Possibly, of all the many deities described within the pantheons of mythology, Apollo had the broadest remit. He was known as Apollo by both the Romans and the Greeks, which in itself was rather unusual, traditionally the Greek nomenclature was invariably altered, Romanised (although some later Roman poets did refer to him as Phoebus.) He was principally a Solar deity, a god of light, medicine, truth, science, commerce, colonisation, a defender of herds and flocks, the giver of music, poetry and song; and whilst the sheer scope of his associations are dazzlingly and dizzyingly broad, the fundamental reality is that he was a God of reason.
Crucially, for the purpose of this discussion, he was also a God of prophecy and his was a rational brand of prophecy since there is no suggestion of anything dark or mysterious about this gift; indeed, such would be antithetic to his innate quality as a god of light, science and reason.
Apollo, while looking down upon Troy, spied Cassandra, during the famed war and was so struck by her beauty that he bestowed upon her the gift of prophecy as a prelude to seduction, but when she later refused his advances he spat in her mouth, thus cursing the gift, so that her predictions would be doomed to be disbelieved.
Seeing the dread future clearly drove Cassandra to the brink of madness, as her audience scoffed at her predictions she became increasingly hysterical, irrational, which only served to further compound her apparent unreliability. Contrast this then with the Apollonic style of prediction, we have a dichotomy between rational prediction and irrational prophecy embodied in male and female archetypes: crucially, the masculine Apollonian perspective marginalises the feminine Cassandran intuition because she has the power to refuse his sexual advances, and this process is indulged as a punishment.
This marginalisation is named in psychological parlance a Cassandra complex, in its most basic format, it represents a situation where an individual’s distressing perceptions (their reality therefore) are disbelieved, derided or belittled by others (or one principal other), with the result that instability becomes gradually entrenched in the personal outlook. Laurie Layton Schapira wrote about this at length in her 1988 work: “The Cassandra Complex: Living With Disbelief: A Modern Perspective on Hysteria” and in it she states that one of the key qualities of the Cassandra complex is found in this impasse between Apollo and his would-be conquest. Typically, the complex then is projected onto those traditionally diagnosed with hysteria, denoting a tendency for them to be disbelieved or dismissed when relating the facts of their experiences to others. Based on clinical experience, Schapira delineates three factors which constitute the Cassandra complex in hysterics: (a) dysfunctional relationships with social manifestations of rationality, order, and reason, leading to; (b) emotional or physical suffering, particularly in the form of somatic, often gynaecological complaints, and (c) being disbelieved or dismissed when attempting to relate the facticity of these experiences to others.
Put more simply then, resorting to overtly feminine coping mechanisms, behaviours or beliefs is fundamentally at odds with the cultural outlook of the Apollonian society. Thus anything that cannot be rationalised, measured, proved deductively and materially is rejected, scoffed at, derided (with difficult physical and psychological consequences for the “victim”).
This is an archetypal marital dynamic. Much of my consultation time with women between the ages of 30 and 40 is taken up with this exact theme (women over 40 are very typically either reconciled to it – often by making an Apollonian metamorphosis themselves – or divorced). The husband has assumed Apollonian dimensions and the wife is beginning to doubt her sanity or – at the very least – the veracity of her perspective. Her only recourse in the face of this ongoing and hurtful marginalisation of her feelings – which she knows to be true – is to withdraw from sexual participation, since this is the only power she has left. The husband subjugates the wife by marginalising her feelings and needs as irrational, nonsensical or impractical, flattening her emotionally until she no longer has any reliable sense of emotional identity. The result is neurosis, low self-esteem and bouts of (what is identified as) hysteria. If adopted, this archetypal processing of marital dysfunction inevitably concludes in a destruction of the marriage: the husband is denied sexual access (which in any case cannot be intimate under this dynamic) and the wife is denied a valid identity, each punishes the other until one of the aforementioned outcomes is initiated.
Astrologically speaking then, we have a fabulous clue to this exact relationship dynamic in the asteroids Apollo (1862) and Kassandra (114). We can glean attitudes, potentials and insights from their positions, their relationship one to the other, and their broader integration into the nativity.
It should be noted that there are other interpretative potentials within both of these asteroids; Apollo is often interpreted as being a point at which we do not learn from our mistakes, but I cannot follow that logic in my own exploration of the mythology. Perhaps this suggestion that Apollo creates a propensity for over-rationalisation, which undermines empathy, who knows, is at the root of this assumption, but I would say that certainly, a rationalising influence is here, one which rejects intuition, scorns dark, feminine prophecy, that derides the immeasurable as akin to hysterical, and certainly, as a Solar deity, this is the archetypal perspective that seems obvious to the vast majority; what we can see is what is real, and without the light of the Sun we are blind.
Kassandra also has other meanings, positively, she relates to advice, to the gift of prophecy and insight and negatively to not being believed or given credibility. Kassandra’s is a feminine quality that is easily denounced however, because she is at odds with societal norms as Schapira describes:
Cassandra is a tragic figure. Her story has been the subject of Greek drama, poetry and even an opera. In literature, tragedy is a result of a flaw in the character of the tragic figure whereby some great potential goes unfulfilled, even turns destructive. What then is the nature of Cassandra’s tragedy?
When Cassandra refused to consummate their union, Apollo cursed her so that her prophecies would never be believed. But why did she refuse him? Was she simply not interested in him? The story indicates otherwise. In The Agamemnon, Cassandra describes their foreplay: “We wrestled, and his breath to me was sweet.” Only when it “came to the getting of children, as is meet,” she “swore a lie.”
Was she trying to get something for nothing? Was she being a sexual tease, like many an hysteric? Certainly, also in the manner of the hysteric, Cassandra was ambivalent. At first she complied and then she reneged. Perhaps her ambivalence also held some passive aggression: anger at Apollo for his past outrages toward the feminine, and a fear of being abused and abandoned as had happened to so many other objects of his desire.
Kassandra then is at odds with the rational, mainstream view, she rejects science and abides by prophecy and intuition and is condemned for it by society, even though she is correct. Considering the Cascade Effect, this can operate at many levels. Those with Apollo strong in the nativity will contend with rationality as a result, they can become the husband who ridicules the wife for her lack of practical sense, who worships commerce and who (as Joseph Campbell contended) buys into our society’s self-defeating delusion of rationalising avarice; alternatively they may become a scientist, an accountant, an entrepreneur. For Kassandra, the path is much less certain. It is a crossing over to the dark-side, and there is a price for that hubris (as determined by inverse populism) which is of course rejection, being considered an hysteric. Those with Kassandra strong then must contend with the choice to live outside of the normal strictures of mainstream society; they must bear ridicule, be threatened with marginalisation or they must denounce instinct, what they feel to be true and cross over to the Apollonian side. They risk divorce, derision and abandonment if they refuse.
It is for all of these reasons and many more that I believe that Apollo and Kassandra are one marital archetype. Jupiter/Juno (Zeus/Hera) is another – and bear in mind that neither role is gender specific even if there is a tendency to conform to one’s sympathetic role and thus in the Jupiter/Juno story, men are more likely to bed-hop, further enraging their jealous wife. In my experience though, the Apollo/Kassandra marital archetype is by far the most common. It characterises the marriage that lacks intimacy, where sex is infrequent, where the husband works in mainstream scientific, commercial or financial fields and the wife slowly deteriorates into a state of neurotic self-doubt and crippling uncertainty as he subtly ridicules and undermines her contribution to the family dynamic.
Much more broadly of course, the dichotomy speaks directly to the Cassandran study of astrology itself. Ridiculed, derided and disbelieved by the vast Apollonian majority, even though it is real and true.