Possibly the most over-asked off-the-cuff question I am asked as an astrologer is : “will I be a writer?”
It normally arrives in this exact format too, undisciplined, badly thought through, open-ended. It occurs (without wanting to split hairs particularly) that so long as one writes, one is by definition a writer. Of course, the question people are most especially asking is whether or not they have the astrological quality to become a successful, published, career author.
The binary nature of the human mind craves, inevitably a stark indicator of such destiny, an x + y = z signpost of such outright clarity and inevitability that somehow, were it present in the nativity the great American novel (or its geographically relocated counterpart) would somehow fall unbidden out of their brain onto paper and be snapped up by clamouring agents and rushed to print. Plaudits would ensue, and all that would be required was to be born at that fortuitous instant wherein success was guaranteed by the machinations of heaven’s unknowable mechanisms.
And of course such simplicity belies the myriad realities of this life. First there must be an idea, an original idea – or at least an idea of sufficient uniqueness as to slip out of the plagiarist’s attire – and then there has to be time and sufficient energy and self-discipline so as to actually write the thing, and attendant upon that must be a modicum of good grammar and a plot or premise worthy of extrapolation and then perhaps some luck and perseverance in the face of a world of indifference, the list goes on, and so it stands to reason that there ought not be a simple solution to the question: “will I be a writer?” Indeed, there is a veritable clamour of contingencies to consider – in the astrology as in life.
But this of course does not mean that there are not combinations which are helpful. I have studied the nativities of authors of various import and I have found a number of clear correspondences: no hard and fast rules (the wearisome cry of rule-bound, constipated statisticians notwithstanding) some extremely intriguing predilections too, and much of my study has involved halfsums, the third house, and of course the planet Mercury.
I can boldly claim that in the vast majority of cases other than the planet Mercury itself, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are most commonly configured in the nativities of successful writers., in almost every case Mars is configured with Mercury or the third house or in an intriguing combination of midpoint factors. On the whole however, the flavour of the astrology has an influence not so clearly upon the binary nature of becoming an author or not, but rather on the style of work evinced. Neptune, for example, figures strongly in the charts of fantasy writers, Venus in romance, Uranus in science fiction and often there might be some other key factor which supercedes even these observations: Barbara Cartland for example evinces a cazimi Cupido…
I will then work on a spectrum of coarse to fine granularity and begin with that most reliable indicator of vocation: the midheaven. By far the most common signs on the 10th house cusp are Gemini, Aquarius and Aries; also to a lesser extent Scorpio. Taurus, Cancer, Libra, Sagittarius and Capricorn almost have no propensity toward a vocation as an author at all (but there are of course exceptions) while Virgo is rather surprisingly under-represented in the author community, which only underlines its lack of suitability as Mercury’s domicile (in this astrologer’s humble view). Aries of course has a go it alone tendency that is undoubtedly well-suited to the solitary pursuit of slogging through an entire manuscript. Gemini, ruled by the writer’s own Mercury is an easy bet, while Aquarius seems to enjoy the novelty of writing novels. Gemini appears to offer the greatest hope for the aspiring author since it appears on the 10th house cusp of a veritable raft of well-known authors thus:
- Charlotte Bronte
- Ernest Hemingway
- Oscar Wilde
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- Charles Dickens
- George Orwell
- Jane Austen
- Jack Kerouac
- Rudyard Kipling
- Louisa May Alcott
Aquarius follows a close second with such luminaries as:
- George Bernard Shaw
- Mary Shelley
- Isaac Asimov
- Jules Verne
- Arthur Conan Doyle
- Leo Tolstoy
- Jack London
To name but a few, and invariably the quality of those novelists is quite distinctive with a marked leaning toward offbeat and rather fantastical genres of fiction being in evidence. It must be remembered though that the Midheaven is but a broad stroke in the matter of the vocation and the condition of its ruler and any major tenants must also be considered.
Next then, the third house. Inevitably, Mercury’s accidental dignity ought to be considered since this represents the area of life most suited to the expression of communication, thus any planet found herein will lend its energy to the writer’s craft. Now it should be no surprise to find that an untenanted 3rd is really quite rare in the astrology of proven writers. That is not to say that it is never to be found – far from it – but invariably there are compensations relating most especially to the Midheaven and the 10th which appear to compensate. Mary Shelley and Thomas Hardy are examples of excellence and cases in point, although both shared Pluto in the 10th (I have studied Hardy’s astrology in depth previously in my article: Pluto on the 10th, Thomas Hardy, Tragedian). Both Mercury (e.g. Oscar Wilde, Paulo Coelho, Jane Austen, Stephen King) and Mars (also Oscar Wilde, Victor Hugo, J.R.R. Tolkien) feature heavily in the 3rd houses of many well known writers; but invariably there are tenants in the 3rd regardless with a marked frequency in the cases of Sun, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn too. Moon, Uranus, Pluto and Chiron in the 3rd seem to be least common in the charts of well-known writers.
Noel Tyl made the rather remarkable claim that the midpoint of Mercury and Jupiter is the “signature of a writer” and I certainly understand the logic of that as an idea and I respect Mr Tyl greatly, however, I could not find many examples of this midpoint featuring in these various nativities. It might well indicate the signature of an aspiring writer of course, so I cannot say with any certainty, and about the only meaningful example I could find was that of Michael Crichton who evinced Ur=Me/Ju, thus individuation is realised through writing to improve oneself, to communicate one’s sense of life, through a certain prolific tendency in one’s writing too. Much more startlingly common, however, was the combination of Mercury with Mars in the halfsum, which speaks quite clearly to an exposition of communicative energy: and even where this is not present, there is very often a marked combination of Mercurial and Martian factors which suggests this same quality. Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling and Alex Haley (writer of Roots) all share, for example the conjunction, Alexandre Dumas and Tennessee Williams the sextile, Mars tenants the 3rd in numerous cases, and (as a further example of the potential for combination) Charlotte Bronte evinces a mutual reception of the two. In any case, the tendency to find these powers in some sense conjoined, either by midpoint, aspect, house placement or in some other pattern is distinctly marked.
Let us consider an example:
Tolkien’s nativity is remarkable in several factors and carries a number of writer’s potentials:
- The square of Mercury to Saturn has an orb of a mere 2 minutes across the Libra and Capricorn Aries Points, thus giving an enormous tension to the need to write but with a real promise of fame or public recognition.
- The midheaven is in Gemini.
- Mars is on the 3rd.
- Pluto is applying hard to the 10th, tightly configured with Neptune.
- Following the same logic, the ruler of the 3rd is applying to the 10th, thus writing as a career is a distinct possibility and the Neptune conjunction speaks to an element of fantasy and imagination too.
Like any formula there must always exist an element of je ne sais quoi in the pursuit of any life objective but the broad indicators are at the very least the sign of the Midheaven, third house tenants and the quality of its ruler also, and any combinations most especially of Mercury with Mars, providing energy, drive and motive power to the writing itself.
Of course, none of these will indicate talent (although Mercury quintiles might be suggestive of this and Tolkien has Me q Ju to his credit), and of course, the most pressing requirement for any writer, (and my most oft-quoted response to the question “will I be a writer?” ) ought to be clear: have you written a book?
It’s a great place to start.