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Planetary Goals and Target States

Planetary Goals and Target States

By Glenn Perry

Planetary goals and target statesStudent: Are planetary goals and target states one and the same thing?

Glenn: Actually, there’s an important difference. A planetary target state refers to an affect (feeling) that is attained when the person satisfies the motivating need of that planet. Since the motivation of a planet is always symbolized by the sign(s) that planet rules, target states are the same regardless of what sign the planet happens to occupy. A planetary goal, on the other hand, refers to a specific outcome connected to the sign and house the planet tenants.

For example, regardless of Saturn’s sign and house position, the target state still pertains to the sign-need symbolized by Capricorn—the need for order, structure, success, and the like. If Saturn is functional, then the person will satisfy these Capricorn needs as they arise. However, Saturn’s sign and house position will show how and where Saturn fulfills its Capricorn-need. To the degree the Capricorn-need is fulfilled, the native feels ‘together’, ‘on top of it’, ‘in control’, ‘organized’, ‘successful’, and so on, at which point that need will recede into the background to be replaced by the next dominant need.
As indicated with Saturn, there are a variety of ways to describe fulfillment of a drive, but the emotional experience of fulfillment is essentially the same for everyone. With Capricorn-Saturn, for example, we all know how it feels to succeed at something. In other words, either we attain the target state or we don’t. What varies is 1) how easily we can fulfill it—our skills vis-à-vis that planet; 2) the degree to which it dominates our awareness—the frequency and intensity of the drive; and 3) its overall importance in our psychic economy—to what extent we value that planetary domain. These three factors vary from person to person depending upon a host of astrological and extra-astrological reasons, not the least of which is the planet’s sign, house, and aspects.
Unlike a target state, a planetary goal always refers to the sign and house that is tenanted. While goals are flexible and can entail a multiplicity of strategies and outcomes, they are always a vehicle for fulfilling the target state. Saturn in Libra in the 8th may succeed in building a program for resolving financial disputes between corporate entities; yet, this achievement also provides the means for attaining the Capricorn-Saturn target state of success. Again, the goal itself is described by the sign and house the planet occupies, whereas the motivation behind the goal, as well as the target state, is described by the sign the planet rules.
Grammatically speaking, the occupied sign is a complement to the planetary verb. A complement always completes the meaning of the verb by answering the question, “What?” If Jupiter believes (has faith), then what does Jupiter believe (have faith) in? The occupied sign and house answers the question because it is the object of Jupiter’s faith. Jupiter has to believe in something. It has a goal, in effect, to satisfy its Sagittarian need for faith by believing in a particular doctrine or set of values. If Jupiter is in Capricorn, the object of Jupiter’s faith might be the system, or tradition, or simply order, control, discipline, or any other abstract value of Capricorn. If it’s in the 11th house, the native might join with others of like mind to promote a conservative religious movement that emphasizes self-control and a strict moral code.
Again, if Jupiter achieves its goal, then it also fulfills its target state. How readily a planet can achieve its goal and fulfill its target state is a measure of that planet’s functionality. Imagine, for instance, that Jupiter in Capricorn in the 11th is square Saturn in Libra in the 8th. The conservative religious movement that the native has joined turns out to have serious fiscal problems and begins to compromise its principles in order to attract rich supporters. These donors want an even stricter church that exerts absolute control over its members, especially with regards marriage, divorce, and other social issues.
Seeing this, the native is plagued with doubt as to the integrity of his church. His faith has been crushed by the oppressive control of its leaders and their materialistic values. So he leaves the church and soon becomes disillusioned with religion altogether. In effect, his Jupiter is dysfunctional, for it is inundated with a surfeit of Capricorn-Saturn energies that he has yet to integrate in a balanced, functional way. This is just one scenario among many that might result from the configuration in question, but it serves to illustrate how the functionality of a planet is a measure of how readily it attains its target state.

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The Uranus square Pluto World Economy

Uranus square Pluto and
The Astrology of the Times

By Glenn Perry


The origins of the statement, “May you live in interesting times,” is reputed to be an ancient Chinese curse, though the English translation does not convey that sentiment. Whatever its origins and intended meaning, it certainly seems to apply to our current age. As of the time of this writing (Spring, 2013), Uranus square Pluto is reflecting a global economic situation that is dangerously unstable, but definitely interesting.

Uranus, of course, rules change, whereas economics falls within Pluto’s domain. When these two planets are at cross purposes, there is tension between conventional fiscal policy and changing times. All the fingers in all the dikes cannot long contain a reservoir of debt that inevitably will burst through the denials and machinations of the world banking system. At the risk of mixing metaphors, we are teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff—everyone, that is, but China. I refer again to the Chinese curse, for at present their economy seems to be the most likely beneficiary of a western collapse.

Uranus square PlutoAll signs seem to be pointing that the U.S. is going the way of Greece and Europe. Our enabling government with its vast and ever increasing array of entitlements—Medicaid, Medicare, Welfare, and now Obamacare—has more than 50% of the population addicted to wanting more, more, more. And as long as we keep rolling up our sleeves to mainline those promised ‘free’ services, we will keep rolling up the debt until finally we roll right over that cliff into Greeceland. Picture excruciatingly painful withdrawal symptoms (economic austerity on steroids) as we’re coming off a 50-year heroin high that began with LBJ’s ‘great society’ and ‘war on poverty’. Johnson’s programs corresponded with—you guessed it—the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1964-1967 that made a loud clang in the middle of his administration, the reverberations from which we are still feeling—or, reeling, depending on your point of view.

Johnson’s attempt to social engineer America into a welfare state was born from the best intentions, a golden road to hell to be sure. When asked by a reporter if it was fiscally prudent to fund the Vietnam War effort and his social welfare programs at the same time he replied, “Heck yeah man, we’re rich!” Various domestic initiatives including Medicare/Medicaid were undertaken to eliminate poverty and racial injustice. Now, with Uranus forming its first square to Pluto since the conjunction, our country is virtually bankrupt from entitlement programs that Johnson either initiated or expanded. No reasonable person is suggesting they be disbanded, but virtually everyone agrees that they are not sustainable in their current form.

An opening square is a Cancer angle and, like the sign, connotes a process of reflection and restraint. Where have we come from? How are we feeling? An opening square entails putting on the brakes, turning inwards, and reversing course if necessary, just as occurs at the summer solstice. This is apt to mean initiating changes (Uranus in Aries) in the way we fund government programs (Pluto in Capricorn). As Pluto symbolizes a process of elimination (cutting, purging, purifying), and Capricorn is inherently a frugal sign, it would seem that times are ripe for cutting wasteful government spending. But this is easier said than done, especially with an incumbent Democratic administration that regards Johnson as one of their patron saints.

Since the Uranus-Pluto square will repeat itself seven times between June 2012 and March 2015, this ‘fight of the century’ is just into its first rounds. As Bette Davis famously warned, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” By the end of the evening we may be witnessing a passing of the torch, a shifting of the world’s reserve currency from the dollar to the Yuan, a complete remaking of the global banking system, and an expiration of American economic dominance.

In the meantime, there are interesting developments on the home front, the latest of which is the so called ‘sequester’ that went into effect this past Friday, March 8th, when Saturn and Pluto were in mutual reception and forming an exact sextile. Clearly, this Saturn-Pluto super configuration has its imprimatur upon sequestration. As an idea, sequestration was part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Across the board, automatic cuts totaling $1.2 trillion were scheduled to begin March 8th, 2013 unless a joint committee made up Republicans and Democrats could agree on better, smarter, more targeted cuts before that date. Regrettably, they could not, and so the sequester went into effect.

