The following article is an exerpt from Erin Sullivan’s book Dynasty: The Astrology of Family Dynamics. While focusing on the astrology of family relationships, it is an excellent exploration of the Sun and Moon in a much wider context and thoroughly recommended for its psychological insight into the meaning of these two primary astrological bodies.
Astrology is not gender-biased. The planets are not discrete energies making us do things, nor do they have sexual gender as we understand it to mean males and females. Masculine and feminine do not necessarily always refer to men and women. If those statements are true, then we cannot say, ‘The Sun is male and the Moon is female, therefore the Sun is our father-archetype and the Moon is our mother-archetype.”
The common astrological conclusion reached here is based on cumulative and compounded fragments of selective information seen through the eyes and interpreted in the minds of whoever is in the thinking-mode of currency at any given time in history.
It is thought that myths arise spontaneously in cultures and have mysterious parallels with other cultural mythologies even when those cultures would never have interacted or when those cultural myths arose in cultures which were not contemporaneous. There are many pre-Greek and other cultural myths that have sky-goddesses and solar heroines as well as Moon-gods and lunar masculine images.
It seems we astrologers are guilty of stretching and contriving interpretations of myths in order to render them useful to us. Very often, this works well, especially if we take myth as allegorical, but in some instances it can be badly misleading, especially if the stories are biased toward male or female, which in turn will inevitably be translated into ‘mother’ or ‘father’ or ‘daughter’ or ‘son’.
In an astrology book on families, we must be scrupulous not to arbitrarily assign strict gender roles to planetary agencies, but to try to find relationships between the masculine and feminine archetypes and see how they are played out in the family dynamic among all members, and how they are transferred through individuals in the family regardless of their gender. Because archetypal images reach further back than our capacity to render them conscious, we may have founded dogma in modern psychological astrology based on compounded errors which restrict our perception, thus our potential to become increasingly aware. To truly individuate, we must never restrict the possible human, the potential ‘us’, the essential being-ness of ourselves. If anything, astrology must liberate us from stereotype and instill a greater feeling of uniqueness, of individuality and originality.
Our personal characteristics are shared and inherited but they are experienced and demonstrated in highly original ways. With respect to the symbols, Sun and Moon, in the chart, we must be even more circumspect about not stereotyping or restricting their imagery. It is far too easy to designate parental roles to each of them because we have so much material which falls beautifully into place – and there are symbolic reasons that the Moon is more akin to the maternal line and the Sun the paternal, but it is not because the Sun and Moon are respectively masculine and feminine. However, we have to remember that the origins of the assignment of masculine to the Sun and feminine to the Moon are archaic, and from those origins, all our astrological interpretations have been extrapolated and overlaid with that information. In astrology we continue to adhere to the cumulative symbolism of the Græco-Roman myths, gods and goddesses. This is so partly because the names we use for the planets are of Roman origin and the Roman gods and goddesses were assimilated from the Greek pantheon and theocracy. But we tend to go no further back than that in modern natal astrology. Nor do we sweep the myths of the world to find a balanced equation – we swallow whole the myths of the Greeks and often then attempt to find useful and appropriate stories from other mythologies which will neatly fit our paradigm. Perhaps there is another way of looking at the symbolism. One of an astrological origin.
In her book, Eclipse of the Sun, Janet McCrickard writes about many variants in solar and lunar origin myths. Ms McCrickard makes it very clear that our current understanding of solar and lunar agencies has been powerfully shaped by the influences of social values as they have developed. This phenomenon – that of losing the primal source of current information through the passage of time – is a perfect example of how stereotypes overpower archetypes. Clearly, we have lost a great deal of information while creating ‘new’ myths which suit the current social trends. Hence, collectively we tend only to think in terms of lunar being feminine and solar being masculine. This is simply not true, but has some value in current thought today. So, we have to approach this lunar/solar experience from many angles which encompass both the archaic and the modern.
The first consideration before delving into the symbolism of the luminaries is that they each in their symbolic self are not confined to one or other parent. To relegate the Sun to the father and the Moon to the mother at best oversimplifies the imagery and at worst distorts completely our understanding of the full human person. However – and this is a major contingency – it is very likely that because of this stereotyping we do find our parents more one than the other. That is, we might find our mother more lunar than our father and vice versa, or our lunar nature more influenced and represented by mother and the solar character more enhanced by and embodied in our father. Then, based upon the interpretation of the Sun and Moon which is traditional now, we say our mother is the Moon and our father the Sun. From that, we interpret our charts, or worse, other people’s charts, in that way. All aspects from the Moon tell us what mother was like and all aspects from the Sun dictate our father’s legacy to us.
Knowing this tendency, we must include in our own bias the very real condition of our inner relationship to the outer world – we are very much a product of our own civilization and role-typing. There is a deep collusion between what we project and what we receive. It then makes perfect sense that we should relate to the Moon/mother and Sun/father doctrine. I, myself, have done it, do it and likely will continue to find it appropriate and fitting in most cases, on the archetypal level. It does not follow, however, that we must swallow it whole or continue to do this by rote. We might consider opening the end of our bias and incorporating the possibility that the Sun and Moon are our parents in the most archetypal sense. How the Great-Mother, Hero-Father archetype is portrayed in mothers and fathers and is individuated through each person is where creative interpretation should allow for greater latitude of solar or lunar expression. That is, they are the symbols for the various ways in which we become increasingly ourselves, they are the images through which we might best picture the ways in which we experience our innate, collective human-ness.
