Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mercury Retrograde Stellium in Pisces, Void Moon

Poem © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

So quiet
on the Western front
I hear the ear-splitting echoes
of my own thinking

I plunge into the stream of consciousness
thought bubbles
gurgle to the surface
word I’m alive
to stay in my depth
to leave everything above the surface
to embrace being

to swim in the ocean
of heightened sights
and sounds

to resurface at another time
with tails to tell
and gills grown
for future dives
to explore hidden treasures.


Photo Credit: © Dudarev Mikhail - Fotolia.com

For more on Mercury Retrograde, revisit these posts:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Auntie and Uncle Mame: The Astrology of Fictional Characters

Article © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

As a lover of Chiron, I resonate to mentoring as an important tool for life. Nowadays, we often have to seek our own mentors and models for the person inside us who’s crying to come out. There’s no convenient Chiron School to match us with a kindly centaur-astrologer who can see our future and how to mold it from a composite intuition-analysis, based on his psychic savvy and our horoscopes.

Auntie Mame, the fictional character of movie, book and stage, has been my heroine and role model for decades. Just thinking of her makes me smile. She gives me a jolt of new life. No wonder. She tells us without reservation to “live, live, live!” 

I’ve asked numerous astrologer friends how they'd imagine Auntie Mame’s chart. Their answers have been fairly consistent: an Aquarius with some Sag or a strong Jupiter, with at least a major planet or two in Leo. (I vote for Leo Rising with her love of glitzy costumes.) Given the Aquarian Sun consensus, February seems like the right time to wish Mame a Happy Birthday and to explore this unforgettable character.

Mame loves exotic travel and opening new windows and doors, as well as her share of spirits. (Who can forget the scene where she tells Patrick to dim the daylight because Auntie is “hung”?) Her heart is bigger than the sky; and she’s as gregarious as a gaggle of Aquarii. The weirder the person, the more likely s/he is to be Mame’s friend—and/or her idea of a genius. How she parents her young nephew Patrick is nothing if not unconventional. Mame has a way with the boy full of dramatic gestures, bestowed with the care—and the occasional snarl of a mother lioness. She affirms my experience of being an auntie as one of the coolest roles in which I’ve ever been cast. 

Mame Dennis is the brainchild of author Patrick Dennis, the nom de plume of Edward Everett Tanner III, who was nicknamed Pat by his father at an early age. His novel Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade (1955) was one of the bestselling American books of the 20th century. [1] Many years ago, there was a rumor going around that Tanner had modeled Auntie Mame after his actual aunt, who was dying penniless in a nursing home. (He writes the book, Auntie Mame, as Patrick Dennis and as though it’s a memoir of his real aunt.) Tanner was painted as uncaring about his kin who had made him rich and famous. Tanner’s biography, Uncle Mame, by Eric Myers, dispels this rumor, though you might want to read the backstory in Marion Tanner’s obituary and come to your own conclusions. Auntie Mame, Tanner claims, is based on Tanner himself. It’s the punch line of Myers’ fascinating look into Tanner’s unique life.

Edward E. "Pat" Tanner III, aka: Patrick Dennis
Pat Tanner was married with children but led a double life as a bisexual, active in Greenwich Village’s gay scene in the day. The artsy types Mame favored were surely based on characters in his own life. That’s a high life Pat lived till his writing fell out of favor in the 1970s; then, he reinvented himself as a butler, a job his friends say he enjoyed. Pat worked for Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s under his real name, Edward Tanner. His employers had no idea he was the once famous author. [2]

Since I know I’m not the only fan of Auntie Mame and her message is so life-affirming, I thought it would be fun to look at Edward Tanner’s chart to see where he and the characteristics of his alter ego, Mame, intersect.

Click to enlarge

I can find no birth time for Pat Tanner and ran this chart for noon with Sun on the Ascendant. Without a time, we’re limited to talking about planets and signs, since we don’t know how the houses fall. It’s still quite revealing.

First, let’s talk about that consistent sense that Auntie Mame is a blend of Aquarius and Sagittarius. Pat Tanner’s chart has two tight aspects that would have helped him write his feminine alter-ego in this way—first, Jupiter opposite Uranus with a tiny, ten-second orb. These two energies would be in constant dynamic play, the natural rulers of Aquarius and Sag. Second, Pat has Mercury and Mars square Uranus by about a half-degree. He thinks, communicates and “does” Uranus! Small wonder Auntie Mame sends Patrick to an experimental school where the kids run naked playing tadpoles in a biology lesson (communicating his rebellious Mars quite openly). 

