It takes a solar system to raise a narcissist

August 18, 2023

A character in a novel I’m writing is a classic narcissist, and I wondered what his astrological sign would be. Which sign of the zodiac is the most likely to be narcissistic? I gave the subject a lot of thought, and I couldn’t decide.

So I went online. Detecting (and shaming) narcissism is all the rage at the moment, and any fashionable zine-type site has tackled the subject, as have a smaller number of learned astrologers.

What I discovered on the internet confused me even more. There was no consensus, and very few patterns. Aries came up frequently (They’re so self-centered!). Taurus might be thrown in (They think they deserve better!). Gemini was not excluded (They’re so shallow!). Cancer usually gets a pass, but not always (They can be overprotective of family – huh?). Leo gets a lot of press (They’re always the center of attention!). See a pattern? Because I don’t.

Part of the problem is lack of a coherent definition. So many people today “just know” what “everybody knows” and don’t bother to do basic research or define their terms. Which is rather narcissistic, in my book.

So what are we talking about when we say “narcissist”? To me, as a psychotherapist, a narcissist is a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. So let’s use that definition.

The hallmark of a true narcissist is insecurity, at a core personal level. They don’t believe they’re good enough, but they think they should be better than other people. “An egomaniac with an inferiority complex,” was how we used to describe it to recovering alcoholics, and they “got it” immediately. A narcissist hides their insecurity from others, and from themselves, in a variety of pathological ways. They might brag about themselves constantly and expect others to go along. They can demand favors and special treatment and become obstreperous when rebuffed. They have poor insight and attribute ill-will from others to jealousy rather than their own behaviors. They are themselves quite envious of other people and fantasize about power, wealth, fame, etc. They don’t work to achieve (or deserve) their grandiose ideals, however, and believe they should be given these things because they are special. They will trample over and exploit others to obtain the public acclaim and status they crave. They are, deep down, complete frauds, and, deep down, they know it.

A narcissist will be a sociable person, because they need constant affirmation, and their worst company is themselves. A nerd working alone at the office late into the evening to get that raise is not a narcissist, nor is the hermit homesteading in the woods, although both could have a high opinion of themselves. A high self-concept with commensurate evidence is not narcissism. Narcissists are often very successful, however, in terms of status or wealth, because they are excellent self-promoters. The book they wrote may be crap, but they know how to market it, because they market themselves every minute of every day. Their tools are flattery, appeal to trendiness, self-praise, and identification of key players in the fame game. They rely on the work and attention of others, but try to take all the credit. They feel empty inside.

Since narcissism is a fairly common personality trait, and arguably becoming more common, it is surprising that an astrological sign cannot be identified with it, even as a “low manifestation” of planetary influences. However common it is becoming, narcissism seems to be a composite of the worst characteristics of the planets that rule the signs. What sign is most likely to be a narcissist? Any of them. It takes a solar system to raise a narcissist. So a narcissist might be an Aries with a self-centered streak who has a poorly aspected Sagittarius moon generating grandiosity, along with an Aquarius influence seeding a disinclination for self-reflection. Or that narcissist might be a Leo with a need for continual applause coupled with a Capricorn low self-esteem and a Pisces tendency to live in fantasy. Or even a Gemini with a dislike of sustained effort together with a Cancer hypersensitivity and a Scorpio sense of victimhood. And contrary to popular belief, your Aries may simply be a person with a secure sense of identity, your Virgo someone who honestly appraises their abilities, or your Taurus someone who works to achieve the finer things in life.

My narcissistic character is going to be a Leo, because he has an interest in cosplay and that sign is often drawn to the theatre. Yes, a lot of people call Leo the narcissist because he gets a lot of attention, but if that bothers you, maybe you are simply jel.

Lily of the Goddess

June 7, 2013

Water Lilies. Photo by Derek Harper.
Water Lilies. Photo by Derek Harper.

The lily is the symbol of the Hebrew great goddess Asherah. Although her cult was heavily suppressed, we know about this goddess from archaeology and passing references from her detractors. The lily is also sacred to Juno, the Latin goddess of being or essence. Recall from the earlier article about Juno that in the form of a lily she impregnated herself with her son Mars. Marija Gimbutas found lilies among the many recurring symbols in the archeology of Old Europe. Usually these images are painted on pottery, but one terra-cotta frog with a lily head from the sixth millennium B.C.E. is quite similar to an image Gimbutas found of wooden frog lily on a nineteenth century Lithuanian tombstone.

The lily has survived as a religious symbol in Christianity with a totally different meaning. The resurrection of Christ by the Father God is symbolized by the Easter lily, and the white lily also symbolizes the purity (as in asexuality) of the Virgin Mary.

Madonna Lily. Photo by Maciek Godlewski.
Madonna Lily. Photo by Maciek Godlewski.
The lotus is the Eastern equivalent of the lily and has historically been considered a close relative. Biologists say that despite the similarities between the true lily, the water lily and the lotus, these plants are unrelated and developed along different evolutionary lines. Nevertheless all three are involved in similar creation stories. In Hindu religion the world emerged from the womb of a golden lotus. This lotus was called Matripadma, and was a manifestation of the goddess Lakshmi, worshiped today as the bringer of wealth and good fortune.

Just as Christianity changed the lily-goddess in the Mediterranean, Buddhism changed the lotus-goddess in the East. In this case the function of lotus as creation source remained the same, but the sex of the lotus creator became male. As Padmasambhava, the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara created himself from a lotus. Avalokitesvara is the most important figure in Buddhism next to the Buddha himself. The Lotus Sutra is a sacred text describing his teachings and his 33 manifestations. In China “he” manifested as the bodhisattva Kwan Yin (Guanyin). Feminists have speculated on what native East Asian goddess may have been merged with Avalokitesvara to become Kwan Yin. Not to discredit the conflated deities hypothesis, it might not have made sense to people introduced to this lotus self-generating deity to conceive of Avalokitesvara as male, if they associated the lily/lotus — not to mention birth — with the Great Mother. (Notice the lotus in the left hand of the Kwan Yin statue in this previous article.)
Lakshmi standing on a lotus holding lotus blossoms in two hands. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma.
Lakshmi standing on a lotus holding lotus blossoms in two hands. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma.

Is the lily part of a shared creation myth that stretches very far back in pre-history, or did these myths develop along separate evolutionary lines like the flowers themselves? Certainly the lily belongs with the Goddess religions, and we should not be shy about taking this symbol back, despite its prominence in Christianity and Buddhism.


Blofeld, John. Bodhisattva of Compassion. Boston: Shambhala, 1977.

Douglas, Nik and Penny Slinger. The Secret Dakini Oracle. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1979.

Gimbutas, Marija. The Language of the Goddess. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989.

Jordan, Michael. Encyclopedia of Gods. New York: Facts on File, 1993.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1990.

Walker, Barbara. The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.