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Saturn & Pluto in Mutual Reception

Move Over Darth Vader
Saturn & Pluto in Mutual Reception


by Glenn Perry


mutual receptionOn October 6th, 2012 Saturn ingressed into Scorpio where it will remain for the next two years. In the meantime, Pluto is in Capricorn until 2023. Since Pluto rules Scorpio and Saturn rules Capricorn, these two planets are occupying one another’s sign. In astrology, this is called a ‘mutual reception’ as each planet is the dispositor of the other. A dispositor is a planet that rules the sign that another planet occupies. Accordingly, when Saturn in Scorpio is stimulated, it activates Pluto in Capricorn, which, in turn, reactivates Saturn in a circular feedback loop, intensifying and escalating the exchange of energies over time.

To give you a picture of what this could look like in real life, imagine a market analyst studying the global financial system. As a consequence of his hard work and perseverance, he makes a startling discovery that changes his entire way of thinking about monetary fluctuations. This new knowledge leads to successful investments that net him substantial profits, which he funnels back into his company by hiring the best market analysts he can afford. Since their combined expertise is greater than his alone, this leads to yet new insights into the global financial system and even greater profits, which he again reinvests into his company. This cycle continues for two years, at the end of which he has grown a company that not only is exceedingly successful, but is a virtual powerhouse of cutting edge information on the current state of the economy.

In the above scenario, the relevant variables are combined in a working metaphorical model that captures the essence of the configuration. Saturn symbolizes a process of striving, improving, and mastering something over time. And since Scorpio rules the financial world (banking, the stock market, investments, and the like), Saturn in Scorpio suggests the gradual mastery of economic complexities. Although Scorpio has other connotations, too, including sex, death, and healing, I will limit myself to its financial associations for the sake of keeping things simple.

Pluto in Capricorn operates in a similar way. As the ruler of Scorpio, Pluto is concerned with economics and the world of finance. On a more abstract level, it symbolizes processes of transformation, renewal, and empowerment. Capricorn corresponds to the principle of contraction, hard work and perseverance, as well as large, hierarchical structures like governments. Since Capricorn both qualifies and receives the energy of Pluto, this suggests a period during which organizations are likely to be restructured and transformed into leaner, more efficient enterprises. Pluto, in effect, will work hard and persevere in its attempt to cleanse organizations—especially governments—of waste, corruption, and mismanagement.

Again, a dispositor rules the sign that another planet is in. Dispositorships show linkages between planets as well as the direction and sequence of their unfoldment. The disposed planet relies upon its dispositor to realize goals set in motion by its own actions. It follows that the dispositor acts in the service of the planet it disposes. When two planets are in mutual reception, their actions are interdependent, with each planet being both the reason for and the consequence of the actions of the other planet. The process is one of circular causality. In effect, they are locked in a continuous embrace that intensifies and deepens over time.

As to whether the relationship will be mutually fruitful, one must consider the nature of the angle between the respective signs. In this case, Scorpio and Capricorn are sextile (60 degrees) which suggests a relatively harmonious exchange of energies. Transiting the sign of Scorpio and being the faster of the two planets, Saturn is forming a closing sextile to Pluto in Capricorn. Aquarius is the sign that marks the last sixty degrees of the zodiacal cycle; thus, any closing sextile is an Aquarian angle since it marks the last sixty degrees in the synodic cycle of the two planets. This means that Saturn and Pluto’s relationship must be consecrated in the service of change, awakening, and liberation—core themes of Aquarius.1

To return to our earlier metaphor of the market analyst, recall that “he makes a startling discovery that changes his entire way of thinking about monetary fluctuations.” In this simple metaphor, we can glimpse how Saturn and Pluto might combine for the sake of Aquarian discovery and progress. Even while the focus of Saturn and Pluto is decidedly practical, having much to do with money and power, they are relating in a manner that can potentially lead to substantive reforms in an area of mutual interest. This can be for good or ill. The closing sextile merely says there is the potential for change and progress in domains ruled by the planets and signs involved. That it’s a mutual reception underscores that the outcome will be either very good, or very bad, for the behavior of the two planets is mutually reinforcing over time.

Pluto in CapricornTo illustrate this, consider (as another metaphor) the relationship of Darth Sidious and Darth Vader in Star Wars. Darth Sidious is the evil Sith Lord and the true, yet hidden, identity of Senator Palpatine, the seemingly benevolent father figure to young Anakin Skywalker. Ultimately, of course, Anakin is seduced by Palpatine into becoming his henchman, Darth Vader (Dark Father), whose awesome powers are perverted in the service of Palpatine’s final goal—transformation of the galaxy into a unified state under his absolute control. In other words, two Sith Lords—Darth Sidious and Darth Vader—team up to foment a dark revolution, Aquarian change for the sake of tyranny.

Saturn in ScorpioIn this metaphor, Palpatine/Darth Sidious is Saturn in Scorpio, politician and Supreme Leader (Emperor) with decidedly scorpionic traits. Manipulative, cunning, and sinister, his intent is to use Vader to advance his evil ends. Darth Vader, of course, is Pluto in Capricorn, who employs his ruthless power to force the masses into submission to the Emperor. With Vader’s every success, Palpatine grows stronger and rewards his young protégé with new lessons in the art of evil, promising Vader that he will ultimately learn to control (Saturn) even death itself (Scorpio). Note how their relationship revolves around Saturn/Capricorn themes of fathers and governmental authority and Pluto/Scorpio themes of transformation, occult power, and death. Yet, their relationship is consecrated to an Aquarian (closing sextile) goal of fomenting change and revolution, albeit for a malevolent purpose.2

Ali KhameneiReturning to the real world, one can’t help but be reminded of the relationship between Ayotollah Ali Khamenei of Iran and his henchman, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The cleric Khamenei is Supreme Leader and holds absolute power, whereas Ahmadinejad is president and political leader loyal to Khamenei. In this case, Khamenei is the dark, shadowy figure in the background, the plutonian puppet master who pulls the strings of government (Pluto in Capricorn), whereas Ahmadinejad is the political ‘face’ of Iran (Saturn in Scorpio) whose actions are faithful to Khamenei’s machinations.

Mahmoud AhmadinejadIn the service of advancing Iran’s Islamic Revolution, both have oppressed, tortured, and murdered Iranian citizens—dissidents and rebels—and have been roundly condemned by the international community. Perhaps more ominously, Iran’s persistent efforts to develop a nuclear arsenal may be in the service of their ultimate goal of global Islamic revolution toward a Universal Caliphate (world domination under Islam and Sharia Law). That the world appears to be headed for a showdown over Iran’s nuclear ambitions—a “red line” in the words of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu—adds further weight to the idea that Saturn and Pluto’s mutual reception is negatively embodied in the partnership of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

There will doubtless be thousands of different expressions of Saturn/Pluto throughout the world, from the heights of global politics to the trenches of everyday business. Yet, all will be equally representative of the meaning symbolized by Saturn and Pluto in mutual reception. The advantage of speculating on outcomes is that each manifestation makes concrete the more abstract meaning of the configuration.

Since the sextile tends to be a harmonious aspect, I would be remiss if I did not speculate on positive manifestations as well. Again, these will most likely be evident within the political and economic spheres. We might anticipate, for instance, that if the Romney-Ryan ticket wins the upcoming U.S. presidential election there will be substantive reforms in government and finance that Republicans hope will jump-start the economy and increase jobs. If Obama wins the election, it is more difficult to see how things will change for the better, as it’s likely he will implement the same policies and strategies that were in place during his first term (see accompanying article on Archetypal Politics).

In fact, the mutual reception of Saturn and Pluto is a conservative’s dream, for the heavy Saturn/Capricorn emphasis suggests that financial decisions under governmental control will trend toward smaller and more limited government, fiscal discipline, tax cuts to stimulate business, a streamlining of business regulations, debt reduction, and a balanced budget. Note how the operative words smaller, limited, discipline, cuts, streamlining, and reduction are all Capricorn/Saturn terms applied to the Scorpio/Pluto world of finance. Equally, the heavy Scorpio/Pluto emphasis suggests that hierarchical organizations will be subject to a process of cleansing and renewal. Waste will be eliminated, corruption exposed, and organizations transformed in a manner conducive of greater integrity. In this case, the terms cleansing, renewal, elimination, exposure, transformation, and integrity all reflect Scorpio/Pluto processes as applied to the Capricorn/Saturn sphere of government. In effect, it’s quite possible that Saturn and Pluto will be working hand in hand to the mutual benefit of both the economy and government itself.

Par7253835Not surprisingly, the above analysis of Saturn and Pluto in mutual reception is entirely consistent with the Romney-Ryan plan for reforming government. Romney is the virtual embodiment of Saturn in Scorpio—a genuine tycoon, former governor, and CEO with a reputation for restoring the financial health (Scorpio) of failed enterprises, from businesses on the brink to an Olympics rife with corruption and incompetence. In this regard, he appears to be uniquely qualified for tackling our current problems in government and the economy—high unemployment, low growth, a stubborn recession, deficit spending, ballooning national debt, and the general incompetence of the Obama administration. Ryan, on the other hand, is Pluto in Capricorn, an economics major in college that specialized in Austrian macroeconomic theory—free enterprise capitalism that stresses the importance of non-interference from government, lower taxes, and fiscal restraint—all bearing Capricorn’s signature. The closing (Aquarian) sextile is implicit in their joint efforts to change the direction of the country.

Paul RyanIn picking Ryan as his running mate, Romney is implicitly backing Ryan’s budget proposals and ideas for reforming entitlements. Likewise, in accepting Romney’s invitation to be his vice-president, Ryan is implicitly backing Romney’s proposals for a leaner, less wasteful, and tighter organizational structure to government. Considered by many to have a brilliant mind and unique grasp of the financial system as a whole (he’s a Sun sign Aquarius), Ryan has been hailed as the Republican leader in efforts to transform government into a more fiscally responsible entity. As chairperson of the House Budget Committee, he has advanced one of the boldest and most detailed plans of any incumbent politician on either side of the aisle.

In his role as Saturn-in-Scorpio chief executive, Romney’s plan is to streamline government by cutting unnecessary programs that are not worth having to borrow money from China to maintain. He is also in favor of pruning burdensome and excessive federal regulations that discourage start-up companies. Further, he wants to lower taxes across the board to stimulate business expansion, as well as eliminate tax loopholes for the rich, both of which will increase tax revenues. Responsible drilling, mining, and extracting available energy resources (Scorpio penetration and assimilation) is yet another Romney/Saturn-in-Scorpio strategy for making the United States more economically secure. Finally, his promise to repeal Obamacare assures that entitlement expenditures will not further increase the national debt, while also assuring businesses they can move forward secure in the knowledge that federally mandated expansion of their company health plans will not drain resources that otherwise could be channeled into growth.

Again, Paul Ryan is the perfect complement to Romney. As Pluto-in-Capricorn financial wizard for the conservative cause, Ryan’s economic acumen empowers Romney’s pro-business version of smaller government. Likewise, Romney’s executive expertise supports Ryan’s plan to save Social Security, reform Medicare, and pre-empt a Greece-like debt crisis by balancing the budget now before it’s too late. Ryan compares deficit spending to a kind of cancer that is slowly destroying the body politic, and which only surgical cuts to out-of-control spending can heal. Note the obvious Scorpionic/Plutonian imagery—cancer, destroying, surgical cuts, heal.

It is perhaps prescient that Ryan warns the nation has approximately a two-year window to act, after which a debt crisis of the sort that crippled Greece is all but inevitable. Whether one believes their plan will work, there is no question it perfectly reflects the nature of the mutual reception that will unfold over the next two years.

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[1] This gets into aspect theory, the general rule of which is that an aspect derives its meaning from the nature of the sign that constitutes that angle in the natural zodiac. In turn, every zodiacal sign derives its meaning from the angle it forms to the vernal equinox. All meanings in astrology are essentially derived from angles that constitute phases of a whole (360 degree) cycle.  


[2] There are many ways in astrology of saying the same thing—or, at least something similar. In George Lucas’ chart, he has Pluto forming an opposition to Moon in Aquarius in the 10th house. Thus, we have the Moon in the sign of Aquarius (the closing sextile) and in the house of Capricorn/Saturn (the 10th) with Pluto, ruler of Scorpio, opposing it. Accordingly, all the elements of the mutual reception we’ve been discussing are present, with the addition of the Moon.

Astrological Twins, Integration of the Horoscope

Astrological Twins
And Integration of the Horoscope

By Glenn Perry


Astrological twinsStudent: In the case of a boy and a girl who are fraternal twins, they have the same birth chart and only a small difference in their Ascendant and Moon position. They were raised together with their parents; yet, they behave very differently. Are differences between astrological twins due to their relative integration of the horoscope?

