The following article is excerpted from The Astrology of Film: The Interface of Movies, Myth and Archetype, a new anthology edited by StarIQ contributors Jeffrey Kishner and Bill Streett.
Since the invention of cinema, astrology has matured as a field of study, moving from a deterministic form of prediction to a psychologically sophisticated study enhancing personal growth and insight. During astrology's rebirth as a refined model of human potentials, the film world has created a veritable archive that contains the most extensive map yet of the human imagination.
Films from Super 8 creations of aspiring Spielbergs to triumphant Academy Award-winning epics are the text of the mythic, invisible realm, and like any text that is to be meaningful and valuable, there must be a grammar and deep structure to this text. The essays in The Astrology of Film suggest that there is a logic and a timing to these archetypal themes found in film. Beneath the apparent chaos of film history, if one looks deep enough and if one retracts one's perspective far enough, a multi-faceted pattern crystallizes, and one is amazed to find that there is a hidden order to the apparently random output and diversity of movies produced and distributed season after season, year after year.
Patterns in Film History
Just as scientists who developed chaos theory in the 1960s were able to illuminate a hidden order in the ever-changing flux of the natural world, astrology sheds light on the oscillation of the world of the imagination. Astrology suggests that the ebb and flow of symbols and visions that pervade our inner imagination and populate images in media and film are not arbitrary but ordered and follow a deep logic. In the same way that a thoughtful Jungian analyst can help a client see that there is indeed a pattern and structuring to his or her dream life, the authors of this volume attempt to show through the aid of astrology that there is likewise a patterning beneath the seemingly random evolution of film history. More specifically, through looking at planetary cycles and their archetypal meanings, a rich mandala emerges out of the happenstance of film's rich past.
The God of Cinema
With the integration of archetypal psychology and astrology, astrologers are now able to view how the astrological gods are present in film. The god that pervades all aspects of cinema is its ruler, Neptune, the image, transcending mundane reality. Neptune rules that which cannot be adequately described through words alone. The state of being which cannot be categorized by conceptual thinking is better expressed through visual image, poetry, music and dance. Neptune is fantasy, the ideal that great films portray. Films like Bladerunner and A Clockwork Orange create whole new believable worlds that transport viewers into a new reality. Neptune is also illusion and delusion. Film fools the viewer into buying into a vision that does not exist in mundane reality.
People go to the movies to escape, to be transported. In this way, Neptune symbolizes a psychological need. Weighed down by life on life’s terms, a trip to the movies leaves one feeling renewed, invigorated, ready to go on. In Hannah and Her Sisters, Woody Allen's character, after a failed suicide attempt, sees a Marx Brothers film, leaving with a sense iof meaning that he hadn’t had before. In fact, film allows all the planetary archetypal needs to be fulfilled:
Sun: to leave the theater feeling brighter, happier
Moon: to leave the theater feeling emotionally nourished
Mercury: to leave the theater intellectually stimulated, curious
Venus: to leave the theater feeling romantically and aesthetically satisfied
Mars: to leave the theater having vicariously expressed one’s aggressive, action-oriented urges
Jupiter: to leave the theater with a sense of meaning
Saturn: to leave the theater with a regained willingness to take on the responsibilities of life and hence to mature; to meet life on life’s terms
Uranus: to leave the theater with a new vision of reality
Neptune: to leave the theater having one’s imaginative capacities fulfilled, one’s spiritual yearnings satisfied
Pluto: to leave the theater transformed/changed
The Astrology of Great Films
A good movie will fulfill one of these archetypal needs. Much typical Hollywood fare— the romantic comedy (Venus), action movie (Mars), sentimental tear-jerker (Moon)—meets these basic needs. A great movie is one that meets one of the collective needs, as symbolized by the outer planets: meaning, transformation, wisdom, vision. Great films will often correspond with archetypal experiences of the collective, giving viewers a new way of understanding and experiencing the underlying patterns affecting nature and society. For example, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released in late 2001, when Saturn and Pluto were approximately 180 degrees from each other in the sky. This aspect corresponded with the horrible events of September 11, as well as the economic recession and conflicts in the Middle East and India and Pakistan. This film mirrored the struggle between good and evil, which was a potent theme at the time, and offered a vision of what it would be like to take responsibility for the burdensome task of banishing evil from the world. The ring forced its holders to confront the evil in their own hearts. Thus, the film corresponded with and captured the spirit of the times in an entertaining and enriching fashion.
From an astrological perspective, the age-old question, "Does life imitate art or does art imitate life?" is misinformed; the split is an artificial one. Rather, in astrology’s eyes, both real-world events and art are observable manifestations of archetypal forces that are dominant at any given time. Thus, using the example above, Lord of the Rings was not made in reaction to the events of September 11, nor was the release of Lord of the Rings an eerie but arbitrary coincidence paralleling the events and zeitgeist of the day. More correctly, as astrology suggests, both events emerged as the result of something that we can allude to and connote rather than pinpoint with absolute clarity: forces, archetypes, gods, energy, resonance. Planets of the solar system are merely the timekeepers that show when and roughly how long these forces, or archetypes, remain operative in the collective. To reiterate, the planets do not cause events to happen but merely correlate in a predictable and uncanny fashion with the events and experiences of the spirit of any particular time.