Friday, February 19, 2010

Planets and Archetypes 6

It will be useful here, as a preliminary summary, to set forth the specific archetypal meanings and qualities associated with each planet. As Jung recognized, however, the meanings of archetypes cannot be reduced to simple definitions, as if they were literal concrete entities whose basic essence could be exhausted once and for all with a neat algebraic formula:

A kind of fluid interpenetration belongs to the very nature of all archetypes. They can only be roughly circumscribed at best. Their living meaning comes out more from their presentation as a whole than from a single formulation. Every attempt to focus them more sharply is immediately punished by the intangible core of meaning losing its luminosity. No archetype can be reduced to a simple formula. It is a vessel which we can never empty, and never fill. . . . It persists throughout the ages and requires interpreting ever anew. The archetypes are the imperishable elements of the unconscious, but they change their shape continually. An archetypal principle is thus not so much defined as evoked. It is better conveyed through a wide range of examples that collectively illustrate and suggest the enduring intangible essence that is variously inflected through the archetype's diverse embodiments. In the following chapters I have adopted this mode of presentation ”a kind of self-presentation by the archetypes through their embodiments ”as the one most appropriate to the nature of the principles and data we will be exploring. With these caveats and qualifications in mind, the following brief summary can serve as a starting point for the more extensive descriptions and analyses to come.

Each archetypal principle can express itself in both positive and problematic form. Each can manifest within the context of the individual life and psyche or on a collective level. Each has a potential for both feminine and masculine inflections, beyond the specific gender of the Greco-Roman mythic figure associated with the planet or luminary in question. For all the planets, both those known to the ancients and those discovered in the modern era, the body of evidence we will be examining points to the existence of transcultural archetypal principles that inform and encompass the observed synchronistic patterns of meaning. The specific mythic deities of the more local cultural mythologies such as the Greek or Roman appear to represent particular inflections of these transcultural archetypes. The Greco-Roman figures and narratives are resonant with significance for the Western cultural imagination, but ultimately they seem to be best understood as culturally specific embodiments of more universal archetypal principles.

Sun: the central principle of vital creative energy, the will to exist; the impulse and capacity to be, to manifest, to be active, to be central, to radiate, to shine ; to rise above, achieve, integrate, and illuminate; the individual will and personal identity, the seat of mind and spirit, the animus, the executive functions of the self or ego, the capacity for initiative and purposeful assertion, the drive for individual autonomy and independence; directed and focused consciousness and self-awareness, the centrifugal expression of the self, the trajectory of self-manifestation, ascent and descent; the ruler of the day sky, of the clearly visible, the single source of luminosity that overcomes the encompassing darkness, the single-centered; yang ; the part that contains the whole in potentia ; Sol and all solar deities, the archetypal Hero in its many forms.

Moon: the matrix of being, the psychosomatic foundation of the self, the womb and ground of life; the body and the soul, that which senses and intuits, the feeling nature; the impulse and capacity to gestate and bring forth, to receive and reflect, to relate and respond, to need and to care, to nurture and be nurtured, the condition of dependence and interdependence; the diffusely conscious and the unconscious, the anima, the immanent, the centripetal, the home, the fertile source and ground; the cycle of manifestation, the waxing and waning, the eternal round; the ruler of the night sky, of the diffusely visible and the invisible, multiple sources of luminosity within the encompassing darkness, the multi-centered; yin ; the whole that contains the part in potentia ; Luna and all lunar deities, the Great Mother Goddess, together with aspects of the Child (puella , puer ), constituting the relational matrix of life.

Mercury: the principle of mind, thought, communication, that which articulates the primary creative energy and renders it intelligible; the impulse and capacity to think, to conceptualize, to connect and mediate, to use words and language, to give and receive information; to make sense of, to grasp, to perceive and reason, understand and articulate; to transport, translate, transmit; the principle of Logos; Hermes, the messenger of the gods.

Venus: the principle of desire, love, beauty, value; the impulse and capacity to attract and be attracted, to love and be loved, to seek and create beauty and harmony, to engage in social and romantic relations, sensuous pleasure, artistic and aesthetic experience; the principle of Eros and the Beautiful; Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.


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