The Archetype of Sagittarius
by Jef Bartow
Much of the descriptions regarding the Signs above the horizon, so to speak, can be related to a pattern of progression rather than uniquely distinct archetypes. Getting caught up in this progression serves to tell more about our life journey and less about each archetype. Therefore, I will resist this temptation here in describing the archetypes, however much it directly relates to a lifecycles astrology. Sagittarius uniquely integrates mutable qualities with the fire tendencies. These mutable qualities include being versatile, changeable, impressionable, flexible, adaptable and sociable. The fire in Sagittarius comes from natural tendencies including being enthusiastic, inspiring, impulsive, outgoing, future oriented and self-motivated. Integrated in Sagittarius, they create an archetype which embodies optimism, freedom loving, sociability, expansiveness, hope for the future, zeal, a fountain of tremendous energy, courageousness, spontaneity, adventuresome-ness and idealism. Mythologically, we see these attributes and many of the negative behaviors associated with Sagittarius (to be related later) in the god Zeus (Jupiter) and Odysseus (Ulysses). Zeus ultimately became the greatest and most powerful of all Olympians, first by killing his father Cronos, through the help of others, and later through his boundless creativity and Protean inventiveness.
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By dividing up the world between himself and his two brothers, Hades and Poseidon, he became known as the sky God and the "light of heaven." Positively, he was enthusiastic and magnanimous, not holding grudges, a wise counselor and protector of the social order.
His endless fertility exhibited by his excessive sexual conquests and his struggles with freedom focused through his marriage to Hera exhibits many of these Sagittarian qualities. Negatively, he is highly associated with arrogance, pride, extravagance, negligence, quick to anger and the severity of his punishments.
Odysseus is another example of a famous mythological character who demonstrates many Sagittarian characteristics. His name means "the angry one." He is most noted for leading the Greeks troops out of the Trojan horse to conquer Troy and recapture Helen. The long journey and separation from his to be wife Penelope includes encounter after encounter with various positive and negative feminine figures including Circe, the sirens, Calypso and Athene. This again demonstrates a male figure constantly encountering and conflicting with the feminine principle outside himself.
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Personality Conditioning: Adaptable Enthusiasm
Positive ways that Sagittarius helps us in our life journey is by instilling within us a friendly approach to others, being honest and straightforward in our interactions and, while remaining extremely independent, to be loyal and just in most relationships. Exhibiting a subtle humor, Sagittarius helps us to be generous and magnanimous while developing a humanitarian orientation. It influences us to seek personal freedom and not be fenced in by others attitudes and opinions. It helps us seek to put things in working order and focus on helping the greater sphere of society.
This can culminate in us being able to "addressing the needs of the time and the needs of the community" by willingly "sacrificing anything personal for the good of the community." Being truthful, above board and known to keep promises as part of seeking to be a part of a greater whole, we can become known for our Right Actions, dedicated to make the world a better place by helping to "unite Man with a larger philosophy."
Less positive attributes we can demonstrate through Sagittarius’ influence include irresponsibility, overindulgence, lack of concentration, restlessness, boisterousness, lack of subtlety and tact, quarrelsome-ness, blind trust, excessive and indiscriminate behavior and diffusion of energy. Its most negative instinctual influence goes beyond the integration of mutable and fire by incorporating a worldly orientation and philosophies of life for self and others (idealism) that can be as fixed as any fixed archetype. This includes characteristics of dogmatic-ness, fanaticism, being puritanical, dictatorial, archaic and intolerant. Holding onto highly personal opinions and subjective truths, we can ride roughshod over one and all based on false exaggerations and overgeneralizations.
Individuating the Self: the Search for a Vision Quest
The energetic influence of Sagittarius will definitely not help us become a stick in the mud. The trials and tribulations of individuating our spiritual Self necessitate rising above the entrenchments of our conditioning and outer world society. Here is where Sagittarius goes beyond being a breath of fresh air. It helps put us on a vision quest. This quest is characterized by accomplishing lofty objectives; moving into a more expensive and spiritual reality; becoming a one pointed devotee to a vision of a greater plan and a "bright star of directed light." Characterized by "I vision," we become capable of fulfilling the "final stage of the alchemical purification" needed to take Initiation. The bottom line of this quest is best synthesized by: "I see the goal; I reach that goal and then I see another." How do we do that, you ask? Becoming a knight in shining armor isn't that easy. The primary key is to replace our pride, extremism and arrogance with temperance, prudence, humility and justice. By transforming our human ambition into spiritual aspiration we create a balance by eliminating extremes. Through introspection tempered by compassion, we become able to develop wisdom by integrating our previous experiences with unattached freedom to serve. Ultimately our one pointed disciplined quest for a higher spirit will help us transcend both "fate and death." By acquiring an overwhelming sense of self-discipline, we gain the necessary tools in becoming a director of life energy and not just a victim of life circumstances (karmic fate).
Living a Spiritual Life: Expressing the Light of Understanding
To me, the key to living a Sagittarian spiritual life is through humility and temperance. Humility is how we let go of our egoistic attachments to ideas and thought patterns of everyday life. We surrender to something beyond ourselves and become its focused disciple. The virtue of temperance comes through the moderation of everything in life. This is a primary teaching of the Buddha and includes keeping all "pleasures of the palate and the flash… within the proper limits of propriety." Simply, it is governing and regulating everything that has been discussed regarding the excesses and extremes within the Sagittarius archetype. Wisdom is gained through putting knowledge into experience. The overabundances catalyzed by Sagittarius can be focused and directed into developing the "generosity of the Sage." But just as much as becoming the "archer King," it is living the wisdom and compassion of Kwan Yin. As an archer King, we can serve humanity as a visionary prophet. Just as easily, we can express "love-wisdom consecrated to the good of the whole."