Jung’s Shadow in the Horoscope Chart
Carl Jung used the term “shadow” to describe the repressed contents of the personal unconscious — those parts of each of us that we’d rather not admit to harboring. The problem with shadow material is that it comes out when we’re not looking — or, more precisely, it comes out because we’re not looking.
Jung said our shadow elements could not be directly accessed but could, instead, be understood through dreams, complexes, projections and similarly sideways media. So a dream that you’re being chased by a lion might suggest that you haven’t integrated your personal power very well. The perception that someone else is a ruthless gossip might suggest that you look at your own gossiping habits. And so forth.
I believe the shadow can be seen most clearly in the horoscope chart, since the chart provides a graphic map of the individual psyche.
Here are several ways we can detect the contents of the shadow in the horoscope:
- Knowing the dark and light of each archetype. Planets, signs, aspects and even houses carry energy that can manifest in positive, negative or neutral ways. Talking through situations, events, feelings and behaviors can begin to reveal how each archetype is being expressed on a daily basis.
- Attending to polarities. In Jungian terms, an astrological polarity would be called the “tension of opposites,” wherein two competing energies vie for dominance in the personality. We can see polarities in the horoscope in the form of oppositions (when two planets are 180 degrees apart) as well as imbalances — for example, many planets in the fifth house and none in the 11th.
- Noticing sign-house conflicts. These occur when an external force (house) demands that the person acts against the innate (sign) energy. For example, a Pisces Moon in the 10th house may suppress its natural softness to satisfy people who demand its leadership. (Of course, it may instead use its softness to be a “servant leader”-type; we won’t know without talking to the person.)
The nodal chart
But perhaps the most powerful way of perceiving the whole of one’s shadow is by reading the nodal chart.
Developed by Bruno and Louise Huber, the nodal chart is the nerve center of astrological shadow material. In essence, it turns the natal chart inside-out, displaying, in full view, the suppressed contents of the personality — those traits that need to be accepted and integrated in order to move closer to the wholeness of the true self. In short, the nodal chart is a profound and transformative tool that can quickly shine a light on problems that have confounded you for years.