It is significant that despite infighting between the two parties, Congress actually made genuine, substantive spending reductions rather than more accounting gimmicks and empty promises of future cuts. This in itself is a victory, which seems to reflect the sextile between Pluto in Capricorn and Saturn in Scorpio (mutual reception). As stated, Pluto in Capricorn is consistent with cutting spending and eliminating waste within government. Saturn in Scorpio entails the same archetypal blend, but from a slightly different perspective. It signifies the proper management of fiscal matters, as in a balanced budget plan that promises to eliminate federal debt over an extended period of time.

At the time of this writing, the House has resurrected the Paul Ryan plan that is geared toward entitlement reform and a balanced budget within ten years. Again, ‘reform’ is a Uranian process, whereas budgetary cuts are consistent with Pluto in Capricorn. Meanwhile, Democrats in the Senate are proposing their own plan, which is likely to have fewer reforms and cuts, but a call for increased tax revenues—that being the difference between the two parties. And so another chapter in the ongoing budget wars of Uranus-Pluto is set to unfold.

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Outer Planet Sign Positions and Archetypal Politics

Archetypal Politics
And Outer Planet Sign Positions

By Glenn Perry


Abstract: Archetypal politics enables us to view differences between political parties as expressions of fundamental ordering principles in the Universe. Republican/conservative policies emphasize two primary values—self-reliance and personal responsibility, which can be grouped under the archetypes of Aries and Capricorn. Democrat/liberal policies are inspired by values of compassion and fairness, which are ruled by Pisces and Libra. Other signs have political relevance, too, but are less dominant in determining public policy. Liberal and conservative values have equal merit and are not mutually exclusive. Outer planet sign positions reflect prevalent values during specific historical periods and the type of collective behavior that results. If the party in power is out-of-synch with values that characterize the spirit of the times, their policies are apt to be counterproductive and cause tension and turmoil in the populace.

Outer Planet Sign Positions
We are now in, as the saying goes, “the silly season”. The airways are flooded with political advertisements as each party fervently promotes their candidate for the national election on November 6th, 2012. Talking heads in the media are entangled in debate with a zeal that transcends the usual conversation. This year as a nation (so we’re told), we face a clear and urgent choice: one party’s good policies or the other’s bad. The other party, of course, is whichever one the speaker happens to disfavor, the policies of which are typically demonized in straw-man terms as extreme, borderline evil, and destructive to the well-being of the economy.

In quieter moments, most of us recognize that reality is not so simple. Archetypal astrology can be helpful in this regard, for it affords an objectivity that enables us to appreciate that each political party embodies certain core values that are linked to fundamental ordering principles in the Universe. These values are not mutually exclusive, but complementary; each has merit when expressed in proper proportion to the others. Conversely, any value can be toxic if expressed in an extreme manner.

General Principles
In the most general sense, Democratic and Republican values are the yin and yang of political discourse. Borrowing from Taoist philosophy, yin refers to the receptive, feminine, unifying principle of the Universe, whereas yang is active, masculine, and differentiating. Yin and yang are complementary, interdependent halves of a whole system—the Tao itself. Likewise, democratic and republican principles are interdependent, complementary halves of a whole system—the body politic. Democratic policies are yin-like in that emphasis is on the collective rather than the individual. “We’re all in this together” is their mantra. Liberal values are akin to spiritual practices: compassion toward all sentient beings, sacrifice for the common good, and the pursuit of a utopian ideal of boundless love in which individual differences are resolved into a common unity.

Conversely, Republican/conservative politics are yang-like in that they place emphasis on rugged individualism, fierce self-reliance, and freedom from restrictions imposed by a monolithic, nanny-like government that overprotects and overregulates. Success is a preeminent value, which is thought to be a product of personal responsibility and hard work (as opposed to government hand-outs, welfare, and the like). Not surprisingly, studies indicate that women tend to gravitate toward liberal, democratic positions, whereas men more readily identify with conservative, republican standards.1

Every sign of the zodiac can be analyzed in terms of its function within the political spectrum. In fact, an argument could be made that each zodiacal sign has a penchant for either conservative/republican values or liberal/democratic ones. Certain signs, however, stand out as exemplary of a party’s platform. For Republicans, Aries and Capricorn fly their banner. Conservatives favor a strong military, individual initiative, competition and free enterprise—all obvious Aries traits—whereas emphasis on responsibility, fiscal restraint, limited government, and climbing the ladder of success reflect Capricorn virtues.

Democratic ideals, on the other hand, are most readily reflected in Libra and Pisces. Democrats reach out to those on the bottom half of the ladder, the little guy who struggles to attain middle class status. Liberal actions are fueled by compassion and concern for the disadvantaged, the poor, and the elderly—all clearly Pisces traits. Also, Democrats are generally anti-war (pro-Libra/anti-Aries), preferring peace through diplomacy to the peace-through-strength policy of conservatives. Finally, Democrats are community and relationship-oriented with an emphasis on Libran principles of equality and fairness. Advantages conferred by class or ethnicity are charged as discriminatory, the rich are exhorted to pay ‘their fair share’ of taxes, and the rights of the oppressed are defended to assure equal opportunity for all.2

By now, the reader may recognize his or her identification with one set of values over another. Note, however, that the zodiac itself has no such bias. Every sign has its part to play in the whole. Likewise, a holistic and balanced political perspective recognizes that neither Republican/conservative nor Democrat/liberal positions should prevail at the expense of the other. When the political organism as a collective is thrown out of balance, it produces symptoms that reflect the nature of its distress—unemployment, depression, inflation, instability, corruption, and the like. Conversely, a more balanced view enables one to ‘reach across the aisle’ and see the merit of the other’s position. The goal then becomes not dominance of one party over another, but a dynamic balance that requires ongoing collaboration and flexibility.

The situation is not unlike what occurs within individual human beings. Political preferences are invariably an expression of one’s psychological makeup. It follows that more impassioned, extreme, and biased political sentiments reflect a psychological imbalance or conflict within the individual. As Jung put it, extremism is shouted down doubt; it’s compensatory to an unconscious counter-attitude that threatens to upset the one-sided, conscious view. Unbalanced attitudes manifest in signs and symptoms of psychopathology—anxiety, reactivity, rigidity, polarized relationships, intense animosity, and an end-justifies-the-means mentality.

Polls consistently show that most people want politicians to work in a bi-partisan manner, which is testament to a universal tendency toward wholeness. Not only is this evident in the macrocosm of nature wherein the rule of evolution is integration of parts into more complex wholes, it is also embodied in the microcosm of human beings who yearn for a political system in which their elected representatives work together to produce balanced legislation that serves the greater good. The opposite, of course, leads to gridlock, polarization, and an inability to get anything done—in short, our current state of affairs.

Expansion and Contraction
In the remainder of this article, we will examine the socio-economic consequences of extreme bias, using astrology to examine the underlying, archetypal causes of the polarized atmosphere that presently prevails in political discourse. In particular, we will focus on correlations of outer planet sign positions to socio-economic trends and ideological eruptions in the body politic. Before doing so, however, it will be helpful to take a brief detour into the realm of Austrian and Keynesian economic theory—the two dominant economic theories in free enterprise systems of government. The reason for this detour will be clear shortly.

According to the Austrian model, economies are living organisms subject to a rhythmic breathing out and breathing in, expansion and contraction in regular, predictable cycles.3 This may have intuitive appeal to astrologers who likewise recognize that the cycle of the zodiac unfolds in a rhythmic alteration of yang and yin signs. In 1974 the Austrian economist, F.A. Hayek, won the Nobel Prize in economics for his theory of the business cycle. Hayek observed there are expansionary periods when demand for products and services are high, in which case people are saving less and spending more. Eventually, however, people have consumed enough and their savings are relatively depleted, at which point they wish to save more. The economy begins to contract. Money pours into the banks, which lower the interest rates they provide to savers in response to the bank’s increase in cash reserves. Businesses benefit from the lower interest rates, for now it makes sense to take out loans and invest in expanding their productive capacities for the next cycle of demand.

