The Child Fox in Aesop’s fable of the Sour Grapes provides a good, straightforward example for understanding the key points of the growth process that often unintentionally influence life development. The Fox story is often cited as an example of rationalization, one of the many defense mechanisms considered by Sigmund and Anna Freud. However, I have come to think of the Fox story not only as an example of rationalization, but also as a whole concept of defense mechanisms and their impact on development. In other words, I believe that everyone’s life symbolically unfolds in the same way as the life of the Child Fox.
I dared to add “Child” to the image of the Fox because it presupposes development into adulthood. Then we people can easily focus on the effect of defense mechanisms on development in a symbolic way. This makes it easier to focus symbolically on the developmental impact of defense mechanisms. As a child, the Child Fox was not tall enough to reach the delicious grapes, so in order to protect himself from the pain of failure, he called them sour and avoided even thinking about them. But now that he has grown up, grown taller, and has easy access to grapes, all he has to do is to abandon the spell he himself has used to bind his actions. In other words, he only needs to modify his life statement so that he can enjoy and eat the grapes.
Reflecting on ourselves in light of this objective awareness, we people can become aware of our own defense mechanisms and how they affect our adult life. Now, in normal human life, very simply, we first acquire a set of behaviors in our childhood family environment that become unconscious and feel as if they were innate emotional responses. Later in life, we move through life modifying, as necessary, the patterns of unconscious behavior that we first acquired in our childhood and then became unaware of. Let us consider this in connection with the symbolism of the horoscope.
Human development is symbolically represented by the birth chart. The innate themes shown in the birth horoscope are symbolic, and specific behavioral and emotional patterns actually develop with the symbolic themes at their core. We people need to repeat the past in order to feel secure, and this has to do with the symbolism of the moon. However, to move forward in life, we sometimes need to create anew from scratch. This has to do with the symbolism of the Sun. All living things on earth use these two energies to evolve and move forward on their own little paths of growth. In order for our daily lives to run smoothly, we need to establish a certain way of acting (Saturn) with a certain wholeness regarding our interactions with our surroundings. Once we develop a certain way of doing things, it takes less time and energy to do so. In the long run, however, such a mode of behavior will gradually become outdated and must be discarded at some point. Like insects, our behavior and spirit develop by shedding and molting our old structures from time to time (transsaturnian planets). We must remember that throughout our lives we are in the process of building and rebuilding our behavior in many different ways.
Using the image of the “Child Fox” as a catalyst, I believe we can create an image to guide development by contrasting the unintegrated, immature behaviors developed in childhood with the mature, integrated behaviors of adulthood (ideally) and simplifying the developmental narrative between them. In actual work, I recommend a session in which the client and astrologer, in a game-like fashion, collect developmental material by asking questions about childhood experiences and looking for images of the precocious “Child Fox” together. Then, by resolving conflicts within those elements, promoting integration, and developing the image into a mature one, the client will gain a guide for a happier future.
The developmental story of the “Child Fox” as I see it consists of following four components:
House based memory of behavior formation, centered around hemisphere emphasis.
> Characteristics and biases of behavior that can be seen from outside
Developmental tension, which includes hard aspects and unaspected planets.
> Characteristics of the processes that form behavior patterns
Basic orientation of needs and motivation through the Sun and Moon signs.
> Orientation of motives held within
Various kinds of defense mechanisms related to planetary conditions that support behavior.
> Factors that maintain patterns of behavior
Here, I would like to explain my view of “development” from the perspective of astrological symbolism. First, let’s consider a general perspective, taking a cue from Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (please refer to my previous article “Scope of Influence”). When we apply a certain symbol, we need to be very conscious of the extent to which we are looking at the organizational whole (the system) as a native’s environment. In fact, there are a number of dimensions to the organizational whole that surrounds a single person. First, when you are born, you are in a group wholeness that consists only of you and your mother. The father is added to this group, and the whole group (system) of the family is formed. When you start school, you belong to the school system, and you may actively or passively participate in the local community system. A company, a group of friends, or even a country to which a person belongs will be some level of the organizational whole in which he or she participates.
Each time a group changes, or several groups that are involved at the same time, a certain change in structured behavior is required. Each time the organizational whole (system) that you are involved changes, a kind of shedding takes place and you grow (in symbolism, the horoscope always reacts with wholeness to the surrounding environment for any change in any dimension). Therefore, we need to carefully watch how this process proceeds. This is where the image of the “Child Fox” comes in. In general, we compare the psychology of the individual with two environments: one before you grow up (e.g., the pattern formed in a small organization, environment A) and one after you grow up (e.g., the pattern formed in a large organization, environment B).
