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Western Astrology Articles by Julene Packer-Louis

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The Planets as Archetypal Drives
by Julene Packer-Louis

Please remember that planets do not "cause" anything to happen, nor do they "make" us a certain way. They are a symbolic reflection of our personal expression of our various archetypal drives and needs. We have the free will to do with our planetary energy what we choose. When we use our planetary energies in a favorable way we experience a smoother life journey than we do when we are using the lower end of the planetary energy. Where there is chaos or strife in our life, it relates directly to something within that is in proportional disarray. Therefore Astrology is a tool to gain self-understanding, self-evolution, and internal alchemy.

The planetary placements of our natal horoscope (birth chart) are a map of the psyche showing how we operate and a map of the life journey for which we incarnated to embark upon. As we go through life we evolve on the physical level as we age, on the mental/psychological level as we learn and experience more, on the spiritual level as we find meaning behind what we are learning and experiencing. Since our birth charts are static and remain the same throughout our life, the planets take on broader meanings as we evolve along our life path. Therefore what your planets mean when you were 3 is quite different than what they mean when you are 30 because you have more experience to add to the meaning of the placement. You have learned things, resolved things and will encounter more things to learn and resolve. Each time the scope of life experience deepens and widens while remaining true to the life receiving energy you incarnated with in your first independent breath. That said, now onto the meaning of the planets as symbols for the manifestation of our archetypal drives and human needs.


The Sun in the horoscope represents your creative self expression. It is your ego consciousness, your individuality, and how you show yourself. Its placement represents how (sign) and where (house) you shine as an individual in your creative self-expression. The Sun is the life giving force of our solar system. Without the Sun life on Earth would die. Without its gravitational force, the planets would not revolve around it. Thus, everything revolves around the Sun placement in your chart. It is how and where you integrate the rest of the chart into your ego-consciousness and individuality. The Sun rules the heart where we integrate at the center of our being just as the Sun is the heart of the Solar System. Being that the only constant in the universe is change, the Sun represents who you are at any given moment. It is both who you are and who you are becoming. The Sun symbolizes your current point of development, who you were at birth and whom you are evolving into as you express yourself, discover your creative talents and shine as an individual. It relates to your current life-path and reason for incarnating and your self-discovery. Its glyph is a circle with a dot at the center indicative of the heart of integrated wholeness of the circle of spirit.


The Moon in the horoscope represents your inner nature. Where the Sun represents the present goals of self-evolvement, the Moon contains the seeds of the past. Its glyph is a crescent and it corresponds to the soul. Experiences from past incarnations, in the womb and in early childhood are held in the waters of the soulful emotional memory, which is not as ego-conscious as the Sun - thus the link to the past. What is retained in the emotional memory of the Soul acts as a filter to our emotional perceptions and feelings in life. As we evolve through life and place emotional memory on our experiences the scope of our Moon gains in depth and breadth. The Moon represents your feeling nature and the emotional bonds you make in life. It symbolizes your archetypal need for protection and nurturance. It also says a great deal about how you experience you mother, being she is the first emotional bond you experience in life, and the initial provider of nurturance. Notice I did not say it tells a lot about who your mother is, but rather how you experience your mother. Usually siblings have different Moon signs. Therefore they experience the same Mom differently. Check this out for yourself.


Mercury in the horoscope symbolizes the need to gather, assimilate, and disseminate information. Mercury is the mythological messenger of the Gods and therefore rules anything that gets the word out. It does not signify intelligence in the way that you cannot tell how "smart" one is by their Mercury placement, but its position does tell how you approach your intellectual needs and process information. Mercury acts on the mental level. Its glyph is a crescent (soul) atop a circle (spirit) atop a cross (matter). Therefore Mercury contains all three glyph components and mentally process life experience on all levels of existence. Mercury is our mental filter to the world, its sign indicates how we gather, process and share information of all kinds. Mercury embodies the though process and communication skills, the style of which is evident in its sign. It is the Mercury function that identifies and labels things, that contemplates, conceptualizes, reasons and creates language - the written and spoken word and even sign language. Its archetypal need is that of interactive communication.


