Tag Archives: Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley: modern myth-maker

(If you would like first of all to read the preceding five-part series “The Moon’s Nodes in Action”, click HERE.)

Not many people can be said to have single-handedly created an enduring myth. Mary Shelley did, by  writing “Frankenstein”. Full title “Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus”,this famous book was conceived in a ghastly waking dream in the early hours of June 22, 1816, two months before her 19th birthday, and published to great acclaim in 1818.

Mary Shelley offered us a warning of  what the consequences of  humankind stepping over moral limits in the pursuit of scientific discovery might be. This warning has resonated down the centuries; it is more relevant than ever as we engage with a new millennium, and the pace of technology-led progress leads us fast into dangerously uncharted physical, emotional, ethical and spiritual territory.

Mary Shelley’s horoscope fascinated me for years. Here is my analysis of it, with an emphasis on the significance of her Nodal Axis.

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley

source: her father, present at her birth

The North Node falls in Gemini, the South in Sagittarius. This denotes a life path centred round the conceptualising and disseminating of information and ideas. Sagittarius on the South Node shows philosophy, education and learning, and the developing of an ethical base for life as well as a desire to proselytise from that base, as a fundament  to Mary’s life.

Love of learning, a restless, questing, travel-oriented spirit, and an appreciation of the perspective which comes from exposure to different languages, cultures, and a broad knowledge base, all characterised her inherited gifts – and the cultured context from which her journey through life began.

It also suggests, taking the wide conjunction to the Moon to back this up, a longing from the beginning for a “grand”, adventurous life – for a life infused with vision and the possessing of a big canvas upon which to paint a vivid picture. Her political and artistic context was the aftermath of the French and American revolutions and the impact they would have on the fabric of her time – along with the Romantic movement in art and literature into which her nature fitted so well.

Also indicated in this linking of South Node and Moon is a distaste for the restrictions of the ordinary and mundane, and the potential for arrogance through conviction of one’s own rightness. Blake’s famous line “ the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom” (i) also comes to mind.

Playing Big Momma Benefactress to a bunch of gifted but feckless, frequently penurious fellow writers seemed to take up an extraordinary amount of her time and resources throughout her life – one can see her penchant for this role in the South Node in Sagittarius conjunct the Moon in the 6th House !

The North Node in Gemini conjures up the image of a thrust towards taking the gifts she was given and putting the inspiration provided therefrom into words –  getting her ideas out into the world. It also denotes frequent changes of environment whilst attending to this core task – and sibling issues playing an important part in the whole scenario. Indeed they did, with her step-sister Jane/Clare/Claire Clairmont (who liked changing her name!) dogging Mary’s footsteps for much of her life.

Restless movement and frequent change were very much part of Mary’s and her poet husband Percy Shelley’s being – perhaps the North Node in Gemini demanded this as a way of shaking free her ideas.

When contemplating the location of the North Node, in the 12th house in one of the Gauquelin plus zones (ii), the image of the Big Picture comes in again, from a different perspective. Here is someone the thrust of whose life path demands an offering of her ideas in such a way as to reflect the hidden, unconscious currents running beneath the surface of her time – perhaps a sending out of images which would be borne on those currents to provide insights to generations as yet unborn.

The location of the South Node and Moon in Sagittarius in the 6th House,opposite the North Node in Gemini in the 12th, conjures up a picture of the visionary writer, in touch with the currents of the collective unconscious of her time through the 12th house Node, having to struggle to extract her vision from the mire of the mundane which was forever besetting her. The contradictory 6th house location of the glamorous South Node conjunct Moon in Sagittarius shows this all too clearly.

The nuts and bolts of ordinariness – of the body, of routines, of maintenance tasks which keep the main thrust of life running smoothly, strike me as a major provenance of the 6th House. Mary had trouble with ordinariness all her days – until he died Shelley protected her from the sharpest edges of their constant financial troubles.

She regularily moved her goods and chattels, relatives, friends and children around. Her health was always delicate, childbirth drained her, and the deaths of three of her children made it impossible for periods of time to dredge up any inspiration to offer through the 12th house North Node.

Looking at the planets aspecting the Nodal axis offers further sharp images of the nature of  her life’s path and her struggle to actualise it. Mary had a strong masculine side which her horoscope clearly portrays.

