These musings were first published on february 9, 2015 as a guest-post on Servetus blog “me + richard armitage” here because I never expected to start a blog myself back then 😉
As Richard’s real time of birth found its way to me about four months later and the Dolarhyde story is about to end next week, I thought a review & a résumé of my original musings might be in order. The altered bits will appear in red and/or
An astrological journey into the dark – and back again
I’d like to thank Servetus for inviting me to do this guest-post (and editing me, as English is not my mother tongue). I like her blog because it deals with its favorite topic in a frank way. I discovered “me + richard armitage” in the first place when a certain British actor “entered” my life in a most unusual way. Ever since, I’ve experienced a side of myself I never thought I had. So now it’s time for the “fruit” of all that obsession to be born.
Over the past months, I have spent quite some time putting together and analyzing Mr. Armitage’s horoscope. As his latest choice of role (Francis Dolarhyde) generated a lack of understanding within large parts of his “Army,” I wanted to share my astrological discoveries with you. This essay’s title may be a bit sensational — of course Mr. A is NOT Francis Dolarhyde — but
in part two, I’ll try to help readers find some similarities and thereby a better understanding of Mr. A’s potential motivation for choosing this particular role. And — for those who are open to it — in part three, I offer some insights about involvement in the whole fandom per se.
But in this first part, I would like to start with a few words on astrology. A long time ago, it was considered the “queen of sciences” and for a lot of people it still is. Astrology is as much a “science” as psychology and philosophy – it ideally takes a humanistic approach and should be used to help people along their path of life. It should not, however, be used to predict the future, as this is an illusion! But of course that’s what it was (and still is) often used for, and because such attempts are prone to failure, this misuse may be a reason for its current poor reputation. Of course every stargazer tries to peek into the future a bit, by musing about current transits and how they affect the aspects in our birth chart … I did so myself by “predicting” that Mark Strong might win the Olivier award.
My mother has been a professional astrologer for over thirty years now. She works in the style of the Swiss Huber School, founded in the 60s and based on Roberto Assagioli’s work of psychosynthesis (the foundation of modern psychology) combined with ancient astrological knowledge. Huber School astrology is not about predicting the future, but rather — I quote from their English site — “providing a powerful tool for self-understanding and psychological and spiritual growth.” The summary of their “Code of Ethics” is “The only acceptable goal of the astrological-psychological counsellor and teacher must be to increase the freedom of the person who is being counselled!” If you like, take a look.
From helping my mum with her work by drawing charts manually in my teens to discussing events and life stages with her, I’ve gained a lot of insight. She has far more experience than I, but she has always admired my “gut feelings,” so astrology was the place for me to go for answers, when I was hit — out of the blue — by an unexpected obsession manifesting in the form of a bearded (I really really don’t like beards) dwarf (I was always into big guys). Despite always being a dreamer and creative, I’m also a methodical, organized person (I studied architecture for 5 years). But as my life quickly turned toward chaos, I was desperate to get a grip on why this man was bothering me so badly. Me, working in the cinema/distribution business for over 12 years without ever asking someone “famous” for an autograph (well, except for the real one-and-only Darth Vader – that surely doesn’t count, right)? Me, in a happy, stable marriage for over 26 years? Me, thought to be always in total control of her emotions?
So, I went to draw up the man’s horoscope by using the technique of Age Progression in the rectification of his birth time. The Huber School sees the horoscope as a clock / calendar and by taking important times in Mr. A’s life combined with his behavior/interview statements, I tried to use it “backwards.”
It’s really a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I was struggling with the final pieces for quite some time, but I think I’ve gotten it right now. I finally came up with 20:24 (or 08:24 pm) as time of birth, which (of course only if I’m right!) would also mean that the sign of his ascendant is Aries (Ram). Well, I failed. As I know now, it is Leo. So, as Leo is a fire sign – still double fire (his Leo Sun & Aries are both fire signs) and a Moon in calm, organized, methodical and humble earth sign Virgo.
This is how it looks (the small numbers on the outside mark the years since his birth (75, 81, 87, and so on); the time of birth is on the AC; and from there we’ll begin his life’s journey counterclockwise around the chart.
On the sides, I’ve added the charts as they would look like if he had been born at midnight (left) and at noon (right). Most of the planetary interaspects will be the same, apart from the most important, the Moon, which is moving very fast. But the way the planets are connected to the houses AC/2/3/IC/5/6/DC/8/9/MC/11/12, which represent our different stages / areas of life, are different in each picture. So to understand fully where someone’s strengths and weaker points may manifest in life (and help him make this knowledge useful for himself) it is crucial to have the exact time of birth.
