C.G. JUNG On Astrology

(1/2) > >>


C.G. Jung on Astrology

We are born at a given moment in a given place and like vintage years of wine we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything else. - C.G. Jung

At the moment I am looking into astrology, which seems indispensable for a proper understanding of mythology. There are strange and wondrous things in these lands of darkness. Please, don't worry about my wanderings in these infinitudes. I shall return laden with rich booty for our knowledge of the human psyche. - C.G. Jung in a letter to Sigmund Freud, May 8, 1911

Astrology is one of the intuitive methods like the I Ching, geomantics, and other divinatory procedures. It is based upon the synchronicity principle, i.e. meaningful coincidence. ... Astrology is a naively projected psychology in which the different attitudes and temperaments of man are represented as gods and identified with planets and zodiacal constellations. - C.G. Jung

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. - C.G. Jung

Astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call projected - this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations. This originally gave rise to the idea that these factors derive from the stars, whereas they are merely in a relation of synchronicity with them. I admit that this is a very curious fact which throws a peculiar light on the structure of the human mind. .... C.G. Jung in 1947 in a letter to prof. B.V. Raman

So far as the personality is still potential, it can be called transcendent, and so far as it is unconscious, it is indistinguishable from all those things that carry its projections...[that is,] symbols of the outside world and the cosmic symbols. These form the psychological basis for the conception of man as a macrocosm through the astrological components of his character. - C.G. Jung

Astrologers are influenced by theosophy, so they say, "That is very simple, it is just vibration!" ... But what is vibration? They say it is light energy, perhaps electricity, they are not quite informed. At all events the vibrations that could influence us have never been seen, so it remains just a word. - C. G. Jung in 1929

Our modern science begins with astronomy. Instead of saying that man was led by psychological motives, they formerly said he was led by his stars. ... The puzzling thing is that there is really a curious coincidence between astrological and psychological facts, so that one can isolate time from the characteristics of an individual, and also, one can deduce characteristics from a certain time.
Therefore we have to conclude that what we call psychological motives are in a way identical with star positions. Since we cannot demonstrate this, we must form a peculiar hypothesis. This hypothesis says that the dynamics of our psyche is not just identical with the position of the stars, nor has it to do with vibrations - that is an illegitimate hypothesis. It is better to assume that i is a phenomenon of time. ... The stars are simply used by man to serve as indicators of time... - C.G. Jung in 1929

The collective unconscious...appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious. We can see this most clearly if we look at the heavenly constellations, whose originally chaotic forms are organized through the projection of images. This explains the influence of the stars as asserted by astrologers. These influences are nothing but unconscious, introspective perceptions of the collective unconscious. - C.G. Jung

Synchronicity does not admit causality in the analogy between terrestrial events and astrological constellations ... What astrology can establish are the analogous events, but not that either series is the cause or the effect of the other. (For instance, the same constellation may at one time signify a catastrophe and at another time, in the same case, a cold in the head.) ... In any case, astrology occupies a unique and special position among the intuitive methods... I have observed many cases where a well-defined psychological phase, or an analogous event, was accompanied by a transit (particularly when Saturn and Uranus were affected). - C. G. Jung

Obviously astrology has much to offer psychology, but what the latter can offer its elder sister is less evident. So far as I judge, it would seem to me advantageous for astrology to take the existence of psychology into account, above all the psychology of the personality and of the unconscious. - C.G. Jung

It is indeed very difficult to explain the astrological phenomenon. I am not in the least disposed to an either-or explanation. I always say that with a psychological explanation there is only the alternative: either and or! This seems to me to be the case with astrology too. - C.G. Jung in a letter to Hans Bender, April 10, 1958, C.G. Jung Letters, Volume 2, 1951-1961, p. 428.