Glenn: It’s very common to observe personality differences between twins, both fraternal and identical. Of course gender is an obvious factor, but I suspect it’s not the prime source of differences. There are a number of opinions about this. An astro-reductionist position is that even minute differences in the Ascendant and Moon sign position will account for differences of personality. This kind of deterministic thinking is characteristic of traditional and Vedic astrology. However, I don’t believe it’s the correct answer.

First, there’s an innate impulse to differentiate and polarize that would compel each twin to try and establish a separate sense of self vis-à-vis the other. Thus, each twin will tend to express the chart differently, with one identifying more with some parts and projecting others, and the other doing just the opposite. So, you have the phenomenon of a single chart being divided up and expressed in two different ways.

Second, I believe the chart does not make the person; rather, the person (soul) makes the chart. If you believe in reincarnation, it follows that incarnating souls inhabit charts (moments in time) in the same way that a class of incoming freshmen may all have the same curriculum. Different students will do better or worse depending upon their effort, native abilities, and so forth. Likewise, different souls can be born at the same time and have the same chart, but because they are distinct souls with unique karmic histories, they can express the same chart at varying levels of realization. Bottom line: the chart does not determine the expression of the person; the person determines the expression of the chart.

This, of course, does not mean that different expressions of the same chart prevent us from being able to use charts to understand the person, but it does remind us that there are many ways of expressing the same chart; thus, astrology is not a fixed, determinate system.

Student: So, regardless of whether people are twins, different people born at the same time and place can be radically different?

Glenn: Perhaps not radically different, but significantly. One of the most important and underappreciated truths in astrology is that a birthchart is not a fixed, objective statement about the character of a person, even though it can describe character structure. There’s a subtle difference between character and character structure. Character structure is implicit in the birthchart and shows how the psyche is organized, but not its degree of integration. Character itself emerges from the degree of integration of the psyche, which tends to evolve over time. This is why character is closely associated with integrity; the greater the degree of integrity, the more sound the character.

To the extent one has integrity, he or she is relatively undivided, an indivisible whole, or what Jung described as being individuated. This is an important Jungian concept. If a person is whole; that is, not divided against himself as a consequence of unresolved intrapsychic conflict, then he’s more able to ‘keep his word’ and be consistent in his adherence to personal standards; in other words, a person of good character and therefore trustworthy.

At higher degrees of integration, chart components tend to produce behavioral and event outcomes that are more desirable. Any variable in the chart can be expressed in a lower or higher manner. For example, Mars can be bravery but it can also be selfish aggression. How Mars is expressed is contingent upon its degree of integration with other chart components. If it is split off and operates unconsciously, it is not likely to be expressed in a balanced, functional manner because it cannot benefit from other planetary functions that enable it to be effectively utilized in the service of the whole person.

Returning to the question about why different people born with the same chart can be so different, I often use the metaphor of a sheet of music that has to be interpreted and played by a musician. In this metaphor, the sheet of music represents the birthchart. The musician’s talent in interpreting the music is not inherent in the musical score itself. Different musicians required to play the same score are likely to play it with varying degrees of talent. Some will botch the job completely; others will produce a sound somewhere on a continuum between moderately bad and moderately good; and still others will produce a sound that is beautiful and uplifting. 

We might also imagine that the very purpose of having that sheet of music is to challenge the performer to stretch and grow in ways that are specifically required by the nature of the score. Over time with continued repetition and practice, he or she is able to perform that music with greater proficiency. 

Likewise, an astrological chart has to be interpreted and played by the soul, but it is not itself the soul. Soul is to the chart as a musician is to a musical score. The level of ‘talent’ (integration) that the soul brings to the chart is not inherent in the chart itself. Accordingly, different people with the same chart are apt to express it quite differently and will realize the full potential of the chart to varying degrees. From this perspective, astrology is an indeterminate system that must allow for a certain degree of uncertainty as to outcome, while also recognizing that outcomes can change as the person matures, integrates, and evolves.

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Archetypal Motivation

The Archetypal Origins of Motivation

By Glenn Perry


Last week we discussed how Maslow’s hierarchical system of needs conforms to the structure of the zodiac. Each sign signifies a basic human need, and these needs proceed hierarchically in accord with the sequence of the zodiac. As intrinsic motives, earlier sign-needs take precedence over later sign-needs in that they must be at least partially fulfilled before later needs will assert themselves. In this column, we’re going to take a more philosophical view and discuss the origins of consciousness and, thus, the root source of human motivations—what I call archetypal motivation.

Jerry Sandusky
Jerry Sandusky Mugshot

We will also take a brief look at the case of Jerry Sandusky, the infamous Penn State football coach and serial child molester recently convicted of 45 counts of sex crimes against young boys. Sandusky’s chart dramatically reveals what can happen when a basic human need is repressed and projected.

Motivation and the Universal Psyche
In my previous column, I noted how early theories of motivation were based solely on physiological drives. These original models were subsequently replaced by theories of intrinsic motivation that had no clear physiological basis. The question arises: if basic needs are not mere by-products of physiology, then where do they come from?

Jung’s (1960) concept of archetypes suggests an answer. Through study of religions, myths, and fairy tales of different cultures, Jung discovered that the contents of individual consciousness—dreams, fantasies, wishes, impulses, and thoughts—seemed rooted in a collective consciousness shared by all human beings. Deeper levels of the mind hinted at an objective psyche belonging to the entire human race rather than being solely the personal and subjective property of a particular individual. Jung’s term for this was the collective unconscious, or objective psyche, since it contained material that was not simply repressed but may never have surfaced into individual awareness.

Jung noted that when the structures of the collective unconscious do surface into awareness, they tend to clothe themselves in the images and symbols of one’s particular culture; yet, they conform to certain universal patterns that can be observed in all cultures. He called these patterns archetypes and thought them to be innate structures of human consciousness. In fact, Jung referred to the archetype as “the self-portrait of the instinct” because, as a primordial image, it was symbolic of fundamental human needs as manifest in patterns of emotional and mental behavior.

While Jung postulated that archetypes were structural elements of the psyche, this is a specifically psychological term for a concept that links human consciousness to a much broader and deeper consciousness. In Neoplatonic philosophy, universal consciousness is called Psyche. Plato alleged that the One Universal Mind manifested certain incorporeal forms called Ideas that are the models or archetypes of all things having substance.

Whereas Jungian archetypes are thought to be formal principles of the human psyche, Platonic archetypes are regarded as the essential principles of reality itself. These Forms or Ideas were said to have their eternal abode in monads – irreducible units of divine essence commonly referred to as “gods”. And the gods themselves resided in that which is their common source, monads within the one Supreme Monad.

Issuing forth from these divine Ideas and flowing downwards through the hierarchy of Being, a spiritual energy impregnated Nature with certain patterns on mental, biological and physical levels. The order and content of the world, therefore, depended upon an intelligible sphere replete with Ideas that, in varying combinations, gave form and substance to the myriad phenomena of life. The visible Universe was a huge organism ensouled by a divine Mind, out of which emerged certain formative principles that became the generative matrix for all natural phenomena.

By reducing the Platonic Form to a structur­al element of human consciousness, the Jungian archetype is, in effect, a sort of localization of a transcendent pattern that exists in Nature as a whole. The point is that an archetype cannot be reduced to merely some­thing within the psyche, for this is still a local concept. The archetype is without as well, an animating and formative pattern of Nature that binds individual souls to the cosmic soul.

The origin of human motivation, therefore, is not the body; nor can it be, strictly speaking, the mind. The origin of psychological motivation is the Universe itself. Neoplatonic philosophy regards archetypes as dynamic ordering principles that generate the structure of the Universe at all levels. Motives that animate human beings, therefore, also animate the Universe. Needs that impel human behavior have their parallels in animal instincts, patterns of plant growth, and may encompass the whole of life and possibly even beyond, into matter, too.

As the ultimate cause behind all movement in Nature, the one Universal Psyche was thought to be present as a creative pressure in all creatures, both animate and inanimate, as well as being the final goal toward which all life moved by natural inclination. Such movement was not impelled by intellectual resolution, or conscious design, but by the simple and inevitable impulse to release all available potentials.

Archetypal Motivation as Images of Sign-Needs
Recall that Jung considered the archetype to be an element of soul that manifested principally through image—a fairy tale animal, dream symbol, mythic character, religious icon, and everyday figures such as mother, father, or sibling. Conversely, Maslow (1968) alleged that instinctual needs such as survival, safety, belonging, and self-esteem are the motive springs of human consciousness.

In our astrological model, these terms are more or less equivalent. To paraphrase Jung, the archetype is the self-portrait of the need; it is an image, or symbol, of a human motive—what I am calling an archetypal motive. An Aries-Mars warrior, for example, symbolizes the universal human need for freedom and survival; one fights for the right to be, to exist. In Figure 1 below, I list a few examples of characters that symbolize corrolary sign-motives.

Some Archetypal Characters
Aries Warrior, pioneer, adventurer, competitor
Taurus Fertility goddess, settler, hedonist, couch potato
Gemini Messenger, student, scientist, dilettante
Cancer Mother, caretaker, homemaker, cook, hysteric
Leo Hero, performer, king, playmate, narcissist
Virgo Efficiency expert, craftsman, apprentice, critic
Libra Love goddess, diplomat, artist, social butterfly
Scorpio Healer, shaman, spy, detective, terrorist, demon
Sagittarius Teacher, preacher, demagogue, moralist
Capricorn Father, boss, executive, control freak, scrooge
Aquarius Trickster, activist, rebel, iconoclast, eccentric
Pisces Mystic, dreamer, savior, victim, cheat, addict

Figure 1: Signs as Archetypal Characters

While Jung never organized his system of archetypes into a precise model of clearly defined motivational correlates, it was clear that he regarded archetypes as motivating dynamisms, transindividual entities that were attributes of a Universal Psyche and the human psyche. Each archetype is an autonomous, dynamic nucleus of concentrated psychic energy – a god within – that is inherently intelligent and intentional. Archetypes, in effect, are the innate ideas of both psyche and cosmos; human beings are populated by Forms that shape our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.

Capricorn, for instance, constitutes an instinct for hierarchy, order, and structure. Its inner promptings are not merely felt, but conceived and enacted; certain thoughts and behaviors are inherently Capricornian. As an inborn drive, however, Capricorn is also an extension of a dynamic principle that can be observed at every level of the Universe, from atoms arranging themselves into complex, hierarchical structures—molecules, cells, and organisms—to planets organizing into solar systems, solar systems into galaxies, and galaxies into galactic clusters ad infinitum. “Infinity yawns at both the top and bottom of the stratified hierarchies of existence,” writes Arthur Koestler (1978, p. 67).

What we are proposing here is that zodiacal signs and their respective ruling planets constitute a twelve-drive model that connects human motivation to core archetypal processes that are immanent at every level of Nature. Every psychological need is a derivative of a basic organizing principle in the Universe. As a symbol of a universal principle, an archetype cannot be precisely defined or reduced to a single image, for there can be more than one image for any motive just as there can be more than one word for a need.

As a symbol of transformation, for example, a Scorpio archetype might manifest as a shaman (one who transforms), a villain (one who needs to be transformed), or a monster (representing fear of transformation). Likewise, as a symbol of the need for change and liberation, Aquarian characters include tricksters, rebels, mad scientists, and eccentric oddballs. Obviously, we do not run into all of these archetypal characters in real life; monsters, thankfully, are confined to the landscapes of our dreams. The point is that every archetypal manifestation is a metaphor for a motive, and often depicts the degree to which that motive is integrated within the psyche.

The Perils of Non-Integration
For example, if the Scorpio archetype is dishonored so that the individual suffers an unreasonable and excessive fear of transformation, then that archetype is likely to manifest in a behavior or event that takes a monstrous form—murdering one’s spouse, molesting a child, becoming a victim of a violent crime, or other unpleasant manifestations that characterize an unintegrated Scorpio-Pluto.

A good example is the recently convicted pedophile and former Penn State football coach, Jerry Sandusky, who has Sun in close opposition to Pluto. As the ruler of Scorpio and thus symbolizing the function of transformation, Pluto is set off against the principle of will, or intentionality (the Sun). This suggests that Sandusky’s free-will and ego-identity is in conflict with his Pluto function.

If functioning properly, a Sun-Pluto opposition confers power rooted in a willingness to be transformed via relations with others; that is, to suffer the death and rebirth of the self. This requires a willingness to be vulnerable, which literally means “able to be wounded”. If however, the Sun has not integrated Pluto, then the aspect typically manifests in the form of something or someone that is threatening to the ego. The individual may defend against the threat via reaction formation; that is, behaving in ways that are opposite of how one actually feels. If a man feels powerless and vulnerable, he may act powerful by overpowering a vulnerable other. In other words, beat fate to the punch by doing to the other what is feared will be done to the self.

