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Astrological Insights into Personality
By Betty Lundsted
NICOLAS-HAYS, INC.Copyright © 1980 Betty Lundsted
All rights reserved.
MOMMY, DADDY & THE KID
THIS CHAPTER IS INTENDED TO EXPOSE THE READER TO A general overview of parent-child relationships, and how these relationships can be seen in the natal chart. The roles of parent-child, the need for a parent image and the blocks that confuse parent-child issues are explored. In Section II (Planets and Aspects) the influence of the parents' relationship on the child's development is discussed. If we are to comprehend natal aspects in perspective, it's important to understand the "typical" resentments and confusions of parent and child during the normal maturation process.
When we consider mother-father-child relationships, we often approach the subject with a great deal of prejudice. We tend to view parents and children through distorted eyes — we are blinded by our love or hate, our disappointment, our overattachment, etc. In order to understand the relationships, or the problems connected with the various roles in family life, it helps to be aware of the fact that we are often caught in both roles, since we are usually both children and parents!
In a recent lecture about planetary aspects, the speaker was describing the effect of a particular aspect on a child. A mother in the audience had a child with that aspect. She responded to the speaker's description by saying, "But I was always there, I responded to every cry, to every need!" The fact is there is no way a parent can or should respond to a child's every need. The child elects to come into the universe, and presumably the parents elect to handle the responsibility for that child. We can try to do everything humanly possible for our children, but we may not always satisfy them. I wonder if we are supposed to. Children misunderstand parents at some point or other, and parents misunderstand children. The only thing we can do is become aware that these misunderstandings are unavoidable.
For example, a Fire sign child, born with a Fire sign Moon as well, was raised by two Earth sign people who did not have Fire signs strong in their horoscopes. There was no way that the parents could understand the child's idealism! The parents were not deliberately trying to hurt the child; the child was unable to understand the parents' needs as well. They knew each other, they cared for each other, but they couldn't really relate to each other.
When we look at the birth chart, we are essentially looking at the formation of a personality. If we consider the horoscope of the child as a reflection of the early childhood environment, then we may logically consider the horoscope as a road map of the emotional life based on the child's reaction to the parents' relationship.
If we can read the aspects in an adult's chart accurately, we may assume that there had to be some childhood experience to cause that aspect to manifest later in life. Mom is the first woman we see and Dad is the first man we see; and because we have no other life experience to compare them with, we assume that Mom and Dad are "normal," i.e., they behave in a "normal" way to each other — they are "normal" human beings. The value system prevalent in the marriage at the time of the birth of the child is the value system that is instilled within the personality of the child.
Most psychologists say the problems they counsel in their adult patients have been formed in the personality by the age of five. I would offer that they are formed more probably by the age of three. We pop into the universe with lots of intuition. This means that we are able to sense and feel the environment, much like we can if we go to a foreign country without knowledge of the language but find ourselves capable of discerning whether people are angry or happy, fighting or loving. A child senses the relationship between the parents in much the same way. Baby often sleeps in the parents' bedroom, a silent witness to their sexual and emotional relationship, which influences the child's reaction to sexuality in later life (on a subconscious level). And Baby is around when Mom is complaining about Dad to her girl friends, or when Dad is throwing a temper tantrum at Mom when dinner isn't ready. Baby feels how the parents handle crises, emotional warmth and everyday activities in the home.
None of the early childhood experience is readily accessible to the conscious mind as we mature. The picture and feeling memories have been stored in the subconscious mind — they haven't been discussed with anybody. To make self-diagnosis more difficult, around the age of three the child begins to broaden his range of experience by reaching out into the backyard or the nursery school. We are told that a personality is developed as we grow. Sociologists infer that a school or social environment can influence or change a child. What does this mean in reference to the aspects in the natal chart? And if a child is responding to the environment, is it responding via the aspects in the chart?
When we study astrology, we learn that a chart can be read five minutes after a child is born, so astrologers are priviledged to see a child's emotional experience or expectancy of experience before it has happened. We may have to decide for ourselves which came first, the chart or the environment.
