Please read part 1 of this series before tackling this one, The Mystery of Solar Fire (part 1).
We can blame Princess Margaret for Sun Sign astrology–or newspaper astrology, as I prefer to call it. Well, no, not exactly. But we can blame astrologer R.H. Naylor. Naylor was pressed by a tabloid newspaper to invent a simplified system of interpretation after writing a popular article about Margaret’s chart soon after her birth (“What the Stars Foretell for the New Princess,” 24th August, 1930, Sunday Express, London). There had always been interest in astrology, but it wasn’t until this simple form was popularized in the press, that astrology had to defend itself against itself. (For newbies to astrology: most astrologers who write Sun Sign columns use the solar house/sign as the first house, and interpret the rest of the planets, particularly the moon, in relation to that.)
Thus began the domination of the Sun-sign ruled astrological universe we live in today. I find it amusing, and ironic, that the Sun in his typical Leo-oriented way has sucked up all the energy in the room. Proper astrology, by which I mean any astrology which considers the whole chart, seems to have been driven underground by it, tail between legs, hungry for mainstream acceptance and validity. (Whether we actually want this is another issue, to be debated here in future.)
But what is the Sun, exactly? And what is it’s role in the chart? Once we get beyond defining ourselves by it –I am, or am nothing like ‘my sign’ (as if, with the whole sky to consider, we only have one sign/archetype in us)–what does it actually do?
The planets all have specific functions. I won’t go into them here, you know what they are. But what is the function of the Sun? The Moon is also much more complex than we give it credit for (we will discuss this another time). Neither is a planet. A better term for them, an old fashioned term but more valid, I think, is “The Lights.” The light of day and the light of the night. The light of the conscious and the light of the sub-conscious world.
But even the Moon’s light is reflective of the Sun, which brings us back to the Sun’s position as the ‘heart’ of the chart. Heart is a good metaphor. The Sun rules Leo, and Leo rules the heart. What does the heart do? It is the engine that keeps the blood circulating. It keeps us alive. The heart can function without the mind, but the mind cannot function independently of the heart. We can be ‘brain-dead’ but not ‘heart-dead’, save in the most poetic way.
The Moon represents all that we are summed up to be in this life. It represents our body, yes, but it also represents what has been called the ‘egoic sheath’–both the psychic and physical energy that defines me as a separate being, past, current and future. Depending on where your beliefs lie, it is all our past time summed up in current time, which is continually moving to future time. It is what I was, but it is also what I will be, which exists in me now and which has always existed in nascent form. The natal chart itself embodies our physical incarnation, our physical birth, and as such has a lunar connotation. It represents the Cancer (Moon) side of the twin lights.
And here we can touch on some of the reasons that our solar power seems so inaccessible to us. We live in a material world, and we are material…(cue song, apologies to Madonna). But we are material. Even the deepest parts of our psychology, of our psyches, are related to and through a material existence. So what is the Sun’s role? Back to the metaphor of the heart. It is the definition of life. It is the life energy itself, the thing that comes into us when we are born and the thing that leaves us and this physical world when we die.
It raises a question which differentiates those who ‘believe’ in astrology and those who do not. There is the ‘meat machine’ definition of life, a variation of materialistic determinism, where we are machines of flesh and nothing more, where life will eventually be all figured out once genomes and whatnot have been sorted and then we will be able to be god-like in our power and make whatever we want of life. We will have proved that there is no mystery, the only mystery is what we don’t yet understand. Or there is a definition of life that believes that life itself is something beyond the flesh, beyond machinery, and that it is, in fact, something sacred which may be experienced but is ultimately unknowable–or rather, unable to be fully explained. Numinous. I understand that these definitions are not cut and dried, that there are intensely grey areas between the two definitions, but I don’t think that anyone would disagree that advocates of astrology belong to the latter camp. (Nor do I mean to suggest that the ‘meat machine’ camp has no concept of sacred; but I believe that our definitions of what is sacred and what is not are very different.)
The Sun represents the light that illuminates from within. It is impossible to define properly because the Sun’s inner light permeates all living things. It does not have one specific function, but consolidates all functions. Its place at the center of our universe is highly symbolic of the role it plays in our lives.