Management of Measurement Constructs

Notebook, March 31, 2007

Astrology: Good Guys and Bad Guys?

There’s a tendency in human nature to take personal credit for the good that happens to us and to blame someone else or something outside ourselves for the difficult, challenging, bad things that happen. We want exoneration.

Psychoanalyst J. C. Fluegel, at the end of his classic Man, Morals, and Society, says as boldly as it can be said, “Jesus Christ was the biggest scapegoat of all times.” --The Christian religion and the Bible tell us emphatically that Jesus died for our sins. The guilt for any wrongdoing is symbolically taken off our shoulders. People project into the Christ all the bad they have committed; God the Father is that forgiving, that He gave his own son up for this purpose.

Heinrich Heine, in his powerful poem about Atlas, dramatizes that the giant does not mind carrying the world on his shoulders but he has become dreadfully pained for having to carry the sufferings of world humanity as well. We burden the world-bearer with our plights. It is too much for Atlas.

We all know people who, at the mere wisp of tension, look around to find someone, to find something to blame for that tension: from individuals to sociological subgroups to nations.

These dimensions permeate the ethos of our cultures.

Astrology comes in handy for this archetypal defense mechanism of displacement [see Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology, page 657]: we blame the planets. And in doing so, we are 1) showing off our astrological glibness and superficial knowledge of negative archetypes, and 2) we are getting rid of personal complicity within the specific event complex.

Do we really take our clients off the hooks of judgment, planning, progress, hope, and happiness by reference to the planets, by confirming the superstitions of astrology?

There simply is no demarcation between good planets and bad planets. They are planets; they are symbols for our knowledge; and the value judgments we have for them have evolved from human reactions within reality marked in time by planetary movement. –It is extremely important and, indeed, refreshing to realize that we are not born to be punished, deprived, suppressed. Circumstances of development and genetic inclination and change set up those value judgments that mark our progress. They are different for each individual. –And what is the power of positive thinking espoused in every life-philosophy doctrine? What is prayer? Is this something we forget … or can we use this sober thinking to invigorate our service to others?

“Oh, but what about the afflictions written up in the textbooks?” –The old textbooks, mind you. Well, this fear and negativism about fearsome fate emerged out of the medieval theorization time when times were tough. The difficulties in living amid the sinful wars, taxes, exploitations found their ways into our lexicon of interpretation. And here we are again with human nature: the planets were and still are too easy to blame.

A word about Freud, please: Freud’s genius in illuminating the analytical construct of the subconscious and behavioral development teaches us something I think should color our modern astrology: all planets have Ego, Superego, and Id content … all of them, including the Sun and Moon. Let me explain:

Freud postulated three personality components: the Ego (Latin for “I”), that which emerges in development to handle transactions with the environment, locating situations to fulfill needs, specifically id-orientated needs (the Sun-Moon blend and the need structures of the planets as behavioral symbols); the Superego (Latin for “above the I” or “Higher I”, the restraints and cautions developed in the personality through identification with the parents, the conscience (Saturn); and the Id (Latin for “it”), the primitive, primal core in every person, the domain of basic drives that seek immediate gratification, predominantly sexual in orientation. [See Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology page 584.]

All three of these components of giant importance to our understanding of human nature…all three ‘compartments,’ if I may, are represented in each planet’s archetype.

For example, for the Sun in Aries: “Is the Ego shining just right or is it curtailed by some Superego modification, or is it plotting for personal Id gratification at the expense of all balance? And who’s to say?

Another example: Is the Venus expression of Ego just lovely; is the expression of Superego cramped and guilt-ridden; of Id, so libertine as to glorify self and kill relationships simultaneously?

With Saturn in the mix with the Sun or Venus, are we seeing the learning process for cultural assimilation (Superego) progressing efficiently? Is the Ego of the Sun Aries or the Ego content of Venus in Capricorn, for example, being fulfilled from the father, from one’s teachers and structured social emergence, etc.?

Look at the tri-partite compartmentalization of the Neptune archetype: ecstatic spiritualist or inspired aesthete; suppressed, even camouflaged aesthetics and sensitivity; ribald self-indulgence to intoxicate identity with personal grandeur?

These thoughts allow the individual an enormous spectrum of developmental potential. And it is we individuals who make the choices to grow within that spectrum.

We will hear wanton astrologers say, “Well, when Saturn squared my Venus, my marriage broke up!” This is tantamount to saying, “and when you have that measurement, yours will too!” --But it simply is not so. The Saturn represents a Superego influence, a sense of controls necessary for efficiency, sincerity, for responsibility placed upon the emotional realm. Maybe we have been taking for granted the emotional tie we have with someone. Maybe this is a wake-up call to preserve something grand and, in the process, build it even stronger.

All of the vast potentials of each planetary archetype –especially as they inter-relate— live in the reality potentials of the individual. Over-generalization defies that practical, human observation.

Let’s be careful how we talk about astrological measurements. It reflects how we think, and how others regard our work. It reflects how we can help others with our art.

Next Update: April 30, 2007


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