The Sun and Moon are the archetypal marriage and how we marry ourselves within ourselves is related to the Sun/Moon dyad in our horoscope. How we mediate polarities within our psyche and mind is represented in the soli-lunar relationship. For instance, Sun/Moon opposition people tend toward splits and mediation-type personalities. They experience dichotomy very intensely, and tend to cope with problems by mediating both sides, having an innate awareness of the differences between the masculine and feminine agencies; whereas, say, Sun/Moon trine people tend to have an idealized vision of the ‘archetypal parents’ inherent within their psyche, hence not as prepared to deal with the possible difficulties that are intrinsic within the masculine/feminine polarity. This means we have to consider the Sun and Moon as distinct from the planets in that they are unique from the planets and visually more evident than the other bodies. Their imagery and symbolism is also much older than the planets – collectively, we have been projecting focus on them longer and with more psychic energy than on the planets. That the Sun and Moon have been so long in our consciousness means that there are stratum upon stratum of unearthed information laying in the deepest recesses of our mind. Periodically, dogma is purveyed and accepted and equally periodically, dogma is destroyed and rewritten. We see the Sun and Moon with all its history and all the myths from aeons back, and underlying all that time and past is a basic truth. This truth must be found. The Sun/Moon dyad is essential to understanding bi-polarism and options, differences and distinctions between experiencing the same things in different ways – in other words when an event occurs, we have it ‘happen’ on many, many levels, and the Sun/Moon dyad presents [a rather simplistic] a way for us to understand two levels of experiencing the same event.
Dane Rudhyar was very clear on the Sun/Moon principle of unity in duality: the astrological Sun and Moon are partners, pairs, a couple, as it were, in relationship. His book, The Lunation Cycle, was a breakthrough in synthetic astrology. He made it very clear that planets do not exist singularly, that they are in relationship at all times. The significance of the soli-lunar cycle was found in its waxing and waning cycles – the natural laws of relationship are fluctuating all the time, manifestly and subtly. There have been many theories about the natal lunation-cycle and the parental relationship, for example: the Sun and Moon in opposition ‘means that the parents were in discord or at best, diametrically opposed in their beliefs .’ Which, then, is extrapolated out to be interpreted in the natal chart as a psychological ‘split’ effected by this polarization of the parents (parental images of Sun and Moon ) wherein the masculine and feminine sides of the individual are not in unison. Well, when are they? Rarely, and when they are, a sense of perfect inner harmony is the result. Whether or not this is a consequence of the direct influence of one’s mother and father, is highly speculative. That it results from how we are innately and how we perceived our parents is closer, much closer to the truth.
Which body, Sun or Moon, is best exemplified by mother and which is more father could vary in many ways at different times in our lives. We come back to the dialectic of nature and nurture. There are characteristics which are distinctly lunar and others which are solar – if we consider various significant aspects of our motivating forces in life, for example: conscience; habits; responsibility; relating; ego-development; creativity, and so on, we might look upon the Sun and Moon and find in which way each of these bodies have played roles in the dominant way we achieve the end result of each of those character building, individual components. Unity in Duality: The Sun and Moon contribute equally to our ability to have reactions to and create life-patterns in various ways, but the following list comprises a short inventory of some of the most significant aspects of the Sun and Moon ‘s contribution to our character:
This is a list of keywords to be associated with contemplating the value of the luminaries in the horoscope. They are not definitions for each body. We have both a Sun and a Moon, and two parents . . . the feelings associated with all of those can be combined or differentiated.
|logos – name/word||ennoia – seed idea|
|nomos – nomos – law||fusis – physis – nature|
|tradition||‘now’, present, current, urgent|
|Celestial (solar-system)||chthonic (earth’s Moon )|
The Sun and Solarism
In our current astrological reading, the Sun has been associated with the masculine almost exclusively. The cyclic movement of the Sun in the course of a full day is the basis for the myth of the hero – the Sun being equated with the hero’s journey, rising out of the dark mystery of the night at dawn, bringing light, clarity, hope; culminating at the zenith to conquer Sundry kings, leaders, tyrants; setting in the west, abandoning the world to darkness and thence to undergo a mysterious ritual of monster-slaying, maiden-rescuing or treasure-recovering at the midnight-hour, only to return each morning, carrying the torch of reason and knowledge into the daylight, undergoing the journey all over again.
The hero-figure is traditionally a man, attributed with traits such as objectivity, goal-orientation, capacity to seek-and-conquer, clarity of vision, ambition, personality, cunning, wit, courage, ascendancy and so on. All of these are accurate solar attributes, but are they particularly male? They might be archetypally masculine in orientation but most certainly they are not traits associated with men only.
Today we read of very few solar-female figures in myth or in history – those that we are aware of are usually dæmonic or skilled in the black arts. Witches, to be blunt. Too, the heroic character is never portrayed in most myths through a woman (this polarization of characteristics is also discussed in the lunar section). Yet, a woman can very easily parallel her cycles to the solar movement, and men can well identify with the Moon and its waxing and waning. There is a certain male rhythm which is associated with waxing and waning – the sexual act, for instance is a distinct rise and fall, full (tumescent) and new (flaccid, hidden) pattern to his sexuality.
