The Ego as Threefold Personality

This look at the three Personality or Ego Planets is from Bruno Huber’s book ‘Astrological Psychosynthesis’, first published in German in 1981.

In all of us the ego will experience itself in three different modes, on three levels, in the threefold personality structure. We have a physical, corporeal self, an emotional, feeling self, and a reasoning, rational self. The ego will see itself in a different role at each of these levels. So we’ll now examine these three levels in more detail, because it is important for us to know on which one of them we feel most at home, and when and how often we jump from one to the other, usually without being aware of what we are up to. It greatly enhances our self-knowledge if we can observe just how we function, where our ego is located at any given time, or where perhaps it may be stuck fast. If we want to be in charge of ourselves it is of enormous help to become aware of this. We have to understand our ego’s innate preferences and hesitations, and that’s not so simple. But a look at the three major planets in the horoscope can be most fruitful and informative.

The Sun

Let’s look at the Sun first, as its nature is nearest to our modern ethos. It stands for self-awareness as generally understood, strong individuals with a pronounced degree of autonomy and a per­sonality which radiates confidence, obviously able to cope with life. Speaking astrologically, we say that through the Sun we experience ourselves predominantly as rational beings. ‘I think, therefore I am’ (Descartes). We can observe ourselves, view ourselves with some detachment, and can describe ourselves as through the eyes of an outsider. We can note how we function, what we are doing, and why and where we are doing it. We can think critically about ourselves, and decide to change our behaviour at will, in any chosen direction. Or rather, the potential is there for us to use, but of course it varies in its effectiveness from person to person.

This ability of self-observation is a very important attribute, and it helps us to relate to the world at large from our inner core and without misgivings. Self-knowledge is a prerequisite for being able to think for ourselves, draw our own conclusions, and accept responsibility for our own actions; so that we can stand on our own two feet, and own our selfhood, or at least strive consciously to attain an independent original per­sonality in due course, with the acknowledged right to be ourselves and to express ourselves as freely as possible. All this is the ideal of our solar consciousness, and in our Western civilization it forms the basis of our thinking, of our solar self-awareness. Hence we can know who we are, and what we want from life, know the tools at our disposal, know our own abilities, and use our will-power to achieve our aims.

When we discuss solar energies, sooner or later the will is always mentioned. And equally, most people who reckon that they are self-reliant and self-aware also talk about will-power, whether or not they themselves happen to possess a good dose of it. They automatically assume that independent people have free will, and seem to say, ‘I can do whatever I set out to do, and it is important to get it right.’ They feel that the best way to do justice to solar energies is to translate them into action; that’s why not only reason but also vitality and drive are involved. The sheer energy radiated by the Sun is just as important as self-awareness, or, at a lesser level, as intellect. By intellect we usually mean the school type, academic variety, which is measured and marked in grades—a somewhat narrow and one-sided function based on dry facts. This of course is not what the Sun stands for; our Sun intelligence has creative potential and therefore vitality and drive, which are equally important as consciousness.

Associated with the Sun are words ‘Self-awareness’, ‘Control’ and the ‘Need for Expansion’. These of course are concepts connected with energy, vitality, drive and power. Here we should add a few more concepts which will enlarge our understanding of ‘awareness’ beyond a mere intellectual formula­tion—concepts such as mentality, mode of thinking, and thought processes. In most modes of thought and thought processes our mentality follows in the pathways of the mind of the community, but we are each endowed with our own specific portion of this quality, which is decisive for the ways in which our mind works, and which can be deduced from the social sign in which our Sun is placed.

The Moon

Now, by contrast to the Sun, let’s take the second of the two Lights, the night light, the Moon. A third of her time she spends in the sky during our daytime. She has a weaker effect on our consciousness because she throws only reflected light back to the Earth, and she becomes visible only through the light of the Sun. The Sun produces his own light, he radiates his own energy, and thereby can have thrust and will. But unlike solar consciousness, the Moon gains awareness not actively, directly, from herself, and not from self-examination, but rather passively, indirectly, by being receptive to outside influences. The lunar ego longs for contact, just as the Moon thrives on being irradiated by the Sun. As seen from the Earth, she can only shine when she has been lit up by the Sun, when she has been given the Sun’s light to reflect. Otherwise, as during lunar eclipses, she just looks like a dark disc. Just as the Moon needs the light of the Sun to come into her own, so the lunar ego can only experience itself through someone or something else, through being awakened by some contact from outside herself. That’s why she is constantly on the lookout for human contact. In that way she feels empowered and validated.

The Moon won’t say, ‘I think, therefore I am’. She’ll say instead, ‘I have received, I feel, therefore I am’. She likes to be touched, either by skin contact, or, from further afield, by the spoken word. She responds quickly and spontaneously when we make the first move. Her emotions are stimulated, her nature resonates to the occasion, her ego comes to life. That’s how she comes to experi­ence herself, how she gains awareness of herself, and how the lunar self is totally different from the solar self which, as we know, is autonomous and self-sufficient.

The Sun radiates his own energy, and is well aware of the power this gives him. He seems to say to the world, ‘I am strong, I am very influential, I can achieve almost anything I like, I am well-nigh indomitable.’ These are conscious attitudes, due to his own central reserves of power. So we can state yet again that solar conscious­ness is autonomous and self-reliant. In no way does it depend on being validated by other people. The Sun is perfectly capable of asserting himself. He is sure of his identity, and can think for himself and observe himself in the process. He does not have to ask for permission from those around him; he can act as he pleases without reference or deference to others—autonomous self-awareness.

