Recently, I received this question here on the site about the relationship between astrology and psychology. I am well aware that many psychology professionals have a certain dislike of astrology and, on the other hand, others study this ancient area of knowledge in depth, which until the 15th century was still taught in European universities.
In principle, we could say that there is no relationship between psychology and astrology. After all, psychology has been consolidating itself in the last two centuries as a science of the psyche, while astrology would have been left behind in history, a mere curiosity, a predecessor of astronomy in the same way that alchemy is considered the predecessor of chemistry.
But we must not be silent about what psychology “thinks” of astrology, for two reasons:
1) Many important authors – notably CG Jung – studied the foundations of astrology and devoted themselves to understanding its symbolism.
2) Astrology could be thought of as a predecessor not only of astronomy but also of psychology, in the sense that the study of the movements of the stars also brought knowledge of personality types, that is, the signs. (We’ll explain further below).
Thus, although psychology is a respected field of scientific production, to this day there are debates about what is its object of study. Etymologically, in the origin of the word, we have that psychology is the study of the psyche, of the soul. As the concept of soul is more religious and mystical than palpable, the problem is set: what is the human soul? How to study it?
Well, let’s not dwell here on the history of psychology. I suggest the text – Ways of thinking to study thinking in psychology
A very interesting way of thinking about the soul (psyche in Greek, anima in Latin, soul in English, Seele in German) is that there is no Archimedes point outside of it for us to know what it is. In other words, we see the whole world through our soul. If we are sad, the world looks gray. If we’re in love, it looks rosy.
And it is through our soul that we also think about ourselves. Of course, this turns out to be a profound philosophical and epistemological problem. But let’s get back to astrology.
Another reason why we should not be silent about psychology’s relationship to astrology is that everything that has been made, created and thought by man is of interest to psychology. For everything that was made, created and thought was done by the psyche of a woman or a man, right?
Thus, in the same way that it is important to study the mind of a psychopath, it is relevant to study the way of thinking of a mathematician, a composer, a civil servant and a poet, and why not? from an astrologer.
And here, again, we have to know how to separate the possibility of studying a certain psychic content (a math account, music, bureaucracy, poetry and an astral map) from to agree with psychic content.
Studying the Ku-Klux-Klan or Nazism, psychologically speaking, does not mean that I agree with their assumptions. Likewise, studying astrology – and its signs, trines, sextiles, planets, transits – doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with your way of thinking.
This is quite important, as I am bound to hear criticisms that psychology has nothing to do with astrology and that the very fact that I want to answer a question from one of our readers means that I am an astrologer.
But let’s get back to astrology.
Birth chart and time of birth
The central argument of astrology is that the exact time and place of birth configures a personality type determined by the stars. Astrology is pre-Copernican, which means that the earth is the center of the universe and the planets (Sun and Moon are planets in their terminology) revolve around us.
When I say that I am a Cancer, it means that I was born at a time in the sky when the sun was passing through the sign of Cancer. The sky seen at night (and drawn by derivation when it is day) was divided into 12 signs that divide the space of 360 degrees.
So at the time of my birth, the sun was passing through this constellation called Cancer or Crab.
The first criticism anyone hears of astrology is that newspaper horoscopes are flawed. They are flawed even for astrologers, that’s for sure because he is totally incomplete.
In addition to the sun, a complete birth chart should reflect the time of birth according to all the other planets (in addition to the sun, we have the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto – the latter were being included from their discoveries. In ancient astrology, until the discovery of Uranus, there were 7 planets, including the sun and the moon).
Therefore, a newspaper horoscope disregards 90% of the chart, so it would be flawed and incomplete by nature. But we’ll get back to the topic of forecasting in a moment.
First, let’s see what a birth chart looks like.
Example of a Star Chart
The birth chart above, the round one full of signs, is Sigmund Freud’s birth chart. When we say that Freud was of the sign of Taurus, we mean, therefore, that at the time of his birth (May 6, 1856), the sun was passing through the sign of Taurus. What is represented on the map above, near the letters DC – descending – on the right side of the screen.
The symbol next to the number 7 represents the sun and the region next to the letters DC (in green) represents the symbol of the sign of Taurus. Next, we can see that in addition to the sun in Taurus, Uranus and Mercury were in this same constellation.
