A Comprehensive Look At Astrological Archetypes Pt. 1: Aries to Virgo
Pop culture’s take on western astrology dilutes its daunting, yet workable, enigma. Its diagnosis of the study as a divination tool wouldn’t be entirely offensive if it didn’t focus on a singular archetype — the sun/sun sign. Many astrologers would suggest that the transits and aspects made to/by an individual’s sun sign, ironically, are some of the most benign transits as defined by the archetype’s broadness and lack of nuance (the archetype of the ego). When looking at astrology; the charts of individual humans, the charts of cities and countries, of significant historical events, we regard the twelve archetypes entirely and find those which protrude, usually through some sort of thematic repetition, the greatest based on their literal mathematical angles to each other at a specific moment in time. And rarely, really, do we prefer to look through any type of forward time. Analyzing these archetypes in past and present states are usually more insightful and interesting — especially those that linger and announce themselves in strange moments and strange circumstances. This is all examined, as explained in an earlier post, through astrology’s alternative time-keeping and alternative definitions of time.
To point to a chart, natal (birth) or transit (the progression of planets since birth), we must first have an instinctual and fundamental understand of astrology’s archetypes — all of which are considered to be universal and unavoidable in the human psyche: a concept supported by astrology’s existence having spanned a vast amount of linear time and physical distance between the societies that have practiced it.
However, before moving forward in explanation, a simple rule must be understood: these archetypes function two ways and exercise themselves accordingly. There are the 12 zodiac signs of which many of us will recognize by name. In order, they are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. These archetypes, by name, are personified examples of how their particular themes integrate into aspects of personality and consciousness. This is one of two of the archetype’s functions. The second function is the traditional “house” that the sign “owns”, the number of which correlates to the number of the sign in sequence. For example, Aries is the first sign, therefore it traditionally owns the 1st house. Libra is the 7th sign, therefore it traditionally owns the 7th house. These houses serve to integrate and explain these archetypes as collective experiences in the unconscious and/or the human experience in general. Intermediate astrologers will use these titles interchangeably and loosley — some may explain one’s chart as being very “8th house” which can essentially mean the same thing as describing someone who has a lot of Scorpio placements or themes. If you can remember the sequence of zodiac signs, this will not confuse you.
And now, the astrological archetypes (1–6)…
Aries and the 1st House: Infancy and the discovery of an individuated self. This is the first sign and is therefore understood as a pure, ferocious, unbridled infantile energy — the first electrical jolt of ego and human consciousness. This house also rules intrinsic identity. When you look at an astrological chart, it is in the shape of a circle. This makes it so that the ego-birth themes of the 1st house are intrinsically connected to the 12th and last house of earthly transcendence and cosmic/nebulous “all”. The archetype of birth tells how we exit the dark and unknown womb where those who have had years of ego development cannot seek to recollect or recall, even though we’ve all been entrenched in an encompassing and nebulous “womb” or we would not be Here — our mothers do not know our flesh, our voice, our face, our expressions, the facets of our limbs. When we’re born, suddenly, though we’ve existed elsewhere for a substantial amount of time (nine months to be exact), we gain a momentary and profound place in the tangible narrative of an individuated life. The infant, this new and uncultivated ego consciousness, draws awe, attention and reverence from progressed egos — adults, children, and strangers. It needs not to communicate anything by complex clause or pretense or adjective; its purity, its erratic and blatant “asking” through sonic fits and fixations, its endearing lack of socialized understanding, its fresh individuation — that which a multitude can be projected upon, and mostly wonderfully intended things — is a source of joy and contemplation.
The archetype of the infant, without regard for sensibility or harmony, will rage and tantrum until he is given what he needs and desires — and often cannot distinguish between the two. This is why Aries (ruled by Mars, named after mythological “Ares”) is also associated with war mongering and impulsive low-consciousness as a devastating force to social harmony (which is thematically associated with its opposite sign Libra, the “scales” of justice) — much in the same way that an infant can shriek at blood-curdling volumes when mother takes him into a quiet library, disrupting the well-established placidity and coolness so that he may hold an seemingly intriguing object, perhaps a pen; a useless thing that will do little of anything to enrich his existence, and yet he communicates his desire for this mundane object as loudly and ferociously as he would for his own mother’s milk.
