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Donald Trump Birthchart

Trump the Triumphant
A Sober Assessment

By Glenn Perry

Trump - niceIt seems the impossible is unfolding before our eyes. Donald Trump has risen to the top of the polls amongst Republican candidates for the presidency. While this is disturbing to many, we should not be entirely surprised. Winning is nothing new to Trump. He’s been doing it consistently for five decades. His father once commented that “everything he seems to touch turns to gold.” However, a good chart analysis can provide a more nuanced, three dimensional understanding of the two-dimensional caricature typically presented in the daily news. Before examining Donald Trump’s birthchart for insight into the psychological underpinnings of his Midas touch―and the brazen confidence and self-promotion for which he’s famous―let’s review some facts about the Donald. 

Trump grew up in Queens, New York, the privileged son of a self-made millionaire. As a child he was naturally combative (he once punched a teacher), and at age 13 was expelled for misbehavior from the prestigious prep school he attended. His parents subsequently sent him to the New York Military Academy in hopes he would develop discipline and channel his innate aggressiveness in a positive direction. It seems to have worked. Trump was elected Captain of both the student regiment and baseball team. He went on to Wharton School of Finance where he graduated first in his class with a B.A. in economics. Donald subsequently decided to build a career on his father’s foundation. Frederick Christ Trump was a successful real estate developer in New York City. 

The Donald’s pattern of success has been based on a proven strategy: purchase run down, dilapidated properties on the verge of collapse and then restore them to their former glory. Examples include the old Penn Central, the bankrupt Commodore Hotel, the decrepit Wollman Rink in Central Park, the unfinished Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, and most recently the decaying Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami. Once acquired, Trump dispatches an army of architects, designers, and artists to renovate, refurbish, and dramatically improve the property. He then slaps his name on it and declares it the greatest. His guiding principle: “If it’s not the best, it’s not Trump…We represent the gold standard, and so that’s what we deliver. It’s a simple formula―and it works.”1

It is noteworthy that Trump’s run for the presidency is following the same general pattern. In this case, however, the degraded real estate he’s seeking to restore is America itself. Trump is capitalizing on the widespread perception that America is in decline, a once bountiful country now essentially bankrupt with an 18 trillion dollar debt, its elite AAA credit rating downgraded, its military status alarmingly weakened, porous borders overrun with illegal immigrants, industries decimated from bad trade deals, educational ranking plummeting to 17th on a global scale, and an explosion of race related violence in cities like Chicago, Ferguson, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and New York. 

Trump declares: “Let’s face it, America is in deep trouble. Our economy is a disaster. Thanks to Obama, the American dream is dead. But I can bring it back―bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”Classic Trump. His entire campaign is built on the promise: “I can make America great again.” But can he?

Donald Trump’s Birthchart
The first thing that jumps out in Trump’s chart is the strong Gemini-Sagittarius dialectic. With Sun conjunct Uranus in Gemini in the 10th, Trump is a fast talking, maverick businessman who made a career out of his ability to reform existing structures, as in renovating and remodeling old buildings. Sun-Uranus especially correlates with Trump’s outsider status as a political candidate, the rabble-rousing revolutionary leading a movement to overthrow politics-as-usual. This same configuration also enables him to see the global picture―the political and economic milieu―in ways that allow him to orchestrate complex projects and, if necessary, align himself with the forces of change.

Trump2, Donald (2)

Donald Trump Birthchart: June 14, 1946, 10:54am, Jamaica, NY

Like a blazing fast computer, Sun conjunct Uranus in Gemini digests and creates massive amounts of information. In Trump’s first of ten books, The Art of the Deal, he describes how he wakes up at 6am, reads the entire morning paper, arrives at work by 9am, makes 50 to 100 phone calls and holds a dozen or so 15-minute impromptu meetings throughout the day with city planners, mayors, bank managers, lawyers, architects, construction bosses, and so on. “Watch, listen, learn,” he writes. “You can’t know it all yourself…No matter how smart you are, no matter how comprehensive your education, no matter how wide ranging your experience, there is simply no way to acquire all the wisdom you need to make your business thrive.”Former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani notes that despite Trump’s penchant for outrageous statements, he learns very quickly. “The reality is he’s gotten better as a candidate,” says Giuliani. “This man learns like that. It’s unbelievable.”4

With Moon Sagittarius opposing his Sun-Uranus conjunction, Trump has a talent for understanding current trends, such as which way the market is moving in real estate. The Moon, of course, rules real estate, and Sagittarius is about connecting the dots and drawing a conclusion. Sagittarius anticipates the future while conferring an expansive sense of possibility. As Trump put it, “I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.”As the Moon symbolizes our capacity to care as well as our need for belonging (patriotism being one variant), it might be more accurate to say that Trump’s patriotic feelings run large, spilling over into a Sagittarian megaphone and proclaimed in a hyperbolic statement of opinion. It follows that Moon Sagittarius correlates to Trump’s penchant for exaggeration. In his announcement for the presidency, he trumpeted: “I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created!” That, of course, remains to be seen, though no one can doubt Trump’s patriotic fervor and ardent faith in his ability to move the country forward.

The opposition is a Libra aspect that requires the respective planets find a point of balance and cooperation, as in negotiating a deal. Ever since Trump wrote The Art of the Deal it could be argued that he is the world’s most famous negotiator. Not surprisingly, his strategy reflects the nature of the planets and signs that comprise his opposition―Sun-Uranus in Gemini opposed Moon Sagittarius. First, says Trump, establish rapport with the other side by building friendship and trust. Let them know you care, listen closely, and strive to understand what they want. In part, this reflects the Moon (caring, listening, understanding), but also the Sun (friendship, good will, liking the other person). In addition, he says, do your homework by uncovering relevant information; become the expert on the topic you’re negotiating. Clearly, this reflects the Gemini dimension of acquiring data. Next, convince the other side that they’re getting more than they expected; that is, sell them―an obvious Sagittarian tactic.

Trump also emphasizes the importance of remaining flexible and considering multiple solutions to every impasse. Adaptability is inherent in the nature of mutable signs Gemini and Sagittarius, whereas thinking outside the box is Uranian. The very title of his book emphasizes that negotiation is an art, which again reflects the opposition as a Libra angle. Art is inherent in the striving for harmony; that is, play fair, compromise when necessary, and place the other’s needs on a par with one’s own. Finally, the Sun correlates to strong, clear intentions―make the deal, get things done; yet, its conjunction with Uranus symbolizes his capacity to detach and walk away if the numbers don’t comport with his formula for success: buy low, sell high―in short, win.

Mars in Leo Conjunct the Ascendant
An especially important component of Trump’s birthchart is his Ascendant in Leo. In the chart shown here, it’s at 29 degrees Leo, but an alternative time of 9:51am places his Ascendant at 17 Leo. Either way, the Ascendant constitutes an instinctive way of being, that which we do spontaneously and automatically in the service of asserting our right to be. It correlates to the native’s first step forward and thus the first impression others have of who the person is―in other words, his or her appearance and, superficially speaking, personality (at least its outer surface). By definition, the terms person and personality differentiate self from others. Both derive from the Latin term persona, or mask, meaning a character one plays that does not encompass the true (whole) self. 

The Ascendant or “rising” sign is like that: a character one plays, the wrapping on the package, an instinctive way of being that hopefully gets the person moving forward. I say “hopefully” because some signs comport with the Ascendant more readily than others. As Aries is associated with the 1st house, any sign that trines Aries is a good fit for the Ascendant. Other than Aries, probably no sign works better on the Ascendant than Leo. Naturally warm and outgoing, the individual is apt to instinctively garner attention and court approval. As a social sign, Leo does this by making others feel special, which, in turn, inspires them to like you―the Leo rising person. It is a win-win strategy. Naturally affable and magnanimous, I marvel at how quick Trump is to heap praise on people he’s seeking to win over. The voters in Iowa, for example, are described as “wonderful” and “very smart” and “fantastic people” all because, apparently, they’ve moved Trump to the top of the polls in the upcoming caucus.

Leo is the popular sign. Its very nature is designed to arouse support and admiration. In politics this is known as “populism” because it constitutes an appeal to the common hopes and fears of the general population against the privileged, political elite or ruling class. Often it does this by inflammatory rhetoric and unrealistic promises in order to maximize appeal across the political spectrum. Again, this is precisely where Trump excels, not because it is a calculated strategy, but because Leo rising is naturally oriented this way. 

Of course, the Ascendant and Ascendant sign are two different things. The former will influence the way the latter is expressed. This is due to the Ascendant being an instinctive point of assertion; thus, like Mars, it has a quality of assertion built into it. The rising sign, therefore, receives this thrust and tends to manifest more ardently that it would, for instance, if it were the Moon sign. It also describes how one asserts as well as what is being asserted. With Leo on the Ascendant, the native will be instinctively confident, flamboyant, and proud. Moreover, they will assert their specialness at every opportunity, declaring their latest triumph, calling attention to their worth, and so on. All of this is done automatically and seemingly unconsciously―that is, without guile or forethought.

This is why Trump is often described as “authentic” and “a straight shooter”. Unlike typical politicians who calculate their strategy of the basis of poll surveys and campaign advisers, Trump simply lets it fly. Asked if he’s preparing for the upcoming debates by hiring coaches and experts, Trump responds: “Not really, I’m just going to be myself. I am who I am.” 

While Leo is itself a strong Ascendant, Mars in Leo conjunct the Ascendant is like Leo rising on steroids. This is because specific planets, signs, houses, and aspects share an archetypal kinship. Marking the cusp of the 1st house, the Ascendant corresponds to the 1st sign, Aries, its ruler, Mars, and the angle of the conjunction, or 0 degrees. All four variables share a similarity of meaning, albeit in different forms. With Mars conjunct the Ascendant there is a compounding of this archetypal energy since Mars, the conjunction, and the Ascendant are all variants on the same theme. And when placed together, there is an intensification of that theme, a doubling (or tripling) down. Because it is so strong and unusual, when I see this type of repeating theme in a birthchart it takes my breath away.

The intensification of Aries energy by virtue of Mars being conjunct the Ascendant will burst forth in a Leonian manner like a dramatic fireworks display, since colorful Leo is the sign through which the super bold, instinctive nature of Mars conjunct the Ascendant is expressed. With Aries-ruled Mars in a sign to which it naturally trines―Leo―the Donald is like confidence shot out of a cannon, an unstoppable force of nature, a wrecking ball with a smirk. He is the happy warrior, the glitzy gladiator, a charismatic presence so over-the-top in his self-aggrandizement that he comes off as a flaming narcissist. And yet, you can’t take your eyes off him any more than you can ignore an unscripted flasher prancing nude across the stage at the Academy Awards.

Speaking of upstaging, Donald epitomizes it. An often repeated metaphor in reference to Trump is that he sucks all the oxygen out of the room. So much media attention is focused on him that it is difficult for other candidates to gain traction. Deprived of airtime, their campaigns are suffocating, gasping for whatever oxygen can be siphoned away from the Trump express.

Donald Trump's BirthchartMars is the archetype of the warrior. If sufficiently provoked, it can express as anger, or outrage, a readiness to fight against anything that threatens one’s right to be. Focused on the here and now, its notorious “Just do it!” attitude doesn’t suffer fools gladly nor tolerate indecisiveness, weakness, or delay. With Mars in Leo, Trump is tapping into our collective outrage with inept leaders and the do-nothing miasma of politics as usual. In effect, he’s validating that outrage; he’s the wild-eyed cheerleader shouting, “You should be angry!” while simultaneously presenting himself as an action hero who can lead the country out the doldrums and back to the promise of the American dream―a revitalized economy, strong national defense, and get-tough attitude on crime. In a recent speech in Vegas, his blood-flushed face blown up on a background screen, Trump’s performance was so frenzied and incoherent that Reason’s Matt Welch quipped, “This isn’t a speech, it’s a seizure.”

Mars Leo on the Ascendant is like the Howard Beale character in the film Network who, during an inspired breakdown on his own news broadcast, rants about the depression, inflation, gang violence, escalating murder rate, and finally ends up exhorting his viewers to stick their heads out of their windows and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ In effect, this is Trump. He’s the politically incorrect madman stoking the fires of civil discontent; the perfect lightening rod for public outrage because he himself is outrageous―raw, fierce, brash, defiant, unapologetic, leveling everyone in his path with a shotgun blast of righteous indignation. Pollster Patrick Murray says that Trump’s attack list of complaints is “resonating with angry voters who are just really frustrated and feel that there’s nobody there who’s voicing that frustration on behalf of them.”6

Hot Air, Scorched Earth

As if Mars conjunct a Leo Ascendant were not enough, Mars also sextiles his Sun and trines his Moon. The lights are beneficiaries of Jupiter as well, which sextiles his Moon and trines his Sun. This is an embarrassment of riches, an extraordinary infusion of positive energy to the Sun-Moon opposition from the two fire planets, Mars and Jupiter. It certainly explains the seemingly limitless faith Trump has in his own abilities, the Midas touch, the larger-than-life persona and extravagant lifestyle.

But it’s not all roses and lollipops. Trump is unbalanced. He has seven planets in yang signs (air and fire), only three in water, and no planets at all in earth. This combination of elements is associated with hot air, the fast talking shyster who can sell ice to Eskimos. Upbeat, engaging, and extroverted, fire-air tends to be impatient with feelings, negativity, or limitation of any sort. Trump boasts that he will get the job done, for he’s a doer. Conversely, “politicians are just talkers,” he sneers. This is interesting in light of Trump’s own tendencies as reflected in his elemental imbalance. Anyone with a nose can smell the projection. Fuel injected by Mars-Jupiter, his Gemini-Sagittarius dialectic jumps into hyperdrive at the slightest provocation: racing thoughts, inflated rhetoric, rapid talking that is difficult to interrupt, and flight of ideas in a nearly continuous flow of bellicose speech. That pretty much sums up Trump’s announcement of his candidacy in a lengthy, impassioned, stream-of-consciousness discourse that had more twists and turns than a corkscrew. It’s also characteristic of Trump’s way of responding to questions during interviews.