Let me explain how those 4 components cooperate to establish structure of behaviors, as we remember the tale of Child Fox in the Aesop’s Fables.
In the tale of the Child Fox, a delicious-looking grape hangs high off the ground, and the Child Fox finds it and becomes attracted to it. However, the Child Fox is not tall enough to reach them. He tried to stretch out, stand on tiptoe, and jump, but none of these worked. Then he tried to focus on what was in front of him, what he had to do now, to move forward in life, but he could not stop thinking about the delicious-looking grapes. Now he had to do something to get the grapes out of his mind, otherwise he was to be stuck there under the grapes wanting it but never getting it. So he decided to expel the grapes from his mind by calling them sour. Now, up to here is the usual tale of Fox in the Aesop’s Fables. But what is important in using the Child Fox image is from here, what happens to the Child Fox’s behavior which had been formed this way when he grows up to become adult (I added the “child” of the fox to emphasize the story of its growth into adulthood).
As adults, we become unaware of our behavioral development and the resulting patterning. The Adult Fox, even now that he has already grown tall enough to reach the grapes, continues to tell himself, “I will not eat these grapes because they are sour.” He has forgotten why and how he acquired that behavior, but his reactions and feelings are automatically working in the direction of not wanting to eat the grapes. So the purpose of using the image of the Child Fox is to objectively become aware of the development of such behavior and to be able to eat the grapes that are really supposed to be delicious, which the Adult Fox keeps saying are sour.
I believe that in everyone’s life, to some degree and with some direction, there is such a “story of transformation” going on. I thought it would be helpful to begin by using the symbolism of the birth chart to construct a very simplified story that can be understood by anyone. Here, I will be bold and consider the “gist of the growth process” by focusing only on the part that “environment A in childhood is DIFFERENT from environment B in adulthood”. Even though the horoscope is the same, the actual environment changes, and that is the crux of the growth process. We “don’t know” the specific details of the environment, but there is a point at which the environment changes significantly between childhood and adulthood. That is, in childhood, “you have to depend on your parents to survive,” but in adulthood, “you have the ability to survive on your own”. By being in a certain environment for a long period of time, a person acquires patterns that allow him or her to move energy appropriately within that environment. However, the environment changes over a long period of time, and humans inevitably have trouble adapting to these changes, and this can easily become a source of trouble in life. The “Tale of the Child Fox” is a symbolic construction of such a simplified tale.
Let us relate components of this story with horoscope symbols.
First, to consider in which orientation the Child Fox jumped, we look at the emphasized hemisphere of houses. There are four hemispheres, which may be organized into two sets: north-south and east-west. Which hemisphere is emphasized is determined by the position of the Sun. If the Sun is present, that hemisphere is emphasized. We can also count the number of planets in each hemisphere and see which hemisphere is emphasized. In this case, retrograde planets that are farther from Earth are counted in the opposite hemisphere. The sour grapes are in the hemisphere that is not emphasized, therefore the Child Fox could not reach them. In childhood, for some reason, it may have been difficult to gain experience in that direction, and his behavior may have developed in a biased way according to this situation.
Second, we look at hard aspects and unaspected planets to consider what kind of hardship caused them to behave the way they did. If hemisphere emphasis corresponds to which direction the Child Fox jumped, then hard aspects and unaspected planets correspond to how hard or in which area the Child Fox jumped (using which functions = planets?). Hemisphere emphasis is general condition of the hardship and hard aspect and unaspected planets are the specific condition of the hardship that formed the behavior.
Third, the sign in which the Sun and Moon are placed are what’s inside the grape about which the Child Fox called sour but in actuality, is very important to his development. Importance of this is that in order to fully develop, one has to direct rays of the Sun and Moon towards every house in the horoscope, but for some reason, unemphasized hemispheres are left until later to be developed. Horoscope is a good tool to become aware of those points.
Fourth, defense mechanisms work to maintain established emotional and behavioral patterns, as above, and to withstand biased attitudes, if any. Astrologically, they can range from grand trines and idealistic Mercury-Venus-Sun combinations to oppressive Pluto-Neptune aspects, acting out Jupiter-Uranus aspects, or various combinations thereof. As the saying goes, “A drowning child clutches at straws,” and the Child Fox will use whatever he can find in the horoscope to defend himself. And once he succeeds in protecting himself, he keeps using it (a behavior is learnt).
