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Mapping the Psyche

An Introduction to Psychological Astrology, by Clare Martin

Lesson Five: The Outer Planets

I want to look at the outer planets this evening. We need to approach them with caution, since they are of an altogether different order to the seven traditional planets and it is important that, as astrologers, we always keep this in mind. If Saturn describes our ego boundary, then these planets lie outside the orbit, or control, of the ego. What's your understanding of the ego? How would you define it?

Audience: The individual.

Clare: Yes, the ego can be described as the adapted part of ourselves with which we are identified, the part of ourselves which has learned how to function in the world. We are not born with an ego structure; it is something we develop. It gives us a sense of identity, personal control and relative autonomy, represented by the planet Saturn. Saturn is about being contained within a safe boundary, and a good strong ego structure keeps us safe. The outer planets are beyond the control of our ego and each, in its own way, threatens our ego boundaries and our sense of being in control.

Audience: Are you saying that, no matter what we do, the outer planets are beyond our control, no matter how hard we try? That we can control the planets out to Saturn but not the outer planets?

Clare: Yes, we can certainly try to control them, but it is not going to work because they are, by their nature, outside our personal control. For instance, we can all get to know and learn how to use our own Mars so that it serves us and, in that sense, it is brought under the control of the ego. Equally, once we understand the function of Jupiter in our own charts, what we have faith in and what gives us a sense of meaning, this can be harnessed and developed under our ego control. When it comes to the outer planets and to Chiron, however, we need to find a way not of controlling but of negotiating with them if they are to function positively in our lives. I hope this will become clearer as we develop these ideas further.

Uranus, Neptune and Pluto have always existed in the solar system, but their sequential discoveries in 1781, 1846 and 1930 reflect an extraordinary expansion of human awareness and a growing realisation that there are collective forces at work which subsume our small contained worlds of individual, family, community, society and country. Of course, this is nothing new, because unexpected and unexplained events and phenomena have always existed, but as long as Saturn formed the boundary of the old world, the principles now associated with these three planets were projected onto supernatural forces, both divine and diabolic, originating entirely beyond the human sphere. From an astrological perspective, however, whatever is discovered 'out there' in the solar system is also ready to be discovered 'in here' - within each human psyche. The discovery of the outer planets has dramatically expanded our collective awareness and our collective responsibilities, in ways which I think we are still struggling to understand and integrate. Nick Campion writes:

Perhaps in the Age of Aquarius we will recognise the presence of the Divine within us, rather than projecting it outward onto various superhuman gods and goddesses. Human beings will have to acknowledge themselves as the source of both good and evil, and of all the other possibilities on earth. Change depends upon individual free will, and the development of the individual capacity to make independent choices. The 'new age' will therefore come about not as a result of a preordained pattern but as a result of the ability of humanity to realise its full potential. [25]

One of the first clues to their astrological interpretation is the fact that the metals uranium, neptunium and plutonium, which were named after the three outer planets, are all highly toxic, poisonous, radioactive and naturally unstable. With the development of sub-atomic physics, their immense power and energy has already been harnessed in ways which profoundly affect us all. Now that this Pandora's box has been opened, we are faced with the increasingly urgent question of how to integrate these principles positively on a psychological level. If we identify with these collective forces, they have a habit of overwhelming our personal ego boundaries and functioning as autonomous forces. This can be immensely powerful and creative, to the extent that our lives are consciously devoted to serving the collective but, as Jung often pointed out, we need a strong enough ego structure to be able to contain this process. Does this make any sense to you?

Audience: But if we believe in the growth and evolution of consciousness, then surely they have very positive functions as well?

