A Shamanic Astrology Look At the Oscars
(note: written on February 17, 2017 – before the Academy Awards were presented on February 26th)
By Robyn Wells
Hollywood’s movie stars came together February 26, 2017 for the annual Academy Awards. But how did the planets align with the archetypes and shamanic timeline in the storylines for some of the nominated movies?
Now well into the Uranus/Pluto square in Aries/Capricorn (2008-2018), it makes sense that a number of the nominated films show the householder/culture bearer signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) battered and bruised in the underworld as the characters struggle to adapt to sudden change as the structure of their world falls apart. Children cope with toxic, lost, or dead parents (Moonlight, Lion, Hell or High Water, Manchester By the Sea, Captain Fantastic). Parents mourn children (Arrival, Lion, Manchester By the Sea).
Fathers are confronted with their parenting shortcomings (Fences, Hell or High Water, Manchester By the Sea, Captain Fantastic). Brothers come together or are torn apart (Hell or High Water, Lion, Manchester By the Sea). Relationships are sometimes magical, sometimes operating in the shadow (Florence Foster Jenkins, La La Land, Fences, Moonlight). Women rise above institutionalized racism and sexism to help put men into space (Hidden Figures). And the hero of this year’s war picture, Hacksaw Ridge, is not the fierce warrior with the highest kill rate but the pacifist medic who refuses to carry a gun.
With Neptune comfortably nestled in Pisces, it’s no wonder that some of the nominated pictures deal with honoring dreams and visions. Mothers nurture unexpected and magical visions of their children (Arrival, Lion). Although it’s not in Lion, real-life Saroo Brierley told actor Dev Patel that after he was adopted and living in Tasmania at night his spirit would leave his body and go big over India trying to find his mother and brother to tell them he was okay. In La La Land, moody, struggling jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) meets plucky, aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) as they follow their dreams of stardom.
While on the climb they sing City of Stars and dance on the Milky Way at Griffith Observatory. Toward the end of the film there is an alternate reality sequence of what might have been if different choices had been made. Jumping timelines is also a theme of Arrival with gifted linguist (Amy Adams) bringing back information from the future to influence the present. In Florence Foster Jenkins, a loving husband (Hugh Grant) devotes his life to ensuring that his charming wife (Meryl Streep) never finds out she is a terrible singer so that she can fulfill her dream of performing at Carnegie Hall. “Ours is a happy world,” he advises the bewildered but aptly named accompanist Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg).
Mercury and the art of communication underscores the theme of several movies. When a Uranian event in Lion propels five-year old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) a thousand miles from home he is in a place where they speak Bengali instead of his native Hindi. He does not know the surname of his absent father and only knows his mother’s name is Mummy. After years of searching for his home and family, adult Saroo (Dev Patel) discovers that part of the problem was that his young tongue could not say sh so he was mispronouncing his neighborhood and his own name Sheru (lion).
In Captain Fantastic, father Ben (Viggo Mortensen) has the blunt, Sagittarius way of being completely honest with his six children and speaking to them the same way about sex, and their mother’s mental illness and suicide, whether they’re age seven or 17. His kids can question his viewpoint if they articulate a reasonable argument; make your case for a mythical, overgrown elf over a living humanitarian, he challenges his adolescent son when asked why can’t they celebrate Christmas instead of Noam Chomsky Day. Although he truly believes his method of childrearing is the best, if Ben wants to hold his family together he has to learn to listen and incorporate other viewpoints.
In Arrival, when 12 alien spacecrafts arrive in different places around the world, linguist/translator Louise (Amy Adams) is tasked with communicating with the heptapods in Montana. She believes communication is the cornerstone of civilization and favors a Libra approach of all 12 teams sharing information and working together as a whole as well as the importance of nuance of language – “we need to make sure they understand the difference between a weapon and a tool,” she says. And in La La Land, Sebastian, who seems to have progressive Scorpio, makes a career choice and relationship-testing decision based on an overheard phone conversation Mia has with her mother, so he assumes it’s what Mia wants/expects of him.
Rulebreaker Gemini encounters with lawmaker Saturn are always lively cinema as a couple of movies illustrate. In Hell or High Water, brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) rob small branches of the bank that holds the mortgage on their dead mother’s ranch so they can pay off the loan before the imminent foreclosure. Toby wants to give the property, where oil has recently been discovered, to his bitter ex-wife and sons. Can they pull it off before they meet up with Saturn in the form of soon-to-be-retired Texas Ranger Marcus (Jeff Bridges)? In Captain Fantastic, an off-the-grid family whose motto is “power to the people, stick it to the man” has some rude Saturn awakenings when they leave their mountain aerie to attend their wife/mother’s funeral and find out that being raised as physically fit “philosopher kings” makes them ill-prepared for social interactions and uncomfortable around extended family.
Jupiter shows up in Manchester By the Sea as a reminder that it expands everything it touches, including tragedy. Unaware that he’s hours away from the catastrophic Uranian event that will slam him into Pluto, tearing apart his life and plunging him into the underworld, drunk and happy-go-lucky Lee (Casey Affleck) stands on his front porch waving goodbye to his party buddies saying repeatedly, “Did you see Jupiter? Did you see Jupiter?” “Did you see Jupiter?” his wife (Michelle Williams) mocks him, laughing, when he comes back inside. Years later, Lee is still on Inanna’s meat hook in the underworld and seems determined to stay there, stuck in grief and unable to forgive himself. Can he find his way out with the loving support of his nephew, ex-wife, family friends, and dead brother? Jupiter checks in along the shamanic timeline as the planet of dharma in Lion. Sue (Nicole Kidman) tells adult Saroo the reason why she adopted children from India was to fulfill a vision she had at age 12 (first Jupiter return) where she saw young brown children standing across the field from her.
And finally, how Chiron or your core wound can manifest along the shamanic timeline is heartbreakingly illuminated in Moonlight, a film about three stages in the life of a black, gay boy/young man growing up in a poor, crack-infested part of Miami. The main character’s name is Chiron (pronounced Shy-Rone) but no matter how you pronounce it or hide from it by using nicknames, if your name is Chiron you’re going to be doing some heavy lifting around making your core wound your medicine!
Of course, the core wound for the character is how to be a black, gay man in an environment that does not embrace that way of being. Although I assume the writers know about the mythological Chiron, even though they may not know the astrological importance of Chiron, they completely nail how a sexual core wound manifests along the shamanic timeline.
The first part of the movie takes place when Chiron, known as Little, (Alex R. Hibbert) is about nine years old so he’s just gone through his first Venus return. He doesn’t know he’s gay or even what that really means, but his crack-addict mother (Naomie Harris), drug dealer father figure Juan (Mahershala Ali), and peers know. The second part of the movie is Chiron (Ashton Sanders) at 15-16 (Venus/Mars return), he has his first sexual experience with a male, and has to deal with being bullied relentlessly by his peers. In part three Chiron (Trevante Rhodes) now known as Black, the name given him by his first sexual partner, is 26-27 (nodal reversal) and comes to resolution about his sexual identity.
Arrival (Paramount Pictures)
La La Land (Lionsgate)
Manchester By the Sea (Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions)
Robyn Wells is a member of the SAMS Executive Council and soon-to-be graduate.