OPA Astrology Store LogoAstrology and Art

by Claudia Bader

I was an art major in college and began noticing the relationship between art elements and astrology in 1973 when, in the spring, I began studying astrology, and subsequently began a graduate program in art therapy. At that point I began noticing the relationship between art, astrology, and psychodynamics expressed in art. I have had the honor to present some or most of this material in both didactic and experiential formats at UAC1 , for Kepler College, for Nodoor in China, SOTA in Canada, Shelley Ackerman’s astrology series in NYC, and for NCGR groups in San Francisco, Hartford, Ct., Seattle, and my home base, NYC, which was the first place I presented this material in the 90s. Over the years I have done experiential workshops in some of these venues as well. I have also presented some of this work for the expressive therapies and psychoanalytic communities. However, I have never written it up except to pass out handouts.2

I graduated as a psychoanalyst from the Institute for Expressive Analysis in 1993. To graduate, all candidates present a case solely discussed in supervision for a year. As I was interested in the Jungian approach as well as object relations approach, I did two separate year-long supervisions on the same case – one Jungian, one object relations. I am currently (2018) pursuing a PhD in psychoanalysis “Astrology and Transitional Phenomena.”

In 1995 I was asked to teach Art Diagnosis for Pratt Institute of Design’s graduate art therapy department. My most intensive work correlating art elements, psychology, and astrology began. This course is an in-depth exploration of how to know a person through their artwork. All elements of art – how a person works, material choices, color, space, form, line, focal points, and symbolism is studied through experiential and didactic techniques. Students learn indicators of sexual abuse in artwork, as well as acting out indicators and indicators of organicity. Work of patients is presented and discussed in depth as are a variety of different art therapy assessments.

Within a few years I also became the Art Diagnosis instructor for the School of Visual Arts graduate art therapy department.

As significant for this study, at the New School I taught an extra class, “Symbolism in Art Therapy.” The class created spontaneous artwork in response to a slide and music show of archetypes; and on another day, a mask as a response to a visualization. In teaching symbolism, the theme of cosmic symbolism was significant. Thus, I taught astrology to these students, the vast majority of whom did not know astrology beyond their Sun sign. I would get birth data and set up everyone’s chart for them, and then I taught the basics of astrology using their artworks, which were created before the astrology section of the class began.

In 2008, I was asked to teach a weeklong seminar for the Korean Expressive Arts Therapy organization in Seoul, South Korea. Most people had no idea of even what their Western Sun sign was. Six to eight hours a day I taught a combination of art therapy, astrology, Jungian and Freudian based theory, as well as alchemy, incorporating astrology into artwork they created before I taught them astrology. I will show the fascinating results of this later in this article.

ART ELEMENTS AND ASTROLOGY

The clinical term for the correlation between art and psychodynamics is Isomorphism, the structural correlation between two sets of phenomena. This is the same as “As Above, So Below.” Consciousness and matter reflect each other. Because of this, the principles I will be outlining for art also correlates with all levels of form with modifications-bodies, music, poetry, etc. Because art is visual, it is easy to see these correlations.

Art is a direct communication from the psyche at the time the person creates the artwork. There are many layers of meaning in artwork expressed through content/ archetypal themes and structural elements combined with where on the page different art elements appear. This is beyond the scope of this article, but it is awe inspiring to experience. It gives me phrike.

Phrike (a Greek word pronounced “freekay”) is one of the characteristics of symbolic experience. It is that sensation when one feels in the presence of the numinous-like tingling up our spine, and/or the hairs on our necks standing up. Both art and astrology, separately and especially together, give me phrike. I feel I was strongly guided into this path, and that on a spiritual level I was placed in teaching positions as a gateway person to open up my student’s consciousness to the numinous and the fact that there is so much more than material reality.

What follows is the condensation of some of this research. Examples are mainly from famous artists with some from people who have graciously allowed me to show their artwork and their charts. I am concentrating on the art elements and astrology in this article; I will touch on the psychodynamic elements at the end.

ART ELEMENTS

Our bodies and our experiences on earth at all levels are incarnate manifestations of spiritual, mental, and psychological energies reflected in our charts and astrology in general. Art is a wonderful way to behold this.

To see these in art, I look at two main categories.

CONTENT: This has two manifestations:

1) What motivates them to create the art that they do; what interests them. This level comes before they actually make anything.
2) What imagery they use in their artwork. Archetypal/symbolic themes can show up here in an obvious way.

STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS IN THE ART:

This is how they create the art, the building blocks of creating an artwork.

1) Line, form, composition, color, use of materials. Archetypal/symbolic themes also appear here.

There will usually be a basic way an artist works characteristic of their chart; of course, this is modified by transits and progressions which show evolution in someone’s artwork.

DOMINANT INDICATORS IN THE CHART:

Sun/Moon/Ascendant, ruler of the Ascendant

Angular planets; their archetypal qualities/signs

Major aspects to Sun/ Moon/ Ascendant, Ascendant ruler and Venus

Venus – I see changes by progression affecting artistic expression. Planet aspects to Venus are more indicative of artistic style and taste.

Significant transits and progressions affect the art expression; for instance, a student with several placements in Leo, which would usually indicate strong colors and forms as was her usual way of working, did a mask that looked like it was melting and in light pastel colors. She was having Neptune squaring all of her Leo placements.

Along with the characteristic expression of the chart’s energy, I look to the art to communicate information about the chart. For instance, if I see a strong jagged red line dominating a piece of artwork, I will look to Mars in the person’s chart. If working experientially, I may use that to do an astro-drama using the person’s Mars. For me, it is a communication from the psyche just as a dream that needs to be attended to is.