Donald may be as full of himself as a bloviating contestant at a hotdog-eating contest, but it seems he does get the job done. At least he says he does. Trump asserts that he’s a Washington outsider who cannot be influenced by lobbyists or special interest groups because he’s funding his campaign mostly with his own money. The Donald never misses an opportunity to remind voters that he’s rich. How rich? “Very rich,” he says, endlessly. “I mean my net worth is many, many times Mitt Romney,” as he put it some time back. “Much, much richer.”He boasts that his assets total 9 billion, 240 million dollars with liabilities of only $500 million, which is mostly long-term debt with very low interest rates. But Allan Sloan, a Washington Post columnist and seven-time winner of the Loeb Award (business journalism’s highest honor), claims that Trump’s figures are more inflated than a hot air balloon.

Sloan lists six key reasons why Trump’s claims are not even remotely credible. As he put it: “Trump’s balance sheet is certainly over-inflated and doesn’t seem to be tethered to financial reality.”After a thorough and critical analysis of Trump’s assets, Sloan concludes: “There is no way on earth to tell what Trump is actually worth, because the numbers [he provides] aren’t supported by anything. If he had presented this balance sheet to me in a personal finance class, I’d have given him a short message: “You’re fired.”

All of this smacks of overcompensation for no earth. If fire-air is like an untethered hot air balloon, no-earth dispenses with gravity altogether while, at the same time, being obsessed with earth-like things and activities, as if seeking an external ground that is not felt internally. This is probably nowhere better illustrated than in his series of Trump Towers, ten or more skyscrapers all over the world that stretch the limits in an effort to get the most height from the least foundation. They are earthy, solid things to be sure―testaments to Trump’s success―yet, their relationship to the ground is ambivalent at best. It’s telling when Sloan says, “…the numbers aren’t supported by anything.” In other words, there’s no concrete substance or reality to what Trump claims is true. For a man who aspires to be president, this is concerning, especially in light of our federal juggernaut that is currently cranking out two billion dollars of debt per/day.

It is well known that Trump has had his own problems with debt, having been through a series of high-profile bankruptcies in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009. Each bankruptcy required compliance with a court-approved reorganization plan that even put Trump on a monthly budget for a while. Of course, Trump puts his own spin on this, bragging that he’s used federal laws to pare debt and make “a fantastic deal.” Trump deals exclusively in superlatives―the biggest, the best, the most fantastic―which reflects his Mars Leo Rising and fire-air nature, but also renders questionable the majority of his claims. Trump crows that his Art of the Deal is the best-selling business book of all time; his Macy’s line of clothing is the classiest; his Trump-branded casinos and hotels are the most luxurious; his Trump-branded golf courses are the greatest in the world; The Apprentice is the top-rated reality-television show, and on and on. But as Kevin Williamson of National Review put it, “None of that is ever true, of course.”9

In the public lexicon, the name “Trump” is almost synonymous with excess, overdoing, and going too far. This itself should give one pause. When the machinery of government is struggling to right itself and not spend more tax revenue than it takes in―an almost impossible task in today’s era of entitlement―is it realistic to believe that Trump is the man to turn this around? To be frugal in the budgets he submits to Congress? To reign in our 18 trillion dollar national debt? Putting Trump in charge of the federal budget may be like giving an amphetamine-addled adolescent responsibility for managing the family trust fund.

Summary and Conclusion
By any standard, Trump has led a remarkable life. That he should be 10 points ahead of his nearest Republican rival is even more astonishing. So far as I know, it is unprecedented that a non-politician could be leading the polls by such a wide margin in a presidential primary. Clearly, Trump’s style if not his message is resonating with an angry populace. His Sun-Moon opposition in Gemini-Sagittarius is consistent with his mercurial, expansive personality, quick mind, and capacity to persuade. Add Mars to a Leo Ascendant and the resultant combination is a combustible mix of brazen confidence, mental toughness, and moral outrage. Given the low approval rating of both Congress and Obama, a significant percentage of the country would like to fire the lot of them. And who better to do the firing than the Donald whose signature line is, “You’re fired!” 

Yet, the same parts of Trump’s chart that make him extraordinary as a businessman/entertainer make him vulnerable as a politician. His preponderance of air-fire signs and the Mars-Jupiter infusion into his Sun-Mon opposition contribute to the widespread impression that Trump is over-the-top, more of a spectacle than someone to be taken seriously as a presidential contender. If he were a building, most assuredly he would be a skyscraper, but is there an adequate foundation to sustain the structural integrity of that skyscraper during a hurricane? A sitting president will face several during his tenure. And why does a very rich man need to remind us constantly of how “very rich” he is? In his self-comparison to Mitt Romney, we catch a glimpse of a deep insecurity and tendency toward envy. These are not good signs for a prospective president, for they suggest that his brash self-confidence is compensatory for an unconscious fear that may lead to self-undoing, which America can ill-afford.

Trump’s presidential run reminds me of Aesop’s fable The Turtle and the Hare. As the story goes, the Hare ridicules the slow-moving Tortoise. Tired of the Hare’s incessant boasting, the Tortoise challenges the Hare to a race. Being an extremely fast runner, the Hare quickly leaves the Tortoise in his wake and, confident of winning, decides to take a nap halfway through the race. When the Hare awakens, however, he is startled to discover that the Tortoise, crawling slowly but steadily, has already crossed the finish line. The moral of the story is self-evident. Foolish over-confidence can lead to poor decisions that, in turn, result in defeat. Will Trump’s compensatory over-confidence inevitably result in a poor decision that collapses his candidacy like a crumbling tower and causes him to lose the race? Many pundits are expecting just that.

In other ways, Trump also reminds me of George Armstrong Custer, the red-haired, flamboyant, narcissistic general of the 7th Calvary who, in pursuit of personal glory, led his troops to massacre at Little Bighorn in 1876 by grossly underestimating the magnitude of the challenge he was facing. At the time of this writing, Trump is way out in front, as befits someone with Mars Leo on the Ascendant. If nothing else, Trump is a front runner, a sprinter by nature. And though he’s injected incalculable excitement into the Republican primaries, it remains to be seen how he will fare in the long run. One suspects his supporters may soon discover they’ve invited the bull into the proverbial china shop, a creature of instinct entirely unsuited to the intricate civilities of Washington politics. It has often been said that politics is a blood sport. If so, then perhaps it best requires the grace and courage of a bull fighter, not a bull.

* * * * *

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1 Newsmax, “Trump Does It Again,” July, 2015, p. 75-76 email, special sponsored Message to Newsmax Readers, 8/1/2015

Richter, Greg, “Rudy Giuliani: Trump Good for GOP,”, July 28, 2015,

Beamon, Todd. “Pollster on Trump: ‘Shotgun Approach’ Having Real Impact,”, July 30, 2015, 

Williamson, Kevin. “The Art of the Grotesque,” in National Review, August 10, 2015, p. 34.

Sloan, Allan. The Washington Post News, June 16, 2015. “6 reasons you can’t believe anything Donald Trump says about his $9 billion net worth,” at:

Williamson, Ibid., p. 35

AstroPsychology as Grounded Theory

Drawing Down the Heavens
AstroPsychology as Grounded Theory

By Glenn Perry

 In this article, I examine the origins of astrology as an outcome of inductive and deductive reasoning. Whereas inductive logic arrives at conclusions on the basis of concrete data, deductive logic predicts concrete outcomes on the basis of established principles. The danger of overreliance on deduction in astrology is that it can lead our field into a solipsistic, self-referential dead end―a closed system that fails to evolve. AstroPsychology may be a corrective to this trend in that it is a hybrid model grounded in data that derives from ongoing research across disciplines. 


AstroPsychology as grounded theory

Astrology from its inception has been based on data that correlates human experience to celestial movements. For example, if individuals born within thirty days following the vernal equinox were consistently observed to be more courageous than average, early astrologers logically concluded that Sun in Aries correlates to courage as a personality attribute. This is inductive reasoning.

However, once the general meanings of astrological variables were established―meanings of signs, planets, houses and so forth―practitioners were able to deduce probable outcomes from planetary positions. Deductive reasoning is the basis for the predictive dimension of astrology, reasoning from the general to the specific. If a particular configuration occurs, we can deduce its meaning (outcome) from time-honored principles of interpretation.

In doing so, however, there is a tendency to perpetuate a certain type and level of understanding―that is, to see what we have grown accustomed to seeing, to ask the same old questions and arrive at the same old answers. For a theory to evolve, there must be a willingness to depart from deductive reasoning that presumes a particular outcome on the basis of established principles. Even when correct, a deductive approach to knowledge tends to perpetuate the very theory that generates its predictions.

Conversely, an inductive approach to knowledge is rooted in whatever further data can be gleaned from a topic. Rather than predict, the goal is simply to observe, but with new eyes and fresh questions that probe ever deeper into the phenomenon under study. An evolving theory should be open to new data from which a more comprehensive understanding can emerge. Inductive reasoning is the essence of grounded theory as a research methodology. 

AstroPsychology as grounded theory implies a model derived from inductive logic, which is reasoning from the specific to the general. Again, you begin with some data, and then determine what general conclusion(s) can logically be derived from that data. Having Jupiter in Capricorn, I prefer my theoretical formulations about astrology to be as grounded as possible in tangible evidence. While my library has burgeoned to dangerous proportions―threatening to spill out into every room of the house―I must admit my thinking has been more influenced by client work than books. Of course, both are indispensable, but one advantage of working with clients in the slow, painstaking way that psychotherapy allows is that you get to see astrology up close in real time, like a botanist observing the unhurried, almost imperceptible movement of a flower unfolding its petals. After four decades of watching clients struggle, grow, and evolve, my understanding of astrology has changed.

Although I was a professional astrologer before becoming a psychotherapist, it always seemed to me that the two fields had much to offer one another. Both focus on human behavior; yet, astrology provides a language for disclosing connections between inner and outer realms of experience that goes far beyond anything psychology has to offer. At the same time, psychology offers new concepts and a methodological rigor that has broadened, deepened, and sharpened my understanding of astrological symbols. In short, I have tried to look at both fields with new eyes and fresh questions. The ongoing work of synthesis warrants a name, “AstroPsychology”. But what exactly does this mean?

A definition of AstroPsychology should start with a brief history of the term. Although astrology as generally practiced can be traced back to the first century B.C.E., its latest mutation―psychological astrology―occurred at the turn of the 20th century in response to three events. First, positivist science was at its peak and there was little tolerance for archaic systems like astrology that did not fit into the reigning mechanistic paradigm. Traditional, event-oriented astrology had come under increasing legal scrutiny, and astrologers actually risked arrest for making predictions. Focus on personality description was more acceptable, however, and so enabled astrologers to continue practicing with relative impunity.

Second, the theosophical movement that began during the latter half of the 19th century was in full swing and many of its leaders were astrologically literate, including Alice Bailey and Alan Leo. Because Theosophy addressed the spiritual, subjective realm of being—that is, psyche—Buddhist and Hindu ideas concerning karma, reincarnation, and growth of soul were incorporated into astrology.

And third, the new discipline of psychoanalysis was becoming increasingly popular during the opening decades of the 20th century. Given that astrology and psychoanalysis both sought to explain human behavior, astrologers were naturally drawn to the deeper, interior realm of psyche that Freud and his followers were beginning to articulate.

Together, these three factors launched a new kind of astrology that came to be known as psychological astrology. Its most noteworthy exponents were Alan Leo, Charles E. O. Carter, and Marc Edmond Jones. At the beginning of the movement, psychological astrology was little more than superficial descriptions of behavior, albeit in greater detail than typically occurred with traditional astrology. Toward the middle of the century, however, Dane Rudhyar began introducing Jungian and humanistic ideas into the field with an increasing emphasis upon the human capacity for growth and change.

By the 1970’s, the incomparable Richard Idemon began using the term “AstroPsychology” to differentiate his brand of Jungian oriented astrology from other practitioners. In Europe, the Swiss astrologer, Bruno Huber, also adopted the term, but with different meaning. Our work at the Academy of AstroPsychology can be seen as an evolution of Richard’s, though it has little in common with the Huber school.1

A New Personality Theory
Most of psychological astrology in the 20th century could be characterized as a mish-mash of humanistic and Jungian ideas without any formal structure. As such, it never developed into a systematic, full blown personality theory. Different authors made noteworthy contributions; yet, no single contribution reached the level of a personality theory in the tradition of a formal, psychological model. According to Hall and Lindzey’s classic tome, Theories of Personality, any adequate theory of personality should accomplish the following minimal objectives:2

  1. It must be comprehensive, or integrative, in that it deals with the total, functioning person.
  2. It must account for what motivates the human being.
  3. It must contain a set of empirical definitions concerning the various parts of the personality, thus permitting observation.
  4. It must consist of a network of assumptions about behavior that are systematically related in accordance with certain rules.
  5. It must be useful in that it is capable of generating predictions about behavior that are testable and verifiable, thus expanding knowledge.

Again, astrologers have made little if any attempt to meet the foregoing objectives in an explicit, systematic way. Yet anyone familiar with astrology knows that it implicitly meets all these requirements. Astrology is comprehensive in that it is concerned with all the parts and processes that make up the human psyche. The signs of the zodiac symbolize the basic drives that motivate human conduct, and their planetary rulers constitute parts of psychic structure that can be empirically defined, thus permitting observation. Rules of chart interpretation—chart synthesis—represent a network of assumptions about behavior that are systematically related. Finally, astrology is useful in that it is capable of generating predictions that are verifiable, thus promoting research and expanding knowledge.

