Displaying items by tag: literature http://kepler.edu Fri, 22 Aug 2014 08:07:48 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Mary Shelley: A Pluto-Dominated Literary Life http://kepler.edu/home/index.php/component/k2/item/466-mary-shelley-pluto-dominated http://kepler.edu/home/index.php/component/k2/item/466-mary-shelley-pluto-dominated Mary Shelley: A Pluto-Dominated Literary Life

My article revolves around the position of Pluto in Mary Shelley's chart and its powerful impact on the events in her life and her works - Chrisine Ferraro

Born of philosopher and political writer William Godwin and famed feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (author of The Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792), Mary Shelley's early environment provided fertile ground for the growth of her intellectual and literary tendencies. The loss of her mother when she was only 11 days old was the first of many indicators that crisis, transformation, and revolution were going to be a major theme in her life.

Pluto's placement at the apex of her chart, in electric Aquarius, indicates a hard-wiring of sorts, as if she were a lightning rod giving off and attracting powerful forces in her life. And its opposition to Mars in Virgo (conjunct her Sun and Uranus in the 4th house, anchoring the theme of reform to the foundation of her life) describes one with an indomitable will, doing battle with forces beyond her control. Her father described her at fifteen as "singularly bold, somewhat imperious, and active of mind. Her desire of knowledge is great, and her perseverance in everything she undertakes almost invincible."

The preponderance of mutable (and thus mentally-oriented) placements in her chart, including the Nodes, speaks to her "literary life," based on intellectual exploration, a passion for ideas and their impact on society, and an intense drive to creatively express those ideas through the written word. The Moon in Sagittarius, as the out-of-bounds (and thus intensified) Ascendant ruler, is highlighted and especially significant, as it describes her thirst for knowledge, her priority need to explore the world of ideas, as well as a restless, adventurous drive to experience life. Its tense square to Mercury in its own sign of Virgo seems to have applied the thumbscrews to her intellect, driving her to not only seek out intellectual stimulation, but also to articulate in literary form that which arose from her emotional experiences and her subconscious.

She was attracted to novel, progressive, and revolutionary streams of thought and immersed herself in the company of those of like mind. There is a theme of lawlessness, rebellion, and unconventionality repeated throughout her life, for which there is ample support in the chart. Pluto at the Aquarius MC overseeing all, receives aspects from the Moon in Sagittarius (sextile), Mercury in Virgo (quincunx), Mars and Sun in Virgo (opposition), and Jupiter in Aries (septile). 

She flaunted the conventionalities of traditional married life (Mars, Sun, Uranus conjunction in Virgo in the 4th, sextile Saturn on the one side in the 1st and Neptune in Scorpio on the other in the 5th) by entering into an unorthodox and illicit affair with Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of her father's political followers. She believed in the non-exclusivity of marriage and "free love." For many years, the couple lived a nomad-like bohemian existence (oftentimes pursued by creditors), shared with many of their intellectual circle.

The litany of losses and crises in Mary's life seems to be a testimony to a life chosen for lessons in the limits of personal power, endurance, release, rebirth, and relinquishment, as well as for rising to the status of immortality through her work. 

Out of the five pregnancies and births that Mary experienced, only one child, a boy, survived to adulthood. Her losses of her children (at one point she nearly died from blood loss due to a miscarriage) induced acute periods of debilitating depression from which she escaped through her writing. During these times, however, she often became emotionally and physically inaccessible to her husband. The Mercury-Pluto quincunx in her chart (which, by the way, she inherited from her mother) is emblematic of the solace she sought in her writing and could, perhaps, be descriptive of her need to isolate herself in order to work through her grief.

Suicide, another extreme Plutonian ideation, was no stranger to her either. Both Percy's wife and Mary's stepsister committed suicide in 1816, and although Mary may not have known it, her mother had made at least two attempts herself.

Ultimately, one of her greatest and most traumatic losses was the accidental drowning death of her husband in July of 1822 when, after encountering bad weather, his sailing boat never reached its destination.