And, lots of other information for those who study astrology. For example, Scorpio rising, Gemini moon, etc.
The point is to show that astrology is much more complex than the newspaper horoscope. Having the central argument in mind, we understand that astrology claims to have a very deep knowledge about the soul (psyche or astral, from star) of each one from the sky of the second of birth.
Now, knowing whether this argument is correct and whether it is subject to scientific proof is another story.
The causal relationship between the sky and a personality
Well, as far as science is concerned, there is no proof that astrology’s central argument is true. There is no way we can prove that the fact that a subject – like Freud – was born – like me – with a Scorpio ascendant leads him to have certain interests linked to the study of the psyche (neurology, psychoanalysis, psychology).
After all, the very concept of a scorpio sign is dubious as it is a projection of a drawing in our head (collectively speaking) of a cluster of stars that looks like a scorpion. The Egyptians called it an eagle scorpion.
As is known, the main problem of astrology is to explain the birth chart of two twins. Born at practically identical times, they would have to have similar personalities and even similar fates. Here we note the implicit argument that having a birth chart engenders a personality and a personality engenders a type of life.
It is problematic for astrologers to answer this question because this hope is often unproved. Geminis have different personalities, often one is an extrovert, another is an introvert, one goes down one path and the other goes down a different path (for example, not close colleges like engineering and psychology).
Then there is the age-old question of freedom versus fate. Is an astral chart, fixed from the day of birth until death, sealed destiny? Or does it allow the subject to experience its aspects in order to choose, at least a little, what he wants to do?
It is said that “the stars incline, but do not oblige…”
In any case, it is an intricate question and one that was studied in the book The Astrology of Destiny, by astrologer and Jungian psychologist Liz Greene. I recommend reading. In addition to this theme, she also brings a thorough understanding of the relationship between the signs and personality types (in view of the archetypes of Greek mythology).
A Study of Synchronicity by CG Jung
The cause and effect model is, to some extent, limiting for certain issues. CG Jung elaborated together with the physicist Pauli, the concept of synchronicity. In summary, we must understand synchronicity as a significant relationship between two elements, without necessarily having a cause-and-effect relationship.
For example, if I’m walking down the street and I remember a friend and I meet him right away, we can say that it’s a phenomenon of synchronicity. The thought of the friend didn’t cause his appearance in front of me, right? However, the two phenomena (the thought and the encounter) happen synchronistically, practically at the same time, and generate a sense of meaning.
This is a banal example, but synchronicity explains several phenomena that are important to psychology, from dream interpretation to symptom remission.
In turn, synchronicity also explains the incredible I Ching, the Chinese hexagram game, in which a question (thought or aloud) happens at the same time as the appropriate answer, not by cause and effect, but by synchronicity.
Likewise, astrology could be explained, according to Jung. It makes no sense to think that heaven generates a personality that generates a life (destiny). But it makes sense to think that two phenomena with no causal relationship can carry meaning, psychologically speaking.
in your book Synchronicity: a principle of acausal connections, volume VII of the Collected Works, Jung makes a statistical survey of the horoscopes of 180 couples and comes to the conclusion that the results are statistically relevant, although a causal relationship cannot be found. The concept of synchronicity, then, fills the gap.
I know this is a controversial topic. Some love astrology and some hate it. Most of the time, what we notice is a profound lack of knowledge. Over time I learned that we shouldn’t pass a value judgment on what we don’t know. However, it is not a healthy attitude to agree to something without understanding its assumptions or without questioning them.
As I said, for two reasons the study of astrology becomes interesting for those who study psychology. On the one hand, there are important authors – not just Jung – who, before agreeing or disagreeing, tried to investigate the problem. The answer about synchronicity is not only ingenious, it also helps in our clinical practice.
And, on the other hand, astrology has a whole detailed system of “types of people” or types of personalities. And these types, slowly molded in 5,000 years of history, are often synchronic with the people we meet in the world.
To conclude, I leave Jung’s phrase: “The recognition of astrology by psychology is certain, without further restrictions, because astrology represents the sum of all psychological knowledge of antiquity”.
PS: it is important to note that in the practice of psychology, according to the Code of Ethics of the Federal Council of Psychology, astrology does not serve as a basis because it is not scientifically proven. Therefore, a psychologist – as a psychologist – cannot make an astral map to help…
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