The Social Network and Jupiter-Uranus

I watched The Social Network last night for a second time, and it is a really fun film. I think it is a great example of our current collective Jupiter-Uranus conjunction coming through. This is a classic case where an archetypal combination is informing a film on multiple levels and striking a chord with the collective zeitgeist. The movie is released under the current Jupiter-Uranus conjunction, it is based on a book written by Ben Mezrich who is born with a Jupiter-Uranus conjunction, it is directed by David Fincher who is born with an opposition, it stars Jesse Eisenberg who is born with a conjunction, and it is about the founding of Facebook which happened in 2004 under the most recent Jupiter-Uranus opposition.


There are many themes that the film explores that are classic expressions of the Jupiter-Uranus archetype: sudden rapid success and expansion (the “Striking It Rich” archetype), celebration of technology, success with technology, the celebrated genius, successful rebellion/revolution, the quantum leap to overwhelming success, the successful birth, the arrogant rebel, etc.
Also, the whole energy of the film has this quality of manic electricity which can be a form of the archetype. I’ve heard Rick Tarnas use the word syncopation to describe the editing style used by Oliver Stone, and he connected this to Stone’s Sun-Uranus square aspect. Similarly, I think David Fincher, who also has Sun-Uranus (a conjunction), achieves an electric syncopation vibe in this film. Syncopation is achieved when the musical note (or film image) that is expected is replaced with an unexpected surprising note (or image). The effect is one of unexpected movement and excitement that keeps you on the edge of your seat delighting in the next quick-cut surprise. The movie just carries the viewer along with its energetic backbeat pulse, and it has a classic Uranian “wow” energy.
What is somewhat puzzling to me is that Mark Zuckerberg has an unaspected Uranus. We don’t have a birth time for him, and so it is possible that he has Uranus rising, or Uranus at the Midheaven, but without the time we can’t know. There are a number of aspects in his chart that fit qualities that the film conveys. His Mercury-Pluto aspect really fits his powerful intellect, as well as the power dynamics he gets into with his mind and self-destructive communication style (his sarcasm) and his being a part of a mass scale (Pluto) communication tool (Mercury). The Mercury-Pluto alignment also fits his controversial (and secretive) impulse towards control of Facebook members private information. The strong Saturn alignments (conjunction to Moon and Mars, opposition to Venus) potentially fit his being known for having controlled/armored personality (as well as his groundedness and serious work ethic). But that Uranus is a bit of a mystery to me. It is tight on the Jupiter-Saturn midpoint, but I expected it to be more strongly aspected. Hopefully we will get his birth time at some point, and more will be revealed.
All charts are cast for noon (no birth time) and are based on birth data from Wikipedia.

The King’s Speech

I saw The Kings Speech last week, and it is definitely one of my favorite films of this past year. It was also a great film to watch from an archetypal perspective. I knew in advance that the film explored the true story of a speech impediment (a strong stammer) suffered by England’s King George VI, and so I took a brief look at his chart before going to the movie. I’m always excited to see bio-pics, as they often afford great opportunities for an astro-correlation junkie like myself to find amazing links to the real person’s birth chart. I wondered whether King George VI was born with a Mercury-Pluto aspect, as this is the combination I most associate with stuttering, and indeed when I saw the chart he had a tight Mercury-Pluto opposition that was aligned with his Sun (classic for someone who would shine -the Sun- with a particularly vivid form of the problem, and who would become famous for having the condition).