Pluto's association with fame attracted those whose names would be long remembered for their works: Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Aaron Burr, and of course, Percy Shelley, whose fame is due in no small part to Mary's determination to share his genius with the world after his death. Mary's absorption with the ideas of power, transformation, political change, as well as an intense drive to reform, attest once again to Pluto's influence in her life and her work.

Many of her novels were driven by Plutonian themes: Mathilda was narrated from a deathbed, dealt with issues of incest and suicide, and was written during a grief-stricken period in which she lost two of her children.

In Valperga, the heroine is named Euthanasia and chooses political liberty and dies because of that choice. Last Man is an apocalyptic science fiction novel, where everyone dies but one man who is left in tragic isolation, and Ladore deals with ideological issues, especially education and the social roles of women and the pressure for them to be dependent on men.

Many of her quotes reveal her intense, Plutonian turn of mind:

Every political good carried to the extreme must be productive of evil.

Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.

The agony of my feelings allowed me no respite; no incident occurred from which my rage and misery could not extract its food.

I do not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves.

And last but certainly not least, the novel for which she will most likely never be forgotten, her legacy: Frankenstein, or a Modern Prometheus.

The seed idea for the novel, published when she was only 20 years of age, was planted when, in May 1816, she, Percy Shelley, and their son travelled to Geneva. Among other subjects discussed in the company of Lord Byron and others, the conversation turned to the experiments of the 18th-century natural philosopher and poet Erasmus Darwin, who was said to have animated dead matter, and to the feasibility of returning a corpse or assembled body parts to life. Sitting around a log fire at Byron's villa, the company also amused themselves by reading German ghost stories, prompting Byron to suggest they each write their own supernatural tale. Shortly afterwards, in a waking dream, Mary Godwin conceived the idea for Frankenstein.

Pluto, with its dominion over death and regeneration, in Aquarius, the sign associated with science, seems to provide the quintessential signature for Shelley's legacy. The association in the title with Prometheus further brings home the themes of betrayal, power, and regeneration, as well as the ideals of intellectual and scientific advancement for which Prometheus gave up so much.

On another, deeper level, one could say that we are called to look at our shadow side when we encounter Frankenstein's monster, where an obsession can go beyond reason into the world of madness and terror. Mary Shelley fearlessly brought the darkness to life and light and dared us to venture in.

Brief bio:
Christine Ferraro (www.skypathastrology.com) began her astrological studies in the 1970s, a time when she also began the journey of exploring the deeper, more spiritual side of life. Her focus in her work with her clients is on the development of understanding and self-awareness, thus empowering them to make more insightful and informed decisions and to move toward living a more conscious life. Christine writes, is on the faculty at the International Academy of Astrology, and also on the Board of the Organization for Professional Astrology. She lives in Churchville, PA, with her husband, Jules, and their two cats.

  • Mary Shelley
  • chart interpretation
  • lunar nodes
  • pluto
  • literature
    Chart Interpretation Challenge - Mary Shelley Mon, 15 Jul 2013 18:51:32 +0000
    The Foundations of Hindu Sacred Literature http://kepler.edu/home/index.php/component/k2/item/250-the-foundations-of-hindu-sacred-literature http://kepler.edu/home/index.php/component/k2/item/250-the-foundations-of-hindu-sacred-literature The Vedas

    By Carol Tebbs, MA

    Over 4000 years ago, nomads sprung from the soil of northeastern Europe and entered the Indus Valley of ancient India. They called themselves Aryans, or noble ones, and the religion they brought with them comprised the first practice of Hinduism. The centerpiece of Aryan religion was a fire sacrifice to the gods performed by priests specially trained to chant sacred hymns. The hymns themselves were known as Vedas or sacred knowledge. The Vedas are the scriptural bedrock of the Hindu tradition.