And while we’re on Mercury and Mars in Gemini, inside every Gem is a male and female twin. How easy it would be for Tanner to play either. The same mutability that likely made it easy to identify himself as bisexual lets him dress up as Auntie Mame on the written page, translated to stage and movie. I always admire authors who write the opposite sex well; Patrick Dennis is one of them. Presuming the North Node is within orb of a conjunction to the Moon (the Moon ranged from 12 to 25 degrees Libra on his birth day); it seems that expressing the feminine in this life was part of Pat’s journey. 

That Libra Moon! It comes across when Auntie Mame is being sarcastic toward those too full of themselves to even “get” her irony. She reminds me of that wonderful expression, she could tell a person to go to hell and they’d enjoy the trip. Her tact is unsurpassed even while barely disguising her disdain when she meets the snooty Upsons, Patrick’s would-be in-laws. Mame oozes wit, charm and is side-splitting with her Teflon-coated barbs. For a very independent lady, she is extremely relationship oriented. (This may support Leo Rising with Aquarius Sun in the 7th for her fictional character.) 

I got the feeling in the movie version of Mame: I was seeing continuous clips of the pairs of which she was half: Mame and Patrick; Mame and Vera Charles, her friend, rival and sidekick; Mame and Lindsey; Mame and Agnes; Mame and Beau—and so on. Her role as Patrick’s aunt and physical guardian is to provide balance to the stuffy, Saturnian banker who holds the purse strings and financial side of his upbringing. There is a hilarious scene where she tries to knock the Upsons off-balance with flighty décor. Mame has installed bench seats on pneumatic lifts, controlled by row of chords hanging from the ceiling. Mame yanks the couple off the floor to their total surprise, making a pun of their surname--a play on the fact that they do so themselves, calling their manor Upson Downs. Mame forces them to balance themselves on furniture tantamount to the Libra Scales. Convinced they’re ruining her nephew, Auntie Mame takes them for quite a ride. She mixes up the chords and pulls the controls for the floating settees wildly in an erratic effort to get it right (sure). She upsets the Upsons in more ways than one.

I was surprised that Tanner/Dennis has only one planet in Leo, Neptune. Makes me wonder if he didn’t have Leo Rising himself, as Auntie Mame surely has a big dollop of look-at-me and love of drama. This aspect of her character is highlighted in the movie version with Rosiland Russell by special effects. The background is darkened and Mame appears in a close-up, under a spotlight, at each significant transitional scene throughout the story. Auntie Mame loves the stage and is quite unwilling to share it with her friend Vera. (One place Mame’s not Libran nice is when she and Vera are upstaging one another.) 

Finally, Pat’s Sun in Taurus brings what Mr. Babcock calls Auntie Mame’s nincompoopery down to earth where her fans can believe in it. She’s open-minded to the max, but most of all, she’s about love and enjoying life. It’s what makes her so appealing. Think of some of the other great Taurus Sun women celebrities and their talent for making you love them just the way they are: singer Adele and the movie/TV stars Katharine Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and Tina Fey.

Fictional characters often influence us as deeply—sometimes more than flesh-and-blood models and mentors. Even though few authors reveal the birth data of their characters (see No Skit, Sherlock! for a discussion of the chart of Sherlock Holmes), the theoretical astrology we see reflected in these heroes and heroines tells us something about ourselves. They are a mirror. What you love about them is likely who you are or what you want to be come. It gives a whole new meaning to your answer when someone asks, what's your favorite movie?

I’ve also heard that authors create protagonists who are better versions of themselves. The many parallels between author Patrick Dennis and his fictional aunt, including a parallel riches-to-rags story, leaves me wondering … but also feeling that both Pat Tanner’s real life and that of his mirror creation, Auntie Mame, are plenty inspiring, each in their own right.

How do you imagine the charts of some of your favorite fictional characters? Feel free to share in the Comments!

Photo Credits:

1.   Auntie Mame, Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auntie_Mame
2.   Patrick Dennis, Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Dennis

Friday, February 1, 2013

Signs of Valentines! Auntie Joyce’s Weird and Wonderful Heart’s Day Gift Boutique

Be careful how you present chocolate to Taurus.

Shopping Tips and Hearty Humor

Article © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Auntie Joyce, my pushy alter-ego, demanded to put her two cents worth into your Valentine’s Day shopping experience. In her youth, Auntie J. lured many Valentines from Aries to Pisces. Whichever sign you have designs on, here are some sure-fire gifts offerings, aimed to increase your return on romantic investment. Plan to get lucky on February 14th!

