Archetypes & Psyche
Why Mythology Matters
On the most basic level, ancient myths are a culture’s oral stories of the lives and deeds of their gods, goddesses, and heroes who are responsible for the generation and dominion of the world. The deities are the focus of worship, honored in ritual ceremonies, and prayed to avert troubles and grant blessings. Poets, artists, musicians, potters, sculptors, and playwrights portrayed these mythic motifs in art, architecture, and literature.
With the birth of the modern psychology, Carl Jung proposed that the myths were among the contents of the archetypes – the primordial structures of the psyche common to all people, and the gods were reframed as symbols of the imaginal externalization of the inner forces of the psyche. In archetypal psychology, various symptoms of neuroses are identified with particular deities who represent aspects of self that have been ignored or dishonored. The patient is guided towards honoring and integrating the attributes of that deity in order to bring about personal healing and wholeness.
In fact, this perspective was also known to the ancient Greeks. The earliest literature of Homer alludes to the divine causation of disease as something sent by the gods as punishment for having failed to honor them. Cure of the disease involved consulting an oracle as to which god had been offended, pilgrimage to the cult site of that god, making offerings at his or her temple, and perhaps becoming initiated into the rites. The modern word therapy is derived from the Greek therapeia, which means “attendance upon the gods.”
From a spiritual perspective, the deities are none other than the intrinsic nature of the mind itself. In a mythic approach to astrology, the gods and goddesses, whose names correspond to the celestial bodies that are prominently positioned at the moment of birth, represent the central archetypal themes that shape and influence a persons’ life. The birth chart can be viewed as a map of the psyche where certain planetary deities are engaged in the eternal dramas of the human condition within the span of a particular lifetime. These ideas inform the following articles and lectures that use myth as the foundation for astrological meaning.