I think we can learn a lot about the psychological development of behavior patterns from Adler’s approach. Adler describes “lifestyle,” which I think corresponds to the long-term, overall patterned behavior we have tried to establish from the hemispheric emphasis. However, Adler also talks about “life tasks”. These are specific behavior-forming experiences, and we may understand them by looking at certain hard-aspect or unaspected planets (or while relating them to houses, signs, etc.). The Child Fox will develop flawed (as far as adult behavior goes) behaviors at an early age, calling grapes “sour” and including many of what Adler calls “basic mistakes (Adlerian term for a factor arising in early childhood that affects a person’s lifestyle in later life and that may need to be corrected in order to resolve conflicts.)”.
These behavior patterns are formed with the impressions of actual experience strongly imprinted in the mind, especially as they relate to the solar arcs, the transits of distant planets, progressed moons, and other time measurements. During the personality development period up to about age 20, the patterns of behavior that were biased in the family during childhood are formed, and then deepened throughout life in a way that gradually regains balance in adulthood. By understanding these growth processes and organizing our experiences, we can gain guiding insights into how to create a life that is uniquely our own.
Let us now look at this process by tracing the life of comedian, TV show host, actor, and musician George Tokoro. Astrological symbols alone do not tell us the specifics of his experiences, but we can trace the important process of personality development by comparing it to his actual life, using the key planetary placements of the natal chart and time measurements as clues.
Tokoro’s chart has Moon in Aquarius, Sun in Aquarius. This could be, for example, a powerful inner motivation to express “out of the ordinary” traits. Recognize the potential influence of such core motives always behind different experiences. Let’s look at aspects that contain tension, such as hard aspects and unaspected planets, to consider the growth process (in my notation, unaspected planets are marked with circles and hard aspects are marked with straight lines within the center circle. Soft aspects are connected to each other by curved lines between glyphs). The Moon, Mercury, and Saturn-Pluto are in a T-square, which may be a theme for long-term, powerful influence upon people related to emotional sharing and communication. In addition, Neptune and Jupiter-Uranus are square, suggesting a direction for the transmission of novel images. In addition, the theme of the search for aesthetics with unaspected Venus also seems important. In other words, there will be situations in childhood where these themes are difficult to fulfill in some way, and there will be a strong emphasis on developing the ability to deal with them (see Adler’s theory of inferiority).
The emphasis of the hemisphere is likely to be on the East (note that if a planet which orbits further than the Mars is retrograde, the focus will be on the opposite hemisphere), a characteristic of childhood behavior pattern formation with the need to reinforce one’s own traits in a defensive manner. From this, it seems likely that there were features of the environment at an early age that made it difficult to reach casual understanding, relationship building, and dependence. In other words, with the tension of not having one’s sense of beauty easily understood in such an environment (Venus unaspected) and the tension of not being able to gain long-term, powerful influence upon people around his world in emotional exchange and communication as expected, a pattern may have formed in which “unusual” energy was defensively directed toward keeping to oneself and becoming conscious.
And these considerations may be supported by defense mechanisms consisting of the fire grand trine (celestial bodies residing in all three signs of fire, although away from the orb), idealism (Sun-Venus aspect), and easy acting out (Sun Ascendant in contact with Jupiter-Uranus). This is supported by the fact that biased behavior patterns in childhood, along with the tendency to maintain strong motivations within oneself alone without relying on others (fire grand trine), and the desire to move more and more (follow patterns) without thinking too deeply (easy acting out) are imprinted like a spell that it is better for himself (idealism), which takes root as a result. This is considered to be supported by the result of idealism. Yes, this is the “sour grapes” of the Child Fox in his case.
As an adult, the environment slowly moves from A to B. Ideally, as we become adults and our various experiences deepen, we should naturally grow toward the “hard-to-reach hemisphere,” but it is possible that the above process of emotional patterning makes it easier to maintain the characteristics of behavior patterns that follow the hemisphere’s emphasis. In other words, behavior patterns that have been developed in environment A for a long time may not be easily modified to be suitable for the new environment B. The main point may become clear when we consider that many of our “current worries” may be due to the fact that the behavior patterns for adapting to environment A, which continue to be supported by this defense mechanism, are not very effective in the current environment, or environment B. Many of our problems are more or less caused by this principle at work behind the scenes. In other words, we can gain insight into our own personal growth by becoming aware of this principle, using the “story of the Child Fox” as a guide.
