archetypes show the nature or expectation of the relationship and are our best indicators of potential complexes. Remember that we can think of planets as people. We do this to better understand the complex, think of the two or more planets in aspect as people and how they relate with each other, clinging? Demanding? Overbearing? Impatient? Aggressive? Caring? Loving? Heroic? This may help you to better understand the nature of complexes. (It has been stated that God is one giant ‘father’ complex as well.)
An internal conflict, a complex, resides in our subconscious, it is invisible and hidden from us. In order for us to make the complex visible we throw it out or project it onto others making it ‘conscious’. Generally we will be completely unaware of what we have done and will blame that person for their inconsiderate behaviour. An example here is the overzealous defender of sexual morality. This person has an internalised sexual perversion complex, they must tell the world how wrong sex is and campaign against it in the streets, perhaps become elected to parliament to continue this campaign. The more a person is drawn to the flame, like the moth, the more their complex becomes visible to outsiders. If you too have a sex complex you will either join the campaign or fight against it, if you don’t have sexual hang-ups you will stand on the outside to wonder at their misguided passion.
Another example of projection is in relationships. If the male has a mother complex he will project his emotional nurturing needs onto his partner. She will then become responsible for his emotional happiness which eventually becomes quite a burden. The more she plays the role of mother the more childish and demanding the man becomes. If she stops playing to his complex the relationship must change, the man will try to make his partner play the mother role by either being more active, demanding and childlike or by withdrawing within himself like a child in the womb demanding comfort in a passive manner appealing to his partners mothering instincts. If she continues to resist then either the relationship breaks up or the man seeks counselling to resolve the complex. The projection is composed of the man’s needs to be mothered and the woman’s needs to control through nurturing, control by the giving and withholding of love. The man needs to find love and self nurturing within himself, the woman needs to find control and security within herself.
by Noel Eastwood
This article appeared in the June 2000 (Vol. 30/2) Federation of Australian Astrologers Journal.
Last updated on December 10, 2017 at 5:12 am. Word Count: 1870