The influence of psychology in natal Astrology is seen by most as a helpful process. Astrologers can delineate specific aspects in natal charts and then align them to psychological descriptions. In other words a symbolic and archetypal meaning of a planet will relate to different psychological understandings of personality.
In modern astrology for example, Neptune represents receptivity, impressionability, compassion, sensitivity, fanciful notions, misrepresentation, mysticism, clairvoyance and a dreamy unrealistic nature.
Psychology might allocate Neptune’s “thinking, feelings and behaviours” as Dissociation, Schizoid personality, confusion, idealization, hypersensitivity, depression or derealization.
Neptune is also attributed to alcoholism, drug taking, co dependence and even Psychiatry in Astrology, however these particular descriptions relate to Neptunian experiences or behaviours and not to intrapsychic personality structure. The psychological term of “Structure and Function” is much more defined in psychology than in Astrology but still somewhat confusing.
Structure in mechanical engineering is the nature of the engines workings, how the pieces fit together and move against each other. Function is how the engine translates it power output and the different uses it can or can’t potentially do.
In psychoanalytical fields of psychology the main focus is on the subconscious elements. The introjections and projections, the dreams and phantasy’s developed within the psyche. Usually in psychoanalytical psychology, the parts of the patient’s personality will be analyzed by the therapist so that the patient can be left alone to visualise and bring subconscious material into awareness. Object Relations is slightly different and places more emphasis on the unconscious parts of personality, and the “blind spots” emerging within a dynamic therapeutic relationship.
In Social Psychiatry and Cognitive Behavioural Therapies, the focus is on how a person thinks, communicates and behaves in relation to his or her environments. Structural elements of personality are important to diagnosing and treatment planning where as the Functional elements of personality are phenomenological and are literally seen in body language or “heard” through social interactions with others.
I once attempted to align Astrology with Transactional Analysis concepts however there are too many variables and I got a big headache. Transactional Analysis’ basic theory and model involves three circles stacked on top of each other and which describe Parent-Adult-Child Ego structure. Functional diagrams however explain parts of personality via “a living voice” interacting with other personalities. These functional parts are either a Critical Parent, Adult, Free child, Conforming Child or Rebellious Child egostates. Trying to associate these “working parts of personality” to various planets, involves many combinations or mixtures of planets. One would agree though, that the planet Saturn fits with the Critical Parent egostate.
Structure points to an internal process of personality where the parts are working differently to each other. Remembering that some parts of personality may be split off, repressed or engaging adversely with each other. Structural pathology describes the workings of personality and is a basis to forming diagnoses. In the same way the Astrologer determines how each planet has certain strengths and deficiencies within the natal chart.
Function reveals the nature of the above internal process by way of thinking, feeling and behaviours in social interactions. The way one might conform or rebel, or be authoritative or even a victim in life. Body language can also show the nature of ones personality. These are all Functions of personality.
The complexity of Astrology and all its aspects, signs and houses can interpret and describe by following both Structure and Function components. Astrology readings can simulate both Psychoanalytical and Cognitive Psychology techniques through creative visualisation and awareness techniques.
Here is a look at some Planetary Function and Structure
Sun and Moon
Structure: Our internal parental ‘objects’ the introjected parts of our parents personality to our own personality framework. “The Parents voice in our heads”. Our ego desire and early needs (vulnerabilities). Our sense of identity and emotions past and present.
Function; The way we express nurturing qualities or compensate to get our needs fulfilled. The outward projection of identity, to be seen as someone – externalising our notion of self in unique ways so that others can also identify with. Here and now, phenomenological thoughts and feelings expressed outwardly.
Mercury is the shinbone connected to the knee bone connected to the mind bone. Neurological pathways in biological structures and the internal thought process between parts of personality (the dyadic psyche). The thinking which connects to all other planetary operations. The conduit allowing defaults to certain beliefs about self and the connection to external experiences. Mercury travels to all parts of the brain but needs a little help in the reptilian brain.
Function: Mercury is the trickster, the ‘yes man’ and liar. He is the scientific mind with all the facts but less nurturing ability. Mercury is both feminine and masculine and she can gossip like he can be superfluous with words or visa versa. Mercury is the way we drive to work or chat on the Internet. Mercury writes in the fashion that our brain structure allows, he is the dispatch clerk of our thoughts and cognitive combobulator. Mercury is heavily influenced by the other planets to discuss or hide certain parts of personality.
Structure; represents the generic anima in personality. Estrogen! Venus represents our sibling objects in the psyche and the better aspects of early nurturing experiences (Object Constancy, Mahler). Venus can show attachment styles in the scheme of personality development, our own “self-love object”.
Function; is the maintaining of our attachments in our social environment. Our ability to nurture, be pleasing , being perfect, or loving more. In some way Venus will perform to make relationships secure. The expression of love and beauty through art and fashion by simply making self attractive to others. Venus is the loving partner and projection of our attachment styles.
Mars is Animus and the instinctive animal urge to protect and survive by responding to fear. Testosterone! Mars may represent Freud’s pychosexual developmental theories where the primary motivational process is to “ego evolve” into procreative beings. Mars represents the trigger to stimulus response or regulation depending on his connection to ther planets. Mars is a device in personality structure that prefers to work but can be repressed too!
Function; To conform by ‘doing’ the opposite (rebellion), to defend or attack, emotional reactivity. To compete with others and conquer any fear of dissolution. To assert and express some independent notion of self, to withdraw or act and “do”. Mars has many functions in personality because of his vibrant and intensive nature. Mars can be dangerous by risk taking and is courage, anger and force.
Jupiter is naturally the benevolent object in personality keeping one buoyant in some way. Dopamines and blood. Structurally, Jupiter is an impartial and helpful object. Its our inner thirst for “knowing”, a guide and self-counsellor. Our potential to judge and formulate opinions and to “believe” esoterically. Jupiter is our capacity for yearning and exploration. Jupiter is perhaps the product of our early decisions in life via experiences and thus, develops overarching belief systems along with Mercury. Belief systems can be positive or negative and Jupiter performs in ways to protect the psyche and benefits our paradigms to existence.
Function; Jupiter trusts believes, hopes and maintains expectations. He over estimates and his exaggerations can mean embarrassment when combined with other planets. Jupiter likes to over do and preach about beliefs or other kinds of knowledge. Righteousness is perhaps knowing one is always right and looking for recognition for ones knowledge. The Teacher function of personality or even optimist, misguided bigot and hedonist.
Saturn Saturn is the bones and backbone of “Structural Psychology” itself. Saturn is the introjected Father or authoritative object. Saturn is our conscience and boundary to anything beyond ones values. It is the generational or traditional scripting in personality. Saturn is a binding of lessons through experience and ones values to the father. Depression and guilt manifest in structural pathology according to Saturn’s emphasis. Saturn is fear itself however also protective when a firm sense of reality is required against unbound energy.
Born To Work (Saturn in the Child)
Function; Saturn is the kind of work hard ethic which generates out of fear and responsibility. Saturn is the bossy and older voice, prejudiced in some cases but always internal and external critic. Demanding dignity and respect or giving that, Saturn is the framework for the expression of all the virtues. Saturn is patient behaviour, and persistence and standing firm in tough times.
Different modalities of psychology differentiate between structure and function to achieve greater understanding of personality in the process of diagnosis and treatment. The same can apply for Astrology and perhaps would also benefit by knowing, when delineating Natal Astrology charts?