That is unlike the lunar type of self-awareness, which has to see itself in relation to something or other, animate or inanimate, otherwise the Moon feels incomplete and unfulfilled. That’s why people with a pronounced Moon-type ego become more and more frustrated when they feel out of touch for any length of time. Then they’ll do just about anything to be again in a situation where they feel they can give and receive love. They’ll put up with the most rotten circumstances rather than live on their own. They just don’t feel alive unless they have some form of personal involvement. Without that autonomous self-awareness they are dependent on the outside world. They simply must have interplay with the world at large; they need to relate. It’s only through relationships, through being acknowledged by other people and being able to respond to them that they feel whole persons, sure of their worth and their very existence—a very different mode of experiencing oneself.


The third mode of consciousness is Saturn consciousness. Its chief quality is physical reality, corporeality, everything which is cor­poreal. This is most aptly represented by our bodily functions and everything connected with them, and also our ability to take care of ourselves. From the point of view of Saturn, the ego is an entity distinct and separate from everything else. We are aware of our boundaries and spend much time and effort to keep them intact; we feel strong and secure whilst we manage to protect them properly, so that nobody else can penetrate our defences. That is typically saturnian.

The Sun’s rays stream from the centre outwards; they like to make their radiation felt everywhere. But Saturn is defensive. As long as he can take care of his own space and its frontiers he feels at ease, self-contained and contented. He reckons he doesn’t really need the outside world, as far as he is concerned he is quite all right by himself, thank you. He builds a protective wall against all untoward influences, specializes in defence mechanisms, and tries to preserve his immunity and secure himself against intruders by all means at his disposal. It is his task to keep his body free from pollution and all infection. If someone dares to touch him without his prior permission he’ll react automatically by warning them off. ‘Beware, keep your distance.’ If they don’t take any notice, he’ll be a bit more insistent. ‘Keep your distance, or else…’ But if they still don’t get the message then he’ll hit back. If other people won’t take no for an answer then Saturn will get aggressive.

Scientists have found that we human beings seem to be sur­rounded by a number of invisible zones, which can however be measured fairly accurately. The smallest, some 30-40 cm from us, is the critical security zone. Anyone wanting to come closer to us than that makes us bristle; they’d better stay outside. Only people whom we trust completely, those nearest and dearest to us, are allowed to come any closer. One metre is the most comfortable distance for general conversation, and we are suspicious of people who want to get any closer; they may be up to something. The neutral zone starts some 3½ m away from us. If anyone insists on being within 2 m of us for any length of time we’ll become wary; they may be wanting something from us, although we may not yet be quite sure just what this may be. But, if possible, and just to be on the safe side, we’d prefer to push our chair back by another 1-1½ m.

These are scientifically established border lines, zones of differ­ent grades of familiarity acceptable to Saturn. He has a whole system of safety zones. The very last frontier is the skin. But Saturn won’t allow anyone anywhere near it if it can be at all avoided.

If we only had Saturn without the Moon we’d have no popu­lation problem. Nobody would permit any contact with any person of the opposite sex, and we’d have no more babies. That’s why we need the Moon. She lifts these restrictive practices which are imposed by Saturn’s excessive search for absolute security.

The Moon and Saturn seem to pull in opposite directions, one saying ‘open’, the other saying ‘shut’. The Moon opens up, she looks for new contacts, so that she can experience herself again via her feelings. But Saturn closes down automatically, and if a relationship shows a sign of going sour then he’ll say: ‘There you are, I told you so, no good could come of it. That chap was up to no good, he has a one-track mind.’ Saturn says this usually even before the Moon has made any actual plans. He knows that if he is too late with his safety measures then he’ll have to cope with the consequences.

This is an example why in Astrological Psychology we call the Moon the child, and Saturn the mother. They complement each other. The child (Moon) is adventurous. From the mother’s (Saturn’s) point of view this spells danger, so she runs after the child, in a effort to protect it from all possible harm, grabs hold of it and gives it a good talking-to.

At first we’ll experience this stop-start mechanism in our childhood, through a child’s eyes, but later on, when we have children of our own, from the point of view of a father or a mother. Our emotions will drive us onwards, but our need for security will hold us back—two energies which run counter to each other. Only too often do we come across conflicting interests. And if either the Moon or Saturn become too dominant, so that we can’t easily work out a fair and reasonable compromise, then the resultant stress may actually make us ill, physically or psychologically. Saturn will say, ‘I am master of my own space. The outside world is ever hostile, I’ll have to be on my guard.’ Thus he will take care of our physical survival. After all, we all must eat, seek shelter, keep warm and well protected, otherwise we perish. Only after Saturn’s needs are satisfied can the Moon indulge her feelings and have her own way, or the Sun, which is even more pronouncedly different, can dare to branch out in a new direction, and of course this is invariably dangerous, as no one quite knows what will come of it.

These three types of self-awareness are poles apart and function on very different levels. We have to be mindful that they don’t create undue conflict, or trigger trouble within us, or create a psycho­logical block. All these are aspects of our selfhood, our inner life, unique to each one of us. After all, this is the stage on which the drama of our life is played out, by our individual egos, our personality.

To learn more, see Bruno’s book ‘The Astrological Houses’, or for an overview of astrological psychology see ‘The Cosmic Egg Timer: Introducing Astrological Psychology’ by Joyce Hopewell and Richard Llewellyn, or do one of our courses.

Featured image courtesy of agsandrew and Shutterstock.