There is a pleasurable intensity in books that confess to sins or crimes that alienated the author yet seduce the readers. “Confessions of a Mask’ (1958) is like this – an autobiographical novel by Japanese writer Yukio Mishima. It made him famous at the young age of 24, and gained a reputation in western circles for its daring sexual fantasies. The muse Erato is conjunct the Great Attractor. The mask here is synonymous with ‘passing’ as someone else to fit in to society and not a literal mask as we see everyone forced to wear today. I link to this to Chiron, the scapegoat, and sin-eater who swallows the collective pain so others can get on with their lives guilt-free. Mishima’s Chiron is conjunct Mars which is the strongest planet in his natal chart as Mars is in Aries, squaring the Sun in Capricorn where it is exalted. It is also sextile to his MC. Confession brings healing and redemption by the mere act of confessing and death brings relief from the slings and arrows of life. Thus Mishima’s literary career was firmly established.
There are few writers who can startle as dramatically as Mishima –Kimitake Hiroaka– who was born on January 14th in 1925, and with Uranus on his Descendant, the surprises he provided were many and shocking. This Uranus is exactly conjunct asteroid Vesta giving him a transcendant electric charge to guard the flame of his ultimate desires. It provides sparks to the sex life but allows for the purest kind of dedication more sacred than profane. Mishima was deadly serious and meticulous about everything he did. He took Wilde’s quip to heart by putting only his talent into his work, but his real genius into his life, but in Mishima’s case, there’s no getting around it, he made a sacramental public theatre of the abrupt termination of that life, scripted down to the last full stop.
On November 25th in 1970, he asserted indomitable will power. He enacted an elaborately staged exit to life by committing seppuku – ritual disembowelment. One of his followers then sliced off his head with a sword, as commanded by the arcane death ceremony. It was planned down to the last detail. This shocked the world and traumatized the Japanese people who still today find it difficult and sensitive to discuss feelings about Mishima. He may have been a celebrated author during his life, but his death left him marked as a troublesome nationalist. People were angry and baffled. He had Chiron conjunct Mars- what greater act of assertion (Mars) can there be in a ritual suicide (Chiron) that was dedicated as a sacrifice to the essence of his nation and ends in a decapitation (Aries)? This conjunction resides in the 8th house of death.
The message of revealing one’s internal organs is coded as sincerity, as having nothing left to hide, truly establishing the person’s honour. Then his close friend, Morita, said to be his lover, also committed ritual suicide, so it could have been a love pact. Whether you agree this was the reason is left for you to ponder. Like the story of Rashomon by Kurosawa there are as many diverging interpretations as there are people with agendas.
It is always fascinating to see how the chart is expressive of a life, and Mishima is no different. The writer’s signature is there in his natal chart, with both his MC in Gemini and Ascendant in Virgo both ruled by Mercury. His Moon is in Virgo lending popularity as a writer along with being OCD about details. He was prolific and well recognized from an early age. Mercury at zero ° Capricorn is conjunct Venus at 29° Sagittarius classed as ‘dissociate’ so operating in the same house but different signs. But this conjunction adds lustre for writers whose eloquence with words can move readers-both dynamism and efficient beauty: “Perfect purity“ he wrote “is possible if you turn your life into a line of poetry written with a splash of blood.” Jupiter nearby adds oodles of beneficence. He is not just regarded as one of the most important writers in Japan but in the whole world at least until Murakami – another Capricorn-came along. He was born just two days earlier than Mishima on January 12th.
With the sun in the fifth house, it adds to the dramatic expression in his astonishing literary output. I wonder if he would have made an even better version of Paul Schrader’s 1985 biopic film of his own life than Schrader managed. I’d point to Neptune in Leo as the film maker in Mishima. Had he lived longer he might have created even more of his own films that he would have written, starred in and self-directed, more than just being an actor and model.
