Jessa Crispin: Mary Shelley Was Super Plutonic

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley – the author of Frankenstein – is the subject of two upcoming bio-pics – which i think is absolutely relevant.  Here, the insanely erudite Jessa Crispin talks about just how Plutonic and modern she was. 

Let’s let Mary Shelley teach us how to do Pluto.

Mary Shelley was born with Pluto at 29 degrees Aquarius on her midheaven, which is a lot of crazy heavy innovative energy. Wild ideas and revolutionary urges. Her father was a revolutionary, a political radical and novelist. Her mother was a revolutionary, the feminist mother to us all, Mary Wollstonecraft. That’s the environment she was dropped into: an intellectual realm, but one where the ideas had the power to change the world. It’s a lot to carry as a child, the burdens of the family and the burdens of the stars.

But Mary Shelley held her own. Not only with her family — she was allowed as a teen to participate in the salons and political gatherings her father held, and by all accounts she did not hold her tongue — but with the literary group she became a part of when she hooked up with Percy Shelley. Byron never knew what to do with her. He preferred his women passive and insane, flirty brainless things that flung themselves at him. He didn’t quite know what to do with a woman who was not obsessed with him. (Poor dear, he simply hadn’t met many of them before.) Mary Shelley was quiet and serious, but also passionately engaged. And despite being married to her rockstar poet Percy, she was a writer as well. Perhaps (heaven forbid) the better of the two.

That heavy Pluto influence was balanced out by her Mercury in Virgo. Rather than getting overly excited by the death and the gore and the Persephone myth (lord protect us from writers way too into the Persephone myth), she wrote her books with a reasonable and quite realistic tone.

I mean, how do you put your Pluto into the world and still have it contain a lightness? Mercury in Virgo. Virgo, with its wit and its unadorned elegance, that is how you go deep into the underworld with your audience willingly following you down. And the Pluto themes abound. In Frankenstein, it is not only the issues of death and rebirth, but man’s need for power over these arenas, the need of men to feel like Gods. In Mathilda, there is a creeping revelation of father-daughter incest, a book considered so scandalous (um, her father was her publisher?) it was not published until after her death. The Last Man deals with plague and destruction, as well as carrying on while everyone around you dies.

Her own life was Pluto-inflected, with her mother dying mere days after her birth from complications in childbirth; not great boundaries between herself and her father; several attempts by others to blackmail and exploit her; the suicides of people in their circle; the drowning death, foretold in dreams, of her husband; the death of their children. Her whole life was like a Pluto transit. Her books, particularly The Last Man, the story of a group of people traveling through the end of the 21st century as the world dies around them, seem her way of making sense of what she has suffered through. The Last Man is my favorite of her works, absolutely excruciating and beautiful, the bodies stack up but the story is quite grounded. There is nothing of the romantic in her experience of death, but it’s not the overwrought wrenching of garments, either. It’s that steady Virgo eye that keeps things from tipping over into melodrama.

Mary Shelley did Pluto with dignity, dealing with the rebirth aspect as much as the death, with the merging of the soul aspect as much as the power and control. She has much to teach us, about how to incorporate the supernatural into the natural, how to carry on after loss, and how to turn something horrific into something beautiful.

Jessa Crispin is the editor of Bookslut and Spolia, and her book, The Dead Ladies Project, will be released by the University of Chicago in the Fall of 2015. If you’re interested in a tarot reading, specially designed for writers and other creatives, contact Jessa here.

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anonly
anonly
September 7, 2014 9:59 am

There is more Plutonic stuff, I assume the author was considering the influence of Pluto on the whole chart, but maybe too complex to list everything.

Sticking with regulation orbs there are contacts to – Mars, Sun, Mercury, Moon, Asc/Desc.
Wider orbs include contacts to – Saturn, Venus, Chiron, Neptune (in Scorpio), Lilith (in 8th house).

I’m no expert but it looks super intense to me!
http://www.astrotheme.com/astrology/Mary_Shelley

Moon Midheaven
Moon Midheaven
September 5, 2014 10:01 pm

Hmmm two things I did not know:

1. that Mary Wollstonecraft was related to Mary Shelley
2. that having Mercury Virgo was such a strength and bonus for writing (I have this)

thanks. Great post!

DP
DP
September 5, 2014 3:52 pm

My understanding is that angles are as personal as personal planets…?

Ariel
Ariel
September 5, 2014 9:00 pm
Reply to  DP

Conjunct midheaven’s pretty personal. & yes in the descriptions I have read of the angles, having Pluto conjunct any of them makes you instantly Plutonic. I have Pluto in Scorp conjunct the IC, which Mars & Saturn have crossed over lately, & I was surprised to gain such instant access to the Pluto club. But not only does it aspect my personal planets, it’s also opposite my midheaven & my Venus conjunction there. This hidden aspect in Mary Shelley’s chart – any planet conjunct one of the angles is automatically opposite its cousin – in this case, Pluto opposite the… Read more »

12th house Virgo
12th house Virgo
September 5, 2014 9:43 pm
Reply to  DP

Hmmm…I didn’t know that.

