Author’s Note: This is the very first time I published any of the work I’ve been doing with the Astrological Archetypes. Since this article was published, the work has evolved considerably, and several of the Archetype names have changed. The most current approach to Archetypal Astrology and the planets is covered in the Online Natal Astrology Class, and of course in Archetypal Astrology: The Hero’s Journey. 

What is a birth chart? A birth chart is a map, and a map is a symbolic representation of something; it is at once a symbol and a collection of symbols that can help us to make sense of or navigate something much larger and infinitely more complex. While maps and symbols are essential tools, a map is not the terrain, and a symbol is not the thing—or things—that it represents.

It’s very helpful when studying astrology to reflect on the nature of symbols. Symbols have an inherent truth about them; in the most distilled and simplified manner they can capture and convey the true essence and nature of a thing.

As a map, the birth chart contains an infinite amount of information condensed into the purest and most elegant set of symbols. Making any practical use of the map, however, requires that we filter out most of the information and choose one or two planes of reality on which to operate. Two of the most popular planes are the psychological/personality plane (what does it mean that my Sun is in Capricorn?) and the predictive plane (what will happen when Pluto moves over my Sun in Capricorn?). The archetypal plane is yet another perspective from which we can view the birth chart.

Archetypes are powerful symbols that live in the human collective unconscious. They represent the essence and the quintessence of things: the purest and most distilled Truth. We recognize archetypal patterns whenever we encounter them in our lives; they allow us to define and categorize our experiences. Although we know the truth of an archetype, we are unable to adequately describe it. We cannot fully explain what the archetypal Feminine is, and yet we immediately recognize this archetype each time we experience it.

Exploring the map of the birth chart from the archetypal perspective requires that we shift and expand our understanding of reality. First, we must acknowledge the difference between the little “r” reality and the big “R” Reality. The big “R” Reality is the Truth that we are eternal, multi-dimensional beings who are currently having a Human Experience; we are each playing an immensely detailed fantasy/role playing game. This game that is so utterly convincing in every way, is what we experience as the (little “r”) reality. Each of our games, each of our stories, unique as they are, are built on the same premise. In order for us to believe the story, we must believe that we are the opposite of who we are and be utterly convinced that we are separate, finite, limited, individual beings.

The opportunity with archetypal astrology is to become aware that we are, in fact, playing a game, and we play games because they are fun. Working with archetypal astrology allows us to enter into our own, unique stories and discover the Joy, the Freedom and the Fun of living our own lives. As we learn how to interact with the planetary archetypes, we begin to let go of the little “s” story that keeps us small, and to embrace the big “S” Story, the epic journey, the mythology of our life, that calls us to our greatness.

In the course of the story we will encounter and experience the planetary archetypes in myriad forms. Each of the archetypes lives within us, and at times, we will relate to them from this perspective; at other times, we will encounter the archetypes as they embody other people in our lives, characters in our stories that help us in our own, personal, Hero’s journey; and at still other times, we ourselves will embody one or more of the archetypes to fulfill a task or accomplish an objective in our story.

In the paragraphs below, you will encounter each of the planetary archetypes. It is not possible, certainly not in so few words, to capture and dissect the essence of these archetypes. Archetypes, after all, are symbols in and of themselves. Rather, consider each of these descriptions to be a taste, an introduction; perhaps an open door, or merely a map that points to a door that may, at some point, be opened. In order to play the Human Game with skill, we must be in right relationship with these archetypes. They require respect, and reverence, and humility. The invitation is to use these brief descriptions to guide you on your own journey to encounter the planets within.

The Sun: The Hero

The Sun is the archetype of the Hero. The Hero is the most important archetype. Without the Hero, there is no story. Without the Hero, nothing happens. The One Story is always the same, it is the Hero’s journey. We assume that we are the Heroes of our stories, but this is rarely the case. Accepting the archetype of the Hero requires courage and conviction, strength and faith. The journey of the Hero is fraught with danger, and while many people hear the Call, few are willing to heed it. The first step on the Hero’s journey is the most difficult. It requires that we leave behind everything that we know. We must relinquish everything that is safe and comfortable and familiar, and step into the unknown completely undefended. The Hero will, through hard work and many trials, encounter teachers and allies, develop skills and uncover hidden treasures. But few are able to overcome the initial fear of taking the first step away from the small, safe lives and the small, safe story that we know.

The Sun is the Source of all life. The Sun is the Source of our power, and yet we are afraid to encounter it fully. If we look directly at the Sun, we will be blinded, we will be burned. The illusion of Moonlight is so much softer, so much safer. And yet so few of us wonder exactly what will be burned away if we embrace the Sun; for what the Sun burns away is nothing but the old story, the old life that kept us small. What is left, what cannot burn, is the Hero.