Archetypal MotivationVery often this entails an abuse of power in which the native feels compelled to violate and dominate a smaller, weaker person. In Sandusky’s case, it meant becoming a monster that lures unsuspecting boys to his liar and then anally rapes them. Such unconsciously motivated behavior seems to be saying: “Better you than me; I’m powerful and you’re not.” It is, in effect, compensatory to an inner feeling of impotence that might have its origins in an earlier repressed trauma of being overpowered. While the psychological basis for such behavior is complex and cannot be readily explained in a few simple paragraphs, suffice to say that Sandusky’s case illustrates what can happen in extremis when someone has not adequately integrated a fundamental human need.

In a subsequent column, we will examine motivation in the context of circular causality. From a synchronistic perspective, external events may actually be extensions of internal, motivating factors which, in turn, are linked to cosmic powers that are inherently intelligent and intentional.

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To study these ideas in the context of a comprehensive, astrological model, please see my books: An Introduction to AstroPsychology and Depth Analysis of the Natal Chart.

References Deci, E.L. (1980). Intrinsic motivation and personality. In E. Staub (Ed.) Personality: Basic aspects and current research (pp. 35-80). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Jung, C. (1960). The structure and dynamics of the psyche. Collected Works, Vol. 8, Bollingen Series 20. New York: Pantheon.

Koestler, A. (1978). Janus: A summing up. New York: Vintage Books.

Maslow, A. (1968). Toward a psychology of being. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand

Perry, G. (2012). An Introduction to AstroPsychology. San Rafael, CA: AAP Press

Intrinsic Motivation and Astrological Signs

Intrinsic Motivation and Astrological Signs


By Glenn Perry


Zodiacal signs as intrinsic motivation
    The God, Mars

In the last installment of this series, we discussed the protean nature of astrological archetypes and why they correspond to angles that result from a division of a 360° circle/cycle into twelve equal parts. Signs of the zodiac are perhaps the most basic and fundamental form of astrological archetypes, the others being houses, aspects, and planets. In this column, we’ll explore how zodiacal signs symbolize intrinsic motivation; that is, the root motivational forces of the human psyche.

Any adequate theory of personality must of ne­cessity explain human motivation. Theories of moti­vation strive to account for the springs of human ac­tion, cataloging the intrapsychic forces that impel mental and bodily activity. A motive can be defined as an impulse, desire, or drive that incites a person to action. Deriving from the Latin movere, meaning, “to move,” motives move people; they account for the “why” of behavior; that is, its underlying impellents.

This is especially important for astrology, as our model has frequently been accused of being determi­nistic due to the belief that astrologers attribute causality to external forces such as stars and planets. However, if one accepts the premise that the root causes of behavior are ar­chetypal principles as reflected in signs and em­bodied in human beings, then astrology may be one of the few nondeterministic systems in the field of psychology today. One thing is certain: if astrol­ogy is to be given serious consideration as a viable personality theory, it must provide a credible account of human motivation.

Because needs/motives constitute the roots of human behavior, all things psychological can be understood in the context of the individual’s efficacy in meeting basic needs. Properly understood, horoscopes reveal how problematic behavior derives from intrapsychic conflicts, developmental failures, and pathogenic ideas, all of which impede the individual from behaving in a manner conducive to need-fulfillment. While these ideas will be explored more fully in subsequent columns, suffice to say here that one of astrology’s prime values is its capacity to articulate the complex structure of motives that underlie and impel human behavior. Before going further, let us examine how conventional psychology accounts for motivation.

Early theories of motivation viewed people mechanistically, assuming they were passive agents of various internal and external forces. The two dominant thrusts in motivation theory during the first half of the 20th century were behavioral drive theory and Freudian instinct theory. In drive theory, the motivating stimuli were thought to be external to the organism – the smell of food or the sight of a sexually attractive person – which stimulated a behavioral response rooted in a physiologically based internal association to the stimuli. Food, for example, tastes good and is necessary for survival. In Freudian instinct theory, the stimuli are internal to the person but again originated in biologically determined sexual and aggressive instincts that impel the person to action. Both of these theories were mechanistic in that (1) motivation was based solely on physiological drives, and (2) were caused by associations that existed between stimulus and response.

While behavioral drive theory and Freudian instinct theory contain some truth, they are limited conceptualizations of a complex and mysterious phenomenon. Recent theories of motivation have moved away from a strict reliance upon biologically based drives. Studies show that animals as well as humans are avid explorers and manipulators; they engage in purposeful, persistent, and non-random behaviors that appear motivated by a continuous need to actualize their innate potentials.

According to Deci’s (1980) theory of intrinsic motivation, the base cause of human behavior is a desire for personal growth leading to increased efficacy, competence, and self-determination. Because it is much broader in scope than traditional drive theory, intrinsic motivation provides the basis for a more comprehensive listing of psychologically based motives that have no clear physiological corrolary. To be intrinsically motivated is to have an innate need to be effective in satisfying a variety of different goals – for autonomy, security, learning, belonging, and so on.

Perhaps the leading pioneer in this area was Abraham Maslow (1968) who theorized that human beings are born with an essential nature that is analogous with physical structure. Maslow’s ideas are compatible with an astrological theory of motivation, as will be shown. Suffice to say here that psychological structure, according to Maslow, is composed of needs and capacities (functions). Basic needs are distinguished from meta needs and are arranged hierarchically according to strength and priority. The first and most pressing need is for survival, which he defined as the need for food, water, and continuance of life. The second is safety (security, order, protection), then social needs for belonging, acceptance, and love. The fourth need is for esteem, which derives from validation and confers a sense of status.

According to Maslow, lower needs must be satisfied before higher needs assert themselves. The need for security must be satisfied before the need for esteem will even be felt. While all needs are simultaneously present, an individual will regress to an earlier need whenever its satisfaction falls below a certain level. Accordingly, Maslow characterized this motivational substructure as deficiency based.

In contrast to basic needs, meta needs are not ordered hierarchically. While Maslow regarded them as instinctual, they do not operate on a motivational basis of deficiency like basic needs; rather, they are pursued for their own sake and are more transpersonal and growth oriented – the need for service, beauty, justice, goodness, order, unity, and so forth. Maslow alleged that basic needs are prepotent over meta needs, yet frustration of meta needs will just as readily lead to sickness.

According to Maslow, the sovereign human motive is the need for self-actualization. This is the drive to realize one’s full potential as a person. Capacities clamor to be used and needs press for fulfillment, but these are merely steps along the path to self-actualization. The gratification of one need opens consciousness to domination by another “higher” need. There is an inherent pressure to actualize all the subsystems of the psyche until one realizes a fullness of being; that is, a state of psychic unity or wholeness.

Likewise, Deci’s (1980) concept of intrinsic motivation holds that people are naturally drawn to situations that challenge their habitual patterns of thinking and behavior; they seek experiences (information) that are discrepant with their usual cognitive patterns, and then set about assimilating the new data in order to widen and deepen their psychic structure.

These theories of motivation are teleological because they propose that people are not shaped exclusively by environmental influences or genetic determinants; rather, people are goal-directed, striving, and purposeful in their actions. Maslow refers to needs as “impulse voices” that convey wants and stimulate actions appropriate for their fulfillment. The strength and impact of these voices is a measure of one’s authenticity. If the voices are drowned out by trauma, aversive conditioning, or repetitive frustration, a kind of mental illness results; the individual cannot behave in a manner that allows for continued growth and well being.

The sequence of signs in the zodiac fits in nicely with both Deci and Maslow’s theories of motivation. Zodiacal signs are clearly not physiologically based, even though there are certain physiological processes and organ systems to which they correlate. For example, Mars rules the adrenal glands; the Sun rules the heart, and so on. Also, zodiacal signs unfold in accordance with a precise hierarchical sequence, much in the manner of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

We can infer the underlying need of a sign from behavior that is characteristic of that sign. By observing various behavioral traits of a sign and applying inductive reasoning, one can discern where the behavior is leading to—the goal of the behavior—which is always satisfaction of some specific need. Consider, for example, the traits of Aries: assertive, direct, fearless, impatient, independent, combative, and so on. There is a logical consistency to these traits that suggests Aries behavior is oriented in a particular direction; that is, toward freedom of being. We can conclude, therefore, that Aries symbolizes the need for freedom, autonomy, or simply survival. Ultimately, there is nothing Arian that cannot be understood in the context of this need.

Likewise, if we consider the traits of Libra – engaging, charming, nice, cooperative, considerate, fair – we can reasonably assert that Libra represents the need for relationship. Again, there is nothing Libran that cannot be understood in the context of this need. Just as Maslow organized his system of needs hierarchically, so the signs of the zodiac are organized hierarchically as well. The difference is that the zodiac hierarchy includes Maslow’s basic needs and his meta needs, all of which unfold in a precise developmental sequence. Signs of the zodiac can also be correlated with developmental stages (a subject for another column), the implication being that earlier sign-needs take precedence over later ones. Aries, for example, represents the need for survival, Taurus for safety, Gemini for learning, Cancer for belonging, and Leo for self-esteem. Each of these needs correlates to a developmental epoch, within which the need of that sign is in its ascendancy.

In our zodiacal model, the sequence of the first five signs correlates exactly with Maslow’s hierarchy, with the exception of Gemini—the need for learning—which Maslow did not include (an oversight we will forgive him). In regard to his meta needs, we merely need to proceed from Virgo through Pisces: the need for service (Virgo), beauty (Libra), integrity (Scorpio), justice (Sagittarius), order (Capricorn), change (Aquarius), and unity (Pisces) completes the zodiacal hierarchy.

Of course, there are additional words that capture different nuances of each sign-need. Like an archetype, a sign’s motive cannot be reduced to any singular word; rather, it is more a category of need. The underlying need of each sign is like a diamond with different facets, each facet requiring a different word that is self-consistent with every other word describing the need of that sign. Capricorn, for instance, can be described as the need for perfection, order, structure, control, authority, and success – all of which have obvious correlations. Taken together, we can more easily grasp the drive that Capricorn symbolizes. Below is a graph that shows a few keywords associated with the basic needs that each sign symbolizes.

Motivational Need
Aries Survival, being, autonomy, freedom
Taurus Stability, security, pleasure, comfort
Gemini Learning, communication, information
Cancer Nurturance, caring, belonging, dependency
Leo Validation, approval, creativity, self-esteem
Virgo Efficiency, competence, service, utility
Libra Intimacy, relatedness, beauty, harmony
Scorpio Transformation, sexuality, power, integrity
Sagittarius Meaning, truth, expansion, justice, hope
Capricorn Structure, perfection, order, success
Aquarius Perspective, insight, change, awakening
Pisces Transcendence, unity, bliss, forgiveness

Figure 1: Signs as Basic Needs

To summarize, a complete analysis of the zodiac suggests that there are twelve fundamental, innate, inborn needs that correlate to the signs. These signs obey a precise, developmental sequence. Thus, astrology presents a hierarchically organized, twelve-stage, twelve-drive model of motivation. At the heart of the theory is the assertion that people act in the service of their needs. Problems result when for various psychological reasons people are impaired in their capacity to fulfill certain need-drives. How this is reflected in the astrological chart will be our subject for a future column.


Deci, E.L. (1980). Intrinsic motivation and personality. In E. Staub (Ed.) Personality: Basic aspects and current research (pp. 35-80). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Maslow, A. (1968). Toward a psychology of being. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.

Perry, G. (2012). An Introduction to AstroPsychology. San Rafael, CA: AAP Press

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Archetypal Astrology: Protean Nature of Archetypes

Archetypal Astrology
And the Protean Nature of Astrological Archetypes

By Glenn Perry


Proteous Archetypal Astrology

Our topic today is archetypal astrology and the protean nature of astrological archetypes. Archetypal astrology is rooted in the Jungian concept of archetypes, which can can be defined as formative principles in Nature that also constitute the organizing principles of psyche.

It is the protean nature of astrological archetypes that gives astrology its enormous flexibility as a language. In Greek mythology, Proteus was a sea god who could change his shape at will. To be protean refers to something that can readily take on varied shapes, forms, or meanings. A protean entity, in other words, exhibits considerable diversity in its manifestations. As such, it is a multidimensional being.

Just so, a single astrological archetype is capable of depicting at least four inner dimensions (motive, affect, function, and target state), four outer dimensions (person, place, thing, and event), and a ninth dimension—behavior—that bridges the gap between inner and outer reality. Before proceeding further with this idea, let us consider where astrological archetypes originate.