For these reasons, a primary objective at the Academy of AstroPsychology has been to develop astrology into a comprehensive model of the psyche—an astrological theory of personality, if you will—that explicitly meets all of Hall and Lindzey’s criteria.As a meta-model, AstroPsychology cannot be defined in terms of any particular theory, but rather synthesizes a variety of ideas from different perspectives, including psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, Jungian/archetypal, object relations, humanistic, transpersonal, and general systems theory. It also utilizes information derived from developmental psychology and various spiritual traditions that emphasize the evolution of soul within an overarching, reincarnational framework. Rules for chart synthesis are explicitly formulated that allow for precision of meaning at a psychodynamic level while also allowing that astrological archetypes can manifest outwardly in a variety of ways. Particular stress is placed on the birthchart as symbolizing a developmental process that is expressed and experienced differently over time.

While ancient astrology roughly described how human behavior correlated to planetary positions, these descriptions were limited to surface features of the personality. In contrast, AstroPsychology plumbs the depths of soul and does so in terms that did not even exist prior to the 20th century. Basic needs, psychological functions, affect states, intrapsychic conflict, internal dialogues, unconscious complexes, defense mechanisms, pathogenic beliefs, personality disorders, developmental stages, and the gradual but inexorable movement toward self-actualization are all explained with the framework of AstroPsychology. Students do not need any background in psychology to understand these concepts, for they are seamlessly interwoven with astrology. In sum, this is what distinguishes AstroPsychology from psychological astrology in general: its broad, inclusive structure, emphasis on development, systematic precision, depth of focus, and spiritual import. 

Perhaps the single most defining attribute of AstroPsychology is its focus on integrating the birth chart and, thus, supporting the human potential for growth and change. Integration can be defined as the process of developing, differentiating, and coordinating personality components into a functional unity. Emphasis on integration is grounded in research that suggests the very purpose of human life—if not all life—is to evolve into more complex states until individuals recognize their at-one-ment with source. As the philosopher Manly Hall put it, “Man can think of his own life either as the fulfillment of himself, or as the gradual completion of a greater existence of which he is a part and with which he is indissolvably associated.”4

The Significance of Events
While AstroPsychology by definition is psychological, it also honors the importance of external events. Every variable in the chart has both a subjective and objective meaning, which implies that inner and outer reflect one another in an acausal, synchronistic way. As such, neither determines the other in a linear sense; rather, the relationship is circular. Psyche—that complex of attributes experienced as thought, feeling, and will—impacts the environment which, in turn, reacts upon the person in a continuous interactive cycle. Psyche is both a cause of, and response to, environmental conditions; we are defined and refined by our relations with the outside world.

If psyche encompasses its relations with the environment, then consciousness is non-local and what we call “fate” may actually be soul concretized through experience over time. This is what the birth chart seems to symbolize—an exteriorization of the soul’s pattern in terms of physiology, personality, and environment. Every meaningful experience is a synchronistic reflection of a pre-potent psychic structure that evolves by processing the event-consequences of its own internal states. This alone makes AstroPsychology unique as a personality theory.

The non-local, evolutionary nature of consciousness further implies that birthcharts do not depict a static character and unalterable fate. Rather, the horoscope symbolizes an unfolding process (soul) that learns, develops, and expresses itself at higher, more integrated levels over time.

Given that AstroPsychology is non-deterministic, its approach to forecasting warrants further comment. Over the last several decades, psychological astrology has been characterized as lacking sufficient focus on concrete, external events. Its seeming indifference to prediction rendered it vulnerable to criticism by practitioners who believed astrology’s primary function is (or should be) foreknowledge of the future. Also, if psychological astrologers do not have to predict empirical events, they are insulated from any kind of disproof mechanism. Statements about the inner world cannot be evaluated for accuracy with the same rigor as statements about the outer world. Accordingly, 20th century psychological astrology drifted into a fuzzy, vague, shoot-from-the-hip approach that made it suspect in the eyes of serious scholars.5 

AstroPsychology strives to remedy this problem. Again, while its primary focus is the psyche, there is also a keen interest in external events—not merely to predict them for their own sake, but to discern their significance as evolutionary drivers. An evolutionary driver is an event that serves as a catalyst and vehicle for a developmental process. As a catalyst, it triggers a shift in the native’s thinking and behavior that empowers him or her to meet a situation more effectively. And as a vehicle, it provides exactly the right type of situation—whether in marriage, career, health, or otherwise—to serve a corrective or educative purpose.

Understanding the significance of outer events enables astrologers to discuss them with clients in ways that support a natural, evolutionary process, for the event in question will always reflect a key configuration in the birthchart, whether natally or by transit/progression. When clients gain insight into what a situation means and requires from a growth oriented perspective, they are better able to consciously evolve; that is, intentionally collaborate with the cosmos toward realization of their full potential.

Another reason that events are important is that they provide a barometer for measuring the native’s level of functionality in a particular area of life. In other words, they serve a diagnostic function. If, for example, a woman with Neptune conjunct Mars in Scorpio in the 7th house consistently marries alcoholic, abusive men who exploit her financially, this is an important indication that she has significant work to do in the area of partnerships. On the other hand, if she enjoys a stable marriage with a man with whom she sets up a joint therapy practice that specializes in helping undifferentiated, low functioning couples in crisis, then this is an indicator that she is expressing that same configuration at a higher, more integrated level. Both outcomes equally express the same configuration. 

The question arises as to whether either outcome could be predicted. From the perspective of AstroPsychology, predicting specific outcomes is a guessing game of dubious merit even when the guess turns out to be correct. First, as the above example illustrates, a given configuration can be expressed at different levels of integration; thus, predicting outcomes is problematic—especially in the absence of historical knowledge about the person for whom one is predicting. Second, and more importantly, foreknowledge of an event is unhelpful if there is no understanding of the event’s significance as a vehicle for a specific kind of developmental process. What can be predicted, however, is the process that underlies the particulars of the event.

By “process” I mean the underlying needs and psychological functions of the configuration that serve as generative matrix for the event. Consider, for example, a client who has Sun conjunct Venus in Pisces in the 10th square Mars in Sagittarius in the 7th (see Figure 1). As a nurse, she is constantly encountering unruly, self-righteous others who insist that she immediately comply with their demands. In other words, her 7th house relationships are characterized by an outspoken and aggressive Mars in Sagittarius, which she is projecting. As a result, she identifies with her Venus-Sun in Pisces at the expense of her Mars. She is kind, loving, and compassionate, but frequently feels like a victim of other’s selfish aggression. As an event-pattern, her experience can be understood in terms of the level of integration she’s expressing with regard to the square.

Sun-Venus square Mars

Figure 1: Sun conjunct Venus square Mars

As a process, each planet in the configuration signifies a basic need and behavioral action—to express oneself and fulfill self-esteem needs (Sun), to engage others and satisfy needs for social relations (Venus), and to act in one’s own self-interest for the sake of freedom and survival (Mars). These planetary processes are colored by the signs they tenant, and unfold in the context of the houses they occupy. The square signifies an intrapsychic conflict that requires containment in awareness of the respective processes so they can be effectively coordinated. To the extent this conflict remains unconscious and unresolved, defenses like repression and projection will assure that troubling events occur without her having any awareness of her own role in bringing them about.

From an astrological perspective, however, we can see not only the quality of events that are likely to occur, but their meaning and purpose as well. We might infer that the event-pattern of aggressive others impinging upon our kindly nurse is occurring for the sake of arousing her own Mar’s function to awareness so that it can be more fully integrated with her Venus-Sun. Fire has to be fought with fire, but tempered with fairness (Venus) and honor (Sun) that expresses compassion (Pisces) toward her offenders while also asserting clear limits (Mars). To the degree that she is able to rise to the challenge that her circumstances dictate, both her relationships (7th) and career (10th) will improve.

A single event might encapsulate the pattern. That is, it can reflect the underlying process and provide a vehicle for its further integration. Imagine that when the configuration is activated by a transit our sensitive client has to contend with intrusive demands by a high-minded nurse with whom she is partnering in a ward for accident victims. Such an outcome would reflect the astrological variables involved in her natal square. But any number of other events can serve the process just as well. Accordingly, predicting concrete events is secondary to knowing the abstract function they serve. Prediction is important, but not as an early warning system to advise clients in taking evasive or exploitive action; rather, prediction can be utilized as a means of supporting the client in meeting life’s opportunities and challenges with the proper attitude. By understanding the underlying purpose of a given period, clients are better able to actualize the potential for growth inherent in the time.

Inescapable Indeterminacy
De-emphasis on predicting concrete events is also in keeping with the multidimensionality, intra-dimensional variability, and polyvalence of astrological archetypes. An astrological variable is multidimensional in the sense that it can symbolize multiple dimensions of meaning both within and without. For example, Mars can signify a basic need (survival), psychological function (assertion), state of mind (excitement), and behavioral trait (bold), while also representing an external character (rival), place (racetrack), thing (weapon), or event (competition). Within any of these dimensions there is intra-dimensional variability. As an event, for instance, Mars could also be an argument, a new beginning, or simply an adventure. Finally, astrological archetypes are polyvalent in that they combine with other variables—signs, houses, and aspects—which shape and modify their expression in countless ways.

With regard to polyvalence, a configuration such as a planetary aspect involves multiple signs, planets, and houses. As such, it constitutes a higher level system that exerts regulative control over its component parts. The aspect constrains, shapes, and modifies the functioning of the parts so that they comply with the objectives of the higher level system. Although every component has multiple possible expressions, each is swept up in the structure of the psychic form it helps to comprise; thus, from the myriad potential expressions of each part, each particular expression is selected and coordinated to form a single, coherent, relatively integrated holistic pattern, much like a family exerts regulative control upon its members to comply with the values and objectives of the family as a whole. Without such downward causation, the internal world of the psyche would be a teeming, buzzing chaos.

Astrology’s enormous flexibility as a language means there is an inescapable ambiguity and indeterminacy to birthcharts. One cannot reliably determine concrete particulars from a system that is inherently indeterminate. This underscores why predicting process—the purpose and meaning of a time period—not only is of greater value than guessing outcomes, it is also more in accord with what is actually possible. Purpose and meaning occur at a higher level of abstraction than concrete particulars; or, stated in the reverse, different manifestations of a configuration can have the same or similar meaning.

For example, imagine two individuals with identical charts—one a Catholic priest and the other a white supremacist—both of whom have transiting Jupiter conjuncting Pluto Scorpio in the 9th opposing Mars Taurus in the 3rd (see Figure 2). Separate events occur that are personally relevant to each. In the first, the Catholic priest is accused of sodomizing a young boy in his congregation but is protected from prosecution by the archbishop of his province. In the second, a prejudiced Alabama court acquits the white supremacist who is being tried for blowing up a black church and maiming a little girl. Concretely, the events seem different; yet, at a higher level of abstraction, each incident constitutes an injustice in which a powerful but corrupt moral authority—the archbishop and Alabama court—exonerates a perpetrator who has violated a victim in a church.


Jupiter Transit

Figure 2: Transiting Jupiter conjunct Pluto in the 9th

Although the particular outcome in each case is not predictable, astrology allows us to surmise the meaning of the period independent of the events that occur. The outcome was fortunate for the perpetrators, which correlates to the Jupiter transit, but fortunate in the context of a heinous act symbolized by Pluto Scorpio in the 9th opposing Mars Taurus in the 3rd. One might infer from the variables involved that the purpose of such a transit is for the perpetrators to reflect upon the moral implications of their violent crimes. Although each escapes punishment, we should not assume that such injustice has no value as a learning experience. The extent to which our pedophile priest and racial bigot mend their ways will be tested by the next major transit to the same configuration. If it is Saturn, they might not be so lucky. The upshot is that the outcome of a transit might not be knowable in advance, but its meaning and purpose can be.

Summary & Conclusion
Psychological astrology began in the 20th century in concert with cultural developments that set the stage for the emergence of a new type of astrology. While early formulations tended to be vague, imprecise, and overly focused on behavioral traits, AstroPsychology presents a highly structured, coherent system that not only reveals the intrapsychic world with unprecedented depth, clarity and precision, but is equally mindful of the circular feedback relations that occur between inner and outer reality.

AstroPsychology recognizes the importance of events as vehicles and catalysts for a developmental process; yet, also accepts the radical indeterminacy of outcomes and thus the futility of predicting events if incognizant of their significance as evolutionary drivers. By stressing the abstract meaning of events over their concrete form, individuals are empowered to consciously cooperate with an evolutionary imperative at the heart of the cosmos.

A prime objective at the Academy of AstroPsychology has been to develop astrology into a theory of personality that is both rigorous and flexible. The purpose of this effort is not merely to gain acceptance for astrology within the field of psychology, but for the inherent value of building a cutting edge, cogent model that subsumes and integrates relevant concepts from different traditions and thereby advances our understanding of what it means to be human.

* * * * *


1 This article is abstracted from Perry, G. An Introduction to AstroPsychology. Haddam Neck, CT: AAP Press, 2012.

Hall, C., & Lindzey, G. (1978). Theories of person­ality. New York: John Wiley & Sons

The Academy of AstroPsychology offers online classes in astrology as a personality theory, developmental model, and diagnostic/prognostic tool.

4 Hall, M.P. (1954). The essential nature of consciousness. Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society

 5 Hand, R. Toward a Postmodern Astrology. Published at, cited September 1, 2014.


Multiple Layers of Meaning

Multiple Layers of Meaning 

By Glenn Perry


Multiple layers of meaningStudent: Recently I heard an astrologer give a reading in which he made no mention of planets in signs or houses. He only interpreted aspects. The client was going through her Saturn return and the astrologer interpreted Saturn conjunct natal Saturn, but that’s all. Yet, it seemed to be helpful! I’ve also heard astrologers interpret planets in signs but they did not seem to fit the person. Maybe sign positions are superfluous? In striving to understand chart synthesis, how important are signs and houses in comparison to just aspects? 