Aries:  Dart board with photo of his or her ex on the bulls’ eye. This might be a gift your Aries might actually consent to share with you. You’ll reap the benefits of your beloved’s getting out any leftover anger toward the last person who wronged him or her. With both of you aiming little pointed missiles to the ex’s image, any old cords of attachment should be severed for moving on. This will only bring your beloved deeper into your waiting arms. Disclaimer: Auntie Joyce is not responsible for any bad karma incurred by making exes into flattened voodoo dolls and using them for target practice. 

Taurus. Gift certificate for a mud bath at a mineral springs spa. Don’t forget the 10-lb. box of chocolates. However, it is very important how you present this gift. Auntie suggests the mud bath first, while waxing poetic on the benefits to skin and overall beauty of this natural treatment. Wait at least a half hour before adding the candy, so he or she doesn’t think you’re making a commentary--you know, about looking a farm animal rolling around in the mud after eating the whole box. Chocolate hogs, as in the illustration above, are definitely not recommended, even if the pun is practically irresistible.

Gemini. Here’s another suggestion that’s all in how you handle it. Auntie recommends a sizable gift certificate to your Gem’s local gismo fixit shop, such as the Geek Squad. This should be paired, like wine and cheese, with the largest book of brain teasers you can buy. (Two gifts are a must for the Gemini Twins to avoid sibling rivalry spats.) Tell your Gem that while you know s/he’s perfectly capable of tinkering with her entire toy collection, why waste valuable time when s/he could be enjoying yet another aerobic brain workout? What gives Gemini more pleasure? Flatter your Gem further with the Mensa home test, in case s/he has not yet applied to this band of brainiacs.

Cancer.  How do you nurture a nurturer? It’s simple. You must think of everything and let no worry go uncovered. This strategy is designed to force your meddling homebody into taking a long overdue day off. (Suggestion: First buy yourself some earplugs to muffle your Moon One’s protests.) The gift of choice is a day at a local spa, a pamper palace. If this is too girlie for the Moon Men, make it a gift certificate for a gourmet dinner or boy’s night out or a fishing boat rental on a nice serene lake. Regardless of the pink or blue version of the self-indulgence, write in a cell phone confiscation clause so there will be no check-ins on kids or partners, especially those who are old enough to vote. Promise you’ll call for them every couple of hours. Offer to alert Neighborhood Watch to keep the home fires from burning the house down in the few hours your Cancer is away. Promise to bake the cookies for the book club. Confiscate their house keys and arrange to meet them at the door when enough time has elapsed that they have actually left home for their longest stretch ever.

Leo. What big kid at heart wouldn’t love a trip to the Magic Kingdom? Gift cards to Disneyland are available right on the rack of my local grocery store. If they’re not in yours, click here to purchase. Another perhaps lower-cost option, especially if you don’t live in a Disney state: A homemade certificate for a party you throw in his or her honor. S/he will be the star, of course, and even better if billed and crowned King or Queen for the Day. Be sure to work a performance by your Leo into the act—and lots of fun games. A terrific idea I heard once was a kindergarten created for grown-ups in Manhattan, aimed at unwinding stressed-out executives. Your Lion would likely love a kindergarten party, complete with finger paints. Don’t forget to rent a jumpy house or other playground equipment for the recess portion of the festivities.

Virgo. How ‘bout a gift certificate to visit a highly recommended accountant so someone else can fuss over your Virgo’s budget for a change? So practical, and like Cancer, s/he so seldom an opportunity to turn the worry reins over to someone else. Of course, Merry Maids or any reputable housekeeping service would be ideal, but you’d have to pair this one with taking your Valentine out to lunch that day so s/he’s not there to micromanage the cleaning. Convince your favorite V. that the white glove test can wait till after dessert.

Libra. Get your favorite love bunny whatever you’d want. That’s how s/he’d want it, right? Your happiness is her happiness; your joy is his command. Anything gooey romantic will also do, like jewelry, sentimental cards, and especially an engagement ring, if you’re so inclined. If not, any other kind of ring may suggest an incremental working towards the real thing and keep your Libra in a very loving mood. Keep hope alive. On the other hand, if your Scale Guy or Gal is too clingy already, recycle the Cancer suggestions of spa, friends’ night out or a serene solo getaway. Convince your Libra that absence makes the heart grow fonder, occasional time-outs are therapeutic, and it’s only for a few hours. Best of all, drop the idea of the romantic potentials in the welcome back.