Jupiter is retrograde in Aries in the 11th House, exactly trine the South Node, sextile the North Node. A quote from E.W. Sunstein  sums this up :

“Aspiration, enthusiasm, challenge, active mind and spirit, and optimism were among her cardinal qualities………. it was her incapacity for resignation to cold reality that eventually wore her down.”  (iii)

The location of Jupiter, ruler of the Moon and South Node, in Aries in 11th shows how group associations, frequently involving famous men, usually encountered at home, shaped her life’s path. Jupiter’s falling on the southern side of the Nodal axis, trining/sextiling the Nodes, indicates gifts from the past  which could be used productively by Mary in actualising her full potential – as indeed they were.

There was her father the renowned social philosopher Godwin and his salon, which brought Mary in contact in her youth with eg Coleridge. Hearing him reading from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” had a profound impact on her which came out much later in some of the imagery in “Frankenstein” (iv).

She met her husband Shelley through Godwin when Shelley was a young acolyte. She met the famous – and notorious! – poet Byron through Shelley. It was in the company of Byron and others that she was challenged to write the ghost story which became “Frankenstein”.

Perhaps Jupiter in Aries – retrograde – shows an early leap to fame (with transitting Jupiter conjunct her Moon when “Frankenstein” was published) which was never to be replicated, although she remained in the public eye as a writer, editor and critic. I think it also shows the arrogant and unrealistic side of her optimism. For example, by eloping with the still-married Shelley in her teens in the early 19th century, and having an illegitimate child, she flouted the conventions of that time to such a shocking degree that she was never ever accepted back into the mainstream of society, despite her expectation that this would eventually happen. This social ostracism caused her great pain all her life although she eventually learned to live with it.

Uranus (ruling MC and dispositing Pluto) in the fourth house in Virgo, squaring the Nodal axis, is the most vivid significator for her unorthodox inheritance, her own defiance of convention, her connection with Shelley, and her authorship of Frankenstein” which assured her place in literary history.

The significator is strengthened if we extend it to include the Uranus /Mercury midpoint, Sun/Venus midpoint, and Mercury/Sun midpoint – all square the Nodes between 18 and 20 degrees of Virgo. This major T-square is powerfully linked with  key individuals in her life who challenged her to grow, and with events critical to the unfolding of her destiny.

“Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus” is the full title of Mary Shelley’s first and most famous book. In the myth of Prometheus lie core images of Mary’s own origins; the times in which she lived; the essential nature of Percy Bysshe Shelley born like her with Sun conjunct Uranus; the way in which she defied convention; the price she paid – and, most of all, in the central theme of her masterpiece.

In essence, Prometheus in Greek mythology was a Titan who stole some of the fire of knowledge from the gods and gave it to humanity to help them in their development. For this hubristic act the gods punished Prometheus savagely. He was chained to a rock, and during the day an eagle came and pecked out his liver, which grew again during the night so that he could be subjected to the same pain the next day, ad infinitum.

The myth of Prometheus speaks most vividly, dynamically and poignantly of the human condition. We seem driven by an unceasing restless quest to push back the frontiers of knowledge, thereby defying  our limits as mortal human beings chained to the programmed lifespan of the body and the inexorable cycle of birth, growth, flowering, decline and death which governs everything in existence.

It remains extraordinary that Mary Shelley, at such a young age, should have become through her writing the vehicle for  a modern re-framing of the myth of Prometheus which endures and is relevant to this very day.

References and Notes:

(i) from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”  by William Blake. ‘Proverbs of Hell’ – Plate 7, from Collins Dictionary of Quotations, editors N.Jeffares & M. Gray, HarperCollins 1995.

(ii) Gauquelin Plus zones re the 12th house – c/f Written in the Stars by Michel Gauquelin, Aquarian Press 1988 p120.

(iii) Emily W. Sunstein MARY SHELLEY Romance and Reality p 402.

(iv) Muriel Spark Mary Shelley,  p159.

NOTE: My long essay ‘Mary Shelley: Frankenstein’s Creatorwhich offers a vivid and detailed case study of Mary’s authorship of Frankenstein, including all the charts of key people eg her mother Mary Wollstonecraft who died 10 days after Mary’s birth, appears in Volume X1X 3 (August -October 2004) of “Considerations” Magazine 1983-2006, now archived on the Web and a wonderful resource of articles by a wide range of accomplished astrologers.

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1600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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“And finally….” : The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 5

This is the last part of a five-part series presenting the conclusions I drew from my 50,000 word original research study of  The Moon’s Nodes in Action. To read the first four posts, scroll down to the end of this one.

