Carl Gustav Jung

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Astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity. - C.G. Jung

Carl Gustav Jung
Jung's natal chart[1]>

The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung (born on 26.7.1875 in Kesswil, Switzerland at 18.50 (Greenwich Mean Time[2], died on 6.6.1961 in Küsnacht) was not an astrologer by profession but he nevertheless had a significant influence on the development of psychological astrology. Jung valued astrology and integrated aspects of it into his work, unlike the other main founders of modern psychology.


A pupil of Sigmund Freud, Jung soon went beyond Freud's theory of the libido, which Freud considered to be the main driving force behind all human activity. In 1912 they went their separate ways and Jung developed his own psychological model, called analytical psychology.

Contributions to Psychology and Astrology

Jung considered the collective unconscious to be an important motivating force behind much of human behaviour. By this he meant that his patients often described dreams that drew upon the symbolism of myths even though their life experiences were very different. Influenced by Plato's theory of ideas or forms[3], he explained this commonality of mythic images as each individual inheriting a collection of archetypes and narratives that are not unique to him, but are shared by his culture. He proposed that these universal and timeless archetypes channel experiences and emotions, resulting in recognizable and typical patterns of behavior with certain probable outcomes. This led him to study mythology and the concepts of symbols as powerful forces in shaping human behaviour.

These ideas eventually introduced him to astrology and its heritage of symbolism, which he felt complemented and enriched depth-psychology. Jung claimed to observe a correlation between these archetypal images and the astrological themes or traditional 'gods' associated with the planets and signs of the zodiac. He concluded that the symbolic heavenly figures described by the constellations were originally inspired by projections of images created by the collective unconscious.[4][5] He wrote "Astrology represents the sum of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity".[6]

Jung was also struck by observing the simultaneity of very similar events that seemed more meaningful than mere coincidence. His concept of synchronicity was adopted by psychological astrologers to link planetary movements and human affairs. Synchronicity occurs both at the level of objective events, and also within the subjective mind making sense of events. Jung's statement that events that happen at a moment in time partake of the characteristics of that moment is an essential link between his analytical psychology and astrology.

On a more practical level, Jung was also interested in synastry, and believed that married couples showed high levels of sun, moon, and ascendant conjunctions in comparing inter-aspects. Further research convinced him that the chart reader's expectations and inner state influenced the interpretation, though.

Jung's influence on modern western astrology appears in the writings of Dane Rudhyar and Liz Greene. In Rudhyar's efforts to detach astrology from its traditional roots by linking it with contemporary philosophy and psychology, he drew extensively on Jung's work. Greene further developed the concept of archetypes in interpreting planets, signs, and houses. Many of Jung's personality descriptions, such as introvert and extrovert routinely appear in astrological delineations.

Astrological Contributions to Psychology

In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand.[7] - C.G. Jung

Jung's theory of the four basic personality types (thinking, feeling, sensing, intuiting) was presumably taken from the four elements and temperaments of traditional astrology (air/ sanguine, water/ phlegmatic, earth/ melancholic, and fire/ choleric.)

An often cited quotation from Jung is: Modern astrology is moving closer and closer towards psychology and can already be heard knocking at the gates of universities. However, the state of affairs at the beginning of the 21st century has not borne out his optimistic assessment.

See also



  • Franz, Marie-Luise von. 1964. Man and His Symbols. Doubleday. ISBN 84-493-0161-0
  • Greene, Liz. 1996. The Astrological Neptune and the Quest for Redemption, Samuel Weiser, Inc.
  • Howell, Alice O. 1987. Jungian Symbolism in Astrology: Letters from an Astrologer, The Theosophical Publishing House.
  • Howell, Alice O. 1990. Jungian Synchronicity in Astrological Signs and Ages: Letters from an Astrologer, The Theosophical Publishing House.
  • Hyde, Maggie. 1992. Jung and Astrology, Aquarian Press. Excerpt on "synchronicity" online (Skyscript)
  • Rudhyar, Dane. 1991. The Astrology of Personality, rev. ed., Aurora Press.
The Norse trickster god Loki - an archetype.[8]

