Keep it Simple Series: The Sun as Vocation

In many cultures around the world and through history, the Sun was a symbol of life, vitality, well-being, and health, and leadership. In the development of astrology in the 20th century, astrologers conceived of the Sun as a symbol for the purpose or construct of personality or ego. The way I conceive of the Sun in the context of natal astrology, is that it encapsulates or contains the idea that the cause or spark of our existence, drives our living time to fruition and fulfillment of the intent that set it in motion, so that the Sun becomes both the cause and the effect of the public personality, of the person in the world. In this article, I would like to explore this in a very simple way: by looking at the Sun in a chart and its associations.

Traditional astrologers will know there exists a host of techniques for determining vocation in the literature. It is not the aim of this article to explore each of these. Instead, this article is going to focus exclusively on the role the Sun plays in our intent for living, and also in what we seek to fulfill in the world (and therefore find fulfillment in ourselves). While credit must be given to Robert Zoller who first brought me to the tradition, I must also give a special mention to astrologers Rod Suskin and particularly Faye Cossar for their further inspiration in this regard. All in all, in working with clients, I have found that a proper consideration of the Sun in the chart provides a rich tapestry for a foundational (and by no means insignificant) consideration of vocation for a person.

I am going to limit the considerations used here. I will only be looking at the Sun and its associations as descriptive of vocation (not necessarily career). One consideration that I find bears out very well in this regard is the last aspect the Sun made prior to birth, and so this consideration is included. Biographical accounts are sourced from Wikipedia. This is only to present the skeleton of what becomes a fully-fleshed career and vocation consultation.

Example 1

Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut and the first person to walk on the Moon. He was also an aerospace engineer, naval aviator, test pilot, and university professor.


Neil has a Sun on the IC, which is typical of someone who adopts a staunch approach to purpose in their life (it is personally very serious) and yes one would presume heavily informed by his relationship to his father (he was introduced to and found his love for flying through his father, who took him to the Cleveland Air Races when he was 5 years old).

The Sun is in Leo, which traditionally is the archetypal placement for leadership through earned entitlement. In any case, we have the intent to be self-possessed, to lead, through an activity or avenue that is taken very seriously. It is formed in early childhood and persists into adulthood.

As I said, the previous aspect of the Sun is usually a very strong statement that feeds into the vocational profile. In Neil’s case, the aspect is a trine from an angular and Sagittarius Moon – talk about literally stretching our boundaries of exploration on the Moon! Less dramatically but equally valid, as the Moon rules the 3rd house, his fascination with outer space was fueled by telescope viewings with his neighbor.

The Sun is aspected by a Gemini Mars and an Aries Uranus, and his first foray into space travel were the series of Gemini missions in the 1960s. I take Mars-Uranus contacts to involve machinery and technology but on a grand scale (if Mars is the car engine, Uranus is the rocket fuel and the collective impetus of America at the time to be a pioneer in exploration).

Example 2

Tracey Emin, CBE, RA (born 3 July 1963) is an English contemporary artist known for her autobiographical and confessional artwork. Emin produces work in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, film, photography, neon text and sewn appliqué.


Tracey has a Sun in Cancer in the 12th house, giving an intent to retire, to find her sense of belonging through solitude, out of which her self-identity would be informed and which would propel her vocational work. Having the Cancer Sun in the 12th would incline her to work toward feeling that a group or community functions better as her family than the nucleus she was born into. There would be something about her family’s past that her work would be addressing or using as fuel to express. Once she establishes this, one would expect her vocational drives to take off and that cadent Sun would be quite obvious in its effects (it’s still cadent, so the causes for her actions may be not well understood by others and even herself for a long time). She has expressed her longing to express her ancestral heritage through her work.

The last aspect prior to birth which the Sun made was a sextile to a Virgo Pluto (or traditionally, a trine to a Scorpio Moon). Both of these archetypes carry an affinity with destruction, the taboo, and the combative or traditionally unsavory aspects of society and ourselves in general, so whichever way you look at it, the peg fits. She was raped at the age of 13, and this clearly played into her drive and expression in her work as critics view it in the context of adolescent abuse and sexual assault. After graduating college, she suffered two abortions, the trauma of which led her to destroy all her artwork in what she described as “emotional suicide”. Some of her art photos were not considered appropriate for public viewing (such as a photo of a pack of cigarettes her uncle was holding when he as decapitated in a car crash). You can clearly see the significance of the last aspects of her Sun in her vocation profile.

The closest aspect to her natal Sun is an applying sextile to a Virgo Mars, ruler of her 10th and 5th houses, indicating the Sun intent is carried directly into her creative career with a particular focus on the details and the typical Virgo penchant for work with a variety of media.

Example 3

Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American businessman, television personality, author, and politician. He is chairman of The Trump Organization, which is the principal holding company for his real estate ventures and other business interests. He is also the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party in the 2016 presidential election.


Donald has a Gemini Sun, conjunct the North Node (and Uranus) in the 10th house. The Sun rules his first house, so his vocational profile has a strong intent to be “self-made”. The Gemini Sun “trumped” up by its conjunction with the North Node (and Uranus) would indicate the shock-value of the typical Gemini use of words and media being used in an incredibly persuasive manner, bearing upon the public strongly as a natural politician (North Node-Sun) as well as carrying or resonant with a strong grassroots movement in public (Uranus-Sun).

This is emphasized with the last aspect of the Sun prior to birth being a trine with the Libra Moon from his 3rd house – further emphasizing the proactive nature of communication and his involvement with and influence through media. Having Mars on the Ascendant colors the entire chart, so that the Libra Moon’s ability to anticipate what people want or need, would be used to further his own interests.

The closest aspect the Sun will have after birth is a Full Moon eclipse – in aspect to the Sagittarius Moon in the 4th house. One could say that he becomes known as tapping into issues to do with horizons or borders and immigration with the people of his country (Sagittarius Moon in the 4th house), and it is a threat to establishment (eclipse).

In this short article, I hope I have given some material for astrologers to reconsider how they look at the Sun in natal astrology. It is my view that the Sun should be looked at both as a driver and intent behind the force of personality in the world, but also as an indicator of the approach and desired result of that interaction. The Sun is both the cause and desired effect of the force of personality in the world.

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