The Sun is the focus – the hearth-fire – of the solar system. It is our life-force and the central, organizing principle around which all the other planets revolve – earth and her Moon included. In the Gauquelin studies, it was found that the Sun had no ‘attributes’, that is, it appeared to show no personality traits. Gauquelin drew from that a theory that the Sun was not a ‘type’, and with that I would agree. The Sun as a pure symbol has no boundaries nor does it have characteristics as such. What the Sun does appear to do is to act as a lens through which personality and psychological traits are focussed and filtered, to further become distinct characteristics. The Sun/ego is rather like the emissary for the deeper Self which is the instinctual urge to become more of what one might become. The Sun in and of itself, can be associated with the ego in the purest sense – that is, our sense of ‘I am-ness’ – which is a vehicle for the soul or the deeper Self. The ego acts as both a container and a vehicle for the deep, inner impetus to display one’s own self in the outer world. Ego is very important for functioning in the world and for self-worth and inner comfort, or security. Our relationship within our family helps shape and form our ‘I am-ness’, our ego, however there is a predisposition toward a particular personality, which has been handed down through the family lines. The relationship of the astrological Sun with other planets in the natal horoscope shows how our ego will receive challenge and in what specific areas we will find consistent types of tasks or jobs that we will be required to address in the course of our lives – this function or task is part of our heritage. The Sun in the horoscope shows very clearly how the ego of the individual will interact with the various energies and agencies within the family context and what will be met in the form of developmental experiences. Our personalities are deeply enmeshed with the options and characteristics most commonly found threaded in the family-system. But, we must find individuality within that system, and the Sun is the key to how we go about doing that.
Ideally, we should attempt at all times to allow our deeper self to push our ego into greater and greater capacity, to become an ever increasing container, until it becomes as great as the universe, until we become as much of ourselves as we could possibly be! This is not something that parents normally find easy to allow a child to do. The job of helping a child create a healthy ego is not about letting him or her do whatever he wants, nor allowing the natural childish instinct to manipulate and use the parents to his own end, but to teach the child by drawing boundaries around what they, the parents will accept, and equally where they will bend toward the child’s needs. It is rarely convenient to allow a child to explore his or her dimensions as much as the child wants or needs. Indeed, some of the restrictions, inhibitions and thwarting that take place in families inadvertently do challenge the developing ego in ways which are positive, and directly result in strong character. These are nature’s blessings in disguise.
The thwarted child often finds creative ways of bringing out his being regardless of what his parents or siblings think or want. If the obstruction and frustration is not too damaging, it will become a tool for growth. As we see in all of the cases illustrated throughout the book, there is a fate involved here. There is some selection process within which the soul has engaged that designates our families. From a family-dynamics viewpoint, this is entirely suited to enact or enliven various aspects which may lie dormant in the wholeness of a family dynamic. Rather like filling in the blanks or rounding out a incomplete sphere. In that view, we are instruments of fate which are selected to awaken new aspects of the family which would remain unconscious if it were not for us. Our solarism, the development of our ego is partly unique to us and our own individuality, but it is also a fundamental element to the succession and extension – and possibly the continuation in some cases – of the family. As if each of us is a cell in an organic whole, not conscious of our rôle, but acting it out as the system itself demands. The Sun shows the type of energy, heroism and seed-ego that the dynastic family has given us to work with.
Our family environment is our primary encounter with a world immediately outside our own inner space. The circle of the family acts as the training and testing ground for the interaction our ego will necessarily experience later, when we are moving about in the extended world. How our ego develops has been, and continues to be, a lively discussion in all social-development fields, but is generally a confusion of theories and ideas. Let us just say that the formation of the ego is complex, highly specialized in accord with each individual, and undergoes peaks and troughs in its evolution. It is a force which radiates and asserts individuality regardless of whether or not we are conscious of it.
The Sun in the horoscope gives us a life-force which is apparent through our personality, but is not our personality as such. We radiate our deeper self through the Sun and out into the world. This is not always well received, and in the case of a real conflict of energy, can result in a feeling of being rejected. If the Sun has ‘prickly’ aspects, that is, harsh angles between planets like Mars, Saturn, Uranus or Pluto, then, there is a raw energy which is highly volatile and needs to be crafted, matured and brought to a ripeness before it is civilized – it encounters wariness and discomfort in the environment. This is nature. For parents to nurture a child with a difficult Sun is trying, and takes a great deal of love, care, maturity and good-will on their part. However, at all costs and at all times the parents must acknowledge that their child has inherited that solar aspect directly through one or other of the parents – it cannot be totally unfamiliar. It is never out of character, the child is the family dynamic and thus, is not acting out of accord with a bigger picture. If it is familial, it is familiar.
Being born into a family is no guarantee of compatibility or of being well-received or, indeed, liking anyone. We are lucky if our Sun – our original statement of who we are – is well-received and feels comfortable and non-threatening to our parents and other members of our immediate family. Naturally, one assumes that since the parents are older, they must be more mature, but really, age and maturity seem to have little to do with comfort, compatibility, ease and grace in parent-child relationships. We tend to forget that children are people, too! And, what if your child were your contemporary and you met him or her at a party, would you like him? Would you invite him or her back to your home for dinner or further cultivate her friendship? And the same might be asked of grown children – would you seek the friendship of your parents as people, should they be your peers? If so, under what conditions, in what way and what kind of relationship would that be?
How we experience our ego in its development is not a conscious thing at first. It seems clear that around the ages of two-and-one-half to four, the strength of self-will has a spurt and the thrust of identity begins to assert itself; the beginning of many of such peaks and troughs all through life. That time is not necessarily the point at which our ego ‘develops’, for it has been in development all along, and will continue to undergo change and modification all our individuating life – it is when we seem to become conscious of ourselves and our impact on our environment and our relationship within the family. The Sun is about acting-out, it is radiating one’s inner self out into the environment. It is at this age when a child begins to ask if it is loved or liked, and usually it is comparing its appearance to another sibling, or family member. ‘Am I as pretty as mother?’, a small girl might ask her father, or ‘as clever, brave, and so forth’; or similarly, a little boy might want to know if he is as loved as his sister or brother, or as brave as his hero of the moment. These are perfectly normal, healthy questions. How will you know if you do not ask? But by far and away more truthful and more deeply influential are the more subtle means of communicating feelings – one knows how one is received by the unspoken emotions that are directed toward you when you are ‘being yourself’.
