“The basic principle of astrology is that the planets have a fundamental, cosmically based connection to specific archetypal forces or principles which influence human existence and that the patterns formed by the planets in the heavens bear a meaningful correspondence to the patterns of human affairs on the Earth. In terms of individuals, the positions of the planets at the time and place of a person’s birth are regarded as corresponding to the basic archetypal patterns of that person’s life and character."
-Richard Tarnas, Archetypal Astrologer and Philosopher
With so many astrologers and astrological lineages out there, it can be a task to discern the one that resonates the most with you. That happened for me around a decade ago in my first class with archetypal astrologer Richard Tarnas and psychotherapy pioneer Stan Grof.
For many years becoming an astrologer I was a skeptic as my only experience was in a context that felt ungrounded and limiting. Now, archetypal astrology has changed my relationship to the entire cosmos, I can understand how it helps us appreciate our complexity and acknowledges our free will as co-creators with the universe. To describe someone’s sun sign (e.g. Taurus, Cancer, Capricorn) doesn’t begin to describe their full experience (or your full experience of them). We are complex beings with many layers and paradoxes, astrology has become a great tool for self-awareness for myself and many others I know.
As with mythology and psychology, astrology operates in the land of archetypes (or a collective pattern or symbol) of the collective unconscious and personoal unconscious. The planetary symbols and meanings relate to universal representations that can be found everywhere in the human experience. For example, the Moon in astrology represents our internal, emotional selves, our mother, and the things that are unconscious in us, but is also a physical entity.
To me, the main difference between archetypal astrology and other forms is its emphasis on the planetary archetypes more than the constellations/zodiac signs. I agree with this way of thinking because the planets are much closer to us than stars and therefore seem to exert more influence on our lives. In sessions, I pay much more attention to the planets, asteroids, and other planetary bodies in relationship to the Sun, Moon, and rising rather than the sign they are in.
In addition, archetypal astrology doesn't focus on the house systems, as that can shift depending on which of the 14 house systems someone uses. House systems, like the tropical zodiac, are not based on real-time and space in a moment whereas the planetary angles are an "eternal" or everlasting aspect of the chart. And this lineage also does not focus on prediction tools such as horary, as we think more in terms of synchronicity or possibility of something occurring at a given time versus predicting an exact expression.
With this in mind, archetypal astrology isn’t designed for predictive or for future telling or being "stuck" in our chart. Astrology offers guidance by studying transits and it may be useful in understanding which themes in your life may become more important so you can understand your own personal evolutionary process. It can help you discover more of your internal world as a reflection of what the outer world/solar system was doing at the time of your birth. With this wisdom and consciousness comes the free will to choose an expression of a planet instead of being ruled by it. At its essence, astrology brings to life the Hermetic saying, “As above, so below.” It helps us appreciate and identify both our individuality and connection to the whole simultaneously.