If you compare the horoscopes of the child and the parents you will see that there is a relationship between them in planetary terms. For example, you are the transits to your parents' charts because your natal planets are their transits on the day you are born! If a child is born when Mom is going through her Saturn return, and if the kid's Saturn also conjuncts the father's Sun, the child will subconsciously evoke memories of that period in the parents, even as the child grows. (Mom's Saturn return may have been productive or unhappy; Dad's Sun–Saturn transit may have been a very unhappy period for him. Subconsciously they remember that when "Junior" was born life was awful or life was wonderful!) If two children have the same father and one child's Saturn conjuncts the father's Sun while the other child's Jupiter conjuncts the father's Sun, you will witness two different relationships between father and child. You can also see some basic relating problems by looking into the Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable squares between the charts of parent and child. The squares have difficulty in getting along together.
We think that we must love our parents and that parents must love children, but the chart comparison between parent and child may not be an easy or an amicable one. Psychologists say that parents respond differently to each of their children because one child is the eldest, one is the middle, one is the youngest, etc. These factors are certainly something to consider, but astrologers have other diagnostic tools at their disposal: the chart pattern, the signs, the planets, the houses and the aspects.
If the personality can be read from the horoscope — and a person with Mars square Venus (for example) has a certain personality — the child must have learned this from the parents' relationship and, most important, from his or her reaction to the parents' relationship. If Mom is the first woman that the child sees and Dad is the first man, then the interrelationship that goes on between Mom and Dad has to be influential in developing the child's concepts. Most parents feel that children have no awareness — but if that is true, how can the psychologist say that adult problems are formulated by the age of five? Granted, in the first few years of life children don't hold great intellectual conversations with their parents — but they can feel.
Often when parents are arguing, the six-month-old baby will begin to cry because it is sensitive to what is going on. Recent investigations in hypnosis have been quite revealing. People in hypnotic trance seem able to recall past experiences all the way back to the birth trauma.
We play roles and we also cast people into them. A child is a child and not often seen as a "person." Parents feel that they can influence their children, mold them, make them into the "spitting" image of themselves by exposing their children to circumstances, environment and experience. Parents are amazed when their children disappoint them and don't behave in the way they intended, or don't follow in their footsteps as far as career is concerned. Parents are hurt when their children don't understand or appreciate the things done to promote their welfare.
Children are just as guilty of casting their parents into roles. They identify with "mommy" and "daddy" and seldom see Mom as a woman and Dad as a man. Young children are extremely demanding of Mom and Dad (and necessarily so, for they need lots of food and care). As they grow, they demand as much as parents are able or willing to give — and more. During various time periods in the growth cycle, children demand different things of parents, and often will align themselves with the parent who will give permission or understanding. So it's "me and Dad" against Mom, or vice versa. And there are times when children see life in terms of "me against Mom and Dad." This is all part of the natural maturing process.
In some circumstances, children want parental role models, even though the models are negative. A case in point is an eleven-year-old I worked with, who was very upset about his parents' divorce. He tried for two years to reunite them. He wanted them together even though he was aware of the following circumstances: The father was unreliable; he spent many years at home, claiming that he could not get a job, so the family was supported by the wife. He felt guilty about not pulling his own weight financially, so he abused his wife and child. The child had been so severely abused by the age of six that no other adult could discipline him in any normal fashion. When the marriage ended, the husband was forced to find a job but he refused to support the child. When he had weekly custody of his son, he performed sexually with other women in front of the child.
In the face of all these harsh and painful physical and emotional experiences as well as seeing his mother hospitalized from beatings, the child still wanted his parents to get back together.
Other situations of this type helped me to understand a child's need for a parent image regardless of what that image is. If violence is a part of the experience, then these children must feel that violence is "normal."
Counseling people about the origins of personality (or even looking into your own origins) can be a very delicate experience. We are exposing a sensitive area. Most people who come for readings feel as though they are victims in some way. It's Mom's fault or Dad's fault that life is not kind. They may be right — they probably got very little training in terms of how to handle the stark realities of life. But we must keep in mind that most parents do not consciously try to destroy a child. I know some very neurotic parents, people who are going through periods of personal crisis, who are disoriented, and who would not pass too many "responsibility" tests! But they are not trying to destroy their children.
Parents may not know what they are supposed to teach a child. Humans (especially in the Western culture, or the Christian/Judaic ethic) do not really raise their children to prepare themselves for adulthood. We say that we do, but we seldom do what we say. Parents often feel that they are doing the best for their children by covering the "realities" of life and exposing the children to a rose-colored universe. For example, many parents are unable to teach their children about sexuality. Most young people I've counseled receive no sensible information about sex from their parents. (How can these young people avoid being emotionally hurt if they begin their sex lives with taboos and fears and guilts? And won't these emotional hurts breed an unexpressed resentment toward the parents?) So when it comes time for young adults to venture out into the universe on their own, they are forced to fight two battles at once. One battle is the fear of approaching the unknown universe, and the other is the fight to get rid of the influence of Mom/Dad.