One of those insensitive parental statements, meant not to destroy, but simply made out of annoyance is: ‘Oh, be yourself’. Well, what is that, who am I and what the devil do they mean by that? We have all heard it, and unfortunately, many have said it. A ten-year old will likely not be provoked into a deep inquiry into existentialism, but will be hurt, embarrassed, confused, angry and withdrawn by this off-hand remark. And, he or she will suppress it for later. The Sun is sensitive to criticism about appearances, actions, abilities, behaviour, and extraverted manners.
Sun/Mars types are more insensitive to critique but instead feel the anger and shame of rejection. Sun/Jupiter can feel easily deflated or over-exuberant and have such great hopes for approval. Sun/Saturn always suffer the responsibility laid upon them, and feel strongly ‘at fault’ for problems in the home. Sun/Pluto are exceptionally vulnerable to undercurrents of power, which lends them the ability to manoeuvre and learn to lie, though by nature are dedicated truth-seekers. Sun/Neptune people tend to be deeply affected and absorbed by their environment and thus, susceptible to becoming whomever they are with – rather like Woody Allen’s character in the movie ‘Zelig’, they are like sponges, they absorb the behaviours of others and often mimic in order to self-discover. And, Sun/Uranus types resist perturbations from the outside and are jarred by influence, being strongly self-orientated and invulnerable to suggestion.
By nature, some individuals are finely-tuned and highly sensitive and have a difficult time interpreting what they are receiving, hence their capacity to radiate their inner self is inhibited. They might find themselves wanting when they compare to others – to some degree this is natural, to desire a trait that another has. To want to be like an admired (or envied) sibling or parent is normal and healthy; role-models are essential to self-discovery and development. To various degrees at different times, we all have uncertainty about our self-image, but if there is a serious block toward acting out one’s solar urges, then it is worth considering what the family picture is, and how one might find one’s individuality lurking in a hidden corner of the family. The next step is to liberate it! If an individual finds that his or her family has not been capable of supporting and encouraging his ego development, then he will have to step outside the family and look at it from another angle.
The retrieval of the self from the bosom of the family is a life-long project. It means periodically going back into the family and wresting bits of identity out of it, like the hero at the treasure-trove, and fleeing with it intact. The reclaiming of self from the collective of the family consciousness does not have to be an act of violence or violation – unless, of course it was stolen from or bludgeoned out of you. It is a natural, evolutionary act – at certain times in life, when we feel stuck, trapped, engaged in a treadmill existence, we might need to go into the nest and claim more of our self to gain energy for the next phase in life. True individuation is a process not an event, it is a job never done. It requires diligence, consciousness and courage – especially as one gets older and less adventurous. The chapter on ‘Families in Flux – Transits’ talks about this kind of time and how it seems to come about.
If an individual’s nascent ego is constantly countered early in life, and because of this, he or she experiences deep insecurity and diminished self-worth, then this will radiate into all areas of accomplishment and relationship. Looking deeply, then, one might find that one has constructed prefabricated barriers around one’s deeper sense of self, preparing for rejection before it arrives. Some people were born that way, they were not created that way by their parents or by their siblings. Yet, there is a degree of culpability in all this, regardless of innate tendencies – it is the unconscious collusion of the family to ‘validate’ the expectations of each and every member of the family.
For example, here is a real family Sun/Saturn pattern as it falls into a family dynamic of man, wife and three children – we will look at the middle-child (4) as the main focus in relation to the eldest born son (3):
- Father: Sun square Saturn.
- Mother: Saturn singleton-retrograde on occidental side of the horoscope
- Elder Son: Sun Sextile Saturn/Neptune – Sun in square to Mars opposite Jupiter. All planets but Mars above horizon.
- Middle Son: Sun square Saturn – Sun/Jupiter/Mars in square to Saturn. All planets but Saturn below the horizon.
- Only (youngest) Daughter: Sun square Saturn.
A child with a challenged Sun is going to require more effort on behalf of his or her family than one with a rampant and less ‘other-oriented’ Sun. Using the above example, the middle-born child – a son – has a Sun-Jupiter-Mars conjunction in Leo, but all are in square to Saturn in Scorpio, and all his planets are below the horizon. Every time his inborn enthusiasm and exuberance for life threatened to emerge he somehow found it squashed! Inherently he tended to counter his own self as he grew. As a result, there grew a deep resentment for anyone else in the family who did not carry this repressed trait because he quickly learned to perceive ‘others’ as having more fun, freedom, power, energy, feedback, etc. And, the sad part of this is that largely, his perception was true. His inherent tendency is toward shyness, to stop his own social enthusiasm and inner boundlessness from materializing before it gets a chance for rejection, however it was reinforced by his ordinal position – second son and middle child, both being Leo’s – and by circumstances.
This then becomes a self-negating trait, setting him apart from others, thus confirming his worst fears. It sets a pattern for life – the message runs like this: ‘Deep in myself, I am fun, free, and positive with an abundance of energy [Mars]. However, when I put all that energy together [ Sun/Jupiter/Mars] and encounter others, that trait is suppressed [Saturn]. The obvious answer is to stop interacting with others, withdraw my light [Sun], initiative [Mars], and optimism [Jupiter] and have a withdrawn, resentful relationship within my family [Saturn], which will set the tone for my relationship and success patterns in all areas of my life.’
