For several years I’ve been working toward a new profession. At long last, the time arrived when I could quit my ‘day job’ as a lawyer to devote full time to my new writing career. However after stacks of rejection notices, I began to lose heart. Should I continue to pursue my new career?[i]
To answer that question, I consulted both the I Ching and Western horary astrology. My purpose was both to receive an answer and to compare the results of the two divination methods. From this I hoped to gain a deeper understanding of both systems and to begin building a bridge, however wobbly, between them.[ii]
Jung believed the I Ching operates on a principle similar to synchronicity. [iii] Many western astrologers believe their art operates on similar principles. [iv] The assumption is that our world operates based on a system of relationships that is both comprehensible and predictable. Because time relates quality as well as quantity, a map of the unfolding future lays nestled in the peculiarities of a moment of time. Furthermore, once the symbolism of that moment is fully grasped, important conclusions can be drawn regarding the most beneficial course of action.
Jung also believed that the archetypes, the building blocks of the unconscious, mirror the deep psychological processes that motivate our actions. Because of this, archetypes lay at the bottom of synchronistic experiences. It stands to reason then that if (1) synchronicity underlies both western astrology and the I Ching and (2) archetypes underlie synchronistic experience then it is through archetypes that a comparison of the I Ching and Western astrology would best be made.
In horary astrology, a chart is drawn for the moment that the question is asked. The answer is found by examining the position of, and the interaction between, the seven visible planets against the backdrop of a circle divided into twelve ‘houses’.[v] Each of these twelve houses corresponds to particular aspects of life, such as health, wealth, children, and career. This wealth of symbolism is meant to address every conceivable question.
Through the manipulation of yarrow sticks (or coins), I ‘select’ one of sixty-four possible hexagrams. A hexagram is made up of two separate trigrams; there are eight basic trigrams in all and their permutations comprise the totality of the sixty-four hexagrams. As with the twelve astrological houses, each of the eight basic trigrams corresponds to different aspects of life. The answer to any question lies in the interaction of the two trigrams within the context of the one chosen hexagram.
At 8:12 AM (in Oxford, UK) on Thursday 15 February 2007 I drew up a horary chart and counted the yarrow sticks. I received Hexagram 35, Chin, or Progress.[vi] My question was whether or not I should continue with my new writing career.
Because I’m the querent, the Moon (25 Capricorn 07 in the 11th house) represents me. Furthermore, because Pisces is on the ascendant, I am represented by the planet Jupiter (16 Sagittarius 10 in the 9th house) as well as Venus (she’s conjunct the ascendant within 32 minutes of arc). Jupiter also rules my career; it is ruler of the 10th house with Sagittarius on its cusp. In traditional horary, to find the future of my new career, I need to look at the interactions or aspects between the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter.[vii]
Having completed its conjunction with Mars, the Moon is void of course.[viii] This means the Moon will not make any major aspects with any other planets before it changes sign. Because horary astrologers are interested primarily in the applying aspects between planets, the Moon will not help me. [ix] Furthermore, many horary astrologers would suggest that the void of course moon spells nothing but trouble indicating an outcome to my question ranging from delays and difficulties to complete failure.[x]
Next I look to Venus as the alternate signifier for myself.[xi] While both my career (Jupiter) and me (Venus) are individually strong and well placed, they form a square aspect with each other suggesting disharmony and frustration in my new career.[xii] When forming a square aspect to each other, Venus and Jupiter (me and my new career) cannot find common ground on which to interact.[xiii] Indeed there’s the suggestion that my career and I may never come together at all. Alternatively, because the square aspect is separating (i.e. it’s already been exact and the planets are now separating), my career and I might have already formed a relationship that’s in trouble.[xiv]
Jung believed archetypes are most likely to manifest synchronistically (for example, in horary or with the I Ching) when our unconscious is trying to tell us something. Because they depict universal life events such as birth and death (as well as the classic character types associated with those events), manifesting archetypes alert us to personal issues of which we might not otherwise have been aware. It would thus seem that my horary chart is suggesting that if I wish to know more about why my new writing career isn’t going well, I should examine the archetypal patterns behind Jupiter and Venus.
