©2011 by Guest Blogger, Brian Clark
The sibling relationship is a powerful bond that influences our adult relationships and our sense of well-being. It is a bond that has not been adequately delineated or honoured, yet it is the one relationship that has the most chance of spanning a complete lifetime. While it is a relationship that has been ignored by psychology in the past, things are beginning to change.
With much of the fabric of the traditional family in tatters through divorce and separation, the sibling is often the link to continuity and security. As the global family becomes more of a reality and the quest for equality continues, it is natural that the image of the sibling, as the carrier of peer relationship, will be constellated in the collective.
Abundant literature on human relationship exists, yet seldom includes an exploration of one of our most fundamental relationships, that with the sibling. In examining the influential relationships from the family of origin and our childhood, the sibling relationship is of primary significance. Siblings mature within the same system and generation, and sisters and brothers belong to the same hierarchical level of the family.
It is a peer relationship. Siblings are witness to our lives, the custodians of our earliest memories and the touchstones of our childhood experiences. Brothers and sisters are powerful figures in our lives, whose influences contribute to the emotional foundation upon which intimate relationships are built.
In the rapid rearrangement of modern family structures, values, morals and goals, the role of the sibling became more important. Siblings act as ‘safety valves’ in a separation or divorce, providing continuity when the family structure alters or splits apart. More than ever, the sibling system holds much of our familial coherence.
In some ways the link between sisters and brothers is one of the most unusual familial bonds, as it often survives throughout our lifetime, becoming a link that encompasses the longest period of time in comparison with other relationships. Sibs share similar genes, similar parental beliefs, and a similar early lifestyle; this shared history imprints them with a common destiny, a shared foundation in life, which is a cornerstone to later relationships.
The sibling influence is of utmost importance, for within the sibling system we learn to share, strive for equality and have our first experiences of equal and peer relationships. The quest for equality begins in the sibling system and our own personal sibling constellation. Our place within the groups we join, the community we belong to, and many other group constellations will be examined, drawing into consciousness early imprints from our experiences within the sibling unit.
Astrology was the constant resource that enabled me to appreciate the powerful influence of the sibling. Each horoscope contains a treasury of information about both the literal and archetypal sibling.
In adulthood another task emerges: how to recreate the sibling relationship as adults. Each sibling system is its own unique constellation, whether there are many siblings or none at all, whether the siblings are blood related or not.
Sibling relationships are the first experience of equal relationship which in turn affects the world of friends, peers, colleagues, partners and companions. Equality, including gender equality, is part of the sibling archetype which then informs all our other equal relationships in life.
In the horoscope, the sibling archetype is located in the third house. This acts as a template for the other two houses of equal relationship – the seventh house of partnership and the eleventh house of friendship. The astrological horoscope inherently contains the image of the sibling/s since it contains all archetypes within its system. Reflecting on the natural wisdom of the astrological model can also expand our understanding of the sibling.
With such a focus on the sibling as the first partner, companion and other, only children may feel left out. But this is part of the fate of being an only child. The sibling is an image in the psyche whether there is a literal sibling or not, and the psyche will attempt to embody this image through others in the life of an ‘only’.
An only child may even be closer to the very nature of the sibling archetype, since that concerns the sense of separateness and the eternal search for the lost other. In birth order theory, the only child is just one of the many arrangements of the sibling constellation.
Astrology honours the innate bond between siblings through the third zodiacal sign, Gemini. The importance of the sibling relationship is implied in the myth and through the experience of Gemini. Its inclusion in the zodiac, the wheel of life, suggests that the image of the ‘twin’ other, as symbolized by a sister or brother, is inherent at birth, an a priori aspect of the psyche.
Gemini is an earlier sign of the zodiac, and this image is a primal part of an individual which helps shape relational patterns throughout life. Gemini’s initial experience of otherness also gives form to an eternal quest to reconnect with the twin other. The sibling, whether we are the eldest or youngest, a step-sibling or a surviving sibling, is inherently part of our fate and the sibling bond is an aspect of each individual that is a template for future relationships.
Getting acquainted, becoming familiar and feeling akin all begin in the primal relationship to our siblings. Astrologically this process also begins with Gemini and the third house.
The sibling bond becomes an important and powerful relationship to honour in our exploration of human nature through our own, our families’ and our clients’ horoscopes. Brothers and sisters are potentially our only lifelong companions. They may share both our entry into and our exit from the world; they are witnesses to our childhood and share in the familial history. Siblings are the companions and ‘others’ that populate our earliest environs and impress upon us some of our earliest attitudes, values and beliefs.
Like the sign Gemini, the sibling constellation is full of paradoxes. Siblings may be both ally and enemy or both confidante and betrayer. We want to be identical to them; we want to be completely different. With the sibling we initially experience the polarity of feeling.
Such powerful figures as our brothers and sisters and their influence upon our psychological development are represented in the horoscope in numerous ways. In the internal world, the sibling is a Hermetic companion–guide who we continually seek in our external world. Astrology can help us define and imagine both the internal and archetypal sibling images as well as their external representatives.
Articles that are relevant to siblings on Brian’s website are as follows.
The Brother-Sister Marriage www.astrosynthesis.com.au/articles/the_brother_sister_marriage.pdf
The Houses of Relationship www.astrosynthesis.com.au/articles/Houses_of_Relationship.pdf
Gemini: The Search for the Missing Twin www.astrosynthesis.com.au/articles/gemini-the_search_for_the_missing_twin.pdf
Brian Clark is the co-founder of the Chiron Center, now located at WellBeing at the Convent, a wing of the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne, Australia dedicated to alternative healing therapies. He has written numerous articles on psychology, mythology and astrology, is a contributing author to Intimate Relationships (Llewellyn: 1991), the author of The Sibling Constellation (Penguin: 1999) Celestial Tarot (U.S. Games, Inc. 2007), Ancient Feminine Wisdom (oracle cards U.S. Games Inc. 2008) as well as a series of astrological publications designed for students (www.astrosynthesis.com.au). His books have been translated into Japanese and French and articles have been translated into Italian, German, French, Spanish and Dutch. As well he is the author of Kindred Spirits and Vocation and co-author of Goddess, report writers distributed by Esoteric Technologies (www.esotech.com.au). Brian facilitates a comprehensive distance learning program through Astro*Synthesis; teaches mythology for the Nexus program, co teaches a course on Tarot and leads tours to the sacred sites of ancient Greece through Odyssey. Brian also lectures internationally. He has a private counselling practice utilising astrology from a psychological perspective.