The Meaning is the Angle
The first thing to realize about astrological archetypes is that they derive from angles—that is, numbers, or ratios. There are four fundamental variations: planet, sign, house, and aspect. All but one of these (planets) are actual angles, which are phase relationships of whole cycles. However, since cycles are formed by planetary movements, a planet is the primary variable that allows for all the others. That is, without planetary cycles there would be no phase relationships to measure.

Consider, for example, the meaning of the last 90 degrees of a 360 degree cycle. This is the phase relationship of Capricorn, the 10th house, and the closing square, all of which are variations of the closing 90° angle and thus have a similarity of meaning. Saturn, of course, is the planet whose significance corresponds to that phase. All of this is to say that astrological archetypes are essentially angles formed by division of a whole cycle by 12. The meaning is the angle. And for every phase relationship, there is a planet that has a parallel meaning.1

Angles as Astrological Archetypes













Opening Semi-sextile





Opening Sextile





Opening Square





Opening Trine





Opening Quincunx







150° (210°)



Closing Quincunx


120° (240°)



Closing Trine


90° (270°)



Closing Square


60° (300°)



Closing Sextile


30° (330°)



Closing Semi-sextile


Figure 1: Planets, signs, and even houses are often referred to as archetypes, but the unifying factor is actually the corresponding angle. Note in the left hand column that all angles after 180° are closing angles; thus, even though the angle of the first and second squares are both 90°, the closing square begins at a later phase of the cycle (at 270° ), which is never-the-less 90° from 0° Aries.

We recognize that certain signs, houses, and aspects share a commonality of meaning. This is the basis of rulerships in astrology. For example, Libra, the 7th house, and the opposition all are described in similar ways. While each of these variables is different from its counterparts, they all share a familial relationship by virtue of a common principle: their mutual angle of 180 degrees. Libra is 180 degrees from the beginning of the zodiac at 0 degrees Aries; the 7th house is 180 degrees from the Ascendant (which inaugurates the 1st house); and two planets in opposition are at the 180 degree phase of their synodic cycle, which commenced when they were conjunct. Once again, we see how the angle is the archetype.

Sign-Planet Systems
Now, let us return to the idea that astrological archetypes can be described in terms of nine dimensions. The first dimension is sign motivation, and the second is planetary function. Rulerships in astrology are based on the recognition that signs and their affiliated planets are closely related in meaning. Accordingly, I like to think of signs and planets as sign-planet systems: the Aries-Mars system, the Libra-Venus system, the Capricorn-Saturn system, and so on. Psychologically, signs and their ruling planets are as inseparable as a rocket and its fuel tank. The sign is the motivating principle, and the planet is the action principle. Aries, for example, symbolizes the motivating need for autonomy and survival that stimulates Mars to perform the requisite actions to satisfy the Aries motive. Planetary functions represent our capacity to act in the service of motivating needs. In effect, a planetary function is the normal, proper, or characteristic action of that archetype.2

Every planetary function has its own range of actions, but how does a person know when to act in a manner appropriate to a time and place? Motivation for action is conveyed by feelings (affects), which is our third dimension of astrological archetypes. Each sign symbolizes a range of feelings that fall along a continuum of affective intensity. Aries, for example, ranges from a state of mild restlessness to consuming fury. The stronger the feeling, the more motivated the person to perform the necessary action—take a walk, or storm the bastille!

How does a person know when to terminate a particular behavior? If an action fulfills its motivating need, a state is attained that conveys fulfillment of that motive. This is the fourth dimension of astrological archetypes—the target state. For Aries-Mars, this state might be a sense of aliveness, freedom, and joy. Once attained, the Aries-motivation recedes into the background only to be succeeded by a new need that assumes dominance.

Note that a motivating feeling is subtly different from a target state. A feeling pushes from behind and operates on the basis of deficiency, motivating the person to take action. A state, on the other hand, is like a teleological cause that beckons from the future. It signifies an emotional ideal, a condition of fulfillment, that for the sake of which the action occurs. Every sign-planet system has its own target state, which can be defined with a few simple key words—freedom, comfort, knowledge, belonging, self-esteem, competence, power, faith, control, insight, or transcendence—to list a few. Between motivation and target state lie a range of emotions that depict varying degrees of satisfaction of the relevant archetype. Again, fulfillment operates on a continuum, from chronically unfulfilled (neurosis) to optimal fulfillment that is readily attained. A planet’s capacity to satisfy its motivating need is a measure of that planet’s functionality (or dsyfunctionality).

Content Mirrors Process
Generally speaking, the language of astrology can be divided into two broad areas: process and content. Process constitutes the psychodynamics of the birthchart and has to do with the underlying motives, beliefs, goals, and choices that characterize a person’s inner life. Because process can be defined as a series of operations conducive toward a goal, it is dynamic; it is the active movement of consciousness as it progresses from motive to action to target state. Content, on the other hand, is the outcome of psychological functioning. It shows up in a person’s lived experience—relations with people, places, and things. Whereas process is psychological functioning, content is the consequence of psychological functioning, an epiphenomenal by-product of psychic life. In effect, content is a vehicle for process. Content provides the actual experiences that allow individuals to fulfill psychological needs and grow in their capacity for yet greater fulfillment.

Note again that process has four inner dimensions: motive, function, emotion, and target state. For example, Capricorn is the need/motive for success, and Saturn is the function of achievement. As an emotion, Capricorn may signify a fear of failure that stimulates Saturnian actions of planning, organizing, and persevering. Saturn also symbolizes the target state (a feeling of success) that signals fulfillment of the originating motive.

Likewise, content has four outer dimensions: person, place, thing, and event. For example, Saturn can signify an authority figure (person), an executive office (place), a calendar (thing), and a delay (event). If an individual striving for a promotion is given a deadline by his boss to complete a project, this event becomes a vehicle to fulfill his need for success as well as to stimulate growth in his capacity for yet greater success.

Behavior is the ninth dimension and has qualities of both process and content, for behavior is the connecting link between inner and outer experience. Any behavior, by definition, involves some sort of interaction with an outside environment. Whereas Saturn signifies the functions of organization, structure, and control, a person’s capacity to express those functions varies considerably. Capacity is a measure of how integrated that planet is in the overall psychic economy. If a person is in conflict with his Saturnian impulses, then his behavior in this area may be comparatively dysfunctional: disorganized, impractical, or undisciplined in situations that call for a Saturnian response. Needless to say, the results of his behavior are likely to reflect his dysfunction.

Since the same astrological variable can symbolize any of nine dimensions, a key idea is that content mirrors process; intrapsychic dynamics are reflected in the nature and quality of one’s outer experiences. Jung’s theory of synchronicity is central to astrology because it provides an explanatory mechanism for how inner and outer experiences are related via circular causality. Internal processes generate outer conditions, which, in turn, influence internal processes; hence, a system learns by processing the consequences of its own actions. Synchronicity rests on Jung’s concept of the archetype, which he described as having psychoid properties. That is, an archetype can manifest simultaneously as both an intrapsychic factor and an environmental condition.

The systems concept of feedback explains how circular causality may act as a spur to consciousness evolution. Feedback is the effect of a system’s output that is reintroduced to the system as information about that output. Synchronistic events constitute feedback in that they reflect the psyche’s current state of integration, while also serving as a catalyst to its further development. Content not only mirrors process, it provides a vehicle for its evolution over time. As consciousness evolves via accommodation to its environmental correlates, new experiences are created in an ongoing, iterative cycle.

This brief (and highly condensed) tour of the complex symbolism of sign-planet systems underscores that astrological archetypes are multidimensional. Their protean nature allows us to see how the intrapsychic realm of drive, function, and target state manifest in the event world as relations with people, places, and things. A single astrological archetype has multiple significations revealing how inner and outer worlds are connected. This is precisely what makes astrology so versatile and adaptable as a psychological language.

In subsequent installments of this column, we’ll explore some further entailments of this idea, especially with regard to how a process interpretation of an astrological configuration differs markedly from its corollary content. We will also examine how planetary aspects signify complex psychodynamic processes – conflicts, defenses, and compromise formations – that are built upon the foundation of sign-planet systems.


1 For a more detailed explanation of this concept, see my related column, “Archetypes as Geometric Forms“.

2 For more information on this way of thinking about astrological archetypes, please see An Introduction to AstroPsychology.

Planetary Dynamics and Sign Motivation

Planetary Dynamics and
Sign Motivation

By Glenn Perry


sign motivation
Nancy Grace

Student: Last night’s discussion was really interesting. Thanks! When you asked what type of philosophy Saturn in the 9th might represent, my instinct was that it would be “Realism,” since Saturn is about concrete, sometimes harsh, cold reality. Saturn might be a realistic philosophy. Just wondering your thoughts about that. 

Glenn: I think your instincts are correct. My poster child for Saturn in the 9th is the tough-as-nails, former prosecutor Nancy Grace, who never lost a case. I don’t have Grace’s birth time so am uncertain if she has Saturn in the 9th, but she does have Saturn in Sagittarius, which works in a similar way. Also, she has Jupiter in Scorpio, which befits her focus on criminal law. Grace currently works as a legal commentator and hosts her own cable news show.

Remember, a planet’s behavioral choices are always in the service of the sign it rules. That is why it is so important to know the motivating sign-need behind a planet’s action. Motivation influences awareness through the agency of attention. It determines what that planetary function attends to—thus, what is noticed and what is ignored. And because experience tends to follow attention, a planet’s motivation will also influence how events are shaped synchronistically.

A planet’s motivating sign-need determines the meaning one attributes to house phenomena and ultimately how one decides to act within that environment. If Saturn’s motivation is structure, control and success in tangible terms (Capricorn), then its position in the 9th would incline it to value philosophical doctrines that are grounded, realistic, and can be used for practical ends. With regard to civil law, Saturn would probably take a hardline position; any rise in crime will be perceived as a consequence of excessive leniency or tolerance, the solution to which is tougher laws and more stringent consequences. Of course, if Saturn is in conflict with other planets via hard aspects, it might be projected onto legal, political, or ideological authorities that one rejects because of their Saturnian tenor. 

Motivation shapes attention in accord with the governing need. With Saturn in the 9th, one is motivated to find evidence that confirms Saturnian presuppositions about the nature of truth, religion, philosophy, justice, and other 9th house phenomena. This might incline one to anticipate that the dispensing of justice will be harsh. Experiences that conform to one’s expectations will be noticed more than those that do not—or, when events go against expectation, one is apt to be alarmed and will redouble one’s efforts as an advocate for Saturnian justice.

If there are sufficient soft aspects to Saturn, indicating a lack of conflict, then one might be attracted to tough prosecutors, like Nancy Grace. With regard to international relations, the person might be an exponent of political realism—a view that prioritizes national interest and security over ideology and moral concerns.

Further information can be derived from Saturn’s sign position. Saturn in Scorpio in the 9th might be attracted to economic (Scorpio) theories (9th) that are innately conservative and that recognize the principle of limited resources. Note that economics entails measurable phenomena that can be evaluated according to standards, which Saturn likes. Saturn in Aquarius in the 9th might be attracted to conservative political theories like libertarianism that stress the importance of freedom from government interference. Statistics that demonstrate how a free press and free market makes a culture more prosperous and its citizenry more content would be utilized, again, because anything that is measurable according to a standard is intrinsically valued by Saturn.

Of course, this is just scratching the surface because Saturn in the 9th would also shape one’s approach to higher education, religion, ethics, and even marketing/advertising. Unless you know a planet’s motivation, you are apt to miss the forest for the trees. The multiplicity of outcomes that flow from a planet’s sign and house position all derive from the underlying motivation of that planet. As always, the goal is to find the archetypal singularity within the phenomenological diversity.

Bottom line: Knowing a planet’s motivation can simplify and focus your assessment of how that planet functions in a given sign and house.

Students interested in this approach to interpretation might wish to purchase my book, An Introduction to AstroPsychology.

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Saturn Opposed Uranus 2008-2010

Saturn Opposed Uranus 2008-2010
Reflections on the State of the Union

By Glenn Perry


Saturn opposed UranusOur field is obsessed with predictions, as if that is the primary value of astrology. I take the opposite view: reflecting on events that are currently unfolding has the greater educative value. Prediction of events correlating to world transits like Saturn opposed Pluto seems to be predicated on the assumption that foreknowledge will somehow insulate us from what is to be—or, even more ambitious, enable us to prevent calamities slated to occur. Even assuming our predictions are correct (they are on occasion), I seriously doubt they accomplish these objectives, which are of questionable value in any case.