Venus symbolises certain aspects of the anima, one of the many archetypes Jung identified. The anima is the essence of femininity. [xv] She has many faces including the temptress, mother, and muse. She is dangerous, the archetype of life itself. She remains untouched by morality and is above all praise or blame.[xvi]
Astrologically, Venus symbolises associated notions of beauty, desire, and the beloved. In this respect, she can manifest either as the earth-bound whore taking pleasure in the material world or as Sophia, the Divine Wisdom and heavenly realm of the ideal (Hillman 3). Although in horary astrology Venus is usually beneficial, when she’s damaged (such as in square aspect with Jupiter) she promotes loose, riotous, and expensive behaviour.[xvii] In her uncontrolled pursuit of pleasure, she courts scandal and ill fortune.[xviii] I interpret this to mean that in regards to my new career, I’m focused to my detriment on the material pleasures in life.
Similarly, Jupiter symbolises important aspects of the amimus, the archetype associated with the masculine. While the anima represents Eros, the passion for life and relationship, the animus represents Logos, the spirit in general and religious and philosophical ideas in particular. The animus gives capacity for reflection, deliberation, and self-knowledge (Jung, “The Collected Works” 16). Within the animus lies the civilized order of the Father and The King. Here too lies the image of the wise old man, the superior master and teacher who brings meaning to the world.
Astrologically, Jupiter, the King of the Gods, symbolises similar images: superiority, vision, and expansion and growth through philosophical and cultural aspirations (Tarnas 90). Although in horary astrology Jupiter is usually beneficial, a damaged Jupiter promotes carelessness; he causes strife (often of a religious nature) amongst his associates, wastes his inheritance, and does irreparable damage to his honour and dignity.[xix] I interpret this to mean that my current behaviour in regards to my new career is both wasteful and careless or worse.
When the anima and animus meet, there is necessarily tension as the animus draws his sword of power and the anima ejects her poison of illusion and seduction (Jung, “The Collected Works” pp 14-15). Jung believed when this happens, both animus and anima behave like systems split off from the personality, or ‘like part souls’. Such a split is well symbolised by the square aspect in my horary chart between Jupiter and Venus; in square aspect the two have no common ground. Although as archetypes, the animus and anima cannot be integrated, through our relationships their contents can be (Jung, “The Collected Works” pp 20-21). This suggests that relationship of some sort may provide a way forward.
My I Ching Hexagram 35, Chin or Progress expounds and expands on the same theme. Chin is comprised of two trigrams: Li (Fire/Clinging) resting on top of K’un (Earth). K’un represents the earth, the material world. K’un is also called the mother and corresponds with the belly. This is where all creatures are nourished. [xx] As Wilhelm points out these are signs of fertility and life, attributes Jung associated with the anima and with which I associate the earth-bound face of Venus.
Li (Fire/Clinging) is the image of the flame. For the Chinese, fire is not a substance but an event associated with clarity and light on an earthly plane.[xxi] Thus Li corresponds to the clarity and vision that’s associated with the animus and astrological Jupiter.
The overall image of Hexagram 35 or Chin is that of the sun (animus) rising over the earth (anima), spreading the pristine purity of its rays over the dark mists of earthly existence. The higher the sun rises the more it emerges from the dark mists of the material world. The judgement accompanying the Hexagram Chin emphasises that by nature the sun’s light is clear. Likewise, the real nature of man is good. But clouded by contact with earthly things, man’s nature requires purification before it can shine forth with its native clarity.
The Great Learning, Ta Hsüeh, picks up the same theme advising a man wishing to manifest his clear character, to first rectify his mind. This requires his will be sincere and that he extends his knowledge through investigation of things. Everything in one’s life must be regulated and put into good order. How could he expect that the branches of a tree would be in good order if the roots of the tree were is disorder. Deliberation and peaceful repose will allow one, like the sun in Hexagram 35, to rise above earthly complications.
Earthly complication is the purview of the anima, at least when she’s in her earth-bound whore aspect. Jung believed that in a woman, the anima is the prevailing archetype with the animus as the balancing factor through reflection and deliberation. Yet horary suggests that, in regards to my new career, the ability of my animus (Jupiter) to balance my anima (Venus) may be clouded or damaged by his association with her. In the context of a changing line, the I Ching further elucidates this problem.
Change is built into the I Ching. [xxii] Thus certain lines within a hexagram re-establish themselves as their opposites to offer specific guidance to a question. In my hexagram, the fourth line is changing thus its interpretation is crucial to the outcome of my situation. Although in general the hexagram Chin or Progress speaks of rapid easy progress, my changing line introduces a new image – that of a rodent who is by timing alone thrust into the light. The rodent is not up to the occasion.
