Thursday, March 10, 2011

Uranus - In the Beginning ...

Mythologically, Uranus is the eponymous planet of the ancient Greek god who was, in fact, the heavens as a place. Ouranos was never worshipped as a god, nor are there any shrines, emblems or evidence of temples and the usual indicators of an individual entity. That Ouranos was the sky, and not a sky god gives him a very special place in myth - not as a singular entity but as a realm of experience. This is very significant in considering the astrology of Uranus and the interpretation of its qualities both as a natal planet and in transit.

Ouranos came into being because Gaia - mother earth - created him herself to comfort her and be her consort. After she birthed many other earth and nature divinities on her own (or with the aid of Eros, according to the oldest myth) she grew lonely and wanted a mate. And so she created Ouranos, the heavens, to surround her and keep her constant company, and he enveloped the earth in all his aetheric power. Their union produced many offspring, such as the Cyclopes and the Titans.

Then, Gaia found herself pregnant with new offspring, the Hekatonchires, or the "hundred-handed ones". They were multiple and monstrous, but being a mother, Gaia loved them anyway. Ouranos did not. He was horrified at their monstrosity, their imperfect and fearful traits, and refused her birthing them. Naturally, Gaia grew uncomfortable and angry, and she employed the youngest of the Titan's, their son Kronos, in an act that would change the course of mythic history.

She presented Kronos with a scythe, made of adamant - obsidian - a clear, hard crystalline sickle and told him to reach up, "as Ouranos lay round Gaia, longing for love", and castrate him. Which he did.[1] Thus, forever separating the archetypal parents, as well as launching a new mythology.

We can view this myth variously, but with the ensuing battle of the Titans and the collapse of the unified male/female, and the polarization of "above and below", there issued a new archetype into life. The separation of heaven and earth, of male and female, the split of the archetypal parents into separate quarters, remains a strong and influential component in our collective and individual psyches.

We can view the "above/below" polarity in many ways. Not only does it symbolize the manifestation of conscious and unconscious behavior, it also represents the first inklings of dual perception - that there is something "outside ourself" or even deep within ourself that is in opposition or conflict.

Jung thought mediation of conflict was the stuff of life; that inner conflict resolution was the reply to the universal challenge toward wholeness. This is a powerful concept, and more often than not, resolution of inner conflict results in conscious peace of mind for individuals.

The function of Saturn and Uranus, the mythic father/son conflict as we experience it in mid-life, is about resolution of conflict and the need for change, even if it is a violent or disruptive act. As a psychic complex, or a dichotomy, Saturn can act as the severing function of our creative ideas. We might be so worried about our own creativity that it never actually is given birth, but is "castrated" before any idea, concept, action or experiment is enacted! In contrast to this suppression, if Uranus has the upper hand, so to speak, then we can be too outrageous, too eccentric and simply unable to get our point across or find an acceptable median for behavior or communication.

The urge for creative experimentation and individuation at midlife can be stuffed back down inside the psychic womb, just as Ouranos stuffed the Hekatonchires back into the womb of Gaia. And, it would then take an "adamant" personal attitude toward ones' own self to birth the inner urge for creative change.

Howard Sasportas, in The Twelve Houses, says:"Uranus' house may show where we rashly disrespect the limits of our human-ness'. Presuming we can automatically transcend the restrictions of the physical body or 'rise above' the instinctual components of our nature, we commit the sin of hubris and invite punishment to fall on us." [2]

Saturn is the planet that held domain over the entire solar system until 1781 CE, the period of both the French and American revolutions, inaugurating the Industrial Revolution and involved the whole of western civilization as it was then. Prior to that era, social life existed within the bounds of family and cultural limitations. In synchrony with the advent of the "new planet" sighted by astronomer Herschel, there followed decades of phenomenal innovation and discovery. The flourishing of science, technology, philosophy, literature, music, social opportunities and, in virtually every aspect of human life, exploded Western civilization toward liberation, freedom and choice.

Uranus has become the standard bearer now for such terms as liberation, freedom, choice, individuality, uniqueness, innovation, challenge and breaking out of old ways and challenging the status quo. Saturn was and remains the criterion in astrology for the opposite of those values, indeed, is often relegated to a kind of "prison guard" realm. So, it may seem curious that I equate the overthrow of Ouranos/Uranus by Kronos/Saturn with liberation and freedom according to the rote astrological definition of each planet - and call that act the beginning of a new way of being.

With respect to Saturn and Uranus as "celestial sacred" symbols, they are both heavenly in position (in the sky), but are quite different in symbol. As I mentioned above, Saturn is to do with the realm of the world and its forms. While Uranus is to do with the ideal of the world and its forms. To propitiate both is the trick. How to acknowledge the perfection of the Ideal, while humanly existing in the realm of the Real? Essentially, we are required periodically to give birth to ourselves as if it were a new idea, a new culture, a new mythology.

Naturally, there is an underbelly - a shadow - of the Uranian attribute which also refers back to the origin myth: if we don't trust our ability to render a creation or idea into form (Saturn) we abandon it, abort it, before it can be given birth. In other words we refuse birth of the creation due to its imperfection - just like Ouranos and the Hekatonchires.

In Creation Myths, Jungian analyst Marie Louise Von Franz says about crossing the threshold from the Ideal possible to the Real thing,"People sometimes resist becoming creative because one's would be creativeness is always so much more impressive and important than the little egg one lays in the end when birth takes place!"

One might think that the principles of Uranus overpowering Saturn would be the "new way", but rather the opposite is what happens in our inner life.It is in this paradox that the astrological and therefore psychological struggle for identity lies.

As psychic components, both Saturn and Uranus are needed for wholeness. For innovation to become manifest it requires the adamant sickle of old Kronos - the discipline of matter over mind. The eidolon itself is simply the archetype of Uranus while the Idea takes form with the effort and adamant labor of Saturn. An harmonious equilibrium between both is the substance of progress, evolution and the development of consciousness.

by Erin Sullivan