Astrology : the universal blueprint of the human experience

Photo : Lucas Pezeta (via Pexels)

“The pioneering psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961), who made a serious study of alchemy and mythology, thought that astrology and its symbols were an integral part of humanity’s collective unconscious — that part of the human psyche that contains the archetypes, the universal blueprints of human experience”. — Clare Gibson, The Complete book of Birthdays

Astrology is a field of study that’s been around for a very long time. It is the study of the movements and the relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. Whether we are aware of it or not, astrology influences our daily lives and affects our interactions on a regular basis. For example, you can find astrology in every planner, in traditional religions and on tv shows.

Astrology in your daily planner

Photo : Plush Design Studio (via Pexels)

The concept of time is based on astrology. We measure time from the planetary bodies in the sky. The time of the day depends on our position on planet earth relative to the position of the sun, from our point of view. The day of the year depends on the position of our planet relative to the sun. Time as we know it solely exists as a way to measure our position. If we take ourselves out of earth, time as we know it, is irrelevant. Furthermore, each day of the week are named after planets in our solar system. Whenever you’re referring to a day of the week, it has its origin in the name of a particular planet :

  • Monday comes from the old English word Mōnandæg and the Latin word “diēs lūnae” which means ‘day of the moon’. In French Lundi also retained part of the word “day” as “di” and “lun” from “lune” which means moon.
  • Tuesday comes from the old English word Tīwesdæg and the Latin word “diēs martis” which means Mars day. Tīwesdæg means ‘day of Tiw’, a Germanic god of war and the sky. He is equated to the Roman god Mars which is the god of war. The French word for Tuesday is Mardi.
  • Wednesday comes from the old English word Wōdnesdæg which means ‘day of Odin’. Odin is the equivalent to the Roman God Mercury. The Latin word for Wednesday is “diēs mercurī” which means is Mercury day. The French word for Wednesday is Mercredi.
  • Thursday comes from the old English word Thu(n)resdæg or ‘day of thunder’, named after Thor, the god of thunder. Thor is associated with Jupiter. The Latin word for Thursday is “diēs iovis” which means Jupiter day. The word for Thursday in French is Jeudi.
  • Friday comes from the old English word Frīgedæg ‘day of Frigga’ and from the latin word “diēs veneris” which means day of Venus. Frigga is equated to the goddess of love, Venus. The word for Friday in French is Vendredi
  • Saturday comes from the old English word Sætern(es)dæg and the Latin word “diēs saturnī” which means ‘day of Saturn’. Samedi in the French translation for Saturday.
  • Sunday comes from the old English word Sunnandæg and from the latin word and “diēs solis” which means ‘day of the sun’. Dimanche in French, stands for the ‘day of the lord’. It isn’t far fetch to equate the sun with god since in many ancient civilizations believed the sun was a representation of god.

In a sense, we use astrology every day simply by referring to a the day of the week. And I wonder if there could be more to it. For example, is it just a coincidence that Mondays tend to be the most emotional day of the week for a lot of people? As a collective, we all have felt or seen someone have the “case of the Mondays”. Monday is ruled by the moon which in astrology governs emotions.

Astrology in traditional religions

Portion of Sala dei Pontefici’s ceiling in Vatican. Photo : Wikipedia Commons

“Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea (the modern city of Qisarya in Israel), chronicled the Jewish belief that Abraham was the father of the zodiac, and that each of the twelve tribes of Israel (named for the twelve patriarchs, the sons of Jacob) was associated symbolically with a sign of the zodiac.*” You can even find astrological artwork in ancient synagogue like the zodiac wheel in a 6th-century synagogue in Beth Alpha, Israel.

Similarly, there is a belief that in Christianity, Jesus and the 12 apostles are also representation of the zodiac with Jesus being the sun, and each of the apostles representing the various signs of the zodiac. Even the fish symbol is a representation of the age of Pisces. When you take the time to look at some of the artwork in religious establishments such as the ceiling of the Sala dei Pontefici in Vatican (shown above), you can clearly see the zodiac signs painted on the ceiling.

The movement of planetary bodies even affects religious holidays like Easter. Ever wonder why Easter falls on a different day every year? It’s because the date is chosen as the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox : A perfect example of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs. And there are plenty of other instances where the stories being told in religious texts corresponds to what is happening in the sky.

Astrology in Television series

Illustration : Marie-Judith Jean-Louis

Astrology is also used in modern storytelling and I suspect it’s what gives popular shows more depth. It could be that using astrology makes the characters more relatable because of what Carl Jung calls the archetypes in humanity’s collective unconscious. I first became aware of that possibility when I watched the show Scandal last year for the first time. I was hooked and really connected with the main character, Olivia Pope, because of the way she was making decisions and reacting to various situations. As I watched more episodes, it dawned on me that she was the perfect representation of a Libra. In fact, it seemed that each of the characters were perfect depictions of a specific zodiac sign and their stories seemed to be heavily based on the archetypes of their assigned zodiac signs. Based on my observations as an astrology enthusiast, I would venture to say that :

  • Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington was a Libra. She was very rational and great with words which is a typical trait of an air sign. As representative of Lady Justice, her daily life was all about justice at all cost.
  • Fitzgerald Grant, played by Tony Goldwyn was a Leo. He was very passionate, typical of a fire sign and at the centre of most of the character’s lives and thriving best when validated and supported by people close to him.
  • Jake Ballard, played by Scott Foley was a Scorpio. He was very emotional in his decision making, very fitting for a water sign. He was also very secretive, intuitively aware of other people’s behaviour and operating mostly underground in the dark.

Where do you see astrology influencing your own daily life? Are you even aware of how the planets affect you? Although I’m just starting to look into how astrology can help me better understand myself and others, there is a lot more to astrology than the daily “predictions”. I don’t believe in astrological predictions but I can see value in understanding patterns and influences from our environment, our history and our collective unconscious.

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References

* Clare Gibson, The Complete book of Birthdays

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Toronto-based artist. Professional dreamer. www.mariejudith.com

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Marie-Judith Jean-Louis

Marie-Judith Jean-Louis

Toronto-based artist. Professional dreamer. www.mariejudith.com

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