Rodents hide by day and are active by night. In this hexagram the rodent, purely by being at the right place at the right time, is pulled from the dark into the light he would not otherwise seek.[xxiii] But the rodent cannot stand the light because he’s not in his proper place. Furthermore, if he continues on his path, he meets with danger. There’s the suggestion that like the skulking rodent, I too am not able to withstand the light.
I believe one manifestation of this is my single-minded focus on the moneymaking aspects of my new writing career. Such focus has clouded my judgement as to which direction my new career should take. While concentrating on what will ‘sell’, I’ve ignored what is worthwhile. By focusing on personal gain, I have failed to consider the bigger picture. Yet I am not the first person whose anima has corrupted her animus. So while the imagery of the imperilled light-phobic rodent warns I should not proceed on my present path, there must be another way forward.
The anima is not all bad. James Hillman notes the anima is the image of wholeness and in her belly she bears our individuation, the process of discovering one’s true inner nature. Through individuation, we integrate the disparate parts of ourselves. As noted earlier, Jung believed that although as archetypes, the animus and anima cannot be integrated, through our relationships their contents can be.
Thus relationship is my way forward. Not surprisingly, Hexagram 35 or Chin also suggests this. Wilhelm notes that the trigram K’un (Earth) is associated with fellowship and because no man can work alone, fellowship is the vehicle through which life is made complete. He also points out that an artist (in which category I would place authors) needs the community to complete his work of art; indeed he needs this more than most. In this regard it’s not so important with whom we form a fellowship, but instead that we use our work as an opportunity to serve, and our fellowship as an opportunity to understand the inner nature of man.
It is through the clarity and vision of the trigram Li (Fire/Clinging) that we obtain this understanding. It is from such clarity that we make a lasting impact on the world at large. This is accomplished through the application of our talents for a goal beyond that of personal gain. Wilhelm points out that in the meditative diagram of the eight trigrams, K’un follows Li; after all things are clarified, we are able to complete our life through fellowship.
In summary, I suggest the symbolism presented by the I Ching and horary astrology can be reconciled through their archetypal equivalents. This is shown by their similar responses to my question regarding the advisability of pursuing my new writing career. Both (1) the I Ching (through the image of the purifying rays of the Sun attempting to rise above the dark mists of the material world) and (2) horary astrology (through the square aspect between Venus and Jupiter) suggest that the primary stumbling block for my new career lies in the relationship between my anima and animus.
Specifically, the problem lies with (1) my anima’s continued desire to only achieve material pleasure (illustrated by a damaged Venus promoting loose and expensive behaviour, and a rodent that skulks in the dark) and (2) my animus’ inability to counterbalance this (illustrated by a damaged Jupiter who instead of providing wisdom and guidance promotes waste, and the innate clear and good nature of man thwarted by a mind that is not yet rectified by deliberation and repose).
For it is through a strong animus, Logos, the sword of power, that my anima, Eros and the passion for life is transformed from the earth-bound whore into her higher aspect, that of Sophia, the wisdom of the Divine (Hillman 53). When this occurs, I have the choice to apply my talents toward a goal focused beyond that of personal gain and thus make an enlightened and lasting impact on the community at large.
[i] For some inexplicable reason, I could not find the answer to my question in my astrological transits or progressions. While transiting Neptune trine natal Mercury suggested that creative writing would come easily during most of 2006-2008, there was no hint of whether or not it would be successful in the marketplace. Further, transiting Saturn conjunct natal Pluto in my 2nd house was pointing to my current financial woes, but what would happen when the transit ended?
[ii] Each of these systems developed within the context of the their respective cultures which are built upon very different philosophic foundations. Thus I’m not suggesting that either of the systems should or even could, be forced into a parallel correspondence with the other. However I do believe they share some common ground and it is upon commonality that I examine their results not their process.