The key is to let it be your “guide.” The horoscope alone does not tell us anything concrete. What we do know from Tokoro’s chart as a framework for the “Child Fox’s growth story” is that chances are that he had difficulty getting others (Western) to understand the theme of “I am different (Aquarius)” in his childhood, and yet he defensively refined his uniqueness (Aquarius), being especially aware of his aesthetic sense (Venus) and influence on people (Moon Pluto), and he was able to. But that you will learn how to direct your feelings and deal with things that are not immediately understood (hard aspects). And that when this becomes patterned and unaware, it is predicted that feelings such as, for example, “They won’t understand me anyway,” will tend to overload and defensive behavior patterns will continue.
And “In what way?” with the owner of the horoscope, we relate this to actual life experiences, referring to symbolic images as if we were changing the clothes on a mannequin. Then, by fully exercising the ability of “assumption” and “corroboration,” we can deepen our understanding of the psychological development of the actual development of life. To this end, it is very important to make appropriate connections while listening to the person’s life experiences.
For example, according to Wikipedia, George Tokoro became interested in music when he was in junior high school and started playing the guitar, but he did not pursue a career in music after graduating from high school. He spent a year as a ronin before going on to college. However, he never attended a single class at the university he went through the trouble of entering. Moreover, he was expelled from the university because he forgot to pay his tuition fees. Here, we can see that the “search for aesthetics” is focused on playing music on the guitar. However, he is not easily recognized by others and adopts a defensive posture, but remains strongly aware of it all the while in his mind. We can see the formation of behavioral patterns in the Eastern Hemisphere overlapping with this part of the story. He eventually quits college and pursues a career in music.
Once in the music industry, he began performing as an opening performer for the “Downtown Boogie Woogie Band,” and Wikipedia introduced an episode that really shows the influence of the eastern hemisphere behavioral patterns. When he appeared as an opening performer, he used to bake and eat rice cakes on stage, saying, “No one is listening to the opening performer anyway.” This behavior pattern of shutting himself up and saying “anyway” is a typical pattern that tends to form in childhood due to the combination of strong tension and cooperation in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Now, just at this time (1976-77), the Solar Arc Sun was touching the Moon opposition Pluto in the natal chart. We can think of this timing as a chance for the emotions and behavior patterns formed in childhood to once again become strongly conscious and also for them to be transformed. Since Pluto is also involved in this placement, it could be considered as a time that could lead to a great transformation, depending on the way the experience was carried out. In light of the fact that he later became more and more active and developed his influence over the masses, it is possible that this experience was a reflection of the defensive behavior patterns of their childhood, but that their behavior changed as he became aware that some people understood him more than he thought they did. However, although he gained influence over the masses, he also continued to feel that the music he really wanted to have understood (unaspected Venus) was not being understood.
George Tokoro later said in an interview:
“I debuted as a singer in my 20s, and until I was in my 30s or so, I thought, ‘Why isn’t it selling? Because that’s what I was aiming for. In the beginning, I was upset. ‘You don’t listen to it anyway, do you? You guys don’t listen to it anyway!’
So I could have quit music, and I could have gone on to a smiling life as an emcee. But after 40 years in the business, I began to enjoy it. I started writing more and more songs that people didn’t want to hear. Thanks to you, I am still writing songs even though I am over 60.
Somewhere along the way, it just gets interesting. So, everyone, don’t judge what you are doing by saying, ‘It’s not for me,’ or ‘It’s boring,’ but keep on doing what you started. Life is long.
Even if you don’t make it as an actor, don’t quit everything after becoming a company employee, but stay where you smell a little. I think you can lie and say, ‘I quit already,’ and do it in secret.” (From BuzzFeedNews: https://www.buzzfeed.com/jp/ryosukekamba/tokoro-san)
In addition to the Moon-Mercury-Pluto related to the pursuit of influence over the masses, I think this unaspected Venus also gives a very good sense of how the whole life growth story is being pulled together.
If we carefully consider the origins of the story here, in all perspectives of all symbols, at first, there is a flow of the person’s awareness of what is “unintegrated” or “out of reach” in the environment of childhood, and then the individual characteristics develop as he or she accepts and accepts the situation, and then, as he or she acquires spontaneous power, he or she becomes an adult. Later, as they grow up and become adults, they will again turn toward “integration” and “moving toward what has been out of reach”.
By understanding the specific characteristics of this “story of the Child Fox” as it progresses through each individual’s life, using astrological symbols as a guide, we can help to consciously and effectively advance this process.
(birthdata: George Tokoro, January 26, 1955, 7:04 am JST in Tokorozawa, Japan listed in https://seesaawiki.jp/w/fortune_moon/)