Shakespeare and Astrology
by Leslie Marlar Nov. ’16 ……..
We know that Shakespeare used numerous Astrological quotes in his writings. Does the literary community know enough about Astrology to understand these? I doubt it. I am going to try to shed light on this. My Shakespeare is a little rough, but my Astrology is quite good. P.S. Last night I dreamed that I was walking done a path bordered by beautiful yellow flowers. They were thick and the greens and yellows were beautiful. I think this project, started today, is my going down that beautiful path.
The Winter’s Tale. “There’s some ill planet reigns: I must be patient till the heavens look with an aspect more favorable.” The Sun, Moon, planets, and points on the ecliptic called angles form geometrical relationships with each other called aspects. Planets near each other form a conjunction which is powerful. Planets 60 or 120 degrees of arc from each other are harmoniously related and planets 90 or 180 degrees of arc from each other are in a stressful relationship. In addition to aspect, a planet can reign if it is in an important place in the sky. The eastern horizon and the zenith are very important places. And there are planets with a bad reputation for trouble like Mars, the god of war and Saturn, the Titan who ate his children. So Queen Hermione notes that a bad aspect is in place and that she should wait for a good one. Things are always moving in the sky. Shakespeare is upholding the theory that it makes sense to avoid action at bad times and instead do something at a good time because there is a connection between things happening on earth and in the sky.
When someone close to me had open heart surgery, I had no control over the choice of time and date. One ill planet reigned. Mars was square (90) the Moon. This causes infection and he did get a mild one at the incision, not the heart, at a later point. But at the time of the surgery, the Sun and Mars were at 120 degrees and good Jupiter and the Ascendant were 60 degrees from those. According to the heart surgeon it all went very well.
“Swear his thought over by each particular star in heaven and by all their influences,” Planets used to described as stars; for example, the star of Jupiter being said instead of Jupiter. But the actual stars are also thought to have influence. My own policy to determine the influence of a star is to note its appearance, the mythological stories associated with it, and the image of the constellation that it is in. For example, Sirius is the brightest star in the sky. In the U.S. horoscope, Sirius is very close to our Sun. The Sun is aways important in a chart and here it is with the brightest star in the sky. The interpretation is that our country is bright or great.
“It is a bawdy planet, that will strike where ’tis predominant; and ’tis powerful, think it, from, east, west, north, and south;
I think he is talking about the power of a planet at the angles, the Ascendant in the east, the Descendant in the west, the Nadir tilted north, and the Zenith in the south.
And here is a great example. In the horoscope of the country, Haiti. Mars is at the Zenith and Saturn is at the Descendant. So two bawdy planets are striking this country and the country is known for its difficulties. When the devastating Jan 12th 2010 quake hit Haiti, in a horoscope set up for the time of the quake, Pluto was on Haiti’s Mars and Saturn was on their Saturn. Here are two strikes at the time of the quake. When hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in October ’16, Mars was on Haiti’s Mars and Jupiter was on Haiti’s Saturn. Here are two planets striking again. Incidentally, when a planet in the sky, returns to the place that it was in, in the birth horoscope, we call it a return. Haiti had a Saturn return at the time of the quake and a Mars return for the hurricane. When dealing with people, returns are opportunities for a new start. Under the Mars return, we recommend new actions, like exercise. Under the Saturn return we recommend new long term goals. In the U.S. Chart, we are having our Pluto return. This is happening in a financial area of our chart. We would say that improving our financial structure is required in order to have a good new start.
The Tempest. Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan says, “ and by my prescience I find my zenith doth depend upon a most auspicious star; whose influence if now I court not, but omit, my fortunes will ever after droop.” The zenith in a person’s horoscope is associated with one’s station. In the sky, it is a reigning force. He seems to be saying that his public life and station, his zenith, is dependent upon taking some action involving an auspicious star. Or that an auspicious star is at the zenith and a good time to take an action. He’s into magic, so there is no telling what he is up to, but we know it involves the top of his horoscope or the current or recent horoscope, an action, and the influence of a star.
I note that Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is at the zenith once a day. What a good time to start something. Modern astrologers have software that shows us the changing sky. So it is easy to see when the 15th degree of Cancer is at the zenith.
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.
Horatio says, “As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood, Disasters in the Sun; and the moist star, Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse: And even the like precurse of fierce events,- As harbingers preceding still the fates, And prologue to the omen coming on,- Have heaven and earth together demonstrated Unto our climature and countrymen.
Here Shakespeare is noting the effects of comets and eclipses on coming events. This reminds me of the Moon’s, moist star’s, influence on the tides, Neptune’s empire. I have seen in the charts of earthquakes, the Moon in a tide influencing position, which is a little past the angles. The Moon affects even the land at high and low tides.
I also think of 8th century St Bede. In his “Ecclesiastical History of England”, he notes in the chronology, a comet and 3 eclipses and attendant powerful events. In one instance he says,” In the year 664 an eclipse came to pass: Earconbert, King of Kent, died; and Colman with his Scots returned to his own people; a great plague arose; and Chad and Wilfrid were made bishops of Northumbria.”
Marcellus in Hamlet says,” some say that ever gainst that season comes wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated, the bird of dawning singeth all night long; and then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad; the nights are wholesome; then no planets strike, no fairy takes, nor witch has power to charm;” The use of the word strike shows that planets have an effect but not at this season. I find myself with a new vocabulary: planets reigning and planets striking, and this is good Astrology.
Again in Hamlet, Polonius, talking to the King about what he said to his daughter says,
“And my young mistress thus I did bespeak, Lord Hamlet is a Prince, out of thy star;”
So now the question is about certain planets and stars in the charts of royals as compared to those with less prestige. If he is talking about a planet, Jupiter and the Sun are bodies of high rank according to Rex Bills. She may not be ruled by the star or planet that would represent an appropriate mate for Hamlet. Or he is not included in her type represented by a mate describing planet in her chart. Or her Sun may not be dignified enough to represent him. He is not in her world, defined by her star.
This makes me think of some related ideas. A person can be shown to be special when a 1st magnitude star is in an important place in their chart. Trump has Regulus on his Ascendant. G.W. Bush has his Sun close to Sirius. Another placement showing rank is the ruler of the Ascendant being elevated. Queen Elizabeth 2 has this. She is Capricorn rising and her Saturn is at the top of her chart. Queen Elizabeth 1 also had Capricorn rising, but her Saturn was in the 7th, in Cancer, the house of enemies. Her father was a Sun in cancer so he was one of her enemies. And finally here’s a little something about Prince Charles. He has the Moon in Taurus in his 10th and his Mother is a Taurus. This is like astrological poetry.
In Act 3, Hamlet describes himself as crawling between earth and heaven. This takes no explanation but it reminds me of something. I was soaking between earth and heaven the other night in the hot tub at 2 am. I have a view of the southern ecliptic and saw magnificent Leo past the zenith, Corvus at the zenith, and bright Jupiter and Spica moving up to it. Magic does exist in the world; we just have to look up.
Hamlet says to his mother in reference to her murdered husband and his murderer, “Look here upon this picture and on this, – The counterfeit presentment of two brothers. See what a grace was seated upon this brow; Hyperion’s curls; the front of Jove himself; An eye like Mars, to threaten and command; A station like the herald Mercury New-lighted on the heaven-kissing hill; A combination and a form, indeed Where every god did seem to set his seal, To give the world assurance of the man:”
The mythological gods in appearance, nature, and activity show us what the planets are like. So to us, the Sun, or Jove, or Mars, or Mercury are the gods and the planets which are features of our charts and facets or our own personalities.
To be continued.