Feeling trapped? The Astrology of Mental Health

I decided to launch this blog with the topic of mental health, as I recently saw someone ask a question on what aspects would make them feel trapped and restricted in life. They had also mentioned depression, paranoia, and past issues with drug abuse.

If you’re wondering where the trouble-makers in your birth chart are, the real heavy-hitters, it’s always a good idea to check those outer planets first. I’m talking Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. We all have them, obviously, but some people have them harder. What I mean by that is they are forming hard aspects to our personal inner planets, Sun/Moon/Mercury/Venus/Mars, even the Ascendant. By “hard aspects” I mean a square, opposition, or even a conjunction or an inconjunction (also known as a quincunx). I will also touch on the 8th house, 12th house, and stelliums in the context of mental health.

The thing about outer planets is that they are presenting challenges to overcome. Full disclosure: I love outer planets. I love “hard aspects.” These are the deepest human struggles we face in this lifetime. They make for strong, dynamic individuals with massive metamorphic potential. But they’re called “hard aspects” for a reason. Holy fuck, they are hard!

I really feel for people with a lot of hard contacts between their outer and inner planets. I’ve been there; there have been so many times where I felt like an absolute train wreck of a human being. Each outer planet is a master of its own domain of mental health issues.

Also, I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or any kind of mental health professional. I’m not gonna sit here and pretend like I can diagnose you with a specific condition. And just because you have one or more of these aspects in your chart does NOT mean you have a certain mental health condition. These interpretations are based on speculative knowledge of how planetary energies interact with each other and limited case studies of famous people with known mental health issues. Keep in mind that every planet has a dual nature. Let’s explore what they are, and then where to find these blessings in disguise in your chart:

Saturn

Francisco Goya – Saturn Devouring His Son

Saturn is the planet of restrictions, fear, delays, coldness, and limits. People freak out about Saturn, but the other side of it is that Saturn is also the planet of status, success, endurance, pushing beyond limits, and life lessons that cause us to grow beyond what we thought was possible for ourselves. Saturn is the tough love father of the zodiac. He is the Titan of Time. When he aspects an inner planet in the chart, he is adding these elements to whatever that planet expresses in your psychological makeup.

If he’s hitting your Moon, that can show depression in your birth chart. The Moon is emotions, your inner child, and relationship with your mother. This could be someone who had a very strained relationship with their mother growing up. Maybe she wasn’t very affectionate with you or was outright a cold and distant person. You could see how that would shape you into someone who learned to be emotionally cold and distant from their own feelings. The Moon is also representative of nourishment (both emotionally and physically) and with Saturn in hard aspect, this can also manifest as anorexia.

With Saturn aspecting the Sun, we switch the mother (Moon) for the father (Sun). Mythologically speaking, Saturn was one to devour his own children out of fear that they would grow up to overthrow him. A person with Saturn in aspect to their Sun likely felt their personal expression was stifled by their father growing up. Even soft aspects from Saturn to your luminaries (Sun and Moon) can point to depression and anxiety in your chart. Saturn has a dampening effect on things that are very bright, and that would also include Venus. Saturn in ANY aspect to Sun/Moon/Venus could show a tendency to melancholy and withholding your emotions from yourself and those around you. With the soft aspects it’s a bit easier to overcome melancholia. With the hard aspects, it’s usually very painful, and the person feels isolated. Saturn in hard aspect to Venus can also show anorexia sometimes, with Venus representing your ideals for beauty and aesthetics, and Saturn being restrictive. It could also show up as avoidant personality disorder.

The other side of Saturn is that he can also teach you about emotional endurance and emotional autonomy. Someone who feels they are an island can either shut down, or learn to be their own rock. You may always be an emotionally reserved person, but it becomes less about fear of rejection and more about losing the need to rely on external factors to feel stable and secure. That’s the gift of Saturn. If Saturn followed a philosophy, it would probably be stoicism.