[iii] See also Geoffrey Cornelius, The Moment of Astrology, Origins of Divination, (Bournemouth; The Wessex Astrologer, 2003). In Chapter five, Cornelius points out that although most astrologers base their art on principles similar to Jung’s 1930 position that ‘Whatever is born or done in this moment of time has the quality of this moment of time’, it is usually forgotten that Jung eventually retracted this statement because it was incompatible with the later development of his definition of synchronicity. Regardless, of the specific parameters by which Jung at last defined ‘synchronicity’, I believe that general assumptions underlying the workings of both the I Ching and western astrology are similar enough to allow a fruitful comparison. There is inherent danger in relying too heavily on specific definitions of anything. Often the more we attempt to ‘pin down’ our understanding of a thing through ever more limiting definitions, we loose the essence of the thing. For astrologers, this is not unlike operating solely in Virgo (distinction) at the expense of Pisces (the bigger picture). I suggest it is not productive to lose sight of the forest for the trees. If Jung’s thinking evolved throughout his investigation of the area, why should not our own?
See also Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche – Intimations of a New World View (New York: Viking, 2006) 50-87 for a discussion about synchronicity and the planetary archetypes.
[iv] Cornelius points out that although the orthodox classical position of astrologers is that of celestial causation (i.e. an Aristotelian influenced notion that the heavens influence or cause certain things to happen), a equally popular approach (Platonic in inspiration) is that of cosmic sympathy – the planets and their positions mirror events on earth in a more traditional occult understanding of the reflection of the microcosm in the macrocosm, and vice versa. (i.e. ‘as above, as below’). A similar position is taken as the foundation for the I Ching as expounded in the Ta Chuan – The Great Treatise where it is stated that The book of Changes takes as it’s foundation a relationship between the movements of the heavens and those that occur on earth. Further it notes that owing to the changes of the sun, moon, and stars, phenomena take for in the heavens and such phenomena obey definite laws that are bound up with the processes on earth (blossom and fruit, growth and decay). If we know the law of time and change, we can calculate our actions and thus gain some level of freedom.
[v] The mechanics of horary astrology is in large part based on writings by Ptolemy. In his classic treatise Tetrabiblos (upon which most of all our modern western astrology is based) Ptolemy sets out his understanding of the powers of the planets as either (1) ‘active’ (in the sense of heating and drying) or (2) ‘fertile’ (in the sense of humidifying and cooling). He determined that the active energy (hot and dry) was found in those things masculine, and that the fertile energy (moist and cold) was found in things feminine. Some planets, like Mercury, combine both. Based on these two primary natures, he goes on to classify the seven visible planets as either masculine or feminine, diurnal or nocturnal, and beneficent or maleficent.
Later astrologers such as William Lilly built upon Ptolemy’s basics and laid the foundation for horary astrology as we now understand it. During those period only seven planets were known (Moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, and the Sun). Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto had not yet been discovered.
[vi] I use the Wilhelm translation throughout the essay unless otherwise noted.
[vii] The first step in interpreting a horary chart is determining whether the chart itself is radical. In other words, does the chart appear to address both the querent and the question asked? I consider this chart radical because Venus (representing me) is the planet representing creativity and because Venus at 22 degrees Pisces which is conjunct my natal MC (26 Pisces) which has to do with my career and visibility in the world at large. Pisces also indicates my undecided nature (pulled in two directions) regarding my new career. Jupiter, which represents my new writing career, is in Sagittarius (expanding horizons and pioneering new territory) and the 9th house (representing written material to be read by a wide audience).
[viii] The recent aspect with Mars could indicate my inner turmoil over my situation as well as my anger regarding the rejection notices that operate to frustrate my hopes and wishes (the 11th house placement).
[ix] Applying aspects are those where the faster moving planet is still approaching (as opposed to moving away from) the slower moving planet. Applying aspects are taken to address events to come, while separating aspects may address events that have already passed. Traditionally, horary astrology does not give much consideration to events of the past. I find this odd, given our Western mentality of ‘causal’ relationships – if B results from A, then to project what B might entail, might it not be useful to understand what happened at A?
In this regard, the I Ching takes a different tact. In Shuo Kua (Eighth Wing), we learn that when the trigrams intermingle (i.e. they are in motion), a double movement is observable: the usual clockwise forward movement and a second backward movement. The later is a folding up or contraction of time through which the seeds of the future take form. An example is given that if we understand how a tree is contracted into a seed, we will understand the future unfolding of the seed into a tree.
[x] Some would even suggest a void of course moon invalidates my chart altogether. Others suggest it means I’m asking spurious questions or that matters have already manifested in such a way that there isn’t much I could do about them.
[xi] Because Pisces is on the ascendant and Venus is conjunct it, both Venus and Jupiter are alternate signifiers of me. I choose Venus instead of Jupiter because Jupiter also symbolizes my career (10th house) as well.
