Welcome to this guide on The Shadow Archetype in the astrological chart. This article will look at the inner planet’s symbolic shadow potential. This guide provides possible or hidden meanings of each planet. When exploring shadow themes it is best to take the entire chart into context, therefore this guide is limited in that it is only providing ideas that may exist for each planet as a stand alone not in combination with the rest of the chart.
Many of the themes listed here overlap and can be associated with multiple planets. In addition, things mentioned in this article may not necessarily be harmful or shadowy taken at face value, however, when viewed from a deeper exploration of one’s motivations certain themes may start to emerge as actually having a shadowy underbelly that we are unaware of. This exploration can help us relate these themes to particular behaviors and compulsions in our life. Shadow work can be a tool for better understanding of these aspects of the imprint of our unconscious self on our conscious self for the purpose of integration and healing. Use your intuition and personal powers of analysis to draw out your own meanings as well!
Please Note: The interpretations here are some of the ways the Planet’s shadow aspects can be interpreted. There are many ways to interpret a placement and a complete interpretation integrates other planets, aspects, and signs to uncover the bigger picture. Please use love and personal discretion when embarking on a shadow work journey. This information is not meant to replace medical/professional advice, please seek out those services if needed.
I love looking at the Earth in the astrological chart (if you want to know more about the earth in astrology click here!) The Shadow archetype when viewed through the lens of the Earth tend to be very physical experiences. The Earth can be symbolic of our relationship to the body, nourishment of self, and our sensing self. When shadows emerge from here they can be in the form of denial of physical needs, denial of the physical needs others, harm or pain to the physical self, discord with your own sensuality, sexuality, or experiences of your senses leading to a sense of imbalance or discomfort with yourself.
The Moon ☽
The Moon is symbolic of our potential for emotional experiences and impulses. Many shadows can emerge through the permeable energy of the Moon. Taking into account where the Moon fits into the image of the chart will provide the clearest picture. Shadow themes you may find in regards to the Moon are emotional manipulation, crying to get one’s way, a hard time thinking rationally, denial, hidden shame, laying blame on others, codependence in relationships, dark memories, hidden rage or other intense deep-seated emotions, denial of one’s emotional self, rejection of intense emotions, difficulty in expressing love, nurturing, compassion.
The Sun ☉
The Sun is central to our identity and being who we are, so it can be difficult when exploring shadows in this highly illuminated and bright area of the chart. Some shadow themes that may surround the Sun include exaggeration of the truth, inability to see beyond one’s own self + circumstances, selfishness, egotism, inflated sense of abilities and skills which may cause harm to others, attention seeking, misguided leadership, potential for domination and control, abuse of power, difficulty listening to others, inappropriate use of anger, force, creativity, or influence.
Mercury is the planet of communication, so when things tend towards a shadowy experience it is usually regarding this aspect of life. Shadow expressions through Mercury energy may include harmful miscommunications, purposefully manipulating your words, influencing others with negative intentions, taking actions to seek attention positive or negative, gossip or spreading lies, lying, pathological lying, obsessive thought interference, dishonesty, secret keeping, jealousy, taking advantage of others, intentionally misrepresenting yourself, an idea, or someone else.
The shadow side of Venus may include many experiences within relationship to self and others. These things may come out in the form of jealousy, obsessions, telling ourselves lies about our relationships, seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, denial of other people’s pain and suffering, over identification with victimization or victimhood, addiction to love or being in love to the point that it becomes harmful for you, over indulging to comfort ourselves, disordered eating or behavior, putting on and saving face, giving false impressions, dishonesty with self, appearance oriented or obsessed, manipulative relationship behavior, imbalance between give-take, selfishness, difficulty seeing the depth of meaning or experience in others.
Mars is a fiery planet associated with anger and temperament. Some themes we discover when embarking on a shadow exploration of Mars include inappropriate use of anger or force, self-harm, potential for violence, acting out, deep shame, actions taken out of regret, temper tantrums, untreated or denial of depression/trauma, impulsivity, selfish or greedy motivation, lashing out, raging, defensive, explosive anger or resentment, argumentative, playing with power dynamics, risky behaviors that lead to self-harm or harm of others, negative or manipulative feelings towards one’s sexuality or sexual experiences.
Jupiter is the planet luck and excess. Some shadow themes that emerge through Jupiter’s symbolism include needing to be right, driving a point home to the point of harm through words or actions, addiction, using one’s words and power for greed, explaining away bad behavior, excess greed, excessive alcohol consumption, excessive or harmful substance use, manipulating public thought or perception, masking negative actions behind spiritual or religious beliefs, egotism, self-serving, self-righteous, dishonest leadership, spinning the truth.
This planet is symbolic of stressed or tense energy to begin with and is also associated with past experiences or karma. For this reason many shadow themes we are meant to work on are present in Saturn’s symbolism in the astrology chart. Saturn in shadow can emerge as self-hate, blocks, blaming others, and an inflated sense of knowledge or power. It can represent intense experiences of fear, rejection, limitation, powerlessness, and failure. Saturn energy brings us face to face with some of our biggest fears and confrontation with our boundaries. On a personal level this planet symbolizes the discomfort that can come with human experience; our potential for negative, depressive, and detached experiences. Taken very far to one side Saturn shadows can emerge as rigidity, uncompromising, resolute, dogmatic, cold, attempts at extreme control or domination, repression of honest feelings, unloving, hard-lined, workaholic, addiction to work, cynicism, and obsession with success for fear of failure.
Click here to read more about my perspective on the Shadow archetype.
The inner planets are a good place to start when it comes to shadow theme exploration. The outer planets (Neptune, Uranus, Pluto) also have shadow themes but these can be viewed in a broader/generational context and will be explored in a later article. Thanks for reading!