Glenn: There’s no question that aspects are extremely important. In chart synthesis, they’re the skeletal structure upon which the sign positions can be added, like flesh on bone. And the houses provide the background setting in which the planetary aspect plays out. Unless we’re talking about a conjunction, there are generally 7 variables in an aspect that have to be combined into an intelligible statement—two planets, two signs, two houses, and the aspect itself. The complexity of the challenge is daunting and so the tendency is to focus on two variables at a time, the planet in a sign, or a house, or in aspect to another planet. However, fragmenting the person in this way misses how all these variables combine to make the person who he or she actually is.
It is relatively easy to say something intelligible about a planet’s sign or house position or a single aspect to another planet. But unless the astrologer takes pains to explain that the interpretation only pertains to a part of the person—that is, it does not describe the person as a whole—then the client is unlikely to recognize the validity of the description offered.
All of this underscores the importance of talking to the client before interpreting the chart. Unless the astrologer takes time to really know his client, it’s almost impossible to make an interpretation that synthesizes the seven variables in a way that is actually relevant to how the client is expressing that configuration. Again, the challenge is incorporating the sign and house positions into the interpretation of the aspect. This makes the interpretation more nuanced, specific, and complex in its ability to more closely approximate the person’s actual experience.
I call this “layering.” Just as the earth has different layers from its core to its atmosphere, so astrologically a planet has a core meaning for itself, over which is layered the meaning of its sign position, its house position, and additional layers contingent upon its aspects. The more an interpretation combines one meaning layered over another in a way that relates to the client’s actual life concerns, then the more accurate, precise, and relevant the interpretation becomes.
Such an interpretation has the quality of a subplot within the larger narrative of the chart as a whole. It is too complex to be reduced to a series of statements about personality traits. Conversely, if a simple interpretation is made of a planet in a sign, or a house, and these factors are not synthesized with the aspect of which they are a part, then it remains generic and not nearly so relevant to the actual experience of that particular person. 
To give a simple example, I have two clients with Venus forming an opening square to Mars. Generically, this suggest some difficulty in being able to tolerate the tension of conflicting drives, one for attachment (Venus) and the other for autonomy (Mars). The first person, a woman, has Venus in Pisces in the 10th and Mars in Sagittarius in the 7th. Her tendency is to dissociate (Pisces defense) when in relationship because she worries the other person will become aggressive and violate her rights. With her Mars in Sagittarius, she anticipates she will be attacked on moral grounds (Sagittarius). Since Venus is in the 10th, her Pisces defense of dissociation (passivity, withdrawal) occurs most noticeably in her profession where she takes on more responsibility than she can actually handle. In other words, she cannot say ‘no’.
The second person has Venus in Libra in the 9th square Mars in Cancer in the 7th. His fear is that if he commits to marriage with his girlfriend he’ll lose his freedom, so he equivocates and placates and appeases, which is characteristic of Venus in Libra. Since his Mars is in Cancer, he anticipates she will be angry and hurt if he wishes to spend time with his friends. He worries that her dependency needs (Cancer) will overwhelm his capacity to adapt (Libra). And since his Venus is in the 9th, he rationalizes his reluctance to commit on legal grounds (9th house) that divorce laws are biased in favor of woman. 
More could be said about both cases, but hopefully this brief example illustrates the subtle differences between aspects on the basis of sign and house positions. The devil is in the details to be sure, but the larger story is in how the details fit together to make a life.
In courses AP 102 through 104, specific rules are taught that enable students to make complex, layered interpretations that are maximally relevant and accurate while also allowing for flexibility of meaning. For more on this topic, see my column on “Astromyopia”.

Robin Williams Birthchart

Robin Williams
Too Much Water, Too Little Air

By Glenn Perry


Robin Williams birthchartBy now, everyone surely knows that Robin Williams hung himself on Monday, August 11th, 2014 at his home in Tiburon, California. Apparently, he had been battling depression over the last year, and perhaps his whole life. It is true that his progressed Sun conjuncted natal Saturn in June 2013, and that transiting Neptune was approaching an exact conjunction with his Moon. And certainly there are other relevant transits and progressions to Robin Williams birthchart that we might surmise contributed to his untimely end. But these cannot explain the lifelong vulnerability to mental illness that haunted him. 

If I did not already know Robin Williams, my initial impression of his chart would be that he’s an extraordinarily sensitive, somewhat maudlin individual with a bit of a dark side (Scorpio Rising). Years ago when I first saw Williams’ horoscope, I was surprised. I was expecting some kind of zany Aquarian type energy that would be a fitting signature for his unorthodox, wacky, frenetic humor. I did not expect to see Sun Cancer with Moon in Pisces. A chart with both lights plus the Ascendant in water is too sedate and inhibited to fit the irrepressible Robin Williams. But now I know better.

As is true with any chart, the key lies in seeing how all the parts fit together. One crucial factor in understanding Williams’ manic performances is the emphasis on his 9th house (Mercury, Pluto, Sun), and the centrality of Jupiter as the planet with the most aspects (5). The closing trine from Moon to Mars-Uranus in the 8th may be particularly telling. As a Sagittarian angle to planets that also receive the square from Jupiter, there’s quite a bit of Sag-like energy in that configuration. All of this would be consistent with mania. For mania is the pathology that best reflects the extreme, unbalanced expression of Sag-Jupiter type energy, which helps us understand Williams, too.1

Robin WilliamsCST

Robin Williams: July 21, 1951, 1:34 pm CST, Chicago, IL

A strong emphasis on the archetype of Sagittarius (by house, aspect, and Jupiter) may be a contributory or even necessary factor in Williams’ mania, but it is not sufficient. The other important factor is the signs in which the relevant planets reside. Note that the closing trine from Moon to Mars-Uranus occurs in two water signs, Cancer and Pisces. Underneath all that manic-Sag energy is an extraordinary sensitivity, a bottomless well of feeling that extends to unfathomable depths. As a metaphor, I’m picturing a hot air balloon rocketing into the skies with its furnace going full blast. But below there is a yawning, cavernous lake at the bottom of which resides the dead family of the native. The hot air balloon signifies his escape route, a desperate, feverish attempt to fly above and away from a tragedy too horrible to face, a grave situation that threatens to pull him down into a morass of guilt and grief that will extinguish all happiness forever. This is just a metaphor, of course. Yet, the real story is not entirely dissimilar. 

In the vast majority of cases, mania alternates with depression. This is what is meant by bi-polar disorder—two diametrically opposed states that vacillate back and forth. What goes up, must come down. Writer Greg Gutfield noted that comics are like construction workers dangling from the girders, inevitably one will fall down. It is an apt metaphor, as comedy can be understood as compensatory to the demons that lurk below. Comics are notorious for being quiet and reflective in their personal lives, and often tortured in their private thoughts. In a 2006 NPR radio interview with “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross, Williams said that mania was something he imitated for various characters he performed, but he was not always manic. “Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes,” Williams said. “Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”2

Seeing Williams perform his frenzied comedy routines, I always had the impression that he was struggling to stay away from something—to rise above it, but not necessarily in a good way. This is typical of humor, of course. As a defense, it allows us to bind and release feelings that are too painful to face directly. It is almost cliché to say that comedy is born out of suffering. Like his idol Jonathan Winters (who was also bipolar), Robin’s comedy style seemed more self-generated than interactional. He was like a self-sustaining, perpetual motion machine that only minimally required interaction with other people on stage. Once he went on a riff, he could sustain it under his own steam with little input from anyone else. For him to actually stop, listen, and connect with others would merely interrupt the self-stimulating flow of his non-stop free-associations. Exciting, crazy, brilliant, it was breathtaking to watch him. It was as if he were channeling some comedy sprite. But such a pattern of behavior is more than simply a talent. It reflects something deeper. When the ‘on’ switch is always on, one suspects the off switch is dreaded.

Robin WIlliams natal chart
Robin WIlliams

In the interview with Terry Gross, Williams was asked if he had ever been diagnosed with clinical depression. Williams answered: “No clinical depression, no. No. I get bummed, like I think a lot of us do at certain times. You look at the world and go, Whoa.” This is interesting, for it suggests Williams’ sadness was more in response to collective suffering than to events in his personal life. In a 2010 interview for The Guardian, Decca Aitkenhead observed that Williams seemed to be two different people. On camera he’s “hyperactive to the point of deranged, ricocheting between voices, riffing off his internal dialogues.” Off-camera, however, she notes he is a different kettle of fish. “His bearing is intensely Zen and almost mournful, and when he’s not putting on voices he speaks in a low, tremulous baritone – as if on the verge of tears – that would work very well if he were delivering a funeral eulogy. He seems gentle and kind – even tender – but the overwhelming impression is one of sadness.”3

Too Much Water, Too Little Air
Aitkenhead provides as good a description of Sun Cancer/Moon Pisces as you’ll read in any astrology text. Her experience of Williams is consistent with what one might expect with someone whose dominant function is water. As astrologers, we know water is the most vulnerable of elements. Each water sign in its own way signifies a need to love and be loved—Cancer, to love those who depend on us for care; Scorpio, to love another with a depth of passion that transforms both lover and beloved; and Pisces, to love humanity with an indiscriminate, all-inclusive compassion that transcends the petty differences that separate us. But water-needs come with a price, for almost invariably our actual experience of love will fall short of the ideal. And it is precisely the failure to realize that ideal—failure to love enough and frustration of our need to be loved—that makes water so susceptible to emotional pain.

All of this is especially true of Moon Pisces, for it combines two watery elements—the Moon, which rules the personal sign of Cancer, and Pisces, the transpersonal water sign. Moon Pisces thus signifies an instinct to love collective humanity in a personal way, as if every human being were one’s own child, especially those victimized by an absence of love. At the time of this writing, I know little of William’s family background, children, divorces or anything of the sort, but Moon Pisces suggests he is no stranger to loss and tragedy, even if it is not his own. Moon Pisces feels everyone’s loss as if it were their own. As the poet John Donne wrote, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.” Pisces is existential guilt, the guilt we feel merely for being human; the sort of guilt that reminds us we are our brother’s keeper and that tugs at our conscience whenever we see another person suffering. This condition is exacerbated when the Moon disposes three planets in Cancer, one of which is the Sun. By way of dispositorship, all that Cancer energy leads to the Moon, which, in turn, injects even more feeling into the Cancer clad planets it trines. That’s a whole lot of unrestrained Cancer-Pisces energy. In fact, it’s non-stop, just like Robin’s comedy style.

Speaking of comedy, a word about Scorpio is in order. While astrologers seldom speak of Scorpio as a sign of humor, its relevance to comedy is self-evident. The vast majority of humor reveals a grievance of one sort or another; it addresses those things about which we experience the most discomfort—processes of elimination (bathroom humor), fear, pain, shame, sex, power, and at the top of the list, death—all of which are ruled by Scorpio. A primary function of humor is to release feelings that accumulate around such topics. Such catharsis is orgasmic and healing, which we experience as laughter. With Scorpio ascending, this was Williams’ prime directive, his most basic instinct. Scorpio rising assured he would seek an outlet for the fear, pain, and shame that we all experience as human beings. And with the focal planets of his T-Square (Mars conjunct Uranus) in the 8th house, this only underscores the centrality of the Scorpio archetype in Robin’s chart. 

Even with such an outlet, however, we must assume it was insufficient to process the sheer depth of pain that Williams experienced, all of which seemed to be funneled into his Moon Pisces. Just consider the chain of dispositors. His Scorpio Ascendant is ruled by Pluto, which (with Mercury) is disposed by the Sun, which (with Mars and Uranus) is disposed by the Moon. The Moon is disposed by Neptune and Neptune by Venus (with Saturn), which leads back to Mercury-Pluto, and so the cycle repeats. At the bottom of his chart, however, is the basin into which all his water flows: Moon Pisces. This is the cavernous lake of infinite depth that I suspect he sought to avoid, but in the end claimed him.

Whether by synchronicity or merely a casting director’s intuition, actors have a tendency to be cast in roles that reflect their core issues and character structure. To cite but one of innumerable examples involving Williams, he was cast early in his career as the irreverent DJ,  Adrian Cronauer, in the 1987 film Good Morning Vietnam. Initially he manages to stay above the pain of war by spoofing the military in his usual manic way, but his humor is like a tourniquet on a bleeding wound. Soon he is drawn down into the underbelly of Saigon and comes face to face with the horrors that afflict both Americans and Vietnamese alike. His anguish is palpable. He wants to save everyone. He fails.

We might say it is the story of his life.

When you consider Williams’ life as a whole—beautiful wife, beloved by millions, a home in Tiburon, millions of dollars in assets, and an ongoing fun career that seemed to have no limits—one is compelled to ask, what’s wrong with this picture? If a person cannot be happy with all that, what hope is there for the rest of us? But Moon Pisces is not merely a container of personal happiness; it’s also an open vessel for all the suffering in the world. Its emotional antennae is attuned to the millions of victims one cannot save, the stark tragedies of life, the sickness and despair, the excruciating losses and ineluctable grief that sweeps across the oceans like a tsunami into one’s own consciousness.

What effective response can there be to such suffering? My answer is rationality—the state of being reasonable. That’s what air is about. It confers the ability to step above the immediate situation and view issues from a detached perspective regardless of how upsetting they might be emotionally. Air is the witness, the spectator, the objective function that serves as a mediator between the ideal and the real. This provides the individual with a logical, rational faculty that enables him to learn the underlying causes and reasons for what ails us, and to propose sensible solutions.