4. The Nodes in relation to other chart factors

I started out with certain questions. Do the Nodes say something specific, or do they act as a reinforcer for information which can be derived from other chart factors ? I think I have demonstrated quite clearly that the Nodes and their attendant planetary/Angular links can be used on their own to sketch out a clear picture of  the basic structure of a person’s life path and the archetypal energies which need to be responded to and brought into the journey, for that person to be all they can be.

It seems that strong outer planet links, especially Pluto’s conjunctions or squares to the natal Nodal axis, and strong prevailing major patterns eg Uranus conjunct Pluto opposite Saturn conjunct Chiron linked to the Nodes, bring some people a more challenging life than others. Mary Shelley’s chart is a very good example of this, with Uranus, dispositor of Pluto conjunct MC, conjunct her Sun and square her Nodal axis.

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley

I have distinguished between minor and major Nodal activity in transits and progressions, and demonstrated that the major effect  is what appears to be present when turning points  occur. This would suggest that  in contemplating the unfolding picture of a person’s life, the combination of Nodal activity with the foreground presence of outer planets, especially Pluto, points out that something really special is going on and should be carefully noted.

I also asked whether astrologers are missing something important by not  paying attention to the Nodes, natally and as life unfolds. I think the answer to this is yes, with particular reference to the transitting Nodal cycle and the eclipse seasons which accompany them. The pair of houses highlighted by the transitting Nodal axis and eclipses should be carefully observed, especially if the pre-natal eclipse degrees crop up in the form of a returning eclipse, or a current eclipse is triggering natal patterns linked in to either of the pre-natal eclipses.

I appreciate that we all need to earn our living and there are a multiplicity of interpretive factors available  which would take all day to prepare if they were to be included in every reading. We have to be selective.

But having done the research for this thesis, I think that, in preparing a reading, if the clustering effect I have been discussing is in evidence, it is important to pay particular attention to that person’s natal Nodal pattern and the current Nodal/eclipse picture. The client is then likely to be bringing matters of a life-changing nature to us for discussion, which offers us roles both as observers and midwives; human agents in the here-and-now  of those mysterious ‘watchers by the threshold’ whose  numinous presence in our lives is symbolically represented by the Moon’s Nodes in  Action.

Nodal Axis

Nodal Axis

Thanks to the many readers of this series for your interesting emails in response to those conclusions regarding the significance of the Nodes. Any other responses continue to be welcome. I have archived the series (see Categories on Home Page) for easy future reference. I will also at some point be publishing, over several installments – may even give it its own blog – my long case study on Mary Shelley’s authorship of “Frankenstein”, bringing in charts of all the significant figures influencing her writing of what has become a modern myth at the very young age of 19 – and her first Nodal Return.

Previous Posts in this series:

The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part One

Major and minor chords: The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 2

This ground is holy: The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 3

“In my end is my beginning….” The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 4

plus….

Mary Shelley: modern myth-maker

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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This ground is holy: The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 3

2. The Nodes and the numinous

In allowing some images to rise which might help me pull the the threads of the  thesis together, the one which most persistently presented itself was that ghostly picture of a man’s head and shoulders which must be the world’s most famous photographic negative – the one which appeared when the photograph taken of the marks on the shroud of Turin was developed.

For many people throughout the world, this is a sacred image of the crucified body of Christ, and a central symbol representing the Christian era. Regardless of one’s religious stance, it is not hard to see how this single awe-inspiring one-dimensional image conveys the symbolic essence of  what Christianity means.

It functions as a kind of spiritual hologram; in itself it is a one-dimensional holographic plate.(ii) But when the light of faith is shone on it, a three dimensional picture – physical, emotional, and spiritual, of  what Christianity means, arises for the observer.

Turin Shroud

Turin Shroud

http://assassinscreed.wikia.com/wiki/File:Shroud-of-turin.jpg

In contemplating the outcome of the research into the lives of both Mary Shelley and Marc, the idea of the natal Nodal pattern representing a symbolic  holographic plate has taken shape.

The true turning points  in life seem to leap into three dimensions – emotional, physical, spiritual – from the holographic plate on which the basic pattern of the person’s destiny is etched. That pattern is most appropriately carried in the Nodal structure. It holds images of  the light  of the quest for meaning through the Sun; reflection and containment of that light through the Moon; and grounding in Life’s unfolding process through their orbits’ particular relationship with the Earth’s plane.

