Here in my part of the world, the weather is terrible right now and I’m missing the Sun. We’re still in Leo season and that sign is ruled by the Sun. I wrote recently about the Importance of Leo to all of us, as we all have Leo in our natal chart. That featured an extract from the book I’m currently working on and, as I looked in vain at the clouds for any sign of sunlight, I decided to publish another extract – and this one is about the deeper meaning of the Sun in astrology and how it functions in your natal chart.
Extract from Planets, Signs & Houses: The Sun
The Sun is the engine that powers your life – so it makes sense to think of the house containing the Sun as the engine room of your natal chart. Every other placement in your natal chart is viewed in the light of the Sun, so it is truly the biggest influence, astrologically speaking, on the person you have the potential to become. When I was thinking about the Sun, the image that came to me was of a lizard sunning itself on a rock in high summer. Reptiles need the warmth of the Sun to infuse them with life and energy – and so do we.
I’m not accusing you of being a cold blooded reptile by the way – it’s just that without the life giving warmth of the Sun, we would be as lifeless as the rock upon which our imagined lizard sits. However, it takes more than the rays of the Sun to bring us to life. Passive sunbathing just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid – and this is why. The traits we associate with the Sun (and the keywords below will be useful in reminding you what they are) require conscious development, conscious development means making an effort, and making an effort means making the conscious decision to embrace your solar potentials in the first place.
The Sun’s true function in your life correlates with the development of what psychologists call, ‘the ego’. All too often, we tend to think of ‘ego’ in a negative sense – such as describing someone as ‘egotistical’ if we feel they have an inflated sense of their own importance. However, that’s only part of the story. If we make the connection between the Sun and the ego function (because this is astrology and not psychology) then the Sun enables you to develop the sense of self-esteem and self-determination that are essential if you are going to take control of your life.
The Sun enables you to develop a sense of pride in your achievements. We know there is a difference between being proud of your achievements and having a sense of arrogance or entitlement, the ‘false pride’ that results from egotistical behaviour. The Sun in your natal chart also offers you the opportunity to engage positively with the process of growth. It is the driver that takes you on that journey – successfully or otherwise. To help you appreciate what that entails, I am, once more, going to borrow the psychologist’s hat.
When psychologists defined ‘the ego’, they gave a label to something an astrologer would recognise immediately as correlating with the core qualities the Sun. To a psychologist, the ego is the centre of our consciousness, the location of our conscious awareness, our sense of identity and our sense of individual existence. However, the ego also acts as an organisational tool. It’s through our ego we organise our responses to our environment – such as our thoughts, our feelings and our intuitive and sensory perceptions.
The ego (a.k.a the Sun) is therefore at the heart of the self – it’s the driving force, the decision maker and, in organisational terms, the CEO. Of course, this process of sorting and organising is not a one off event, it’s a continual process – what Carl Jung called the process of individuation. The object of that process is to construct a strong sense of your own individuality, so it’s a process that requires your conscious engagement. That’s not as straightforward as it would first appear. Why? Because you have to make conscious choices about how to grow and develop your character – or even whether you do so at all.
To explain that further, a small ‘history of psychology’ lesson. Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, devised a model for the human psyche dividing it into the id, the ego and the superego. I’m not going to give you a lecture on that here, but briefly, Freud’s model provides a helpful and descriptive tool we astrologers can use to explain the solar quest. Freud’s theory divides that journey into three distinct phases. According to Freud, we begin our journey as primitive and instinctive creatures, our responses governed by our most basic needs, desires and urges.
I think most of us can relate to that. However, we soon grow out of that phase, don’t we? Not according to Freud. This unconscious and infantile state remains with us for life. We don’t ‘grow out’ of it, but we develop the capacity to integrate our infantile needs with the social and cultural norms of the families and societies in which we live. In short, we develop the organising capacity of the ego – or in astrological terminology – the Sun.
The ego (or the Sun as we astrologers call it) functions to bring order into chaos by mediating between your instincts and impulses and the demands of the real world. Put simply, it’s the difference between wanting immediate gratification – and learning to wait. Learning to wait, to control yourself, to make rational choices, to acknowledge your mistakes – and learn from them – requires a secure, conscious sense of self.
Building that sense of who you are, developing your personal authority and having faith in your ability to contribute to the world requires confidence – and confidence is the by-product of Jung’s ‘process of individuation’. In other words, the brighter you allow the the Sun to shine in your psyche, the better you tend to feel about yourself – and I’m sure our imagined lizard would agree with that.
However, very few of us are born with the confidence to stamp our identity on the world when we are young – regardless of what sign we are born under. That’s why it usually becomes easier to express yourself and your solar traits as you get older. It takes time to develop your own sense of authority, self-assurance and creative spirit – and be confident enough to share those aspects of yourself with the wider world.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many people out there who find the challenge of developing their solar potentials far too daunting. You only have to look at the negative keywords associated with your Sun’s sign to recognise when you are being run by your inner child. So, what mechanisms does your ego (the Sun) have to help you bring up baby? Well, you can work hard to develop your consciousness and personal awareness, but what you really need is to develop a conscience too.
Sometimes it’s not enough to simply organise things the way you prefer, test reality to see what you can get away with or even learn to comply with society’s rules. Your solar journey wants you to go further than that. Developing your solar potentials also enables you to set standards for yourself and others, develop a value system, develop a moral compass and control your most basic impulses.
This allows you to express yourself in a positive manner in accordance with the best qualities of your Sun sign. The purpose of your solar journey is, therefore, to become your ideal self. It’s important to remember that this is not some kind of socially imposed value judgement on you as a person – becoming your ideal self is about being your authentic self, and to achieve that you need to be comfortable with yourself at a deep soul level
So, how do you know when you’re on the right track? One of the ways we tend to know when we are on the ‘right track’ is that the things that we develop a passion for, engage with, or develop a keen interest in, somehow ‘feel right’ to us. We will feel inspired by, or identify with, the things we do because they symbolise who we are. Also, we tend to know we are on the right solar path when we experience a deep sense of personal fulfilment.
In this way, the Sun fulfils the role of ’mentor’ in our lives. For some of you, this role will be externalised as a father figure or other influential person (not necessarily male) who encourages and guides you along the way. One of the greatest factors that stimulates our confidence is the encouragement we receive from others. We may find that a solar mentor provides the role model we need in our lives to give us confidence in our own potential.
Traditionally, this role model was always assumed to be your father – and the Sun in your natal chart many literally describe your father (check out the associations of the Sun’s house, aspects and/or sign) or the paternal line. This association of the Sun with paternal power and authority caused issues for many women in the past, as social and cultural values prevented them from claiming their own rightful place in the Sun. In a woman’s chart, the Sun was held to symbolise her father, husband or other important men in her life. Thankfully, for many women, this is no longer so.
It’s my opinion that the Sun in a natal chart refers to men in the life of anyone regardless of gender. Thankfully, most of us are able to form a sense of individual identity that does not need to conform with what anyone else thinks we should be. The ability to ‘own’ your solar powers and walk tall in the sunlight is an important one – but sometimes there are those who avoid the sunlight of their own volition.
A life undermined by negativity, perceived failure, excuses and inertia is often the result of choosing not to cultivate latent solar potentials. Remember, without the Sun, our lizard will not be able to move, feed himself, pro-create or thrive. There is a price to be paid for choosing to stay in the shade.
© Sara Shipman 2021