The truth is that astrology flourishes as never before. There is a regular library of astrological books and magazines that sell for far better than the best scientific works. The Europeans and Americans who have horoscopes cast for them may be counted not by the hundred thousand but by the million. Astrology is a flourishing industry. ... If such a large percentage of the population has an insatiable need for this counter pole to the scientific spirit, we can be sure that the collective psyche in every individual - be he never so scientific - has this psychological requirement in equally high degree. A certain kind of "scientific" scepticism and criticism in our time is nothing but a misplaced compensation of the powerful and deep-rooted superstitious impulses of the collective psyche. - C.G. Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology

While studying astrology I have applied it to concrete cases many times. ... The experiment is most suggestive to a versatile mind, unreliable in the hands of the unimaginative, and dangerous in the hands of a fool, as those intuitive methods always are. If intelligently used the experiment is useful in cases where it is a matter of an opaque structure. It often provides surprising insights. The most definite limit of the experiment is lack of intelligence and literal-mindedness of the observer. ...
Undoubtedly astrology today is flourishing as never before in the past, but it is still most unsatisfactorily explored despite very frequent use. It is an apt tool only when used intelligently. It is not at all foolproof and when used by a rationalistic and narrow mind it is a definite nuisance. - C. G. Jung: Letters, volume 2, 1951-1961, pages 463-464, letter to Robert L. Kroon, 15 November 1958

Astrology is knocking at the gates of our universities: A Tübingen professor has switched over to astrology and a course on astrology was given at Cardiff University last year. Astrology is not mere superstition but contains some psychological facts (like theosophy) which are of considerable importance. Astrology has actually nothing to do with the stars but is the 5000-year-old psychology of antiquity and the Middle Ages. - C.G. Jung in a letter to L. Oswald on December 8, 1928, in C.G. Jung, Letters, vol. 1, 1973


                                              C.G. Jung on Astrology II

- Astrological Research -

A Frenchman, Paul Flambart, made an attempt to verify certain irrational statements. He has done some scientific research work in connection with the so-called aerial trigone: If the whole zodiac is designed in sections of a circle, then the three points, the months represented by Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius, form the aerial trigon. These are air-signs, and air means mind or spirit. The old saying was that one born under these signs was apt to be spiritual or intellectual; that quality was given him at birth. So Flambart took one hundred nativities of men remarkable for their intelligence, and he found that, though the birth-dates were everywhere on the circle, there was an extraordinary accumulation on each point of the trigon, so one could say that the majority of such nativities were associated with the corners of the aerial trigon, with intelligence. This is of the nature of a scientific truth, but astrologers are proverbially reluctant to make such researches. They prefer to swim in intuition. To work scientifically is too much trouble. ... - C.G. Jung on 20 November 1929

In astrology we have another consideration, a bit uncanny and therefore particularly hated by scientists. You remember my telling you that birthdates of important men tended to accumulate around the three points of the aerial trigon. If this were confirmed, we might go further and make statistics about suicides, lunacy, epilepsy, etc. That might lead to tangible results, and then astrology would be a very serious consideration. I have suggested to astrologers that we should have more scientific statements. - C.G. Jung

A meteorologist will prove to you that the weather does not change with the moon, and yet the idea keeps on occurring, so I am by no means convinced that the weather has nothing to do with it. A rational explanation is no explanation. We just have to wait till these things become confirmed through experimentation. Astrology, for instance, presents amazing suggestions which would be important if verified, but that has never been done. They ought to work out their researches statistically. - C. G. Jung, 20 November 1929

What I miss in astrological literature is chiefly the statistical method by which certain fundamental facts could be scientifically established. C.G. Jung in a letter to porf. B.V. Raman in 1947

Astrology would be a large scale example of synchronism, if it had at its disposal thoroughly tested findings. But at least there are some facts adequately tested and fortified by a wealth of statistics which make the astrological problem even worthy of philosophical investigation. It is assured of recognition from psychology, without further restrictions, because astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity. C.G. Jung

Gordon Young: Do you believe that astrology has any definite value?

Jung: The whole subject, of course, is controversial. But you know I once did some statistical research and my final figures were examined by mathematicians at the University of Chicago. They told me that they found them not without significance. Naturally, when I heard that I pricked up my ears. We are passing out of the period of the Fishes just now and into the sign of Aquarius, which may well bring some new values with it. Some people quite seriously consider that this may be of great significance in the world's imminent development. - From an interview in Sunday Times (1960)


                                                 C.G. Jung on Horoscopes

As I am a psychologist, I'm chiefly interested in the particular light the horoscope sheds on certain complications in the character. In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I have very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand. C.G. Jung