This young man’s ego development seemed curtailed before it began, and when it peeked it’s head out, was self-reinforced. This kind of solar picture is very difficult to correct or bring to balance without a great deal of self-consciousness and awareness. Often, it also requires someone else to see his positive side, if he can allow it, and to foster and nurture his Sun-Jupiter conjunction and try to help him use his Saturn in a new way. Indeed, he had a miserable first marriage, a child whom he still has a difficult time in seeing, but has now found a relationship with a woman who takes him travelling, thinks he marvellous, and has a very positive influence on him. She has reinforced his Jupiter, and offered stability rather than repression [a new way of using Saturn].
The unconscious is a powerful instrument which is interacting with the unconscious aspects of others in the family. His father had Sun in square to Saturn, and he died when the boy was around seventeen. The father-son bond was broken by circumstance, but he had always felt second-best to this older brother, another Leo. All this is in collusion with the fact that his older brother is highly independent and Sunny in personality and who has the exact same planet-interaction but in a very different configuration – the older brother, first born, has Sun in the eleventh house square Mars opposite Jupiter and sextile Saturn. The older sibling not only got there first, but has a freer, more demonstrable Sun. Notice that the two brothers have the same planets in powerful, but entirely different configurations – Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. This is the same theme played in different chords.
By looking closely at the Sun-patterns in families, there are always themes that play in different chords in myriad ways. The family I mention above also includes a sister [youngest of the three children by ten years] who also has a Sun-Saturn square, just like her father and the middle-child brother!
Now, the really fascinating aspect of this family dynamic is the horoscope of the so-far unmentioned mother. All the children have powerful Saturn configurations with the Sun, just like their father, however, their mother has a singleton Saturn retrograde. In earlier generations than now, it was more common for Saturn to be carried by the father – archetypally it remains a masculine agency – and when Saturn is singleton-retrograde, it is highly projectable if only symbolically by its isolation and separation from the main Gestalt of the rest of the horoscope. It is as if Saturn is saying, ‘I am all alone over here, none of my inherent authority as an individual is integrated within the context of the rest of the chart, thus I can abdicate from responsibility and/or put upon/allow others to carry it.’
Ultimately, the mother had placed very high expectations on the Sun/Saturn square father, all the children had picked this up from him and from her, but he died young, at forty-nine, leaving her to cope with Saturn on her own. He could no longer carry it. Shattered, she was not well-prepared to take on the practicalities of life, and has had to fall on her own resources. However, this has in some way, been a blessing – she has all the intelligence, authority and single-mindedness of the separated Saturn person, and has come to some sense of self-value and worth. However, a great deal of this has been through the agency of her eldest son, the one with the Sun/Saturn sextile. A long, and very difficult learning period has brought peace and happiness and a measure of independence – she has at now, at least become her own authority.
It would seem that the Sun-links, the solar ties in a family have to do with their capacity to allow each other to shine. The ability to feel comfortable with exploring new aspects of the unfolding self is essential to healthy ego-development. If we encounter derision, suspicion or indifference when we are growing, then our facility to exploit and utilize our solar characteristics is arrested or suppressed. That one member of a family can be more outstanding than another is appearances only – by comparison, we all fall short of the mark in some way, but standing alone with our best side lit, we can be just who we could be.
It is difficult to avoid blame, but as I have emphasized repeatedly throughout the book, there normally is no blame. In cases where the family situation is truly pathological, then, clearly responsibility and accountability must be brought forth. In cases of violence, sexual abuse, serious, consistent alcohol or drug abuse which shaped and formed – sometimes overruled – the innate characteristics of the individual, then the work which must be done is far more difficult. It means clearly separating the self from the family and reclaiming lost or abandoned identity.
Summary of the Sun
The Sun is the centre of the solar system, and in the family of planets acts in just that way. It has high expectations of the others, and in itself, the Sun is the most powerful figure in the horoscope. As the focus, the Sun represents how our life-force was received in the family and how our self and ego develops in accord with family values. The Sun can overpower other planets in the horoscope in quite primitive ways, when the ego-nature of the individual is stronger than and disconnected from his or her conscious sense of integrity or ethics. The nature of the Sun is to radiate, outshine and expose all things to its relentless light. It is the attention seeker, the planet which defies all, even Pluto, to check its power. The Sun has authority, but equally that authority can be undermined, thwarted or subverted by other planets, as it is a rare chart that has an unaspected Sun. The authority of the Sun can also dominate other planets, not allowing them to develop their full potential – just as a too-heroic or mythic-type father can weaken his children’s power, a too-dominant Sun can obliterate gentler sides of an individual.
The Sun is the archetypal father-image, the heroic principle, and is usually associated with the male role-models in the family and the paternal line. The Dun in the chart can appear to stand alone. We must always keep in mind the Sun is never really ‘alone’ because both Mercury and Venus are never far from this central figure, but it can be segregated from the gestalt of the reset of the horoscope, in which case there are a number of other planets retrograde. This often shows an individual with an extremely unique way of being and one who finds it very uncomfortable relating to the average standards of his or her culture – particularly his or her family system!
When looking at the Sun in the chart with respect to family issues, it is very likely to draw immediate attention to one’s own father and his unconscious imprint in one’s psychic formation. The physical presence or absence of the father seems irrelevant in many cases, because the underlying archetypal expectation of the father is stamped in the solar figure in the horoscope. The father’s unlived life can quicken in the soul of his children and thus become a powerful ingredient in the child’s personality development. This is clearly both positive and negative – if we have to bear unrealistic expectations and must consciously overcome the failures of our father, then we can suffer undue guilt and responsibility-feelings. Our Sun can be arrested in its development in order that the issues unresolved in our father can be transformed through us.
