Shirley Jackson has something to tell us from beyond the grave. Her date of birth is on this December 14th eclipse, her star is rising again with Elisabeth Moss portraying her in a new biopic. So it is time to reassess: why Shirley Jackson, why now and what is the message? She was an author, always a favourite of mine, who laid bare the darkness inside the minds of people that they didn’t see themselves and this eclipse reveals what was hidden allowing us to see suddenly what lurks in the dark and send chills down the spine.
Among hundreds of stories Jackson wrote, one stands out strong, ‘The Lottery’. It was recognised instantly as a minor masterpiece. It describes innocently an , apparently happy situation of a summer’s day when the ‘grass was richly green’ and villagers go about their usual business on this day, but by the final words the darkness falls on the disturbing- even poisonous- currents of energy run deep inside the human psyche. We know they exist due to Milgram’s experiments-proving that sadism is just under the surface veneer of civilisation. But also the story is about the blind faith in chance and compliance with the arbitrary rules of a system which is what lotteries represent, how the freedom and joy of life tends to be squeezed out and that is suppressed.
In Jorge Luis Borges’ baroque antecedent version ‘The Lottery in Babylon’ (1941) the lottery becomes far more elaborate the justification for punishments by lot, for heavy fines, surveillance and eventually the systemic corruption of society. It is orchestrated by a near invisible group called ‘the company’ whose ‘agents’ are secret. Financial gains are traded off for time spent in prison, and even death, and the controlling powers play with the laws of fate resulting in impersonal outcomes. Once a society is fully lotterised- that they have bought in to it- it seems as if its people are lobotomised, following blindly this ‘infinite game of chance.’
Jackson’s message is to remember this disturbing fact of existence. It falls on her solar return. She was born December 14th in 1916 and died in 1965 so she would be 104 if she were still alive in 2020. Her chart aligns just one degree to this eclipse. Yet I feel her reminding us in this story about how people suffer under inexorable rules that they did not create. Chiron is in Aries and goes direct at the same time as the eclipse. The story The Lottery was first published in 1948 in The New Yorker received more letters than any other story they had published. She had touched a nerve that others missed and said ” I delight in what I fear.” What this housewife knew was that under the surface of normality, murderous urges lurk. The film that was made of her book The Haunting spawned dozens of copy-cats and remakes, but none are as scary or as potent as the black and white original from 1963. She didn’t mind being called a witch, and even encouraged it if it led to good PR. She also wrote comedy and domestic trivia. But in The Lottery what stems from ordinary events and ordinary people going about their business is this blind-sidedness to their inner tyrant, their shadow as they are so entrenched in blaming others it has become habitual and unquestioned. This eclipse asks us to review entrenched beliefs and false authorities: are they really ours or our they conditioned into us and have outgrown their use?
Jackson’s chart is pumped up with fire with sun, moon and Ascendant in Fire signs. Even Jupiter is in fire sign, Aries. It trines the Sun and the Moon, so she had plenty of energy to express her mind. She has Pluto in Cancer opposite Mercury in Capricorn – her words operated as a kind of spell-craft. Asteroid, Juno, consort of Jupiter, is conjunct the sun, probably giving her the strength and the wisdom to keep it all together, her marriage and career, which is a juggling act in any era, but was especially so in the 1940s and 50s small town USA. Uranus in Aquarius opposite the Moon also gave her that spark of electricity and originality. She channelled her energy into writing with Mercury and Mars which is exalted in Capricorn while being mother of four children and supporting her husband, literary critic Stanley Hyman. She got the work done and her books resonate with today’s readers as she had a knack of piercing through the everyday.
The Lottery is about ‘mob’ psychology and how that works follows rules of emotional contagion. Crowds and the public are the Moon in mundane astrology. The Moon rules the tides in and out. But when lotteries are about money, we’d look to Jupiter which is luck, gambling and going over the top, but also religion, spirituality and travel – sometimes the things that money can obtain for us. And Pluto is dark transformative events, that could bring sudden wealth or poverty as the case may be. The chart for the day of publication of ‘The Lottery’ in 1948 has Jupiter conjunct her Sun and Ascendant in Sagittarius. Pluto and Saturn are conjunct her Moon in dramatic Leo; and pen-flexing Mercury, mascot of writers, conjunct her natal Pluto. This was no ordinary day in Jackson’s life. Something big was bound to happen and this story was a game changer for her.