I often call the Mercury-Pluto hard aspect combination the “Finding Your Voice” archetype, and I cannot think of a more vivid example than this film. Colin Firth plays the king, and throughout the film we see him engaged in what appears to be a life and death struggle with a crippling stammer. His being born into the royal family is a particularly cruel fate, as duty often demands that he give public speeches, and as it becomes clear that he must take on the responsibility of becoming King, his burden becomes exponentially more difficult. He engages the services of a speech therapist, played wonderfully by Geoffrey Rush, and the drama of the film plays out as Rush’s character struggles to assist the king in overcoming his stammer.
Mercury, of course, is the planet that rules speech, communication, and the voice. And Pluto is the archetype of struggle, intensity, life and death drama, and the dialectic between repression and the cathartic release of the repressed. Pluto, at the problematic end of the spectrum, can relate to things that are totally repressed, controlled, and -in a sense- held captive in the underworld. And this is what we see in the film with regard to the King’s ability to communicate clearly (Mercury).
The film also makes clear that the root causes of the King’s stammer stem from painful wounds suffered in childhood (many of which having to do with parental power and control manipulations), and this clearly relates to the Pluto archetype as well. Pluto can be seen as our own personal underworld of repressed pain (Freud’s Id), and with Mercury it fits that in this case the King’s personal underworld erupted symptomatically in the form of his strong stammer. It really fits that King George VI has the Mercury-Pluto alignment on his Sun as we see that so much of his pain stems from painful wounds with major male figures (his brother and his father). Sun-Pluto can be the “Powerful Father” archetype, and it also really fits his own struggle to come into his power as a leader.
Mercury-Pluto at the positive end of the spectrum is the “Powerful Communicator” archetype, and you often see it in great public speakers (like Winston Churchill who has the opposition). Pluto at its best brings empowerment and a capacity to tap into a force of nature, and with Mercury it can empower the voice. And thus we see King George’s journey from the shadow side of the archetype at the beginning of the film to the most positive form of the archetype at the end. It is a great example of how a hard aspect alignment can be very difficult, but can ultimately be worked with until a much more positive form of the archetype is manifested.
It is striking to me that during the entire theatrical run of this film (the film opened on December 10th) we have had a collective Mercury-Pluto conjunction in the sky. This is quite a rare thing for a Mercury-Pluto conjunction like this to last so long, and only happens when a Mercury retrograde cycle happens to overlap with a Mercury-Pluto conjunction, as has happened here. Also striking is that Colin Firth has the Mercury-Pluto archetype strong in his natal chart as well. In his case it is a mid-point configuration: his Sun is at the Mercury-Pluto midpoint. His is a particularly powerful midpoint configuration as it is also basically a broad triple conjunction with Mercury and Pluto 10-11 degrees on either side of his natal Sun.

 

King George birth data: AA data according to Rodden Astrodatabank.
Colin Firth birth data: no birth time, just date of birth from Wikipedia. Noon Chart.

Black Swan

Last night I finally got to see “Black Swan,” Darren Aronofsky’s new film staring Natalie Portman. This was a remarkable film to watch from an archetypal perspective. Portman stars as Nina, an extremely disciplined ballerina who is striving to move from one of the supportive players in the ballet troupe to the role of prima ballerina. Her dancing is very precise and masterful, but she is lacking passion and the ability to surrender to a more free form of expression. However, she is able to convince her director to let her star in a newly imagined production of Swan Lake, where she will play both the roles of the White and Black Swans. The White Swan role is meant to embody purity and innocence, and a dancing style that is more precise and graceful. This is a role for which she is perfectly suited. But the Black Swan role requires that she be able to channel a more passionate and sexually charged energy, and this is exactly what she is lacking as a dancer. Other members of the dance troupe see her as cool and aloof, frigid and asexual. And thus her journey in the film is to move from her inhibited perfectionism towards the discovery of a more primal energy.