Astrology’s understand of the 1st house, ruling a specific collective experience, suggests that the malleability and newness of this ego-birth can be incredibly vulnerable to projection. When we dress our infants, we project a style and personality unto them. We project future careers and gifts and talents and anxieties and phobias and faults. Therefore, planets in the 1st house are said to represent the specific projections our parents made unto us from the moment of birth, and in turn, how our egos unknowingly seek to receive attention and affection from the world. First born children, like myself, often have more than one planet in the 1st house, if not a stellium (3 or more planets), middle children may have one planet or no planets, and last children often do not have any.
Aries is a member of the cardinal signs, of which there are four. This means that these four signs occur in tandem with our four major solar events — the spring equinox (Aries), summer solstice (Cancer), autumn equinox (Libra), and winter solstice (Capricorn) — and therefore begin new thematic quadrants in the astrological chart. The spring equinox in relationship to Aries describes the annual “awakening” of the earth, and the promises of new life cycles that will continue to develop among these four events. It is the beginning of the astrological year, and really, should be the beginning of the calendar year.
The 1st house cusp is also known as the “rising sign” and is akin to the sun sign. It is the preliminary identity that your ego took, and you can only learn its cusp by knowing a time of birth. The 1st house cusp is more apparent and tangible to other people than the actual sun sign.
Taurus and the 2nd house: Tangible value and authenticity. In the 1st house, we discover a basic and uncomplicated ego. In the 2nd house, we are discovering the things that exist on a physical plane that allow us to support our ego’s needs — discarding anything that is a distraction from homeostasis. The infant matures in cognitive awareness, slowly learning that it owns a body and a sensory vessel. From a holistic perspective, the Taurian archetype seeks to optimize tangible attachments and possessions. What do we truly own? An enlightened manifestation of this archetype has the gift of surrounding itself with minimal, qualitative possessions. We are reckoning a physical interface and realizing its specific potential if we nourish it with things that fertilize the highest potential of our identity. This archetype, unlike what pop culture’s astrology will claim, is not “materialistic” in the sense of a buzzword. It is, however, occupied with a highly-discerning quest to support the individuated identity with things that are of practical and substantial value. Do you want a home with four floors and marble ceilings or do you want a home with a lower mortgage that is closer to the place you work, is in a safe enough neighborhood, and one that will allow you to allocate your finances to support the development of your hobbies and dreams? Do you want to eat fast-food half of the week or do you want to drive twenty minutes out of town to scout organic produce at a farmers’ market that will provide your body with more nutrient-dense richness?
What, in this earthly realm, will allow us to survive and thrive? You can ask this question in the literal sense, or by assessing what kind of metaphorical “death” you’ll face if you settle for a life path that does not provide your intrinsic ego with the right kind of support. That’s why this archetype also subtly deals in values. It is concerned with the concept of “self-esteem” and how, in addition to the things we can tangibly possess, what are the things that we invisibly/internally possess that can create tangible foundations in our lives? Are we naturally artistic? Highly intellectual? Talents associated with these gifts are intimately linked to the health of our identities — if we nourish them, they can add significant fulfillment to our lives. If we starve them, our egos can feel aimless, detached, and can be persuaded into inauthentic modes of existence that will nag at our conscience and make us feel existentially ill.
Planets in the 2nd house are the thematic values that we obssess over authentically revering, communicating, and integrating into our lives. These are our tangible, earthly truths. Whether we choose to defend and nourish them, they have great sway over our unconscious sense of “belonging” within our bodies/minds/souls and of “belonging” in the world at large.