Given the sheer amount of suffering in the world, this might seem cold, unfeeling, even indifferent. But that’s precisely the point: the element of air allows us to recognize the sheer unreasonableness of assuming responsibility for the world’s ills. As an individual, you do what you can—contribute to charities, support worthy causes—and turn the rest over to God and the slow, patient unfolding of time. After all, you’re just one person, here for only a brief moment in the vast expanse of human history. You have to keep things in perspective. Left unchallenged, however, the existential guilt of Pisces can metastasize into excessive, unwarranted, irrational guilt—the kind of guilt that robs you of personal happiness and sabotages your health and well-being in the misguided notion that you should atone for the imaginary crime of not helping enough. Guilt of this sort leads to the classic Piscean act of self-undoing. When mired in irrational guilt, a martini beckons like a seductive temptress and a line of cocaine says, “Take me in; oh yeah, I’ll fix your problem alright.” And very soon one is a victim oneself, of addiction, a condition that Williams battled for much of his adult life.  

In Williams chart, air is his inferior element, which should come as no surprise. Its only inhabitant is Neptune in Libra in the 11th house, which forms the third leg of the T-Square to Mars-Uranus and Jupiter. One suspects Neptune in Libra was a co-conspirator in that manic T-Square that Williams utilized to avoid grief, for Libra is antithetical to feeling. It seeks a way out by playing fair and being nice. I am reminded of the scene in The Abyss in which the couple played by Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio argue over who should put on the only diving suit as their damaged midget submarine slowly filled with—you guessed it, water. Each kindly offered to let the other live, but whatever rationality remained between them was soon overcome by the sheer, overpowering amount of water that submerged them. 

If Neptune in Libra is your only planet in air and you’ve four planets in water, it can be like getting a note from the hospital that says, “The good news is that we’ve learned a lot about the virus that originated in you, killed your family, and subsequently wiped out your home state of Illinois. But gosh isn’t it wonderful that you survived!” A polite communication utterly dwarfed by the tragedy of its contents. My point is simply this: too little air in the face of too much water cannot mitigate with rationality the guilt that one is required to endure. So, into the depths you go, flailing and gasping. How ironic that Williams died of asphyxiation, literally a condition of severely deficient oxygen to the body—or, too little air.

Further testament to Williams’ lack of air is his 2010 interview for The Guardian. Aitkenhead notes that Williams only became coherent when talking about his travails with alcohol and subsequent guilt. Otherwise, 

He is vague, tangential and at times more or less incomprehensible.…the freakish articulacy showcased in Good Morning Vietnam was gone. Quite often when he opens his mouth a slur of unrelated words come out, like a dozen different false starts tangled together, from which an actual sentence eventually finds its way out….It’s like trying to tune into a long-wave radio station.4

Certainly, this can typify a lack of air. What Williams really wanted to talk about, it turns out, is his relapse into alcoholism—in other words, water topics, at which point Aktkenhead says he suddenly becomes lucid and forthcoming. Robin admits he resumed drinking in 2006 to deal with a general all-round “fearfulness and anxiety,” and he laments how his second marriage ended in 2008 largely because of his drinking, even though by then he was sober. “You know, I was shameful” he confesses, “and you do stuff that causes disgust, and that’s hard to recover from.”5

Clearly, Williams feels guilty about his drinking and the destruction of his marriage. However, I suspect this merely encapsulates a deeper, more irrational guilt that drove him to drink in the first place. The consequences of his drinking is not the true source of his grief and guilt, merely the visible tip of the proverbial iceberg, a focal point into which he can pour his feelings. The ultimate wellspring of his suffering is more diffuse, ineffable, and without bounds, like Pisces itself.

According to all reports, Robin Williams did not leave a suicide note. And so we may never know the real reason that compelled him to take his own life. My best guess is that he simply did not know how to make sense of his feelings. His capacity for a rational and objective response to the world’s ills, which he experienced as his own, was simply inadequate to the extraordinary depth of compassion he felt in the face of human suffering. Sometimes one can be too good a person, which is its own kind of illness. Robin’s stopgap remedy was humor, and when that failed, drugs and alcohol; and when that failed, suicide by hanging, as if he truly were a criminal. In the end, his escape into the giddy heights of manic humor failed him. Perhaps he simply ran out of gas. The gravity of his situation finally proved too much, pulling him down into that deep dark lake and extinguishing forever the last flicker of brilliance in a tortured soul. 


* * * * *


1 Perry, G. Depth Analysis of the Natal Chart. Haddam Neck, CT: AAP Press. See in particular Chapter 6, “Psychopathology of the Zodiac”.

“Robin Williams on Depression: ‘I Get Bummed’, from The Huffington Post, by Kurt Heine, posted 08/11/2014 at 11:07 pm, at

Aitkenhead, Decca. “Robin Williams: ‘I was shameful, did stuff that caused disgust – that’s hard to recover from'”, in The Guardian, posted Sunday 19 September 2010.

4 Ibid

5 Ibid

The Significance of Planetary Emotions

The Significance of
Planetary Emotions

By Glenn Perry

planetary emotionsA
t the heart of AstroPsychology is the simple assertion: needs motivate. But to account for motivation, a model of the psyche must deal with human feelings and emotions. Once a felt need begins to dominate awareness, that person is motivated to engage in behaviors that satisfy the need. People act out of anger, fear, curiosity, love, excitement, pride, shame, aesthetic pleasure, and so on. In this column, we will explore the significance of planetary emotions for an astrological theory of personality.

The relationship between planets and signs provides a key to understanding feelings. Planets are actors of the personality. Each planet signifies a particular type of action that is designed to fulfill specific needs. Yet, how do we know which planet and which action is appropriate to a given situation? What is it that tells us when to act and with what degree of intensity? Our answer is zodiacal signs. Each zodiacal sign can be correlated with a set of interrelated psychological needs and associated feelings. When needs are triggered by events, they are communicated via feelings to the appropriate planetary function, telling it what to do, when to do it, and how much of it should be done. Feelings, in short, provide a means for prioritizing needs. To take a simple example, Gemini correlates to the need for learning. If a person experiences interest in a particular topic, their curiosity activates the Mercury function of inquiry. Learning is the Gemini need, curiosity the feeling, and inquiry the Mercury action.

Emotions versus Feelings
Before proceeding further, it will be useful to distinguish emotions from feelings. Emotions can be described as complex, physiological reactions to the meaning of an object or event. They comprise the core responses that constitute our subjective experience and may derive from basic organizing principles in the Universe—archetypes—that are immanent in nature at all levels. It’s been established, for instance, that animals and even plants have emotional responses to events that are not appreciably different from human emotions.1 Proceeding from Aries through Pisces, each sign can be correlated with a group of related emotions. Taking one emotion from each sign-group, some examples would be: anger, calmness, curiosity, caring, happiness, worry, attraction, fear, hope, determination, detachment, and compassion. 

Feelings are the more general and secondary term, for they entail an evaluative response to emotional (and sensory) experience. A fish may feel slimy, and its sliminess may be further evaluated as strange, good, or bad, all which can be called ‘feelings’. But none of these are emotions. Conversely, a person may see a barracuda swimming toward him, and feel fear. The emotion is fear, and the feeling of his fear prompts him to avoid the barracuda. While a directly felt emotion is virtually indistinguishable from a feeling, it precedes feeling in the way that heat precedes the sensation of being burned. It would be fair to say, therefore, that all felt emotions are feelings, but not all feelings are emotions. Also, an emotion may or may not be felt. If a person gripped by fear allows it into full, conscious awareness, we can say he feels afraid. But if he defends against his fear, he may not feel it at all. Yet, it is still there, influencing his behavior at an unconscious level. His emotion of fear exists whether he feels it or not. For purposes of simplicity, I will use the words ’emotion’ and ‘feeling’ interchangeably in the remainder of this article.

Emotions and Suffering
The exact nature of emotional responses is a complex phenomenon that has spawned a considerable amount of research over the last 100 years, including entire books dedicated to the subject.My own view is that emotions are archetypal voices of sign-planet motivational systems. As such, they function as barometers of need satisfaction. From the ancient Greeks to the middle of the 18th century, what we now call emotions was commonly referred to as passions. Passion derives from the Latin, pati, which in turn is related to the Greek, pathos, meaning suffering. Also related to passion are such terms as passivity and patient. Emotions are experienced passively in the sense that they are beyond the individual’s control, as when a patient “succumbs” to illness. The term emotion comes from the Latin, e + movere, which originally meant to migrate or transfer from one place to another. It was also used to refer to states of agitation or perturbation, whether physical or psychological. Emotion thus emphasizes the often stormy or turbulent nature of our reactions, and their tendency to arouse and activate behavior.

At the root of these concepts is the notion that an individual who is experiencing emotion is undergoing or suffering some change, as opposed to initiating change.3 In other words, emotions are passively rather than actively experienced. Colloquially, the experience of passivity during emotion is expressed in many ways. We “fall” in love, are “paralyzed” by fear, “plagued” with doubt, “haunted” by guilt,” “torn” by jealousy, “carried away” with joy, “consumed” by envy, “seized” with remorse, and so forth. In archetypal psychology, one speaks of “daimon possession,” meaning the usurpation of the total personality by a split-off part. This way of speaking implies that emotions are something that happens to us, not something we do. It is as though emotions were alien forces that “overcome” and “possess” an individual.

Astrological texts tend to associate the Moon with feelings. However, this is simplistic and misleading, as every sign-planet system corresponds to its own range of feelings. Even an air sign like Aquarius is characterized by a certain kind of emotion—detached, remote, distant, tolerant, dispassionate, cold, and aloof. Such feelings are associated with Uranian functions of objective overview and holistic perspective. This serves to illustrate that every planetary action has its own emotional undercurrent, including behavior that we might normally consider unemotional. As a psychological function, the Moon is merely our capacity to contain and reflect upon needs/feelings conveyed by each sign-planet system.

In his book, Affects as Process, Jones declares that emotions, or “affects” (the two terms being synonymous), are best understood as presymbolic representatives and governors of motivational systems.4 An emotion is presymbolic because it is a way of knowing that does not depend upon the symbol systems we call language, and it is the experiential representative of a motive because it conveys information about our state of being and what we need at any given moment. In short, an affect is an analog of a psycho-physiological state. Just as sense organs within the brain monitor the body’s states and needs through feelings such as hunger, thirst, and temperature, so emotions provide a continuous readout of how the psyche is functioning. If a person’s freedom (Aries) is threatened, he feels anger; if his desire for learning (Gemini) is stimulated, he feels curious; if his need for self-esteem (Leo) is met, he feels proud. “Emotions are the experiential monitor of complex motivational systems,” says Jones. “By cross-comparing the affective intensity of feelings from competing systems, the organism has a simple, effective way of prioritizing information and thus reaching a decision, which, in turn, initiates a course of action.”It is in this regard that emotions are governors of motivational systems.

Astrological Corollaries
Again, we can think of this astrologically by relating each sign-planet motivational system to a specific range of affects. Consider, for example, the Leo-Sun system. We know that a sign’s need can be inferred from behavior that is characteristic of that sign. All Leo traits can be understood in the context of the need for validation, self-esteem, and approval. If these needs are met, the individual attains the target state of Leo-Sun, which is pride and confidence. In pursuit of this state, however, he may momentarily experience a whole range of Leonian affects on a continuum from positive to negative: confident, happy, buoyant, playful, worthy, willful, stubborn, defensive, disdainful, unworthy, self-doubting, unconfident, humiliated, or ashamed. Such feelings inform him as to how far or close he is to the solar target state of pride/confidence.

Planets, or course, have relations with one another, which can give rise to mixed feelings that are prioritized in accord with whatever need/feeling is strongest and most immediate. An example might be a young man with Mars square Moon who experiences a simultaneous desire for freedom (Aries) and closeness (Cancer). As one motivational system is competing with the other, the intensity of competing affects allow for a quick means of prioritizing information and determining choice. If our young man recently spent a considerable amount of time alone pursuing independent interests, it is likely that his Cancer-Moon motivational system will emerge into awareness with greater affective intensity, thus motivating him to seek closeness. However, if he just enjoyed an intimate weekend with his girlfriend at home, his Aries-Mars motivational system is likely to become dominant and he will feel an urge to separate.

The connection between emotions and motives is illustrated by the etymologic history of the terms. Both words are derivatives of the Latin movere and its past participle motivere. In effect, emotions are subjective experiences that “move” us to action. Psychologist Abraham Maslow referred to needs as “impulse-voices.” If sufficiently attuned to these archetypal voices, one can “hear” what they want. Asked to account for his sudden separation from his girlfriend, the young man might say, “Something was telling me to leave; I had to get away.” Further reflection might reveal that he felt restless. Very often when there is too much or too prolonged closeness an individual will begin to feel irritated with his or her partner, often provoking a fight. In retrospect, one can see that the feeling of irritation and subsequent fight was operating in the service of a need to separate.

Again, affects are prime motivators of behavior. “Cross-sectionally, affects provide the principle means of identifying moment-to-moment shifts in motivational dominance” writes Lichtenberg.In other words, emotions provide the affective signal indicating what motivational system is operative. If planets could talk, each would have a characteristic imperative; each would have has its own distinct internal voice.

Aries-Mars:  “Just do it! Go for it! It’s your right.”

Taurus-Venus:  “If it feels good, enjoy it. Pleasure yourself. Mellow out.”

Gemini-Mercury: “That’s interesting; define and classify it. Put on your thinking cap.”

Cancer-Moon:  “Listen, turn inward; what are you feeling now?”

Leo-Sun:  “Let it shine, baby. Express yourself!”

Virgo-Mercury:  “Be careful, there’s a problem here. Figure it out.”

Libra-Venus:  “Turn on the charm and engage. Consider, compromise, and cooperate.”

