“The man who believes that his native city is the world, is happier than the one who aspires to rise more than he can claim” (Morale Vierge by Victor Frankenstein…); The famous novel Mary Shelley tells the story of a scientist who wants to prove that men can become equal to God. The myth of Prometheus was quickly cut short when the supposedly perfect machine turned against its own creator…
Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus is the typical example of the improbable novel, emerging from who knows where, written by who knows who, but which had the merit of inventing a myth surpassing all the others. As if its author had been able to detect the fundamental anxiety of Man in the face of his own existence.
“Frankenstein is the story of a scientist of this name who built a soulless human being using parts of different bodies, taken from cemeteries and mortuaries. The monster is very strong, animated by animal passions, endowed with active life. But it lacks the ‘divine spark’. He feels the need for physical love and sympathy, but everyone avoids him. He is mighty in evil, aware of his flaws and deformities. He tries to do all possible harm to the young scientist who created him. The monster feels how different it is from human beings: it takes revenge by killing Frankenstein’s friend, brother and wife. He even tries to kill the scientist, but he manages to save himself” (web source).
We had to have an English girl with the sign of the Virgo to invent such a story! Like an Agatha Christie, with a more or less organized life, who strove in her novels to describe the turpitudes and the fantasies of crime of each other, Mary Shelley translated via the pen and the ink his most twisted nightmares…
Mary Shelley was born on 30th August 1797, at 23:20, in London. The dominants of his chart are: Saturn, Pluto, moon. The subdominants are: Mars, Sun, Uranus. The non-dominant ones are: Neptune, Mercury, Venus. The blind planet is Jupiter. Her hierarchy R.E.T. is therefore declined as follows: tpEPrTeR.
If we are to believe Mary Shelley’s chart, Frankenstein obviously obeys a logic saturno-plutonian. This monster would therefore reveal part of the decor of our consciousness. The submerged part of our mental iceberg… In the same way as the Neptunian Stevenson described the torments of our soul separated between a part “Jeckyll” and part “Hyde”, Shelley resorted to the monster to describe the man.
Let’s first look at the genesis of the novel. As one might expect, Frankenstein was born out of a nightmare.
1816. Mary Shelley was just 19 when, overcoming the boredom of a rainy day, she accepted a challenge from her friend Lord Byron and began writing a horror story. The romantic Lord Byron was, like her a “extensive Existence-intensive transcendence”, with notably, Mars, Saturn, and Pluto among its dominants). After a few days, she had a nightmare which gave her the idea of Frankenstein. At this time, Uranus is squared to its natal Sun. His landmarks have just collapsed. A year earlier, Mary Shelley had indeed lost her first child, a premature baby who only lived a few days. This drama has tormented him a lot and is certainly at the root of this nightmare of a being who is reborn to life but who finds himself devoid of what is commonly called “blade”.
“I had the horrible vision of a lying being, which, under the action of a powerful force, began to show signs of life and to move in a few awkward and breathless movements. It was frightening as a human attempt to challenge the mechanics of the Creator God.”
The sadness of a disappointed motherhood is therefore the basis of the creation of Frankenstein. Only a woman could thus translate the pain that the death of a part of her flesh must represent. A mother who gives life must therefore expect that the being she has brought into the world can die. Childbirth is a matter of life and death and Mary Shelley felt it cruelly, through her experience as a mother. Mary Shelley’s own mother died giving birth to her.
These elements of Mary Shelley’s biography shed particular light on the dominant aspect of her chart, the opposition Saturn-Moon. If Mary Shelley took pleasure in writing stories, each more frightening than the other, it was because she was fascinated by the lunar dimension of anguish, by this “disturbing strangeness” which covers even our most familiar affiliations. Anxiety always arises from the fear of losing our most reassuring landmarks. Saturn injects worry where there should only be lunar quietude, luxury, calm and voluptuousness.