In contrast, the ‘healthy’ Sun can gently urge a child to emulate his or her father in positive ways, seeing clearly that his failures or successes are not their own problems. However, even the most basic psychological knowledge shows us that unresolved complexes in the parents are passed on for the children to seek solution. We will find that the solar legacy is one which most frequently runs down through the paternal line, and is then passed on through the next generations. Both men and women can carry paternal legacies – men identify more with the male principle through the Sun with respect to their sense of male-identity and desire to build, conquer and protect, while women utilize the solar legacy in their desire to control and conduct lives independent from the emotional zones of families and relationships.
Aspects formed by the Sun to other planets are often a literal image of how we perceived our father and his influence in our heroic – productive – life. As mentioned previously the Sun needs challenge to develop its potential characteristics and assist in the development of the ego. Usually, it is the father who enacts this kind of role-model for the children by being elusive, exciting, unpredictable in his appearances, big, strong, foreign to the nest, influential in the governing of the family, et cetera. This structure may appear to be archaic in its description, but then archetypes are out of time and lie at the base of our social and personal lives. Sometimes the father is strong in influence by his absence and conversely weak by his presence. Aside from our ‘dad’, we have a celestial-father image in our psyche, and the Sun shows what that is.
Individuals with the Sun rising or in the MC of the chart experience extraordinary pressure to succeed in whatever endeavour is undertaken. This can be fun if the person is allowed to slowly develop his or her own interests and is allowed to show-off on a regular basis all that she has accomplished! If, however, the pressure is toward a skill or interest of the father’s and not instinctive, or the expectation is literally received from the father, then the solar principle feels thwarted and the ego develops a shell or crust to protect the deeper Self from being hurt or damaged by this transgression of natural law. The Sun strongly placed in the angles like this does indicate a powerful psychological connection to the father and the person carries the father with them into everything that is presented to the world.
An unaspected Sun is an indication that the individual will need to find a completely new way of using his or her ego to find something outside the family dynamic to pursue. There is a maverick energy with unaspected planets, and it often indicates that a ‘new soul’ has come into the family to break professional, social hierarchies. The unaspected Sun person will find it exceptionally difficult to conform to the family, but will attempt to do so until a turning point occurs, allowing them to set off in their own direction. Often their father has not been traditionally paternal, has been a ‘friend’ or completely absent by circumstances or choice. There is usually a very strong longing for a father, or father figure, but because there is no aspect from the Sun to another planet, there is no clear image of the father in the psyche. Hence, the person has to become their own father, or to become their own authority. All the words that stem from the Latin auctor – author, authority, authenticity, and all derivatives are especially significant for unaspected solar people. They must find inner validation rather than seeking it from without. This often means long periods of wandering, looking, seeking and searching for purpose and direction in life.
The Moon and Lunacy
he nature of the Moon comes out only at night – that is, our deepest, most hidden and mysterious well of feeling, intuition and emotion is something kept deeply interior. We are only truly aware of someone’s lunar side when we know him or her well, and have felt their feelings, experienced their compassion and lived in their world long enough to have been nourished by and given nurture to him or her. It is the secret life, really, the dark side of the Moon. We take for granted our own feelings and we do not really think of them – often. To think of feelings is odd, unnatural and stilted. It is possible, just as it is possible to feel what one thinks, but it is an uneasy alliance we have between thinking and feeling. It is even more difficult to articulate a feeling – try it. It is enough to make one quite mad. People in the heat of passion, anger, feelings usually do sound irrational and lunatic. Trying to express feelings in a verbal way we are under the rays of the Moon, endeavouring to bring into solar clarity, deep, hidden, changing, fluctuating, emotional moods.
So, we might stand in accusation of everyone, saying that they cannot express their feelings! Who can? Certain gifted people can convey feeling-tone through their art, but most of us might only be able to project a minute aspect of feeling or speak incoherently of the complexity of emotion swelling inside. Feeling-tone is more physical than mental, so we find our feelings are often mirrored in our bodies and how our bodies are behaving. We pick up other people’s feelings in our instinctual levels: in our gut, in our muscles, in our viscera – we say people ‘get under our skin’, ‘in our blood’, ‘up our nose’, make us ‘sick to our stomach’, a feeling has ‘gone to our head’, that a characteristic is ‘bred in the bone’, that ‘blood is thicker than water’ – most of our deep, emotional metaphors and images are physical! The expression of feeling through body-therapy is millennia-old – the Chinese knew thousands of years ago that feelings (health) were in the body and found subtle measurements for variation on degrees of feeling being held in the assorted meridians in the body. The calibrations of health, ease-in-the-body and feelings are minute in acupuncture – what other medicine describes one’s pulse as ‘having the rhythm of a silk-worm eating a mulberry leaf’?
As with the solar images, we have been indoctrinated to accept wholesale the idea that lunar is feminine. The Moon does have ‘feminine’ attributes in the sense that the womb, food, nurture, emotional life and security are all related to lunar imagery and the sign Cancer, which is traditionally considered the prime ruler of the family and the home, the biological origins of life and patterns of nature and nurture. It is true that the mother, the feminine, plays a greater role in the establishment of those bases in early life and helps form the foundations for our own abilities to do the same in our life. But it is not specific to women per se, nor could we say the Moon is female or feminine in its character. Our fathers play a tremendous role in being free and clear enough to distinguish feeling from thought and to be strong enough to experience feelings without them diminishing or overshadowing action.
However, the primal lunar patterns are established in the womb and in the very first days, months and years of life. Those patterns are virtually impossible to break. If the reward is great enough, we can condition ourselves to delay or re-route instinctive responses – for example, if one has a fear of intimacy or emotional invasion one might be able to allow certain safe people in if one is sufficiently rewarded by them not abusing one’s sense of safety – and, most importantly, if there is love and generosity in the relationship. In very specific circumstances we can adjust our responses through positive conditioning to individual people or specific situations, but the instinctual response will always flag itself first. We can learn new, more appropriate responses for special and particular conditions, but it seems we cannot change our instincts.