Scorpio-Pluto:  “Face your fear and take it to the limit. It’s do or die. Get down and dirty.”

Sagittarius-Jupiter:  “Keep the faith, baby. God is good. Just do the right thing.”

Capricorn-Saturn:  “Bear down and focus. Concentrate. Control yourself.”

Aquarius-Uranus:  “Expect the unexpected. Stay open and detached.”

Pisces-Neptune:  “Let go and let God. Surrender. Trust the Universe.”

The above examples illustrate how we experience planets as a form of self-talk. These are our inner voices, the archetypal imperatives that tell us what to do through specific emotional signals that are converted into symbolic language. For example, we might feel angry (Mars) and then say to ourselves, “I’ve got to fight; he can’t do that to me!” If we feel attracted (Venus), we might think: “Be nice; let them know you are interested.” Each planetary state has its own agenda and behavioral imperative.

As analogs of psycho-physiological states, affects are experienced through a range of intensity. This intensity gradient can be described by pairs of words that represent opposite extremes of emotion along a continuum. In our astrological model, there is a different affective range for each planet. Mars is joy-rage; the Sun is pride-shame; Neptune is bliss-grief, and so on.Experienced changes in intensity are the analogic representation of complex sensing systems that allow us to make quantitative distinctions, such as how angry is the person (Mars), how determined (Saturn), or how proud (Sun). Intensity variations in affects provide the means for prioritizing needs: the loudest, most intense affect is the one that gains our attention and thus activates the behavioral sequences of that sign-planet system.

Conflict & Integration Involving Aspects
Planetary emotions also differ qualitatively along a continuum of affective states. This qualitative range illustrates various degrees of integration of sign-planet motivational systems. A well-integrated, fully functional planet will more often be experienced in terms of positive affects, whereas a repressed, weak planetary function will more often be experienced in terms of negative affects. If, for example, an individual has difficulty with the Capricorn-Saturn motive, he is more likely to experience the negative end of Saturn’s emotional continuum—despair, pessimism, and inferiority. However, if he overcomes this tendency and works to strengthen his Saturn function, he is more likely to experience its positive states—a feeling of control, success, and superior status.

As indicated by the Mars-Moon example, a person may experience conflicting emotions and voices as evidenced by hard aspects between planets. In such instances, both planets are activated simultaneously, each with its own feelings, motivational imperative, and impulse to action; yet, planetary impulses are operating at cross-purposes. This is what is meant by ‘intrapsychic conflict’. A whole range of intrapsychic and thus emotional conflicts can be symbolized in the birthchart. Hard aspects tend to signify blockages and intensifications of motivational energy, resulting in the under- or overfunctioning of planetary functions.

If a person has Sun square Saturn, for example, the solar function can be temporarily blocked by the Saturnian injunction to favor work over play. When emotions signal it’s time to enjoy oneself and socialize with friends, they are ignored with the result that Leonian needs build up within the psyche. When finally released, the person may overdo attempts to gain approval and validation, as if having to compensate for inner feelings of low self-esteem. It can operate the other way, too. Favoring play over work, emotions that signal its time get serious and productive are avoided (procrastination). Unmet Capricorn needs build up in the psyche and when finally released the person may overwork to compensate for feelings of failure and inadequacy. Sometimes, an outer condition arises that synchronistically reflects the inner conflict. With Sun-Saturn, the person’s rejection of his Saturnian impulses may manifest externally as a domineering boss with unrealistic demands. Of course, integrated versions of Sun square Saturn are also possible.

In a future column, we will explore how the relationship of emotion to motivation can be described in terms of calibration and psychodynamics, and how these, in turn, are depicted in the astrological chart. For a full explication of this model, please see An Introduction to AstroPsychology and Depth Analysis of the Natal Chart. Meanwhile, stay tuned!

* * * * *


1 Watson, L. (1973).  Supernature.  Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

2 See, for example, Averill, J.R. (1980). The emotions. In E. Staub (Ed.) Personality: Basic aspects and current research (pp. 133-199). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Also, Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence. New York: Bantam.

3 Averill, Ibid

4 Jones, J. (1995). Affects as process. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press.

5  Ibid., p. 45

6 Lichtenberg, J. (1989) Psychoanalysis and motivation. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press, p. 260

7  For graphs and tables of planetary emotional states, see Chapter 4 of Depth Analysis of the Natal Chart.

Deconstructing the Grand Cross: A Present-Centered View

Deconstructing the Grand Cross
A Present-Centered view

By Glenn Perry

the grand crossF
or months the astrological community has been ablaze with commentary on the grand cross in cardinal signs, exact this very day, April 23, 2014. A grand cross entails four planets occupying approximately the same degree in four different signs, all of which either square or oppose one another. Pluto in Capricorn, Uranus in Aries, Mars in Libra, and Jupiter in Cancer currently occupy the 13th degree of their respective signs, adding an even more ominous note to the proceedings. 

At the time of this writing a cursory review reveals that most astrologers focused on prediction of likely events. The usual suspects are included: wars and revolts, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, monetary crises, the end of the world and general mayhem. 

Astrologer Zell Bodine writes on Facebook: “Will the Cardinal Grand Square Explode This Week?” She continues: “It’s like three warehouses full of fireworks, TNT, and nuclear fission materials with three fuses, one each, leading straight to them. And Mars holds the other end of all three fuses, ready to light three matches on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.” Zell goes on to list other, more positive possibilities, but it is a compelling metaphor that illustrates how easy it is to be alarmed by the aspect in question. 

Grand Cross 4-23-14, 1115am

Rather than attempt to predict events that, in fact, are already occurring, I would like to deconstruct the configuration into its respective parts and interpret it at a process level. Astrological configurations admit of two levels of interpretation: process and content. Process is the underlying, archetypal dynamics that operate at a more abstract level, whereas content pertains to observable behavior and events. The general rule is that content mirrors process. Tangible outcomes provide a vehicle and catalyst for an evolutionary process that is endlessly unfolding. In this article, we will take a look at some of the more dramatic expressions of the grand cross, while keeping in mind that such events exemplify a deeper, archetypal reality. 

The Grand Cross: Some Preliminary Remarks

World transits can be distinguished from personal transits. The latter pertains to planetary movements in relation to natal charts. Unlike personal transits, world transits are pervasive and affect everyone generically. They apply more to the collective psyche.

There is a tendency to think that dramatic configurations like a grand cross can be isolated in time as if they are singular events, like a wayward comet smashing into the earth’s crust. In actuality, every planet is continuously engaged in a synodic cycle with every other planet. Synodic cycles mark the period of time it takes for any two planets to move from their conjunction to the opposition and back again, thus completing a full circle. Synodic cycles are punctuated by the same 30-degree angles that comprise the tropical zodiac. Aspects, in effect, derive their meaning from the signs that correspond to those angles. An opposition, for example, has a Libra quality since Libra is the sign that marks the 180 degree angle from the vernal equinox (0 degrees Aries).

Each pairing relates to broad themes that crystallize into focus whenever there is an aspect between the relevant planets. And as the planets move out of aspect, these same thematic elements recede into the background. This rhythmic unfolding and enfolding serves to remind us that any current transit is but the latest chapter in a never-ending story co-authored and continuously updated by the respective planets. A world transit is a phase of development in an evolutionary process that has no beginning or discernable end. Every planetary aspect, therefore, has an ancestral line, earlier incarnations in which those two planets made the same aspect in different signs. And while there will be similarities between the respective incarnations, there are differences, too. Just as the adult form of an organism is different from its juvenile phase, so later forms of a transit will tend to manifest in more mature ways.

Significantly at the present time, several dyadic pairings are coalescing into a more complex story—a grand cross—comprised of not two planets making a single aspect but four planets making six interdependent aspects:

  1. Pluto square Uranus
  2. Pluto opposed Jupiter
  3. Pluto square Mars
  4. Uranus square Jupiter
  5. Uranus opposed Mars
  6. Jupiter square Mars

Each of the above aspects is considered ‘hard’, meaning they denote stress and conflict between competing aims. Squares correspond to the signs Cancer and Capricorn, and as such are aspects of containment and control. They signify that the respective planets have to exercise restraint in relation to one another in order to prevent unwanted outcomes. If properly integrated, squares can be utilized in caring ways and harnessed for significant accomplishment. Similarly, oppositions are comprised of complimentary opposites engaged in open conflict, which can only be resolved by compromise. As Libra angles, oppositions afford opportunities for true partnership in which each planet balances and enriches the functioning of the other. Given that the grand cross is comprised of four squares and two oppositions, representative events will be characterized more by the square than the opposition. Squares are like hammer and anvil; irresistible force meets immovable object. Two or more powers locked in dynamic tension struggle to maintain control. In the end, some sort of compromise (opposition) must be affected. Stripped to its bare bones, this is the grand cross.

Also significant is the fact that each planet of the grand cross is in a particular sign, which adds four additional variables to the mix. In total, we have four planets in four signs making six aspects—thus, 20 variables—all working together as dynamic parts of a complex whole system. As with any complex system, the interaction of component parts will produce emergent properties that do not exist at the level of the parts that comprise it; in effect, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Given that any single variable has a multiplicity of meanings that when combined with other variables can produce an exponentially greater number of outcomes, it is a stupendous task indeed to predict exactly how these 20 odd variables will manifest. Since the human mind is only capable of dealing with a limited number of variables at once, interpretation of a complex scenario like the grand cross is akin to putting together the pieces of a puzzle. Eventually, the whole comes into view.

It is fascinating to observe how events invariably reflect the meaning of world transits. In general, however, we are much better at seeing these connections in retrospect than via prognostication. Astrologers are enamored with their ability to predict the future (however poorly), and the general populace seems to assume that this is our proper role. Personally, I believe there is greater value in using astrology to understand the archetypal meaning and purpose of events that are currently unfolding; that is, to use astrology to more fully and consciously live in the present rather than worry anxiously and helplessly about an uncertain future.

Study of archetypal dynamics helps us recognize the significance of events—not just events on the global stage, but also those within our businesses, communities, and families. Focus on prediction of world-shaking events like wars and earthquakes can be misleading in that it suggests only those events are likely to occur. Yet, the same configuration that is reflected in global events also manifests through the myriad happenings of our individual daily lives, albeit in a more subtle manner. World transits are equal opportunity employers: they affect everyone, everything, everywhere. This point was driven home recently when a client was discussing her exasperation with a dysfunctional university where she was employed. The problems of the university could have been lifted from the daily headlines pertaining to our dysfunctional federal government, for they were identical in microcosm. 

Uranus square Pluto

When interpreting an aspect, it is advisable to start with the slower moving planet, for a planet’s influence is inversely proportional to its speed: the slower the planet, the more powerful. It follows that Pluto is the dominant player and proper place to start in our analysis of the current grand cross. Since it is forming aspects to Uranus (opening square), Jupiter (opposition), and Mars (closing square), we can expect that Pluto’s presence will be particularly salient in the world at this time. The dark lord is spreading its influence into the domains ruled by each of the planets it aspects. Each will be deepened, intensified, and rendered more passionate; each will be imbued with a transformational imperative.

The opening square to Uranus has been felt for several years now, as Pluto first squared Uranus in June 2012. Due to retrograde motion it will have been exact seven times by the last square on March 16, 2015. Squares between these two planets rarely occur more than once a century. Accordingly, this aspect is more of a backdrop to the current grand cross, though its effects will be expanded by Jupiter and inflamed by Mars for the remainder of the current month. Pluto has intensified the Uranian impulse for collective evolution and cultural revolution, infusing Uranus with a do-or-die mentality. This has taken different forms in different countries since 2012, being most pronounced in nations that are already unstable, as exists in much of the Middle East; and less so in countries that are more stable, such as the United States and China.

The signature event of Uranus square Pluto is the Arab spring that has morphed into a seemingly endless winter threatening Egypt, Libya, Syria, and their neighbors. Dysfunctional dictatorships are being threatened by radical uprisings demanding greater freedom and economic opportunity. In the United States, this same pressure for change is embodied in conservative (Tea Party) and liberal (Occupy) movements locked in an intense ideological battle for the future of the country. Conservatives, favoring Pluto in Capricorn, advocate for elimination of administrative waste and inefficiency, opting for smaller government, lower taxes, and fewer regulations as the surest route to deficit reduction and economic prosperity. Too much change and social engineering (Uranus) is seen as a threat to fiscally responsible policies that would otherwise be employed to achieve a balanced budget and solid, measured growth. Liberals, on the other hand, favor Uranian solutions for social justice and the reduction of income disparity between rich and poor via higher taxes, more deficit spending, and expansive government programs that redistribute wealth.

It is noteworthy with the opening square that the relationship between Pluto and Uranus is in a Cancerian phase, for that is the sign that corresponds to the opening square. As with Cancer, opening squares have an inhibiting, restraining effect. Just as the Sun at the summer solstice appears to slow, come to a stop, and then reverse its course by moving progressively lower in the sky over the next six months, so the opening square signifies a slowing and potential reversal of course in the relationship between the respective planets. The current synodic cycle of Uranus and Pluto began in 1964-1967 when the two planets were conjunct. In the United States, this period corresponded to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ‘great society’ and ‘war on poverty’ that entailed the inception of government entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and welfare. Designed to eliminate poverty and care for its citizenry ‘from cradle to grave’, entitlement programs are the heart of the welfare state. Likewise in China, the 1964-1967 Uranus-Pluto conjunction triggered the launch of Mao Zedong’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ that sought to implement socialist policies that would assure a more equitable (re)-distribution of wealth.

With the opening square, it is precisely what began during the conjunction that has to be reappraised and, if necessary, reversed in order to assure sustainable progress. Johnson’s entitlement programs that began with the conjunction are now thought to be unsustainable and if continued in their current form will bankrupt the country.