Real empowerment comes from embracing our fate rather than trying to second guess the cosmos in the hope of averting dreaded outcomes. I’m not advocating passive acquiescence, but active engagement with archetypal forces fortified by an intention to learn and grow through our experiences. Reflecting on current events helps to consolidate lessons learned and facilitates a process of evolution that may be the ultimate purpose of any planetary movement.

With this in mind, let’s reflect on a primary aspect that unfolded in the sky over the past few years. On November 4th, 2008, Saturn and Uranus opposed one another for the first time since 1967. Over the next two years, they opposed four more times—02/05/09, 09/15/09, 04/26/10, and 07/26/10. While other notable astrological events occurred during this period, not the least of which was Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn in 2008, the Saturn-Uranus opposition seemed to pound its stamp upon the period with a loud thud and unmistakable clarity. Daily we read in the headlines that the earth was wracked with convulsions; devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile; global warming and rising sea levels; volcanic explosions in Iceland; and the never ending Gulf oil spill disaster. Similar upheavals afflicted the political sphere—record deficit spending; tea party revolts; Islamic extremists within the U.S.; the immigration crisis in Arizona; health care reform and the increasing polarization of American political life.

Connecting the Dots

As significant as these events were individually—both ecologically and culturally—it is not immediately clear how they might be connected unless one understands the meaning of Saturn opposed Uranus. From the time Obama was elected in November of 2008 and through the summer of 2010, this astrological aspect wreaked havoc within our cultural, political, and economic landscape—not to mention our atmosphere and oceans. Seen from the retrospective of archetypal astrology, however, these events can be understood as necessary precursors and catalysts to a new order that emerged most decisively in the autumn of 2010.

Because astrology is an archetypal (metaphorical) language, it enables us to track meaningful correspondences between human experiences and planetary alignments. Terrestrial events occurring within the same time frame may be substantively different. For example, a volcanic eruption is different than a tax revolt. Yet, their qualitative similarity (both are uprisings) suggests they may be archetypally connected. Not only can these events be qualitatively similar at different dimensional levels—cultural and ecological—but more importantly each event is consistent in meaning with a single astronomical corollary. Just so with all the other events listed above; each can be understood in the context of Saturn opposed Uranus. Astrology, in short, reveals qualities of durations of time. In so doing, it enables us to see connections between events that are substantively different but meaningfully consistent at an archetypal level.

Configurational Meaning

When viewed in the context of recent events, the Saturn-Uranus opposition is quite telling. Uranus signifies change, revolution, and liberation (or liberalism). When occupying the sign of Pisces (2003-2011), the Uranian impulse for progressive, humanitarian action operates from the perspective of compassion for human suffering and a transcendent vision for a more ideal world. Saturn, on the other hand, is the antithesis of Uranus in that it represents structure, limits, and control. When occupying Virgo (2007-2010), the Saturnian impulse to regulate operated in a context of pragmatic concern for efficient problem solving. Saturn, signifying the principle of contraction, tried to slow or reduce the changes that progressive Uranus was hell bent to achieve. It also assumed the burden of cleaning up problems that resulted from Piscean excesses and inefficiencies.

With Uranus and Saturn opposed in Pisces and Virgo, it was no surprise that a socio-political conflict erupted between two dominant ideas—visionary change in the service of a utopian ideal and reactionary resistance for the sake of traditional values. In short, political partisanship intensified during the period that these two planets were polarized in the heavens. On November 4th, 2008, the very day Barack Obama was elected president, Saturn in Virgo formed its first exact opposition to Uranus in Pisces. Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, it was clear that Obama and the Democrats carried the Uranian banner for progress and change, whereas the old war horse, Senator John McCain, embodied the Saturnian principle of experience, caution, and restraint. The Saturn-Uranus polarity of the old and the new, tradition and change, was never more apparent than in the choice Americans faced between the aged, weathered John McCain1 and the young, exciting Barack Obama who promised to change Washington and bridge the partisan divide.

It is perhaps ironic that Obama’s idealistic agenda for creating a better world—rescue of failed businesses and banks, universal health care, amnesty for illegal aliens, and climate legislation—has merely exacerbated divisions between the two parties. As the last sign of the zodiac, Pisces symbolizes our wish to experience unity on multiple levels—spiritual, social, and economic. It is associated with charity, the impulse to rescue, and a willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. During the 2009 debate over the stimulus package and deficit spending, the imprint of Uranus in Pisces was evident amongst liberal Democrats who were willing to spend nearly a trillion dollars in hopes of saving jobs and rescuing failing businesses. Conversely, conservative Republicans (Saturn/Virgo) opposed their efforts and argued for fiscal restraint in light of our ever expanding federal debt.

This same archetypal dynamic was highlighted in the 2010 fight over health care reform. Democrats produced a comprehensive bill designed to protect all uninsured Americans—an extra 40 million to attain unity—at the cost of an additional trillion dollars to the ballooning federal deficit. From a Uranus in Pisces perspective, financial sacrifice in the service of social justice was not only compassionate but imperative. Once again, recalcitrant Republicans took the Saturn in Virgo side by analyzing, critiquing, and downsizing the bill in hopes of achieving an outcome that was maximally efficient and affordable.

The Uranian impulse for revolution was not limited to the liberal side of the isle. Concerns over out-of-control government spending, fears of inflation, and higher taxes triggered the conservative tea party movement (Uranus rules movements and causes). Tea party protests erupted all over the land and foreshadowed a conservative revolution against “big government”. With the pork laden stimulus package, rescue of the car industry, and the mandating of universal healthcare, the Obama administration was widely perceived as having over-reached its powers. This activated a reactionary pushback as evidenced by the decidedly conservative trend of state elections in 2009. Examples include Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts filling the senate seat vacated by the death of liberal lion Ted Kennedy, and populist Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey who spearheaded austerity measures in New Jersey. Polls throughout 2010 predicted a conservative backlash in the upcoming mid-term elections slated for November. Long standing Democratic incumbents were on the chopping block and feared a virtual bloodbath for their party.

These two antithetical principles—Saturn and Uranus—were equally at play in virtually every movement, cause, or socio-cultural trend of 2009-2010, whether within government or without. In an opposition, neither side of a phenomenon is wholly defined by one planet; rather, each side evidences both planetary principles even as the struggle appears to pit one planet against the other. The goal, as always with an opposition, is to arrive at a point of compromise and balance. Prior to Saturn’s ingress into Virgo and its first opposition to Uranus in 2008, it could be argued that things were archetypally out-of-balance.

A main reason was that from 2003-2010 Uranus occupied the sign ruled by Neptune (Pisces) and Neptune occupied the sign ruled by Uranus (Aquarius), a situation called mutual reception in which each planet activates the other in a closed, self-stimulating feedback cycle of reciprocal influence. This is like putting Uranus in Pisces on steroids. Given that both planetary positions are oriented toward altruistic values of tolerance, compassion, and inclusivity, it was inevitable that the American cultural ethos would trend toward an escalating cycle of progressive political and economic ideologies, inspired egalitarianism, idealization of tolerance and inclusivity, compassion for minority movements, multiculturalism, pluralism, moral relativism, the nanny state, and political correctness run amok—in short, a virtual triumph of liberalism that culminated in the ascendancy of Barak Obama and control of both houses of Congress in the election of 2008.

When Saturn opposed Uranus for the first time later that fall (and Pluto entered Capricorn), critics began to point out that society had literally gone soft, from widespread childhood obesity to a prescription drug epidemic. Saturn’s opposition to Uranus was like a check on a runaway system, a corrective to expose excesses and slow unbridled progressive policies that, for all their good intentions, had massive unintended consequences—spiraling debt, moral decline, reverse discrimination, compulsory speech codes, a cult of victimology, an entitlement society, a tyranny of nice.

It was not merely public policy that was driving this trend, but the private sector as well. Western culture was in the grip of an archetypal imperative that pushed it relentlessly in the direction of a halcyonic ideal. Cultural aversion to legitimate suffering was so pervasive there was an 80% increase in prescription drug use between 2003 and 2008. Some of this was due to the normalization of psychoactive medication via a relentless marketing campaign by the pharmaceutical industry. We’ve all seen the commercials: Anxious? Sad? Tired? Take a pill. It reached a point that it was unusual for someone not to be medicated. Medication, of course, is a Piscean phenomenon. In America’s classrooms, increasing numbers of children were on prescribed mood-altering medication to treat conditions like ADHD, while teens were stealing prescription drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin from their parents to take or sell. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, illicit drug use in 2009 rose to its highest level in 8 years.2

The cultural edict that it was now immoral for anyone to feel bad for any reason was evidenced by runaway litigation over minor mishaps (suing McDonalds over spilt coffee), enabling social policies that reinforce dependency on government handouts, no-touch rules in elementary schools to safeguard children from being bullied, the sissification of boys via the banning of competitive games like tag and dodge ball (because the losers might feel bad), the mainstreaming of homosexuality in sex education programs to assure that gay kids are accepted, helicopter parenting leading to narcissistically entitled children, blasphemy laws to shield religious groups (Islam in particular) from being criticized, grade inflation to protect children’s self-esteem, the rewarding of trophies merely for participating (rather than winning), and on and on.

While Saturn could never completely stifle the Uranus-Pisces revolution toward a softer, kinder, gentler world, it could balance it with complementary, alternative values such as pragmatism, self-reliance, personal responsibility, frugality, and respect for tradition. True Uranus-Saturn collaboration might manifest as ordered change that produces a more flexible, unified, and humane government; yet, one that recognizes limits and is able to cap spending when necessary.

That is a fairly good description of what happened following the mid-term elections in November 2010 when Republican’s gained control of the House of Representatives while Democrats retained control of the Senate. The new balance in Congress seemed to reflect the achievement of a greater collective balance between Uranian and Saturnian sensibilities. Representative of this trend was a legislative compromise in December that involved Democrats keeping the Bush tax cuts—a cap on taxes for all income levels—in exchange for Republican agreement to extend unemployment benefits. Both parties had to give and take.

Environmental and Other Disasters

Cap is a distinctly Saturnian word that was much in the news during 2009-2010. A cap is a cover or top that defines the upper limit of something. As a verb, it means to limit or restrict. Placing a cap on taxes and federal spending are but two examples. Here are a few more:

  1. A volcano in Iceland (Eyjafjallajökull) blew its cap in April 2010 when Saturn was exactly opposed Uranus. Spewing an ash plume thirty thousand feet into the sky, it shut down air traffic over parts of Europe for several weeks. Cause: Volcanoes occur when molten rock under enormous pressure inside the earth finds a funnel and erupts upwards through a hole in the earth’s crust.
  2. Also occurring in April of 2010 was the BP oil spill followed by innumerable attempts to cap the damaged well that was spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 2 million gallons per/day. Cause: Oil under pressure deep inside the earth will erupt into a gusher when a sufficient funnel is provided.

  3. We are reminded also of legislative efforts to pass cap and trade, which is designed to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective manner. Cause: Carbon dioxide emissions occur from burning fossil fuels in enclosed spaces under pressure. The waste product—CO2—is then ejected (liberated) into the atmosphere through a pipe.

In each of these instances, we see the Uranian impulse for liberation clashing with Saturn’s function to control, limit, or suppress. The scientific definition of liberate means quite literally “to release a gas or liquid during a chemical reaction.” Something similar happens during earthquakes when stresses induced by molten rock between two continental plates cause the plates to suddenly shift, fracturing Earth’s brittle outer crust and releasing the stored elastic energy that has accumulated over many years. Recall that two massive earthquakes occurred during the Saturn-Uranus opposition. In January 2010 there was the catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Haiti earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people. One month later in Chile there was an earthquake so powerful it caused standing waves in lakes along the U.S. southern border and shortened the length of the day by 1.26 microseconds.

