by Stephen Arroyo, M.A.
Part I – Astrology and Psychology
Astrology gets a bad rap with most people because they equate it to the sun sign columns shown in various places. Those columns are not astrology. Astrology is a very complex symbolic language.
Carl Jung understood the value of astrology. “Obviously astrology offers much to psychology, but that which the latter can contribute to its elder sister is less obvious.” Jung stated that the innate psychic predisposition of an individual “seems to be expressed in a recognizable way in the horoscope.” He emphasized that astrology includes the sum total of all ancient psychological knowledge. Jung also spoke of archetypes as the universal principles underlying and motivating all psychological life. Astrology is the language of symbols and is closely related to Jung’s views concerning archetypes.
Almost every culture we know of had some form of astrology. This was due to their sense of unity with the cosmic environment.
The unity of, and relation between man and the universe, is really the only assumption upon which astrology is based.
Man seems to know everything and understand nothing.
We need more of an emphasis on the whole rather than merely its parts; we need to look again at the universal principles underlying all life before we begin to tamper with nature.
L. L. Whyte – “If the whole of nature is one great system in perpetual transformation and development, the attempt to isolate any part is bound to lead to failure. . . . Man can only fully understand himself by fusing objective knowledge which is gained by observation of the whole of organic nature with the subjective knowledge of individual experience.”
Jung – “Scientific education is based . . . on statistical truths and abstract knowledge and therefore imparts an unrealistic, rational picture of the world, in which the individual, as a merely marginal phenomenon, plays no role. The individual, however, as an irrational datum, is the true and authentic carrier of reality.”
Joseph Campbell – the gods in myth (just like the planets in astrology) represent living forces and principles in the universe and in the lives of each of us.
Astrology is a way of understanding our fundamental nature, discovering our place in the universe, and helping us live in a creative and fulfilling way.
In astrology every individual is considered a whole and unique expression of universal principles, patterns and energies. The Zodiac was considered by the ancients as the “soul of nature” – that which gives form and order to life.
The birth chart is the graph through which the cosmos (or larger whole) enables us to understand its energies and rhythms, particularly how they operate within each individual.
No matter what label may be used to designate these universal principles, whether archetypes, essences, or formative principles, the fact remains that such forces exist in the universe and influence each of us both from within and from without.
Perhaps man can never express in words the transcendent realities of the cosmos. Still we can make use of this symbolic language if we consider it to represent universal patterns, principles and forces, however transcendent such factors may be.
The entire universe is one whole system – within the great whole there are lesser wholes whose structures, patterns and functions correspond completely to those of the greater whole. Compare a single atom to the solar system.
By studying the cycles and patterns in the greater whole (the planets) we can learn about the cycles and patterns within man himself.
If indeed the universe is one whole, how can anything cause anything else?
James F. T. Bugenthal – “To make a statement about a distant galaxy is to make a statement about oneself. To propose a ‘law’ of the action of mass and energy is to offer a hypothesis about one’s way of being in the world. To write a description of micro-organisms on a slide is to set forth an account of human experience. . . . any statement we make about the world ‘out there’ is inevitably, inescapably a statement about our theory of ourselves ‘in here’.”
The value of astrology is in the application of this knowledge of the universal laws in our individual lives.
Dane Rudhyar – basic premise – existence manifests at all levels in terms of wholes, organized fields of interdependent activities. Astrology is man’s most complete language of the form, structure and rhythm of functional wholes.
Rudhyar – “Each time anything individualizes out from the whole, it remains part of the whole. . . .This organic whole – the individual person – is essentially no different from the almost infinitely greater and vaster organized Whole, which we call the universe.
Rudhyar – the point is to be able to see where everything that happens at any time fits into the total pattern or structure of your existence. Showing man the meaningfulness of his life is the most important thing that astrology can do.
Humanistic astrology – changes from knowing what kind of problem a person has to what kind of person has a problem.
Part II – The Four Elements
Astrology has many symbols in its language. The four elements is one of many of the energies at play in a human being – one of many symbols an astrologer seeks to understand. It is, however, integral to all other symbols.
Analyzing the four elements is an energy approach to analyzing the birth chart. The basic foundation upon which astrology is based is energy – all physical and mental life is a manifestation of energy.
Astrology indicates that certain specific energies and energy patterns are established at birth and continue to operate throughout life. But what any individual will do with these energies and how he will direct them reflects free will.
Basic building blocks – these four elements interweave and combine to form all matter. At death the elements dissociate and return to their primal state. Life itself holds the elements together. The elements are fire, earth, air and water.
All four are in every person although each person is consciously attuned to some types of energy more than others.
In addition, each of the four elements manifests in three vibrational modalities. When we combine the four elements with the three modalities, we have twelve primary patterns of energy which are called the Zodiacal signs. The signs have been called energy fields, archetypal patterns, universal formative principals. All names for the same reality.
The planets in the signs serve as stimuli in the energy field of the signs. In ancient terms the planets symbolize the gods which must be worshipped. This means that these fundamental life forces cannot be ignored except at the peril of the individual. They must be recognized, paid due attention, and accepted; then the energy inherent in them can be consciously directed. If we are not aware of these forces in our lives, then we are at the mercy of them.
The Greeks felt the great sin was when an individual had the audacity and foolish pride to ignore the gods in some way. Naturally, the gods’ nemesis – explosion of pent-up forces that were refused a proper channel – followed inevitably.
Understanding the elements and modalities is the basic foundation of understanding astrology.
Many cultures have included the four elements in their philosophies and mythological traditions.
Your chart shows your energy field or what clairvoyants call the aura.
When we say “someone is out of their element” from the standpoint of astrology, that is probably true – someone is dealing with a realm of activity which is alien to his true nature.
We recharge our batteries by involving ourselves in activities that supply us with the necessary fuel. Signs in different elements would recharge in different ways.
The four elements and the three modalities are discussed in great depth as an education for the practicing astrologer. The remaining chapters of the book are also designed to be used as a reference tool for astrologers.
This has been a very high level overview. Hopefully it will provide useful information concerning the basic energetic philosophy upon which astrology is based.