The Vernal Sun and You as a Well-Integrated Person
At last, April is here again! The sun feels most at home now in Aries, its sign of exaltation. The sun may express itself very well in Leo, where it rules that sign, but Aries provides the environment which gives rise to its very essence. The sun is all about initiating things, and the main event is driving the process toward the regeneration of life in the spring. As a time for many animals to get born, the order of the month-long span of Aries encourages the drive to initiate. While the symbol of the sign is the ram, the exalted sun is what turns it into a charging ram, resembling the image of the charging bison on the wall of the cave in Altamira, Spain, made between 17,000 to 12,000 years ago by artists, clearly for purposes of magic and religion rather than display.
One may well wonder why the sun, if it has the cardinal characteristic of initiating, would rule Leo, a fixed sign? While Leo appears fixed, the sun, by the very intensity of its heat, already is initiating a deceleration to the end of summer to come in the sign Virgo. There is a good and a bad side to everything, including fixedness. The bad side of fixedness is boredom with the status quo, while the good side is endurance. Even the seeming paradise of the summer often does go bad eventually, if it drags on too long, for the heat can get scorching, and besides, we get bored. This obviously is true about the monotonous cold and dark of winter, and therefore we welcome the novelty initiated by the sun in spring.
What is the aim of the exalted sun which we now welcome? The sun aims to unify. The planets do not revolve independently around the earth; rather, we have come a long way in realizing that they, and earth as well, revolve around the sun, which unites them into one solar system. We are quite justified in welcoming the exalted sun now, for unity is among the most welcome things ever. Without the unifying force of the sun in the horoscope, in the langauge of psychology being the power of the will, a civil war occurs, analogously speaking, inside the person. Nothing is more devastating emotionally than civil war, turning brother against brother, and, by misdirecting all the national energy inward, it leaves the nation vulnerable to trouble from the surrounding world. So also, severe disunity in the psyche of a person is devastating emotionally, giving rise to misbehavior, obsessive-compulsive thought centering on guilt, and depression, and, via distraction from the surrounding world, exasperate maladaptive behavior. How does the sun in the horoscope fulfill its aim of uniting the psyche?
The sun pursues its mission through aspects, uniting the horoscope through establishing links between planets, those links made via the formation of certain key distances between them. For instance, when the sun progresses toward a nearly perfect, 90 degree distance from some planet, an aspect called a square is formed. Why is it called that? It allows the reader of the horoscope to visualize a square as inscribed into the circle of the zodiac, with the line drawn between the sun and that planet, say plus-minus two degrees from 90, being one of the sides. In comparable ways, the different aspects can be visualized as forming one side of various geometric shapes usually from heptagons, formed via roughly 51 degree aspects, to circles, via two or less degrees between planets. In this way, we can say that the horoscope of a person becomes united via these networks into geometric patterns. The corners of the geometric figures can mark sensitive points in the zodiac.
The fewer aspects a natal chart has, the less united the psyche of person, I think, tends to be at birth. The native is at greater risk of developing emotional and behavioral problems while developing from birth, particularly at certain critical times throughout the life-span, when endowed with fewer aspects, I think at most two degrees of orb, in the natal chart. The life-span developmental theory of psychiatrist Erik Erikson can be very helpful in identifying these critical times, as reflected in the natal and progressed charts of the person. Studying the progressed horoscope of the person, we can see when after birth the sun, or any other planet, does enter into aspects with other planets. This can help us to identify what developmental milestone in the person's life is under challenge and when intervention is still more likely to help. The planets involved give clues about what exactly the problems are likely to be. If the aspects formed are hard, that is, oppositions, squares, and perhaps conjunctions, the problems may be more severe, and also when, say, a square visualized in the hroscope has a malevolent fixed star at one of the corners.
Note that other planets excluding the sun can be used in this psychological use of astrology, but also that the sun often is particularly important to examine. To this extent, the sun sign astrology which is popular among lay people is not totally off. I have noticed, however, that the more the personality of the person matches the sun sign, the more likely the personality characterizes the bad side of that astrological archetype. After all, the signs are like two dimensional caricatures, are they not? Anyone whose character can be summarized merely into one of twelve basic types cannot be a very well-rounded person! It is the aspects, whose potentials get highlighted throughout the life span, that can make the person better integrated, well-rounded, and therefore happier and more adaptive, if only the person harnesses the needed willpower to actualize these potentials at the right times. This is exactly what we expect with the analogy of a person being like a nation in civil war. For instance, in the American Civil War, the unity of the USA collapsed when a confederation of relatively independent states tried to break away permanently. The relative autonomy of the states resembles what we have on the interpsychic level, that is, of planets in relatively autonomous signs and houses, without their energies working smoothly together in a network symbolized by aspects formed between planets.
Here is an example of all this, using the case of a person with whom I am very familiar. He was born when the sun was at 26 degrees Scorpio, and Pluto was at 29 Leo. With the sun being in the sign ruled by Pluto, and Pluto being in the sign ruled by the sun, this makes an especially dynamic connection. It strongly emphasizes Scorpio in his personality. Many would interpret this as a square in the natal chart, but it is more valuable psychologically to consider the difference of three degrees from a square as too big for a natal square. Rather, I take such a relationship in a chart as indicating a challenge to the child in the first three years of life. What is my reasoning here?
I am using a technique which I find of utmost value: the progressed chart of number of days after birth reflecting experiences the same number of corresponding years after birth in the person's life. During these earliest years, the child faces its first milestone challenge of developing a trusting orientation to other people and the world. If, for instance, the mother is depressed, a dependable relationship between the mother and her child tends not to develop, and the child has trouble with the first milestone of maturation. A sense of trust and security when facing the unknown might end up lacking in the developing child's personality. So, the timing of the aspect emerging in the progressed chart gives us clues about whether this reflects an early childhood challenge, or a challenge at some other particular stage in the person's life.
The planets involved in the emergent aspect give us clues about how stress at this stage might manifest in maladaptive behavior, if unsuccessfully navigated. For instance, this person very well known to me did face this type of crisis, having been raised by a chronically depressed mother. The sun-Pluto square often reflects problems of anger in response to the frustrations of life; these problems of aggression are present in the person's case history. Lastly, looking at what may be at the other corners of the emergent square can give us further clues about the crisis and its long-term effects. At about 29 Taurus, we find the seven fixed stars of the Pleiades, traditionally giving a malevolent energy to the horoscope. This adds the interpretation that this early childhood crisis might well have severe implications for the person, in lack of happiness and adaptation. This is especially true about this person, because 29 Taurus is the Midheaven of his chart, and therefore having the Pleiades there might well be quite ominous for his future. The bad news is that all these predictions have held true in his life. The good news is that he has grown into a wiser person from experiences, reflected in various aspects formed in his progressed chart and backed by coinciding transits, and every day is becoming a more and more rounded and integrated person, more capable of living happily and acting adaptively.
For now, so ends the story of the potential power that could drive us to better lives, the power of our wills. It is like harnessing solar power at our own, personal levels! The sun is at home in Aries again, so let us feel at home in the renewed, brighter and warmer world ahead. Happy Spring!