Friday, October 08, 2010
Jung's Psychological Types and the Astrological Elements
Jung’s functions correspond to the elements in astrology: Fire-Intuition; Earth-Sensation; Air-Thinking; and Water-Feeling. But you can’t just read off the psychological type from the birth chart. I know someone with Sun conjunct Saturn in Capricorn who is weak on Sensation, which isn’t what you’d expect. And I know someone else with Sun conjunct Saturn in Capricorn who is over-identified with his Sensation function. In both cases you could read it as Saturn, inhibiting in the first case, and making the person over-identified with material things in the second. So we know that Earth/Sensation is important from the Sun-Sat-Cap, but Saturn also tells us that there is likely to be an issue there.
Fire is Intuition because it has a vision, it can see what is possible, it knows what is possible beyond what the senses are telling us. The other elements are more obvious.
So we begin with Aries, the vision of something new, with birth, with a sense of ‘me’. Then with Taurus we have a sense of the material world we have landed in and a sense of ‘mine’, ‘my body’. Then with the Air function of Gemini we are able to separate ourselves out, to get a sense of ‘me’ as discrete from what is other. With Cancer, we develop a feeling relationship, a sense of belonging with others around us.
In recognising our own uniqueness and putting it ‘out there’ we come up against other people, and we recognise that like us, they have their own individuality. This is a standing back and looking quality, an Air quality, and it is about relating, so it is Libra. We have moved from self development and self expression to realising that there are others out there to be taken into account. And we engage with them, we get to know them, we get a feel for them – watery Scorpio.
Then there is the final round of the elements, as we move from Sagittarius/9th House to Pisces/12th House. Again, the spark happens with Fire, the move into something essentially new. This time, out of firstly the fullness of self-knowledge (Cancer) and then knowledge of others (Scorpio) there is a push towards more universal knowledge, towards understanding our place in the wider scheme of things; and also the beginnings of a desire to give back what we have learnt, to contribute to the wider society. This spark is Sagittarius/9th House. And then we take our place in that wider society (Capricorn/Earth).
Going back to Jung and his psychic functions, what we see in the astrological elements is a process of Intuition (Fire), Sensation (Earth), Thinking (Air) then Feeling (Water). But Jung also made a distinction between perceptive and evaluative functions. So this suggests that the first 2 elements in each cycle of development, Fire and Earth, are sort of givens, they come to us, we perceive them – the vision (fire) and its possible relationship to the world around us (earth); whereas the second 2 elements are evaluative – through thought (air) and feeling (water) we then weigh up and process what life has put our way. And I think life is often like this. It sort of moves on of its own accord, new situations and possibilities present themselves, but then we have to work it through, we have to work out whether to go there and what the consequences are likely to be, and we also judge it on a feeling and ethical level.
I don’t think Jung intended his functions to be used this way, but in creating them he was clearly giving a new twist on the ancient idea of the elements. Returning to my starting point, I think both Jung’s types and astrology can give us a more sympathetic, genuinely understanding view of people. You can see what appear to you as people’s faults more as a natural consequence of the way those people are constructed; and you can also see the inherent strengths of that construction, that can be obscured by the judgements that we, and society, are liable to make.