(Astrology Explored) Note: As my Facebook friends know I have reentered college to finish up my degree in psychology. As part of one class I wrote this paper on the influence of astrology on Carl Jung. Jung is widely embraced in the astrological world because his theories on archetypes, which he used to create a therapeutic model, fits neatly with the symbolic language of astrology.
In 1921 Jung published his book Personality Types. In this book he presents his theory that people are either extroverts or introverts: thinking or feeling. It is one work that he did not rework over the years. It is most likely that he did not need to rework these theories because the book is based on well-established astrological symbols.
The zodiac signs are based on three principles, elements, modes and gender. Quite simply the odd numbered zodiac signs are considered “male” or “positive” and even numbered signs are “female” or negative. Along with this gender associations are the connotations of extrovert (male) and introvert (female). The elements are also ascribed gender, with “fire” and “air” signs considered masculine, while “water” and “earth” are female.
Jung posits four psychological functions that match precisely the functions of the elements. The intuiting, creative intellect correlates with the fire element. The sensing, practical function matches the earth element, the feeling function lines up with the water element, and the thinking type corresponds with the air element (Jennings 1999). These functions line up so precisely with the astrological elements that it suggests that Jung’s theories were taken directly from astrology.
Instructed in the precepts of astrology, Jung saw how the symbols of the stars illustrated personal myths. We see reflected in this quote: “The starry vault of heaven is in truth the open book of cosmic projection, in which are reflected the mythologems, i.e., the archetypes. In this vision astrology and alchemy, the two classical functionaries of the psychology of the collective unconscious, join hands ”(Jung 1911).
Jung assigned the term ‘archetypes’ to the symbols he believed were present in the collective unconscious. He considered archetypes central to understanding human nature since they represented universal symbols to which all humans could relate. Thus, to name a few of these symbols, the moon and Venus, the female sexual principle became his “anima, Mars the male sexual principle became his “animus”. The sun, in astrology the conscious self, becomes the “ego” in Jungian thought. (Jennings 1999)
Jung often used the term ‘objects’ when describing archetypes. In his article on personality types (Campbell 1977) he describes in painstaking detail how the different personality types related to these ‘objects’. In his work he used archetypes as analytical and therapeutic tools to help his patients explore the workings of their minds.
Jung talked for years about archetypes, and he considered them to be real objects. However, because archetypes are symbols, he struggled for years to explain how a symbol can have a direct effect on the human psyche. Nearer to the end of his career he developed the theory of synchronicity, the theory that two events could be related in meaning though there might not be a causal relationship between the two. Synchronicity threw out the need for a direct causal relationship while upholding the symbolism of the astrological archetypes.
In presenting synchronicity he also presented his marriage and astrology research on which caused his theory to be badly received. In the “Marriage and Astrology” study his goal was to disprove a direct link between events and astrology, thus removing astrological influences as the cause for the events. He intended that synchronicity theory would be proved by the study. However, since his study affirmed through statistics ancient astrological marriage indicators, the study seemed to others more to support astrology than his new theory (Main 1997).
Later, in correspondences to others Jung regretted the use of astrology as the statistical model on which to hang his theory. He wrote:
“I am not going to commit this mistake again, but shall make my point at once by anticipating the result: the experiment shows how synchronicity plays havoc with statistical material. Even the choice of my material seems to have thrown my readers in to confusion, since it concerned with astrological statistics. On can easily imagine how obnoxious such a choice must be to prudish intellectualism ” (Jung 1959)
Jung goes on to say to there is no question that astrology is invalid, but that the statistics in the study prove synchronicity. It seems curious that since much of his work was underpinned with astrological symbols that he chose to deny astrology. However, even as today, astrology had no professional standing in the world of academe. Even a hint of belief in astrology in it is tantamount to professional suicide. Though Jung exploited the “booty” of astrological principals in fleshing out his psychological theories, he was eager to dissipate any notion that he was a “believer” in astrology.
Jung was right to be cautious. Even though he was one of the most influential psychologists of his time and his work continues to be well known, certain college texts about psychology don’t mention him at all. If he was not such a prolific writer he might have shared the same historical fate as Nikola Tesla.
Astrology had a significant impact on the formation of Jung’s theories. Through his study of mythology he came to understand the correlation between astrology and myth. This understanding helped him to formulate his theories on archetypes, a critical underpinning in his understanding of the human psyche. Astrology also was critical in the composition of his understanding of personality types. With his theory on synchronicity Jung tied the universal symbols, including astrological symbols, which he called archetypes, directly to the workings of the human mind while circumventing the need to show a direct causal connection. While he tried to professionally disassociate with the idea he was a supporter of astrology, with its symbols he created theories that helped to illuminate the workings of the psyche.
Campbell, J. (ed) (1971) The portable Jung, Chapter 2, The Stucture of the Psyche, p.41 Viking
Penquin Inc. New York, New York
Jennings, G. (1999). Passages-beyond the gate. Needham Heights, MA: Simon and Schuster, pp
Jung, C.G. (1911). Letter from C. G. Jung to Sigmund Freud, May 8, 1911. The Freud/Jung
Letters: The Correspondence Between Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung, 420-421
Jung, C.G. (1959).Synchroncity, an accausal connection, The collected works of C.G. Jung, Chapter 2, pp. 81-92 New York: Pantheon.
Main, R. (1997). Jung on synchronicity and the paranormal. Princeton:
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