The Lovely Bones

I spent the last couple of days reading Alice Sebold’s wonderful novel, “The Lovely Bones.” In looking at Sebold’s chart (birth time is not known, source of birth date/place: Wikipedia) there are many wonderful astrological correlations. The Lovely Bones is the story of 14-year-old Susie Salmon who we find out in the first chapter was raped and murdered and is now narrating the novel from her place in heaven. It is a very sad and poignant story of a family torn apart by their loss, and also the story of a teenager (Susie) who has had her life cut short and is forced to watch her loved ones, and the life she was not able to live, from the remote distance of the afterlife. The tone of the novel is elegiac and melancholic, but there is also redemption and a lot of heart.

When I look at Sebold’s chart the biggest thing that jumps out at me is that she is born with Saturn square Neptune. This is the combination of the division between heaven and earth, and it perfectly reflects the central motif of the novel. It reminds me a lot of Wim Wender’s film “Wings of Desire,” which explored the suffering of an angel (Neptune) who was “trapped” (Saturn) in heaven (Neptune) and wanted to come to Earth (Saturn) to have the human experience. This is what Susie feels in her heaven: a sense of loss and grief over being cut off from the human experience she watches below on Earth. Both Wender’s film and the Hollywood remake, “City of Angels” came out under subsequent Saturn-Neptune alignments in 1987 and 1998.
There is also a way in which The Lovely Bones is a ghost story, and Saturn-Neptune is the combination of ghosts and ghost stories (blending Saturn’s relationship to death and the material world with Neptune’s relationship to that which transcends death: spirit). In the novel Susie is able to fully feel and participate in the lives of people down on earth, and a number of the other characters are able to feel her presence or even see and talk with her. It is not the scary feeling of being haunted that these characters feel, but a more benevolent form of the Saturn Neptune archetype. The Saturn-Neptune archetype relates to the potential for spirit participating in the material world, and this can either have a positive healing potential as with Susie Salmon, or it can be the scary hauntings of ghost stories. We see Saturn-Neptune in the natal charts of Edgar Allen Poe (Quoth the Raven “Nevermore”) in Alfred Hitchcock, and in more recent Filmmakers known for their ghost stories: M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”) and Alejandro Amenabar (“The Others”).

Another clear motif of the Saturn-Neptune complex is the quality of mourning, melancholy, and grief that pervades the whole novel. Saturn-Neptune is the archetype that most relates to the grieving process, and you very often see it (in natal charts or transits) when this is a dominant theme. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is born with Saturn square Neptune, and she is of course famous for writing about the stages of the grieving process. And Sebold's novel is a vivid embodiment of these stages of grief. People born with Saturn-Neptune hard aspects are more likely to reflect on the meaning of death. The imagination (Neptune) is more likely to flow towards Death (Saturn), and there may be more desire to explore the possibility of life after death. We see this in Ken Ring (born in 1935 with Saturn opposite Neptune) who has written about the compelling research into the Near Death Experiences (NDE's) where individuals at the moment of death (before being brought back to life) famously report being pulled towards a tunnel of spiritual light.

 The other major alignment in Sebold's chart that is clearly coming through in her novel is her Sun-Venus-Pluto-Uranus quadruple conjunction. The emphasis on Pluto has the negative potential for major encounters with the underworld, the shadow, and the monstrous. There are of course many positive potentials for these Pluto alignments, but in her novel they largely come through in darker ways. The Sun-Pluto archetype can be the "Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde" archetype, or the "Hero struggling with the Shadow," and in the book we see it in the character of George Harvey who is responsible for Susie's murder. In this character we see someone who has totally been possessed by his shadow impulses, and who is doing enormous destructive damage to others. This is obviously an extreme form of the Sun-Pluto complex, but it is an archetype that represents the universal human struggle with the dark forces of the psyche.

 Sebold's Venus-Pluto conjunction comes through in the novel as a literal playing out of the Persephone (Venus) Hades (Pluto) myth. Harvey literally takes Susie down into the earth (into a dark underworld cave that he has built) to commit his crime.

 As with any powerful novel such as this, there are many more correlations to explore, but I will end this post here for today.