During expansionary times when everyone is making and spending money, tax revenues increase. The more people are working, the more taxes they pay. Conversely, during periods of economic contraction, taxable income is lower; thus, federal revenues tend to diminish during the contraction period of the cycle. One can readily see that a natural consequence of the business cycle is the raising and lowering of federal reserves. Austrian economic theory holds that rhythmic deceleration and acceleration of the economy is akin to the breathing in and breathing out of a living organism. If not interfered with, each phase of the cycle is optimally brief and fluid, like an accordion that expands and contracts in the process of producing beautiful music. If federal spending keeps pace with available tax revenues, then we have a balanced budget. Conversely, deficit spending occurs when the federal government spends more money than it takes in.

In an ideal world, governments are flexible, accommodating entities that enact policies that are in accord with the economic tenor of the times. During expansionary periods when they run a surplus, democrat/liberal values necessarily prevail. Expansion of services to the poor and underprivileged are undertaken. New investments can be made in renewing the country’s infrastructure; roads are built, electrical grids updated, and school buildings renovated. More public sector employees can be hired—bureaucrats, teachers, police and firemen—and given generous benefits and pensions. Entitlement programs are initiated or expanded, such as welfare and Medicaid. However, during periods when tax revenues are contracting, Republican policies should carry the day. Budgets are tightened, government is downsized, and fiscal restraint is required.

In the real world, however, governments are reticent to cut back on spending even when circumstances dictate they should. Keynesian economic theory, which is the alternative to the Austrian model, has dominated American and European politics since the 1930’s.4 Keynesian economics is based on an ideal of permanent expansion—a perpetual quasi-boom. To the extent this is possible, it not only assures that businesses keep reaping profits and expanding indefinitely, but government tax revenues likewise increase without end, thus permitting more and more spending on projects designed to build a utopian dream society. In this rosy scenario, the popularity of the current administration never wanes and politicians in power are always re-elected.

Needless to say, this scenario is not particularly realistic; yet, for obvious reasons politicians strive to attain it none-the-less. Their favored means toward this end is having the ultimate bank, the Federal Reserve, artificially lower interest rates in an attempt to stimulate investment, expand production, and increase hiring. Interest rates manipulated by the Federal Reserve no longer move up and down freely in response to market changes; instead, they are adjusted by central planners—the Federal Reserve—in an attempt to perpetuate the expansionary phase. Rates are adjusted not in response to actual economic conditions, but to counter and change conditions that impede a permanent high rate of growth. These manipulations impact the entire banking industry.

One consequence of artificially low interest rates is that businesses take out loans that are not warranted by actual market conditions. Buoyed by the lure of artificially low lending rates, businesses make long term investments toward increasing their rate of production; yet, since consumers are never encouraged to save, their purchasing power to demand those goods is not likely to be there when businesses hope to cash in on their investments. This leads to a discoordination in supply and demand and a misallocation of resources on a massive scale, as when construction companies build more houses than people have the means to purchase.

Further assuring a bad outcome, legislation was passed under Democrats Jimmy Carter (1977) and Bill Clinton (1995) called the Community Reinvestment Act, which mandated banks weaken their lending laws so that low-income earners could obtain mortgage loans, thus priming the real estate bubble that exploded in 2008 when people defaulted in record numbers. Just as the Feds artificially lower interest rates to stimulate business investment, so they have manipulated lending policies (through legislation) to enable borrowers to obtain loans for which they would otherwise not qualify.

Economic instability and malinvestment is further compounded by the Federal Reserve’s expansion of the money supply—again, by artificial means. In order to stave off the contraction half of the business cycle, the feds borrow and/or print dollars out of thin air and inject them into the economy (think amphetamine) to stimulate demand for more goods and services, whether people need them or not. This is colloquially referred to as ‘stimulus packages’ and ‘quantitative easing’ (QA). While such fixes temporarily excite the economy and drive up stock values, they eventually erode the value of the dollar and bring about inflation. Like a drug addict who has to keep upping his dose to get high, people end up spending more and more for less and less. Keynesian economic policies were first instituted by F.D.R. during the depression of the 1930’s. Since then, and as a direct result of Keynesian policies, the dollar has lost 92% of its purchasing power. Inflation in oil/gas prices and commodities is the ever accelerating train that can never be caught.5

The ultimate result of the Feds meddling in the economy for political ends is the boom and bust cycle that has repeatedly afflicted our financial system over the past century. When the bubble economy bursts, as it did in 2008, then banks collapse, businesses fail, and consumers tighten their grip on money that increasingly loses its value as the Fed pumps yet new money into the system to reinflate the bubble. Borrowing and printing dollars to re-stimulate the economy, however, has only one guaranteed effect: it raises the federal debt at an exponential rate. During the current administration (2009-2012), federal debt has climbed from 10 trillion to over 16 trillion dollars, increasing more in three years under Obama than in eight years under Bush.6 Even more ominously, it constitutes a full third of the debt that the United States has accrued over its entire 236 year history.

Many experts believe that Keynesian economic policies have reached the limit of their effectiveness. In effect, the jig is up. Rather than re-inflating the economy, the result has been massive economic uncertainty, unemployment stuck at over 8%, anemic consumer spending, and a freeze on investment that refuses to budge despite the Fed’s near-zero percent interest rate.

Outer Planet Sign Positions
One might wonder at this point, what does this have to with astrology? Recall that in an ideal world governed by Austrian economic theory, both democratic and republican policies have a role to play in the balanced workings of government. During expansionary times when there is a budget surplus, democratic (Pisces and Libra) values come to the fore; conversely, when the economy contracts and there’s a budget deficit, republican (Aries and Capricorn) values predominate—or, at least they should, as common sense would dictate. In fact, however, this is seldom the case.

Even when Republican presidents are in office, they generally have to contend with a Democratic controlled House and/or Senate; thus, their policies are compromised or prevented outright. And while Republicans favor fiscal discipline, the seductive sway of Keynesian economic thought afflicts the entire political spectrum, perpetrating the illusion amongst members of both parties that a quick fix to an economic downturn is always at hand: slash interest rates and flood the system with fiat money. Although fewer Republicans think this way than Democrats, the problem is systemic, resulting in an economy that has the stability of a 100 year-old roller coaster careening about on rickety, rotting timbers.

Difficulty with fiscal restraint is exacerbated when the outer planets are in signs that favor democratic/liberal policies. In other words, government decision-making is influenced in an expansionary direction whenever there is an intensification of democratic values within the collective as a consequence of outer planets occupying liberal signs. And this will occur even when a reduction in spending is required. Before examining this further, let us briefly review the meaning of the outer (or transpersonal) planets—Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto—and their relationship to mass consciousness.

Together, these slow moving ‘heavies’ have a tremendous impact on cultural trends and social values. The German term zeitgeist is useful here, for it means ‘the spirit of the times’ and refers to the intellectual, spiritual, artistic, and political climate within a nation, along with the general mood and morals associated with the era. Each planet makes its own contribution to the mix. Since transpersonal planets occupy signs for relatively long periods—7 years for Uranus, 13 for Neptune, and 12 to 32 for Pluto—their sign positions interact, dissolve, and reform into ever changing symmetrical patterns, a slow motion kaleidoscope that reflects a barely discernible yet inexorable evolutionary march. In effect, the outer boundary of the solar system, marked by the orbits of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, serves as a kind of living, nourishing placenta within which the collective psyche evolves. Each planet-sign combination provides a specific type of archetypal nutrient for a given duration, catalyzing the development and maturation of various human capacities.

Uranus’s sign position signifies a movement to awaken the masses to a more enlightened perspective of that sign. It can also bring about shock and rebellion in a way and in a context symbolized by its sign position. When Uranus was in Pisces from 2003 to 2010 it awakened compassion for marginalized out-groups and oppressed minorities. Homosexual activists, for example, were emboldened and launched a movement that influenced the culture to legally recognize their right to marry. This, in turn, impacted public policy, and a number of states passed legislation recognizing gay marriage. In addition, new programs were instituted in public schools that mainstreamed and redefined homosexuality as merely an alternative sexual orientation, no less normal or healthy than heterosexuality. There were other outcomes of Uranus in Pisces, too, but the gay marriage movement serves to illustrate the general trend.