In every synastry in Mary Shelley’s case; in every key event  in both Mary’s and Marc’s  lives, running backwards and forwards in time and in the symbolism of all the birth charts, one can see, shimmering through the really critical turning points,  the ghostly, but quite distinct holographic plate of both Mary’s and Marc’s natal Nodal patterns.

The four Nodal Moments, though sketchier because of their being only one section cut through each subjects’ unfolding life pattern, nevertheless also carry within them the basic shape of the natal Nodal blueprint. Robin Heath’s comment is apposite:(iii)

“……….astrology appears more and more to behave like a hologram. You can perform almost any technique with the data, turn the chart inside out or slice it up, and still the symbolic pictures remain.”

Perhaps that  powerful spiritual image of the sacred Shroud arose for me because in reflecting on the meaning of what I had seen at the core of all the different ‘takes’ on the Nodes at work in a range of people’s lives, I felt myself to be in the presence of the numinous, the sacred.

I find it impossible to describe adequately my feelings when I realised that  in Mary Shelley and Marc’s lives, with each synastry and every major event and turning point,  the natal Nodes and their attendant patterns had been painted, not faintly or casually, but in bold primary colours that could not be missed. I had a powerful sense of being in the presence of something ‘Other’ , something which was not circumscribed by the mortality of one individual in one lifetime.

The resonances over long periods of time which were so evident in linking Mary Shelley’s Nodal pattern with the contemporary controversy over how far we humans should overstep our limits in altering the very building blocks of life, focused by the appearance of Dolly the Sheep – and the links I found with my own horoscope, hers, and the time I had chosen to write about her – really struck me.(iv)

I did not expect my research into ‘The Moon’s Nodes in Action’ to present me with such a strong  suggestion that we all have our destiny, that certain potent times in life present events and turning points which are initiations into  the furtherance of that destiny – or that outwith our lives there may be  some intelligent ‘Other’ observing and/or guiding  that  movement. But  that is the feeling which persists in me as a result of this work.

I have always reacted with a degree of impatience to the theorising, usually with little empirical evidence to support it, which takes place about the Nodes – now I’m rather more respectful! But it feels good to have done a fairly substantial piece of practical exploratory work demonstrating the theory in action.

As the Indian astrologers have been telling us for centuries, the Moon’s Nodes really do seem to be connected to the workings of Fate in the shaping of personal destiny.

Nodal Axis

Nodal Axis

References and Notes

(i) The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia, Vol 12, p 55

(ii) a hologram is “an image produced on photographic film in such a way that under suitable illumination a three-dimensional representation of an object is seen”. Oxford Paperback Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 4th Edition, 1994

(iii) The Mountain Astrologer, Issue 78, April/May 1998, Letters p 11

TO BE CONTINUED

Previous Posts in this series:

The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part One

Major and minor chords: The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 2

and next….

“In my end is my beginning….” The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part 4


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800 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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The Moon’s Nodes in Action: Part One

For many years I had a Moon’s Nodes obsession: perhaps not unconnected with the North Node exactly conjunct my Midheaven at 29 degrees Taurus, square a Twelfth House Sun/Moon conjunction……I read somewhere in my very early years of studying astrology that the South Node conjunct a Scorpio IC indicated having been burned as a witch in a previous life. This piece of conjecture gave my MC/IC axis a kind of dark, scary glamour.

However, I burned out that obsession during 1997-8 whilst completing the third and final year of  my Diploma in Psychological Astrology at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, where I had the good fortune to study with Dr Liz Greene and the late, great mundane astrologer, Charles Harvey.  How did I do this? By writing a 50,000 word research study called “The Moon’s Nodes in Action”. After that, I’d had enough of the Moon’s Nodes.

A big part of my obsession that year concerned the links I found between the horoscopes of Mary Shelley, author of ‘Frankenstein’, and that of Dolly the Sheep, the first cloned mammal, created in their research laboratory  by Dr Ian Wilmut and his team in the Roslyn Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland and announced to the world in February 1997.

I take strange pride in being probably the first person to have written a detailed synastry between a dead human and a live sheep! Never a class went by for that whole year without Dolly and Mary Shelley being mentioned. By the end of the year, and the completion of the research study, my students had taken either to giving me presents of pens, etc, with pictures of sheep on them, or to crossing the street when they saw me approaching! ( I exaggerate, but only slightly….)

Spring 2011 - Natural Zodiac

Spring 2011 - Natural Zodiac

That was twelve years ago and I moved on to other things. However, in the last week, like everyone else with any interest in world affairs, I have been watching with fascination, horror and a certain excited anticipation of possible positive change as a wave of  protest – mainly from the young – has swept the Middle East. The iron grip of dictatorial rulers has been snapping in a domino chain of nations rising in revolt.

