Carl Rogers: Exemplar of Unconditional Love

Zip Dobyns

In our series of founders of what may be called “schools” of psychotherapy, Carl Rogers is the first for whom we have no birth time. Since we consider his ideas to be highly influential in modern psychology, we are including a discussion of his work in Maritha’s column and a tentative rectification of his birth chart in this article. The life events that were used for the rectification were taken from the book On Becoming Carl Rogers by Howard Kirschenbaum. The information was not really adequate. For example, only the year was given for some events such as the deaths of Rogers’ parents. But the chart does fit what events I have, and also seems to fit Rogers’ character. Rather than continually reminding readers that all references to houses or house cusps (including angles) depend on the accuracy of the speculative time, I am mentioning only this one time that such references should be considered highly tentative. Signs and aspects are, of course, less sensitive to time of birth.

The heart of Rogers’ conceptual system is his emphasis on being non-directive, non-judgmental, empathic, and accepting. The last sign that most astrologers would expect to find strongly occupied with such an approach to life is the one in which Rogers has a stellium—Capricorn. Jupiter, Saturn, Sun, Chiron, Mercury, and the Moon (unless he was born in the early morning before dawn) are all in Capricorn. But if my chosen time is right, most of them are in the Aquarian (eleventh) house along with Mars in Aquarius, and he also has Venus in Aquarius and (tentatively) Pisces rising. According to his biography, Rogers was a slight, shy, sickly child who cried easily when teased, a description that fits the Pisces rising and the heavy Capricorn.

Neptune, the modern ruler of Pisces, is in the 4th house, indicating a role-model parent (positive or negative) and Ceres in Aries specifies a mother figure as role model. Rogers is reported to have been very attached to his mother in his early years. The chart has similar themes for both parents which fit their description as highly religious and heavily into the puritan work ethic. Besides the Neptune in the 4th house, we have Chiron in the l0th, Jupiter ruling the 10th, Saturn (ruler of the 10th) conjunct Jupiter, Mercury (ruler of the 4th) also conjunct Jupiter, and Moon conjunct Chiron, with several of these keys to parents in Capricorn for the mixture of religion and work.

Rogers had few friends in his early life, but from his college days on, they played an important role in his life. We can see the importance of friends and/or the search for new knowledge and humanitarian principles in the chart with the strong Aquarius emphasis. Air is our equalitarian element, with Aquarius especially associated with democracy, and also with the urge to grow beyond convention and tradition.

Of course, the Capricorn is still there. Rogers was always a worker, and had trouble learning how to just relax and enjoy himself, one of the potential lessons we find with the south node of the Moon in Taurus. With a chart having less emphasis on work, the Taurus south node might mean the opposite; the need to learn to earn a living, or to handle possessions or pleasures moderately. In Rogers’ chart, we have the typical Atlas potential; someone likely to feel so responsible, he has trouble letting others share the load.

In addition to the Aquarian urge for knowledge, Rogers’ lifetime of study, teaching, writing, etc. is suggested by aspects between the mental planets (Mercury conjunct Jupiter sextile Uranus), by planets in Gemini and Sagittarius (Vesta, Uranus, Pluto, Neptune), and the rising Pallas in Pisces is highly appropriate for his years of work as a counselor. The major emphasis in the chart is clearly on the transpersonal area of life; humanity, the search for Truth, healing and helping people. Obviously, Rogers struggles between his instinct to play parent to the world, to save people, and his Aquarian desire to respect them as equals, to trust them to handle their own lives. His unique, initial contribution to psychotherapy was the concept of the therapist as one who simply acts as a mirror to the client, reflecting back what is said in other words. Underlying the technique is the faith that the client can solve his own problem if the therapist simply offers this sounding board as well as respect and encouragement.

Another inner battle took place early in Rogers’ life, between his conservative religious training and his liberal inclinations: Capricorn parents vs. his own strong Aquarius including Jupiter in the 11th house and Uranus in the 9th house. Such patterns usually indicate someone who will go beyond conventional, traditional religious ideas. Early in his college days, Rogers was chosen to visit China with a group of YMCA members, and was exposed to other religious ideas. He found his Aquarian side in college, somewhat to the chagrin of his parents.

Despite the transpersonal emphasis in the chart, Rogers’ marriage was important in his life. Juno in Libra seems to be our main clue to that, though the Piscean Pallas and Venus in the 12th house may be additional keys to the value he placed on marriage, and Neptune in the 4th house shows the idealization of the home and family.

But there is enough fire and earth to mark someone likely to reach the top. Sun and Mars, as fire planets, conjunct Saturn, the major earth planet, and all in Capricorn, mark a potential steam roller. If my selected birth time is accurate, he also has the Galactic Center on his Mid-Heaven. Certainly he did reach the top, as President of the American Psychological Association, the largest organization of professional psychologists, and as Professor in some of the most prestigious universities in the country. The cardinal dilemma is present, between equality and being Atlas, along with the mutable dilemma for constant questioning of beliefs, goals, values.

Our readers have by now become accustomed to dealing with the four asteroids that were first to be discovered, and with Chiron, one of the last to be found. But we are now embarking on a new adventure with six more asteroids, thanks to Al H. Morrison of New York. I have barely started to look at them in charts, so any comments are completely speculative at this time, but we have to start somewhere, and famous people are good targets. I was first fascinated to note that Rogers has Hidalgo on the Galactic Center and his MC if his time is right. Our first tentative hypothesis concerning a new stellar body is that the name assigned may be a clue to the meaning. Hidalgo is not a mythical figure, but a Spanish title for a man who was usually a younger son in a titled family, and who, lacking any chance to inherit the title, was likely to seek fame and fortune through some sort of adventure, possibly in the military or in foreign countries. Having Hidalgo in Sagittarius might support the tendency to travel or to be concerned with higher studies in the search for a leading role in the world.