Gemini and the 3rd house: Mental expression, thoughts, and verbal communication. In the 2nd house we discover core values and tangible attachments. In the Gemini archetype, we progress into a porous and vivid mental state in which we seek to name those attachments, and other stimuli in our environments — it is the discovery of language as a tool to communicate need. The dynamics of Gemini are rapid and buzzing; the neurons are creating intelligible pathways, linking patterns and shapes and colors and sounds. Since Gemini is a younger zodiac sign, its communication is purer, unsocialized, and unsophisticated. The sign’s ruler, Mercury, is associated with mental agility, and of all cognitive processes, language is essential to this archetype. When we enter Gemini’s space, we are coming from a world without names or labels — it is an unconquerable world, as children, that has a mesmerizing effect on our states. Our environments merely exist around us, and we toil with it in slow/unthinking awareness. This is our first air (intellect/cognitive) sign, and so, after having existed in the nameless, wild, vivid, and incomprehensible world of infancy, the brain matures enough to create linguistic associations. Since we must learn quickly, and luckily our brains are young and malleable enough to absorb our environments, we do learn quickly. This enthusiastic archetype is a child matured to perhaps ages three, four, or five, and as we observe with children at these cognitive milestones, the profound development of a world with names, labels, and categories is all-consuming.
The Gemini archetype is also our first mutable sign. Mutable signs are fluid and reactive to environmental information, and its placement at this developmental milestone is well fit. This is our first “awakening” into the visceral relationship between internal and external, taking place purely in the mind — which, in order to properly survive/evolve, is where our first awakening must take place.
Because this is our youngest mutable sign, and it is cognitive in nature, the archetype can function in an unintentionally reckless way — unable to fixate and stabilize a gushing stream of consciousness to arrive at resolute understanding or maturity. However, this archetype can be synonymous with cerebral types of creativity; storytelling, poetry, and music to an extent. It can be synonymous, also, with abstract intellectual pursuits that are complex in factors/rules/laws; neuroscience, linguistics, engineering, and physics. These studies can seem impossible and unreachable to a majority of people — but the Gemini archetype is receptive to the most minor of details, microscopic riddles and nuance, and can create neural connections to make sense of even the most abstract.
The 3rd house in our chart rules our personal instincts in the ways our brain expresses thought. It is our cognitive voice, tone, style, rhythm, and language. Planets in the 3rd house add flavors, complications, and/or ease to these processes. As an example, a Libra-cusp 3rd house, Libra being ruled by Venus, is a person with a gentle, conscientious, and soft way of communicating to the world — equally balancing their listening with their verbal expressing. Adding a planet like Neptune in the 3rd house, this person becomes slower with their learning and perhaps with speech as well. They may have a captivating and mesmerizing manner of communicating, one that is poetic, metaphorical, illogical, and arouses curiosity (or frustration) in others.
Cancer and the 4th house: Creating, nourishing, and protecting personal bonds. Cancer serves as a pivotal archetype. It is often named the archetype of the “mother” but this doesn’t paint the most accurate picture. To be more precise, this is the archetype of the maternal bond; and not in a completely innate sense. The innate emotional attachment between mother/child is exemplified better, in my opinion, by the Scorpio 8th house archetype of emotional attachments through trauma (specifically births and deaths). Instead, the Cancer archetype describes the modes and methods of “nourishment” into those bonds. Birth, as a process, is primal and intense — Plutonic — while the purity of the bond created at birth is wholly subliminal and subconscious. The moment of birth, exemplified through the Scorpio archetype, is when a mother innately realizes ownership and attachment. However, what goes beyond this attachment? Is the sense that this child is “mine” enough to foster an emotionally healthy and stable individual? No. This is a primal realization, and primal instincts seek to keep an infant alive.
The Cancer archetype has a different agenda.
Following the zodiac as a narrative of development (that which aligns closely with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs); we attempt to achieve a tangible sense of security through safety and comfort in the Taurian archetype, we create synaptic patterns/cognitive growth in Gemini, and in Cancer, we are receiving love, affection, and emotional nourishment. You can see that, if there are issues with the previous archetypes, the 4th house of Cancer becomes strained. The 4th house ends our “developmental” quadrant of milestones and essential human experiences, therefore there is more room for things to have gone wrong, developmentally, prior to it.