These instincts are very possibly encoded during the union of male and female, of sperm and egg. This act is beautifully symbolized by a conjunction of the Sun and the Moon – a New Moon. However, once the embryo is firmly implanted in its nest, then it becomes wholly dependent upon its mother’s body to feed and protect it, and then the instincts become intrinsically bound up with the mother’s system – both psychic and somatic. The mother’s hormonal system is affected by the pregnancy, and her own nutrients are passed into the infant. The symbiosis between mother and in utero child prepares them both for a new life: for the mother, the birth of the child marks a step across the threshold into a new life for herself and the child has passed its initiation into independent life.
The pregnant mother is responsive to the embryo-as-future as well. Who the child is destined to become is already imprinted, its natal chart is already constellating and the moment of birth – which is yet to arrive – is be highly influential in this prenatal phase. In the case ‘Rejected in the Womb’ (Chapter 15, page 292 in Dynasty) we see how a mother is as affected by her growing baby as much as her infant in utero. There may even be a mysterious union on the quantum level that assures that the arrival of the infant will correspond to the appropriate transits for the parents to experience a dimension of themselves hitherto unexplored. In the case of Mohsin, ‘Who am I’, we see how the pre-natal eclipse pattern led him to his adoptive parents! The mystery and miracle of birth is boundless.
Just as with all the planets, the Moon does not make people do anything, nor does it appear to be the cause of anything psychological, however, the Moon is a receptacle that holds memory of all gestations and births down the line. This is why dynastic patterns which are associated with the Moon more frequently, but not exclusively, come down through the maternal line – because the influence of the mother’s somatic mnemonic on the infant’s is whole and profound. From womb-to-womb, the mothering, nurturing and symbiotic aspect of relationship is passed down, from generation to generation. Forming relationships as an adult, especially romantic relationships that involve a mutual emotional-survival dependency-web – which are not strictly procreative relationships, by the way, for example, homosexual relationships are not about breeding – usually hope to recapture this interdependence on the emotional level and recreate a relationship where two hearts beat as one. The precedent for this kind of relationship occurs in the womb. Men and women want to create this fusion for entirely different reasons. On the most instinctual level, women wish to form a fused union with a man to reproduce themselves and men want the same fusion to reproduce their relationship with their mother. Perhaps not with their mum, but at least with their mother’s body-comfort.
Women-to-women relationships are very womb-like, highly organic – the embodiment of the ‘gatherer’ archetype – usually with lots of plants, pets, food, talking, emotional exchange and possessive togetherness, while men-to-men relationships largely tend toward the ‘hunter’ archetype, wherein there is lots of searching, looking, hunting, bachelor-hood retention, competition, setting one off against the other, even in good, domestic relationships. However, even within this horribly blatant black/white stereotype that I am using as an illustration, lies an archetypal dimension . . . men are men and women are women and they are very, very different. When they form loving relationships together, life-time partnerships, the intrinsic, primordial, instinctive nature of the gender is thus doubly strong. Men’s and women’s relationship to the womb is vastly different – women are at home with it, and men are either longing to return to it or somewhat revolted by it.
The thought of an intimate relationship with his mother is usually and normally (sorry Freud) an absurd, wholly unthinkable, physically repulsive concept to any man – but, the need to have unconditional love, nurture and support is not. Men’s bodies remember that maternal-love and where it came from, and their desire to re-enter the womb is much more basic and readily, repeatedly attainable than a woman’s – he simply needs to have sex to get as close to the womb as he can, once having left it at birth. Whereas a woman has to replicate her mother in order to totally recall her own intrauterine experience – in other words, she has to become pregnant herself. Hence, the lunar responses in men and women are entirely different from each other, and though they might have the Moon in the same sign in their horoscope, it will manifest completely different characteristics. Men who do not lust after women, and have found sexual happiness with other men, also long for the womb, but they do not wish to endure the emotional feed-back loop that recreates the mother-son dynamic. Hence, they find womb-mates of a different order, and have relationships which exploit the male/female polarity within themselves.
The Moon shows how our mother acted as a conduit for our ancestral legacy in the emotional realm and what aspect of the family that is being focussed on in each of her children. She has passed on not only her needs, but all needs from all time. The fact that all children in a single family do not have the same Moon sign, in fact all members of the family are likely to have different conditions around their natal Moon, attests to the complexity of this natural selection of recall. Just as our stories about our parents are going to be different than our sibling’s stories, so are our planets arranged in ways unlike other family members – but there is always a connection. In large families of four or more children, the odds increase on replication of Moon signs. I have several large families in my files who include one or more children with the same Moon sign or the Moon in the same sign as one of the parents, or same lunation phase. This is not unusual. The most common interchange in family horoscopes are the Sun, Moon and ascendent as one might imagine.
The Moon in families can cause more discord than any other planetary arrangement. This is because our body-memory insists that what we see is not all there is. The Moon knows deeply what the undercurrents are in the family matrix, and it resonates on myriad levels to complex tones and feelings. To listen to the story of each child in a family, and their individual tale and experience of the parents and the family dynamic might sound like they all grew up not only in different households, but in entirely different cultures! We have a bias at birth, and that bias remains constant – though it may open and allow new information to enter into the picture, evolve to incorporate more possibilities and alternatives, there is still the rigidity of the natal promise. The actual experience might be very, very different. This is where the split occurs – the split between what we feel and know to be true in our instinctual nature, and what is imposed upon us as truth by action.
