The study of astrology has frequently intersected with psychological themes and teachings. This has included the integration of uncovering archetypes through the astrological chart. The Shadow is one such archetype, developed and written about in-depth by psychologist Carl Jung; which has made its way into my own astrological study.
So what is ‘the shadow’ archetype and how does it fit into astrology? Here is my perspective.
Please Note: The interpretations here are some of the ways the shadow archetype can be interpreted. 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.
What is ‘The Shadow’
The Shadow is an archetypes from depth psychology. Depth psychology seeks to unpack the stuff of our unconscious mind. Aspects in our unconscious are thought to be unknown or hard to access by our waking conscious self. The theories state that memories, experiences, traumas, and other aspects of self are stored, processed, and exist in this “space” within us leaving imprints that influences our current actions and behavior patterns.
The Shadow is one these archetypes that is said to exist within us as a major player in our unconscious mind that creeps into our real life conscious experiences. Our shadows, sometimes referred to as personal demons, are the parts of self we deny and dislike. When we face our shadows we can be shocked and ashamed by our own potential for violence, fear, rage, manipulation, martyrdom, self-hate, and so on.
It is the parts of self we reject, that may get projected onto others, that operate in the depths of our being; influencing our decisions and actions most often unbeknownst to us. When Shadow work is undertaken we are walking through our dark personal forest. Feeling each important step in order shed some conscious light on these aspects of our being. To be clear I am not talking about experiences that are outside of our control or that have been perpetrated onto us, that is an entirely different topic. I am referring to things we do, from our own psychological self, that can unleash havoc in our lives.
The Shadow is what is hidden in our being but may be unknowingly dominating our seemingly conscious choices. Shadow work is often undertaken to explore these deeper aspects of self, understand why parts of life are on repeat, to heal from shame, and to fully integrate and reclaim all parts of self for greater self-love and as part of the individuation process. Uncovering our shadow sides can help us see our role and responsibility in personal challenges; how we manage ourselves through relationships, work, spirituality, and many other areas life.
Our Shadows relate to our motivations, specifically when we are motivated by some less than pleasant themes in life; greed, fear, hate, etc. We cannot deny these human experiences and depth psychology has given us a way to conceptualize and understand them. Pulling these themes out into the “light” through trance or dream work, healing, energy work, therapy, etc. can help us, not get rid of, but recognize, reframe, and understand the role Shadow archetypes play in the life of our psychic being.
My Perspective on Exploring the Shadow in the Chart
How can we possibly find our shadows in the chart when these aspects of self are so highly subjective? I feel subjective experiences are paramount to our human lives and to understanding the importance of subjective experience is the first step in interpreting an individual astrological chart!
We feel, sense, and touch the world through our own individual experiences. We rationalize and will talk ourselves into being objective but most often life’s experiences are filtered through a personal subjective lens. Finding our shadow themes will work no different, it starts with us. We first need to look at our real life experiences and then are able to anchor them to the symbology of the chart.
Let’s take a less linear perspective when viewing our particular shadow traits. Say our potential for experiences are neither good nor bad but instead boundless, not either side of a spectrum or extremes. Taking into account that our experiences are shaped by our perception of them at any given time. We can view life in waves, circles, and cycles. In this way we can start to see how a Shadow archetype emerges in a moment or at a particular time in space.
The Planets, Signs, and Aspects: Potential for Shadow Exploration
Shadows can be found in any area of the chart as most everything in life has potential to express shadowy energy. For example, Venus, the planet of love, taken in the context of the entire chart may help illuminate some areas in life where you unconsciously are operating from a place of jealousy or blind loyalty. Noticing what other planets Venus is in aspect to, what sign it is in, and what transits are taking place can all be taken into account to better understand the shadow themes of Venus in one’s current life circumstances.
In another example, you may notice Saturn and the Moon are closely conjunct in your chart, this may represent an emotional block you are not conscious of that is present in your life. These planets and aspects do not indicate a specific Shadow theme on their own, however, taken along with your subjective experience can help illuminate and help identify where unconscious shadow impulses may exist in your life. (click the link at the end of the article for a guide to the inner planet’s shadow themes in astrology).
By looking at the planets, signs and aspects in astrology it can help us identity what battles may be taking place deep in our soul. The Shadow is not a separate entity to us, but a part of us, that we can recognize and understand in order to give ourselves a more complete narrative of who and why we are who we are. There is a much greater debate to be had regarding the Shadow archetype in light of morals, ethics, and an individual’s experience of their own personal values between “right” and “wrong” in conjunction with societal norms and programming. But that is a discussion for another article. Thanks for reading.
Click Here for Shadow Themes of the Inner Planets: A Guide