Independent of the signs involved, these events were consistent with Saturn opposed Uranus. Saturn signifies an inhibitory, controlling power, whereas Uranus represents an impulse for emancipation and release. Stresses induced from an irresistible force (Uranus) pressing against an immovable object (Saturn) are bound to erupt in explosive change, whether this occurs on a social, political, or ecological level. Uranus, in effect, signifies a breakthrough, although it can also signify a breakdown in Saturnian structure. This is effectively what happened when the BP oil rig exploded in the Gulf. A wellhead blowout is the uncontrolled release of gas or oil after pressure control systems have failed. An analogous failure was the inability of the Republican minority in congress to stop skyrocketing deficit spending by the Democratic majority. Throughout 2009-2010 we were reminded daily by the media that the national debt had “exploded” to over 13 trillion dollars.3

The archetypal situation comes into even sharper focus when we consider the signs that these two planets occupied—Pisces and Virgo. As a signifier of the spiritual realm, Pisces is associated with no boundary; that is, the infinite and eternal wherein all is one; everything and everyone is enveloped in an all-pervasive, non-discriminating love. Again, Uranus in Pisces signifies an awakening of compassion for marginalized groups. When this archetypal dynamic seeps into government, there is a trend toward progressive ideologies that favor reforms in an egalitarian direction in which all members of society enjoy equal standing and equal access to economic resources. ‘Social justice’ is code for redistribution of income based on progressive taxation and the welfare state in which the top 50% of wage earners pay all of the taxes and the bottom 50% — the poor, disabled, and elderly —pay no taxes and receive money from the tax system via tax credits, food stamps, welfare payments, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, and various other entitlements.4

As an antidote to discrimination, Uranus in Pisces is synonymous with Utopian social engineering and the promotion of political correctness to assure that no group is offended or subject to any form of exclusion or rejection. Affirmative action, racial quotas, multiculturalism, and gay marriage all increased dramatically during the seven years that Uranus has been in Pisces. Similarly, the Community Reinvestment Act that mandated banks to expand mortgage loans to low-income minority groups intensified over this period. It was this practice—the lowering of mortgage standards so that previously unqualified borrowers could get a loan—that led directly to the mortgage blowout of 2008.

Welfare spending and other egalitarian programs accelerated during the first two years of Obama’s presidency even as Saturn in Virgo sought to oppose them on the basis of taxpayer cost. Prior to Saturn’s entry into Virgo in late 2007, the Uranus/Pisces utopian dream proceeded unchallenged. Saturn’s subsequent opposition to Uranus from late 2008 through the summer of 2010 operated like a giant break on the system, a wake-up call, a reality check. Yet, attempting to change direction after five untrammeled years of Uranus/Pisces momentum was like trying to turn around an air craft carrier barreling across the seas at full throttle. Despite resistance from fiscal conservatives, the Obama administration expanded its efforts to provide aid to the poor. According to a special report by the Heritage Foundation,

In his first two years in office, President Barack Obama will have increased annual federal welfare spending by one-third from $522 billion to $697 billion….After adjusting for inflation, this increase is two and a half times greater than any previous increase in federal welfare spending in U.S. history. Under President Obama, government will spend more on welfare in a single year than President George W. Bush spent on the war in Iraq during his entire presidency. According to the Congressional Research Service, the cost of the Iraq war through the end of the Bush Administration was around $622 billion. By contrast, annual federal and state means-tested welfare spending will reach $888 billion in FY 2010. Federal welfare spending alone will equal $697 billion [this] year.5

Needless to say, such policies encountered increasingly stiff resistance as Saturn opposed Uranus throughout 2009-2010. In an article entitled “A Government without Bounds,” Ramesh Ponnur reviewed William Voegeli’s recent (2010) book, Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State.6 The title of both Ponnur’s article and Voegeli’s book aptly summarize Saturn/Virgo’s perspective on Uranus/Pisces’ idealism. The main thrust of Never Enough is that liberalism has no “limiting principle,” meaning that it constantly finds new needs for government to meet—universal health care, welfare, racial quotas—and can find no reason not to meet them. Pisces symbolizes an all-inclusive unity, and this by definition leaves nothing out. Saturn/Virgo, which is a limiting principle, has a problem with that.

At a mundane level, the Piscean unifying principle is associated with substances that transcend or permeate boundaries, such as gases and liquids, most notably the atmosphere and oceans. As a process, Pisces symbolizes the dissolving of solids into liquids and gases, as when ice melts and further heated turns to steam. With Uranus in Pisces for the past seven years, there has been one revelation after another with regards to global warming—the melting of the polar ice cap, rising oceans, and so on.7 If Uranus is change and Pisces is atmosphere, the very pairing of the two words “climate change” expresses Uranus/Pisces.

However, when Saturn in Virgo opposed Uranus in Pisces, the situation turned critical. Saturn represents a counterforce to challenge and potentially ground (halt, slow, check) the Uranus in Pisces thrust. The consequences of an unrestrained, unregulated Uranus/Pisces dynamic (such as excessive greenhouse gas emissions) crystallized in public awareness and produced efforts to halt global warming through the green movement and climate change legislation (carbon cap and trade); yet, Saturn in Virgo also cast doubt on climate alarmism—inflated, inaccurate claims combined with federal financial backing of questionable research (more deficit spending). Saturn in Virgo is a decidedly skeptical, critical position; thus, in November 2009, Climategate exploded with the internet leak of documents that appeared to show evidence that climate scientists manipulated data and suppressed the publication of dissenting scientific papers for reasons of political and financial gain.8

Another example of the Pisces-Virgo dynamic was efforts to fix the BP oil leak, clean up the effects of the spill, and improve drilling technology. Oil and water is Pisces’ realm, whereas to fix problems, clean up messes, and improve overall functionality is Virgonian. Saturn in Virgo was especially evident in calls to break our addiction to oil, especially foreign oil, which has been targeted as the ultimate problem. With regard to gases, recall how the Icelandic volcano produced an atmospheric problem due to the explosive release of gas and magma under pressure. This event caused innumerable delays and scheduling problems (Saturn/Virgo) for the airlines industry (Uranus).

As mentioned, Pisces symbolizes dissolution and disintegration, which are closely related to tragedy—a disastrous event that produces ruin, downfall, and often fatality. Consider the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake wherein an entire city—Port-au-Prince—was reduced to rubble. The international, humanitarian effort that followed again exemplified Uranus/Pisces (altruistic aid to relieve suffering) in concert with Saturn/Virgo (solving problems related to Haiti’s feeble architecture and dysfunctional government).

Especially representative of Uranus in Pisces is the problem of illegal immigration, which is essentially a Uranian movement characterized by collapsed boundaries and unenforced limits. Again, Pisces is associated with permeability; hence, during Uranus’ 2003-2011 sojourn through Pisces, the No Border Network sprung up throughout Europe and the United States. A loose association of radical groups, it supports the elimination of boundaries that impede unrestricted migration across national borders. As a movement for no boundaries, the No Border Network is a prototypical manifestation of Uranus in Pisces. When Saturn opposed Uranus in 2008, however, conservative forces began to push back against lax immigration enforcement. Daily the media sounded the alarm about the porous U.S. border with Mexico and the flood of illegal aliens streaming into our country. Arizona officials beseeched the federal government to stop the flow of illegal immigrants.

Note the use of water metaphors to depict the Piscean nature of the problem—porous, flood, streaming, and flow—which is analogous to the uncontrolled flow of oil into the Gulf. Saturn in Virgo, on the other hand, was evident in renewed government efforts to prevent problems caused by weak border control: drug smuggling, human trafficking, overcrowded prisons, overtaxed schools, and an overrun healthcare system, not to mention the taking of at least some jobs that might otherwise go to U.S. citizens. Ultimately Arizona took matters into its own hands by implementing a tougher intrastate, anti-illegal immigration policy. Recognizing the need for a long overdue corrective, a clear majority of U.S. citizens supported Arizona’s hardline stand. Illegal immigration was a defining issue of 2009-2010 and yet another example of a radical, border-shattering force clashing with an inhibitory, controlling power.

A final and perhaps even more telling example is the problem of Islamic extremism. Uranus is about tolerance and egalitarianism, and Pisces signifies compassion. Together, they symbolize the awakening of compassion for the plight of disadvantaged minority groups, like Muslims as potential victims of hate crimes. In the grip of this cultural imperative, it became difficult to identify and apprehend potential Islamic terrorists within our own borders, as in the case of Major Nidal Hassan who murdered 13 servicemen at Fort Hood. Political correctness prevented Hassan’s superiors from having him discharged despite the fact that he openly expressed extremist Islamic views, was being monitored by the FBI for his contact with renowned Al Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki, and was widely characterized as a “ticking time bomb”.9

After 13 murders and 32 wounded service men and women, George Casey, the Army Chief of Staff, uttered a typical Uranus in Pisces sentiment: “As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” Conservative pundits charged that the Obama administration was so fearful of offending Muslims that they could not even admit that there is a war on terror.

A similar case involved Umar Abdul Mutallab, an Al Qaeda operative who attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. U.S. intelligence officials had foreknowledge of Mutallab’s extremism but due to lax procedures failed to apprehend him before his attempted murder of 289 people.

Swirling around such examples was the larger controversy of how terrorists should be treated—as enemy combatants confined indefinitely to military prisons like Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, or as garden variety criminals given full legal rights, tried in U.S. cities, and potentially released. Saturn in Virgo would opt for maximum control, which is the conservative/Republican position, whereas Uranus in Pisces signifies the liberal/Democratic penchant for granting rights and expressing compassion. Once again we see the challenge of bringing Saturnian control into proper balance with the Uranian impulse for tolerance and emancipation.

A more lasting antidote to political correctness than Saturn could provide may be fast approaching. Uranus moves into Aries on March 12th, 2011 where it will remain for the next seven years. With Uranus in Aries, the cultural ethos will take a radically different turn: personal freedom, self-reliance, individual initiative, and a tough-as-nails, take-no-prisoners survivalist mentality will become dominant social values, either by choice or necessity. We are likely to see an awakening of directness, a tell-it-like-it-is frankness and do-whatever-it takes attitude that is compensatory to all that previously typified Uranus in Pisces.

A harbinger of Uranus in Aries may be the recent upheavals in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan, and other Arab countries—the so called “Arab Spring”—the spark for which was ignited by a single individual who self-immolated on December 18th as a protest against Tunisia’s corrupt and incompetent regime. World attention then focused on Egypt, where massive protests began on January 25th just as Jupiter ingressed into Aries. The climatic events were aptly termed “day of rage”, a somewhat alarming tribute to Aries and perhaps a preview of what’s to come when Uranus joins Jupiter in Aries in March.

Uranus in Aries might best be summarized as a demand for change now. Separatist movements, the rise of militia groups, acts of civil disobedience, social unrest, and clashes with government forces may become increasingly prevalent during the next seven years.

Summary and Conclusion

A planetary archetype by definition is a general category of meaning that can manifest in a variety of ways. Saturn opposed Uranus can take different forms on social, political, economic, and ecological levels, and no doubt will manifest differently in different cultures; yet, there is an archetypal singularity amongst all this phenomenological diversity. Each event on its own terms is a metaphor of every other event that carries a similar meaning. The overarching planetary processes are so pervasive that they constitute the very air we breathe, the thoughts we think, the problems we confront, and the goals we seek to achieve.10

The startling fact that planetary alignments correspond so exactly to human experiences gives us pause to reflect. If such events are orchestrated by a divine intelligence that exceeds us in every way imaginable, what might be their purpose? How can we express and coordinate these archetypal polarities in our own lives? The value of archetypal astrology is that it enables us to see our individual experiences through the lens of a purposive, intelligent Universe that speaks to us through the symbolic movements of the heavens.

The objectivity such a perspective affords empowers us to collaborate and participate in the unfolding of a co-creative evolutionary process. Rather than become polarized—either too far right (Saturn/Virgo) or too far left (Uranus/Pisces)—the opportunity at hand is to arrive at a more just and balanced view that aligns itself with the harmony of the cosmos. Certainly, if nothing else, astrology invites us to trust the Universe, which is forever conspiring to foment our personal and collective evolution.

* * * * *


1 Even McCain, however, had a Uranian streak, being renowned for his maverick, independent spirit. In comparison to the visionary Obama, however, his conservatism forced him into a Saturnian role.

2 “Drug Abuse at Highest Level in Nearly a Decade,” Vol. 23, 2010, NIDA,

3 During the Obama administration, the federal debt has gone from 10 trillion to 14 trillion in less than two years. In comparison, the previous record spending by the Bush administration was 500 billion per/year. Obama’s rate of spending is more than three times greater than any prior administration.

4 Morris, D, and McGann, E. (2009). Catastrophe. New York, NY: Harper Collins, p. 46-47.

5 Rector, R., Bradley, K., and Sheffield, R in “Obama to Spend 10.3 Trillion on Welfare: Uncovering the Full Cost of Means-Tested Welfare or Aid to the Poor,” Heritage Special Report, SR-67, September 16, 2009. This article can be read in its entirely at:

6 Ponnur, R. “A Government Without Bounds,” in National Review, Vol. LXII, No. 9, May 17, 2010, p. 48-49.

7 Multiple books have been published on global warming during Uranus’ sojourn through Pisces (2003-2010), including three by Al Gore plus a movie, An Inconvenient Truth, in 2006. 

