What Is Psychological Astrology? 5 Ways You Can Use It In Your Everyday Life
Psychological astrology brings psychology and astrology together along their unifying thread: understanding our potentials and challenges and moving, through self-knowledge and practice, through obstacles and into a more joyful and fulfilled life.
Psychological astrology dictates that every person arrives on this planet with specific proclivities, strengths, and liabilities. It's a way of understanding what our "life school" is this time around: where we're meant to explore and grow, and where we are naturally strongest. An understanding of our own birth charts supports us to live into the complete fullness of our unique selves and to better understand and appreciate the uniqueness and potential of others.
The psychological part looks at how through our "nurturing," we have developed certain patterns, defenses, and strengths and how to address those adaptations or "complexes" to become more fulfilled and higher functioning. The astrological part is the "nature" aspect that reveals our cosmic DNA and what our divine lesson plan reveals. A psychological astrology reading combines the nature and nurture aspects of development and helps the individual rise to the highest expression of both. It also helps the petitioner understand divine timing in terms of shorter and longer-lasting cycles of challenge and opportunity.
An important note: Psychological astrology is not about prediction and ironclad fate; it is about using our unlimited capacities to learn and grow and make the most out of our inherent assets and challenges.
Even a basic understanding of the planetary placements in your birth chart—especially your sun, moon, and rising signs—can be profoundly useful in your everyday life. Here's how:
It helps you understand yourself.
Let's say I have my sun in Capricorn and my moon in Aries and that my rising sign is Leo. This reinforces that my identity (sun) centers around being a hard worker with great accountability and a love of getting things done; that my needs (moon) include vigorous movement, action, and emotional expression; and that my way of showing up in the world (rising) tends to be loving, theatrical, creative, and generous.*
Each of these signs also has a less skillful side. When less self-aware or under more stress, a Capricorn Sun person can become controlling, forget to rest, and be overly needy of external approval; an Aries Moon can fly off the handle or feel constantly in need of attention around their emotional state; and a Leo rising can hog the spotlight and fail to let others shine.
This basic knowledge of myself helps me care for myself and others well and to course-correct toward being my better self when I am less skillful in my life or relationships.
It helps you understand & empathize with others.
Let's say my life partner is maternal, emotional, and nurturing on her better days but might be clingy, irrational, or overly needy in worse moments. I might feel frustrated by her behavior at times, and once I recognize that these characteristics are textbook Cancerian—and that she has Cancer Sun, Moon, or rising—I can understand and empathize with her better. I can skip judging her for failing to deal with this situation the way I would! Instead, I can appreciate how beautifully differently made we are, and I can compassionately invite her into more skillful expressions of Cancer.
It can help you forgive yourself.
If I have my sun in Scorpio, I might have a tendency to be secretive or overly intense or to sabotage myself or others when I'm not self-aware or am under-resourced. My scorpion stinger might lash out as a first response to difficulty. Knowing about the many qualities of Scorpio (both skillful and unskillful) helps me recognize when I'm swinging toward an expression that might be harmful to me or to others. As I recognize it, I can name it, and I can choose to pause, take care of myself, and make a positive shift. I can skip the questioning ("Why do I always do this when I'm stressed or overwhelmed?") and go straight to self-care and more skillful behavior.
It helps you make decisions.
A writer friend couldn't decide which educational path to pursue. Should he write novels? Short stories? Creative nonfiction? Articles? Blogs? Poetry? Screenplays? A reading of his birth chart revealed a deeply intuitive nature (Pisces Sun), a love of details (Virgo moon), and a desire to stand for harmony and beauty in the world (Libra rising). With this understanding, he recognized that poetry was the best path for him. He entered an MFA program and wrote a beautiful book of poetry focused on the natural world and its preservation.
Knowing our most important values is a big part of making decisions responsibly, and knowing the planetary placements in our birth chart can add much to our understanding of those values.
I'm not suggesting that you should consult an astrologer to figure out where to go to lunch or which sweater to buy online. But the deeper your understanding of your birth chart—including where all your planets sit in signs and astrological houses and how they sit in relationship to one another—the more clearly you can step outside of the tension and confusion that can accompany the making of a big decision and into a better sense of which direction.
It helps you remember we are all part of something larger than ourselves.
The placement of the planets at any given time tends to be reflected in the events of the world and in the way people feel and interact. They also interact in meaningful ways with the planets in your birth chart. (This is how horoscopes are created: through an analysis of the relationships between the planets and your Sun sign.) We invite you to see this not as a way of predicting what will happen but as a mythic organizing lens through which to see the whole world and your place in it.
As we move through a world that can sometimes seem to make no sense, we can turn to psychological astrology to better understand the cosmic energies at play in current events. A look at the current placements of the planets called cycles, or transits, can help us orient ourselves with these energies and to work with them rather than against them.
If you make a habit of doing this, you'll begin to see patterns and to feel more at home in the world. Patterns and behaviors will make more sense to you. and you will have more self-awareness and agency to address recurring themes. You'll come to feel that you are not a single being flailing around in a chaotic universe—you are part of a glorious movement of forces that began at the start of time and will continue for long after you are gone.
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Jennifer Freed, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, mediator, astrologer, and author of USE YOUR PLANETS WISELY: Master Your Ultimate Cosmic Potential with Psychological Astrology. She has over thirty years’ experience in the fields of psychological astrology and social-emotional learning, and her work has been featured in USA Today, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Forbes, as well as on Good Morning America and Fox News.