Parents often do not understand that there may be a certain amount of competition between parent and child. Granted, the child may be competitive, but what about the parental jealousy that can manifest on a man-to-man or woman-to-woman basis? The mother or father can be competitive with the youngster but we have difficulty recognizing it sometimes. To understand this, observe the teen-age girl whose mother dresses "younger" than her daughter ... who infers that the kid will never be as feminine as she is ... who may resent her daughter's dating ... who may make innuendoes about what her daughter is "doing" on those dates ... and who may even be too "friendly" with her daughter's dates.
Have you ever noticed the father who criticizes every move his teen-age son makes? Dad questions the kid's selection of college, summer jobs and girls. Or the father who won't support the sensible ideas that his son has. There may be constant references to the boy as being a "dummy" and an "idiot" or other derogatory remarks rather than words that are supportive and helpful.
I've watched the parents who constantly nag their children, where all conversations with children turn into parent-child harassment. I wonder if these parents subconsciously feel threatened or resentful of the child's ensuing independence. Consider also the idea of "trust" between parent and child. Parents lay a groundwork of morality and then don't trust their children to live that morality. Many teen-agers are completely crushed by this lack of trust.
Teen-agers rebel against their parents to get free so that they can join the adult universe. Literature is fraught with this "quest for freedom." The mythology of various cultures shows the Hero (the young man) fighting his father for independence by passing tests. Hercules is mythologically important for many students of astrology since the twelve labors have often been interpreted as a quest for the self in terms of the zodiac. There also is the myth of the "father killing." This myth does not mean that one goes out and physically maims the father, but in order to be a father, you must first free yourself from the authority of your own father. The young woman in mythology must also fight to develop from ingenue to woman, but usually she must confront her husband's mother!
When we look at the animal kingdom we see some interesting phenomena regarding parent and child. A female kitten, for example, grows into cathood and gives birth to a litter of kittens. We do not see her paying obeisance to her mother, who may reside on the same farm. In fact, we will see two mother cats together, on an equal basis, sharing the responsibilities of motherhood. In the human species, seldom do we find mother and daughter greeting life as two women, or a father and son greeting life as two men.
In "Two Women," a movie made in the late 50s, a mother and daughter are women together, forced into the role because of war. They are forced to deal with sexuality in its more unattractive aspects. In the movie, mother and daughter are both raped. Sophia Loren does a magnificent job of portraying the grief of a mother forced to watch her daughter experiencing sex for the first time under terrifying conditions. The arena of war forces her to experience life with her daughter as two women; but later in the movie she reverts to the mother- daughter role when her daughter begins a relationship with a young man. She never talks with her child about their rape experience, and she slaps her when she thinks that the girl is seeing a man. Most women don't teach their daughters how to cope with sex or rape.
We often see the father-son tradition played out in epics like the movie "All My Sons." Edward G. Robinson plays a patriarchal role, demeaning his sons so much that they can never leave home. He refuses to pay them proper wages when they work for him; the sons are forced to bring their wives home to daddy because they can't afford a home of their own. This movie illustrates a father who systematically robs his sons of their manhood; but as the drama unfolds, it becomes apparent that he is not consciously aware of what he is doing.
Misuse of parental authority can cause great hostility and misery. Why? Because as children we are afraid to go against the parent figure; but in order to become adults, we must — while everything in our religion and culture says that we must not. The parent, too, is easily caught in the parent-child game because children are very dependent when they are young. The parent becomes so accustomed to doing everything for the child that two basic problems usually arise. One, the child becomes the center of the family unit and constantly interrupts family life because the parents don't teach the child that it must share. Two, the parent won't let the child "leave the nest" when the time comes. Of course, the problem of leaving the nest does not occur until the teen years, while the spoiled child syndrome usually manifests between the ages of three and ten.
Excerpted from Astrological Insights into Personality by Betty Lundsted. Copyright © 1980 Betty Lundsted. Excerpted by permission of NICOLAS-HAYS, INC..
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