This post is courtesy of the current North Node in Cancer transit which conjuncts my natal Lilith in Cancer in the 9th house (aka the Nurturing Nomad). I find myself in this period to be even more protective of my independence than I usually am, and I continue to spend most of my life interacting with powerful women (I am one of those anomalies, having had only female bosses for the last 10 years of my professional life – there was an occasional male boss once, but that exception only lasted a month). However, this post is not about work and it’s not about Lilith (at least not obviously).
I want to write about Meg Ryan, Mireille Enos and Amy Adams and three characters they created that keep haunting me (and I am starting to believe are also unconsciously starting to affect my life choices). The characters I want to focus on are:
Frannie Avery from ‘In the cut’ (2003)
Sarah Linden from ‘The Killing’ (2011)
Camille Preaker from ‘Sharp Objects’ (2018)
These are all American movies with American actresses, and complicated, dark and unsetlling narratives, that combine loss with healing and sensuality with death (it’s October, close to Halloween as I write this and I’m currently living in the Deep South, so the mood is pitch perfect). Another character I could add to the list is Stella Gibson from The Fall (2013) played by the enthralling Gillian Anderson (but I hated how that series ended so I am going to exclude it from this analysis).
I’ll try to unpick what unites and divides these characters and why I am strangely fascinated by them. Usually, when we think of cinematic anti-heroes we instantly picture fallen and muscled men who are fighting for their souls, for example Batman (emphasis on the ‘man‘) who was also deemed the ‘Dark Knight’, or Constantine (an oddly loveable, if self-destructive detective). However, for women the situation seems to enact puzzling cricket-inspiring moments: ‘Who are those female anti-heroes?’.
I would suggest that a female anti-hero is the leading character in a story, a person who walks the thin line between the classical Maddona-Whore or Virgin-Vixen female stereotypes, but transcends them and drastically improves them through complex and souflful performances. Therefore, the three characters that I fell in love with are a teacher, a detective and a journalist, women with seemingly ordinary jobs who are looking for their own peace of mind in misoginist environments (and interestingly, in the case of Camille, this misoginy comes from her close female relatives).
But rather than fear that reality and submit to it to make peace with everyone, our three anti-heroes actively participate in it, they challenge it, they take it on and sometimes use it to fullfill their needs. They transform whatever they can in the relationships around them from within, with guts, determination and a lot of painful soul-searching. These are not exemplary portrayals of ‘good femininity’, these women make mistakes on the way and are potrayed as imperfect creatures. These are stories about women who don’t speak much, who observe, who are intelligent and confident, even as they deal with their share of inner demons. These women don’t over-apologise for their existence, or gush at pictures of children, they are not easy to live with or understand. For example, Frannie is naive, socially removed and has poor taste in men; Camille self-harms and is a functional alcoholic to supress her rage; while Sarah obsessively works to the point of neglecting both her physical needs and those of her teenage son. All three of them are also very beautiful, not only physically but also emotionally -precisely because of these vulnerabilities – and are also good at their jobs. Work for them becomes the only place where they find safety and some sort of material anchor in the spiritual battles they are immersed in. And ironically, it is through work and not through their families that they also meet the men they fall in love with and the people who nurture them.
They are also driven to pursue the misteries in their lives until the end, whatever it takes. All three of them are surrounded by men who they do not know if they can trust and yet fall in love with, they witness how death and despair seeps into the craks of everyday life, and how their past life events leave them at the mercy of their own present needs. Yet when confronted with difficult life decisions, they remain vulnerable and deeply understanding human beings. To an extent, they succed in their narratives not by fighting but by letting go, by forgiving, by deciding to care and to love themselves. These are three wounded women who are learning how to take care of their needs in the midst of life’s chaos. Camille’s boss tells her jokingly at the end of her maternal ordeal that she’d won the ‘fucked-up family Olympics’ and yet she chooses to lean towards kindness and acceptance rather than towards bitterness and revenge. Feminine resistance in all three cases, becomes a measure of their worth, but ultimately it is kindness and courage which redeems them.
This forms part of the fascination of watching their stories unfold. Here, I am reminded of Eva Green’s acting tour-de-force, her character of Vanessa Ives in Penny Dreadful (2014), whose story unravels with a similar intensity and painful vulnerability, and it also quite difficult to watch at times (although her story deals more with the supernatural, and again I am excluding it here due to the heartbreakingly dissapointing ending). To my mind, and for what it’s worth, Eva Green embodies the Lilith archetype so well, that now I tend to visualize her rather than some statue from Mesopotamia whenever I hear the word ‘Lilith’.
