I was asked by several followers to do a post on Astrology, Psychology, and trauma in the chart.
I was so glad to read these questions as to me, these things are almost one, it's very hard for me to see Astrology as anything else but a healing tool for trauma, in particular.
The birth chart represents the human psyche, your own personal make up, your own personal perception and story. When I read a birth chart, I see your vision of the world articulated, I can see the hurt, I can see the strength, and often I see the story too.
First let's address what we can see with the birth chart.
A chart contains a wallop of information, so much that, whatever you imagine we can see in the chart, triple that. This is the reason why if you look at the reviews of my Astrology class, students who thought they had a good grasp of their chart realize within the first week that, in fact, they did not.
As a very shallow introduction to what we can see in the chart:
- Moon: Your emotional conditioning, your childhood, your nurturing model, your primary caregiver and the types of emotional reactions, triggers, needs you have as well as your relationship to them
- Mercury: Your thinking process, possible distortions, filters, ways of communicating and perceiving information
- Sun: Your self-image, your sense of self, your confidence in yourself and your ego stories
- Mars: Your drive, your desires, the way you go about what you want in life and how you relate to your own anger and selfish needs.
- Venus: Your values, your relationship to love affairs and relationships, what you find appealing and where you draw pleasures
- Jupiter: Your belief system, relationship to faith, hope, growth and abundance
- Saturn: Your insecurities, fears, sense of inadequacies
As I said, this is only surface level, we have 20 layers deeper after we've just scratched the surface with these planets.There are also Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, the outer bad boys, which I don't want to talk about here because they do have a somewhat different way of being interpreted. But as you can tell, there is a whole lot we can tell about a person.
How does it connect to psychology?
As I briefly introduced, the birth chart in itself represents someone's psychology, but exactly like we can dive shallow or deep with the principle of Astrology, we can also dive shallow or deep with the concept of psychology. For example, let's get started with each planet's psychology.
Moon is vulnerable, moody, sensitive, empathetic. Moon can also be coddling, enabling, and pull you in your comfort bubble.
Venus pleases, a lot. She also collaborates, indulges, relates.
Mars attacks. It also defends, protects, confronts, get it done.
Sun identifies. It also brightens, relates, and creates ego based stories and narratives.
Mercury thinks. It also tends to stress, connects dots.
Jupiter believes. It also enlarges, exaggerates, cut corners.
Saturn inhibits. It also structures, grounds, persists.
Uranus disrupts. It also innovates, disconnects, invents, intuits.
Neptune blurs. It also dissolves, confuses, elevates.
Pluto destroys. It also transforms, regenerates, empowers, transmutes.
Each planet has a specific type of psychology, which is a basis you need to understand before you can dive deeper. Again, this is a quick blurb, but it's an important one.
Now how does this relate to trauma?
Trauma happens when an event or series of, "big T" or "small t", create a disruption in someone's internal system, when safety is lost and harmonious development disturbed. "Big T trauma" can be seen through obvious, actual disruptions; like physical abuse, violence, for example. "Small t trauma" can be much more insidious and easily dismissed as a non-event, and yet, increasingly, we're discovering the extents of its impact. Small t trauma can be a divorce, a conflictual relationship that has unhealthy elements of conflict, or it can be having your feelings repeatedly dismissed or denied, especially so if this occurred in childhood but as well as an adult. The extents of what constitutes small t trauma is still being investigated, but regardless of the source, the consequences of trauma are very clear and observable.
In the birth chart, this is seen through the big boys - Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn. Each and everyone of these planets create a signature type of trauma and coping response. I could speculate on why/what type of events/where in particular the trauma came from, but I won't. The goal is not to create a template of the types of situations that could occur, the goal is more so to describe the types of coping mechanisms and internal patterns one has when a given aspect is present in the chart.
For all the categories below, you can consider that a harsh aspect (conjunct, square, opposite) but also in some cases quincunxes, trine, sextile: to a personal planet or an angle, can show this type of trauma. If you're reading this article without knowing your birth chart, I recommend you pull yours here.
Also note, if you do note have any of the configuration below in your chart, but had a transit that involved the planets below, it is possible you had the formation of trauma later on in life, however, the trauma is rarely as embedded and generalized when it is created on a chart clear of these difficult aspects, than when it occurs on someone who already carries this signature.
For example, I do not have any Plutonian aspects/trauma in my personal chart, but as Pluto has been forming a square to my personal planet since 2014 - on going still - I most definitely experienced a hefty dose of Pluto trauma as an adult. However, as this is not a pattern I have in my chart, as much as it has been traumatic, I do not have the same type of embedded trauma that a person born with Pluto aspects would, so my capacity to integrate these difficult events is much heightened.
One last note, Astrology is a helpful tool to identify, categorize, and bring awareness, but it is not a replacement for medical and/or psychological treatment. Trauma-informed therapy is a very good way to go about addressing trauma.