    The Vedas

    The aim of the Vedic fire sacrifice and of Aryan religion itself was to ensure well-being and prosperity in this life. The early Vedas contained little evidence of sustained thought about human destiny beyond this life – or an afterlife. The doctrines most associated with Hinduism, such as the cycle of reincarnation driven by karma and the liberation from bondage through yoga discipline, were reflected a thousand years later in the more recent Vedic literature called the Upanishads.[1]

    Of the four Vedas, the Rig Veda is the most important and foundational. The most popular God of the Rig Veda is the expansive and dynamic Indra. He is said to have surpassed the other gods in power as soon as he was born, and he is credited with having created the world by slaying a cosmic serpent and bust releasing the life-giving monsoon bringing waters that help the Aryans overcome the non-Aryan people they met. Because of his role in the important fire sacrifice, Agni, the god of fire is perhaps second only to Indra in popularity with over 1000 hymns dedicated to him in the Vedas. The entire ninth book of the Rig Veda is addressed to Soma, the God who inhabits the mysterious psychotropic beverage, said to be the food of the gods. Soma probably ranks behind only Indra and Agni in Vedic popularity.[2]

    The early Vedic religion was polytheistic, the notion of an all-encompassing metaphysical unity, God, so important in the later Upanishads made an occasional appearance. Quite a different Vedic creation hymn conceives the world's origin as a divine being’s, Purusha’s, self-sacrifice. In this creation story, we not only have the seeds of the mythic rationale for the fire sacrifice, but the importance of the priestly reenactment of the sacrifice that sustains it. Further, in the Rig Veda there is reference to the four social groups that have constituted the Indian “caste system” for thousands of years. The Aryan social structure featured a broad occupational division of clans into a 1) priestly caste, the Brahmins; 2) a military and political caste, the Kshatriyas; 3) an artistan caste, the Vaishyas; and 4) the non-Aryan populations were incorporated as a fourth class of laborers, the Shudras, to serve the other three.[3]

    The Upanishads

    In the Upanishads we first see the pan-Indian diagnosis of the human condition as trapped in a ceaseless round of death and rebirth, Samsara, due to the actions and the consequences of actions, Karma, performed in ignorance of the divine ground of all life, Brahman. Also introduced in the Upanishads is the remedy for liberation of the soul from this confining ignorance through each individual's realization of his inner spiritual nature, the universal self or Othman, which is none other than Brahman.

    The Brahamanas

    Another form of Vedic literature are the Brahmanas, which are clerical compositions mainly explaining the Vedic sacrificial rituals and their underlying symbolism. The oldest of the Brahmanas is the Shatapatha Brahmana of the Yajur Veda, which dates to approximately 900 B.C.E.[4]

    The Mahabharata, or the great story of the Bharatas, is an account of the origins, the course and the results of a great war between two clans, the Pandavas and their cousins, the evil sons of Dhritarashtra. The Bharatas were an Aryan tribal group who raided and plundered other villages over several generations. The work is a compilation of various texts and traditions gathered over hundreds of years from about 540 B.C.E. to the third century C. E. One can assume that Vyasa, the legendary author, is probably fictional or mythical because he has been credited with writing most of India's sacred literature including the Vedas and the 18 Puranas. Such a feat would encompass a life of several thousand years. [5]

    National Epics

    The Mahabharata and The Ramayana
    Along with the Mahabharata, the Ramayana recounts the life of Rama and is one of the two major national epics of Indian literature attributed to the public and sage Valmiki sometime during the first century B.C.E. The Ramayana is a story of tragic love between Rama and Sita, but it is also an epic dealing with the asceticism so typical for India.

    Recognized as one of the greatest works of world literature, the Bhagavad-Gita is contained within the long epic poem, the Mahabharata. The Bhagavad-Gita has been called the most important and influential of Hindu scriptures. Indeed it is the most popular book in Hindu religious literature and one that most Hindus regard as containing the essence of the Vedas and the Upanishads.[6] The message of the Bhagavad-Gita is that each human being has but one ultimate purpose: to realize the eternal self within and thus to know the joy of union with God. Traditionally, followers sought union with God in retreat from the world, but without omitting that option the gate to enlightnment, teaches that it may be attained in the midst of the world through non-attached action, bhakti, in the context of devotion to God.

