Sunday, June 20, 2010

Freudian basics for astrologers

What exactly are the ego, superego, and id? Even though these Freudian concepts have had an enduring influence on the psychology of personality, they have always seemed rather ambiguous to me. They could mean different things depending on who you read. They didn’t seem to have any firm relationship to astrology. Many astrologers tended to identify them with certain planets or combinations of planets, but there were always a lot of approximations being made and a lot of loose ends left over. No one had a good grasp it seemed. Consequently, I tended to ignore them in favor of socially structured models of personality developed in more recent times by Maslow, Mitchel, Goleman, Gardner, and Erikson. I found that these later models fit quite nicely into a simplified structure of astrological concepts, as I have postulated in Environmental Cosmology and subsequent writings. The fit is not exact, but astrology seems to have a power to unify these various modern models and suggests how they all work together.

Recently, I’ve returned to the old stomping grounds of the ego, superego, and id, which dominated early psychoanalysis. In general, the ego is thought of as the self-conscious part of personality that makes choices. The superego is the inner voice that tells the ego whether its choices are good or bad. The id is a reservoir of raw impulses that needs to be restrained for society to exist. Much of the work of the ego (the conscious self) is to balance the drives of the id against the controls of the superego. There is certainly drama in this model, but what does it mean?

I’m going to take a different approach. Let’s not start with the psychoanalytic model and work towards astrology, as everyone seems to want to do, but instead let’s start with astrology and work toward the psychoanalytic model to see if the psychological model can be made to fit the astrology. I tend to prefer this contrary view of the world. It’s easier.

There are three major frames of reference, or environments, used in astrology: tropical signs, diurnal houses, and synodic aspects. These natural frames of reference, in their most simplified and practical terms, astrologically relate to values, skills, and beliefs respectively. These three concepts do not come from psychology, but are arrived at by distilling and reducing the astrological model down to essential meanings. This is the main thesis of Environmental Cosmology.

Values are related to what interests us and gives life meaning. Values are an inner part of the personality, which are to some extent inherited from our parents. Some values are shared with other members of our generation. It seems to me that the superego maps pretty well to values, which in astrology are the zodiacal signs.

Skills are what we do well, or hope to do well, to become a self-actualized person in our outward life. We may succeed and feel good, or we may fail and feel bad, but we are always learning as we try to improve ourselves and make a difference in some area of the world we live in. It seems to me that the ego maps to skills, which astrologically are the diurnal houses.

Beliefs are the way we try to resolve the natural conflicts between our inner urges, represented by the planets. We are fine with our beliefs until they are challenged and tested by the circumstances of the world we live in. We change many of our beliefs as we grow and develop as persons. It seems to me that the id maps to the challenges and conflicts of our beliefs, which astrologically are the framework of our planetary aspects.

So there you have it, the basics of Freudian psychoanalysis interpreted for astrologers. The superego can be thought of as values, which are the signs, the ego equates to skills, which are the houses, and the id relates to beliefs, which are the aspects.