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Carl Jung, the Doubtful Astrologer

Since you want to know my opinion about astrology I can tell you that I've been interested in this particular activity of the human mind since more than 30 years. As I am a psychologist, I am 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 very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand. From such experiences I formed the opinion that 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. - Carl G. Jung, in a letter to B. V. Raman in 1947.

The starry sky forms the background for the revolving planets and sun and moon, as seen from Earth. By the art of imagining and story-telling, many parts of the starry sky are given names and understood nearly as "things in themselves", that is, as constellations. Constellations, these imaginary things, are groups of stars as viewed from Earth, with poetic meanings and significance attached to them.

Jung also remarked in a letter to Sigmund Freud

At the moment I am looking into astrology, which seems indispensable for a proper understanding of mythology. . . . I shall return laden with rich booty for our knowledge of the human psyche. For a while longer I must intoxicate myself on magic perfumes in order to fathom the secrets that lie hidden in the abysses of the unconscious. . . . (Freud/Jung Letters, in Kirby 2019, Jung's Struggle with Astrology, 2019.

"At that stage, Jung starts to demonstrate his astrological knowledge in his writing. He refers extensively to the zodiacal signs and their meanings, starting in 1911 and continuing throughout his life (CW5 para 290)," explains Babs Kirby 2019.

One one occasion Jung refers to astrology as the "sum of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity." On other occasions he drifted and doubted it extensively for years..

Jung's attitude varies: at times he is dismissive, distancing himself from astrology which he describes as unscientific and primitive; at times he explains astrology as a projection of the unconscious onto the stars in the same way that he explains alchemy as a projection onto the contents in the vase; at other times he expresses his perplexity in trying to make sense of astrology. - Babs Kirby, Jung's Struggle with Astrology, 2018.

Searching for an explanation for years, Jung writes in 1958: "I would be inclined to rank astrology among the natural sciences . . . Astrology does not follow the principle of causality, but depends, like all intuitive methods, on acausality". (Jung Letters Vol. 2, p. 429, 464. In Kirby 2019).

Given such quotations and extracts, what place did astrology have within the larger corpus of Jung's work? In his Collected Works - that is, works that Jung put in the public domain - there is only one example of Jung using astrology with a patient (CW 9 i, para 606)

At last Marduk

Greek and other myths can relate to constellations [read: recognised patterns] in the sky. Myths embody teachings about the constellations, that is, they contain astrological teachings.

The sea serpent Tiamat acquired Tablets of Fate, which were supposed to confer upon their owner the power to rule the universe, and she gave them to her husband for safekeeping. Then she summoned forth out of the slimy depths all the most frightful creatures that her brain could conceive, monsters whose like has never been seen again. So horrible were these creations that even the gods took fright and hid themselves away in their airy heaven.

No one would go down to meet Tiamat until at last Marduk of Babylon came forth and offered to fight as their champion. He got equipped with special magic powers bestowed on him by each one of the other gods. Thus armed, he went down to face the sea serpent in battle.

Marduk had strength and cunning and the winds of heaven on his side. They blew straight into the jaws of the unsuspecting Tiamat and rushed through her open mouth in a surging current and blew so fiercely into the very bowels of her body that she was racked and split asunder. Then Marduk finished off the helpless monster with a blow of his club.

The north wind carried away the blood of Tiamat, and Marduk split her skull and tore her dragon skin into two pieces. With these he formed the heaven and earth, separating one from the other, and in the upper regions he set the homes of the gods, created the stars in the sky, and ordained the paths they should follow. He outlined the constellations, placing them so that they should serve as signs to indicate the day, the years and the seasons to mankind. he fixed the dome of heaven in place with a great bolt, and set a watchman there to guard it. He surveyed the skies, and built the Zodiac. Then he rested from his labours, hailed by gods and men alike as the dragon slayer. [The Stars in Our Heaven by Peter Lum (1948)]

The origin of the constellation, Draco, and of some dragon lore as well, was perhaps the Chaldean dragon Tiamat, the sea serpent who existed even before the sea and sky, a monster of primeval darkness.

The Sumerians and Babylonians, those early inhabitants of the Tigris and Euphrates Valley from whom we have inherited so much astrology-mythology, envisioned the beginnings of creation as a hazy state of chaos, a gloom that was nothing in itself and yet contained the potentialities of all things. With the passing of time, gods arose from this primordial sea, gods like Jupiter and Saturn.

Now, there are a row of postulates that can be aligned to the starry sky at the moment of birth.

As for the sign Draco, the North Pole is seen on this background, that is, on the background of these stars and clusters of stars that make up the star sign.

There are many dragons in Greek mythology, and we may wonder how useful they are to us, our could become through interpretations - such forms of meaning-making. Freud liked to interpret ancient Greeks myths about Oedipus and Electra in his own twisted way, for example. Other interpretations are possible.

In some Greek myths, the star sign Draco is not a dragon. Astrologers in other cultures do not depict a dragon in the Draco sign either. That makes it complicated to find a meaning to stick to - and maybe we do not have to!

The sometimes overlooked idea: The meanings of myths are what you make out of them. It is the same with horoscopes for humans - their meanings are what humans makes out of them. Meaning is something within a human. It may at times be "sharable" to some extent through language and other symbols at hand.

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Carl Gustav Jung, doubtful astrologer, star wisdom, Literature  

GreekMythology.com. Greek Mythology. 1997-2019. https://www.greekmythology.com/

igreekmythology.com. The signs of the Greek Zodiac. 2008 - 2009 - igreekmythology.com https://www.igreekmythology.com/greek-zodiac.html

Rossi, Safron, and Keiron Le Grice. 2019. "Jung on Astrology". An extract from Carl Gustav Jung, Jung on Astrology, selected and introduced by Safron Rossi and Keiron Le Grice (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2017. Zürück, CH: Astrodienst. [◦Link]

Kirby, Babs. "Jung's Struggle with Astrology." First published by The Astrological Journal, 2018 / The Astrological Association of Great Britain / 03.01.2019. Zürück, CH: Astrodienst. ⍽▢⍽ An abridged version of a lecture Babs Kirby gave at the Astrological Association Conference on 24 June 2018 and draws on her MA dissertation at Essex University in 2000, titled 'Jung's View of Astrology – A Critical Enquiry into the Role of Astrology in Analytical Psychology'.

Lum, Peter. The Stars in Our Heaven: Myths and Fable. New York: Pantheon Books, 1948.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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