Moreover, because of her independent, non-conformist and critical character, Mary Shelley has always had the gift of attracting the hatred of those around her. It was a “household wrecker” who never followed the conventions of his time and environment. His sentimental life was, to say the least, tumultuous (Moon square Mercury-Venus). She never followed the path laid out by a so-called woman “respectable”. On the contrary, she spent her life studying, reading, writing and overturning the knowledge in place, and this, from her adolescence. The saturnian dimension of Mary Shelley is also to be found in the misadventures of the monster. Isolated, misunderstood, ostracized from society, from the world and, ultimately, from the rules of the divine game, he is a tragic character, a “freak” absolute, unhappy in spite of himself, as evidenced by his “moods”…
“The icy stars shone as if to mock me and the bare trees waved their branches above my head; from time to time the sweet voice of a bird was heard in the universal silence. Everything except me was either sleeping or entertaining. I, like Satan, bore hell in my soul; I felt rejected by everyone, I would have liked to break the trees, spread ruins and mourning around me so that I could then rejoice in the disaster.”
The dimension plutonian of Frankenstein is much more obvious. It strives to reveal the dark side of our most reassuring appearances, both those of existence and those of our representations (Pluto-Sun-Mars opposition).
The human would therefore not be reducible to his image, to his facade of flesh. Would its appearance therefore be as deceptive as a package that lies about its contents? Is our body lying to our soul, (unknowingly of its own free will, as the other would say)? To be dazzled by the gold that hides at the bottom of the human being, you have to get your eyes dirty by contemplating the lead of your brain and accomplish an alchemy that goes from matter to spirit, winning at Monopoly of life, without going through the box “initiation”…
Marked by the level “intensive transcendence”, Mary Shelley may have a spiritual approach, in the sense that she is content to imagine what would happen if Man tried to want to be equal to God. As a frog who would like to be bigger than an ox, Man would find himself caught in his own trap, killed by the machine he has just created. But at the same time, there is nothing dogmatic about Mary Shelley’s thinking. As a good novelist, she is content to develop a soil on which the romantic trees generated by her brain will simply develop. She imagines a slightly crazy scientist, tired of seeing how life boils down to a sum of useless efforts, justified in an absurd way by a death that explains nothing, that solves nothing. This scholar dreams of overturning the laws that regulate the relationship between the living and the inert, between Mars and Pluto.
“To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death. I learned anatomy; but this science was not enough; I also had to observe the natural decay and corruption of the human body. The darkness had no effect on my imagination; and a cemetery was for me only the receptacle of bodies deprived of life, which, after having been the seat of beauty and strength, had become the food of worms. I began to examine the cause and the progress of this decomposition, and I was forced to pass days and nights in the midst of tombs and in charnel houses. I directed my attention to all the objects most disagreeable to the delicacy of human sensations. I examined how the beautiful form of the man was degraded and ravaged; I saw the corruption of death replace the gleam of an inanimate face, and the worms inherit the marvels of the eye and the brain.”
Other passages, sometimes redundant and complacent, perfectly sum up the morbid fascination of the Virgo Shelley in the face of all that is taboo, forbidden, unhealthy: “Who will be able to conceive the horror of my secret works, when I desecrated tombs, or when I tortured the living animal, to animate a cold clay? My limbs are still shaking; everything is still present to my eyes; but then I was carried away by an irresistible and almost fanatical impulse; I seemed to have no more soul or feeling except for the pursuit of this object. It was, it is true, only a passing enthusiasm, which could only help to make me feel, with new strength, as soon as the supernatural sting ceased to act, that I would return to my old habits. I picked up bones in mass graves; and with my profane fingers I disturbed the dreadful secrets of the tomb. Locked up in a room, or rather in a solitary cell in the highest part of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and a staircase, I gave myself up to the work of a repugnant creation: my eyes from their orbits, to follow the details of my occupations. The dissecting room and the slaughterhouses provided me with a large number of materials; I often turned away in horror from my work, when, still excited by a growing ardor, I was near finishing my work.”
This scientist then says to himself that, since the gods prove to be incapable of the slightest utility, he will create a being who will replace God. A being supposed to gather in his being, all possible and imaginable perfections. Obviously, by accomplishing his dream, Doctor Frankenstein transgresses a taboo, an absolute sacrilege and he ends up unleashing on him all the wrath of God. His initial ideal of love and justice will sink into destruction when his monster, a kind of failed human, will take revenge on his creator.