Neptune stimulates the public’s imagination and sense of idealism with regard to the affairs of its sign position. From 1998-2011, Neptune was in Aquarius, which correlated to an idealization of tolerance and inclusivity as manifest in the new emphasis on multiculturalism, pluralism, and egalitarianism during this period. While Aquarius is not exclusively a liberal sign, it has strong liberal leanings in that it’s associated with change, progress, reform, tolerance, and a kind of post-moral, non-judgmental lenience—virtues solidly in the liberal camp. Neptune in Aquarius culminated in the election of the first U.S. black president, Barak Obama, whose signature accomplishment was ‘ObamaCare’ – health care reform that assured medical coverage for the poor and underprivileged. Similarly, Bill Clinton doubled down on the Community Reinvestment Act started under Jimmy Carter that mandated banks (under threat of fines) to lower lending standards for the sake of racial equality, thus assuring that previously unqualified borrowers could obtain housing loans.7

And finally, Pluto’s sign exposes a particular dimension of our collective shadow. The dark lord signifies an impulse to transform and regenerate the affairs of the sign it occupies. Pluto’s transit through Sagittarius from 1995-2008 had a number of interesting manifestations, not the least of which was the boiling up of an inherent religious extremism within Islam, which tends to pervert religion in the service of bigotry and hatred. Another perversion of religion was also exposed: the systemic pedophilia within the Catholic Church, which some argued was symptomatic of Catholicism’s celibacy requirement for an exclusively male priesthood.8

With regard to economics, Pluto is particularly important, for it rules the financial system in general. When Pluto went into Sagittarius in 1995, we entered a period of unprecedented economic expansion that encompassed two different presidencies—Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—and two distinct booms, one in the tech sector and the other in real estate. Characterized by boundless faith and an elevated sense of possibility, Sagittarius is hopeful and expansive. Consistent with liberal values, it’s associated with growth—as in the growth of government, increased spending, and the impulse to extend oneself for the greater good (philanthropy). Not surprisingly, Pluto in Sagittarius was an era of expanded credit, reckless (subprime) lending policies, excessive market speculation, and mounting debt across the board. In the famous words of then Federal Reserve chairman, Allan Greenspan, the stock market was in the grip of an “irrational exuberance.”

By the time Pluto’s sojourn in Sagittarius ended in 2008, the average U.S. family was $10,000 in debt, an unprecedented figure. Banks were out-on-the-limb with billions in toxic assets from bad mortgages they would never recover. Moreover, federal debt had ballooned to 10 trillion dollars, partly because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also due to George W. Bush’s ‘compassionate conservatism’ that led to significant spending increases in social programs. Anti-poverty spending increased 39%, housing programs went up 26%, food assistance expanded by 49%, and SSI expenditures designed to help the disabled shot up 36%.9

Of course, spending increases in social programs reflected not only the irrational exuberance of Pluto in Sagittarius, but also the inspired egalitarianism and social justice policies of Uranus in Pisces and Neptune in Aquarius. Piscean values were especially highlighted not merely by virtue of Uranus’ tenancy of that sign, but also because Uranus was in a mutual reception with Neptune in Aquarius, the result being a self-escalating feedback loop that generated a national mood of hyper-liberalism—radical compassion for victims, political correctness run amuck, misguided attempts to eliminate all suffering, value subjectivism leading to moral decline, and social justice policies that advocated not merely equal opportunity but equal outcome for all.

The point is that between 1995 and 2008 the sign positions of the outer planets combined in such a way to create a ‘perfect storm’ that burst upon the public in a torrent of liberal policies that accomplished much good, but also had unintended consequences.10 If the mutual reception of Uranus and Neptune created a volatile gas of radical compassion, Pluto in Sagittarius was the torch that ignited it. Fueled by good intentions and inflamed by a sense of limitless possibility, a firestorm of debt swept across the economic landscape from 1995-2008 that threatened to consume the fortunes of an entire nation.11

Enter Obama
It was against this backdrop that Obama took office on January 21, 2009. Prior to his inauguration, however, and throughout most of 2008, the presidential campaign unfolded in a climate of unabashed liberal-Democrat sentiment. Bush’s ‘compassionate conservatism’ was certainly in synch with the tenor of the times, but his leadership in the war on terror and his decision to invade Iraq eclipsed whatever popularity he might otherwise have achieved (remember, liberals are instinctively anti-war/anti-Aries). So great was the animosity toward the Bush presidency that it undermined the candidacies of Republicans everywhere, paving the way for a complete sweep by Democrats of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.

In November 2008, the very month Obama was elected, Pluto ingressed into Capricorn where it would remain for the next 14 years. A new economic era had begun. But it may turn out to be an era for which the Obama administration is ill-suited. Over the course of 2008, the firestorm of Pluto in Sagittarius slowly morphed into the ice storm of Pluto in Capricorn. When the dark Lord finally settled into Capricorn for good, the economic climate chilled like a nuclear winter. Wall Street shuddered, and then froze. Lehman brothers went bankrupt. Merrill Lynch and AIG were on life support. And the Federal Reserve was scurrying about in damage control resorting to their usual tricks to stem a tsunami of debt that threatened to capsize the ship of state: more regulation, more intervention, more spending, more money creation, and (you guessed it) more debt. The 700 billion dollar Fed bailout of Wall Street spawned a trillion dollar sequel under Obama—the stimulus package—that was force fed to a comatose economy that swallowed the medicine, burped, and promptly went nowhere.

The great credit freeze was underway. Banks stopped lending. Businesses downsized. Workers were laid off. And everyone started cutting the fat wherever they could. Pluto in Capricorn had tested the soundness of our economy and revealed it for what it was: a bloated, profligate mess. For the first time in more than a decade, people actually began saving. Everyone except the federal government, that is. Driven to ‘stimulate’ the economy while at the same time attempting to regulate away problems it had created with its own Keynesian monetary policy, the government went on a spending spree like Paris Hilton on steroids. From 2009-2012 the Obama administration spent more money per/year than any government in the history of the world—six trillion more than it took in—blowing the national debt up to 16 trillion dollars in less than one term.

To understand the government’s predicament, we have to appreciate the radical change in outer planet sign positions following Obama’s election in November 2008. It wasn’t merely the oceans that parted, it was the heavens. First, Pluto transited out of Sagittarius and into Capricorn. This is like winning a vacation in Vegas and upon arrival being clubbed, mugged, and waking up two months later on a cold day in Washington with a troubling 700 billion debit on your Visa card and a thank you note from the Bush administration stapled to your forehead.

Next, Uranus left Pisces in June of 2010 and at long last broke an incestuous affair with Neptune in Aquarius that had been going on for nearly two decades.12 This transition was epitomized in the 2010 award winning film Blind Side in which a passive, homeless, traumatized youth of a drug addicted single (welfare) mother unexpectedly finds himself in a new family that values self-reliance, courage, and take-no-prisoners competitive zeal. The result: a resuscitated life on the fast track to all American status and first round NFL draft pick. We’re talking Aries here.13 Blind Side is the perfect metaphor for the change in national mood that occurred when Uranus transited into Aries. There was a new toughness in the air, a celebration of initiative and entrepreneurship, and a readiness to fight for the personal and economic freedoms that have been America’s signature strength.