Of course, I found something else. Suddenly it was very clear to me why there are so many really “obsessive” websites out there dedicated to him. This obvious, palpable obsession for the author’s “topic” reaches far beyond that of screaming teens over the “Backstreet Boys.” And it was exactly the feeling (in review, in my case there’s still a bit more to it -> explained in “The Witches of Erebor“) with which I’m trying to deal for nearly a year now. So, welcome to an astrological walk “on the dark side” that I hope will eventually bring a bit of enlightenment and peace of mind to some readers.
For readers who would like to be accompanied by a bit of music along the way, I chose this lute / e-guitar piece by minimalist composer and lute-player, Jozef van Wissem, and indie-director, Jim Jarmusch, called “The Mystery of Heaven.” I had it on repeat for quite some time during my research. It is dark and also joyful, sometimes just painfully dissonant, has endings and new beginnings — just like life — so it fits the subject of all of this perfectly.
Pain is just the first step. First, we have to acknowledge and reflect on the intensity of our behavior when it comes to Mr. A. Looking to see whether he’s posted something new on twitter once a day might be the behavior of a casual fan — but some of us do so every waking hour (and check in on every other important fansite). Same goes for sending really personal letters or gifts to a person one hasn’t ever met in person, or having frequent conversations with this someone in one’s head (in my case, in a foreign language) or trying to find out his address. Mental health professionals might find such behavior suspect, and we’d be worried about ourselves if we acted like this toward an ex or a coworker.
So what is the force behind all this intense activity? If it comes to obsessive behavior, any “stargazer” would first take a close look at Pluto. In mythology Pluto (a/k/a Hades) is the god of the underworld. Not an evil guy, particularly, but obviously one on the darker side of life, er, well, more like afterlife. As I have a strong Pluto influence in my natal chart, he also happens to be my favorite Disney villain ever. And the priceless thing about it is, that this scene I just stumbled upon, taken from Hercules, in review just looks like Hades / Dolarhyde on his way to Mount Erebor: “We dance, we kiss, we schmooze, we carry on, we go home happy. What do you say? Come on.”
For those interested in digging deeper into his ancient history there’s an interesting article about Pluto and Hades on Wikipedia. As reactive as he can be, Pluto is patient. Like: Really, really patient. He’s the sleeping volcano. He waits, watches and observes. He wants to understand fully the motivations and workings of his “targets,” and when he finally gets the full picture he strikes and doesn’t miss a beat. He can be quite frightening or destructive as well. Ring a bell? Mr A sounds rather Plutonian in many interviews: Patient like “I’m very patient. I’d rather not have it, than have it too soon” and reactive as in “the kind of temper you can’t apologize for. Yep, the chair getting thrown out of the window.” And so are many members of his “Army.” Watching over his every step. Trying to find a meaning in everything he says. United in their possessive and protective feelings towards him. And reactive too! Make no mistake — these are very real feelings and not to be messed with! From reading some old interviews I take it there had been an incident in the past, when he’d said something about his “Army” and had somehow felt the need to apologize for doing so, very quickly afterwards [August 3, 2009].
Richard Armitage, the Hades Moon, and fans
We’ve just taken a quick look on “the dark side.” Now, my fellow guests of this Mad Tea Party, let’s see if the ferryman’ll take us back. Because Pluto is not just dark and evil. The positive side of a strong plutonian influence can be an immense creative energy. We’ve seen evidence of this, or created some ourselves: websites, videoclips, poems, paintings, photomontages and the like. Here’s my own attempt to cope with the beard-effect:
But still: why would an actor who “managed to stay under the radar for years” (maybe by wearing Pluto’s helmet of invisibility) or whose choice of super-hero role would fall on “The Invisible Man” evoke such strong feelings in so many people from very different backgrounds?
According to his horoscope, Richard Armitage’s Leo Sun is conjunct with his Venus. This combination would result in a tender-hearted, kind person with lots of charm, one who would have difficulties with open confrontation. The perfect mediator, always searching for a way to compromise so nobody gets hurt. His Virgo Moon is conjunct with his Pluto – now this is different. I could quote the whole blog post of Leah Whitehorse (Lua Astrology) on this, but you may just read it for yourself.