8 Dissenting scientists have argued in numerous books and articles that the earth has been warming and cooling since the beginning of recorded time. Some research suggests that cycles are mostly caused by Sun spot activity rather than man-made carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

9 Serrano, R., “Report: Lots of missed clues before Fort Hood,” in the Hartford Courant, Feb. 4, 2011, p. A5.

10 This is even more apparent when these two behemoths activate sensitive points in our natural chart. For what is happening on a collective level then has personal significance. Collective events serve as metaphors for what we must strive to achieve in our individual lives, albeit in accordance with the nature of the natal planet(s) being transited.


Butterfly Lovers and Venus-Neptune Aspects

Butterfly Lovers
And Other Venus-Neptune Tales of Woe

By Glenn Perry


Venus-Neptune aspectsThe title of my article is inspired by The Butterfly Lovers, a Chinese legend and tragic love story that illustrates Venus-Neptune dynamics. Zhu, a beautiful and intelligent young woman, earnestly desires an education. Traditions of the time forbid females from going to school, however, so Zhu convinces her father to allow her to attend classes in disguise as a young man. While at school, she develops an unusually close bond with a classmate, Liang, who does not realize that Zhu is a female. They study together for three years and Zhu gradually falls in love with Liang.

One day, Zhu receives a letter from her father, asking her to return home as soon as possible. Zhu has no choice but to pack her belongings and bid Liang farewell. However, in her heart, she has already confessed her love for Liang and is determined to be with him for all eternity. Liang accompanies his “sworn brother” for 18 miles to see her off. During the journey, Zhu hints to Liang that she is actually a woman, but Liang does not catch on and hasn’t the slightest suspicion that his companion is a woman in disguise. Zhu finally comes up with an idea and tells Liang that she will act as a matchmaker for him and her “sister”. She intends to reveal her true identity to him when he visits her home for the proposed meeting. Liang and Zhu reluctantly part ways.

Months later when Liang is able to visit Zhu, he discovers that she is actually a woman. They are passionate about each other and make a vow of “till death do us part”. Their joy is short-lived, however, as unbeknownst to the two lovers, Zhu’s parents have arranged for her to marry a man from a rich family. Upon hearing the news, Liang is heartbroken. His health gradually deteriorates until he becomes critically ill and dies.

On the day of her marriage, the forlorn Zhu is sailing on a ship to meet her betrothed, but mysterious whirlwinds prevent the wedding procession from escorting the bride beyond Liang’s grave, which lies along the journey by sea. The winds blow her ship to shore. Upon learning that it is Liang’s grave, Zhu leaves the procession to pay her respects. She collapses in despair at the gravesite and begs for the grave to open. Suddenly, it opens with a clap of thunder. Without hesitation, Zhu throws herself into the grave to join Liang. Their spirits turn into a pair of beautiful butterflies and emerge from the grave. They fly together as a pair and are never to be separated again.

Venus-Neptune Aspects
The author of this tragic and beautiful tale is unknown, but surely he had a Venus-Neptune aspect. All the elements are present: illusion, longing, idealization, bliss, disillusionment, surrender, loss, tragedy, sacrifice and reunion. As we shall see, these plot elements are recurrent in the relationship histories of individuals with hard Venus-Neptune contacts.

In terms of plot structure, The Butterfly Lovers begins with an illusion—that of Zhu’s true identity—accompanied by an unfulfilled longing for eternal love with Liang. Zhu expresses an ideal love that transcends sexuality, for in her disguise as a boy she experiences an intimacy with Liang that is utterly pristine and pure. Following their initial separation, the promise of reunion pulls the lovers forward, culminating in Zhu’s disclosure that she is a woman, thus dissolving the boundary that prevents the couple from declaring their love. Alas, their fleeting glimpse of love’s bliss is followed by disillusionment, for fate intervenes in the form of an arranged marriage that requires compliance with conventions rooted in concerns for status and security. Liang and Zhu’s attachment must be relinquished, forsaken, surrendered. This sets the stage for the ultimate sacrifice. Unable to accept the loss of his true love, Liang withers away and dies. Soon after, Zhu willingly sacrifices her life to be reunited with Liang in eternal love.

Indeed, the butterfly is the perfect metaphor for Venus-Neptune. While conspicuously beautiful and transcendent in its capacity for flight, it is never-the-less a fragile, ephemeral creature, doomed to die within the year of its birth. Just so, Venus-Neptune love entails a requirement to die in order to experience unitive consciousness with a divine ideal—infinite love and beauty—embodied in the person of the beloved.

To fully appreciate the difficulty of integrating Venus-Neptune aspects, it is necessary to understand the fundamental drives that these two planets represent. As the ruler of Pisces, Neptune signifies a spiritual impulse for transcendence and reunion with the source of all that is. This longing tugs unendingly on the soul, for in the absence of God-realization all pleasures and attainments ultimately prove empty. According to many spiritual traditions, the final goal of life is to awaken to the illusion of separateness from the whole and willingly surrender one’s separate-self sense, i.e., the ego, in order to merge in ecstatic bliss with God. To assist in this process, Neptune—the spiritual face of the divine—conspires to bring about experiences of defeat, disillusionment, and loss, for in the wake of such experiences one is inclined to develop the requisite attitudes that facilitate one’s evolution as a spiritual being, such as humility, surrender, and compassion, to name a few.

In conflict with this picture are Venusian needs that impose their own requirements. These include the Taurean drive for stable attachments to things and people that provide for a sense of security, pleasure, and comfort. Also included are Libran needs for beauty, intimacy and companionship, which may especially conflict with the Piscean imperative for oneness with all life. Fulfillment of Libran needs requires recognition of differentness—a prerequisite for any stable relationship. But how can one aspire to fairness, resolve conflicts, and collaborate toward considered agreements under the Neptunian imperative for obliteration of difference in euphoric oneness? This is the fundamental dilemma implicit in the quincunx between Libra and Pisces, which is brought to the fore in any hard aspect between Venus and Neptune.

When planets aspect one other, each acts upon and infuses the other with its essence. Neptune elevates and spiritualizes Venus, making it function in a more idealized way and imbuing it with a sense of the transcendent, infinite, and eternal. Venus, in turn, sensualizes Neptune and brings it down to the earthly realm of bodily pleasures and instills in it a desire for intimacy and commitment. Myths and fairy tales of mere humans aspiring to mate with gods and goddesses are surely Venus-Neptune tales. Yet, because Neptune is ultimately a disembodied ideal—an imagined perfection insubstantial and ephemeral by its very nature—such unions have a tendency to dissolve into nothingness, bringing loss, tragedy, and heartbreak in their wake. Venus-Neptune is not all negative, however, for at higher levels of integration the two archetypes are able to combine in ways that are relatively stable and mutually enriching. In any single life there is apt to be more than one expression, with positive outcomes intermingled with negative. Over time it is certainly possible to evolve one’s expression of the aspect in a more fulfilling direction. We will consider these shortly, but first let us examine its more virulent forms.

Every end is implicit in its beginning. Early manifestations of Venus-Neptune are often characterized by porous boundaries with regard to the body and relationships. A Venus-Neptune child may experience unwanted and inappropriate touching that evokes feelings of guilt, and which may later be denied through lying and/or repression of the experience itself. Lack of clear boundaries may also characterize the parental marriage. The child observes affairs, deceptions, and abandonments with all their messy entanglements and consequences, including grief, guilt, and loss. In some instances, the child may be appropriated by one parent as a cover for an affair, as when a father takes his son with him for an outing but spends most of it in bed with his mistress, then requires the son to lie about it to his mother. This not only makes the son an accomplice in the crime, it provides a model for relationships. I have seen mothers appropriate their sons and daughters for similar ends.

Neptune rules processes of dissolution. Accordingly, marital dissolution is a common outcome if Neptune forms a hard aspect to Venus. This can result in the Venus-Neptune child being left behind with a lonely, depressed parent who appropriates the child as her primary relationship and source of love. The child is deprived of a healthy role model due to the disintegration of his parent’s marriage, while also being burdened with responsibility for one parent’s emotional well-being. Sometimes he will be caught in the middle between mother and father, which strain his relationships with both parents and put him in a catch-22: if he’s too close with mother, it hurts father; if he’s too close with father, it hurts mother. Inescapable, irrational guilt stems from the perception that loving and receiving love is unavoidably a cause of suffering to someone, one way or the other.

A variant on the bad marriage theme is when the parents do not divorce, but the child is appropriated by one parent as a substitute spouse. This poses twin dangers: fear of being engulfed by the needy parent, and guilt for causing distress to the alienated parent. The guilt and fears that such relationships evoke establish the pattern that later must be worked out in adult relationships.

It could be argued that at the heart of hard Venus-Neptune contacts is a sense of unconscious guilt indissolubly associated with human attachments. While there may be a basis for this guilt in actual childhood experiences, as detailed above, there is also likely to be a certain amount of existential guilt associated with relationships in general. By existential guilt I mean the guilt that comes from simply being human. The reason for this is Neptune’s spiritual imperative and prime directive: sacrifice for the sake of unitive consciousness. To be human is to be separated from God. All Neptunian experience is teleological in that it occurs for the sake of reunion with God. As this requires renunciation of attachments in the service of spiritual oneness, it follows that any actual attachment to a human being is an obstacle to this higher calling. Relinquishment of the attachment not only atones for the imagined crime of loving a god-substitute, but also creates that ineluctable mixture of grief, anguish, and remorse that softens and readies the soul, as it were, for God.

Evidence for unconscious guilt can be discerned in the pervasive tendency of people with these aspects to subvert their needs for intimacy by marrying someone who is dissolute, deceptive, or otherwise undeserving of trust. Again, Neptune is about dissolution of boundaries; thus, the marriage may have been entered into prematurely without the necessary Libran conversations and contractual agreements that allow the participants to really know one another. Lack of truly intimate, revealing conversation is symptomatic of a lack of boundaries; that is, enmeshment. The Venus-Neptune person simply imagines that everything is perfect, that “we are one.” Partners may be idealized beyond all proportion to their actual merit. Neptunian imagination becomes a substitute for actually doing the Venusian work to determine who is really there. By the time it is discovered that the partner has a history of indolence, criminality, substance abuse, bi-sexuality, sexual addiction, pedophilia, or other acts of marital betrayal, it is too late.

If the Venus-Neptune person is in a stable and healthy marriage, he or she may subvert the relationship by finding themselves irresistibly drawn to someone else—often a person that exemplifies a more ideal type of love, or a love just out of reach, or someone unattainable for reasons that appear tragic and fated. This may lead to an affair or simply remain an unfulfilled longing. It is not a ‘choice’ in the conventional sense of the term, but more like a compulsion to sacrifice the love one has in order to pursue a greater love that one cannot have.

If single, the story is similar. A person may fall in love with someone who is married, lives far away, is already betrothed, is of their own gender, or is simply disinterested. The English novelist, Somerset Maugham, who has the square, once confessed: “I have most loved people who cared little or nothing for me and when people have loved me I have been embarrassed… In order not to hurt their feelings, I have often acted a passion I did not feel.”1 Maugham also said, “The love that lasts longest is the love that is never returned.” These statements reflect a common pattern in Venus-Neptune contacts: that of falling in love with someone who is not even aware that they are the object of one’s passion—a friend, a teacher, someone else’s spouse, or a public figure such as a movie star. A yet creepier variant involves taking it to the next level—imagining that the beloved has reciprocal feelings even though nothing of the sort was ever actually communicated or even suggested. This can lead to bizarre outcomes: sending unwelcome letters and gifts, stalking, accusations of being misled, and other ways of setting oneself up to feel abandoned, disillusioned, and bereft.

If Venus square Neptune were a drink, it would be a highly intoxicating, addictive potion of divine love mixed up with human love. To drink this tonic is to be entranced, bewitched, and carried away by feelings of attraction that are irresistible and often hopeless. These include impossible relationships between married/single, teacher/student, therapist/client, doctor/patient, and old/young, among others. It is precisely the longing for what one cannot have that implicates the divine in such relationships, for God is likewise an unattainable ideal that cannot be physically possessed. By projecting the face of God onto the person of the beloved, she is imbued with a quality of the transcendent, like a muse that inspires but is herself unattainable. On those occasions that the loved object is momentarily acquired, there is a high probability that he or she will soon be lost. This may entail the actual loss of a lover through sickness or death, or simply be due to the inevitable disillusionment one feels when the idealized love object reveals his or her all too human flaws and failings.

I once had a client with Venus in Pisces at the Nadir opposed to Neptune on the M.C. For the first two years of his life he lived with his unmarried mother who had birthed him after being impregnated by a wealthy and powerful man with whom she had been having an affair. She was under the illusion that this man would eventually leave his wife and marry her. Two years later when he admitted that he had no such intention, she abandoned her baby and was never seen or heard from again. The father took the traumatized toddler into his own family, confessed his infidelity to his wife, and together they raised the child as their own, never letting him know that he had been abandoned by his biological mother. When my client was 21 and joined the military, he saw his birth certificate for the first time and discovered his true origins. This opened the floodgates of the repressed memory of his lost mother and he responded by getting drunk, a state he remained in for five years.

