It’s only natural to assume that the world is as we see it and that people are as we imagine them to be. But the reality is a bit more complicated than that and part of the reason is because of the psychological phenomena known as ‘projection’.
According to psychology folks, projection is an automatic process whereby the contents of your own unconscious are perceived to be in others. According to astrology folks, projection is down to a particular planet (or group of planets) in one’s natal chart that is, in effect, disowned and attributed to others. According to counsellors and coaches, perception is projection and vice versa because it is only then we can become conscious of our projections that we can deal with them and implement desired change.
For example, if I’m angry at someone but because of variety of reasons I can’t express it, I might ‘project’ my anger (or astrological Mars) onto that other person and then be surprised that I’m a victim of his or her aggression. Once I understand what is happening, I can work with my coach or counsellor to stop blaming others for my own anger and find a better, more profitable way of expressing it.
Being able to hone in quickly on to people’s most likely projections will benefit (among others) psychologists, therapists, counsellors, and coaches.
Typical places in the natal chart to look for potential planets or energies ripe for projection are as follows:
- 7th house – because these planets are the furthest away from your essential self (i.e. 1st house) they are often ripe for projection – for example, consider the client with Venus in the 7th. Because Venus = values, it’s not unexpected to hear her say that she leaves decisions to her husband because she doesn’t really know what she wants.
- 10th house – this is a perfect place for projections onto role models and authorities both good and bad. If, for example, your Pluto is in your 10th house and you do NOT see yourself as being particularly ambitious, it would not be unexpected to hear you talk about having experience relationships with bosses, teachers, or even public officials (authority figures) with whom you always lose.
- 4th house –this is the place you’re more likely to project onto family – past, present, and future. For example, one client with her Moon conjunct Saturn in Virgo in the 4th has always found her mother to be bitter and critical. It wasn’t until she had a daughter of her own that she began to realize that she could be as bitter and critical as had been her mother and this was not a welcome realization.
- 9th house – in this house your look for faith and meaning as well as your own ‘highest good’. If Pluto is in your 9th, you might believe that teachers and professors and priests care nothing about anyone but themselves. By contrast, if your Sun is in the 9th, you might find the perfect guru – one who seems to be everything you’d like to be and more.
- 6th house – this house is associated with servants, employees, animals and other ‘inferiors’ and so planets in the 6th house may well become part of a power dynamic making us behave in cruel ways to those considered inferior to ourselves (in status). We might also project onto ‘inferior’ parts of ourselves. For example, consider the client with a strong Mars in 6th house – a Mars that she seems reluctant to use for her own benefit. It’s little wonder that she finds herself the proverbial whipping boy of for her employers.
Although these are some typical candidates for projection, we can project anything that doesn’t feel comfortable with the rest of our charts and/or which we have been forbidden to do (i.e. like display anger).
The telltale signs of projections include strong and often uncomfortable (or fearful) reactions to someone or something – an extra emotional charge that is out of keeping with our usual proclivities. Such reactions may have a luminous – amorphous quality – i.e they don’t make sense – rather like ‘falling in love’ (which is apparently, itself, a projection).
As counselors and coaches, we should resist the temptation to jump in and ‘make it all better’ for the client. Likewise, don’t rush to name or explain. Let clients sit with their the results of their projections with it for a while – because it is through them that they’ll find lost parts of themselves.