While it’s certainly true that Obama faced a drastic and unexpected change in the archetypal weather following his election, one hoped that he was up to the challenge and could steer the ship of state into safe harbor. But given the values and sentiments that inform his politics, was it realistic to expect that he could? Again, Obama was elected during the perfect storm of Pluto in Sagittarius with Uranus and Neptune in mutual reception. He dreamily embodied the sentiment of that time—the radical compassion of Uranus in Pisces; the idealization of change (toward a more inclusive, humane world) of Neptune in Aquarius; and the hope of limitless prosperity symbolized by Pluto in Sagittarius. His inflated oratory and soaring promise of a new ‘united’ America struck just the right note. Hope and change won the day.

But the only thing that changed was the national tenor, and not in a hopeful direction. Legislative goals that seemed right in 2008 fell flat in 2009-2012—most notably, national health care reform that provides coverage for the previously uninsured but drove up costs and created massive uncertainty for businesses. Obama’s attempts to combat the recession seemed to make things worse—or, at least slow down the recovery. The 2009 stimulus funded a slew of liberal projects, but produced few real jobs. Unemployment figures have remained stubbornly above 8% for 46 consecutive months. Efforts to protect citizens from unscrupulous banking and business practices—that is, to prevent future victimization and suffering (the liberal raison d’etre)—put a stranglehold on economic growth, contributing to the slowest recovery from a recession in our nation’s history.14

Moreover, Medicare is near bankrupt with no realistic plan to fix it. Due to unprecedented and accelerating national debt, America’s credit rating has been downgraded by Standard and Poor’s for the first time ever. Distribution of food stamps has doubled under the Obama administration, encouraged by government ads exhorting the needy to join an ever growing list of recipients. Unemployment benefits that were once merely a temporary aid have been transformed—due to endless extensions—into a way of life for millions of Americans, making them dependents on government welfare.And the Obama foreign policy of appeasement and ‘leading from behind’, which he promised would win over the Muslim world, seems grossly out of synch with the Arab Spring born from Uranus’ ingress into war-like Aries. The militant Muslim Brotherhood has taken over Egypt (at the very least), a resurgent Al Qaeda has murdered our foreign ambassador in Libya, frenzied Islamists have attacked our embassies in twenty countries, Afghan recruits are killing their American trainers, and an increasingly belligerent Iran is on the brink of having a nuclear bomb (with the avowed intention to annihilate Israel). To all this, Obama’s response has been some version of “Let’s not say mean things about our Muslim brothers…and, can’t we all just get along?” Again, a Democrat’s instinctive response to an Aries situation is either Libran appeasement or Piscean denial.

Frankly, hope and change should have been put on hold, but it wasn’t. Rather than tack right after losing the House in the mid-term elections of 2010, Obama doubled down in his attempt to push liberal programs and policies.15 But his efforts have stalled precisely because he is sailing against the tide of Uranus/Aries and Pluto/Capricorn. When he put forth his March 2012 budget to the House, it was defeated 414-0. When it went to the Senate in May, it was unanimously rejected 99-0, and for the same reason: it did nothing to reign in out-of-control federal spending.

While the rest of the country is downsizing, streamlining, and putting the brakes on unnecessary spending, Obama has pressed the accelerator to the floor in an attempt to expand the size of government. If one could convert the rate of deficit spending into MPH (taking inflation into consideration), G.W. Bush was driving at 64 mph, faster than any president before him. However, Obama is driving at 174 mph, nearly three times as fast as Bush.16 Experts warn that unless we slow down, within twenty years mandatory spending (primarily Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the national debt) will exceed tax revenues. All discretionary spending (e.g., defense, homeland security, law enforcement, education, etc.) will require borrowing and related deficit spending. Oversight agencies have used such language as “unsustainable” and “trainwreck” to describe such a future.

Making the Tough Decisions
If one accepts that the cosmos is intelligently ordered and unfolds in a purposive manner, then new directives are implicit in the changing of planetary sign positions. We know that adjacent signs are compensatory to one another, with the succeeding sign serving as a corrective to the excesses and deficiencies of its predecessor. Just as economies expand and contract in accord with a natural business cycle, so planets expand and contract as they transition from yang to yin signs. In this way, the zodiac symbolizes a process of perpetual rebalancing. It follows, therefore, that human actions are best ordered when they likewise conform to the natural and orderly rhythms of the heavens. An obvious example occurred in 2008 when Pluto moved from yang, fiery, and expansive Sagittarius to yin, earthy, and conservative Capricorn. Since Pluto rules the financial realm, the entire global economy contracted in perfect synchrony with the change of planetary position. In effect, Pluto in Capricorn served as an injunction, a command to the human world:

This is a time for fiscal discipline and austere economic measures. Run a tight ship. Be frugal, downsize if necessary. Clear the decks and eliminate fluff. This is a shakedown. Organize your finances in a maximally efficient manner and be prepared for lean times ahead.

Capricorn, of course, is associated with hierarchical structures, which is why it is the sign of government. And because Pluto symbolizes a transformational, regenerative process, its occupation of Capricorn suggests a period during which governments are apt to be transformed, especially in a financial sense. Inefficiencies, ethical failures, and flawed policies that compromise the integrity of governance must be rooted out, exposed, and eliminated. This was exemplified in the mid-term elections of 2010 when the populace focused on the economic policies of Congressional Democrats—record deficits, 9% unemployment, and sweeping reforms in the health care system—with the result that Democrats suffered massive defeats and lost control of the House in the largest seat change (63) in any mid-term election since 1938. In addition, Republicans gained a record 680 seats in state legislative races and took control of 29 of the 50 State Governorships.17

During this same period, Uranus transited out of Pisces and into Aries, which was the second sea change that occurred during the Obama presidency. Whereas Uranus in dreamy, idealistic Pisces (2003-2010) awakened compassion for marginalized out-groups and victims of every persuasion, its tenancy of Aries shifted the focus to personal survival, which is the primary need of that sign. Predictably, gun sales skyrocketed in anticipation of a possible breakdown in civil order, such as might occur following a terrorist attack, blackout, natural disaster, or pandemic virus outbreak. Sales nationwide were up 50% to achieve a record high of 992,975 firearms sold in fiscal year 2011.

Uranus in Aries has awakened our collective need to be free, autonomous, and self-reliant individuals. In the Middle East, this has spawned revolts against local tyrants (the Arab Spring) in which young Muslims demanded freedom from their oppressors. Similarly, but less noticeably in the U.S., there has been an explosion of growth in separatist groups and local militias who see the federal government as untrustworthy. The Southern Poverty Law Center released a report stating there were 149 such groups active in the United States in 2009 (before Uranus ingressed into Aries). Today, the number has ballooned to 1,274—an increase of more than 755% in just a few short years.18

There has also been a tremendous increase in survivalism—individuals and groups actively preparing for possible disruptions in the socio-political order. As a movement, survivalism has been fueled by worldwide economic uncertainty (Pluto in Capricorn) as well as doomsday fears associated with December 21st, 2012 (end of the Mayan Calendar). Preparations include building shelters, self-defense training, stockpiling food and medical supplies, and growing one’s own food. Increasing numbers of people are attracted to the idea of living off-the-grid, which means generating your own electrical power and being entirely self-sufficient without need for public utilities.19 All of this is symptomatic of Uranus in Aries.

Whereas individuals and communities are clearly shifting in a conservative (Aries/Capricorn) direction in synchrony with changes in outer planet sign positions, our federal government is not. If anything, Obama has doubled down in his conformity with outer planet sign positions that prevailed when he was campaigning—that is, Pluto in Sagittarius and the mutual reception of Uranus and Neptune. He entered office in early 2009 knowing that federal debt was exploding; yet, instead of promoting policies that supported economic growth and addressed our fiscal entitlement crisis, Obama went in exactly the opposite direction. He passed a massive new entitlement program (ObamaCare) rather than trimming existing ones; he increased annual welfare spending by one third (the largest increase in U.S. history); he weakened Clinton’s 1996 Welfare Reform Act by ending work requirements to receive welfare; and he’s stubbornly sought to raise taxes on top income earners—small business owners that drive economic growth—despite overwhelming evidence that raising taxes during a recession is counter-productive.