Uranus

Giorgio Vasari and Cristofano Gherardi – The Mutilation of Uranus by Saturn

Uranus deals with an entirely different mental health energy. Uranus is chaotic, disruptive, entirely different from Saturn. If you see Uranus in hard aspect to personal planets, that’s probably showing some form of instability. Square or opposite to Mercury, it can show a mentally unstable person, someone with racing thoughts, someone who tends to jump to conclusions. Mercury is the messenger of the zodiac and the fastest moving planet. He is the “lower mind” and deals with day to day communicate and thought. Uranus is the higher octave of Mercury and is the “higher mind,” and deals with more revolutionary thinking, higher ideals, grandiose thought. If you’ve got a conflict between the higher mind and the lower mind, it’s going to make it very hard to focus on things. Hard aspects between Mercury and Uranus (even a conjunction) can show ADD/ADHD.

However, it can also make a person very mentally quick and brilliant, especially the conjunction. The struggle is in finding a way to give structure to all of those racing thoughts and ideas and express them in a concrete way (Saturn deals more with concreteness).

Uranus in hard aspects to the Moon would deal with unstable emotions. As described in the Saturn section, the Moon is emotions and inner child, relationship with mom. This aspect can show up in people who have borderline personality disorder (BPD), and both types of bipolar disorder.

The other side of Uranus is that it contains massive amounts of potential creative brilliance. Uranus is the higher octave of Mercury, and represents the higher mind. It’s fairly well known that some of the most prolific geniuses of their fields have a touch of “madness” to them. Hard Uranus-Moon aspects are frequently found in the charts of artists, musicians, and writers. Hard Uranus-Mercury aspects are often found in the charts of inventors, scientists, comedians, and film directors. Uranus is a call to action for channelling chaotic energy into the act of creation.

Neptune

Giambattista Tiepolo – Neptune Offering Gifts to Venice – 1745-50

If there is any planet that screams the “tortured artist” archetype, it’s Neptune. Uranus is the mind of the artist, but Neptune is the soul. Titan of all things water, and we all know water is the depth element of the zodiac. Neptune deals with the ethereal plane and the line between the the conscious mind (that most people operate on, on a daily basis) and the unconscious. It naturally also deals with blurred lines in general as its energy aims to dissolve the worldly illusion of duality. Aspects between Neptune and your personal planets can show things like drug addictions and alcoholism (which both create altered perceptions of reality), problems setting healthy boundaries, escapist behaviors, and even Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

Very interestingly, I’ve found several examples of famous people with DID in which every single chart had at least one hard aspect from Neptune to a personal planet, most often the Moon. Examples include Chris Costner Sizemore (22 distinct personalities, Neptune square Moon and Venus), Marilyn Monroe (Moon opposite Neptune), Adam Duritz (Neptune square Sun and Moon), Truddi Chase (Neptune square Sun, and interestingly, Neptune sextile Moon, a soft aspect), and Herschel Walker (Mercury square Neptune; though he also had hard aspects from Pluto and Uranus to his personal planets).

Obviously, Neptune makes hard aspects with personal planets for plenty of people who don’t have DID, and most people will face milder issues with their personal identity, such as a tendency towards codependent relationships, or unhealthy addictions.

The other side of Neptune is that it carries the blessing of an intrinsic connection to the higher spiritual realm when properly directed. Neptune is the higher octave of Venus, and so represents “higher love,” a universal, unconditional love. People with strong Neptune in their charts want to express love so badly they will often project their love onto others, who sadly may not reciprocate their feelings as deeply. What is really happening here is they are using that other person as a mirror to reflect their own love back at them. They would do better to direct their pure unconditional love into a more efficient vessel to reach a wider audience, such as the creation of a work of art, be it musical, visual, or otherwise. As the higher octave of Venus, Neptune is a master of beauty.

Pluto

By Peter Paul Rubens – Rape of Proserpina

“I am told God lives in me, and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”

Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, 1957

This is just my opinion, but I think Pluto might be the toughest planet to deal with in terms of mental health. Pluto is where we experience the dark night of the soul. God of the Underworld, his archetypal energy deals with inner demons, sexual abuse, control issues, and violence. I have seen many birth charts of people who were sexually abused as children with Pluto in the 4th house (of home, family life, and childhood) or the 8th house (house of sex and intimacy). Besides Pluto in 4th/8th, Pluto in hard aspect to Venus also correlates with sexual abuse. Pluto in hard aspect to the Moon could also show some form of childhood abuse, or at least a controlling and manipulative mother. Pluto aspecting Mars shows up frequently in people who experienced physical abuse as children, sexual or otherwise. For Mars, I have noticed the soft aspects (trine and sextile) still apply. This may be because Pluto and Mars are both considered “malefic” planets and the combination of the God of War with the God of Death naturally gives themes of violence.