Notes and References

  1. Rodden Rating C.
  2. Astrodatabank: Information by Gret Baumann-Jung.
  3. Richard Tarnas: The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View, Ballantine Books (1993) ISBN 0-345-36809-6
  4. Jung, C.G., The Structure and dynamics of the Psyche, Collected Works Vol.8, (Princeton University Press, NJ 1960) para. 325.
  5. Nicholas Campion, History of Western Astrology, (Continuum Books, London & New York, 2009) ISBN 978-1-84725-224-1, Comments on Jung pp. 251-259.
  6. Jung, Carl G., 'Richard Wilhelm: In Memoriam' in The Spirit of Man, Art and Literature, Collected Works, Vol.15 (translated R.F.C.Hull), Routledge, Kegan and Paul, London. (1971), p.56.
  7. Jung's letter to the French astrologer André Barbault in regards to astrology and psychology written in 1954 (the following are the questions asked by Mr. Barbault - and the answers as delivered by Jung): 1. What connections do you see between astrology and psychology? Jung: The connections between astrology and psychology. There are many instances of striking analogies between astrological constellations and psychological events or between the horoscope and the characterological disposition. It is even possible to predict to a certain extent the psychic effect of a transit. (he gives an example which is not noted) One may expect with a fair degree of probability thata given well-defined psychological situation will be accompanied by an analogous astrological configuration. Astrology, like the collective unconscious with which psychology is concerned, consists of symbolic configurations: the 'planets' are the gods, symbols of the powers of the unconscious. 2. In what way, physical, causal, or synchronous, do you think these connections can be established? Jung: The modus operandi of astrological constellations. It seems to me that it is primarily a question of that paralleleism or 'sympathy' which I call synchronicity, an acausal connection expressing relationships that cannot be formulated in terms of causality, such as precognition, premonition, psychokinesis (PK), and also what we call telepathy. Since causality is a statistical truth, there are exceptions of an acausal nature bordering on the category of synchronistic (not synchronus) events. They have to do with "qualitative time." 3. What is your attitude to the positions taken by astrologers who admit the existence of a psychlogical field from birth on, and by psychoanalysts who explain the aetiology of neuroses in terms of the earliest life experiences? Jung: The first experiences in life owe their specific (pathogenic) effect to environmental influences on the one hand, and on the other to the psychic predisposition, i.e., to heredity, which seems to be expressed in a recognizable way in the horoscope. The latter apparently corresponds to a definite moment in the colloquy of the gods, that is to say the psychic archetypes. 4. Astrology introduces the concept of qualitative time ('temps qualitatif) in the universe. Do you recognize its role in the individual psyche (problem of cycles and transits)? Jung: Qualitative time. This is a notion I used formerly but I have replaced it with the idea of synchronicity, which is analogous to sympathy or correspondentia, or to Leibniz's pre-established harmony. Time in itself consists of nothing. It is only a modus cogitandi that is used to express and formulate the flux of things and events, just as space is nothing but a way of describing the existence of a body. When nothing occurs in time and when there is no body in space, there is neither time or space. Time is always and exclusively 'qualified' by events as space is by the extension of bodies. But 'qualitative time' is a tautology and means nothing, whereas synchronicity (not synchronism) expresses the parallelism and analogy between events in so far as they are noncausal. In contrast, qualitivative time is an hypothesis that attempts to explain the parallelism of events in terms of causa et effectus. But since qualitative time is nothing but the flux of things, and is moreover just as much 'nothing' as space, this hypotheiss does not establish anything except the tautology; the flux of things and events is the cause of the flux of things, etc. Synchronicity does not admit causality in the analogy between terrestrial events and astrological constellations (except for the deflection of solar protons and their possible effect on terrestrial events), and denies it particularly in all cases of nonsensory perception (ESP), especially precognition, since it is inconceivable that one could observe the effect of a nonexistent cause, or a cause that does not yet exist. What astrology can establish are the analogous events, but not that either series is the cause or the effect of the other. (For instance, the same constellation may at one time signify a catastrophe and at other time, in the same case, a cold in the head.) Nevertheless, astrology is not an entirely simple matter. There is that deflection of solar protons caused on the one hand by the conjunctions, oppositions, and quartile aspects, and on the other hand by the trine and sextile, aspects, and their influence on the radio and and on many other things. I am not competent to judge how much importance should be attributed to this possible influence. In any case, astrology occupies a unique and special position among the intuitive methods, and in explaining it there is reason to be dubious of both a causal theory and the exclusive validity of the synchronistic hypothesis. 5. In the course of analytical treatment, have you observed typical phases of either resistance or progress which would conincide with certain astrological constellations, e.g., transits? Jung: I have observed many cases where a well-defined psycholocial phase, or an analogous event, was accompanied by a transit (particularly when Saturn and Uranus were affected). 6. What are your main criticisms of astrologers? Jung: My main criticisms of astrologers. If I were to venture an opinion in a domain with which I am only very superficially acquainted, I would say that the astrologer does not always consider his statements to be mere possibilities. The interpretation is sometimes too literal and not symbolic enough, also too personal. What the zodiac and the planets represent are not personal traits; they are impersonal and objective facts. Moreover, several 'layers of meaning' should be taken into account in interpreting the Houses. 7. What orientation of astrological thought do you consider desirable? Jung: Obviously astrology has much to offer psychology, but what the latter can offer its elder sister is less evident. So far as I can judge, it would seem to me advantageous for astrology to take the existence of psychology into account, above all the psychology of the personality and the unconscious. I am almost sure that something could be learnt from its symbolic method of interpretation; for that has to do with the interpretation of the archetypes (the gods) and their mutual relations, the common concern of both arts. The psychology of the unconscious is particularly concerned with archetypal symbolism.
  8. As depicted in an 18th-century Icelandic Manuscript.