Wells of Emotion for the Cider House Company
the four elements in the zodiac—fire, earth, air and water—it
is water that is considered the most sensitive, nurturing, poetic
and hardest to pin down and truly understand. In Cancer, the
element is focused on family, in Scorpio, on transformation and in Pisces,
on empathy and healing.
John Irving, a Pisces, is one of the most beloved popular authors
of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His imaginative,
soulful and often hilarious books have been described as "Dickensian,"
which I'm sure the author would take as a great compliment, since
he has said repeatedly that Charles Dickens is his favorite writer.
ghost of Dickens is alive and well in Irving's screenplay adapted
from his best selling novel, The Cider House Rules.
The story takes place in an orphanage, and each night, as the
master of the house, Dr. Wilbur Larch, puts his motherless and
fatherless boys to bed, he reads to them from Dickens' Great
Expectations. In the end of the movie, Dr. Larch's heir
apparent, Homer Wells, played by another water sign, Cancer Tobey
Maguire, continues the nurturing, poetic ritual.
and Irving: Karmic Brothers?
Larch is played by Michael Caine, another Pisces, who has a very
karmic connection to writer John Irving. In addition to both receiving
Oscar nominations, Caine for supporting actor, and Irving for
adapted screenplay for Cider House, Caine's "Nodes
of the Moon" are in mutual reception to Irving's.
simply, a person's North Node indicates what they are meant to
do in this life, while their South Node suggests the experiences
they are coming away from in past lives. Caine's North Node (his
destiny) is in Pisces, along with his Sun, which suggests that
he is meant to evolve into an emotional healer in this life. His
South Node (the past) is in Virgo, which suggests that he was
very fixated on craft, the physical world and earthly details
in former incarnations. John Irving's nodes are just the reverse.
He's coming into a Virgo experience in this life (his North Node)
and has absorbed lessons from his Pisces South Node.
two men's charts form a yin-yang picture, in which
both signs, Pisces and Virgo, are highly accentuated.
The Pisces sides of their nature are best personified
by the strange character trait that Irving created
in Dr. Larch, and that Caine brought to life onscreen.
The doctor is addicted to ether. It's a perfect
is a sign that is so empathic it can sometimes escape
to drugs when it becomes overloaded from serving
as the emotional receptacle of other people's pain.
Irving has Moon in Virgo as well, which suggests
that he has the ability to fixate on tiny details
(he does phenomenal research for all his sprawling
novels and scripts), and a Virgoan obsession with
the body and health.
North Node and moon in Virgo are in his Ninth House, which
rules philosophy and spiritual beliefs. Sometimes, the Ninth House gives
us clues to where a person is passionate to the point of fanaticism.
In his recent memoir, My Movie Business, Irving
puts his trademark whimsical wit aside when he gets on the serious
subject of abortion, which is at the center of Cider House.
tells the story of a woman who came to a book signing and tried
to convince him that he misunderstood the intentions of the Right
To Life Movement. She said, "We just want people to be responsible
for their children," and gave his hand a little pat. He writes,
"I patted her hand right back. I said to her what Dr. Larch says
in The Cider House Rules, ‘If you expect people
to be responsible for their children, you have to give them the
right to choose whether or not to have children.’"*
very righteous but philosophical Ninth House statement
indeed, and one that is motivated by Pisces-Virgo
issues. Pisces is motivated by empathy. It feels
deeply for those who no one else wants, such as
orphans and young women who are the victims of botched
back-alley abortions. Virgo is more practical, and
will do anything it can to help fix the pains of
Tobey Maguire: The Prodigal Son
Maguire, the hot young actor of The Ice Storm and
Wonder Boys fame, brings a water sign depth to
his role of Homer Wells. Although he has a love interest in the
movie (fiery Leo Charlize Theron), Irving makes it clear in his
memoir that he sees the real love story of Cider House
as being between father figure Dr. Larch and his symbolic son,
Homer, who Larch raised in the orphanage.
and Caine share a poignant but understated onscreen
chemistry in the film, and no wonder: they have
a very telling link in their charts. Caine's
Saturn sits on Cancer Maguire's Moon in progressive, altruistic
Aquarius. Saturn is the planet of teaching and structure,
and is often associated with a parental experience.
It's as if Caine were born to play a father figure
role to Maguire, and to help the young man focus
on his convictions and teach him to be a better
the sign of Caine's Saturn and Maguire's Moon, is the sign that
rules helping mankind. No doubt the actors were each drawn to
this script because of the deeper questions about the abortion
issue that it raised. Issues that divide a nation morally and
intellectually, are everything to the archetypal Aquarian.
even though there are no significant Scorpios in the film, Cider
House Rules deeply explores the primary theme of this
third water sign: death and rebirth. Whenever a couple arrives
on the steps of St. Cloud’s Orphanage, where Dr. Larch and Homer
Wells reside, the elder man asks the younger man whether they
have come for an orphan or an abortion.
though it took John Irving thirteen years to bring
the script of his novel to the screen, it certainly
seems well worth the time and effort. On March 26,
he may very well walk away with an Academy Award
for his screenplay, and Mr. Caine could win an Oscar
for best supporting actor. The film could even win
the most prestigious award of all: best picture.
the results of the Oscars turn out to be, should John Irving decide
to transform one of his other novels into a movie, it is highly
likely that he will once again work with other water signs. The
man has an uncanny ability to collaborate with people of his element
on the screen adaptions of his books. Scorpio Jodie Foster and
Pisces Rob Lowe starred in The Hotel New Hampshire,
and Cancer Robin Williams starred with Pisces Glenn Close in The
World According To Garp. In John Irving's movie business,
the deep emotional connections between water signs seem to translate
John. My Movie Business. New York: Random House,
1999, page 41.