[xii] Jupiter is in Sagittarius, its sign of rulership and is placed in the 9th house that it also rules. Venus is in Pisces, it’s sign of exaltation. Both planets are placed in a congenial atmosphere where each operates well.
[xiii] In Tertrabiblos, Ptolemy uses a musical analogy to conclude that squares (quartiles) are disharmonious because they are composed of signs of opposite kinds.
[xiv] Even with no applying aspect, traditional horary astrology may still suggest a positive answer if other factors such as – for example – if Venus and Jupiter were in mutual reception. In my case, none of the traditional ‘other indicators’ were present.
[xv] See Jung (The Collected Works) p. 186 with reference to the ‘Venus of Brassempouy or Willendeorf, p. 28 with reference to Poliphilo and Queen Venus. See also p 82 that the notion of ‘mother’ is not incompatible with ancient concepts of Venus as the temptress and mistress of seduction, the witch or any devouring and entwining animal.
[xvi] Jung (The Collected Works) p. 35 points out that it took more than a thousand years of Christianity to make clear that the good is not always beautiful and the beautiful is not necessarily good. He suggests if we wish to know what happens when the anima appears in modern society we need look no further than the story of Helen of Troy.
[xvii] See Deborah Houdling’s adaptations of William Lilly’s Christian Astrology at <http://www.skyscript.co.uk/gl/benefics.html>.
[xviii] See Deborah Houdling’s adaptations of William Lilly’s Christian Astrology at <http://www.skyscript.co.uk/venus_att.html>.
[xix] See Deborah Houdling’s adaptations of William Lilly’s Christian Astrology at <http://www.skyscript.co.uk/jupiter_att.html>.
[xx] It is said of ‘K’un that “He causes them to serve one another in the sign of the Receptive”.
[xxi] It is said of Li that ‘He causes creatures to perceive one another in the sign of the Clinging (light).”
[xxii] The I Ching presumes that the world is in a constant state of flux even though it appears static. Thus change is built into the I Ching. Each line of a trigram is either unbroken (firm or yin) or broken (receptive or yang). According to Richard Wilhelm, renowned I Ching scholar, the secret of the I Ching is that as soon as something is established, its opposite (polar duality) is also created rather like electricity is generated from the two poles on a battery.
[xxiii] The fourth line of any hexagram correlates to the King (who having received his position from the heavens is equated with divine right) and should be strong. In my hexagram it is weak. But because my fourth line is in the trigram of the sun and it is a time of progress, such line joins with the prosperous time. Hence the imagery is that of a rodent that although usually living in the dark, is by timing alone, thrust into the light. Thus the commentary warns that in such times of progress, it is easy for strong men in the wrong places to amass great possessions. But such men are not equal to their position, leaving dubious procedures to be brought to light. Under such circumstances, perseverance always leads to danger.
Govinda, Lama Anagarika. The Inner Structure of the I Ching – The Book of Transformations. San Francisco: Wheelwright Press, 1981.
Hillman, James. Anima – An Anatomy of a Personified Notion. Woodstock: Spring Publications, 1985.
Jung, C.G. Foreward. The I Ching or Book of Changes. Trans. Richard Wilhelm. Trans. Cary F. Baynes. London: Penguin Books, 2003.
Jung, C.G. “On Synchronicity”. The Portable Jung. Ed. Joseph Campbell. New York: Penguin, 1980.
Jung, C.G. “The Archetypes and the Unconscious”. The Collected Works. 2nd ed. Trans. RFC Hull. London: Routledge, 1990.
Lilly, William. Christian Astrology. Adapted Deborah Houlding. Skyscript Astrology Pages. 23 May 2007 <http://www.skyscript.co.uk/index.html>.
Ptolemy, Claudius. Tetrabiblos. 17 May 2007 <http://www.pathguy.com/tetrabib.htm>.
Tarnas, Richard. Cosmos and Psyche – Intimations of a New World View. New York: Viking, 2006.
Wilhelm, Hellmut. Heaven, Earth, and Man in the Book of Changes – Seven Eronos Lectures. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1977.
Wilhelm, Richard, Trans. I Ching or Book of Changes. 3rd ed. Trans. Cary F. Baynes. London: Penguin, 2003.
Wilhelm, Richard. Lectures on the I Ching – Constancy and Change. Trans. Irene Eber. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980.
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