With regard to Uranus in Aries, the situation is the same: Obama’s policies have consistently gone against Aries values. Rather than encouraging independence and free enterprise, his policies stifle entrepreneurship and foster dependency on government. Moreover, he favors new gun-control legislation, military downsizing, and a weakening of the U.S. Border Control. When Arizona drew a line in the sand in an attempt to stem the tide of illegal immigration—in other words, took a hardline (Aries) position against the 5000 illegals that stream across our borders every day—the Obama administration sued the state and accused them of racial discrimination. Far from being tough, strong, and decisive in dealing with America’s enemies, critics charge that Obama’s foreign policy is one of comparative weakness, conciliation and apology, as evidenced by his recent refusal to back Israel in drawing a red line to combat Iran’s nuclear threat.

Hand-outs, giveaways, and rescue operations (think Solyndra) have been the hallmark of the Obama administration. At best, such policies might be suitable during an economic boom. In the present era, they seem tone deaf. Headlong pursuit of green energy, clean air, and the welfare state may be defensible during good times, but in bad times it’s like sending your child to an elite private college for $40,000 per/year despite your wife’s need for expensive medical treatments to survive breast cancer. “Sorry honey. I would love to help you out, but Weston just got accepted to Columbia!”

If this sounds like Neptunian denial, maybe it’s because it is. Neptune’s ingress into Pisces—its own sign—in April 2011 harkens back to the halcyon days of the mutual reception when wishful thinking blissfully substituted for reality. No administration in recent memory has been more pilloried for corruption, distortions, cover-ups, deceptions, and outright lying—all bearing Neptune’s signature—than the Obama administration.20 Clearly, the goal is to get our beleaguered president over the finish line for a second term. Political pundits on the right marvel at Obama’s staying power. Given his low approval rating (under 50%), divisive politics (class warfare), anemic foreign policy, soaring deficits, lost jobs, and sputtering economy, Obama is defying gravity. No president since F.D.R. has been re-elected with unemployment over 8%; yet, at the time of this writing, he is still ahead of Romney in the polls. Again, one suspects Neptune is a factor here, not only in Obama’s campaign strategy (deceitful), but in the nation’s willingness to enable his incompetency.

With Neptune in its own sign we should expect an intensification of Piscean sentiments within the culture. As the final sign of the zodiac, Piscean values trump all, and Piscean values reside at the heart of Democrat/liberal politics. This is why Democrats so often presume a contemptuous, moral superiority in their attitude toward Republicans. Who can argue against the spiritual ideal of sacrifice for one’s fellow man and compassion for all sentient beings? Yet, innumerable studies show that too much of a good thing can actually be bad. The psychological term for this is enabling, which means to protect people from the consequences of their own choices. This prevents them from learning and is the equivalent of stealing their karma. Enabling is usually done out of genuine compassion, but with consequences that are unintended. The proverbial road to hell is paved with good intentions, as exemplified in the Community Reinvestment Act that was a prime trigger for the real estate crash of 2008.

Other Neptunian pursuits include meddling and helping too much, which again leads to unintended consequences (usually some version of fostering dependency). Journalist John Stossel has made a career out of exposing the government’s disastrous attempts to help the poor, defeat racism, and eliminate suffering.21 A classic example goes back to the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the 60’s when Democratic President Lyndon Johnson initiated welfare programs to help inner city black families—his so called ‘war on poverty’. Recognizing that their families would get more money from the government if mothers were single and pregnant (the more children the bigger the check), fathers moved out or never claimed paternity, and black families gradually disintegrated. The result: unemployment among young black males has more than doubled since the 1950’s; imprisonment rates have dramatically increased; and inner city poverty is essentially the same as it was in 1964.

Ironically, poverty in black families had nearly been cut in half in the 20 years prior to the 1960s when government assistance was minimal and most black children were raised in two-parent families. “None of these facts fit liberal social dogmas,” writes black economist Thomas Sowell, with a hint of sadness.22 Likewise, Charles Murray writes in his book Losing Ground: “The first effect [of social-welfare policy] . . . was to make it profitable for the poor to behave in the short term in ways that were destructive in the long term. Their second effect was to mask these long-term losses—to subsidize irretrievable mistakes. We tried to remove the barriers to escape poverty, and inadvertently built a trap.”23

This should not imply that extending a helping hand is always bad; only, that it’s not always good, especially when what’s needed is simply to get out of the way—or, perhaps on some occasions, give a good kick in the pants. When government provides food, shelter, and healthcare to welfare recipients, they lose the incentive to provide for themselves; moreover, they are insulated from having to face the consequences of unfavorable choices. To reevaluate government welfare may seem radical, but perhaps that is precisely what the cosmos is saying with Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn. The global message to humanity seems to be:

Toughen up and get real. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and stay the course. There’s no free lunch. Life is what you make it, so be accountable for the consequences of your own choices.

If this is one variant of the Prime Directive of the cosmos (for the present), then it’s also what we need to be telling one another; yet, such an attitude flies in the face of liberal-Democrat values. No doubt this is why the Obama administration is struggling to align itself with the tenor of the times. Republican values were certainly not what Obama had in mind by his campaign slogan of ‘hope and change’. It is ironic that by stubbornly adhering to ideals that enjoyed heightened popularity during the last decade—Pluto in Sagittarius, Uranus in Pisces, and Neptune in Aquarius—but that are dangerously out-of-place now, Obama is actually sailing against the archetypal winds of change. Republican vice presidential hopeful, Paul Ryan, describes an Obama presidency desperately clinging to power as it heads into the next election:

It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new. Now all that’s left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at the moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday’s wind.24

Rebalancing the Equation
Even though Neptune is strong in its own sign, Uranus and Pluto give strength to Aries and Capricorn; thus, it would appear that conservative values have a slight edge within the collective psyche for the current decade. The Uranus-Pluto square from 2012-2015 (exact 7 times) will further draw out the respective powers of these two signs, if only by virtue of their struggle with one another. As always, the work at hand is to weave the archetypal strands of fate into a socio-cultural tapestry that is both functional and harmonious. The question arises, how can the body politic best accomplish this?

From the perspective of Austrian economic theory, we are clearly in a contraction phase of the business cycle, which favors Republican/conservative policies of reduced spending, lower taxes, and smaller government. Since the current administration has been unwilling to do this—and, in fact, has moved in precisely the opposite direction—it is possible that this has exacerbated the contraction and prolonged the recession. John B. Taylor, Senior Fellow in Economics at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, writes that excessive government regulations, the stimulus package, quantitative easing (QE), ObamaCare, and a general failure to rein in government spending has caused massive uncertainty within the economy and made business owners reluctant to hire new workers or expand production (thus keeping unemployment high and economic growth low).25

The antidote, of course, would be to move in the direction of policies that are more in accord with Aries and Capricorn values—in other words, Republican policies. Unleash private enterprise by streamlining regulation, and restore business confidence by reducing the deficit and balancing the budget. As every astrologer knows, government is an inherently Capricornian institution. Capricorn favors maximum efficiency, reduction of waste, and a lean and mean style of operation. The principle of contraction manifests as limits, frugality, caution in taking on new projects, and, above all, following tradition—established policies and fixed rules—that have been proven to work and which provide the necessary certainty to plan one’s individual affairs confident in the assurance that no one is going to move the goal posts. Too much ‘hope and change’ plays havoc with the simple, predictable rules that are necessary for an economy to grow.