I also have no idea how old readers of this post might be, but I assume the majority of persons reading this now (and especially those who are experiencing the sort of “real-crazy-RA-crush”) were born between
1963 and 1970 1960 and 1965. If I had exact birthdates (including time and place), I’m sure I would find an aspect between Moon and Pluto in their natal horoscopes. There is one in mine, and — as mentioned — in Mr. A’s. Instead of trusting me with such personal information you can simply log in to www.astro.com (free of charge!), enter your data and see for yourself if there is an aspect (line) between Moon and Pluto, or if they are even next to each other as are Mr. A’s — which is — as Goethe would have put it — “the crux of the matter.”
Pluto is an extremely slow moving planet, so that many people born between
1963 and 1970 1960 and 1965 would have their Pluto (which represents the most radical, passionate and sometimes dark part of our psyche) broadly or closely (for those born about 1966-1967) conjunct both Mr. A’s Moon (which stands for the emotional core) and his Pluto. People his own age or just slightly younger wouldn’t feel it as much, because his Moon is some degrees apart and — as Pluto is so slow, we all share conjunctions between Pluto with people our own age — so there’s no big deal in this alone. (There are minor Pluto-Moon aspects for people born between 1978-1982 and 1989-1993 which — if they were exact — would be probably felt just as much).
If one experiences the aforementioned connection (aspect) in one’s natal horoscope between Moon and Pluto this effect would by some astrologers be called a “Hades-Moon.” Moon-Pluto aspects are said to be karmic, powerful, potentially dark, but with an enormous creative potential and they have almost always something to do with “mother” issues — either in a good or bad way. Judy Hall has written a really fascinating book, The Hades Moon (1998), which I’ll be quoting later on, as this is — of course — all heading towards Mr. A’s portrayal of Francis Dolarhyde.
Back to Pluto in general: the element Plutonium wasn’t named after planet Pluto by accident. When Pluto hits you, it’s like an atomic bomb, and there will be a fallout that often lasts more than a lifetime. Pluto creates karmic connections between all kinds of people: parent / child, teacher / pupil, lovers, star / fan, killer / victim, and so on. Those who choose to run from tasks Pluto has set will have to deal with them again and again. Even in your next life(s), until you’ve learned your lesson, shed your old skin and are truly reborn. It’s a bit like “Hotel California” — you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. You’ll always meet him in the end (whether you pay the ferryman or not) and have to try again — there’s just nowhere to hide.
The funny (?) thing about the “Hades-Moon” is that people who have this aspect are usually able to “recognize” and move toward each other, because a normal relationship just won’t do. It has to be life-altering, consuming and intense. Whether they’ll be at each other’s throats or share an intimate and passionate relationship for the rest of their lives depends a great deal on the individual’s capacity for self-aware reflection and sense of responsibility. So, whether it lasts or not, it will usually be a life changing experience for both partners. Hopefully one that develops them, or else they will be likely to meet again in another time and place. I think there is nothing remarkable in the fact that Liz Taylor and Richard Burton both had a “Hades-Moon.”
So — as my theory goes — the members of the “Armitage Army” might share a connection at least from their respective Plutos to Mr. A’s Moon and Pluto. This aspect creates a psychic link and a strong magnetic pull. Pluto will be completely “moonstruck.” The Pluto-partner’s (in this case, the “Army”) usually strong expression of deepness of his feelings can encourage the Moon-partner (Mr. A) to find a way out of (possible) emotional isolation. Often the unconscious needs of both parties will be discovered in the process. This process can result in a strong, creative, and dynamic bond. In the best way, it can manifest as a nurturing and almost maternal connection.
I would like to remind all of us that the all-knowing, headstrong and determined Pluto-partner can (even unintentionally) hurt the emotionally far more fragile Moon badly through its actions! Pluto likes to play mind games and to exercise control and is both fascinated and turned on by the soft and yielding nature of the Moon (a/k/a “shy” Mr. A, who “likes to paint and play the cello”). The Moon can at times feel overwhelmed by Pluto’s subtle but controlling force. Yet the Moon might feel a disturbing emptiness when Pluto unexpectedly pulls away, and if the Moon pulls away first, then Pluto may experience rage or a serious depression (watch what happens if he’s not tweeting for some days). The sensible Moon is going to notice right away when the relationship gets “weird” and is likely to pull away, while Pluto can’t even see that there is an obsession at all, he only feels drawn to the task of watching over the Moon.