Venus in the horoscope symbolizes our physical senses. In mythology Venus is the goddess of love and beauty. In Venus we find our approach to aesthetic pleasures of kinds - what we find beautiful, what physically feels good, what sounds and smells and tastes appeal to us. Venus also indicates our love nature in relationships, what we attract and what we are attracted to. It is also indicative of our physical attachments to material things. Venus is often depicted in ancient statutory with an apple in one hand and a mirror in the other. This is symbolic of the reveling in pleasurable fruits of our senses (the apple) and our self-worth (the mirror), which at the low-end extreme manifestation includes narcissism. The mirror also represents how we learn about our self through the eyes of the other, or from an objective point of view. Venus' glyph is a circle atop a cross, implying sprit and matter. This is indicative of our spirit acting upon physical earthy experience, as we revel in the physical pleasures of our senses. Venus' archetypal need is to experience pleasure and creature comforts.


Mars in the horoscope symbolizes our will to spur into autonomous action. Mars is known as the "angry red planet" in Mythology he was a war god. Therefore the sign of Mars shows the level of aggressiveness in which we go about asserting our driving force and how express anger. The archetypal need embodied by Mars is that of outward activation of the will. Its glyph is a circle with an arrow, the glyph also assigned to Male, where as the Venus glyph is assigned to Female. Venus is raw feminine energy and Mars is raw male energy. All of us have both Mars and Venus in our charts. The arrow of the glyph is a derivative of the cross symbolizing matter, with outward direction. Mars is a planet of action. It indicates how (by sign) and where (by house) we initiate autonomous action, driving force and the assertion of our will.


Jupiter in the horoscope indicates the expansion of life experience. It represents wisdom gained through experience and higher education. Jupiter expands everything it touches. It embodies our quest for our personal holy grail as we gain wisdom and seek Truth through exploring other cultures, philosophies, religions and beliefs. The archetypal need of Jupiter is to expand one's horizons - physically, mentally, and spiritually - as we search for meaning and Truth behind the experience. Its glyph is a sideways crescent with a cross on the lower left indicating it is open to scooping up on a soulful level the experience of matter. Jupiter embarks upon the spiritual quest, desires to explore new realms of experience and to understand foreign cultures, and seeks the Truth, which form our philosophies and beliefs.


Saturn in the horoscope indicates life's lessons and limits. Saturn is the last visible planet to the naked eye. Therefore to the ancient unaided eye, Saturn was the end, the limit, the boundary of the solar system. Where Jupiter is open and expansive, Saturn contains things within strict boundaries and imposes restrictions. Saturn is often called the "karmic task-maker". This is because Saturn embodies life's lessons through the school of hard knocks, setbacks, and obstacles in our path. If we never had to overcome obstacles, face restrictions or come to terms with our limits we would not grow. The sign Saturn occupies indicates both the type of energy through which our obstacles come and the way in which we overcome them. The house Saturn is in indicates where we encounter rules or authority figures that impose limits upon us and where we most often feel blocked or restricted. Saturn also represents our disciplinary parent and the parental programs we play in our heads. It indicates society's morals and standards to which we must abide and the work we are here to do on the soul and physical level. Saturn's glyph is a cross atop a sideways crescent. The sideways crescent below the cross indicates soul level experience brought into this life to be worked out through the encounter with physical matter symbolized by the cross. Also the ancients regarded Saturn as a laden planet (meaning lead weight). This has turned out not to be true as Saturn is less dense than water, making him the lightest planet there is, capable of floating in water. Rather than making the ancients wrong, this beautifully explains better why Saturn is the karmic task-maker and alludes to the ancient alchemists who tried to turn lead into gold. While the ancients saw Saturn as lead, the heavy material that keeps us incarnated to work out or karma, this karmic weight can be overcome as we steadfastly endure our karmic tasks, learn what the karmic teacher is teaching us through the imposition of restrictions, limits and road blocks. Therefore become less dense on the soul level as we turning our lead into gold via the internal process of alchemy.


