September/October 2016 Issue
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The Mythology of Astrology
This article was written by Stephanie Clement
posted under Astrology
Astrological interpretations include a strong focus on the personality of the individual involved, or the person asking a question. Because personality often dictates the outcome of astrological combinations, the best astrological predictions about people are based on solid understanding of the person’s birth chart. For example, if you are a fiery, argumentative person, you will take action in a different way from a watery, emotional person. If you are firmly rooted in practical reality, you will act differently from an intellectual, imaginative type.
Astrology also has a strong mythological component. The constellations themselves are figures from ancient mythology; many of them represent individuals who were given places in the sky by Jupiter (Zeus) at the end of their mortal lives. The signs of the zodiac, while no longer identical to the constellations, still retain the personalities of the corresponding constellations. The planets and asteroids are also named for mythological beings.
Modern astrology has taken a cue from the psychology of Carl Jung, and has integrated the gods and goddesses of mythology into its lore. World mythologies include just about every personality type you can imagine, so there is a story that fits everyone. In fact, there is a set of stories that, taken together, will describe your persona, your actions, and your overall life path.
People respond to myths and stories that resonate with their inner nature and personality. Milton Erikson, a well-known hypnotherapist, often used stories as part of his therapeutic techniques. While he used contemporary stories, for the most part, astrology has moved to the level of using myths to portray the stories being told in individual charts and lives. We can identify our own stories within mythology, and we can also heal ourselves through learning about mythical characters.
Myths of the Zodiac
Jung, in his work with patients, developed a sense of the archetypes that drove his various clients to do what they did. He found that many people are impelled to act a certain way—they have tremendous drive to discover something, achieve something or be something special. Jung identified these drives with archetypal figures from mythology.
Each sign of the zodiac reflects specific drives. For example, Capricorn’s drive is the search for dharma, or the right way to work out one’s life. Thus, Capricorn is closely associated with careers in astrology. Myths that include a component of struggle toward greatness are all associated with Capricorn (and its planet Saturn) in some way.
In Archetypes of the Zodiac, Kathleen Burt says, “The Capricorn archetype includes every concept, sense and meaning of time, from the most abstract Hindu, Mayan and Greek ages of the gods … to the concrete calendar year … ” Capricorn is the sign of the winter solstice, when the Sun turns in its path and begins its return to the north. The beginning of the zodiacal sign of Capricorn, therefore, is the beginning of the yearly cycle in many respects.
Capricorn, like each of the signs, is represented by a variety of archetypal figures and stories. Here are just three of the Capricorn archetypes:
If you have planets in Capricorn, you have probably encountered these three in your own life.
- The hardy mountain goat
- The mythical god Pan
- The scapegoat
The Planets and Mythology
Like the signs, born from the constellations, the planets also represent archetypal qualities. The planets are named after deities in the Roman pantheon, and each of them has a direct counterpart in Greek mythology. With a bit of reading, you find gods, goddesses, and spirits in nearly every culture’s mythology that parallel the Greek and Roman planetary archetypes.
In Mythic Astrology Applied, the authors have this to say about mythic astrology: “If there’s anything the current paradigm shift and pending age change is producing, it’s the idea that story-telling, imagery, mythology, visualization, and right-brain methods of achieving understanding is at a peak rebirth … Myths are stories [that provide] a way of understanding.” Arielle and Ken recommend the inner process of establishing deep connection with a planetary archetype. In doing so, you connect with facets of your personality that may have been deeply buried, but that can be brought into the light for you to work with, laugh about and generally appreciate.
We all recognize the power of the Sun in our lives, but we often forget that nearly all the ancient religions deified the Sun. Solar deities include the Egyptian Ra, Persian Mithras, Hindu Surya, Greek Apollo and Helios, and Japanese Amaterasu O Mikami. In the Arthurian legend, Gawain’s strength increased until noon and then decreased, linking him to the Sun. The solar myths speak of the strengths that we have as individuals, and these strengths are also characteristics associated with our Sun signs.
Suppose you feel your Sun is going through a weakened period. Mythic Astrology Applied provides planetary remedies, including some for the Sun and Moon. The most obvious solar remedy is to go outdoors and enjoy the sun’s rays! Less obvious, but often equally effective, are wearing a gold chain or jewelry that incorporates rubies and garnets. You will find that simply by paying attention to the energy of a planet and reading about its myths, you feel stronger and more vital in the area where that planet resides in your birth chart.
A word of caution—too much may not be a good thing. I have the Sun and Mars together in my chart. They are both fiery energies. I have to be careful not to overdo it when eating spicy foods, basking in the sun, or reading wildly exciting tales that can cause upsetting dreams. Each planet has difficulty as well as success in its mythology.
Planets in the Signs
We all have the same planets in our charts. What makes each of us unique is the arrangement of those planets in the signs. What happens when planet meets sign? The sign colors your experience of the planet’s energy. For example, the Moon reflects emotional life. The Moon in Aries, a fire sign, will be impulsive and even rash, like Aries. The Moon in Gemini (air), in contrast, will be verbally expressive and apt to change mood and direction easily (but not rashly).
In MythAstrology, Raven Kaldera provides archetypal images for every planet-in-sign combination. When I considered the mythical character associated with my own Sun sign, I understood it immediately. When I read the one for my mother, I had to think it through. She had the Sun in Aquarius, and Raven talks about the goddess Athena for this placement. Athena was primarily a sky goddess—cool, clear, and rational. That’s my mother. Athena bridges the genders, alternately wearing armor and a woman’s robes. That was not my mother at all! My mother was not revolutionary, as astrologers have come to see the sign of Aquarius. Athena was not the nurturing type, while my mother took good care of us and loved us. She also found great satisfaction in her teaching career as well.
When you explore the archetypes in your own chart, you will no doubt find contradictions, just as I found contradictions in looking at just one placement in my mother’s chart. The myths have a way of blending into each other, and that’s what you can do with your chart. What at first may seem to be ten independent characters, once you take a good look at them, begin to blend into one larger myth that becomes your own true story.
Applying Mythology to Astrology
So how can you use mythology in your astrological studies and consultations? One way is to incorporate the appropriate stories into your thinking or your client work. If you are having a bad Moon day, read a lunar myth or two. Immerse yourself in the positive power of the Moon to overcome any negativity you experience about that energy. If a client is going through a Saturn Return, sharing one or more Saturn myths can show the powerful side of the energy and help to get through a difficult time. If you are having an absolutely wonderful Sun transit, you may not feel like immediately reading solar mythology, but later, when the transits aren’t so wonderful, solar stories will remind you that the Sun will shine brightly on you again.
The constellations are arranged together in the sky in a logical configuration, based on their stories. As you explore the stories, consider exploring the night sky at the same time. Learn to identify the constellations that are part of your chart.
Another use of mythology is learning the nature of the signs and planets in the first place. As you read several stories about the same archetypal energy, you find that you can feel the tone of that archetype. It’s a simple way of allowing the planets and signs to act out their qualities for you.
As you broaden your knowledge of mythology, you simultaneously deepen your self-understanding. You also develop greater tolerance of other people, who are, after all, acting out their own unique mythology. Astrology offers a unique way to select myths that suit your individual temperament and style.
A professional astrologer for over twenty-five years, Stephanie Jean Clement, Ph.D., was a board member of the American Federation of Astrologers and a faculty member of Kepler College and NORWAC. Her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology prepared her to work... Read more
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