As one of the main themes of a Hades-Moon in Virgo is a deep inner conviction that one is actually not good enough, it is no surprise to me, that Mr. A was more than a little astonished when his Army formed shortly after North & South aired in 2004. But this openly celebrated support and collective awe was – in my understanding – a thing he worked for (and craved) for a long, long time. The Moon / Pluto placement of his horoscope was one of my points-in-time for rectifying his birthtime — this break-through success came when
his journey around his “horoscope clock” would be in this exact spot. his wandering “age point” made a harmonious aspect to his natal Pluto and transiting Jupiter hit his natal Uranus/Chiron/MC opposition – sudden (Uranus) good luck (Jupiter) in his career (MC) with a “healing” effect (Chiron). His Moon was equally aspected during this time by transiting Neptune (Inspiration) on his North Node (our life’s goal).
So it is up to us to reflect upon ourselves from time to time and keep our “hounds of hell” on a short leash — although someone with a natal Moon-Pluto conjunction like Mr. A would be used to the feeling that he simply wouldn’t matter unless he gave his very best, and then still: would he really be truly appreciated? In combination with denying one’s emotionality this pattern often leads to extreme workaholism and a life organized to the minute … as in “I would squeeze the cello in the half hour before I go to bed.”
If you’ve ever read Patrick Süskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, you’ve met the Moon-Pluto-extreme: someone desperate for love and recognition. So desperate that he’d kill for it and won’t even mind losing his own life when he finally succeeds, because the townsfolk eating him alive, to him, would be the ultimate proof that they really love him.
Why Richard Armitage IS Francis Dolarhyde
Now we’re ready to understand why Richard Armitage took on the role of Francis Dolarhyde. Though, first things first: I simply couldn’t resist photoshopping two of my dogs into hannibalistic understudies.
As Richard Armitage stated of late in an interview, “I’m not really into fairytales and happy endings. I think it’s why I die a lot on screen and only got married once.” I would like to expand on that: as I’m a natural-born dreamer (Venus square Neptune) I recognize a fellow when I see one (Mr. A shares the same aspect). It is just that he simply doesn’t believe that he is worth a happy fairytale ending (at least as of yet). His dreams, however, are big (Neptune conjunct Jupiter) — maybe too big to share them with anyone.
On entering the eighth house of his horoscope on his forty-second birthday (2013), he arrived at a period of six years in his life in which he will have to deal with themes of life and death and sex and power issues. As Pluto is the ruler of Scorpio and the 8th house
the cusp of this house falls into the sign of Scorpio, Armitage is likely to meet and work with a lot of scorpionic and plutonic people. In fact, as he entered Scorpio on his journey around his horoscope-clock, roughly around his fortieth birthday (as I hypothesize) the “Scorpios” would start to come forth from that point on. The first was Peter Jackson (a Scorpio) followed by Crucible director Yael Farber, who has a “Hades-Moon” in Scorpio (if her date of birth, which I’ve found after some digging on the web, is correct), and now he’s about to work together on Hannibal with Mads Mikkelsen, the personification of the Scorpio-theme: a Scorpio with a Hades-Moon in Scorpio as well. As a side note: Jodie Foster, who played FBI agent Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), has a Hades-Moon in Virgo just like Mr. A. And just like him, she has almost always played “dark” roles. Yet as a Scorpio, Jodie Foster’s choices were still darker than his.
Back to Dolarhyde: If we read Red Dragon the events leading Dolarhyde’s evil side first to develop and then to take over his psyche are explained well enough and — of course — the ultimate core theme of the Hades-Moon can be found there (doubled through mother and grandmother in this case).
The “mother issues” of the Hades-Moon can fall on the bad side or, there can simply be an unusually and intensely strong bond between mother and child. Armitage’s mother is known to have been very supportive of his vocational aspirations from the very beginning. Almost always some kind of life-endangering encounter occurs in the early years of the individual, be it from a difficult birth, or other near-death experiences. Mr. A’s often expressed fear of water/drowning because of an early childhood accident comes to mind. In my case, I almost died at the age of two, because my mother chose a bad time for my measles vaccination (which was done with live virus then) and I almost drowned at age 10 (while my gran was helplessly watching from afar) because of a sudden exhaustion / cramp while swimming in deep water. While there is absolutely no indication that Mr. A was abused as a child, a certain undertone of emotional struggle is there — everyone who has read / heard some of his interviews must have noticed comments like “of course we wouldn’t talk about such things (as a profession in the arts) at home.”
In Mr. A’s horoscope there is not only the Hades-Moon which points to mother issues, but also a Sun square Neptune (our dreams) and Sun quindecile Mars (our actions). And this is the point where the father enters the picture. The Sun represents our father’s influence on us, and these two aspects are not smooth and friendly, but challenging ones. The actions of the child may not have been approved by the father through the Mars aspect and through the Neptune aspect there might have been quite some difficulties in understanding and/or accepting the child’s dreams and “soft side.” So this arrow strikes home, I think. When asked on the press tour of Into the Storm who he’d save if he ever encountered a situation like the one in the movie, he answered without hesitation “My mum,” and added, “Or if I had a dog, I’d probably save him.” Now at this point, let us assume he’s just sure, that his dad would be perfectly capable of rescuing himself.