As the Nodal axis crosses Pluto, approaching the final stage of the August 2009 – July 2011 season of eclipses in Capricorn(North Node point) and Cancer (South Node point) and Colonel Gaddafi loses his grip on Libya amidst scenes of bloodshed and mayhem, I have been prompted to dig that almost-forgotten research study out of its dusty drawer.

Why?

Because I remembered my overall research finding:

 times of most profound and radical change come in collective and individual life when the combination of the Nodal Axis and Pluto is triggered.

Having re-read that 1997/8 study, I have decided to publish the final chapter here as a series of posts over the next week or so. I know that many astrologers share my fascination with the Moon’s Nodes: I hope what I have to say will be both interesting and illuminating in its own right. It  may also be supportive of  what many other astrologers have concluded from their own practice.

(note: I have illustrated this post with a chart for the time of the Aries Ingress of 2011, set on the Natural Zodiac which refers to our whole world community. The high focus of Pluto, and the Moon’s Nodes, by then having just slipped into Sagittarius/Gemini but with one more solar eclipse in Cancer due to occur in July 2011, shows clearly in this chart.)

TO BE CONTINUED

To read Part Two, click HERE

To read Part Three, click HERE

To read Part Four, click HERE

To read Part Five, click HERE

PLUS

Mary Shelley, Modern Myth-Maker

(a study of her Nodes in relation to her authorship of ‘Frankenstein’)

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Review: Mslexia writer’s diary 2009

“ I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.”

Edna St Vincent Millay …. ‘On writing…. This spirited quote, balm to the soul of  most rebels – therefore most writers! – appears on the 2–8 February page of  Mslexia writer’s diary 2009. 


Mslexia writer's diary 2009

Mslexia writer's diary 2009

I have never before purchased a new diary so full of useful information and advice. The Mslexia team’s stated aim is to help us writers to fulfill “all….writing (and reading) ambitions, pleasures, inspirations and desires.” In this they succeed admirably.

Chawton House Library in Hampshire, UK, houses a unique collection of books focusing on “women’s writing in English from 1600–1830”, including “early editions by authors such as Aphra Behn, Frances Burney, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley.” Mslexia writer’s diary 2009 features a monthly inspiration from this collection: eg a letter from Wollstonecraft to her publisher, and poetry by early feminist Behn.

An ‘I urge you to read’ section featuring recommendations from top women writers eg Kate Grenville and Isabel Allende, alternates fortnightly with ‘On writing….’: pithy, witty, provocative and poetic observations from respected writers on the writer’s craft.

Also – clearly set out – are guidelines on how to set up and run writing groups, writing exercises to get the muse going, an extensive A-Z Resources for writers, and the brilliant ‘ten to try’ lists. These provide groups of ten of the following: literary venues, literary magazines, independent publishers, writers’ websites and literary blogs.

My favourite blog is  www.writeanything.wordpress.com which features a range of monthly blog carnivals on a wide range of topics, allowing you to showcase your work on a regular basis. This, as I have recently discovered, is a great way to boost traffic for any writers with a web/blogsite.

Ah, the pages! There are Contacts pages, and Submissions pages. It even caters for the anal amongst us, with a couple of ‘books lent and borrowed’ pages! This great diary also provides ‘the blank page’: twenty-seven of them, to be precise – carry Mslexia writer’s diary 2009 around with you, and never again will you be caught short on the upper deck of  the fifty-nine bus when a great idea strikes and you are out of paper….

It is light, about the size of a small paperback, and easy to tuck into a handbag or even a capacious pocket. Protected front and back with wipe-clean plastic, the attractive, very literary-looking cover has handy clear pockets inside: for keeping business cards, prescriptions you’ve forgotten to collect, shopping lists, that important piece of paper with your car registration written on it, the email of someone in publishing it might be worth contacting, your grandmother’s shoe size, etc etc.

The Mslexia team really have thought of everything. There are more goodies within the diary’s pages, which I have not covered here but leave you to discover when you rush out and buy it! (directly from  www.mslexia.co.uk or phone 0191 261 6656)

My only small complaint?
The notes pages – facing the week-to-view diary pages – are blank. How about a lined version for next year?

If you’ve treated yourself to this excellent diary as a result of this review, I’d like you to let me know – and what you think of it (either the review, the diary – 0r both!)Just leave a comment.

500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page