Returning to the three characters that made ‘my list’ 🙂 and whose stories I was happy to see end in life-affirming ways – rather than in patriarchal fiascos – it is interesting to note their birth-chart placements and to compare them:
- Mireille Enos is A Virgo Sun, Aries Moon and Leo Ascendant.
- Meg Ryan is a Scorpio Sun, Aries Moon and Capricorn Ascendant.
- Amy Adams is a Leo Sun, Virgo Moon and Gemini Ascendant.
It’s a bit magical to see the Leo-Aries-Virgo connections across all of their charts! Leo and Aries are masculine signs, connected to the fire of the holy spirit. Aries is cardinal fire energy (self-starting), while Leo is fixed fire energy (attracting). Virgo is the sign of the Maiden who reaps the crops during harvest time (Autumn) and she is considered the purest energy in the chart, representing mutable Earth, in terms of order, cleanliness and health. So there are themes here of blending masculinity with feminity (strength and vulnerability) and of literally being ‘a brave feminine light in the dark’, illuminating the wisdom of self-care and purification through work. Work has so many different meanings to people. Both Virgo (as the Archetype of the Cosmic Maiden) and Lilith (as Adam’s first wife, who refused to submit to him) are two frequent cultural representations of post-modern feminism and are enmeshed in the ‘woman who work/serve’ archetype.
Of course, I am not arguing that the lives of the actresses mirror the stories of their characters, but what is interesting to observe is that each of their birth-chart energies drew them towards these particular stories, and they took on the tasks of bringing to life these fascinating women; there are invisibly-threated spiritual connections between their astrology and the characters they created, and again reaffirming my conviction that there are no coincidences in life, just simply synchronicities 😉
For me as the viewer, these astrological aspects are also highly significant. I have an Aries North Node conjunct Jupiter in Aries, a Midheaven in Leo and Sun in Pisces in the 6th house (Pisces is the sign opposite Virgo, and the 6th house is traditionally ruled by Virgo energy). Even though my life is not at all as dramatic as that of these characters, I share some personal similarities with their stories: I taught gender classes and I write for a living just like Frannie; I now work with legal actors and observe criminal cases, just like Sarah; I have past trauma and a complicated intimate history with the women in my life, just like Camille. Also, like all three of them I find it hard to trust men and have been told I am soft-spoken yet determined (Libra Ascendant and Saggitarius Moon conjunct Saturn).
Perhaps what I am drawn to in these stories, is what mirrors some of the themes of my own life and upon reflection, some of these are: the difficulty of living independently as a determined woman in a patriarchal world; working through trust issues; having an intense relationship with your mother and sister; learning how to practice self-nurturing; using work as an escape from feeling too much; and dealing with shadows from the past but also self-sabotaging behaviours in the present. Perhaps these are were the connections between my own path and that of the women in these stories lie: in the familiarity of our life stories. Each unique, distinct stories of random courage, of loss and healing, threaded together by the act of making your way through life, guided mostly by the flashlight of intuition and self-belief, illuminating the surrounding darkness. A darkness that is both within and without…and yes, having to rely mostly on the kindness of strangers.
However, the stories show that once that inner darkness is seen, loved and accepted, it ripples out into the wounded environment which also becomes suddenly replete with love. For example, Camille allows her boss’ loving family to take care of her and to ‘re-mother’ her (in the book) or she decides to take care of her younger sister (in the film), although with a much creepier conclusion. After much soul-searching, Sarah admits that she loves her long-suffering ‘work husband’ detective Holder, and lastly Frannie saves her own life and returns home to fall into the arms of the hand-cuffed detective Malloy.
Of course, life is less spectacular and at times more silently bewildering than the blood-spluttered challenges that these women had to overcome. In our daily lives, we are given more time for spiritual development and growth, in than the span of a film/TV series.
And as for the women in these stories, it has been revealed to me that a heart that was once broken can be healed again with courage; that at the end of each individual dark-night-of-the-soul, once all the addictions are shed and self-love is discovered, these women (and myself) are able to follow our hearts again. Whether it leads to romantic love is generally uncertain, but it certainly leads to a form of love. One replete with ease and a sense of peace, where once there was only emptiness and a premonition of incoming darkness. Being a brave woman is literally being a light in the dark.
Undoubtedly, these are stories about three succesful Pluto transits. And it strikes me now that maybe this post was an essay about what Leonard Cohen means when he sings in Anthem:
“There’s a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in”.
With universal love,