The Chiron Signature: Moving Forwards
But there’s a Chiron stamp here too. Yes we hear the phrase ‘wounded healer’ bandied about as if that is all there is to it. Chiron is that which wounds us that we can do nothing about, but from that pain grow, learn and teach. That Chiron moves forward on this eclipse means it triggers healing perhaps. Chiron represents all scapegoated people forced to suffer without recourse to alleviation. It is stationing at 04° 56’ slowly moving direct on December 15th. This emphasises what hurts us. The wound comes to the surface to be acknowledged. it may not go away but at least we see it for what it is and carry on with our lives. Chiron is associated with Sagittarius because of the centaur which is a hybrid creature. You get the high and the low. Some centaurs like Nessus and Pholus had particular roles as guardians and ferrymen, but most were violent and could be triggered into a good rampage at the whiff of wine. Chiron and his consort Chariklo, the ground of being, who is at the mid point between Pluto and Saturn/Jupiter, stand out as the spiritual path showers. To be half-human, half-horse gives them dual status, they straddle two worlds. But it is their healing gifts that elevates them. Their inner tension never resolves which can pull them towards heaven as much as to their more animal functions, ideally into a fusion of both. Chiron thus plays multiple roles, teacher, healer but descriptor of the pain of existence that does not go away which is the trouble with being born- the brick wall of existence.
The Lottery is an instructive tale of why a scapegoat is vital as a ‘sin’-eater. In this tradition someone ‘eats’ bread from the corpse, or is needed as a sacrifice to purge the karmic load for the collective. This Chiron signature ( along with Mars and Neptune) is there in the December Eclipse to prompt reflection what is happening at the finale of 2020. No one knows why people must suffer. Blood or a death is required as a sacrifice to maintain the levelling of that society. Certain people are designated to be vilified or made the carry the burden of sickness, become the pariah and be stoned, ostracised, exiled to become the vehicle for hatred. Sickness can be a metaphor. Chiron is at the point in our charts where we are most vulnerable to pain that is unavoidable, seems fated and for which we have no cure or solution. Find it in the zodiac sign to provide clues as to how it will operate, and the house for which area of life it will appear. In Aries it is about self identity, in Taurus, it is about values and money, in Gemini it is our voice, education, communication, and in Cancer about our feelings of home and security and so on around the zodiac.
Jackson’s Chiron is in sensitive, spiritual Pisces where it was 2011-2018. Perhaps she had trouble with the divine and self boundaries? It trines her Venus in Scorpio, trines her South Node in Cancer, and squares her Sun and Ascendant in Sagittarius. So you could say this was intimately connected to who she was, her actual physical person. When asked what happens to ‘lost girls’- she said ‘they go mad.’ Her stories are on the borderline between the supernatural and madness. They could be both. She was a character: quite fiery as you might expect from a triple Fire sign, but she was very funny and warm according to her son. She was also acquainted with suffering. During her lifetime, she was largely ignored, even attacked and vilified, decidedly misunderstood, including by her mother-(Venus square the Moon). She was not acclaimed as a writer but rumours of witchcraft persisted for years. She was very cruelly labelled “the Virginia Werewolf of Séance fiction.”
Lotteries for Money
These two stories about lotteries work as a chilling reminders of what lotteries actually are. Most people might think it is just about the chance to win a shed-load of money and thus a great idea. Astrologers would look for the instigators: Pluto, out of the depths of the gold mines- the Powerball; Jupiter, the lucky booster planet – the Thunderball; and the Moon and the great unwashed public washing money in with the tide but also washing it out again- the Rollingball maybe? The first proper televised draw of the National Lottery in the UK was on November 19th and there was a triple conjunction of the Sun, Jupiter and Pluto in Scorpio. That boded well for making more money than you can imagine. If the time is right, at 8.50pm. It is also in the 5th house of play adding to the gambler’s luck. So
When a previous lottery was begun in Finland on Jan 3rd, 1971 a similar line up of the biggies was there, with Jupiter more or less at the same degree of Scorpio sextile to Pluto; and it sextiles the Sun close to Venus. Bill Gates, a Scorpio, has Jupiter and Pluto conjoined at 27-28 degrees of Leo and a momentous placement of Chiron at zero degrees of Aquarius in his 7th house. Perhaps he believes that mass vaccination is the rule of the Lottery and stands to gain considerably from vaccine role out? Who is to say, but he may be yet again in the news as that it falls on the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter as it enters Aquarius on December 21st. Jeff Bezos, who is Capricorn, is the CEO of Amazon, has Pluto trine his MC but opposite Chiron with Jupiter close to his Ascendant. He has recently become a trillionaire his wealth increasing 61% this year to $182.4 billion. The same with Elon Musk whose fortunes have escalated beyond the imagination of most. But money has transformative power as it grants wishes and we are often not careful enough what we wish for. It hints also at downfall.