That Republicans favor lower taxes, smaller government, and less regulation is often shrilly attacked by Democrats as evidence of avarice, uncaring, and selfishness, for it would appear to be at the expense of the needy. The usual charge is that Republicans want to reduce services to the needy and give tax breaks to the rich solely to become more rich (as if greed is their only conceivable motive). Yet, studies consistently show that when taxes are levied at an optimally low rate it increases business investment, raises GDP, and leads to greater tax revenue. The resulting surplus enables government to pay for social programs without having to resort to deficit spending; thus, it’s a win-win situation all around.26

Tax reductions by Harding and Coolidge in the 20’s, Kennedy in the 60’s, Reagan in the 80’s, and Bush in 2003 all immediately stimulated the economy and resulted in tax dollar increases to the federal treasury.27 More money in tax revenues means more people have jobs, since they are the ones paying the taxes. In states with current Republican governors, the average unemployment rate is a full point lower than in states with Democratic governors. Moreover, says Governor Bob McDonnell of VA with obvious pride, “Republican governors lead seven of the ten states with the lowest unemployment rates, and 12 of the 15 states ranked best for business. While the Obama administration borrows over $3 billion a day just to keep the lights on, Republican governors have closed $65 billion in budget shortfalls, without raising taxes.”28

With Neptune in Pisces through 2025, there’s no question that Democrat/liberal values will remain strong in the body politic. What we should be shouting from the rafters, however, is that government is not the only, and certainly not the best, vehicle for dispensing charity and expressing compassion. In fact, government was never designed to be a Piscean charity dedicated to rescuing the poor, sick, or elderly. Prior to the inception of the modern welfare state under F.D.R. in the ‘30’s (Uranus closing square to Pluto), and expanded by L.B.J. in the ‘60’s (Uranus conjunct Pluto), charity had always been the province of individuals and communities, usually headed by local churches and fraternal societies who purportedly did a better job than the welfare state.29 Now, with Uranus again aligning with Pluto (opening square), there is an urgent need to put the brakes on and reassess the wisdom of federal programs that are linked to this planetary pairing.

An abundance of evidence suggests we need to reverse course, as is common with the square. The reason is simple. By siphoning funds away from the private sector and funneling them into failed government projects to help the disadvantaged (examples are endless), government actually diminishes the ability of civil society to deal with the problems of living. For example, Charles Murray writes in his classic text Losing Ground that poverty was steadily declining through the ‘50’s and ‘60’s until L.B.J’s ‘Great Society’ programs kicked in at the start of the ‘70’s.30 Echoing Thomas Sowell, Murray argues that Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty’ actually made things worse for its intended beneficiaries. By eroding self-reliance, destroying families, and making more and more people dependent on government, welfare has been a disaster and quite possibly one of the worst ideas in the history of the planet.

This led to welfare reform under the Newt Gingrich led Republican Congress during Clinton’s tenure. Responding positively to pressure from Gingrich, Clinton famously trumpeted his intention “to end welfare as we know it,” and later stated that the 1996 legislation they mutually enacted allows us “to break the cycle of dependency that has existed for millions and millions of our fellow citizens, exiling them from the world of work.”31 Gingrich went on to find more effective ways to increase employment opportunities for the poor—encouraging volunteerism and spiritual renewal, creating tax incentives, and reducing regulations for businesses in poor neighborhoods. In his volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity, Gingrich observed it was more rewarding for people to be actively involved in improving their lives—building their own homes—than to simply receive a welfare check.32

The point is that Neptune in Pisces can be utilized for the greater good by taking the initiative (Aries) and assuming personal responsibility (Capricorn) for acts of charity and compassion (Pisces). This can take the form of volunteerism, being a good neighbor, or joining any of innumerable organizations dedicated to good works, all of which are time honored traditions of particular relevance today. Again, this had been the norm for the greater part of human history up to the 20th century when the force that leveled it was indeed powerful—the modern welfare state. It’s easy to feign being an altruistic person while projecting responsibility for charity onto the nanny-state, but to walk the walk one needs to take responsibility for being charitable within one’s means. The great tragedy of the welfare state is that it not only undermines self-respect and turns people into semi-permanent victims, it also diminishes any sense of responsibility the average citizen feels for helping his fellow humans. Increasingly relieved of both duty and financial means for voluntary acts of compassion—since government usurps the role—our capacity for altruism atrophies over time.

One of the more intriguing aspects of astrology is how planetary configurations can be integrated into more functional wholes. Uranus in Aries, Neptune in Pisces, and Pluto in Capricorn all have a part to play in the cultural zeitgeist; yet, all are interdependent, too, especially with Uranus and Pluto in square. While Uranus is awakening the collective to the importance of personal freedom, individual initiative and self-reliance, Pluto is transforming government into a more financially responsible, fiscally disciplined entity. In combination, this suggests a cultural movement to aggressively demand an administration that is sufficiently self-restrained and non-interfering that it supports free enterprise to the maximum extent possible. For this to occur, government has to rein in spending, eliminate excessive regulatory burdens, and once again allow individuals to assume responsibility for their own welfare.

At the same time, Neptune in Pisces highlights a collective concern for the disadvantaged. This concern, however, does not occur in a cultural vacuum; it must find a way to combine with the implicit injunctions of Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn. If these latter injunctions are obeyed, it suggests a restoration of personal responsibility for individual acts of charity. With less money being drained by inept government programs that actually encourage dependence, more is available to the private citizen that can be funneled into reputable charities that empower recipients to truly change their lives.

We have all heard the saying, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” In keeping with Aries and Capricorn values, attempts to help the needy should stress the importance of self-help, good character, and living a prudent lifestyle if the individual expects to regain self-reliance. Charitable organizations in the past believed that aid given without nourishment of a man’s character would accomplish little except to demean him. Obviously, there are those who due to chronic illness, disability, or old age will never be entirely self-reliant; yet, others are gaming the system out of an inflated sense of entitlement, encouraged and abetted by policies that are excessively lenient.33

Beyond doing everything that can be done to help those who cannot help themselves, a strenuous effort should be made to help those who can help themselves do just that: help themselves. This means championing policies that encourage self-improvement, personal initiative, entrepreneurship, and participation within a competition-driven free market economy, for it is only through wealth creation that poverty is reduced and human progress assured. In a recent campaign speech, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney contrasted enabling with empowering by stating a simple but obvious truth: “Compassion should not be measured by how many people are on welfare, but by how many people you have helped find jobs.”

As a Mormon, Romney was brought up in a tradition that stressed personal responsibility, spiritual faith, and good character as the most effective combatants of indigence. In its 1936 “Church Welfare Plan,” the Mormon Church formulated the guidelines that underpinned their policy on charity. Not only was it framed during the last square of Pluto and Uranus, but it seems exceptionally appropriate now in providing a model that integrates Pluto in Capricorn, Uranus in Aries, and Neptune in Pisces under one inclusive policy. The plan was simply: “A system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and that independence, industry, thrift and self-respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves.”

Summary and Conclusion
Growth of government and deficit spending is exacerbated when the cultural zeitgeist favors liberal values, as occurs when the outer planets occupy liberal signs. This was the situation that prevailed during the ‘perfect storm’ of Pluto in Sagittarius and Uranus and Neptune in Aquarius or mutual reception, which traversed the period from 1995-2008 and culminated in the election of Barack Obama. Following Obama’s election and with Democrats in control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency, the national debt exploded. At the current rate of deficit spending, the Obama administration will have increased the national debt by more in a single presidency than all previous presidents combined: 12 trillion dollars in 8 years.

During Obama’s first term, all of the outer planets changed signs, which is highly unusual and underscores that we are living in a time of tremendous transition. With Uranus and Pluto moving into Aries and Capricorn, the cultural zeitgeist shifted rather suddenly from hyper-liberalism to strong conservatism. While the country as a whole lurched strongly to the right as evidenced by the emergence of the Tea Party and the rout of Democrats in the mid-term elections, Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate doubled down, dug in their heels. and clung tenaciously to their leftist agenda. The resulting stalemate set the stage for a referendum in the presidential election of November 6.