The Sun is what calls us to our greatness. The Sun is our potential, the Truth of who we are, the Truth of who we can be if we are willing to surrender the illusion of who we think we are. Are you willing to heed the Call? Are you ready to claim your greatness?

Are you the Hero of your own story?

The Sign where the Sun resides indicates how you want to be a Hero in your story. Contemplate the energy of your Sun Sign and discover the nature of your unique and individual call to greatness. 

The Moon: The Mirror

The Moon is the Archetype of the Mirror. The Moon reflects the light of the Sun, and like all reflections, it distorts and filters the essence of the Source, depicting a facet, a shadow, some single element of the original for deeper reflection. In a very real sense, our lives are a journey through an endless hall of mirrors. Everyone and everything we encounter is simply a reflection of our True Self. And yet, we wander, endlessly, looking for the one that is real.

What we seek as we wander through the endless hall or mirrors, is safety, security, and comfort. We long to make a connection with the reflections we encounter, but the connections we experience are themselves mere reflections, and while we cling to them hungrily, they are never truly enough to satisfy our needs.

The Moon is the dream of our lives. The Moon is what fills in the subtext and the emotion. The Moon is the source of our needs, especially our need for Safety and for nurturing. The Moon is where we long to return to the Source. The vast majority of us live through the Moon. We are asleep, dreaming, searching through a maze of mirrors for the fulfillment of our deepest longing, the longing to be whole. We see an infinite number of reflections, ever-changing, ever-moving, and we assume that we are looking outside of ourselves. In truth, we are only ever looking within.

Gaze into a mirror and notice your reflection. Which of you is you?

The Sign of the Moon indicates how we seek emotional connections and safety. It is how we want to be comforted, and how we seek to comfort others.

Mercury: The Storyteller

Mercury is the archetype of the Storyteller. We underestimate the power and importance of story. Our lives, our experiences are nothing but a story. We are immersed, engrossed and utterly transported by the story. The story seems utterly real to us. And yet no matter how true, how real the story appears, it is, underneath, merely a story. What we experience as real and as true is nothing but a collection of well-chosen words declaimed by an expert storyteller.

Story is what drives us. Story is what we live for. And yet, as important as story is to us, we seldom give any thought to the Storyteller. In order for there to be a story, there must be one outside of the story, one who tells the tale and lies the lies and transports us with words and images to far-away worlds. Mercury is the part of us that tells the story. Mercury is the part of us that narrates our lives. Mercury is the part of us that convinces us that everything that we experience is absolutely real, is absolutely true. And Mercury is the part of us that lies, and then convinces us that those lies are true.

None of what we perceive is real. Our entire world, our entire reality can be changed with a word, transformed with a single thought. We are so engrossed in our story that we utterly forget that we are at once the story and the Storyteller. If we do not like the way the story is unfolding, we are the ones who have the power to change it. Is your story an adventure? A comedy? A tragedy?

Enter into relationship with the Storyteller within. Remember the ultimate truth that things are as they are because you tell yourself that they are. As you change the words, you change the world.

Mercury’s Sign provides insight into the theme and style of your story. The energy of Mercury’s Sign filters how you perceive the world and determines the natural laws of the little “r” reality that you create for yourself.

Venus: The Beloved

Venus is the archetype of The Beloved. Wherever we love or appreciate, we find Venus. Venus is the archetype who determines our values. What are the things that are important to us? What are the qualities and experiences that we appreciate? What, in short, calls us to a greater experience and expression of Love in our lives?

It is important to understand the difference between Love and Desire. Desire involves an urge to possess, to conquer, to have and to consume. Desire is the province of Mars, not of Venus. Where Desire seeks to acquire its object, Love seeks to attract it. Venus does not need to exert any effort to attract the things that she loves and values. She simply magnetizes them to her.

In our practical experience, we rarely allow Venus to fully take over; Venus most often operates in concert with Mars. What Venus values, Mars sets off to conquer for her. And yet we would do well to understand that our values are the truest guide to our happiness. What we value are not things and possessions, but concepts and experiences. We may value Love, Peace, Beauty, Harmony, Balance, Joy or Creativity. And while Mars will happily set out in the world to acquire these things, in truth, these qualities can never be found outside ourselves.

The glyph for Venus resembles a hand mirror. And while the Moon is the archetype of The Mirror, Venus, the archetype of The Beloved, is perhaps the reflection in the mirror. The true Beloved is within each of us. All things that we value, all things that we love are within ourselves. And we must learn to look within in order to find them.