Lotteries can operate as a stealth tax and fundamentally does not change the status quo – the inequalities of wealth often do the splits as they have during the lockdown- these trillionaires have sprouted like mushrooms on the pain of others. Jupiter and Pluto have done a dance with Saturn all year long in 2020 making that effect heavier than it might have been. As where wealth is amassed to that extreme, the corollary is that masses have also been impoverished or made bankrupt. Jupiter Pluto and Saturn have done a dance together all year. It is also well known that people who do win the jackpots are often emotionally ruined by the millions and squander – they implode internally as happened to Andrew Jackson. The inner work needs to be done or the money comes before you are ready to manifest abundance. So enormous amounts of money can have a destructive effect. While this is not the same as being stoned to death, it can equate to a psychic death.
12% of money from the UK Lottery goes automatically to the government. Another portion goes to charities and often the prize is not collected. If you spent £5 every week for 40 years and never won you would have contributed to the lottery pot the sum of £10,400. What are the chances of winning? One in a hundred million. Others say that Lotteries are rigged- at least some insider whistleblowers say that, and wherever huge amounts of money are, the chances of corruption increase. .
Arabic Parts or Lots
Lotteries rule the imagination since they offer hope of a miraculous life change. You draw a lot and it assigns a random event: win or lose. We need that whiff of a big win because otherwise is the same old same old drudgery and making ends meet. The concept of a Lot in life goes way back to ancient times. In Astrology also known as Arabic Parts. In Hellenistic astrology Lots are determined by the Lights- that is the Sun, Moon and Ascendant and calculations made from their positions. The Lot of Fortune, Lot of Spirit, Lot of Love, and Lot of Necessity. Fortune related to the material world and Spirit was its opposite. Their positions were calculated differently for a nighttime chart or for a daytime chart, yet these points remain significant in the lives of natives although I have not seen exactly how yet.
Lots are linked to fated chance and the scapegoat, punishment or pain that the collective In Jackson’s story, the character Bill Hutchinson chooses the paper from the black box that will kill his own wife Tessie, nominating her as the ‘victim’ that bright summer day. That’s the function of scapegoating- someone has to lose, and that we accept even on a bright summer’s day. Prior to paper they used wood chips as just as if it were a divination method like Horary astrology, Tarot or like Yarrow stalks in the I Ching. In The Haunting there is a little cup of stars that a little girl is asked to forego. It is that thin that our parents try to take away from us but the girl insists and the protagonist, Eleanor thinks ‘brave girl’ to ask for what she wants and insist, as later in life it will be taken. In Borges’ Lottery story the Babylonian narrator claims not to be an astrologer but that knowledge of astrology can help understand the fluctuations of the moon, and therefore fate and fortune. He says he was made invisible in a lunar year, and that ‘a new order’ is installed via the lottery system. He says “Hope has been faithful to me, as has panic in the river of pleasure.” Fortunes are subject to labyrinthine rules by the mysterious rules of ‘the company’ that sets themselves up as god.
There are many things to say about this eclipse, but with Chiron it makes us fragile and vulnerable to inexorable forces and possibly vaccines that will either heal or harm us- each to his poison. When it moves forward we might learn to heal slightly better, and as long as we realise that the wound is permanent, we can coexist with that awareness. Possibly the burden may be easier to bear. There are both gifts and blessings hidden within the wound that we learn to deal with in a more mature way.
Before ending the Chironic tale of lotteries, another long forgotten writer is back in prominence, Noel Coward. These eclipses are worth watching out for indeed. A new film version of ‘Blithe Spirit’ has been released this year 2020 starring Judi Dench as Madame Arcati. Noel Coward’s birthday was 16th December but the degree of his sun is the same as the December 14th Eclipse -23 degrees. Yet, this is also the exact spot of a Nodal Return for Coward. There is an exact conjunction of Coward’s North and South Nodes at 19/20 degrees of Sagittarius and Gemini. He is aligned very well with this moment to exhibit frivolity in the face of death. Mercury mascot of writers is conjunct the South Node too. As the writer says in the film, he needed a bit of ‘divine intervention’ for his art and the eclipse and Lot of Spirit provided.
© Kieron Devlin, Proteus Astrology, December 13th, 2020.
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Kieron is a London-based and trained astrologer at Proteus Astrology on Facebook:
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