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Deep Wells of Emotion for the Cider House Company

Of the four elements in the zodiacfire, 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.

Writer 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.

The 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.

Caine and Irving: Karmic Brothers?

Dr. 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.

Put 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.

Pisces-Virgo, Yin-Yang

The 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 metaphor.

Pisces 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.

His 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.

He 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.’"*

A 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 the body.

Cancer Tobey Maguire: The Prodigal Son

Tobey 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.

Maguire 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 man.

Aquarius, 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.

What About Scorpio?

Interestingly, 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.

After the Oscars

Even 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.

Whatever 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 beautifully.

*Irving, John. My Movie Business. New York: Random House, 1999, page 41.



Jill Dearman is the author of the gay best sellers Queer Astrology For Men and Queer Astrology For Women (St. Martins Griffin/1999). She has been professionally practicing astrology for twelve years and currently writes horoscopes for the national magazines Twist and Girlfriends as well as numerous papers syndicated via Q Syndicate. She has written about subjects from astrology to literature to film and theater in Mademoiselle, Publishers Weekly and HX. An excerpt from her upcoming novel, The Great Bravura, was featured in Best Lesbian Erotica 2000(Cleis Press). She also writes and produces films. The Village Voice called Dearman a "risk surfing playwright" whose work "shocks and rocks." She is a 1999/2000 artist in residence at HERE in New York City.

Jill is also the author of LoveCycles, an email-delivered guide to love and relationships based on individual birth data, available in the Shop@StarIQ.

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For more information about Jill Dearman, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Jill Dearman:

  • The Bedroom Astrologer 11-15-00   4/5/2014
  • The Bedroom Astrologer 11-1-00   3/8/2014
  • These Men are from Venus   10/5/2013
  • Brendan Fraser: More Than Just a Pretty Face   4/27/2001
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar: Every Girl's Heroine   4/25/2001
  • Geoffrey Rush: The Moody Marquis   3/23/2001
  • Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt: Still Peaking   1/30/2001
  • Kate Winslet's Passionate Choices   12/29/2000
  • Helen Hunt and Hank Azaria: What Does This Woman Want?   12/5/2000
  • Bounce Star Ben Affleck: The Ball is in His Court   12/1/2000
  • Charlie's Angels: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu   11/25/2000
  • Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger: Dr. Seuss Meets Nurse Betty   11/17/2000
  • Dylan on Dylan   11/10/2000
  • Bono's Return to Roots of Rock   11/4/2000
  • Geena Davis and Bette Midler: Big Stars on the Small Screen   10/27/2000
  • Janet Jackson's Down-to-Earth Planets   10/21/2000
  • Gloria Steinem: Happy At Last   10/14/2000
  • The Strange Musical Path of Bjork   9/26/2000
  • Picture Perfect Couple: Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston   9/15/2000
  • Harrison and Michelle: A Return to Classic Hollywood   9/8/2000
  • Drew Barrymore: Happily Ever After At Last?   9/1/2000
  • Meg Ryan in the Middle   8/18/2000
  • Mark Wahlberg: Marky Mark is Back   8/12/2000
  • The Return of Cat Stevens   8/4/2000
  • Lou Reed and The Smashing Pumpkins: Piscean Themes   7/29/2000
  • Patti Smith: Her Gung Ho Comeback   7/21/2000
  • Rupert Everett: The Ultimate Gemini   7/7/2000
  • Angelina and Billy Bob: Hollywood's Mod, Odd Couple   6/30/2000
  • The Virgin Suicides: New Hollywood Meets Old Hollywood   6/2/2000
  • Opposites Attract On Screen   5/26/2000
  • Beatty and Bening's New Baby   5/19/2000
  • Aquarian Psycho   5/12/2000
  • Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez   5/5/2000
  • Chloe Sevigny's Scorpionic Exploration of Sexuality   3/25/2000
  • The Tangled Web of Ripley   3/2/2000
  • Aries Grrrl Warriors: Where Will They Go From Here?   2/18/2000

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