Vslr
Vslr
September 5, 2014 7:59 am

Reminds me of the novel by the iraqi writer ahmed saadawi winner of the international prize for Arabic fiction “Frankenstein in Baghdad”. I haven’t read it yet but it seems interesting. Frankenstein is baghdad and yet its identity is unknown, mysterious. In other news: it is birthday month. I’ve launched a language website. Trying to increase content and traffic! Learning curves….very exciting. Checked stats at it said blog viewed from the country where the leo dude would be at this time. I am honoured he visited the site….not sure if its him or his sister actually. Feeling very uncomfortable with… Read more »

hdq
hdq
September 5, 2014 2:14 am

Powerful and evocative piece, thank you!

scorpio_rising
scorpio_rising
September 5, 2014 2:01 am

I have heavy Pluto influence in my astro chart, including Pluto & Mercury in Virgo.
Inspiring muse Mary Shelley, and I always preferred Frankenstein’s monster over vampires anyday.

abouttendays
abouttendays
September 5, 2014 1:06 am

picnic tables shaped like 8’s presumably Scorporation

Scorporation, Inc.
Scorporation, Inc.
September 5, 2014 1:23 am
Reply to  abouttendays

You are such a Qi vampire. Tedious, tired & trifling. Better luck next time.

abouttendays
abouttendays
September 5, 2014 12:11 pm

‘Utopia’ is a projection that ends at your front gate – if you cant or wont see the world as it is you are living in a self-imposed state of delusion.
l dont need your energy – l generate my own. There was no animosity attached to my picnic table reference – again you are projecting.

Scorporation, Inc.
Scorporation, Inc.
September 5, 2014 9:21 pm
Reply to  abouttendays

No, I have a good memory. Not projecting. I know who you are & what you’re about. Simple as that.

Scorporation, Inc.
Scorporation, Inc.
September 5, 2014 9:43 pm

— but don’t worry: I won’t out you. Why would I when you’re doing a fine job of that yourself? Keep up the good work, “abouttendays”.

Scorporation, Inc.
Scorporation, Inc.
September 4, 2014 11:58 pm

I got the Pluto juju but I don’t entirely have my head wrapped around it. For instance, from astrodienst, I get the conjunct Moon in Libra @ 8d bit, but there’s an * re natal Neptune & TN @ 8d Sagg, and a picnic table sign with my Jupiter-AC @ 8d Pisces, and an overturned picnic table (straight-line winds?) re my Mars @ 8d Scorpio. Can anyone enlighten me on the meanings of asterisks & picnic tables??

hdq
hdq
September 5, 2014 2:18 am

Sextiles (*) and quincunxes (picnic tables) mwah

Scorporation, Inc.
Scorporation, Inc.
September 5, 2014 2:47 am
Reply to  hdq

Ah! Thanks, hdq x

Libra dress historian
Libra dress historian
September 4, 2014 11:09 pm

I love this post- so inspiring for those of us with a strong Pluto- I have Pluto Midheaven in Scorpio conjunct Mercury. It goes to show how Pluto might not give you a life that’s the Brady-Bunch picture of happiness, but he can give you a rich and exciting one. Can’t wait to read your book!

Anonymous
Anonymous
September 4, 2014 10:57 pm

Her mother was Mary Wollstonecraft!! How did I not know this. Author, if not widely known, of “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”, a foundation stone of modern feminism. And then to die as a result of childbirth. What a shame to have never known this mother. That’s pluto all over your chart angles for you.

Year of the Phoenix
Year of the Phoenix
September 5, 2014 12:49 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

same here, had no idea!

The Leo Socialite
The Leo Socialite
September 4, 2014 9:36 pm

“Byron never knew what to do with her. He preferred his women passive and insane, flirty brainless things that flung themselves at him”

Is this not the eternal issue with women? i LOVE this post. I get bored reading literature critiques but add in the magic and Pluto (PLUTO!) and astrology for instant fascination.

I love that Mary S said that – beware I am fearless and therefore powerful. RESPECT

Scorporation, Inc.
Scorporation, Inc.
September 4, 2014 11:42 pm

+1

freedom ala air
freedom ala air
September 4, 2014 9:23 pm

Super interesting post, thank you x

jicky
jicky
September 4, 2014 7:14 pm

I still love that Ken Russell film Gothic from the late 80s with the lovely Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley. I watched it again recently and it still holds up.

RedlipstickGirl
RedlipstickGirl
September 4, 2014 6:30 pm

I have always loved her. Just an amazing writer, when I was at Oxford one of my Professors told me that Byron took Shelley’s heart out of the pyre and gave it to her and when Mary died it was found dried in a handkerchief in her writing desk – so poignant and confronting at the same time.

Ariel
Ariel
September 5, 2014 8:52 pm

Wow. How Pluto is that?! Talk about not parting, even in death. I’m deeply in awe of such a fearless continuation of a lover’s bond.

Astraea
Astraea
September 4, 2014 6:02 pm

All the recent Virgo flattery has me predictably uncomfortable 😉

Stellar reading of Shelley’s astro life + art, I love the endlessly exploratory nature of critical essays, often more than the original texts, lol. I guess it’s inevitable that raw Plutonic power is so blatantly thematic in her work. It’s a new and fascinating narrative analysis for me, a writer’s telltale cosmic DNA in their art. Awesome. Interesting last line, effortlessly fusing the supernatural into the natural in creative literature has been an obsession of mine for some time. Great post!

Invicta
Invicta
September 4, 2014 5:20 pm

Wow. This is amazing stuff. I need to read Shelly. Another muse courtesy of MM. Thank you. X

Lux Interior is My Co-Pilot
Lux Interior is My Co-Pilot
September 4, 2014 3:13 pm

So awesome. It is so easy to be overwhelmed by Pluto. Astro gives us the objectivity to work with it, rather than struggle.

So bang-on.

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