Lunar themes mean just that – there is a theme in the family dynamic which holds all the instinctual, primal, visceral responses to emotional or survival issues. How those are enacted and translated into civilized behaviour, and whether or not one can be creative with the underlying theme is entirely dependent on specific, individual people and situations. The links that run through maternal lines don’t have to be overly complex – simple is often better for true comprehension of a deep line. We often hear of same birth-dates in families, or marriage to someone whose birth-date is the same as a family member and so on. But if we find a theme with mothers and daughters that shows what is running down the line, then we might find a solution to a problem. For example, a lunar-link:
In one family, looking at four generations of women, the grandmother was a Pisces Sun square Pluto in Gemini, her eldest daughter had Mars, Venus and Uranus in Pisces in the fourth house with Venus quincunx Neptune, and, in turn, her eldest child, a daughter had a fourth house Sun and a Moon/Neptune conjunction. Then, her eldest grand-daughter had Venus in Pisces opposite a Virgo Moon. She also exemplifies in her Moon/Venus split, the long lineage of the maternal line:
- Grandmother: Moon conjunct Venus conjunct Neptune late degrees of Taurus. ( Sun 9° Pisces square Pluto in 4° Gemini). (Husband had Aries Sun)
- Her eldest daughter: Venus 12°, Mars 9°, Uranus 3° in Pisces in fourth house. Sun Capricorn. Venus is exactly quincunx Neptune at 12° Leo. (side note: She has Moon in Aries – and a younger sister with Sun in Aries – their father had Sun in Aries).
- That woman’s only daughter: 12th house Sun square Pluto; Moon conjunct Neptune in Libra, Pisces on IC, fourth house cusp.
- And her 1st daughter: Venus in 6° Pisces opposite the Moon in 12° Virgo. Sun in first.
- And her younger daughter: Moon conjunct Jupiter in the fourth house. Sun in first conjunct Mars (a bit of the Aries grandparent-line).
The Pisces grandmother (#1) emigrated at the end of the first world-war, and only once was able to return when her eldest daughter (#2) was one year of age , whom she took with her. That eldest daughter had the ‘heavy’ fourth house, wherein she carried the unconscious recollection of the maternal family-of-origins. She was deeply affected by her mother’s longing, sadness and anger (shown by her Mars/Uranus/Venus conjunction at the IC and in the fourth house) over never being in her own cultural milieu again in her lifetime. This longing (and repressed rage) of the grandmother was consciously transferred to her elder daughter, who became alcoholic later in her adult life, and had great bouts of displaced nostalgia about her mother’s birth-country! She then further passed on the astrological signatures – and the ancestral legacy – in a new strain to her daughter who has the twelfth house Sun and Moon/Neptune conjunction ruler of Pisces fourth house IC (#3).
Already we can see the permutations of the Pisces, Moon/Neptune and fourth house legacy from the maternal side, coming down three generations. This is further extrapolated into a Moon/Venus theme as it moves down another generation: This only daughter was to have a great rift with her alcoholic mother and not see her for eight years, only to return to nurse her, and do all the terminal care in her last weeks of life. (Inherited Sun/Pluto from the grandmother, and with her Moon/Neptune ruler of the Pisces fourth house, the maternal link settled in her to resolve). Eventually, after her mother died, and her own children had gone on to college and career, she went to the grandmother’s homeland, and became an immigrant herself, in the land of her Pisces grandmother.
The fourth generation: this woman had two children, both daughters, the eldest of whom has Venus in Pisces opposite the Moon in Virgo (#4) Her elder daughter exemplifies the duality of the feminine archetypes, thus the need for bringing harmony into the female line (her Moon is in the eighth house of individuating the personal ancestral lineage). So far she is working through much of the repressed independent female spirit of the grandmother and great-grandmother who preceded her. She does not want to compromise her values and her femininity for the sake of relationships. She does feel the split between the nurturing feminine (Moon) and the more exotic, seductive and erotic feminine (Venus/Aphrodite). This great-grand-daughter is the latest of a long line of artistically inclined, and talented but non-productive artists in the family who has actually become a very gifted practicing artist. (Thus bringing the Moon opposite Venus into a blend, rather than a split, and working it through on a creative level).
Her younger daughter (#5) has no planets in Pisces and nothing in her twelfth house, however she has received her legacy of Neptune in the fourth house and a Moon/Jupiter conjunction in the fourth house – in the same sign as her mother. She has inherited the mode of relationship (Libra) directly from her mother, but there is an interesting little twist: her father has a Moon/Jupiter conjunction in Gemini in his twelfth house, so she has got a bit of the father’s personal and ancestral energy to carry around and process through her nuclear family house, and be the ‘blend’ between mother’s personal legacy (4th house) and fathers more archetypal legacy (his 12th house planets in her 4th house). She has no remarkable Moon/Venus relationship in her horoscope – this she escaped – she is a ‘motion art ist’, a dancer, successful model and martial arts, and she has writing skills. She does not want to be responsible for the maternal line even though she has received much implicated material from both the family-of-origin ancestors (fourth house), and has absorbed a quality from both parents which speaks of her strong need for independence! She ‘travels away’ (Jupiter) from the responsibility for the maternal legacy in many ways, yet has clear traits in personality and attitude that are virtually identical to her mother (same Moon sign). Fortunately, her mother does not expect her to vindicate the sins of the mothers, recognizes that it all colludes individually, and is wholly supportive of her personal creativity and way of expressing her unique individuality. In this way her Moon /Jupiter in the fourth signals the ‘hopes of the mother-line’ and all that implies, and coupled with the inherited factors from her father, mediates the maternal suffering to a great degree.