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We generally think of sleep as something that should be studied by psychologists and neuroscientists rather than astrologers. But astrology has a universal quality, and it can be used to understand almost anything, even those experiences we consider to be unconscious, like sleep.

Science Reveals the Celestial Rhythm of Sleep

Scientific studies have revealed basic patterns in sleep behavior that follow celestial rhythms set by the Sun and Moon. For example, people evidently sleep longer and deeper in the fall and winter than they do in the summer. An exaggerated form of this behavior is animal hibernation. Scientists attribute these patterns to the seasonal changes in daylight and darkness; astrologers recognize them as evidence that humans, like other species on the planet, are profoundly affected by celestial rhythms.

Our modern lifestyles tend to hide or alter the influence of these natural rhythms. Artificial light can change natural sleep patterns that would otherwise be aligned with the cycles of the Sun and Moon. Recent scientific studies have shown that people without access to artificial light will fall naturally into a pattern of sleeping in two shifts: an early evening sleep of four hours or so, then a wakeful or "watching" period in the middle of the night, followed by another several-hour period of sleep preceding the dawn. (See Slumber's Unexplored Landscape from Science News.)

Sometimes it's hard to separate science from astrology. From an astrological point of view, this middle period of wakefulness corresponds to the period when the Sun crosses an important point in the horoscope. In astrology, the Sun represents consciousness, where attention is focused. Because there are 24 hours in a day, the Sun spends about two hours in each of the twelve houses of the astrological chart, and the quality of each house it visits determines where attention will be focused.

Prior to midnight, the Sun spends two hours in the Fourth House, which is associated with the subconscious and deeply internal experiences such as sleep. Around midnight, the Sun begins a two-hour visit in the Third House, which rules mental activity, learning and communication. This corresponds precisely to what scientific researchers have confirmed about sleep, that people will naturally become conscious around midnight, awakening out of deep REM sleep for a few hours of thought, reflection and self-communication about their dreams.

Nightmares and the Creative Process

Reflecting on dreams is not always a pleasant experience, for peaceful slumber can be disturbed by nightmares. The effects of nightmares are not all bad, however. There is strong evidence that people with frequent nightmares have strong creative tendencies. Mary Shelley based her best-known work, Frankenstein, on one of her frequent nightmares. In a similar (jugular) vein, Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, suffered often from nightmares and used them in his writings.

What does astrology have to say about sleep, nightmares and the creative process? Because sleep is a daily, habitual requirement for bio-psychic health, astrological tradition associates sleep with the Moon, the planetary ruler of the Fourth House. Because sleep is an unconscious activity, it is also associated with the astrological indicators of the unconscious— Pisces, Neptune, and the Twelfth House.

Astrologers can look at a birth chart and observe correlations between these astrological indicators and how a person experiences sleep. For example, the birthchart for Robert Louis Stevenson, born November 13, 1850, shows a Moon-Neptune conjunction in Pisces. Dreams were important to Stevenson, who had frequent nightmares and reported using them in his work. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was based on a nightmare in which Stevenson saw a man change from a handsome, upper-class Englishman into a hideous monster.

The Planet Pluto and Sleep

Because sleep is a mysterious and deeply internal state of being that allows for rejuvenation and transformation, astrologers find that Pluto is also a relevant factor. The relationship between dream-life and creativity is indicated by Pluto, who represents our capacity to deepen our experiences by bringing them down into the depths or subconscious levels of our being, where they can be transformed into creativity. Edgar Allan Poe, another writer who suffered often from nightmares, was born (January 19, 1809) with a Moon-Pluto conjunction in Pisces.

Whether we use science or astrology to examine human behavior, there is an important factor to consider. Astrology has been used to study various aspects of human consciousness for several thousand years, while modern, scientific analysis has only been "around" for the past few centuries. (Psychology, in its official capacity as a science, was born little more than one hundred years ago.)

Modern scientists claim to have "discovered" patterns of celestial correspondence to human behavior (like sleep) and they have developed descriptive terms such as biological clocks, biorhythms, circadian cycles, and lunar periodicities. These are not simply new names for what astrology has known all along, they are also "scientific proof" that astrology works.


Valerie Vaughan graduated with honors from Vassar College, where she studied astronomy and mythology, and has a Master's Degree in information science. She has been practicing, teaching and writing about astrology for 25 years. She is the author of Astro-Mythology: The Celestial Union of Astrology and Myth and Persephone is Transpluto: The Scientific, Mythological and Astrological Discovery of the Planet Beyond Pluto, both published by One Reed Publications.

For more information about Valerie Vaughan, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Valerie Vaughan:

  • Accidents   8/31/2013
  • Astrology Takes an Eye-Opening Look at Sleep   6/8/2013
  • Woman as Lover or Mother: The Venus-Ceres Crisis   1/14/2012
  • Classroom Avengers: The Astrology of School Shootings   3/9/2001
  • When Lightning Strikes: The Shocking Story   12/18/2000
  • Careers in Health Care: An Astrological View   10/4/2000
  • Premature Birth: Astrology and the Ethics of Survival   9/28/2000
  • A Stellar Alignment: Astrology and Chiropractic   7/31/2000
  • The "Age-Old" Dilemma of Aging Gracefully: It's All a Matter of Timing   7/17/2000
  • Between Sky and Mind: The Lunar Link to Sanity   6/10/2000
  • All in the Family: Cloning, Genetics and Astrology   5/4/2000
  • Chronobiology: Astrology in a Lab Coat?   3/13/2000

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