Nowadays throughout the Astrology world we can hear how Sun is referred to as the Consciousness. Is this true from traditional astrology perspective, from the ancient doctrines and is this how the ancients looked at the Sun and its associations? I think that the truth is not far away, and I will explain this in a minute.
The English term ‘consciousness’ comes from the Latin ‘conscientia’ which in itself involves the verb ‘scire’ (to know), with preposition ‘cum’ (together with). Latin scientia is used to translate Greek ‘suneidésis’ which is equivalent of our consciousness, awareness, etc. As a philosophical term, ‘consciousness’ was introduced by Ralf Cudworth, in his True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678). However, the term suneidésis was used by several different philosophical schools in Ancient Greece and different philosophers in different context and with different meaning. Stoics used it in the context of -self-awareness, or perception of ones body, something which every living being posses, like animals who are self-aware of their own bodies, and not in a sense we are using the term ‘consciousness’ today, instead, more like ‘awareness’ – having a mental perception of the things inside your body. Now, the term ‘awareness’ has broader meaning, for example, being aware of what is going on around you, not only inside you. Other philosophers seems to have used this term in a sense that a human being is aware of the sensations inside the body, be they of a physical nature, be they of a psychological nature. So, the word suneidésis can be more accurately translated like self-awareness, at least in philosophical terms.
The word consciousness is very much pregnant in today’s New Age thought and hence New Age astrology. It is filled with very much poorly understood Hindu philosophy and hence many of those modern astrologers who use it doesn’t even know what it actually means. I will explain this further in my elaboration here. For now, let’s stick with Ancient Greece.
At the very beginning of Anthology, Vettius Valens gives description of the 7 planets, and starts with the Sun: ‘the light of the mind (intellectual light), the organ of mental perception of the soul’ (φῶς νοερόν, ψυχικῆς αἰσθήσεως ὄργανον [fōs noeron, psuchikēs, aistheseōs organon). Noun αἴσθησις (aisthēsis) means ‘self-perception, sensation, senses, means of observing, impressions of sense, visible things, etc’. The verbal form of this noun is ‘aisthomai’, with meaning ‘I perceive’. So, Sun is the organ of perception of the Soul. This is very much similar to the notion of self-awareness or consciousness as it is used today but not in all terms. Now we should go to the Hindu philosophy to see what is their take on ‘consciousness’ and what do they mean by that term.
Sanskrit word for consciousness is ‘Chith‘. Chith is not an active process like feeling or perceiving actively, it is more like passive observation. When we sleep we are not aware of the outer world but when we are awake we are aware of the world around us. Hindu philosophy teaches that there is illusion or maya and what sages do is actually going beyond this conditioning of all the people and they ‘evolve their consciousness’, it is not that it is ‘their’ consciousness, but more like taking more space of the consciousness itself which exist separately and of which every human being is part, but due to the illusion or maya, is not able to perceive. It is a complex subject and different Hindu schools posses different particulars on this teaching, but for us it is only desirable for now to know the overall notions and their application in Hindu astrology.
The great Hindu astrology classic Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra says:
सूर्य नत्वा ग्रहपतिं जगदुत्पत्तिकारणम्।।वक्ष्यामि वेदनयनं यथा ब्रह्ममुखाच्छ्रुतम्॥ ६॥
6. And having bowed to Surya (Sun), the Lord of the grahas [planets] and the source of creation, I shall now describe the eye of the Vedas (Jyotish) as heard from the mouth of Brahma. [translated by Joel Lumiere].
Sun is greatest of all planets, the principle planet, the Paramatma (the Supreme Soul), in every particular chart it is Atmakaraka or Significator of the Soul.
Parashara again says: ” The lord of the sky (Sun) is all atma.”
Atma is soul or consciousness. Moon is Mind and as Moon is borrowing the light of the Sun, in that way the Mind is borrowing the light of the Soul or the consciousness itself from the ocean of the All Consciousness (Paramatma).
As we can see from this short elaboration, Sun it is consciousness, the organ of mental perception, the intellectual light and the means of the awareness of the soul, in both systems, the particulars and philosophy behind is different though. However, the importance of the Sun in any horoscope is not to be underestimate, we should pay due attention to the examination of the Sun and its associations in the chart with other points and planets.