Let’s explain: Aries is our earliest archetype, and rules “ego”, the realization of identity, and the capacity of the individuated self. Nearly all people on this planet live under the subconscious premise that they are individuated in identity, that their consciousness is their’s alone, that they are, for all intents and purposes, the “center” of their own universe. The 1st house, although it can be corrupted by projections and dysfunction, is hard to have not integrated into one’s personal narrative. The 2nd house, for many people, is a very difficult house to have “run smoothly” since Taurus rules our tangible security in early life. You’re pretty much born into security or born into instability — your parents were either prepared/rose to the occasion of having a child, and supported you, or they fell short in some capacity. For those of us in the western world, this is an archetype that, compared to most humans on planet earth, we should feel grateful to have grasp of. With issues in the 2nd house, the 3rd house of Gemini becomes more vulnerable. If we aren’t being supported on a fundamental, need-based level, our cognitive development lacks for obvious reasons. Cancer, on the other hand, has to rely on all of these developmental milestones to be successful in order to be realized — why is that?
Because Cancer is unconditional love, attention, and affection — with distinct emphasis on attention. Maternal figures (and any other symbolic caregivers) have a presence that is required of them. Financial and communicative dysfunctions take a lot of energy and time to rectify, which takes away a family’s ability to focus on being literally and emotionally present. We must be present to make sure that our child isn’t putting anything dangerous into their mouths, our skin must be present and available for the child’s contact to release Oxytocin and other hormones, we must be present to spend time nursing the child from our breast — these things can be omitted and the child will survive, but they won’t be emotionally, physically, or psychologically nourished by their very first bonds in human life. Children who don’t feel nourished by the figures who owe them unconditional love and nourishment often develop attachment, behavioral, and psychological challenges as they grow older.
This archetype insists on emotional vulnerability as a tool for bonding and survival — not simply being “attached” to our loved ones, but genuinely, as a verb, being loved completely and continuously without fear of abandonment.
If Taurus is the house, then Cancer is the home. The home is a nebulous concept that we all manage to understand similarly — home is the sentimentality of things that comforted us, made us feel safe/secure, and evokes emotional joy or innocence. In that way, ruling ancestry and roots as well, Cancer also is responsible for the concept of a collective emotional identity. The concept of a “family” exists as a physical unit, and individuals within a given family have likely bonded and fostered similar emotional sentimentalities.
The recipient of our love and affection, traditionally typified as a child, can be symbolized as many things; creative projects, career achievements, charity, and anything else under the sun that we choose to become maternally protective of. As a psychological dynamic, Cancer is interesting to observe in adulthood, the time when we begin creating our own lives, and choosing what we foster and give most of our present attention to — that which we nourish and protect with maternal instincts.
Planets in the 4th house can tell us a great deal about what gives us an inner concept of “home”, comfort, and emotional safety. These planets can also detail relationships to the mother or maternal figures (or lack thereof) in one’s upbringing. For example, my 4th house is ruled by the Taurian archetype. My mother happens to be a Taurus. The things that give me an internal sense of home are immediately of a Venusian/Taurian nature; music, paintings, pleasant scents, flowers, cleanliness, and a connection to the natural world. If a planet like Saturn is in the 4th house, it could mean that the maternal figure in childhood was absent altogether, or worked in a career that demanded a great deal of time, and was unable to emotionally raise the individual as a child. If Uranus were in the 4th house, this individual might have an erratic sense of home, and not be able to pin-point where the collective “family” identity comes from — an unorthodox or inconsistent upbringing, perhaps with people coming in and out of the family picture, leaving the child unable to attach to these people in a stable manner.
Leo and the 5th house: Pleasure and creativity, painting life with color and joy. The Leo archetype is a favorite among astrologers and astrology nerds, alike. What’s there to not love? Leo rules gaiety. In life we collectively experience pain, the pressure of expectations, routines, aging, sadness, discomfort, boredom, and disappointment. Leo rules all the things that allow us to thrive despite life’s guaranteed strain and stress. This archetype focuses on the individuated pleasures, habits, and passions that we hold close to us like a fiery hearth — one person’s idea of pleasure is sitting down at a piano for two hours, another could be pruning weeds from a garden, or contemplating mathematical theory. The things that facilitate a happy ego (if only in temporary, bursting states) are what we culturally associate with the “heart”. When we engage in these activities, we radiate a sense of purpose, peace, tranquility, or brimming manic joy.