Clare: Yes, they also represent immensely positive developments which appear to describe a genuine evolution of consciousness. The secret seems to be for each of us to find the right relationship to the outer planets. If we allow ourselves to become their passive victims, or alternatively try to harness their influence for our own personal gain, then we are likely to become inflated and start to believe that we are omniscient (Uranus), omnipresent (Neptune) or omnipotent (Pluto), and that is too big for us, insofar as we are ordinary mortals. It is no coincidence that these three planets also rule mental breakdowns, insanity, self-delusion, messiah complexes, addiction to suffering and megalomania. We need an ego structure which is strong enough to 'suffer the gods', as Jung so beautifully expressed it. As you can see, I am on a mission when it comes to the outer planets! This is one of the main reasons why I prefer to use the traditional planetary rulerships of the signs - because they lie within the boundary of Saturn, which helps us to stay grounded and relatively safe in the face of these great forces.

Each of the outer planets describes particular types of mass movements which threaten to swallow up our individuality.

The change of character brought about by the uprush of collective forces is amazing. A gentle and reasonable being can be transformed into a maniac or a savage beast. One is always inclined to lay the blame on external circumstances, but nothing could explode in us if it had not been there. As a matter of fact, we are constantly living on the edge of a volcano, and there is, so far as we know, no way of protecting ourselves from a possible outburst that will destroy everybody within reach. It is certainly a good thing to preach reason and common sense, but what if you have a lunatic asylum for an audience or a crowd in a collective frenzy? There is not much difference between them because the madman and the mob are both moved by impersonal, overwhelming forces. [26]

The zodiac signs in which the outer planets fall will describe the specific evolutionary potential of the period into which we are born. Uranus takes about seven years to pass through one sign of the zodiac. Neptune takes about fourteen years, and the elliptical Pluto takes from fifteen to thirty years. Each succeeding generation faces new challenges which were not relevant to previous generations. Indeed, as each generation grapples with the particular themes described by the signs in which the outer planets fall, it seems that subsequent generations are able to take for granted any increased awareness achieved by previous generations. The table below indicates the signs occupied by the outer planets over the last hundred years or so.

Although the outer planets primarily describe collective, generational, themes, when they make aspects to the personal and social planets the individuals concerned will be personally affected by collective, ancestral and archetypal themes and will, during their lives, act as carriers of, or channels for, these planetary principles. And as we will see next term, they are also of personal significance according to the astrological houses in which they occur and when they fall on an angle in an individual's birth chart.





Average time in sign

7 Years

14 Years

20 Years


Apr 1927

*Nov 1927

Jan 1928



Sep 1934

*Oct 1934

Mar 1935



May 1942



June 1949

Jul 1901

*Dec 1901

May 1902

Sep 1912

*Oct 1912

Jul 1913

*Dec 1913

May 1914


Aug 1955

*Jan 1956

June 1956

Sep 1914

*Dec 1914

July 1915

*Mar 1916

May 1916

Oct 1937

*Nov 1937

Aug 1938

*Feb 1939

June 1939


Aug 1962

Sep 1928

*Feb 1929

July 1929

Oct 1956

*Jan 1957

Aug 1957

*Apr 1958

June 1958


Sep 1968

* May 1969

June 1969

Oct 1942

* Apr 1943

Aug 1943

Oct 1971

*Apr 1972

Jul 1972


Nov 1974

*May 1975

Sep 1975

Oct 1956

*June 1957

Aug 1957

Nov 1983

*May 1984

Aug 1984


Nov 1981

Nov 1970

Jan 1995

*Apr 1995

Nov 1995


Feb 1988

*May 1988

Dec 1988

Jan 1984

*June 1984

Nov 1984

Jan 2008

*June 2008

Nov 2008


Apr 1995

*June 1995

Jan 1996

Jan 1998

*Aug 1998

Nov 1998



Mar 2003

*Sep 2003

Dec 2003

April 2011

*Aug 011

Feb 2012



May 2010

*Aug 2010

Mar 2011


* Planet retrograde, moves back into previous sign

nach oben

The Book"Mapping the Psyche"

First published 2005 by the CPA Press, BCM Box 1815, London WC1N 3XX, United Kingdom, www.cpalondon.com.
Copyright ©2005 by Clare Martin.
More Information about the Book.

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