Upon recovering from his alcoholic stupor, he embarked on a pattern of passionately pursuing women that were unavailable. Unconsciously, he was compelled to find his lost mother. This led to a string of marriages that always ended the same way: he would find some new goddess that beckoned from the beyond—the lost love object whom he must have. By fifty he had settled into a somewhat stable relationship with a woman on whom he was financially dependent, like a little boy with his mother. When under these circumstances he met his latest twin flame, he could not marry her because it meant losing his source of security. In effect, he was caught between staying with his mother—his security blanket—or pursuing his mother in the form of an idealized love object that might again disappear. When, in fact, she did end the affair (like his own mother, she became disillusioned with the affair), he was inconsolable and began to stalk her, which forced her to obtain a restraining order from the police.2

In this case, a number of Venus-Neptune themes are represented—an early abandonment, idealizations of women followed by disillusionments, devaluations, new affairs, loss, guilt, and grief. This reflects the larger point that an aspect of this sort is not merely a set of behavioral traits; it is a pattern of experience that extends from the crib to the grave. The dissolution of his attachment to his mother during the Taurean stage of 18 months to 4 years established a pattern that he was compelled to repeat throughout his adult life: continuously abandoning current relationships to pursue idealized lovers that symbolized his lost mother. The affairs, deceptions, and disillusionments that constituted the pattern were merely the surface features of a deeper story that had its roots in an original abandonment that he was trying to reverse.

Another way the aspect can play itself out is through victim-savior relationships. In this version, Neptune expresses itself in the complementary roles of victim and savior, while Venus unites them in an intimate relationship. The victim evokes feelings of compassion from the savior, who must sacrifice his own relationship needs in the act of administering selfless care to the victim. While some victims are legitimate, as in a spouse who develops cancer, others are casualties of their own undoing, as through drug and alcohol addiction. In the case of the latter, the misery of the pairing is a folie-a-deux, for the savior is also an enabler who helps to maintain the problem by his participation in it. Should his self-inflicted victim/partner recover, she is not likely to feel gratitude but resentment, for his strength and virtue has been purchased at the expense of her guilt and weakness. This usually leads to ill-treating the rescuer through some act of betrayal or abandonment; hence, the savior becomes the victim. The roles are interchangeable.

An excellent example of this is portrayed in Somerset Maugham’s novel The Razor’s Edge. The protagonist, Larry Darrell, has embraced eastern mysticism and the life of an ascetic. He falls in love with a fallen woman, Sophie, who seeks to bury the pain of her previous losses by escaping into alcohol, opium, and promiscuity. Larry tries to save her and ends up marrying her, but she soon slips back into alcoholism, abandons Larry, and ends up dead in a Paris slum. Maugham, as stated, had Venus square Neptune, which he sublimated into other works of fiction as well, like Rain, Of Human Bondage, and The Painted Veil, all of which express similar Venus-Neptune themes.

A somewhat higher version of this same dynamic can be found in the lives of celibates who consciously and deliberately sacrifice their personal love needs in the service of a spiritual calling. Venusian needs for attachment are sublimated into acts of selfless love for casualties of war, illness, or any other condition that causes suffering. Perhaps the best example is Florence Nightingale, who had the opposition. A celebrated English nurse, Nightingale believed that God had called her to be in His service; thus, like a nun who takes a vow of chastity so that she can give all her love to God and through God to all people, she remained celibate for life.

Nightingale is credited with laying the foundation of professional nursing with the establishment of the first secular nursing school in the world. She came to prominence during the Crimean War (1853-1856) where she tended to wounded soldiers and was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp” after her habit of making rounds at night. Allegedly, Nightingale developed some rather intense attachments to her patients. The psychological syndrome known as the “Florence Nightingale Effect” was named for her and is used to describe a situation where a caregiver, typically a doctor or nurse, falls in love with a vulnerable patient in his or her care.

Other Venus-Neptune celibates may forego human relationships altogether and sublimate their relational needs into the love of a more abstract entity, like mathematics. Isaac Newton, who had the square, never married or even dated so far as historians can discern, but his “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” published in 1687 is considered one of the most important scientific books ever written. As the agent of Libra, Venus rules mathematics. An equation by definition is a statement of equality involving two or more variables considered to have the same value. Newton also developed a theory of color, another Venus topic. He showed that a prism can decompose white light into the many colors of the visible spectrum, which in sum are equal to the whole. The Neptunian dimension of the aspect is implicit in Newton’s focus on the Universe as a whole system, or light in its entirety, the mysteries of which he succeeded in decoding by virtue of abstract mathematical formulas (Venus). The celebrated English poet Alexander Pope was so moved by Newton’s accomplishments that he wrote the famous epitaph:

Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;
God said “Let Newton be” and all was light.

A similar expression of celibacy can be found in the lives of Venus-Neptune individuals who transcend human attachments via devotional love of a spiritual entity that symbolizes the Venus archetype itself. The recently deceased Pope, John Paul II, who has the square, was reportedly so in love with the Madonna—the Virgin Mary—that he was pictured in a Catholic periodical praying before a full-cover image of Mary accompanied by the words, “The most Marian Pope in history has entrusted his pontificate—and his life—to the Virgin Mother of God.” After recovering from an assassination attempt, John Paul II claimed it was Mary who actually saved him from the assassin’s bullet. This puts a new twist on victim-savior dynamics. To signify his devotion, he chose the Episcopal motto Totus Tuus, meaning “Totally Yours”.

Denying one’s need for human attachment by aligning with the Neptunian impulse for transcendence is certainly one way of avoiding the pain of loss, for one can never lose what one never had—in the Pope’s case, the love of a woman that exists entirely in his imagination. Elsewhere I have argued that the Pope’s devotion to Mary was compensatory to early traumatic losses of his mother, brother, and father.3

Curiously, a similar history afflicted the American singer and actress, Madonna, who watched her mother slowly waste away with breast cancer when she was five years old. Like the Pope, Madonna also has Neptune squaring Venus. She compensated for the traumatic loss of her mother—a personal attachment—by pursuing a transpersonal love with no attachments—the mass adulation that comes with celebrity. However, unlike the Pope who chose celibacy and an imaginary relationship with a spiritual icon, Madonna chose celebrity and transitional relationships with an endless series of lovers, both male and female.4

Madonna has been accused of making a mockery of the religious import of her name by virtue of the sensual and sexual excesses for which she is infamous, going so far as masturbating with a crucifix on stage in Rome. It is no small irony that John Paul II subsequently had Madonna—the very name of his beloved—permanently banned from performing in Italy. Yet, these two figures are strangely connected by the planetary aspect they share. Despite their diametrically opposed expression of the aspect, each strategy may be in the service of the same end: defense against pain of loss. The pope could never lose the love of a woman who existed entirely on a spiritual plane; Madonna could never lose the love of objects that existed merely as interchangeable parts.

Another way the aspect can be expressed is by working out the conflict through artistic expression. I have already mentioned Somerset Maugham, but there are innumerable other artists and writers who combine Venusian pleasure, beauty and intimacy with Neptunian themes of transcendence and eternal love. Of particular note is the 19th century English writer, E. Rider Haggard, who had Venus in the 12th square Neptune on the M.C.; thus, he not only had the square, but also had Venus in Neptune’s house (the 12th). In 1886, Haggard wrote She, a classic of imaginative literature and one of the best-selling books of all time. She is the ultimate example of merging divine and human love into one object—Ayesha, an immortal Egyptian priestess of such extraordinary charms that she enchants any man who beholds her.

As the story unfolds, we discover that Ayesha is transcendently beautiful, a veritable goddess that promises eternal love if her chosen lover is willing to sacrifice all prior attachments. The main protagonist, Vincey, a 19th century explorer, falls under her spell and is invited to bathe with Ayesha in the “pillar of fire,” which will grant him immortality, too. Vincey learns that Ayesha has lived for over two millennia awaiting the reincarnation of her lover whom she accidentally killed in a fit of jealous rage two thousand years ago. She recognizes Vincey as her reincarnated lover and assures him that the pillar of fire will enable them to be together for all eternity. To allay his fears, Ayesha steps into the Spirit of Life—the pillar of fire—but with this second immersion she reverts to her true age and dissolves away in the blue fire.

The Venus-Neptune theme of the story is so explicit that it hardly needs further interpretation. One point is worth noting, however. Venus-Neptune is frequently experienced as a love that is fated, eternal, and transcendent, as when the individual proclaims his or her beloved as being from a past life, a twin flame, a soul mate, and so forth. Neptune is projected onto the partner so that the entire relationship feels mystical and supernatural. Human beings, however, are not gods and goddesses, so the usual progression of such relationships is from magic to tragic, as when Ayesha dissolved away into the Spirit of Life—an apt metaphor for disillusionment.

With regard to love goddesses, some iconic performers literally embody the archetype, like Pamela Anderson, Bo Derek of “10” fame, Jane Fonda in her “Barbarella, Queen of the Galaxy” role, Josephine Bakker the erotic dancer, Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct”, and the tragic Dorothy Stratton, all of whom had Venus-Neptune squares (except Derek who has the conjunction).

Other ways of sublimating the aspect into artistic expression involve transcendent imagery. Painters like Sulamith Wulfing, who had the square, depict ethereal, enigmatic figures such as angels, fairies, and nature spirits. Likewise, the French impressionist painter, Paul Gaugin, who also has the square, emphasized symbolism, spirituality, natives living in a tropical paradise, and other visions that sprung wholly from his imagination.

Perhaps the most perfect expression of a hard Venus-Neptune aspect occurs when both archetypes are fully differentiated, developed, and integrated in a manner that allows each to enhance the other. In such cases, neither archetype is expressed at the other’s expense. Venus is not used as a defense against the pain of loss, and Neptune is not employed as a barrier against a fear of personal attachments. Rather, they join in a manner that allows the individual to have a deep, intimate partnership while also allowing for the disillusionment that inevitably follows discovery of one another’s imperfections. In effect, loss is contained within the relationship, which is consecrated to a spiritual ideal and becomes a vehicle for developing compassion, empathy, and forgiveness.

Very often the partners will collaborate in some sort of Neptunian project, either charitable, spiritual, or artistic. In this way, Neptune finds an outlet that actually stregthens the relationship rather than undermining it. The couple might meditate together, paint, share an interest in poetry or music, or cooperate in the allieviation of suffering. With regard to the latter, Someset Maugham’s The Painted Veil, which in 2006 was released as a film starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, provides a good example of a couple that undergo a painful, spiritual journey, which ends quite beautifully in their joint efforts to save a small Chinese village from a cholera outbreak.

One of my favorite examples of an integrated Venus-Neptune square is Doctor Joyce Brothers, the iconic American psychologist who became famous for doing an advice show and syndicated newspaper column on relationships. She married a physician who specialized in internal medicine and was renowned for his charitable work. They remained happily married for forty years until he died of cancer in 1989. Her 1992 book, Widowed, was inspired by the loss of her husband and offered practical advice for widows and widowers, helping them to cope with their grief and move on with their lives.

Her other books, too, dealt with the unavoidable tensions, disappointments, and transitions that love and marriage entails. Brothers’ 1988 book, The Successful Woman: How You Can Have a Career, a Husband, and Family—and Not Feel Guilty about It, instructed woman how to balance marital sacrifices with career aspirations. More importantly, it dealt with the Neptunian theme of how unconscious guilt can sabotage otherwise good relationships, which is certainly testimony to her integrated Venus-Neptune square.

In the good doctor’s life, we see how Venus and Neptune can combine in a marriage that revolves around both partners dedicating themselves to the relief of suffering. Her husband did it as an internist that focused on diseases of the body, and she did it as a psychologist who focused on love’s hardships and travails, including the inevitable death of one’s spouse. Brothers’ life demonstrates how marital happiness and disappointment, bliss and anguish, attachment and loss, are not mutually exclusive affairs, but can be transmuted at a higher level into a love that truly is eternal. Doctor Joyce Brothers is 83 and still working. I suspect that when her time comes she will not mournfully throw herself into the grave of her deceased husband and rise with him as butterfly twins. She is way beyond that.

* * * * *


1 Meyers, Jeffrey (2005). Somerset Maugham: A Life. New York: Vintage Books., p. 232.

2 Not surprisingly, she also had a Venus-Neptune square.

3 See, “Pope John Paul II and the Culture of Death,” at:

4 See, for example, Morton, A. (2001). Madonna. New York: Saint Martin’s Press.

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