Prominent psychologist Sigmund Freud proposed his idea for the structure of the psyche in the early 1920s. His system included three layers, the Id, Super Ego, and Ego, with each having a part to perform in the human psychological framework.
In this article I want to focus on the Ego and reframe some of the more objectionable attributes associated with it. Let’s contemplate if it is actually helpful in an astrological and spiritual context to put so much anxiety towards the Ego aspect of our identity.
What is the Id- Super Ego- Ego?
You cannot really talk about the Ego without first defining the other aspects of Freud’s proposed psyche structure. They work together as a triad therefore, isolating one from the others really takes it out of context.
The Id is considered our primal instincts. It is symbolic of our impulsive drives and desires. This part of our being wants pleasure and will seek this out often no matter the cost. The Super-Ego is our moral compass of sorts operating from a place of virtue and righteousness.
The Ego is considered the rational balancing act between these two extremes of being. Freud writes about this in his book The Ego and the Id written in 1923.
The Ego Becomes the Villain
I hear the most about the Ego in regards to Freud’s psyche structure. Mostly interpreted as an unwanted and self-aggrandizing part of our identity that we are constantly playing to and performing ourselves for the sake of.
In many ways the Ego is often associated and aligned with excess pride, over inflated sense of self, and devoid of spirituality. From my perspective it is almost as if the Ego has become psychology’s word or version of “sin” found in many religious contexts.
Does the Ego Exist without the word ‘Ego’?
Even if we remove the word Ego from our language we are still left with that part of us that is performed identity.
Things such as how we present ourselves to the world, our speech, actions we take, how we seek approval, and our talents and abilities are all filtered through a personal sense of self and separateness from others.
This is an undeniable aspect of our reality. Even if we are all connected and interconnected on a deeper level, we still experience an isolated self just by being in a physical human body.
What if instead we view the Ego as the creative center of our being, a place of individuality and uniqueness as essential to being who we are in the world. If we are fulfilling our role to be human, then self identity/ego is vital to this cause. This idea relates to many positive aspects found in the archetype of the zodiac sign Leo!
Having a good honest sense of self can lead us to make more informed, intelligent decisions about our life, abilities, and boundaries.
When we cultivate this aspect of our being that is conscious and aware of the world I actually feel we can connect better to those unspoken parts of self. We can create a bridge, as the Ego was originally presented to be, in order to better balance the underlying drives and emotions with our sense of knowing and wisdom.
Cultivating Individuality or Slipping Into Shadow?
Even if everything on this Earth and in this Universe is connected and we all fit into a system of unseen harmony we are still able to experience the world from an individual perspective.
Why would this ability be so central to the human experience if it is often considered a negative part of our being?
I see the present universe as a neutral plane of existence, therefore, I do not feel any aspect of our being is inherently negative but instead contains potential for shadow. In this way an over identification with Ego can lead to things we identify through language in words such as Egotistical and Egomaniac.
Our deeper layers of self are not the only truth, our ability to identity ourselves as individuals, even when constructing identity, is also a dominant and major part of our experience as human beings. It is about the motivations and intentions we are projecting and operating from.
So is the Ego Helpful in an Astrological Context?
I believe there is harm in elevating certain aspects of our human psyche structure over others, which seems to happen when using descriptor words such as Higher Self or mystical experiences that give you access to Higher realms or dimensions.
We see this in the language used to describe the more moral aspect of the psyche using the word Super for the Super Ego. This inherently gives these words and in turn the experience of them in real life an exalted status and possibly makes us biased and impartial to these experiences over other areas of self-development or a balanced sense of self development.
In order for a system to be balanced all parts need to be functioning and weighted. There are so many other systems on psyche or soul structure from psychology and other traditions, why attach to the invention of the Ego so closely? We don’t have to.
Identifying words like Ego can be helpful to illustrate a point but gone too far in one direction and it has become the thing we end up working against instead of fully integrating and understanding as a valid and necessary aspect to our human life experience.
Ultimately, I think Freud’s version of the psyche structure can be useful but should not be taken as literal truth when being applied through an astrological or spiritual lens. Language can be limiting when describing the subtle distinctions within our being.