As with any aspect, the relationship between Uranus and Pluto goes both ways. Not only does Pluto intensify and deepen the Uranian impulse for progress, but Uranus radicalizes and objectifies the Plutonic impulse for transformation. While this can have myriad effects in Plutonic realms of medicine/healing, human sexuality, and all things associated with depth and death, it is apt to be especially noticeable in economics. Pluto rules the financial realm. In accord with the square from Uranus over the last few years, there has been increasing evidence that the global monetary system is outdated and dangerously unstable. This is most obvious in the out-of-control deficit spending of western hemisphere nations, including and especially the United States. Some kind of substantive reform in monetary policy seems inevitable and likely to occur before the last Uranus-Pluto square of 2015. It is against this backdrop that Mars and Jupiter’s contribution to the grand cross must be considered. 

Jupiter opposed Pluto

Jupiter is associated with justice, laws, ideologies, religions, doctrines, and belief systems in general. When opposed to Pluto, this dimension of life is deepened, intensified, and rendered more extreme at least partly in response to Pluto’s transformational imperative. Unintegrated oppositions have a pulling-apart quality characterized by reciprocal influence and mutual resistance. The result is a see-saw effect with first one planet then the other vying for dominance. We can expect intense ideological battles involving various factions attempting to convert the other to their own (opposing) point-of-view. This is palpable, for example, between religions like Islam and Christianity, racial divisions like blacks and whites, competing parties such as Democrats and Republicans, and rival economic policies such as Keynesianism and monetarism.

While the religious extremism of groups like al Qaeda has been conspicuous for decades, there’s been a spike in reports of religious extremism during this current Jupiter-Pluto period. Only last week there was a flagrant al-Qaeda meeting in Yemen that included over 100 members openly planning to launch attacks against foreign interests. Within days, U.S. drone strikes killed 55 al-Qaeda militants, the most recent strike being only yesterday. Of course, this event is best understood in the context of the entire grand cross. Mars square Pluto can correlate to terrorism,while Uranus in Aries opposed Mars is an apt signature for radical militants whose violent intentions triggered a high-tech, immunizing response from the skies—a lethal drone strike, perhaps the ultimate example of blowback.

On a related note, the traditional Christian story of the resurrection of Jesus Christ—itself a Jupiter-Pluto event—was celebrated this Easter weekend accompanied by numerous stories of the persecution of Christians at home and abroad. The synchronicity of the grand cross with Easter is interesting in light of the fact that crucifixion of Christ on the cross is an apt metaphor of the grand cross configuration: the shocking death (Uranus-Pluto) of a religious figure (Jupiter) by violent means (Mars). Other Jupiter-Pluto reports this weekend featured the upcoming release of the religious film, Son of God, the final scene of which is the crucifixion. Producer Mark Burnett admits the film is unabashedly evangelical with the goal not merely to entertain but convert—a Plutonic intention that will surely divide the true believers from their secularist/atheist counterparts.

Another dramatic example of Jupiter opposed Pluto has been unfolding this week at the Nevada cattle ranch of Cliven Bundy. A long simmering feud between Bundy and the federal Bureau Of Land Management (BLM) boiled over in charges that Bundy owes back fees for his cattle grazing on federal lands. Jupiter-Pluto dynamics are perfectly encapsulated in legal judgments (Jupiter) against Bundy’s family and home (Cancer) with regard to his alleged indebtedness (Pluto) to the federal government (Capricorn). The footprint of this opposition is also plainly evident in the legal dispute over whether states or the federal government should control public range lands. Bundy’s revolt would not have made news except for the fact that armed federal agents replete with attack dogs and snipers surrounded his property. This, in turn, triggered a response by local militia groups coming to Bundy’s aid armed to the teeth in defiance of federal agents. Critics charge that the Bundy standoff has brought into sharp focus the overreaching (Jupiter) of the federal government in violation (Pluto) of state’s rights, a point we will return to shortly. 

Bundy subsequently made racially insensitive remarks about African Americans having a better life under conditions of slavery than they do on welfare, which ostensibly was Bundy’s attempt to castigate the federal government for enslaving people by keeping them dependent. Only a few days later, the issue of race again exploded in the national news when the owner of Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball franchise, Donald Sterling, was banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million after recordings of him making racist comments were made public. This sparked a national debate on race and the extent to which the United States has become increasingly intolerant of racism, whether of whites against blacks or blacks against whites. All of this is consistent with a wound (Pluto) surfacing in relation to issues of justice (Jupiter), as one might expect when Jupiter and Pluto engage in open dialogue via the opposition. As always with Pluto transits, an opportunity presents itself for a deeper level of integration—in this case, literally the deeper integration of a minority (blacks) within the majority (whites). 

Uranus square Jupiter and opposed Mars

When Uranus and Jupiter square off we can expect changes in conventional morality, established laws, and religious tenets, to name a few. When forming a hard aspect to Jupiter, Uranus tends to objectify and challenge standard interpretations of any belief system. Judicial activism is a good example. It occurs when judges decline to apply in a neutral and unbiased fashion constitutional law (Jupiter) according to its original public meaning; instead, they decide cases based on subjective policy preferences in an apparent attempt to bring about social change (Uranus).

Something similar occurred a few days ago when U.S. president Barack Obama signed a law enacted by Congress to deny entry to the U.S. of an Iranian ambassador, Hamid Aboutalebi, who was involved in the 1979 hostage crisis during which fifty-two Americans were held for over a year. In signing the law approved by Congress, Obama stated he would consider it “advisory” and not binding. Critics charge that like his predecessor, George Bush, Obama is reinterpreting laws at his discretion and doing an end run around Congress in the process. On Monday, April 21, he rewrote federal law again by extending his power of ‘pardon’ to allow the early release of drug felons—heroin and crack cocaine dealers—incarcerated under draconian sentencing regimes that by today’s standards would seem excessive. Advocates are seizing the opportunity to file thousands of new clemency petitions.

These examples serve to illustrate the general trend when Uranus and Jupiter are square. Certainly there are innumerable other challenges and rebellions against conventional law/morality occurring at the present time, most of which we will never know because they do not rise to the level of national news. Accordingly, we must content ourselves with a few examples that serve to illustrate the larger principle.

Returning to the Bundy ranch, the Nevada cattleman made it clear that he does not recognize the federal government as having jurisdiction over his cattle—or anything else, for that matter. Instead, he regards himself solely as a citizen of Nevada and subject to its laws alone. Bundy is the tip of the spear in a general populist revolt against federal laws that confiscated over 80% of Nevada land for pet projects like protecting the desert tortoise, leaving ranchers with scant range for their cattle. On Saturday morning April 12 in a perfect display of Uranus square Jupiter, a crowd of protestors rallied under a banner that read “Liberty Freedom for God We Stand.” Armed BLM rangers were poised to commence a round-up of Bundy’s cattle for trespassing on—what else, federal land. The agents were heckled and chided as Bundy addressed a crowd comprised not only of neighbors but White Mountain Militia and the Praetorian Guard (local militia groups rallying to his defense). “We definitely don’t recognize the BLM director’s jurisdiction or authority, his arresting power or policing power in any way,” shouted Bundy. “And we’re about ready to take the country over with force!”2 According to The Guardian,

A tense, hour-long standoff then ensued at the mouth of Gold Butte, the preserve where the cattle were corralled. Militiamen took position on a highway overpass, offering cover as horse-mounted wranglers led protesters to face off against heavily equipped BLM rangers and snipers.3

Jupiter square Uranus was not the only aspect in play during Bundy’s revolt. Mars is also a key component since it opposes Uranus and squares both Pluto and Jupiter. As the fastest moving of the four planets in the grand cross, Mars operates like a trigger that inflames and escalates tensions contained in the more enduring T-Square of Pluto, Uranus, and Jupiter. Like Bundy himself, Uranus-Mars is the incendiary, rabble rouser, and firebrand that incites action in the service of Uranian change, which often takes the form of breakups, rebellions and liberations. Mars, of course, is the impulse to do battle, whereas Uranus rules progress. When these two planets interact by opposition there can be fiery confrontations between pro-change forces and forces pitted against them. Note that Uranus in Aries is opposed to its own dispositor—Mars. This correlates not only to angry exchanges  between rival factions but also blowback as occurred when armed federal agents surrounding Bundy’s ranch incited protestors to arm themselves in response. Throw Pluto into the mix and the situation has devolved into an ugly power struggle with no-holds-barred, clenched-fist intensity. Jupiter’s contribution has been to expand the issue into a vociferous debate on federal overreach versus states rights. 

Again, the Bundy crisis is notable not so much for its own sake. People can legitimately disagree over who is right or wrong. What makes the standoff so remarkable is the extent to which it encapsulates all the elements of the grand cross. Recall that four squares signify an emphasis on containment and restraint in order to prevent unwanted outcomes—in this case, a deadly civil war. The BLM is the hammer, Bundy the anvil. Irresistible force meets immovable object; two powers locked in a struggle for control over land. While the four squares reflect the nearly unbearable tensions involved, the two oppositions hint at the possibility of compromise. In the midst of the crisis the BLM was ordered to suspend their round-up and return Bundy’s confiscated cows, though some had already been killed and buried in shallow graves. At present the situation is far from resolved. 

The Ukraine

The real poster child for the grand cross is the political crisis in Ukraine that has captured world attention. Although occurring on a grander scale, in almost every respect it exactly parallels the Bundy crisis in the United States. Last November the Ukrainian government decided to abandon a trade agreement with the European Union and seek closer ties with Moscow. This sparked a revolution that by March 2014 resulted in a new interim government that sought to restore and strengthen ties to the west. Meanwhile, pro-Russian factions seized government buildings in Crimea, a semi-autonomous republic on Ukraine’s southern border populated by an ethnic Russian majority. On March 16th Crimea’s parliament issued a referendum with official results stating that 95% of voters supported union with Russia. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, immediately signed the treaty absorbing Crimea into Russia, the first time the Kremlin expanded its borders since World War II.

The Crimean referendum entailed a change in law by virtue of a special ballot put forth to the electorate. As such, it exemplifies Uranus in Aries square Jupiter in Cancer—an immediate and revolutionary change (Uranus Aries) in the legal status of a country (Jupiter Cancer) via a managed process that contained and reflected the feelings of the populace (opening square).

Following Putin’s orders, 40,000 Russian troops quickly massed on the Ukrainian border to assure that the transition went smoothly. This, however, emboldened Russian-speaking Ukrainians in eastern swathes of the country who likewise want greater autonomy from the new government. Over the past week—April 14-22—tensions escalated as Mars moved into position to oppose Uranus and square both Pluto and Jupiter. Roving bands of local militia seized control of government buildings and shot at Ukrainian soldiers who sought unsuccessfully to disperse them. Dozens of fighters were killed or wounded on both sides. By April 15th Putin declared that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war.

On April 17 more fighting broke out in the eastern regions as 200 pro-Russian Ukrainians demonstrated on the streets against the government in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital. Fearing for the safety of ethnic Russians, Putin said he hoped not to have to use his “right” to send Russian troops into Ukraine. On April 18, pro-Russian separatists declared they will not be moved from occupied buildings until the ‘illegitimate’ government in Kiev is also removed. Moreover, they demand a referendum granting the region broad independent governance and the Russian language “special status”. While the Kiev government says it is willing to decentralize some of its power to Ukraine’s eastern regions, they will not allow a referendum until the militants disperse and disarm. Once again, as in Nevada, it is a hammer and anvil situation. Irresistible force meets immovable object; a deadly standoff reflecting the grand cross.

Summary and Conclusion

Understanding the astrology of the time enables us to see the connection between events like Bundy’s revolt in Nevada and the pro-Russian revolt in Ukraine. In both instances, armed separatist forces are threatening a civil war against a central government they believe is encroaching upon their freedom. Bundy argues that the BLM has no jurisdiction over his land. Likewise, pro-Russian separatists argue that Ukraine’s central government has no jurisdiction over their region. Armed militia in both instances has spontaneously taken up arms against a superior power. Legal debates rage over unjust laws that need to be overturned. Separatist sentiments abound. In Nevada as in eastern Ukraine, strenuous efforts are being expended to contain the conflict and de-escalate hostilities on both sides. Compromise seems possible, but has yet to be implemented.

These events are sensational expressions of the grand cross wherein its primary elements are overtly and dramatically displayed: Plutonic violation, Martial forces, Uranian rebellion, and Jupiterian disputes all locked together in a pressure cooker threatening to explode. And yet, it has not. Thus far the period has not been one of unbridled violence and bloody revolution. Rather, it has been characterized by control and containment of threats. Standoffs, deadlocks, and negotiated truces have been the order of the day. Given the extreme tensions of the grand square—like a molten river of lava rising to the tip of its banks—it is noteworthy that the potential for destruction has been restrained to the extent that it has. Of course, the period is not over; we can only pray the levees hold. 

Meanwhile, enormous efforts are being extended to find solutions to conflicts that have exposed fault lines in the structures and foundations of society. All of this makes sense when we consider the nature of the grand cross, which is more like a strait jacket than a frontal assault. The person within the strait jacket may be quite powerful and experiencing tremendous frustration; he is, after all, involuntarily restrained. Yet, it is precisely the function of the strait jacket to protect the person from harming himself or others. This is an apt description both of the grand cross and the world events in question. 

If I might, allow me to extend this metaphor further. Our man in the strait jacket is ultimately forced to turn inwards to reflect upon his predicament, for until he can find a more constructive expression of his feelings and impulses, he cannot be released. This may lead him to remember and resolve old wounds, experience new insights, and knit together competing aims in ways that once applied allow for substantive achievement. Given the nature of the news media (they have to sell advertising) the viewing public will only see him struggling in his straight jacket howling in protest. When he is at last released to achieve the dream he envisioned during his time of struggle, the media will have moved on to the next crisis—perhaps a desert tortoise trampled by mad cows.