For me as an archetypal astrologer the ultimate moment is the scene when Nina finally breaks past her cool perfectionism and is finally transformed into the plutonic Black Swan. It is an awesome moment. Aronofsky does an excellent job with the filming of Portman dancing up until this point. You never see her move beyond her cool perfectionism, and therefore her dancing is never very striking, and so when she finally is able to surrender to a more passionate performance it is truly impressive. And it impresses so much because the character is embodying the transformation of someone who has managed to overcome her defenses against a particular archetype (in this case Pluto), and has managed to integrate that archetype.
The archetypal combination most associated with ballet is the Venus-Saturn combination, and both Aronofsky and Portman are born with it (Aronofsky has the conjunction and Portman a tight square). Venus, of course, is ruler of art dance and music, but with Saturn it is associated more with classical art, classical music, and classical dance (Saturn’s association with older things, traditional forms). And it also really fits ballet because of Saturn’s association with discipline and precision, and ballet’s reputation for demanding rigorous extremes of discipline (discipline of the body, discipline with food, etc.).
But for me as an astrologer, the most striking correlations are found in Portman’s transits. The film started shooting in late 2009 when the Saturn square Pluto in the sky was tightly crossing Portman’s natal Saturn square Venus. She was getting her exact Saturn return, and transiting Pluto was (and is) opposing her natal Venus and squaring her natal Saturn. Portman has shared that this was the most difficult role of her life. It required many months of extreme dance training and dieting, and once filming began, 16 hour days of non-stop work where she was never able to really get out of her character. Many reviewers are saying this is Portman’s most mature performance, and she is very likely to receive an Oscar nomination for it.
This is all classic for her Saturn return transit, which is very often a period when you see an artists most mature and sophisticated work emerge. It is also classic for the Saturn return to bring a work situation which is extremely demanding, but which forges the full adult potential for the career. Note that Portman also began a relationship with her dance trainer from the film, and is now pregnant with his child and engaged to be married. This is all classic Saturn return stuff: the serious relationship, the taking on of the serious adult responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.
But what is really striking are the Pluto transits. It is just so classic that Pluto is crossing her natal Saturn-Venus square, as it so perfectly captures the drama and struggle that her character in the film must go through. The natal Saturn-Venus is the energy her character is possessed by (or I should say the problematic potential of Saturn-Venus is what she is possessed by). When Saturn-Venus is problematic it can be a cold-hearted armored energy which can be very perfectionistic (the perfectionistic artist, the self-critical lover), and it can also have difficulty opening to human intimacy: all qualities that Nina embodies. Pluto can intensify whatever it combines with to an extreme degree, and this is what we see in this film. Portman’s character (and also Portman as an actress) takes the Saturn-Venus theme of the disciplined artist to an extreme. Also the Saturn-Venus tendency towards the armored heart is taken to a much more intense level with Pluto in the alignment, and we see Nina struggling in agony with her inability to open to passionate dance and passionate intimacy. We also really see the Pluto-Saturn archetype coming through with her slave-driving tortured discipline, and her blocked sexuality.
We see Portman embodying the Pluto-Venus archetype in many different scenes in the film (the power dynamics with the other dancers, the jealousy and envy, the forbidden sexuality with her director, and the lesbian love scene with one of the other dancers), but ultimately it comes through most powerfully in the scene I described above when she is transformed into the Black Swan. This is the moment her character moves beyond the possession state that the Venus-Saturn archetype has her in, and is able to integrate the passionate animal energies of Pluto. Of course in this case the film is a tragedy, and so Pluto also manages to destroy Nina (Venus abducted by Pluto and taken to the underworld) in the process, but still we are able to admire the courage of a character willing to give everything to move towards integration.
We have no birth time for Portman, therefore the chart above is cast for noon.

Ted Williams: The Homeless Man with the Golden Voice

Some of you may have seen the recent story of Ted Williams, “The Homeless Man with a Golden Voice.” A video of Williams went viral in the last couple of days and his life has completely changed. Williams has an amazing voice, and has worked as a radio announcer, but became homeless and jobless due to his struggles with drugs and alcohol. In the video he says that he has been sober for the last two years, however, and now his life is turning around. Due to the millions who saw his video in the last few days Williams has received an enormous amount of attention and good fortune.
 
He was interviewed by the Today show this morning, he was able to reunite with his estranged 90 year old mother, and the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA basketball team offered him a house and a job as an announcer.
 
According to Wikipedia, Williams was born in Brooklyn on Sept 22 1957. There are many correlation that could be explored here. He has a Mercury Pluto Moon triple conjunction which really fits the powerful communication ability. Mercury-Pluto can be the powerful voice, the deep voice, and the Mercury-Moon aspect brings the capacity to forge emotional connections with the voice. Also, the Mercury square to Saturn fits the professional communicator as well as the obstacles that have prevented him from using his voice recently: Saturn brings delayed gratification, the hard-won success at the end of a long hard road late in life. Williams also would have Saturn square his Moon for most of the day (no birth time), and this would really fit his being estranged from his mother and the rest of his family (he has nine children) during the years of his active addiction. Of course it also relates to his homelessness, with the Moon relating to the experience of one’s home, and Saturn bringing the potential for suffering.
But what is really striking are Williams transits. I wondered how the Jupiter Uranus conjunction would be hitting his chart, as this is such a classic Jupiter-Uranus story: the clear qualities of rebirth, the amazing rapid happy turnaround, the striking it rich, the success mediated by technology. I speculated that Williams might have the Jupiter-Uranus hitting his Sun, as this is such a clear case of the successful hero, and with all of the positive attention, the instant fame, the association of his name (Sun) with gold (Jupiter). And indeed when I saw the chart there it was: Jupiter-Uranus just two degrees opposite his Sun (and with Mars it fits the job offer from a sports team). Amazing!
 
Williams also has transiting Pluto starting to square his natal Jupiter which you sometimes see when people have periods of enormous expansion in their lives, and when you see triumphant movements from the underworld to the mountaintop peaks. He is also still in the period of transiting Saturn conjunct natal Jupiter which can be the “rags to riches” combo. We’ll have to watch and see how things play out for him, but he certainly has some helpful archetypal energy coming his way.