Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sylvia Plath's Horoscope

We've been discussing poetry and astrology on the poetry forum this week. Whilst looking up something else, I came across Sylvia Plath's chart online, and thought it would make a nice start to the week. (Quite without irony; being a Scorpio myself, such things are lovely little dainties to me.)

Hope the chart is legible. I've also copied out the basic planetary positions for clarity. It seems at first glance quite a free-flowing chart, as opposed to the chart of an intense and conflicted poet and serial suicide-attempter, though I imagine that unaspected 8th house Moon in Libra can't have sat well with the darker elements in her make-up.

According to this site, her birth date is: Sylvia Plath, born 1932 October 27 at 0210PM, Boston, Massachusetts (42N22 71W04 5W), and they are using the Koch House system, for those familiar with astrology. (I'm assuming the P stands for Pacific? Not post-meridian, which surely couldn't make sense here. And how can their red line stand for conjunct? That definitely makes no sense, looking at the chart. Very odd.)

Sun -- 4 Scorpio 10
Moon -- 8 Libra 30
Mercury -- 21 Scorpio 28
Venus -- 23 Virgo 39
Mars -- 21 Leo 14
Jupiter -- 16 Virgo 00
Saturn -- 28 Capricorn 34
Uranus -- 20 Aries 54 Rx
Neptune -- 9 Virgo 41
Pluto -- 23 Cancer 22 Rx
Chiron -- 26 Taurus 58 Rx
Node -- 14 Pisces 21
Ascendant -- 29 Aquarius 21
Midheaven -- 13 Sagittarius 44


Bo said...

No surprises with that strong Neptune stellium (albeit loose) in Virgo, especially given the intense wateriness of the sun and mercury in Scorpio. a nice astrological description of a constant feeling of precarious hyper-sensitivity, that, as Virgo longs to analyse and make discrete, to order what penetrates the body and mind, whereas the oceanic wash of all that Neptune/Scorpio calls one to dissolution and the fearless exploration of the darker realms of experience. Definitely the chart of one who feels radically incomplete, seeking for a mythical Other (7th house Neptune) to complete her and in whom to lose herself (a form of behaviour which Aurelia Plath noted SP was prone to from her girlhood.) That Other is all too easily identified with Death, especially given the Chiron-Venus and Chiron-Saturn contacts. That twelfth house saturn is also interesting - it suggests a force of tremendous authoritarianism buried in the family psyche, the harsh and punitive 'Daddy' who cannot wholly be acknowledged or confronted.

Jane Holland said...

And this is why I love you, Bo. I posted this thread on the poetry forum, trying to get people to reveal their sun signs, so I could see if there were any interesting patterns. And you would not believe - actually, I'm sure you WOULD, so scratch that - the blind, fearful animosity that came back at me. Polite bemusement at first. Then open mockery. Then a certain violent belligerence, when I refused to acknowledge that I was round the bend for believing in such things and that 'astrology is bollocks' and for the simple-minded etc. If we'd all been locked in a room together, eventually they'd have found or made a rope and it would have been adios, Jane!

Luckily, we were not locked in a room together, and I'm running the forum. So I just closed the thread once the aggression had reached unacceptable heights.

I thought I stayed fairly calm and patient throughout, but several people commented on how aggressive I was being. I'm sure I wasn't though. Quite the opposite, considering my hair-trigger temper. But I'm beginning to suspect that women who refuse to be cowed by male aggression - the ones attacking me were exclusively male - are perceived as the aggressors in any confrontational situation, even when we're not and the conflict was instigated by another party.

Phew, though. Good to raed your comment. Nice to hear something sensible - and sensitive - on this subject at last.

Jane Holland said...

Read, even. Doh!

Bo said...

Sorry to hear about your recent experiences. People are often very threatened by astrology, believing that it somehow takes away their free will and predicts the future in a straightforward way, instead of being a map of one's inner psychic development and archetypal background. It's often people who deep down know that they have curtailed their own freedom, often through forms of addiction, who are most scared of it, I have observed. People who unconsciously feel themselves to be at the mercy of sinister, unknowable, uncontrolable forces.

I agree with you about men and female refusal to give in in a tight spot. It's so typical - projection at work! People can be very frightened by what they perceive as 'irrational' and not succeptible to logic. But you and I know, of course, that Astrology is under the patronage of Uranus as symbol of cosmic order, the plan in the Divine Mind, and requires a subtle balance of logic and intuition, a capacity to work with symbols and let them work on you. Much like being a poet. Ted Hughes had it right.


Group 8 said...

How bizarre. I'm reading Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters, and last night I read his poem 'Horoscope':

'You wanted to study
Your stars - the guards
Of your prison yard, their zodiac. The planets
Muttered their Babylonish power-sprach
Like a witchdoctor's bones. You were right to fear
How loud the bones might roar.'

(Line breaks not fully accurate due to cramped space!)

I haven't a clue about charts, I've never had mine done. My mother 'can't remember' what time I was born at. Thanks Ma.

Jane Holland said...

You can always have a 'flat' chart done. Just using your date of birth. It's never as good, but could still be interesting.

Good old Ted Hughes. I'm trying to stay away from his poetry at the moment, to let that rather too powerful influence lessen, but of course he's still The Man.


Bo said...

It's very interesting how many of the poets who have been most strongly influenced by Hughes are women (You, Alice Oswald, etc). There's an article in that.

Jane Holland said...

I think there's a lot of Plath in mid-late Hughes. But it's directed towards a kind of abstract universe, largely channelled through the natural world, where Plath's work was deeply personal.

There are traditionally a number of paths open to women (in poetry) which take them safely away from the 'main' mainstream - where they would be in competition with men and therefore constantly under fire and in danger of having their careers sabotaged early on - and allow them to write unhindered, with maybe the odd pat on the head from men who find their work positively charming. One of those paths is that of the Wordsworthian-style 'nature poet'. Alice Oswald has embraced this path as dear to her own heart, and I wish her well with it. My own path is rather rockier, though no nearer the 'main' mainstream, due to my intolerance of the short lyric mentality. Writing about 'nature' has allowed me to develop various aspects of the craft and to slip more or less unnoticed under the radar ... so far. But the Hughesian approach is not enough to contain me - never was, but I've been treading water for such a long time, it's perhaps not obvious that I'm past that influence now - and I'm growing frustrated by the lack of notice being taken, and the amount of my peers - and much younger poets - leapfrogging over me in the often bloody struggle for shortlistings, prizes, reviews and important contacts.

Indigo starts school next week. (She'll be five in December.) And apart from the studying I'll be doing at Warwick for the next few years, I should be free to devote more time to writing. So I'm hoping next year will be even MORE productive than this one in terms of poetry written, and I can't see much of it being Hughesian, except as echoes and grace notes.

That's the plan, anyway. ;)

Bo said...

Sorry to hear you've been having such a frustrating time. I've certainly followed your growth as a poet with admiration and awe.

More to say re: Oswald, but perhaps better when we next meet.

Bo said...

And Jane - do you have what you need for 'Amaethon'? i have no recollection of what I have sent you.

Jane Holland said...


But I'm preparing the files for transfer to Salt this weekend and will get back to you if anything looks odd or is missing.