So in my last post, I waxed on a bit about the avatars that we create for ourselves for use in wandering about through the world… That is, we each have what I’ll call here an “inner self” that exists no matter what we do — this is our true self, inescapable, made up of our honest likes, dislikes, skills, gifts, affinities, aversions, the collections of traits that are with us from birth and can’t ever be completely changed or ignored or successfully repressed, even if we or others should try to do so — and then we each have a more “outer self,” the sort of mask or costume of characteristics that we put on in order to deal with the Universe, which mask or costume is comprised not necessarily just of the traits that are intrinsic to us, but also of traits we want to adopt and display, even if we may not have been born with them in any great measure. The inner self is who we naturally are, and the outer self is kind of who we want to be, and who we want the world to see us as.
Here’s an example… Say you’re the weepy sort, prone to tears at the drop of a hat: “Oh, no!! That hat just got dropped! And now it’s…dirty! And it’s such a — *sob* — pretty hat…!!” Anything and everything makes you cry. You cry when you’re happy, you cry when you’re sad, you cry when you’re angry, or even just when the wind changes direction. This is part of who and what you are. This is part of your inner self.
But say you don’t want to be this way. You work hard for years to master your weepy impulses: you visit psych professionals and yogis, hypnotists and fakirs, and you study reams of written works on how to master your too-easy tears…until after a great deal of concerted effort, you begin to get your sobbing under control. In fact, to the outside observer, you become someone who appears to be utterly steely in the face of even strong emotional stimulation. You seem unshakeable, unflappable, the last dry eye in a house full of anguish (even though your tears never actually stop wanting to well up like a flood-tide of emotional outpouring on that same almost constant schedule, and this inner reality never goes away — you just become adept at squelching any outward showing of it, that’s all…). This non-weepy exterior, then, becomes a part of your outer self — the avatar that you present to the world on a daily basis.
And as it so happens, these concepts appear as very primary elements in Astrology. As you study your own birth chart, or the chart of someone else, the principles I just went over there up above will appear in those charts in the forms of the Sun (which represents what I was just calling your inner self) and the Ascendant (which captures the outer self).
[Quick tangent: a convincing case could be made for the notion that the “inner self” I’m talking about is actually represented in Astrology by the Sun and the Moon taken together — the Sun representing the active/Yang parts of our psyches, and the Moon standing for the more passive/reactive/Yin portions — but for purposes of this post, I feel I’m actually speaking more about the Sun: those traits that want to shine forth like noontime rays on a summer day, and that we then often try to mask, or filter through lenses more to our liking… But for the curious newcomer, the general astrologer would usually cite the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant as the “Primal Triad” or some such similar term, capturing those three elements together as the single most important drivers of one’s overall personality. Just clarifying!!…]
Anyway…so the birth chart above is one that somebody created for Carrie White, who is a fictional character dreamed up by horror-master Stephen King way, way back in his very first published novel, Carrie. The Sun in such a chart, like all of the astrological “Planets” (and the Sun and Moon are regarded as Planets in Astrology, even though no one would call them that outside of the astrological context) will virtually always be represented by a specific symbol: in the Sun’s case, that symbol is a circle with a dot right in its center. In Carrie’s chart, the Sun symbol has been rendered in a yellow color, and it can be found sort of floating in that area between where the ten and the eleven would be found on a clock. We don’t need to get too deep into interpreting and analyzing everything here, other than to note that the little blue symbol that looks like a capital letter “M,” with an extra leg crossed over the right-most of the regular three legs of that M, stands for the Sign of Virgo — in other words, Carrie’s Sun Sign is Virgo. If you met her at a party, and things hadn’t yet devolved into pigs’ blood and electrical storms and telekinetic death (see King’s novel, or a film version for more detail…), she might tell you, “I’m a Virgo.” Whenever people talk about “their Sign” or say, “I’m a (insert name of Sign here),” they’re talking about which Sign the Sun happened to be in when they were born. You have a Sun Sign, too, even if you don’t know it yet…
And then returning to Carrie’s chart, you can see that there’s a bold, horizontal line pointing to exactly where the nine would be on a clock, and right there, you’ll find a slightly different stylized capital “M,” this one with an extra leg pointed outward, instead of inward as Virgo’s does, and it’s capped with a little arrowhead — that horizontal line represents the “Ascendant,” or the eastern horizon at the moment of Carrie’s birth, and the little letter M means that when Carrie entered the world, the horizon was pointing at the patch of sky we know as the constellation, Scorpio. In astrological terms, Carrie has a Scorpio Ascendant, or she could say she has, or is, a “Scorpio Rising.” Lots of people refer to the Ascendant as a “Rising Sign.”
So Carrie has a Virgo Sun and a Scorpio Ascendant. If you were to drop in the traits most commonly ascribed to these Signs (and risk oversimplifying, but we do have to start somewhere…), you might then take all this to mean that at the true heart of herself, Carrie is quite naturally very detail-oriented and very inclined to be of service to others (very basic Virgo traits), but that she has a deep-rooted desire to approach the world and to be seen by it as someone who is very intense, passionate, and yet brimming with iron self-mastery (classic Scorpio characteristics). She is one thing (the Virgo stuff)…and then she has a self-created overlay of another thing (the Scorpio stuff) that she wraps herself up in before the eyes of the world — these are, again, her Sun/”inner self” and her Ascendant/”outer self,” respectively.
And we all have these things, these inner and outer selves, our Suns and our Ascendants. If you don’t know what yours are already, you can find a plethora of websites out there that will generate your entire birth chart for you, provided you know your city, date, and time of birth. If you don’t have the exact time, you can still get some good general information, but your Ascendant will be in doubt, as will the whole layer of information having to do with Houses (which is fodder for entire books, much less blog posts, so I won’t open that can of cool info here today…). But anyway, the point of all this is to say that Astrology can be seen as an incredibly complex tool for psychological evaluation and understanding of yourself and others. And even as things like the Sun and Moon and Ascendant represent parts of our fundamental selves, so do the rest of the Planets, and then the relationships that they have to each other in our birth charts is also a huge determinant of what we’ll be like as people in so many ways…it’s all fascinating stuff, and if you’re bent in such a way that this all appeals to you, then digging into Astrology can be kind of like falling into an endlessly deep rabbit-hole that goes not downward, but instead extends upward, forever onward into the glowing nighttime sky… It’s as deep as math, and as fractal as our reality, and I wanted to couch my previous post’s info in astrological terms on the chance that it might point some uninitiated eyes toward the field of Astrology… I’m still learning the realm myself, and I can’t imagine anyone’s ever “done” when it comes to grasping something so vast, but if I can spread the appreciation, I’m happy to do so!
So here’s to Rising and (Sun-)shining!