Ego. It is just a three-letter word, but full of ramifications and various definitions depending on its usage context.
It is not easy to answer the question: “in an astrological chart what represents ‘ego’?” In one sense, the entire chart diagram represents ego. In another sense you need to better understand and define astrological meanings for different chart parts to locate where YOUR impression of “ego” lies. The word “ego” carries shades of meaning, and those elusive portrayals have been associated with astrological points like: Ascendant, Sun, Moon, Midheaven, and others.
But the question remains: “Where in an astrological chart do you find ego?”
Planets? The planets represent energies, impetus, and thrusts. Signs? The signs represent colorations, variations on those energies. Houses? The Houses show where matters operate or fulfill. The Personal Sensitive Points (PSPs, i.e., Ascendant, MC, Vertex)? The PSPs represent parts of your mind; and thus show your mental reactions to intentions, activities and events.
Terms like: self-concept, self-awareness, self-identity, self-importance, self-centeredness, self-esteem, gender identity, racial identity, etc., are also used to describe various ego-like states. These may be portrayed within an astrological chart, but are they ego or just stand-in terms used for ego? Overall this is very confusing because the semantics and words often blur.
THE SUN AND THE MOON
The Sun and the Moon are astrological planets and as such have keyword identities that are well described in literature. Some Sun keywords are: determination, capability, importance, amazement, etc. Some Moon keywords are: substance, instinct, rhythm, romance, etc. The idea of ego, yet to be defined, but encompassing words like those “self-“ terms above, does not lie with the Sun or the Moon.
The Ascendant (ASC) lies across the astrological chart as an Ascendant – Descendant axis, demarking the cusps of the First and the Seventh Houses. It separates the part of nature or reality that is above from what is below. The Ascendant axis lying across the chart represents the very real astronomical Horizon. If you are in a tall building and look out into the distance, you see where the earth and sky meet. That is your visible horizon. The Ascendant axis in the chart divides “day” (above the horizon), and “night” (below the horizon). It divides the lower and the upper chart hemispheres.
The ASC represents the internal psychological mechanism for forming your identity through the way you view the world and what occurs to you in life. The ASC represents the more noticed and opened parts of your disposition, and the more obvious parts of your personality.
Three important things to realize about the ASC are that this is where you:
- receive intake or impressions about what is happening in the world around you;
- perform your immediate evaluation of these impressions; and,
- formulate a response to these impressions.
The process of response formulation is not so much the thinking behind what is associated with your response, but your immediate reaction as the response. The ASC represents the FOREFRONT of your consciousness. It is that part of your mental apparatus that allows you to discern and formulate the types of responses you give to others. The Equatorial Ascendant (EQA) shows the background of your consciousness where idea formation takes place. Mercury represents the thinking, resolving and communication parts of your thought process.
The ASC is different from the thinking functions associated with the Planet Mercury, or the Third House, etc. The type of ‘thinking’ that is done through the ASC is in direct and immediate response to the external stimuli you receive. The thinking that is associated with Mercury or the Third House is the type of thinking that requires mental cognition, processing and evaluation.
There is little evaluation that is done through the ASC. The ASC is more concerned with your immediate and cursory reactions. Mercury is more concerned with mental evaluations. Deeper thinking of the type required to come to a realization about a very profound problem is associated with Jupiter and the Ninth House. It is important to recognize these distinctions, as there is a bit of overlap in the areas of similarity covered by these parts.
It is through the ASC that you are able to start building a sense of identity and a continuity of personality. The ASC provides you with your sense of uniqueness as an individual. It is through the ASC that you become conscious and aware of yourself as a person while you are establishing the image of your personality that makes you the person you see yourself as being. The ASC is like a genie or a slave in that it will do for you anything you consciously direct it to. It is your mold of what you want others to see you as. The ASC does not mold you, as the houses and planets attempt to do, you mold and work through your ASC.
How you perceive and take in reality, life processes, interruptions, upsets, etc., is also a function of the ASC. The ASC is such a willing slave to you that it will color your reality in any way that your Will desires. If there are things that the ASC takes in that you do not want to see or tend to, then the ASC will suppress these perceptions for you. They will be placed in the background of your mental apparatus, there to lie undisturbed until directly called forth. Later when you want to recall these then the ASC will bring them into your waking consciousness if your Will is strong enough to get through any of the protective mechanisms that you have previously set up for yourself.
The ASC represents the basic way in which you experience the environment or world that you encounter every minute, waking or asleep. It is your sense of how you express yourself within that world. The ASC is the window of your personality through which you perceive the world, and through which you pick up your impressions of what is occurring in your reality space. It is through your ASC that you allow others to see those parts of you that you want them to see. The ASC is your sense of the present or "now".
Besides the experiencing and perceptions part of the ASC, the ASC also is the point that dominates your appearance and mannerisms. It literally is the face that you present when your mind is active and trying to project out to others what you are like as a person. The ASC shows how you go about making impressions on others. It is also the point that dominates your appearance, but the manner in which it dominates your appearance is not always consistent from person to person, so that the ASC may represent fullness or shape of face in one person, and not body stature, whereas in another person it may represent stature, but not facial characteristics because the ASC does what you want and will it to.
This also makes it very difficult to type cast people by Sun Sign, ASC, etc. I have observed that people tend to reflect their entire chart. Sometimes I will see people whose ASC dominates their physique and appearance, other times I will see people whose Sun or Moon will do that. Still, others will be a balanced blend of every energy and point source that is their chart. There is no simple rule of thumb that can be used when the astrology of appearance or stature is studied.
Some astrologers associate the ASC with the word “ego”. This is a tricky thing as the ego means different things to different people. If you go back to the definition of ego as put forth by Sigmund Freud (who established the term for psychiatry) and Carl G. Jung, his foremost pupil until their break, then you can see the differences in their thinking, and you can also come to appreciate how their definitions do or do not fit in with what the astrological Ascendant is.
In general I feel that Freud's definition of the ego more closely fits the ASC as described here. Jung's definition of the ego is more closely allied with the MC (Midheaven) than the ASC. Perhaps this is why there is so much confusion in this particular area. Their definitions offer unique insight into the area of parts of the mind and also astrology.
FREUD's Definition of the Ego:
11… (The ego is) a coherent set of mental processes (which) includes consciousness and the discharge of excitations into the external world. The ego can release an action or hold it back until conditions are more opportune. It can inhibit actions and even repress them beyond consciousness. Outwardly, the ego searches the environment through the senses; inwardly it comprises a set of signals which govern the outgoing impulses. It has the inherent power to adjust impulses to reality. From the ego proceed the repressions by means of which an attempt is made to cut off certain trends in the mind not merely from consciousness but also from their other forms of manifestations and activity. The ego can include only those unconscious elements of fears, impulses, sensations, and needs which were once conscious and then repressed.
"The ego is topocentrically located at the surface of the mental apparatus. This position corresponds to the required function of perception. The ego lights up and perceives the external reality as well as being conscious of internal reality, i.e. the sensations of the organism. Sensations and feelings only become conscious through reaching the System Perception. The ego has as its nucleus the system of perception and embraces the conscious, the repressed unconscious, and the preconscious. The ego is the perceiving system together with its perception of both past and present."
From Freud's description, then, the ego becomes:
EGO = PERCEPTIONS + INTERNAL REACTIONS TO SAME + INTERNALLY GENERATED DESIRES, etc.
Taken from The Language of the Body by Alexander Lowen, MD; Collier Paperback, pp. 22‑25
to be continued…