Astro Riff: Edgar Allan Poe

W.S. Hartshorn (1848 daguerreotype) C.T. Tatman (1904 photo of a c. 1848-1860 photo of daguerreotype missing since 1860) 

W.S. Hartshorn (1848 daguerreotype) C.T. Tatman (1904 photo of a c. 1848-1860 photo of daguerreotype missing since 1860) 

Astro Riffs is an astrology series in which I look at the birth charts of famous dead people and talk about what I find interesting.

When I look at the birth chart of Edgar Allan Poe, I imagine this scene:

He's between lives. In a crowd in the presence of the Fates like Plato describes in Book X of The Republic. In this scene, Poe has been told to choose a life. In The Republic, lives are placed out for consideration like cards, but in my imagining, he stands before a birth chart where a model of the galaxy spins with a Siren accompanying each planet singing its note. His task is to place the planets in the sky and, that way, compose the harmony of his life. 

"I want to be a writer," he says, placing his Sun conjunct Mercury in the House of Communication. 

"I want to make it my life, and I want to have the discipline to finish what I start," he says, placing Saturn in his House of Personality, spinning the wheel of his chart until Capricorn and the House of Communication align. 

He pauses and takes a nervous breath, then, watching the angles fall into place. The choice of where to put the first few planets seemed obvious, but aligning the houses in that way had unexpected consequences. Does he want the regal drama of Leo to be the first thing people noticed about him? Does he want to wear the mask of the scorpion? The suspicion of the detective? For an artist, vision is everything. Does he want to view the world through so dark a lens?

Perhaps. Perhaps not, but there is no going back now, so he goes all in. 

"If I will have darkness," he says, "Let it be in dreams, big dreams. Let there be emotion and romance, too." 

As he speaks the words, four planets--Venus, Pluto, Jupiter and the Moon--align in Pisces, straddling the line between the house of his deep self and the house of creativity and play.

Understanding inner conflict is essential for a writer of psychological fiction, he considers the last two planets. Uranus, the revolutionary planet, and Neptune the planet of dreams join Saturn to provide a constant challenge.

The only thing left, then, is to place the Nodes, the Fate's arrows pointing to the past and future.

This last placement he does not decide. He waits as scenes from a thousand lifetimes play before his eyes. How many times had he stood on the beach looking out to sea from a seemingly idyllic life, a poet in a small way, words musical but lacking...something. Depth. How much had he longed for it, but how many times had he passed, shivering, the dark road that would lead to that depth? 

The arrow of the future points onward along the horizon line. His destiny is in that dark mask.

"It's time," he decides.

"And then in an instant they were driven upwards in all manner of ways to their birth, like stars shooting." -Plato, The Republic

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