Another interesting placement in Rogers’ chart is Sappho in his 7th house in early Scorpio, while Lilith is in Scorpio in the 8th house, both asteroids flanking the north node of the Moon. Lilith (not to be confused with the hypothetical invisible Moon) in mythology was the original wife of Adam, and the original woman’s libber. She left Adam when he could not accept a peer relationship. Sappho also was a liberated woman, noted for her poetry, devotion to her daughter, and as a teacher of young, upper class women. It is interesting that Rogers’ wife was an artist who gave up her own career in her devotion to his work and to their children, but later she regretted the sacrifice and was resentful, developing arthritis as a partial consequence. One of the Scorpio lessons is to release, forgive, and let go, so the Scorpio as a key to Rogers’ wife seems appropriate. As Rogers developed the equalitarian principles and tried to apply them to his own family later in life, he, his wife, and his daughter all struggled to grow together. Pandora is also in Rogers’ 7th house, in Libra, very widely conjunct Juno. Pandora in mythology opened the box that released a lot of trouble on the world. Al Morrison associates the asteroid with curiosity and the potential of starting things that keep going with unexpected consequences—some Uranian similarities. I didn’t get any feeling of this fitting Rogers’ wife, but it might instead indicate his constant growth in his psychotherapy techniques. I think that Libra and the 7th house are symbolic of counseling relationships as well as marriage. If we think of Pandora as a key to creativity, then Helen Rogers’ artistic talents would fit.

The other two “new” asteroids are Eros and Icarus, both of which fall in early Aquarius conjunct Mars in Rogers’ chart. In mythology, Eros was associated with love and sex. Rogers is a major spokesman for universal love, an Aquarian-Piscean form. The Sappho square to Eros is one of the possible keys to conflict between the personal relationships and the transpersonal commitments. For example, there were years when Rogers traveled a great deal, and had limited time with his family.

Icarus, in mythology, escaped from confinement only to fly too near the Sun and fall to his death. Certainly, the overreach potential is here in Rogers’ chart, but he seems to have handled it very well, and to be in no danger of a fall. His role as one of the leading spokesmen for humanistic psychology seems assured, as well as his place in the hearts of many people. Rogers was “confined” in a puritanical family and denied friends in his early years, but he made his escape in college and never looked back.

To summarize the chart, the primary themes emphasize a life devoted to the transpersonal area, to gaining knowledge and sharing it. The emphasis on career and public life may be at the expense of a stable home, producing changes of residence or reduced time at home. In cases like this where home and family are highly valued, the individual needs to integrate the conflicting sides of the nature. There is a drive to accomplish yet a strong respect for humanity and democratic principles, intense idealism yet need to work out the danger of over-reaching and never being satisfied that he had done enough. The mind is shown to be both deep and broad, both thorough and practical yet utopian. Rogers is identified with being a parent to the world but in danger of not being with his own children in his need to help others. My own value judgment is that he had done a magnificent job of integrating his potentials and making a contribution to the world. We have more than his books to instruct us; we have his life to inspire us.

P.S. For those who would like to try their own hands at rectification, a list of events in Rogers life is given, along with the names and symbols and placements of the six “new” asteroids. Life Events: Carl was the fourth child. Brothers born in l907 and l908. Move to a farm in Dec. l915, after spending the previous two summers there. Move before age 5. Had his only date in high school in junior year when he was class president. Graduated high school 1919. Away from home working summer 1919. Away to college Sept. 1919, and started making friends. Selected to go to China for YMCA; 6 months trip spring 1922; began his religious liberalization; gained much confidence on trip, giving speeches. Duodenal ulcer fall of 1922 after return to U.S. in Aug. Had proposed to Helen, future wife, before the trip but she said “wait”. Oct. 29, 1922 she said she loved him and they became engaged. Marriage Aug. 28, 1924 in Ill. then moved to New York. Changed from religious college to teachers college fall 1926. First child March 17, 1926. Ulcer again and surgery at Mayos spring 1926. Finished classes 1928; received Ph.D. 1931. Move, new job, bought home spring 1928, in Rochester N.Y. Stayed there 12 years. Second child fall 1928. Move to Columbus, OH Dec. 1939 when became full professor. Client-centered therapy born Dec. 11, 1940 in lecture at Miami University. Built new home; moved in Dec. 1941. Important book in 1942. Visiting professor at University of Chicago summer 1944. President American Association Applied Psychology 1944-5. U.S.O. job 1944-5 involving constant traveling around the U.S. with a base in a N.Y. apartment. Became professor at U. of Chicago Aug. 1945 after surgery in early summer 1945. Became head of Counseling Center at U. of Chicago; sold Ohio home. President of American Psychological Association 1947. Move to U. of Wisconsin 1957. Move to San Diego, CA. Jan. 1964. Center for Study of the Person founded in 1968. Wife very ill, in wheel chair in early 1970s; nearly died 1976.


Kirschenbaum, Howard, On Becoming Carl Rogers, New York, Dell Publishing Co, 1979.

Copyright © 1981 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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