In effect, the Obama presidency is sailing against the archetypal winds, but not entirely. Neptune has ingressed into its own sign, Pisces, which heightens liberal values of charity and compassion. As every outer planet-sign combination constitutes a cosmic injunction, Neptune in Pisces has to accommodate itself to the radically different agendas of Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries. If all three can function together in an integrated way, we could have a fiscally disciplined administration that liberates entrepreneurship and free enterprise which, in turn, promotes charity from the bottom up rather than the top down. In other words, by reining in spending, government would empower individuals and communities to take responsibility for helping the least among us become strong, self-reliant, productive citizens.

The great irony of our times is that by acting more Republican we better achieve Democratic ideals. Each side is enriched by its counterpart; thus, through fiscal discipline and smaller government, charities at state and local levels are reinvigorated. One thing is certain: if we continue to export responsibility for charitable giving onto the federal government we will soon be in need of it ourselves, for there will be no more government to depend on; it will be bankrupt, and so will we. For a preview, one merely has to look at Europe. America is approaching a tipping point where fewer and fewer people are working for more and more dependents. This is like bailing out a sinking ship during a heavy storm by taking water from the bow and pouring it into the stern. Such a ship cannot long stay afloat, much less arrive at its destination.

In the final analysis, the issue is not which party is right, but which party is right for the times. If we identify too rigidly with either side of the political equation, we become cardboard stereotypes of the worst of each tradition: the cold, heartless, greedy Republican or the morally smug, bleeding heart, airhead Democrat. In truth, real people embody both sensibilities to varying degrees, and neither side has a monopoly on goodness. The goal is to recognize and integrate complementary opposites, adjusting one’s sails to the archetypal winds so that a dynamic equilibrium is maintained over time.

Archetypal astrology postulates that the real spiritual ideal is differentiation and coordination of all modes of being into a balanced whole. From a Gods-eye view, Aries and Capricorn are no less valued for their toughness and hardness than Pisces for its softness. In the current archetypal zeitgeist, all three have to be woven into a functional composite that complies with the Prime Directive of the cosmos:

Transform organizations at every level and make them fiscally responsible. Respect limits, but do not fail to act in your own self-interest, for if you cannot help yourself you cannot help another. Encourage the weak, do not enable them. While compassion has no limits, the gift of charity is best given with conditions that foster self-reliance.

* * * * *


1 The so called ‘gender-gap’ underscores the archetypal nature of politics. For decades women have been more closely aligned with the Democratic Party and men more likely to identify as Republicans. The gender gap—the difference between how men and women vote—represents on average a seven point gulf between the sexes during presidential elections.

2 Excessive focus on leveling the playing field sometimes devolves into attempts to level the natural social and economic hierarchy, i.e., extreme liberalism aspires to assure equal outcomes with regard to success, happiness, and prosperity. Conservatives argue, however, that people differ in their motivation and capacity for success. Different views on this point reflect the tension of the square between Libra/liberals and Capricorn/conservatives.

3 Hayek, F.A. (2007). The road to serfdom: The definitive edition. Chicago: U. Of Chicago Press

4 John Maynard Keynes was a 20th centry British economist whose ideas profoundly affected the theory of modern macroeconomics and informed the monetary policies of governments. For more, go to:

5 For example, since Obama took office the price of gas has doubled. While not the only cause, devaluation of the dollar through expansion of the money supply is thought to be a major cause.

6 Bush increased the debt from 5 trillion to 10 trillion in eight years.

7 Again, this was one of the prime causes of the economic meltdown that occurred in 2008 when borrowers massively defaulted on mortgage payments they could not afford.

8 By definition, to be a priest in the Catholic Church means you are sexually repressed, or need to repress your sexuality, or have no particular interest in woman to start with. Whatever the case, it does not bode well for normal expression of sexual feeling.

9 Biggs, Andrew G., “Claims and Facts: Common Arguments against SS Reform Featuring Voluntary Personal Retirement Accounts,” Cato Institute, 9 July 2002,

10 So total was the liberal hegemony of the period that by 2008 it spawned a host of conservative books as a kind of counter-insurgency. The titles speak volumes: Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg (2008); The Tyranny of Liberalism by James Kalb (2008); The Tyranny of Nice by Kathy Shaidle (2008).

11 In Europe, these same policies ultimately bankrupted Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland, who survive now largely by virtue of Germany’s largesse.

12 Neptune and Uranus were conjunct in Capricorn from ’92-95; were in the same sign (Aquarius) from ’98-2003; and were in mutual reception from 2003-2011.

13 As so often happens with memorable films, they metaphorically encapsulate emergent ideas, values, and evolutionary trends circulating within the objective psyche at the time of their release. In this regard, they are like collective dreams.

14 The Dodd-Frank act of 2010 produced 8,840 pages of new restrictions and made starting a new business exceedingly difficult. Over the past three years, economic growth has been creeping along at an average of 1.7% (as compared to 2.7% during the Bush presidency). For more comparisons, see peter Wehner’s article: “In Bush v. Obama, Bush Wins in a Rout,” at:

15 Faced with an identical situation in 1994, Bill Clinton famously declared, “The era of big government is over,” rolled up his sleeves, and began working with a Republican controlled Congress headed by Newt Gingrich. The result: a balanced budget, tax revenue surplus, and booming economy.

16 Using this same conversion rate, Reagan was at 50 mph under a Democratic Congress. Under a Republican Congress, Clinton was at 18 mph (thank you, Newt). Under Obama and a Democratic Congress, the debt has exploded from 10 trillion to 16 trillion in three years, or 2 trillion per/year (Bush was only 500 billion per/year). See “The National Debt Road Trip” at:

17 See ‘United States Elections, 2010’,,_2010

18 “Obama’s election sparked dramatic rise in militia groups in US, report finds”.

19 “The Business of Survival: A Look at Growing Trends and 2012,” by Scott D.

20 See, for example, Promoting Decline: Obama vs. America by Scott Wheeler. Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream by Dinesh D’Souza. The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House by Edward Klein. Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies by Michelle Malkin. Any one of these books is alarming but collectively they paint a picture of a president who is astonishingly arrogant, callow, incompetent, deceitful, treacherous, and destructive.

21 See Stossel’s books. Give Me a Break (2005) documents his opposition to government regulation and his rationale for shifting social services from government to private charities. His second book, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity (2007) exposes the ineffectiveness of government programs that purport to help victims. His latest book, No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails – But Individuals Succeed (2012) extends the argument for individual initiative over government dependency.

22 “The Welfare State: Rhetoric vs. Reality,” by Thomas Sowell, WND Commentary, 03/19/12,

23 Murray, Charles (1994). Losing ground: American social policy, 1950-1980). New York: Basic Books

24 From his address at the RNC Convention, September 9, 2012

25 Taylor, John B. First principles: Five keys to restoring America’s prosperity. New York: W.W. Norton

26 Hubbard, Glenn R., “Tax Cuts Won’t Hurt the Surplus,” Wall Street Journal, 22 August 2001, p. A16

27 Jackson, G. Conservative comebacks to liberal lies. Ramsey, NJ: JAJ Publishing, p. 291-293

28 From Governor McDonnell’s speech at the RNC in September, 2012

29 Blanchette, Jude. “The Shortcomings of Government Charity: Private Charities Offer the Best Cure for Chronic Poverty,” in Freeman, May 2007, Volume 57, Issue 4.

30 Murray, Ibid

31 Skorneck, Carolyn (July 31, 1996). “Clinton Says He Will Sign Welfare Overhaul; House Passes It.”. Associated Press

32 Gingrich, N. (1998). Lessons learned the hard way. New York: HarperCollins Publishers

33 After their unemployment finally runs out, an increasing number of people now apply for disability—generally for some form of alleged “mental illness” such as depression—which applicants claim prevents them from working. See: “As unemployment benefits claims decline, disability claims rise,” at:

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.

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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 variations: planet, sign, house, and aspect. All but 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. For without planetary cycles, there would be no phase relationships to measure.

Consider 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. Again, 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 Astrologial 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.

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