SEMINARS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASTROLOGY I: THE DEVELOPMENT OF PERSONALITY


Astrologers owe much to the early psychologists of the 20th Century who studied what astrology reveals about the human character and integrated this study into their practices. I can only imagine the ridicule and disbelief they must have encountered from fellow academics, and that they persisted in blending the ancient practice of astrology with the modern science of psychology greatly enriched both fields. By the 1980’s, there was a Centre for Psychological Astrology established in the UK, and brilliant psychologists/astrologers carried their research to the wider public through seminars and publications.


Transcriptions of these seminars conducted by Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas were published and continue to be available through the Seminars in Psychological Astrology Series. The first book in the series is The Development of Personality. Other books in the series focus on the unconscious, the luminaries, and the inner planets. Liz Greene is particularly adept at weaving myth into her interpretations, and Howard Sasportas had a gift for explaining complex matters in simple language.


Particularly lively in the seminars is Liz Greene’s discussion of the “Puer,” the young, adventurous spirit, seeking escape from earthly bounds to trod though undiscovered territory, the “divine child;” and the “Senex,” the old man who “is the embodiment of law,” who seeks earthly accomplishments, and worships structure and order. She believes the Puer is largely represented by Jupiter and, to a certain extent, Uranus, in our charts, while Saturn indicated the Senex. Looking at how these planets are aspected and positioned in our charts can tell us which archetype is predominant, and in the aspects between these planets, we see how well these two very divergent energies function within the individual.


In exploring “The Parental Marriage in the Horoscope,” Liz Greene delves deeply into the effect our parents and their relationship have on our emerging psyches, and she believes we were born to have this interaction and suffer and eventually develop as an adult still carrying the complexes bred into us as young children. “There already exists an image of the parental marriage in the psyche of the newborn child,” she writes. Through analysis, using the horoscope as a tool, she is able to help patients trace the impact of their parents’ relationship and, enlightened by this awareness, patients may then choose to live out their own lives in a more creative way. As a parent, I must admit reading this chapter made me want to put a gun to my head, worrying how I had certainly but unconsciously screwed up my kids for all time.


Howard Sasportas is less alarming in his presentations. He links the Phase of Childhood to different aspects of the chart. The Prenatal Experience, he writes, may be understood when studying the 12th house. The birth is shown at the Ascendant. How well one negotiates the Oral Phase, from birth to two, is revealed by the Moon. The Anal Phase, from two to four, are described by the Sun and Mars. Venus covers the Oedipal phase, from four to six, and the School Age, from six to ten, is reflected in Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. In Adolescence, then, any problems encountered in these earlier phases may emerge to be dealt with again, “to redeem,” Sasportas tells us, “what went wrong in childhood.”

Sasporas is most enlightening when he describes “subpersonalities,” parts of ourselves which are unique and which may conflict or not necessarily work well with the other subpersonalities embodied in one individual. Astrologers can become bombarded with subpersonalities when first setting up a chart. How do we integrate a Sun in Cancer, a Moon Uranus conjunction in Leo, and a Mars in Sagittarius? Is this person a shy homebody, a dynamic and eclectic performer, or a world traveler? The answer could be all of the above. We have to make friends with the different elements of our chart, he tells us, and then all the energies can work together. We have to follow the Sun for our “development and growth,” but in doing so, our Moon may be made uncomfortable. Our Cancer Sun may need to stay close to home to tend family members for a certain period of time to fulfill something which is part of her path. The Leo Moon will be craving attention and recognition for her efforts, and the Uranus conjoined with the Moon will cause her to feel rebellious and longing for freedom. Once her responsibility to family is fulfilled, she may break out into a career of high visibility in broadcasting and feel emotionally fulfilled, although her Cancer Sun will cause her at times to long to be under the covers at home. She finds some career success and manages to balance it with family, but she is bored. Her Sagittarius Mars longs for expanded horizons, so she challenges herself further by going back to college or taking a job which requires travel. Eventually, all of her subpersonalities get to play a part in her life, but the process of integrating them takes time and certain periods of anxiety or frustration.


“The astrologer who uses the chart as a counseling tool,” Greene and Sasportas tell us, “is in a unique position of helping others in this all-important search to find meaning in their lives.” Throughout the Twentieth Century, astrology was brought into its full potential as a mirror of not what it happening in our lives, but why. Astrologers who looked to the stars as signs while gazing into the human psyche as psychologists played a vital role in this transformation.