    The story of the Bhagavad-Gita opens on the battlefield where the two vast and powerful armies stand. There is no doubt that there is going to be a bloodbath and a civil war among blood relatives. The noble warrior, Arjuna, was profoundly disturbed by the concept of war, but it was his role to lead his clan, the Pandavas, into battle.[7] The tormented Arjuna prays for help from the Lord Krishna, who in human form stands beside him in his chariot. Troubled by his double duty as a warrior to protect his family from evil aggression and the spiritual duty of nonviolence, Arjuna confesses his confusion to Lord Krishna. A lengthy conversation between the two follows whereupon Arjuna resolves his dilemma by choosing the path of dispassionate action. Dispassionate action, or Karma Yoga, is perhaps the central teaching of the Bhagavad-Gita. Aside from its religious import to Hindus, the simplicity and spirituality of the Bhagavad-Gita has appealed to readers of many cultures, and many times.

    The Puranas

    Finally, a category of Indian sacred literature available to the common people and not exclusively in the domain of the priests, are the Puranas. Most of the Puranas were composed during or after the fourth century C. E., but they often contain older legends and traditions that reveal the beliefs and practices of early folk religion. Traditionally, there are 18 principal Puranas and an unspecified number of minor ones. The texts were generally subdivided into three classes, according to the particular deity of the Hindu trinity that they most exalt: Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva.[8] To this day, the main schools of Hindu teaching follow the same format with allegiance to one of the three deities.

    Fourteen hundred years after the Aryans sowed the seeds of Hindu faith in the Indian sub-continent, Buddhism sprang from Hindu roots and spread throughout the Far East. Through cross-cultural exchange, elements of Hinduism are evident in all religions that emanate from the Near East.

    • [1] Novak, Philip, The World’s Wisdom, Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1994, p. 1
    • [2] Novak, Philip, The World’s Wisdom, p. 4
    • [3] Novak, Philip, The World’s Wisdom, p. 7
    • [4] Camphausen, Rufus, The Divine Library, Inner Traditions international, Vermont, 1992, p. 56
    • [5] Camphausen, Rufus, The Divine Library, Inner Traditions international, Vermont, 1992, p. 71
    • [6] Koller, John, The Indian Way, Macmillan, New York, 1982, p. 188
    • [7] Novak, Philip, The World’s Wisdom, p. 24
    • [8] Camphausen, Rufus, The Divine Library, Inner Traditions international, Vermont, 1992, p. 113
    • literature
    • sacred literature
    • vedas
    • Hinduism
      CarolTebbs@aol.com (Carol Tebbs) Astrology in Literature Wed, 18 Mar 2009 04:41:01 +0000
      The Myth and the Mundane: Reflections on Women in Society http://kepler.edu/home/index.php/component/k2/item/233-the-myth-and-the-mundane-reflections-on-women-in-society http://kepler.edu/home/index.php/component/k2/item/233-the-myth-and-the-mundane-reflections-on-women-in-society Kali

      As her senior project and final paper for her East/West major, BA graduate Inga Thornell wrote a research paper on the role of women and myth in society.


      The study of mythology and literature can be a useful means of determining the paradigms of a culture. This paper will examine examples of Goddesses and women from Greco-Roman and Indian mythology and epic poetry to determine what these stories show us about women's roles in these cultures and how these characters compare to what is known of real women in each society. The historical period under examination is each culture's "Epic period." The Epic period encompasses different years for each civilization in the same way that the term "iron age" does.

      Myths and literature can teach us how another culture views its life events and how they view their gods. They provide insights about the religion, customs and rituals of a civilization. They also provide models of societal expectations and demonstrate human behavior. Myths also teach us about ourselves. In fact, it is too easy to read myth without acknowledging its own cultural milieu, and while its relevance to all eras is part of myths' appeal, this can cause misunderstandings of the myth itself. The myth of Persephone is a good example of this propensity to misunderstanding since moderns tend to read this myth through their own lens and to emphasize the violence of the "rape" motif without realizing that this is a tale of ancient marriage customs. While the event of Persephone’s abduction and non-consensual marriage is shocking, the modern understanding of the word "rape" is not an accurate description of it.