Scorpio.  A getaway deep in the woods in an isolated cabin will fulfill your Scorpio’s fantasies. If you’re really daring, you can add a gift card to his or her favorite adult toy catalog and hope the resulting purchases aren’t too kinky for your taste. If you’re just worn out from the physical aspect of your relationship, go for something else no Scorp can resist—a good mystery. Visit Amazon for Top Mystery Books suggestions in the genre or book a gift date to a local mystery dinner theater. These adventures involve the audience in sleuthing out the perpetrator of heinous, imaginary crimes. Dark, humorous movies are also a great option, especially if they have romance thrown into the mix. Whatever you do, no crowds—it’s just the two of you. Forever. 

Sagittarius. Any kind of travel getaway will thrill your Sag down to his or her wanderlusty toes. Same goes for a gift card to your local Learning Exchange or other adult education center. You could go really literal. If your Sag hasn’t done so already, how about some archery lessons and/or equipment? Talk about being in your element. What a way to make points with your Sag. Then there’s gambling. Lotto tickets, scratchers or a gift card to a casino are all winners—and since Sagittarius tends to be lucky, you might want to travel there with your beloved to see how much the luck rubs off.

Capricorn. I know it probably doesn’t sound very romantic to you unless you’re also a Cap, but even a single share stock certificate of some up-and-coming investment will really get to your Goat. Gift wrap it in an elegant, traditional way, best presented boxed and with no expenses spared on thick shiny paper and ribbon. Find what biz pubs are missing in your honey’s magazine rack, such as Money Investor’s Guide 2013—and get a gift subscription. Seek suggestions from the top business magazines online. Other ideas: Gift cards to the Franklin Covey store or his/her other favorite brand of planner and accessories. What he or she needs most, though, is a break from work, work, work. You’re most likely to succeed if it’s a business retreat. Ride your favorite search engine to find one you can give as a gift—or box your organizational services with an elegant certificate offering to help your Cap create one for his or her company. You’d be surprised how many resorts specialize in business retreats and what you’ll find searching on those keywords! Of course, the deal is, you get to go along or there’s a clause for extended stay to get a few nights together, away from the office.

Aquarius. The weirder or more unique, the more your Water Bearer will turn into mush! Don’t be too shy to Google “weird gifts” and let your jaw drop at some of the results. While Auntie Joyce finds some of them totally distasteful, even given her good sense of humor (a toilet mug is certainly more for a Scorpio), she actually owns a head-scratching device and loves it. (What do you think instigates these odd ideas?) Some of these items are seriously good finds. On the other hand, tickets to something like the best offbeat play currently running in your city will surely appeal—as will a contribution to one of your Aquarian’s many causes, the acknowledgment card wrapped with an unusual bouquet of flowers or a hard-to-get strain of plant. Your Aquarius will love that its beauty can be shared with all of his or her friends.

Many Pisces like smoke
but should beware of Pufferfish.
Pisces. Pisces are fish of many kinds and persuasions. If yours doesn’t already have an aquarium, why not give the gift of companionship with his or her kin? Auntie Joyce’s Pisces ex-husband drew great comfort from two big tanks, a fresh water and a salt water. The latter are very expensive. So are the fish. Be careful what you mix and match. It’s just like astrology; avoid opposite signs or fish/people who are too much alike. For instance, two male betta fish are gorgeous and colorful, but in the same tank, they will rip each other apart and often fight to the death. (They aren’t also called Siamese fighting fish for nothing.) This is no scenario for a sensitive Pisces. Auntie’s ex made a big mistake of putting a pufferfish in the salt water tank. Another fish spooked it, and it sent out a deadly poison in an instinctive reaction to the threat. The poison killed all the other expensive fish in the aquarium. Maybe the answer is to stick with fresh water fish. Or other ideas, such as swimming or scuba gear and the ever gift popular with any Pisces, music. Yoga classes or other spiritual adventures are lovely, as are lots of incense and meditation accoutrements like Tibetian singing bowls or a gentle gong timer to help your Pisces “come to” after sitting in silence and floating on air. Since Pisces rules the feet, how ‘bout a gift card to your favorite shoe emporium? Or a foot massage—especially at a place where there’s a fish tank to watch during the process, tended by someone who knows better than to turn it into a fish fry.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and all your sweethearts!

Photo Credits: Chocolate Hog © Kramografie - Fotolia.com; Girl on Swing © Jason Stitt - Fotolia.com; Incense © forcdan - Fotolia.com