The fact that it is possible to reconstruct a person's character fairly accurately from his birth data shows the relative validity of astrology. It must be remembered, however, that the birth data are in no way dependent on the actual astronomical constellations, but are based on an arbitrary, purely conceptual time system. Owing to the precession of the equinoxes, the spring-point has long since moved out of the constellation of Aries into Pisces, so that the astrological zodiac on which horoscopes are calculated no longer corresponds to the heavenly one. If there are any astrological diagnoses of character that are in fact correct, this is due not to the influence of the stars but to our own hypothetical time qualities. In other words, whatever is born or done at this particular moment of time has the quality of this moment of time. - C.G. Jung

Many people assume, for instance, that astrology is all nonsense. It is true that astrology has nothing to do with the stars. The horoscope may say that you were born in Taurus, but the constellations today have moved and horoscopes no longer correspond to the actual positions of the stars. ... But people criticize astrology as though it had something to do with the stars.
- C. G. Jung in 1929

The important point is that the horoscope is true only in the time sense, not astronomically. It is independent of the stars. We see that menstruation has a moon period, yet it does not coincide with the phases of the moon; otherwise all women would menstruate at the same time, and they don't. It simply means that there is a moon-law in every woman and likewise the laws of the stars in every human being but not in the relation of cause and effect. - C.G. Jung, December 11, 1929

The thing that matters is not the position of the stars, the thing that matters is time. You can call time what you like. It is quite indifferent whether you say the spring-point is zero degrees Aries or 28 Pisces; that is a convention; it is nevertheless the spring-point. So you see, these old designations of time were not taken from the heavens, but given to the heavens. ... Man has created the constellations. So obviously the constellations were not intended by the creator of the world to be an astrological text-book to us. - Carl G. Jung

The vernal equinox has long since moved out of Aries into Pisces and from the time of Hipparchus has been artificially set at 0° Aries. Consequently the correlations with the planetary houses are purely fictitious, and this rules out the possibility of a causal connection with the actual positions of the stars, so that the astrological determination of time is purely symbolic. Even so, the rough correlation with the actual seasons remains unimpaired, and this is of great significance so far as the horoscope is concerned. ...
There are also the fluctuations of proton radiation, which have been proved to exert a considerable influence on human life. These are all causally explicable influences and argue in favour of astrological correlations that conform to law. To that extent, therefore, I would be inclined to rank astrology among the natural sciences.
On the other hand, astrological observation yields cases where one hesitates to maintain the validity of a purely causalistic explanation. Cases of astonishing predictions, for instance, give me at any rate the feeling of a meaningful "lucky hit", a meaningful coincidence ... to that extent I would rather adduce synchronicity as an explanatory principle. - C.G. Jung in 1958

The horoscope ... is itself a mandala (a clock) with a dark centre, and a leftward circumambulatio with houses and planetary phases. - C.G. Jung in Psychology and Alchemy

My main criticisms of astrologers. If I were to venture an opinion in a domain with which I am only very superficially acquainted, I would say that the astrologer does not always consider his statements to be mere possibilities. The interpretation is sometimes too literal and not symbolic enough, also too personal. What the zodiac and the planets represent are not personal traits, they are interpersonal and objective facts. Moreover, several "layers of meaning," should be taken into account in interpreting the Houses. - C.G. Jung


                                                  C.G. Jung & Horoscopes II

- Horoscope Interpretation -

The ruler of my birth, Old Saturnus, slowed down my maturation process to such an extent that I became aware of my own ideas only at the beginning of the second half of my life, i.e., exactly with 36 years. - Carl G. Jung

My evenings are taken up very largely with astrology. I make horoscopic calculations in order to find a clue to the core of psychological truth. Some remarkable things have turned up which will certainly appear incredible to you. In the case of one lady, the calculation of the position of the stars at her nativity produced a quite definite character picture, with several biographical details which did not pertain to her but to her mother - and the characteristics fitted the mother to a T. The lady suffers from an extraordinary mother complex. - C.G. Jung, in a letter to Sigmund Freud, June 12, 1911

Sometimes people without knowing one's birthdate can make remarkable guesses as to where one's signs are. Twice it has happened to me: once in England and once in America. I was told that my sun was in Leo and my Moon in Taurus, Aquarius rising. This made a great impression on me. How the devil did they know? Did they see it in my face? - Carl G. Jung

Now that is where astrology is today. It enables certain people to make verifiable diagnoses and sometimes certain guesses, intuitive shots, that are peculiarly adequate, quite astonishing. - Carl G. Jung