Notice that in the description of the archetype, I mentioned nothing of leadership or power. Those qualities, often synonymous with the Leo archetype, are by-products of its essential functions — when examine pleasurable activities; art, music, dance, cuisine, gardening, games, sports, singing, etc, it can be noted that often, through these activities, we create in-groups and networks with people who enjoy the same things. Through these activities, we can create a strategically positive form of diplomacy. There are genres of music that have tradition in working through socio-cultural issues, folk music, rap music. There are genres of dance that tell stories of grief and drama, flamenco and ballet. Plays and theater can directly address social dynamics and cultural malady. By reclaiming life’s pain through creativity, art, or sport, not only can we soothe ourselves, but we can bond with others and create a great capacity for unification. This is where Leo’s archetype creates “power” and leadership — through positive reinforcement, charisma, humor, lightness, and suggestion.
To unravel Leo’s claim to power and leadership, we can pitch the archetype against its astrological opposite, Aquarius. Aquarius rules social justice, radical reform, equality, and progress. This archetype can take a socialist’s attitude, or even an anarchist’s, in the ways that it attempts to achieve equality and freedom — it encompasses a more visceral, political, marching in the streets, sacrificial, unhinged, sobering methods of reformation. Aquarius is more than willing to disrupt social order and pull the rug from the corrupt feet that stand upon it. Not Leo. Rather, our 5th house ruler wishes to walk around the room, flit from person to person, and charm them into submission or agreement — forcing all opposition to shake hands and join in greater festivity. If Aquarius is the subversive assertion of progress, the Leo is the persuasion of good-will and harmony.
The possible dysfunction in this archetype is interesting. The Leo’s stubborn insistence on bubbly positivity and being soothed can lead to an insidious self-preservation against problems that deserve a sobering amount of consideration. Partying culture, excessive drinking, casual sex that depletes our energy and esteem — these are shadow aspects of Leo. They are phenomena that exist solely on the surface, and when we refuse to integrate pleasure and fulfillment for too long, they can feel taxing, depressing, and sickening. Since it feels good, looks attractive, and creates ecstasy, the culturally epicurean codes of conduct will not throw any red flags in our faces — everyone’s trying to soothe themselves in the midst of turmoil and pain, everyone is trying to escape. We hold a harrowing capacity to detach pleasure from fulfillment for longer than is safe or necessary.
The 5th house, along with creativity and fun, will also rule things like romance, sexuality, and friendship. The storybooks, the dramatic literature and film, the tropes, the narratives of our primitive bonds; these are made colorful, nuanced, and intelligent. Love must not simply be a pairing of resources, but it must uplift your soul. Sex is not only reproductive, but musical and orgasmic. A wedding is not simply an exchanging of dowry and cattle, but a decorated and poetic ceremony.
Planets in the 5th house can tell us where our talents and gifts lie, how our creativity expresses itself, what brings us pleasure, and that which gives us esteem.
Virgo and the 6th house: Controlling your domain, adjusting the mind’s microscope, finding empowerment and sanity in analysis. Virgo is concerned with the leather reigns that we hold between us, the equestrian, and the animal of the world — wild, unpredictable, and illogical.
Ruled by Mercury, the same planet as Gemini, Virgo is ruled by Mercury’s “shadow”; the hidden, unused, and disregarded aspects of communication/thought. The tricky stuff. Gemini’s Mercury wants to communicate that which is vivid and stimulating, and Virgo wants to communicate the mundane underbelly. To be more specific, the kinks, the details, the muck, and any questions of efficacy. This is our zodiac’s microscope, and perhaps the zodiac’s most necessary sign. As a general observation, many of us become stressed, uncomfortable, and/or repulsed at the prospect of having to create systemic efficiency — logic — out of something that is broken, unpredictable, and messy. If Gemini seeks to explore, discover, and share thought in an impulsive manner, then Virgo seeks to refine, analyze, and thread thoughts together to create a succinct understanding of phenomena — a powerful weapon against wasted time, wasted energy, and wasted life. Virgo is not simply content to postulate, to skip between stones of inference, belief, suggestion, and blind subscriptions to truth — this is the archetype of understanding and of being able to watch one cog in the machine rotate against the other, knowing where to place the next cog, observing why it slips or becomes misaligned, figuring out how to fix it, fixing it consistently, all so that the machine (ourselves, our homes, our knowledge, our society) will lag the least amount possible.