No one chooses to become an actor by accident. Roleplaying “family constellations” are a big part in today’s psychological therapy. So there may have been a deep urge to explore methods of expressing oneself and understanding psychological mechanisms in the safe environment of a stage or a film set — instead of lurking in the dark and killing people in their sleep in reality.
In playing (and dying) as Thorin and Proctor, Armitage seems to have reconnected with an emotional side he’d buried deep inside (poetically spoken: “a well of unshed tears”) – or he wouldn’t have set up a memorial for his dead character on the scene and clearly confess to lots of tears / emotional turmoil after his last take. On playing Proctor, he stated “I shed so many tears during those 12 weeks, I sometimes felt like I had nothing left.”
“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” (Mark Twain)
Those with a Pluto-Moon conjunction in their horoscope can normally keep intruders out of their personal lives. They can wear Pluto’s helmet of invisibility or he’ll assist to “mask” them in another way. In a way, it’s perfect for an actor. So it’s easy to fool others with it. But at the end of the day, you’ll always have to face your naked self in the mirror.
The “lunar-food and healing” for the Hades-Moon in Virgo, according to Judy Hall’s book would be:
This Hades-Moon needs recognition and reward […] an appreciation for all that Virgo Moon so quietly performs for others is solicited, but Virgo is too modest and self-deprecating (or too falsely humble) to ask for this directly. […] Healing lies in developing the ability to accept oneself as perfect as one is now. To allow into consciousness the totality of feelings and emotions and embrace them all as acceptable and right. The Virgoan capacity for analysis may be turned inward to help in this process, but only if this is accompanied by loving acceptance, not criticism.
So for everyone out there who fears that Mr. A might lose his “light” in the process of becoming Francis Dolarhyde: to me it looks like he might be able to solve some (maybe unconscious) issues from the past with this role for himself. If he does so, he will rise like a phoenix out of it, ready for new and completely different roles
as he is about to set foot in the energetic and curious sign of Sagittarius. Well, maybe there’s a real big martial arts movie already lined up. as he will stay in the dreamy, inspirational sign of Pisces for the next 5 years.
So — if my theory is true — and if I’m really unlucky, now there’s a whole bunch of people out there, their Pluto square to my Moon and enraged because I dared to dissect a “wholly holy” topic (pun intended). Of course I am really curious to hear from anyone who checked her horoscope and might confirm my thoughts on the “moonstruck”-fandom of Mr. A.
For those ones who are about to check this on www.astro.com: his Moon
(I hypothesize) is on 20° 12° in Virgo, so if your Pluto would be between 10° – 14° degrees in Virgo, the conjunction would be felt strongest. Lesser but still recognizable in a wider orb, lets say from 8° – 16° degrees. Pluto moves back and forth a lot during this time, so you’re no automatically “nearer” if your birthdate falls right in the middle of the years mentioned! And of course, this is just one aspect in an ocean of possible other strong interaspects.
Try to be kind. If astrology is still just not your cup of tea, I hear you. But everyone has to deal with overwhelming feelings in his own way – mine always will be the light of the stars and the scalpel of the word. So to lighten up the collective mood a bit, if necessary, I’d like to end this with the last song of the amazing movie Harold & Maude (1971):
Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
‘Cause there’s a million things to be
You know that there are …
(Yusuf aka Cat Stevens)
As I know now, Mr. A has to “deal” not only with this “Hades-Moon” of his, but also with Chiron (the wounded healer) on his Midheaven – both connected to his North Node (our life’s goal). Forming an aspect that is called a “Yod” or “The Finger of God”. I’ve made further explanations on this in my “Richard’s chemistry with …” musings “… The Witches of Erebor” and “… Bloggers & how they support his life’s goal”
For those also interested in Richard III – here are my latest musings about the astrological connection between Richard & Richard
Edit from august 31, 2015:
the newest issue of “Fangoria” is out – with a very interesting interview with Richard about how he sees the character of Francis. Interestingly, I’ve found quite some points of my own article about their “connection” reflected in there:
“Arctic Lioness” put the whole interview on her tumblr -> here
And my final musings about Richard as Francis are here:
Now that the Dragon spread his wings one last time … what is Richard Armitage becoming?