Uranus' discovery turned the world upside-down. The known limit of the solar system was no longer the limit. There was more out there beyond the boundary of what the unaided eye could see. Boundaries of our universe as we know it were shaken and destabilized, and we had to re-think a lot of things. The dawning of innovation and scientific invention began. Uranus in the horoscope relates to how (sign) and where (house) we tend to buck authority or established systems, where we challenge boundaries and the status quo. It is the embodiment of the element of surprise, our rebellious tendencies, our technological advancement, innovativeness, eccentricity, our ability to shock, to suddenly change and upset the apple cart. Uranus' archetypal need is that of innovation and it has no problem suddenly shocking us into the awareness that a change is needed. The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) resonate at a higher octave and are trans-personal in nature. Uranus is said to be the higher octave of Mercury, and relates to inspirational flashes of insight that are not conceptualized like Mercury, but rather seem to come at lightening speed from "somewhere out there" and that somewhere out there is likely the collective conscious. The placement of Uranus shows how you receive your flashes of inspiration and where your eccentricity or innovative or rebellious tendencies are most readily accessed.


Neptune symbolizes illusions, the dissolution of boundaries, and is concerned with the spiritual meaning behind the veil of reality's illusions. Neptune's placement in your chart shows where you don rose-colored glasses and invent your own illusions, seeing things how you want them to be rather than how they are. Neptune is the higher octave of Venus, in that these rose colored glasses provide the artistic vision of ultimate, transcendental beauty, and move your spirit and evoke feeling even, if not especially, when abstract. Neptune's placement shows where you put no boundaries around yourself, how you approach your spiritual aspirations and seek transcendence beyond material reality. Neptune is also how and where we seek redemption, and play the victim, savior or martyr. It embodies unconditional love, trans-personal servitude to a collective oneness where we act selflessly and dissolve the personal confines of the ego's illusions. It is through Neptune that we realize we are all a spiritual expression of a multi-faceted One that is the creator, where we realize we are not our mind nor our physical body, which is just the physical vehicle a pulse of Spirit moves through, and that It moves through all beings and things and is the underlying permeable thread that holds us all together as part of a cosmic plan of spiritual development on a trans-personal level. The archetypal drives of Neptune are to dissolve the boundaries of the ego and illusions placed upon our minds by the confines of physical reality and meet the God within, the all encompassing force that behind the veil of physical manifestation.


Pluto symbolizes the underworld of Hades. Pluto embodies our shadow issues, the facets of our self we keep hidden in the closet. Pluto also signifies the detective in us that wants to get to the bottom of things that is willing to go to the depths no matter what we have to face or slay to get there. Pluto is therefore the planet of transformation. It is both our shadow issues and the psychological drive to face our shadow and bring it to the light where it can be transformed. Pluto is also about getting in touch with your personal power, destructive and regenerative tendencies. Pluto in your chart shows how and where you experience power struggles, have shadow issues, face your own destructive tendencies or the demon within, and are capable of transformation and regeneration. Pluto is the trans-personal higher octave of Mars. Pluto's discovery coincided with Einstein's splitting of the atom that unleashed our nuclear capabilities and provided us with the power to destroy ourselves on a global level. Pluto's archetypal need is to unearth that which is hidden in the shadows and to tap the power of transformation, which includes both the destruction and re-birth from the ashes. It is death on a literal and metaphorical level, where it can be death of a situation for the re-birth of a new one, regenerated from the ashes of that which was destroyed. The placement of Pluto shows where we most often experience metaphorical deaths and re-births throughout our life. It indicates our transformational potential and our ability to delve to the depths of the shadows of our own psyche.

© Julene Packer-Louis, 2003