In “The Self Illusion – Why There Is No ‘You’ Inside Your Head,” experimental psychologist, Bruce Hood, argues that our “self” is essentially a fiction, an illusion, a narrative constructed from a variety of inputs, conditionings, experiences and influences. It’s a fascinating book, simultaneously humbling and intriguing, even threatening if one accepts his theory. What’s interesting to me is that it’s a concept with a lengthy history, but without the substantiation of thousands of social psychology experiments to back it up.

For instance, in the 1949 book, “In Search of the Miraculous” the Russian sage, George Gurdjieff is quoted as saying: “[People] have no permanent and unchanging ‘I’. Every thought, every mood, every desire, every sensation says ‘I’. And in each case it seems to be taken for granted that this I belongs to the Whole, to the whole man. In actual fact, there is no foundation whatever for this assumption.”

More recently, Idries Shah, author of a large number of books on Sufism, has written an entire book about what is called The Commanding Self, “the secondary self, which is what people interpose between themselves and knowledge, the bundle of subjective and conditioned responses, resists truth.”

What’s essentially different between Hood’s theories and the ideas of Shah and Gurdjieff, is that the latter two argue for the potential for an individual to gain control, to gradually master all these various selves and fragments into something more coherent, stable and productive. It’s an essential difference, as it points to a higher state of development and function, that subtle space where psychology gives way to spirituality.

Now, if you’re wondering how this relates to astrology, I’m happy to share. Consider the chart as a blueprint, a map of needs or traits, symbolized by the seven planets. The connections, the aspects, the relationships between the planets bear analogies to different selves and energies. Depending on the chart, we’ll see some groups of planets working together, other groups working against each other. For instance, Venus in Pisces wants unconditional love, while Mars in Aries wants to go to fight. How a person internally negotiates between such competing impulses is determined by the rest of the planets, the house placements and a variety of other factors. Let’s take a look at Charlie Sheen’s chart.

The first thing to be noted is that Sheen’s chart shows some of the limitations of Sun sign astrology. He’s a Virgo (practical, careful, etc.) and if anyone doesn’t appear to be a Virgo it’s Sheen. But if we look at his ascendant we find Gemini rising and the chart begins to change. Ruler of Gemini is Mercury (speech, talk, communication) in Leo (drama, display). Furthering matters, Mercury is in supportive aspects with Jupiter in Gemini (expansion, abundance) and Moon in Sagittarius, another fire sign and more abundance.

So, while it appears relatively unassuming as it sits at the bottom of the chart, we see Sheen’s love of talk, and not just talk but BIG TALK, taking control of the personality. So what about the Sun? It’s ruled by Mercury (more talk) and in a tight opposition with Saturn in the 11th house. Anytime, the Sun and Saturn

are in opposition we might expect an individual who struggles with self-approval and who is in a constant battle with insecurities. “I’m tired of pretending I’m not special,” said Sheen in a recent edition of Entertainment Weekly. Countering some of this flamboyance is a well-behaved Venus in Libra (a desire for balance, for harmony), so I’m sure there are periods where Sheen is charming to be around, well behaved and probably entertaining. But that Moon, connected to Mercury, is a problem. Particularly since it is “out of bounds” a term referring to a planet’s declination. The problem is that it tends to become extreme, much like Charlie. So, like most of us, the parts don’t always get along or mesh, and the result is that there’s a whole of internal commotion. In the words of a past quote: “Until the soul finds its true purpose, it must make do with agitation.”