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These days when our civilisation has reached a crisis point, and our economic and ecological systems are veering out of control, it’s good to be reminded that the universe is a cosmos, and that eternal spiritual principles govern the cycles of time, and structure our personalities and daily lives. Astrology gives us insight into them. It teaches that all time cycles have three phases: the cardinal when the new is created; the fixed when what has been achieved is held and maintained; and the mutable when it all falls apart and the old is swept away. We are in the final stages of the mutable phase of the Age of Pisces – a great time cycle that has lasted more than two thousand years. No wonder we’re feeling insecure!

We have also reached a crisis point in the cycle of Saturn to Uranus – the opposition that signifies a violent clash between the forces in the collective that want to hold on to the old because it’s known and feels safe, and powers that want to raze everything to the ground and start afresh. The first exact opposition of these two planetary giants was on 4th November – the day of the American election!

The third dramatic happening is that Pluto is changing signs, which in the past has always been a time of crisis, and is moving from Sagittarius into Capricorn. No wonder the global financial and economic institutions have been shaken to their foundations by toxic debts! Capricorn’s themes centre round the management of material life, and our custodianship of the planet. Knowing that Pluto will remain in Capricorn until 2024, we can expect multiple breakdowns and breakthroughs in the systems that sustain life on earth in the years to come.

The ancient Egyptians’ understanding of the archetypes that determine the quality of the times enabled their civilisation to endure through cardinal, fixed and mutable phases for over four thousand years. It was the task of the astrologers in the ancient cultures to prescribe the right actions, and the appropriate rituals and religious ceremonies, to keep the human sphere in harmony with the celestial. It was about going with the flow instead of swimming against the current as we try to do, and it was about trust – trust that whatever happens, even though it’s beyond our control, is right if it accords with the cosmic energies of the moment.

Mainstream society today derides astrology and disregards the ancient wisdom at a cost. However, without learning the complicated techniques needed to become an astrologer, we can all gain knowledge of the twelve archetypes that govern our lives, and learn to live in harmony with them. They were called the ‘Archai’ in ancient Greece and the ‘Neters’ in Egypt, where they were personified as gods and goddesses and worshipped as constellations of stars. C.G.Jung saw what he called archetypes as much more than projections of the human mind. He spoke of them as innate structures within the cosmic psyche. Jung saw the universe as a living being rather than dead matter. He revived the ancient view of the universe as the macrocosm corresponding to the human microcosm – God in the image of man. And like the human individual, the universe possesses not only a body but also a mind and a feeling soul. Thus we can speak of the psyche, or the inner life, of the universe of which our personal inner life is a part.

The twelve astrological archetypes are like twelve rays, each resonating with a different colour, whose essences manifest on all levels of creation. This is the wisdom behind the ancient system of correspondences called the Great Chain of Being. Thus, for example, the Aries archetype appears in Nature in iron, in the planet Mars, in rubies, in tigers and wolves and in the thistle and cactus. In the human sphere it rules a particular psychological type that’s impatient and aggressive, but also daring and pioneering. It is associated with health problems such as fevers and headaches, and it faces us, when this is our main archetype, with a certain set of issues and challenges - for example how to assert ourselves without harming others. It also sets us on the Aries spiritual path.

Many people only know their sun sign, and some cannot identify with it, the reason being that most of us are a mixture of three or four main archetypes. Your rising sign and moon sign are also important and in some cases can eclipse your sun sign. So a personal birth chart is needed to determine your particular archetypal mix, and this can be obtained today free on the internet. In my book mentioned below I give instructions on how to get your chart from an internet site and use it to find your main archetypes.

The mixture of archetypes in our chart will not only describe our personality but also the kind of life we lead. As the outer world and the inner world mirror each other, we always attract conditions and people to us that match our inner patterns. So who our parents were is no coincidence, nor is the kind of childhood we had. The work we do, our pattern in relationships, the subjects we are passionate about, and our goals in life are all contained in seed in the particular archetypal mix of our birth chart, which then unfolds during our lifetime in time cycles. Being able to recognise the signatures of the twelve archetypes as they emerge in our lives allows us to make sense of our experience by seeing it in the context of wider cosmic patterns of meaning.

I wrote my new book Virtual Lives: the Animated Zodiac* to show how the astrological archetypes express in our personalities and lives. Instead of telling you about the signs, as other astrology books do, I give you a direct experience of them. You find out what it’s like to be in the skin of a Virgo, a Capricorn or a Gemini etc. and see life through their eyes. That makes you realise how very different other people’s viewpoints are to your own, and helps you understand them better. The book is also written in an easy-to-read, entertaining style, combining a lightness of touch with a depth of content.

The story starts in the interlife (the life between lives) where a group of twelve characters are getting last minute instructions from their life coach. Then they are conceived and born, and each character narrates in turn his or her experiences from birth to death. Nothing in the stories is random, and each character demonstrates the typical traits of his or her archetype. The Taurus, for example, is a pure example of a Taurus, without other archetypes mixed in, as is the case in real life. Their life circumstances, and what happens to them and the kind of decisions they make are all archetypical, and in this way the reader becomes familiarised with the fields of potential experience to be expected with each archetype.

The characters are accompanied by their life coach, an invisible companion throughout their lives, who dialogues with them as an inner voice. He reminds them to do their self-inquiry and stay aware, and helps them understand their life lessons. So they learn and grow through their experiences, and die wiser than they were. The stories in the book also have dramatised versions as radio plays, and a selection of them can be downloaded free on my website (see below).

In this day and age, as life becomes wild and chaotic, we urgently need to become aware of the structuring presence of the archetypes. Then, if the mutable phase we are going through brings a loss of coherence, we can rest assured this is only on the surface. Beneath the frenetic music of our twenty-first century lives deeper harmonies are resounding – harmonies that our forefathers knew and loved, and that echo the music of the spheres. Listening to them can renew our faith in the universe in which we are all embedded. It is not only alive and intelligent but it has a feeling heart, and whatever happens is ultimately an act of love. As Dante wrote, it is divine love that moves the stars.

* Phoebe Wyss Virtual Lives: the Animated Zodiac (Tree Tongue 2008, £12.95) Available from or from Phoebe Wyss Tel 01273-417997, email

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