These Plutonian types carry the weight of trust issues and usually build elaborate inner labyrinths to guard themselves. Intimacy is often viewed as a threat to them, which I find to be an understandable response to any form of abuse suffered at the hands of the very people who were supposed to take care of and support them in childhood. Paranoia and obsessive-compulsive thoughts plague them, especially with Pluto in hard aspect to Mercury. A family life filled with mind games, dark secrets, power struggles, and all forms of mind-fuckery abound with hard Mercury-Pluto aspects.

The other side of Pluto is that while it encompasses the darkest aspects of humanity, by law of polarity, it also encompasses the greatest transformative potential. Pluto is death, but also rebirth. Anything dealing with death is naturally cyclical, as is death itself, and so while hard (and sometimes, even soft) Pluto aspects to personal planets can create a life full of “mini deaths,” each one is followed by a mini rebirth, where one may fall often, only to come up exponentially stronger than before they fell. The personal power is enormous, and people with a strong Pluto in their chart have a capacity to rise as high as they wish to in the ranks of whatever field they choose, often gravitating towards fields of life where they can explore the darkness of humanity. Politics, psychology, social work, law careers, and any kind of investigative work (crime scene, journalism, etc.) are areas where they thrive.

The 8th and 12th houses in the chart

The 8th and 12th houses belong to Pluto/Scorpio and Neptune/Pisces, respectively. Planets in these 2 houses can often play out in the context of the archetypal themes of those signs/planets. Especially when they are harshly aspected, and even moreso when those aspects are between inner planets and outer planets. The luminaries especially will feel this; an 8th house Sun/Moon will carry a Plutonic/Scorpionic signature and can show a person who has an intensity about them due to some heavy experiences. A 12th house Sun/Moon will carry a Neptunian/Piscean signature and can show a person who does not have a clear vision of their own identity and/or emotions. They feel “diffused” and often somewhat disconnected from their body or feelings.

Stelliums or many oppositions

I have found a strong correlation with stelliums in the charts of people with bipolar disorder (of either type). I think the astrological explanation for this is that when a planet transits on of their chart planets, it subsequently ends up transiting several planets in a condensed amount of time. For an example, let’s say you have a Leo stellium with 4 planets. At the time of writing this, transit Saturn (in Aquarius) and Uranus (in Taurus) are in a square to each other. Saturn would then be in opposition to all of your Leo planets in sequence, while Uranus would be squaring all your Leo planets. This would show a long period of vacillating between depression (Saturn) and mania (Uranus) for as long as that transit is happening across your stellium. I’m not saying everyone with a stellium will experience bipolar episodes when a hard transit moves across them; there are way more people with stelliums in their charts than there are people with bipolar, I am sure. This is just an explanation for how the timing of bipolar episodes might be expressed in astrology.

On oppositions: having many planets clustered together on opposite sides of your chart could also trigger bipolar episodes by transit if you are prone to experiencing them. For example, if you have your Sun, Mercury, and Venus all conjunct in Pisces in your 8th house, and your Mars, Moon, and Jupiter all conjunct in Virgo in your 2nd house, then every time a transiting planet makes a conjunction to the Pisces planets, it’s making an opposition to the Virgo planets and vice-versa. And every time a transiting planet squares one of those planet sets, it’s going to square the other set. This can make a person who already feels unbalanced feel like they are being pulled in two different directions from the inside. With the faster moving planets like the Sun, Moon, Venus, and Mars, this is going to happen fairly often.

Pull up your birth chart (there are countless free websites for this if you do a quick web search) and look for the red lines connecting any outer planet to an inner planet. Much of how this could manifest in your chart depends on the chart as a whole, which houses the aspects are occurring in, and what houses those planets rule in your chart.

If you have some mental health issues you would like to explore in your chart and would like a personal chart reading, please visit my Services page to order a reading. We will also cover the lifelines in your chart showing your strongest potentials for channelling these difficult energies into constructive, healing purposes.