      JasonandMedeaAs a reader, it is easy to become caught up in the richness of the characters in myth: Kunti, Draupadi, Briseis and of course, Nausicaa. However, as a researcher, one must remember the status of women in these societies: the Greek sage, Teireseis, is turned into a woman as a punishment, and the Indian daughter, Sikhandin, is transformed into a son from her “desire to do good.” Hesiod describes the origin of women:


      [Zeus] bade famous Hephaestus make haste and mix earth with water and to put in it the voice and strength of human kind, and fashion a sweet, lovely maiden-shape, like to the immortal goddesses in face; and Athena to teach her needlework and the weaving of the varied web; and golden Aphrodite to shed grace upon her head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs. And he charged Hermes the guide, the Slayer of Argus, to put in her a shameless mind and a deceitful nature. So he ordered. And they obeyed the lord Zeus the son of Cronos.

      Given this attitude toward gender, epic poetry cries out to be read with critical thinking skills engaged. The women in the Epics are not historical figures but are what the male poets imagined them to be like or to think like. Often they were merely foils for the other male characters. We must ask, is Briseis in love with Achilles because there is something loveable about him; or is she in love with him because Homer, writing for fighting men, needs to reinforce that their captive women really do love them and are not just biding their time while waiting to stab them in their sleep? Is Draupadi married to five brothers because Kunti really had a compulsive fear of lying, or did that become the reason later when polyandry became less common among the wealthy Kshatriya families? Even though Bhishma makes all the other major family decisions, it became more politic to shift the blame for the polyandry to the woman.


      Inga Thornall, Senior Project (c) 2008
      Click here for PDF of entire paper


      • literature
      • mythology
      • women
        Astrology in Literature Tue, 30 Sep 2008 17:00:00 +0000
        The Bard and the Stars: Astrological Debate in Shakespeare's King Lear http://kepler.edu/home/index.php/component/k2/item/192-the-bard-and-the-stars-astrological-debate-in-shakespeares-king-lear http://kepler.edu/home/index.php/component/k2/item/192-the-bard-and-the-stars-astrological-debate-in-shakespeares-king-lear Lear and Cordelia

        by Carol Tebbs (faculty), Rhonda Busby (graduate), Kathy Kipp (senior)


        Sometimes it is easy to forget that the great books of literature are riddled with astrological references. Contrasting views about astrological fate are important in understanding the interactions of characters in Shakespeare's play, King Lear. The older characters place great stock in the influence of the stars on human affairs, while the younger characters mock these superstitious beliefs. The viewpoints in the play mirror the attitudes and arguments about astrology that were taking place in the 1600's.


        Early in the play, King Lear attributes all human existence to the influence of the stars (Act 1, Scene 1, Lines 109 – 112). Later in Scene 2, lines 103 - 137, Gloucester blames the recent eclipses for human difficulties, such as discord, mutinies, treason, and natural bonds dissolving. After he leaves, his son Edmund bemoans the superstition that blames all disasters and human misdoings on the stars, rather than man taking responsibility for them himself. Yet when Edgar enters and Edmund goes on about how their father blames these problems on the stars, Edgar asks him how long he has been a believer in astrology. Because Edmund knows Gloucester has these beliefs, he later tells him that Edgar mumbled wicked charms against him, conjuring the moon (Act 2, Scene 1, Lines 37 – 39). Another one of the younger characters, Kent, mockingly praises the great aspect in his chart that made him such a great man during an argument with Cornwall (Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 106 – 109).


        In Act 1, Scene 2, the controversy between Gloucester and Edmund continues, with Gloucester espousing the “old” judicial view of astrology:


        These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects. Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide. In cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond cracked ‘twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction, there’s son against father; the King falls from bias of nature, there’s father against child. We have seen the best of our time. Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves. Find out this villain, Edmund, it shall lose thee nothing; do it carefully. And the noble and true-hearted Kent banished; his offence, honesty. “Tis strange.