Virgo’s 6th house deals in two realms. The first realm is, as initially described, the mundane. How can we be efficient in daily routines and why is it so important? Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say. This is an exaggeration, but when we keep our internal/external worlds succinct, do we not eliminate the likelihood of having to rummage through real or metaphorical mess and having to rectify issues that we’ve neglected to notice? Take for example, the issue of health, typically categorized as an element of the 6th house. When we think of health, we think of being healthy or being ill and diseased. Yet, states of health and states of disease are not always states that we simply fall into by virtue of fatalistic prophecy. The small, impulsive, consistent moments of choosing which matter goes into and out of our bodies, that which we are wholly responsible for, is what gradually fertilizes and allows states of homeostasis or bodily dysfunction to come to fruition. Illness is not ideal, and many diseases are preventable. What is so terrible about disease? Aside from possibly threatening our mortality, they can limit our mobility, our choices, and our time. With certain diseases, we become beholden to their symptoms. They entail financial sacrifice, visits to doctors and hospitals, medication rituals, anxiety about our condition, forced recuperation, and perhaps momentary bouts of isolation — it becomes necessary that we adjust our life and our decisions to the requirements of the disease.
You can apply this line of thinking to many mundane scenarios. If your living space is perpetually disorganized, you may lose some essential and important object or document that someone will require of you, and one that you may face severe/stressful consequences for not having. If your inner circle of social friendships goes perpetually unfiltered, you may let a bad influence corrupt the manner you wish to authentically live your life — or, at the very least, cause you pain, distraction, annoyance, and suffering due to being at constant odds with a negative influence.
The Virgo archetype wants control of its domain, not for the domain to have control over it.
As much of an obsession as it has with efficacy, it is equally an obsession with empowerment and liberation. When we wander through life mindlessly and without analyzing the effects of our decisions and belief systems, we can subconsciously fall victim to an unnecessary chaos that keeps us stagnant, under-developed, reliant, immobilized, or submissive. Our ambitions, our goals, our dreams, our ability to move freely in the world, our ability to depend on ourselves, all require a fervent and tenacious filter which can deem at a moment’s notice: “this is not working” or “this is working well” and most importantly, can answer that question on its own behalf — not on behalf of mass culture, mass society, or mass understanding.
Virgo’s second realm is social and worldly. The nitty-gritty, microscopic, cumbersome, demanding details of life are often left to multiply and grow like weeds by those who find logic/analysis too difficult to digest. Many times, our cultures and societies continue in dysfunction and archaic mentality simply because of tradition and the fear that questioning our reality would require a new paradigm. Virgo’s mission statement is thus; if it limits us, or has the potential to limit us, then it must be eradicated as soon as possible, regardless of how comfortable we’ve become in our own mess, regression, and denial. This means questioning religious belief systems, especially those that limit our ability to think critically and limit our capacity to realize personal autonomy. This means questioning laws and bureaucratic policies, observing their influence over daily life and connecting communal grievances to specific congressional eras, politicians, philosophies, and acts. This means questioning ourselves, creating accountability and discipline where we consistently lack and create bigger problems in our own lives.
Virgo’s sensitivity to the chinks in the armor — its sensitivity to the madness of the illogical animals — is what keeps the world even mildly sane. The Achilles’ heal to this archetype is its deep lean into minor tangible facets to the point of being blind of periphery and holistic vision. Perfectionism and logic to the point of madness and insanity. A fervent worship of steel empirical fact can create an apathetic superiority complex, or an intense allergy to the subliminal realms that we use to define “humanity” in essence: love, consideration, empathy, kindness, compassion, mystery, curiosity, innocence, imagination, wonder, and awe.
Planets in the 6th house can describe the nature of our daily habits, our efficacy in the tangible realm, and what factors facilitate our state(s) of financial, mental, and physical homeostasis.