No doubt there are innumerable positive instances that encapsulate the full array of variables involved in the grand cross. Integrated versions are surely occurring in fields that fly below the radar of national headlines: medical breakthroughs combating deadly diseases, advancements in predicting tornadoes, technological innovations in robotics, significant research discoveries in archaeology, peacetime applications for drones, progress in harnessing nuclear fusion, revelations exposing the power of faith, new legislation to reduce the national debt, and on and on. Everyday people simply marching to the beat of the grand cross, admirably and nobly. 

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The Guardian, “Federal rangers face off against armed protesters in Nevada ‘range war’.

2 Ibid

3 Perry, Glenn. “Mars square Pluto: Death in a Pressure Cooker,” at:

Father in the Horoscope: Understanding Barack Obama

Father In the Horoscope
Understanding Barack Obama

By Glenn Perry


Students frequently ask what planet signifies the father in the horoscope, Sun or Saturn? Also, what is the relationship between father and other characters symbolized by these planets? 

father in the horoscope
Barack Obama, Sr.

It is important to distinguish Sun and Saturn as representatives of father, for they signify different principles yet both are father-like in their own way. When identifying characters assigned to a planet it is useful to consider the underlying logic involved. Just as a planet signifies a set of functions that are designed to meet certain sign-needs, so the external characters that represent that planet are likewise in the service of fulfilling needs associated with that sign-planet system. The Sun, for example, is dedicated to meeting Leo needs for self-esteem, identity, and creative self-expression. Any characters that are instrumental in meeting these needs can be solar figures. 

Sun as Father
Regardless of whether the chart is of a woman or a man, the Sun signifies father as your first best friend, playmate, and greatest fan. These roles are central to the development of self-esteem, which is the primary need of the Leo-Sun system. Ideally, the child sees herself reflected back as the gleam in her father’s eye. And just as the 5th house is associated with a number of different characters—romantic interests, bosom buddies, playmates, teammates, fans and admirers—so the Sun can signify these characters as well. In short, anyone who is a source of admiration, approval, and validation for one’s self-expression (choices, play, performance, creativity) can be a solar figure in the native’s life.

These characters are superimposed over the characters normally associated with the house that the Sun tenants. If the Sun is in the 6th house, for instance, then one’s servants, co-workers, employees, and workers in general can be solar figures—that is, sources of approval and validation. With his Sun in Leo in the 6th, U.S. President Barack Obama is frequently criticized for surrounding himself with sycophants on his white house staff. Views that express disagreement with Obama are notoriously unwelcome. In this regard, Obama is said to live in a bubble that insulates him from potential challenge. If one does a Google search for “Obama lives in a bubble” there are dozens of articles titled along those lines. 

The problem with Sun Leo in the 6th is the sheer strength of the Sun in an environment that requires diligence, caution, and critical thinking. Having the Sun in its own sign in the 6th is like throwing a birthday party for yourself in the middle of a shift at a General Motors automotive plant. The workers may cheer and love you, but not much gets done. The assembly line comes grinding to a halt. One suspects that Obama’s approach to work is more about creativity and performance than solving problems with cool efficiency. In short, charisma may substitute for competence. 

Obama, Barack

Barack Obama: August 4, 1961, 7:24 pm, Honolulu, Hawaii

It is not just Obama’s Sun Leo in the 6th that accounts for his living in a bubble at work, but the fact that his primary solar aspect is a square to Neptune. As a psychological function, Neptune signifies our capacity for idealism, imagination, and fantasy. When square the Sun, this can translate as a penchant for living in a dream world wherein the self is perceived as extraordinary. Thus, one article is titled “Obama in Wonderland”, which captures the self-aggrandizing, solipsistic nature of his Sun-Leo square Neptune quality.

It follows that Obama is likely to surround himself with people who similarly distort reality in the service of an ideal. And since his solar square is to Neptune in Scorpio in the 9th house of law, it is not surprising that one of his best friends and staunchest allies, Attorney General Eric Holder, has been accused of fostering cover-ups out of loyalty to the president. Holder was cited for contempt of Congress when he refused to turn over documents related to a federal gun operation that led to the death of U.S. border agent, Brian Terry. More than 100 members of congress have called for Holder’s resignation over his handling of Fast and Furious, terrorism, and other matters.

Saturn as Father
All of this, of course, is completely different from Saturn figures that signify authority, limits, mastery, and such. Father as boss, rule maker, disciplinarian (tough love), taskmaster, and worldly success are some of the roles that are consistent with Saturn. Women/mothers can perform these functions, too, but archetypally they are more associated with fathers. Saturn’s sign, house, and aspects provide information as to how one’s actual father embodied these principles.

In Obama’s case, his Saturn is in Capricorn in the 12th house. The 12th house association with sorrow and loss is consistent with the fact that Obama’s father abandoned his wife and child, eventually becoming an alcoholic and tragic figure in his native Kenya. It follows that Obama’s compassion for 12th house figures – the poor, underprivileged, victimized, dispossessed, and sick – at least partly derives from his perception that their Saturnian capacity is weak or missing, for that is the condition of his own Saturn.

Obviously, one does not become president of the United States without a somewhat functional Saturn. However, this should not detract us from recognizing that Obama’s supreme ambition is to minister to those who appear to lack a capacity for success without government assistance. Accordingly, Obama’s administration is renowned for having significantly expanded unemployment and disability benefits. Welfare payments have jumped 32% during Obama’s presidency; food stamp recipients have nearly doubled over the last six years. Obama’s signature achievement is the restructuring of the health care system to provide a safety net for individuals unable to obtain their own health insurance. In short, Obama’s Saturn is largely employed in the service of those who appear to be lacking or missing their own Saturn function.

Pointing this out is not meant simply to be critical. All things considered, Obama’s overriding ambition to help the underprivileged is an admirable use of Saturn in the 12th. At higher levels of integration, the best and proper use of any difficult configuration is to employ its energies in the service of helping those who are mired in that same planet’s lower level expression. Despite one’s best efforts, however, any planet in the 12th can manifest problematically in the form of characters who embody that function poorly and who directly impact one’s life. Sometimes there is simply no escape. 

One of Saturn’s primary roles is that of expert, master, and authority. When placed in the 12th house, the people that perform these roles may be absent or dysfunctional, just like Obama’s father. It is noteworthy that the alleged experts that Obama has relied upon to build and administer the Affordable Care Act have largely failed him. From the disastrous rollout of the website to the constant changes within the law itself, Obamacare has been described as a “nightmare,” “train wreck” and “chaotic mess” by members of his own party.

Likewise, endless confusion over the Benghazi tragedy, IRS scandal, and NSA leaks has reinforced the view that public officials within the Obama administration are either incompetent or deceitful. All of this has contributed to the widespread impression that Obama’s presidency is itself dysfunctional. Yet, when pressured to take responsibility for his administration’s failures, Obama appears insulated and clueless. The joke circulating about Washington says it all. Question: What did the president know and when did he know it? Answer: Not much and about a minute ago.

The point here is not merely to pick on Obama (of course, I am), but to demonstrate how Sun and Saturn can signify various characters that reflect the native’s own capacities vis-a-vis those planets. Recognizing that Sun and Saturn not only symbolize psychological functions within the individual but also characters that perform specific roles in the native’s life helps us to appreciate the synchronistic nature of astrology. As within, so without: fate is character turned inside out. 

Planets Symbolize Psychological Functions

Planets Symbolize Functions

By Glenn Perry


Planets symbolize functions Early humans experienced planetary archetypes as messages from gods originating outside of their own minds. Today we recognize archetypes as the core feelings, needs, and values that constitute our inner life. A core tenet of AstroPsychology is that planets symbolize psychological functions that are oriented toward satisfying the needs of the signs they rule. Signs are motives; planets are their active agents.

Another way of saying this is that a planet symbolizes a single psychological faculty, which can be defined as an inherent power to perform multiple functions. Planetary functions are the normal, proper, or characteristic actions of that planet; thus, for example, Mars symbolizes the functions of asserting, starting, fighting, competing, and surviving.
Again, planetary functions are motivated by the need(s) of the sign that planet rules. This implies that motivation and function are as inseparable as a rocket and its fuel tank. In fact, each sign-planet pairing can be regarded as a system. When we talk about the body, we refer to specific systems such as the cardiovascular system, the gastrointestinal system, and the endocrine system. Likewise, there are psychological systems as well. Aries-Mars rules the competitive/assertion system, Taurus-Venus the security/stability system, and Capricorn-Saturn the control/mastery system.
A sign-planet is a motivational system because it entails an interaction between two components of the psyche: sign and planet. As needs, signs motivate their ruling planets to perform specific functions, and these functions involve appropriate actions that serve the underlying motive.
Abraham Maslow (1968) proposed that human beings are born with an essential nature that is analogous with physical structure. Just so in astrology, psychological functions are analogous to their biological corollaries. The functions of digestion and elimination, for example, are paralleled by corresponding psychological processes ruled by Virgo-Mercury and Scorpio-Pluto.
Whereas the Virgo-Mercury system governs the intestines, gastrointestinal system, and overall food metabolism, it also governs psychological process of analyzing and utilizing information in the service of competence. Just as we digest food, so we digest information, breaking it down into useful parts and assimilating it into our cognitive structure. In other words, Virgo is about the metabolizing of information—a clear corollary to the process of digestion on a biological level.
Likewise, biological and psychological processes of elimination are ruled by Scorpio-Pluto. On a biological level, Scorpio-Pluto governs the sexual/generative organs, which include the bladder, prostate gland, testicles, colon, and rectum. Note that these organ systems are involved in processes of ejection and elimination; ovulation and menstruation in the female and ejaculation in the male. We purge and eliminate on a psychological level, too, as when we experience catharsis and abreaction, purging toxic emotions or eliminating destructive mental habits. In addition, Scorpio-Pluto rules sexuality and tends to be penetrating, erotic, and regenerative by its very nature. 
These two examples—Virgo-Mercury and Scorpio-Pluto—illustrate how biological and corollary psychological functions are ruled by the same sign-planet system. In effect, a sign-planet system is analogous to a biological organ in that it symbolizes a type of action that is in the service of a psychological need, or motive. Just as the need of a sign can be inferred from behaviors that characterize that sign, so a planet’s functions can be inferred from actions that characterize its nature.
This is simply a matter of inductive reasoning. By observing characteristic actions of a planet, one can discern where the actions are leading to—in short, the purpose of the behavior. An action is any behavior that is goal-directed, or done for a reason. If one observes that Neptune is implicated in spiritual strivings, compassion for suffering, redemptive love, charity, psi abilities, fantasy, and dreams, then the faculty of Neptune would have to account for all actions classified as Neptunian.
If we call Neptune the Transcendent Faculty, this may suffice, for spiritual strivings are in the service of transcending the separate self-sense and uniting with a higher consciousness. Concern for the less fortunate, charity, and redemptive love require one to transcend self-interest and act to relieve the suffering of others. Psi abilities involve cognitive capacities that transcend rational intellect and sensory experience, while fantasy and dreams involve the perception of ideals and possibilities that transcend everyday, material reality. While no single word does justice to the diverse forms this archetypal process takes, Transcendent Faculty is as good a term as any. It may be that the best name for a planetary faculty is simply the planet itself—in this case, the faculty of Neptune.
Any characteristic action of a planet can be converted from a verb into a noun, which gives us a name for that function. Recall that planetary functions are the normal, proper, or characteristic actions of that planet. For example, Neptune symbolizes the verbs to imagine, to empathize, and to intuit. By converting these verbs into nouns we get three functions of Neptune: imagination, empathy, and intuition. Each term captures one facet of a complex, psychological faculty. Of course, there are other functions of Neptune beyond these three.
Again, functions are always in the service of needs. For every need represented by a sign, there is a planetary function devoted to the fulfillment of that need. Signs and planets form verb-noun pairs, as it were, the planet being the active agent (verb) of the sign-need (noun) over which it rules.
Saturn, for instance, is the planet that rules Capricorn. The need of Capricorn can be described as the drive for perfection in material form—or, put simply, the need for order, structure and control. Saturn, as the verb form and active agent of Capricorn, fulfills its needs by ordering, structuring, and controlling within the behavioral environment. Hence, Saturn represents the functions of order, structure, and control. In this regard, every planet symbolizes a particular kind of activity. Planets are actors and each one acts in a different way.
In an actual chart, Saturn would be in a parti­cular sign. Let us say, for instance, that Saturn is in Gemini. Thus, we have the syntax of an astrological sentence: the need of Capricorn (noun) is fulfilled by Saturn (verb) in a Gemini manner (adverb). In short, the need for order is fulfilled by achieving intellectually. Saturn in Gemini represents the drive for perfection through the ordering of mental constructs.
If Saturn is highlighted in the natal chart by, for example, being conjunct the Ascendant, we might have an individual with an obsessive need to structure language into a logical system. Perhaps he might write a book on linguistics or devise a theory of syntax. The Gemini sign placement merely suggests how Saturn fulfills its Capricorn-need and what some possible outcomes might be.
The point here is that needs symbolized by signs provide the motivation that triggers functions represented by planets. How and whether those functions satisfy their motivating needs is indicated by a host of additional factors including the planet’s sign and house position and its aspects to other planets. The degree to which a planet can satisfy its sign-need is a measure of that planet’s functionality (or dysfunctionality).
This is a topic that will be explained more fully in subsequent columns. In our next installment, we will explore how sign-needs are experienced as emotions that trigger behaviors calculated to achieve specific ends.
* * * * *
Maslow, A. (1968). Toward a psychology of being. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.
Perry, G. (2012). An Introduction to AstroPsychology. Haddam Neck, CT: AAP Press.

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