He was no plodding type of status-oriented Capricorn. He celebrated the male body, his own, as an art form to cultivate to perfection and even posed as martyr Saint Sebastian, arrows piercing his torso in a sinuous but homoerotically suggestive pose. With bodybuilding he transformed his body from delicate and willowy to ultra-defined and surging with muscle – that Mars in Aries gave him the edge to develop his own private army. He also trained as a boxer and as a Kendo master. There’s an element of Narcissism too with the way he flaunted his body semi-naked for various photographers like these by Eikoh Hosoe Ordeal with Roses (1961) where he is shown surrounded by a zodiac. Mishima even compared his worked out body to ‘a fashionable sportscar’ which is surely Mars the gangster talking.
The Kite is a powerful configuration that links four planets in a geometric shape where an opposition is embedded into a grand trine that links two sextiles. Mishima has this striking formation said to be a mark of fated events. Uranus and the Moon are directly opposed forming the backbone of the geometry. But Uranus, Pluto and Saturn are in grand water trine which is a turbo -charged connection of deep emotions, mutable, cardinal and fixed. The tipping points- a see-saw- are Uranus and Moon so there is incredible volatility that would probably have exhausted anyone not up to living out that destiny but a kite to me seems to set goals as high as they can be.
Capricorn broods on Time
On the day of what is called the Mishima incident, his ritual death, Pluto was at 29° of Virgo. His chosen appointment with death had the Sun conjunct Neptune and a triple conjunction of the Moon, Mars and Uranus. Mercury- the writer’s mascot- is on the MC. He took off his watch before preparing the dagger for his abdomen, a significant symbolic gesture. For a Capricorn sun obsession with time is usual but with Mishima it was traumatized into him from infancy; he was micro-managed by his father who tried to stamp out his interest in art. He had to find time to write surreptitiously while his father was asleep. Mishima detested waiting and had decided to skip old age completely. He pondered the conundrum of blood and consciousness in the body in Sun and Steel (1969). His death had not just a mystifying Sun conjunct Neptune causing confusion- as no one quite knew what was happening that day-but had a triple conjunction of the Moon, Mars and Uranus in Libra was square to his natal Sun. Pluto also squares his natal triple conjunction of Venus/Mercury/Jupiter. The Part of Fortune is conjunct his sun and natal Part of Fortune representing fate and the physical body and in some cases career. Clearly this death will be remembered- was this his message to posterity? The final act.
Time is not surprisingly a recurring theme in his novels. He writes “Just before the pinnacle when time must be cut short is the pinnacle of physical beauty.” He brought forward his appointment with Saturn- Cronos- the old man of time by sheer force of will. He never missed a single deadline – his mastery of both disciplines of pen and sword was impressive. All his manuscripts were delivered to publishers on time. This might be Uranus chiming with Saturn chiming with Pluto sounding a bassoon-like reverberation with the Moon- that prolific regularity in the grand trine- the generation, concentration and distribution of power- and he had that in abundance.
Why might Mishima be important to us today? Both the Sun and the Moon are at his birth-time 23° of Capricorn where it is now on the first new moon of the year January 13th which is conjunct Pluto. To be fearless in the face of death, perhaps is the message. Mishima was a masterful wordsmith no doubt about that- the novels are readable as he has a lot to tell not just with words but actions- his life, the way he lived and died. Schrader’s film fuses Mishima’s fiction with his life making that Sun conjunct Neptune on the day of his death the deification of the ordinary man. He could become a new kind of Saint Sebastian.
He spoke beautiful English. He was a dandy, an aesthete, possibly even a masochist. He was both elegant and brutal but towards the end he transformed himself into a warrior. It is that warrior code of the Samurai that Mishima upheld that gives pause for thought while Mercury conjunct Saturn in Aquarius squares Mars and Uranus in Taurus in early January 2021. He had Samurai ancestry that he was proud of. The Samurai code might not appear progressive, but that purity of the fighting spirit may be in great need in 2021 and Uranus – at the tip of the kite formation in mystical Pisces- is the freedom fighter, matched with Mars, he’s a visionary warrior too.
© Kieron Devlin, Proteus Astrology, January 14th, 2021.
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