Pluto trauma: Powerlessness, helplessness, paralysis, compulsion
Plutonian trauma creates push and pull situations, "can't live can't live without", "I need what kills me", "This is killing me but I can't resist it". It has this element of knowing you're dancing with death. There is a pattern of compulsion, addiction, attraction to what is dangerous, and a difficulty with finding balance and a sense of control. Pluto has a tendency to be simultaneously attracted to what it's repulsed by, because it's attracted by situations that CAN be catalysts for growth.
There is also a tendency to experience paralysis, because Pluto in hard aspects is terribly afraid of loss, change, and the unknown. Everyone is, but not everyone suffers terribly from these fears in ways that are incapacitating.
Usually, Plutonian trauma tends to create a disconnection between the person and their sense of internal power, leading to a sense of loss of control, helplessness, powerlessness. Typically we find someone who lives in an incapacitating fear of what could happen, and compulsively attempts to control and plan, or chooses to stay put, immobilized, because here might be painful but at least, I know what's here.
There can also be tendencies to live in destructive ways, which can very well be limited to a particular area or sets of behaviours. The destructive energy of Pluto can be quite devastating, and it can show up in behaviours that are extreme, taboo, dangerous, and often simmering with rage.
With Pluto it's difficult as the rage can be externalized (violent/dangerous behaviours) or internalized (self-hatred and self-destructive behaviours.)
With Plutonian trauma, it is entirely possible that the person was subject to treatments where they felt robbed of their power and sense of agency. Typically we find situations that created a sense of being forced, controlled, bullied, which reinforces this sense of internal helplessness. These events could have been created by people, or by elements entirely out of anyone's control. The idea is the same - that danger, chaos, destruction can occur at any moment, and this sense of impending doom colours the person's actions and perspective.
There can be experiences that pushed the person to confront situations related to death and chaos, which can lead to adults who feel helpless and powerless, unless they are in complete control of the situation. Because of this tendency to need full control, there is a strong difficulty with moving forward or trying new experiences, as it involves facing the unknown, variables that cannot be predicted or controlled, creating a sense of stagnancy and therefore slow (symbolical) death, the very thing the person is afraid of in the first place.
Pluto is primal, and with Plutonian trauma we often find panic based behaviours.
Healing: Plutonian trauma is healed by gaining awareness of where the compulsion is occurring, what void it is filling, where you feel powerless/helpless/out of control, and re-learn how to create a set of behaviours that are more empowering. Often with Pluto, there is an anticipation of death/loss/change which pulls the person into an anticipated future. Power is found in the present moment.
Neptunian trauma: Gaslighting, loss of trust, self-abandon, self-betrayal , self-sacrifice
Neptunian trauma can take a very long time to be discovered because of the nature of Neptune. Often with the Neptunian trauma, the problem isn't necessarily what happened, more so what didn't happen, which makes the grieving process more difficult: The person needs to grieve the loss of something they should have had but didn't. How can you know what you should have had when you didn't have it? It takes a long period of self-reflection to discover what was missed. Typically with Neptune, the trauma is confusing as it occurred through either an absence of, or a confusion of. Situations that created a loss of self-trust.
With Neptune we often find the same types of patterns: Behaviours that are escapist, self-abandoning, self-betraying, self-defeating. With Pluto there can be a tendency to act in powerfully destructive ways, but at least Pluto tends to burn things down and rebuild somewhere else, granted, probably in the same destructive fashion. But with Neptune, there is more so a tendency to float, feel aimless, groundless, unsure of what is going on. Here we find as well a tendency to indulge in addictions, but when Pluto would feed an addiction (in love, in chaos, in substance, in achievements) in order to feel something and feed an addiction to sensation, Neptune trauma is more so an avoidance of emptiness. With Neptune, one way or another, the person was trained to sacrifice themselves, distrust themselves, neglect themselves. This tendency to be confused and neglectful is very difficult as often it takes time to even realize this is happening. Pluto is so destructive it's hard to ignore, but Neptune is a lack of - lack of self-care, lack of self-trust, lack of self-prioritization, lack of self-definition.
Here we find escapism, codependency very often as it involves self-sacrifice and rescuing someone else, something Neptune often tends to do as the pattern is self-sacrifice + high ideals + high empathy.
People with Neptunian trauma are almost always "HSP" or "empath", which unfortunately can be used as a reason for perpetuating these behaviours. Neptune does embody elevated qualities, but the process is not less avoidant of the reality of the trauma and its consequences.
Neptune also involves a good dose of delusion, denial, and projection. Typically with Neptune, because we're playing a game of smokes and mirrors, it's not uncommon to find a pattern of blatant denial of reality. Again, not surprising given typically people with Neptunian trauma have been trained to not trust themselves, or reality.