Of course, the more ancient the horoscope, the more projected it was. Where modern astrology would say, This man is violent, impetuous, heedless of danger, will plunge into all sorts of indiscretions and will regret it afterwards, the ancients would have said: This man will commit murder and his head will be cut off - or make voyages and be drowned, or he is likely to be assailed by bad people. So what today is taken as a mere psychological factor, in those days was held to be fate. - Carl G. Jung

One can expect with considerable assurance, that a given well-defined psychological situation will be accompanied by an analogous astrological configuration. - Carl G. Jung

I dare say that we shall one day discover in astrology a good deal of knowledge that has been intuitively projected into the heavens. For instance, it appears that the signs of the zodiac are character pictures, in other words libido symbols which depict the typical qualities of the libido at a given moment...- C.G. Jung in a letter to Sigmund Freud, June 12, 1911

...the journey through the planetary houses boils down to becoming conscious of the good and bad qualities in our character, and the apotheosis means no more than maximum freedom of will. - - Carl G. Jung

The idea of the "house" may be derived originally from astrology. Here the house (as domus propria) means the matrix of the substance. - Carl G. Jung

When the moon is in a strong position, it points to the more personal, the intimate and unguarded side of the person, it indicates one who is in a very passive condition. - Carl G. Jung

Astrology, like the collective unconscious with which psychology is concerned, consists of symbolic configurations: the "planets" are the gods, symbols of the powers of the unconscious. - Carl G. Jung

Since the alchemical symbols are saturated with astrology, it is important to know that the chief star in Leo is called Regulus (little king) and that the Chaldaeans regarded it as the lion's heart. - Carl G. Jung

When man is roaring like a lion there is nothing better to tame him than a virgin. She will cut the hair of the lion and make it short, like Samson and Delilah... - Carl G. Jung

Your Sun in Libra demands undisturbed balance. You only get it when either side carries equal weight. Christ is crucified between the one going up and the other going down, i.e., between opposites. So do not try to escape your fate written in the stars. I know, it is the mistake of Libra people: they are afraid of anything disturbing the balance. But they can maintain it only by studying what troubles them. - C.G. Jung to Father Victor White

Statements by men on the subject of female psychology suffer principally from the fact that the projection of unconscious femininity is always strongest where critical judgement is most needed, that is, where a man is involved emotionally. In the metaphorical descriptions of the alchemist, Luna is primarily a reflection of a man's unconscious femininity, but she is also a principle of the feminine psyche, in the sense that Sol is the principle of a man's. This is particularly obvious in the astrological interpretation of the sun and moon, not to mention the age-old assumptions of mythology. Alchemy is inconceivable without the influence of her elder sister astrology, and the statements of these three disciplines must be taken into account in any psychological evaluation of the luminaries. - Carl G. Jung


Jung's 'Platonic' Month

Definition: [Astrological Ages] Exactly one-twelfth of a Great Year. The length of a 'Platonic' month equals 2160.4 years. [2002 AD] The term appears to have first been coined by Carl Gustav Jung in Aion - where, in footnote 84, he gives us its calculated length: 2 143 years. Two centuries earlier Voltaire had proposed the concept, but not given it this name.

How did Jung Calculate the time span of a 'Platonic' Month? This can be calculated - as Jung did - from the precessional rate, as follows. In Aion, Jung used a precessional rate of 50.3608 arc seconds per year [an arc second is one-sixtieth of one-sixtieth of a degree]. This he took as the angle by which the Vernal Equinox Point changes, as seen against the stars, each year. Divide that angle into the full circle of 360º and you have the number of years which it would take to make a complete precessional cycle: 25 734.3 years. Divide that number of years by 12 for a "Platonic" month and you get 2 144.5 years - Jung's math is out by a year.

However, the techniques to measure precession are now much more accurate than they were in the 1940s. The currently accepted value of the precessional rate [2002 AD] is 49.989 arc seconds per year, a fraction less than the one Jung was using. This gives a 'Platonic' month of 2 160.4 years and a Great Year of 25 925 years.

Is a 'Platonic' Month Equal to an Astrological Age? No. However, this question has excited a lot of debate amongst astrologers and quite a few would say that the answer to that question was "yes." If your particular answer to this question is "yes," then the calculation of the date of the beginning of the next Astrological Age, the Age of Aquarius, is normally done as follows... Simply add 2160.4 years on to the date on which the Age of Pisces began. [See New Ages for dates ranging between 2000 and 2100 AD calculated using this approach. Even Jung himself, in Aion [C G Jung Aion Chapter IV, The Sign of the Fishes, Footnote 84, 1951 AD ] had a go at this same calculation, coming up with dates between 1997 and 2154 AD.]