The Sign where Venus resides shapes your values. These are the qualities that you most admire. These are the ways that you prefer to express appreciation. And these are the things that you most admire and value about yourself and others.

Mars: The Warrior

Mars is the Archetype of The Warrior. The Warrior sees the world in black and white. The Warrior chooses an objective, and then follows the most direct path to reach that objective, overcoming any obstacles in the path with single-minded focus, and utter disregard for the consequences. All that matters is the objective. Mars, the Warrior, is the part of us that goes after the things that we want. What Mars lacks is perspective. Mars excels at achieving immediate objectives; however, Mars is not capable of long-term planning or strategizing, and as a rule, Mars relies on force rather than negotiation, cooperation or finesse.

Getting into right relationship with Mars involves honoring Mars for its strengths, and remembering that every Warrior needs a General to give it orders. For most of us, Mars is our ego, our small sense of self. Mastering the ego is getting into right relationship with Mars. Just as the small “s” self is subservient to the big “S” Self, Mars is subservient to the Sun, and The Warrior must learn to operate in service to The Hero.

How Mars goes about getting the things that it wants, and to some extent, how Mars chooses what it wants is determined by the Sign that Mars inhabits in your chart. Although the how is solely determined by Mars’ Sign, the what is also influenced by Venus’ Sign, because what it is that we want is always informed by what it is that we value and appreciate.

Jupiter: The Venturer

Jupiter is the Archetype of The Venturer. Traditionally, Jupiter is most associated with growth and expansion; but how is it that we expand in our lives? We expand through experience. Each time we venture into unfamiliar territory, each time we say “Yes” to an opportunity, we are augmented. Where we misunderstand Jupiter is when we assume that every experience The Venturer chooses will be pleasurable. Jupiter is traditionally associated with prosperity and good fortune, and when we are in right relationship with Jupiter, this is the net result of our experiences (although plotted on a graph, these experiences will include nearly as many lows as highs). What we fail to understand is that we do not always know what our Good looks like. Every experience, both the pleasurable and the unpleasant expands our awareness, and through contrast, helps us to hone our desires and uncover our true calling. Of course, this requires that we embody the Hero and that Jupiter operates in service to us.

The Venturer does not discriminate; it hungers for every possible experience. Without the guidance and oversight of the Sun, Jupiter can grow to an ever present, never satisfied hunger. We see the effects of being out of integrity with Jupiter in our culture today: the constant consumption, the unending drive to have more, to own more, to earn more, to be more, and the absolute inability to experience sufficiency, to be content with enough. When we are in right relationship with Jupiter, when we are following our Hero’s journey, each experience The Venturer encounters is nourishing and satisfying. The growth is sustainable, and the prosperity and fortune that we receive actually mean something to us.

The sign of Jupiter indicates both the ways in which we seek to expand and experience, and also the nature of the experiences that we are most drawn to pursue.

Saturn: The Judge

Saturn is the Archetype of The Judge. We initially encounter Saturn with fear and trepidation. Saturn limits us. Saturn says “No.” And it often feels that Saturn punishes us. In our naïveté, we rail against Saturn, protesting that life is unfair, that the rules—clearly stated and impartially enforced though they are—should not apply to us. We plead our case, arguing that we are special, we are entitled, we should be the exception to the rule, and Saturn is unmoved. We are required to suffer the consequences, and when we decline to accept responsibility for this, we are subject to additional judgment and further consequences.

As long as we engage in this relationship with Saturn, we give away our power to Saturn. Saturn manifests in our life as unfair, arbitrary authority figures who abuse the power we give them over us, and who allow us to continue to play the role of the Victim in our lives.

And yet, we are always at choice. We can choose to alter our relationship with Saturn, although few people have the courage to do this. Saturn simply waits for us to reclaim our power and accept the heavy burdens of personal responsibility for every one of our actions and our choices. And when we stand before Saturn, The Judge, humbled and respectful, devoid of excuses, awaiting the mercy of the court, we discover that the court is, in fact, merciful.

There will always be consequences, and we will always need to accept them; however, when we let go of the consciousness of the Victim, we can discover the gifts and the lessons in the consequences. We reclaim more and more of our power. And from this place of power, we discover that sometimes, Saturn says “Yes.”

Saturn’s Sign indicates how we give away our power to authority, and the ways in which we must learn to accept personal responsibility in our lives in order to reclaim that power.

©2008-2009 Kevin B. Burk, All Rights Reserved

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