Healing: Healing is found with a heavy focus on establishing boundaries, restoration of a strong sense of self, learning techniques to improve self-trust, recognizing self-defeating and self-sacrificing behaviours, learning how to de-glamorize selflessness, grieving the trauma of what did not happen as well as what did happen.
Uranian trauma: Unpredictability, disconnection, dissociation
Uranian trauma typically presents itself as a trauma related to repeated unpredictability, disruption and disconnection. With Uranian trauma we find someone who was trained to be familiar with chaos, disorganization, lack of consistency. One time it's yes, one time it's no. One time it's safe, one time it isn't. It creates a tendency to feel constantly stressed, on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop. As well, situations that have these characteristics tend to feel very familiar for people with Uranian trauma. Familiar does not equal happy unfortunately in this case.
We often find someone who constantly start over, starting something and quitting mid-way, finding it difficult to sustain interest and commitment in a given direction. Because the training has been that things don't last, things aren't sustainable, there is a tendency to live in a way that is self-prophetic. The person is on the move, changing partners, jobs, locations, housing, living in a state of "freedom" but one that feels ever edgy and unsafe - just like some elements of childhood.
In terms of behaviours we also find people who have a "snap" button, one minute everything is fine, the next an explosion occurs. Explosions occur after a trigger has been activated, and the explosion is just a repetition of what they experienced in childhood - behaviours or situations that would take them by surprise, startle them, and creates this innate sense of lack of safety.
Healing: Creating consistent and reliable routines, identifying where the chaotic and unpredictable energy tends to play out, identify and practice recognizing the underlying needs that are not addressed. Run away from behaviours and situations that create too much unpredictability, attempt to create as much structure as possible in ways that feel good, learning how to create just a few seconds window after a trigger gets you out of your regulated zone in order to promote responses versus reactions.
Saturnian trauma: Toxic shame, self-rejection, inadequacy
Saturnian trauma is identifiable by the sense of shame and inadequacy that accompanies it. These are elements of all types of trauma, but with Saturn, it is a striking feature.
Saturnia trauma presents itself as someone who experienced situations that induced the sense that "something is wrong with me". The shame can be insidious, but the internal voice is crystal clear and has a plethora of comments to make about all the ways in which the person is incredibly inadequate. Here we find self-defeating behaviours as well, but what is self-defeating is not necessarily what is done and more so what isn't: The person is held back, inhibited. We find people who do not take actions, don't apply for a job, don't put themselves out there. The key word is this one: Play small, stay hidden, and perhaps they won't notice how horrible and inadequate you are.
Just like any other trauma, as much as it is obvious once you have awareness of it, as the person most likely had this internal "inner critic" their all life, it's very difficult at times to realize objective truth does not equal what their inner voice has to say. Everyone has a Saturn and everyone has an inner critic, but not everyone is paralyzed and traumatized by it.
Toxic shame is a concept that describes when someone has an inherent sense to be "wrong". The problem with shame is that it can only breed more shame. If I get something bad, it's normal, because I'm wrong. If I get something good, it's wrong, because I'm wrong, I don't deserve it and therefore I'm an imposter. Saturn loves a double bind, a situation with no winner but shame.
As there is a generalized sense of being wrong, there is also a tendency to project this sense of wrongness on the world, and we can find people who are stern, critical, harsh, judgemental. It doesn't breed sympathy and so the prophecy goes on. For the Saturnian trauma, it's difficult to be kind and tender with the outer world as there was a sense of judgement, shame and criticism that was internalized. It is a normal lens to look at the world through a critical stern voice, after all, that is an every day reality for the Saturnian trauma.
The person experiences inhibition in various ways depending on where the trauma is playing out, but usually there is a generalized sense of not being enough and adequate. We do find a lot of high-functioning performers with Saturn, people who, motivated by this sense of being not enough, achieve tremendous goals, but unfortunately the rewards are short lived, as the cycle of not enough always repeat itself. Perfectionism is also a problem with Saturnian trauma, with on the opposite pole of the high achievers, people who find themselves unable to perform or start anything as the only way to do something is if it's perfect - a concept that is entirely impossible, leading to the prophecy of I'm not good enough to get anything done.
Overall there is a pattern of criticism, shame, perfectionism, and self-defeating inaction.
Healing: Becoming aware of the inner critic, befriending it, thanking it for its relentless hard work. This voice has a purpose and is protecting you from having another person shaming you, something that is expected as it was lived and experienced as deeply traumatic. Learning how to slowly implement self-compassion in the day to day living, thinking, self-talking. Journaling by acknowledging strengths, qualities and gratitude. Doing self-experiment and facing the belief that a given situation will result in being shamed or judged, and allowing for the opposite result to be experienced and acknowledged. Practicing curiosity and replacing judgement by open questions/inquiries.