As with all interpretation in astrology, many factors affect how things express and manifest. I am going to focus on examples that clearly show the purer forms of expression. All images included in this article are in the public domain. Because of copyright issues, I can’t show some images I would like to. To see more images by these artists google their name under google images. Due to space constraints, I am using mainly famous artists familiar to most people and whose birth data is available online (which in the misogyny of the art world, tend to be mostly male). In the tables below, note especially how the spiritual principles correlate in the art, especially the structural elements.

ELEMENTS

VAN GOGH

Four planets in Fire including the Sun and Moon, ruler of the Ascendant (the Moon).

When he failed at being a missionary, art became his mission and higher calling. Lots of radiating and flaming forms and brushstrokes; interest in light; strong color. Figure 1 – Van Gogh Chart

NON FAMOUS ARTIST FEMALE

Five planets in Air including the Sun and Asc ruler and Venus – dispositor of the ascendant ruler. (No permission to show chart) This shows the strong line qualities, the open space often characteristic of Air as well as use of black and white. Use of black and white line is associated with intellectualization in art. Figure 2 – Art

EXAMPLE 2 : MC ESCHER
Here is an excellent example of an Air sign artist – along with strong natal signature of Pluto and Saturn. He shows the Geminian/Mercurial trickster in his fascination with dualities, mathematical concepts, paradoxes. See how up becomes down in the image shown with the chart.

The midpoint of the Gemini stellium is Pluto; in addition, he has a mutually approaching Moon/Saturn opposition which pulls in Mercury, dispositor of the Ascendant ruler, the Sun in Gemini, and is final dispositor of everything in his chart. His Saturn is opposite the midpoint of the Moon/Mercury as well. Note the tightness of his work which reflects the Saturn and Pluto influence as well as his use of black and white. Even when he adds color to his work, it is never bright. However, his work shows imagination and fantasy, reflected by his Sun/Neptune conjunction. Figure 3 – MC Escher

EXAMPLE 2 : MC ESCHER

ROBERT SMITHSON

Broken Circle and Spiral Hill 1971 (2 views) – photo by Gerardus. Six planets in Earth including the Sun and Moon (no birth time). His smaller gallery works use earth, stone. Figure 4 – Robert Smithson chart and art

MONET

Four planets including Sun and Moon plus Ascendant and Moon in Water. Figure 5 – Monet chart and art

ELEMENTS, ASTROLOGY, AND ART EXPERIMENT

When I taught in Korea, I did a visualization exercise feeling and visualizing the different elements in our bodies. The students then created an artwork starting with a circle on a page (we call this a mandala in art therapy, there are no rules or restrictions on how to create it other than using a circle on a page to start off). I then taught the signs with elements and modes and art characteristics that I assign to them. I had never done this before, but I decided to just ask all the different element groups, using only Sun signs, to hold up their mandalas. This was a big risk of course, but look at the results (see figures 6 to 9)—Keep in mind that when they did the artwork they did not even know what their Sun sign was.

The only group with radiating images, and there were a lot of them, was fire. Here are several from that group:Figure 6

The earth group was the one with the concrete imagery and earthy colors. Here are some from that group:Figure 7

The water group had a preponderance of wave and water imagery as well as being the main group with blurring of the imagery like it was dissolving. Here are a few of these:Figure 8

The Air group had the only black and white mandalas, the only one with winged imagery; and a preponderance of light airy imagery. Here are examples:
Figure 9

INFLUENCE OF PLANET EMPHASIS

INFLUENCE OF TRANSITS AND PROGRESSIONS In the Air sign artist below, see how her art changed during a transit of Pluto to her Air sign Ascendant ruler (Figures 10-12). We can see both intensification and compulsion in the dense tight marks, along with a sense of explosion/release behind it.

Figure 10

Figure 11

Figure 12

PSYCHOLOGICAL DIMENSION OF ART ELEMENTS
To add the psychological dimension to art elements and astrology, the chart below describes the correlations:

DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS
Both of these artists have stelliums in one sign (Figures 13-14) Which is the Pisces, which is the Taurus? A no-brainer for anyone with just elementary astrology knowledge. I actually think this could be a good experiment to prove astrology. Figure 13 is painted by Pisces artist: Howard Pyle with Sun, Mercury, Neptune and Mars in Pisces. Figure 14 is painted by Taurus artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti with Moon, and Ascendant, and Mercury in Taurus. Beautiful women, flowers, and necks are prominent in his gorgeous portraits. The one above is titled Lilith.

Figure 13

Figure 14

REFERENCES
1. In 2002 I ran the mandala project initiated in 2000 sponsored by AFAN. I created a labyrinth and we had labyrinth room which was also an art room. We made a giant astrological mandala created from small circles of people’s chart. In addition, different astrology groups contributed mandalas images or actual mandalas for the art room. I created and showed at several lunchtimes a mandala slide and music show created from this. Kelly Hunter graciously ran a lunchtime mandala session. At the next two UACs I brought the labyrinth and had a labyrinth and art room, also sponsored by AFAN.

2. If you have seen this material anywhere else without assignation to me, someone has not been ethical.

Claudia Bader MPS, ATR-BC; Licensed Psychoanalyst; Licensed Creative Arts Therapist. NCGR-PAA Level IV Counseling Astrologer.
Heartandsoulsource.com
Abzudusk@aol.com

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