Of course, even if you believe that this is the right way to find the start of the Age, the problem with this approach is... when did the Age of Pisces begin? This depends on where the constellation border lies between Pisces and Aries. The logical flaw here is obvious: the original Aries-Pisces boundary is a stellar one, not based on "Platonic" Months. How can you use one type of boundary for one Age and another type of boundary for the next? Of course the answer is that logically you can't. It doesn't work.

Why is a 'Platonic' Month Not Equal to an Astrological Age? Because of the definition of an Astrological Age. Jung stated that "it refers to the actual constellation of fixed stars, not to ... the zodiac divided into sectors of 30º each." The Real Solar Zodiac constellations have two properties which rule out a 'Platonic' Month being an Astrological Age: first, there are thirteen of them; secondly, they are all different sizes, not "sectors of 30º each." . [See Astrological Age for more information on this.]

In modern astrological terms, we would say that the Vernal Equinox Point moves against the Real Solar Zodiac, i.e. the actual heavens, rather than the Tropical Zodiac. That Jung based the entire astrological New Age concept on the Real Solar Zodiac is shown by, for example, paragraph 149 of Aion, where Jung looks for 'synchronicity' between world events and the movement of the Vernal Equinox Point through the real stars of the second fish of the constellation of Pisces. The Tropical Zodiac Pisces sign of Western astrology plays no role - in fact by definition it can not, as in the Tropical Zodiac the Vernal Equinox Point never moves through the sign of Pisces, it stays still at the begining of Aries. This Jung is well aware of. He states in paragraph 7 of The Archetypes and the Collective Unconsciousness: "And yet anyone who can cast a horoscope should know that, since the days of Hipparchus of Alexandria, the spring-point has been fixed at 0º Aries, and that the zodiac on which every horoscope is based is therefore quite arbitrary, the spring-point having gradually advanced, since then, into the first degree of Pisces owing to the precession of the equinoxes." Jung here is writing here exclusively of the Tropical Zodiac. The various Sidereal Zodiacs specifically take into account precession, as naturally - as it's based on the real heavens - does the Real Solar Zodiac.

The description of the Vernal Equinox Point as now within the "first degree of Pisces," sounds somewhat confusing. Jung here is referring to the Sidereal Zodiac of equal 30º divisions of the heavens. In this Zodiac, which is quite close to the reality of the heavens, the Vernal Equinox Point is now very close to the end of the Sidereal Sign of Pisces. He is not talking about the real constellations, the Real Solar Zodiac, on which he bases his concept of the Astrological Age.

Jung in Footnote 84 in Aion notably confuses the Sidereal Zodiac with the Real Solar Zodiac, otherwise he wouldn't have attempted to make that calculation I refer to above. This is somewhat strange, as he is very explicit that the Astrological Age concept refers to the actual constellations - see below. I do wonder whether Jung, having come to believe in the validity of Astrological Ages, then found it difficult to stomach the fact that the next one wouldn't arrive for another 600 years by his own definition [see Age of Aquarius]. From his footnotes in Aion, we know he had a copy of Ptolemy's Star Catalog and could easily have worked out this approximate date for himself. In 2154 AD the Vernal Equinox Point is still very firmly within the constellation of Pisces [see Movement of the Vernal Equinox Point.]. A more charitable explanation is that he didn't know enough about the stars to know that the Constellations had different sizes - Pisces is in fact greater than 35º of the Ecliptic in length - nor about the issue of Ophiuchus. He was, after all, first and foremeost a pyschoanalyst, not an astrologer. Either way, in this respect we live with Jung's legacy: wishing for a New Age which hasn't arrived.

Why is it called a 'Platonic' Month? It should be noted that the concept of a Great Month appears nowhere in the writings of Plato [427 - 347 BC]. This isn't too surprising because neither does the concept of an equal-sign Solar Zodiac, [nor indeed any Zodiac at all] without which - as noted above - the concept of Great Month could not exist. It has been argued that by using the term 'Platonic' Month, Jung inaccurately projected a concept back onto Plato, which there is no evidence that Plato ever possessed.

To follow Jung's reasoning for the use of the prefix 'Platonic' see the 'Platonic' Year page.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page