Mary Shelley’s chart is dominated by Saturn and Pluto. What dominates is doubt in the face of existence and in the face of the suffering it implies. This doubt prohibits all tranquility, all rest and all confidence in the idea of a secret universal order (Saturn opposite Moon-Sagittarius).
As for the truth, it necessarily goes beyond our illusions of omnipotence, our disproportionate ego or our carnal vitality (Pluto opposed to Uranus-Sun-Mars). This Frankenstein, this researcher so proud, so full of himself, to such an extent that he believes himself capable of defying all transcendence, in the end, could do nothing against the force of destiny. He couldn’t upset the order of things. Rather, it was the order of things that put him in his place.
With four planets located in the sign of the Virgo, Mary Shelley was intrigued by the relationship that this derisory being that is Man can occupy in the face of this immensity which is called the universe, or this abstraction which is called the unknown, this beyond which is also a beyond of everything, of the world, of our conceptions, of our lives, etc. As a good Virgo “intensive transcendence”, she could only make fun of the naivety of those who consider Man to be an omnipotent being, a being free in the face of the forces that surround him. There “moral” by Frankenstein is indeed based on this idea that Man has no chance of escaping certain determinisms and that his condition is as tragic as that of the puppet who only exists according to the goodwill of his creator, both generator of life and manipulator of the least of his actions. Everything must stay in its place and men must not try to disturb the gods under pain of being crushed…
Following Frankenstein, other writers, then filmmakers, seized on the character to fuel the myth. H. P. Lovecraft (dominant Mars-Neptune-Pluto opposition) was, for example, inspired by him to write his famous Doctor West, resuscitator, adapted in the 80s, gore style by Brian Yuzna (Reanimator).
A filmmaker like David Cronenberg, born 15th March 1943, was able to translate the Mars-Pluto problem in his own way (his chart includes a Mars-Pluto opposition, with a Mars-Saturn-Uranus-Neptune trine). His most notable films are The Fly, Crash, Dead Ringers or eXistenZ. Fascinated by the obscure mechanisms of the human body, he has created a deeply disturbing work that questions the relationship between metaphysics and anatomy. For him, the recourse to any religious, mystical or transcendent conception to explain what is “the life” is illusory since everything is only a matter of obscure, disturbing, sickly mechanisms. The body is for him only a material condemned to an inescapable destruction. According to him, life is inseparable from a logic of contamination programmed from birth. Death is consubstantial with the very principle of existence. His film eXistenZ is one of the most interesting at this level. In an ironic and offbeat way, he describes a universe in which existence (or what we consider as such) is constantly contaminated by the virtual. A conditionalist film par excellence, it perfectly distinguishes the mechanisms linked to representation, existence and transcendence. Above all, it shows what can happen when these three levels decide to clash and interfere with each other. In this case, as in Frankenstein, the horror can then begin…
Because Frankenstein to put it simply, does nothing other than place Man in front of the absolute anguish of death. Tormented by the struggle led by his life impulses and his death impulses, the Man described by Shelley appears as an unfortunate abandoned by the gods and condemned to the sarcasms of a morbid and cynical destiny, the acceptance of his limits as mortal man appearing as the only door of salvation…
At a time of multiple questions about transgenics, human cloning and triumphant scientism, Mary Shelley’s novel is there to remind us that the truth of the human condition lies in its share of tragedy and in the acceptance of his limits.
“Human, too human”, as the other said…
Article published in issue No. 22 of the Fil d’ARIANA (October 2004).
Le petit livre de la Vierge
49 pages. Illustrations en couleur.
Ce livre présente et explique les trois zodiaques : celui du décor des constellations, celui de l’astrologie traditionnelle basé sur les Quatre Éléments symboliques (Feu, Terre, Air & Eau) et celui de l’astrologie naturelle basé sur les phénomènes astronomiques objectifs.
Interprétation de la Vierge selon la symbolique classique et selon ses réflexes dans le zodiaque naturel (force, vitesse, équilibre) ; interprétation de la Vierge en fonction des planètes dominantes ; le Signe solaire & le Signe Ascendant.
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