        Gloucester’s comments in lines 107-115 foreshadow the coming events that are “portended” by the sun and moon’s eclipses. Gloucester believes in the portents of the sky/astrology while Edmund does not believe that the stars have any influence over the lives of humans as seen in his response:


        This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeits of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon and stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star. My father compounded with my mother under the Dragon’s Tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous. Fut! I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing.

        Ironically, as Edmund mocks predictive astrology, he characterizes himself as the villain that he indeed proves himself to be later in the play. Edmund states his “nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows that I am rough and lecherous.” (I, 2,134-5). Ptolemy assigned the fixed stars of Ursa Major like the disposition of Mars and Venus with Mars predominant.[1] Here “rough” seems to correlate with Mars and “lecherous” with Venus. Mars is known as malicious and evil. Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos also saw the time of conception for a nativity as important as the time of birth.[2] By stating, “my father compounded with my mother under the Dragon’s Tail” he implies he was blighted by evil astrological influence. Edmund’s clear and concise attack on judicial astrology had great ethical and religious support in his time. Man was to discipline his will and fear God, most attacks coming from the church. Belief in an astrology that affected man’s will implied a limitation upon God’s supremacy. Robert Gray, clergyman, in An Alarum to England (1609) wrote at the time:


        The stars do sometimes foreshow such things as happen, but they are not the enforcing causes of such things as happen. Most impious and blasphemous it is, to ascribe these things to the influence and operation of the stars: for it is to rob God of his honor, to derogate from his power, to overthrow his providence, and to tie God to secondary and subordinate causes, and in respect of ourselves, it extinguisheth the fear of God in us, it hinders our repentance and conversion unto God, it draws up to atheism, and to flat contempt both of God and his judgments.[3]


        The irony is that here one sees Edmund espousing the view of the church that believed that the will of God should reign supreme. Astrological disdain by one of Shakespeare’s most scheming and reviled villains hints at Shakespeare’s opinion on the subject. Edmund, ill informed about astrology, denigrates his own character. Edmund’s views parallel those of the church and state. Political and Religious rejection of judicial astrology was a hotbed of contention of the time. Astrology could affect one’s nature but could not affect one’s soul. Free will reigned supreme. If one were well studied enough and strong enough, one could resist the influence of the stars on one’s soul. Edmund uses the astrological references to his own ends when they serve him with Gloucester and Edgar. We see in Edmund’s soliloquy how he is mocking astrology and using it to manipulate others for his own benefit. Edmund rejected moral responsibilities and the stars. Interestingly, each astrological prediction he mocked did come true. Later in act IV, Scene 3, 33-36, Kent states: “It is the stars, The stars above us govern our conditions; Else one self mate and make could not beget Such different issues.” He is referring to the vast difference in personality between the sisters, proving that there must be some justification in it. Here Kent outlines that he believes that the stars are responsible for peoples’ attitudes. Lear’s comment, asking if Regan’s hard heartedness is the result of the “natural,” hints that there could be connection to astrological influences for her change of attitude. Ultimately, Shakespeare shows through the admonition of judicial astrology by the evil arch villain, endorsement of judicial astrology by the “good guys” and through the “proof is in the pudding,” the outcome of the astrological predictions made in the play show that Shakespeare believes in an astrology which can effect man’s character and influence the outcome of a situation.


        [1] Rusche, Harry. "Edmund's Conception and Nativity in King Lear." Shakespeare Quarterly 20.2 (1969): 161-164.
        [2] Ibid.
        [3] Strathmann, Ernest A. "The Devil Can Cite Scripture." Shakespeare Quarterly 15.2 (1964): 17-23. JSTOR.

        • literature
        • shakespeare
        • Classical techniques
          Astrology in Literature Mon, 18 Feb 2008 16:00:00 +0000