Born to Play the Role: James Earl Jones/Darth Vader

In the history of storytelling, there are few villains who can match the rich complexity and Shakespearean tragedy of Darth Vader.  His story is so well known that it has practically become myth and its enduring resonance is because it was brought to life by an artist who shared the character’s depth and complexity.  James Earl Jones provided the voice for this iconic character and despite never making an actual physical appearance, Jones’ personal astrological dynamics manifested quite accurately.  The fact that he was able to harness such archetypal power through voice alone is remarkable.

JEJ chart

Mercury Rising

Mercury represents the function of communication so its tight placement at the cusp of the 1st house reflects, quite literally, how the projection of Jones’ voice would become a prominent component of his most immediately recognizable demeanor.  The stationary appearance of this planetary body increases its focus, making it a singular point of emphasis in the chart.

Vader3Mercury is also in trine aspect to Neptune in the 8th house.  Since Neptune represents the archetype of spirituality, illusion and magic, it can be surmised that it is manifesting as the otherworldly “force”.  Trine aspects indicate ease between the two bodies and can sometimes represent a talent.  Here, it represents Vader’s talent with the force and Neptune’s placement within the 8th house of death infers one possible ugly outlet for the use of these talents.[1]

Capricorn Stellium

Mercury is also part of a stellium that also contains the Sun and Moon (the two most significant bodies in the chart) and a dignified Saturn that is also the chart ruler because it rules Capricorn, the sign on the Ascendant.  Together, these four bodies make one of the most powerful stelliums we have encountered so far.

With the “big three”[2] all grouped in the 1st house we have an individual who is intensely focused on their self, possibly at the expense at others.  Specifically, with the Moon’s rulership of the 7th house of others while placed between the inside cusp of the 1st and Saturn there is the strong impression that, from Vader’s perspective, “others” only exist to serve the “self”.[3]

Star Wars exhibition opens

With the overall focus on Capricorn, we have an individual with a strong ambition and a desire for achievement and authority.  Typically, Capricorn is associated with leadership, but its dysfunction can also become overly authoritarian or concerned with success at the expense of all else.  In order to evaluate how this may evolve, we look to Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, for clues.

Saturn-Pluto

Vader2As a general archetype of the authoritarian taskmaster, Darth Vader is an adequate representation of Saturn, but it’s the opposition from Pluto that affirms this manifestation as an astrological signature of the ruthless totalitarian.  Over the years, many critics have stated that the foundation of the original trilogy’s success rests upon the tragedy and complexity of Darth Vader and astrologically this is based on the character’s literal correlation to the Saturn-Pluto dynamic.[4]  From a macro level, contacts between these two bodies correspond with:

…profoundly weighty events of enduring consequence; violence and death on a massive scale; the irrevocable termination of an established order of existence; collective intensification of division, antagonism, and hostility; the deployment of massive, highly disciplined, carefully organized destructive power; and a widespread sense of victimization and suffering under the impact of cataclysmic and oppressive forces of history.[5]

Saturn-Pluto were in effect at events such as World War I, World War II, the beginning of the Cold War, the Khmer Rouge regime and the 9/11 attacks.  With the echoes of nightmarish events burned into them, the generations born under these contacts have an almost inherent sense of worst case scenarios and usually experience some degree of this dynamic personally through instances of suffering and hardship so extreme that it could be described as torture.  These types of individuals are survivors with “hardened” wills and a sometimes very stark perspective of existence.[6]

As Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader was born into slavery, had no father, his mother was murdered and he was severely disfigured in battle by his former mentor/friend.  These experiences blackened Vader’s mentality into believing the only response to the horrors of the world is harsh control and domination.  “The ends justifies the means” accurately summarizes the critical blind spot (which will be explained in greater detail the last section) often associated with the perspective of Saturn-Pluto individuals.  They may sometimes willingly become a monster if they think it will prevent future horrors from occurring.  Ultimately, Vader’s responsibility in the death of the woman he loved and their unborn children was the defining Saturn-Pluto event in Anakin Skywalker’s history.

The usual quality evident in the individual with a Saturn-Pluto contact is obsessiveness.  There often seems to be a carefully organized and deliberate movement toward some self-destructive experience, and the person may be fully aware of this obsessive movement yet may not be able to control it.  There is often an element of enforced separation or loss, the irrevocable destruction of something deeply desired or loved.  The learning of detachment through pain often comes through Plutonian experience for there is a tendency for the individual to become obsessed in that area of life affected by Pluto’s position on their birth chart, particularly through desire.[7]

It should be underscored that Pluto is opposing the entire Capricorn stellium from the 7th house.  Since the 7th represents significant relationships, it is fitting that Anakin Skywalker’s treason against the Jedi in order to save his love (based on premonitions of her death) would contribute to his transformation (Pluto) into Vader (Saturn).[8]  But obiwan anakin battlemost significantly, the 1st house represents the self and the body and with a stellium that includes the Ascendant ruler, Pluto’s opposition includes the strong possibility of bodily disfigurement.  Considering that Pluto rules Jones’ 11th house of friends and associates, there is the correlation that this disfigurement was at the hands of someone Vader may have considered a friend.  Again, with Pluto positioned in the 7th house, that friend may have been protecting Vader’s significant other from him.

Before leaving this section, we’d be remiss for not acknowledging the significance of Uranus’ and Ceres’ square aspectual relationships to both sides of the Saturn-Pluto axis.  The combination of these aspects creates another major configuration, a grand square.  Grand squares are typically seen as highly pressurized structures of conflict and stress.  Uranus represents the concepts of chaos, disruption and anarchy and with its presence in the 3rd house of “daily/local environment”, the battle between Saturn and Pluto has one major outcome, the disruption in how Vader moves about in his daily environment.[9]  The other major outcome to this stand-off impacted a facet of the character’s mythology that is equally legendary: the relationship to his children.

Ceres

The asteroid, Ceres, is connecting two major configurations, contributing to a grand cross involving Pluto, Saturn (and the rest of the Capricorn stellium) and Uranus while sitting at the apex of a kite involving Venus, Mars and Uranus.  This “double configuration” phenomenon is uncommon and immediately highlights the asteroid as a focal point of the chart.

When Ceres is prominent in the chart or aspected to Pluto, separations may become a constant theme in the native’s life.  Examples of such deprivations include: the loss of one’s parents through death, rejection, abandonment, or illness; the loss of one’s children through death, custodial award to the other parent, or abduction; and separations from relationships…[10]

In Jones’ chart, the aspectual connections between Pluto and Ceres[11] symbolize the probability that Darth Vader would eventually become separated from his children.  But, while this separation is represented as a struggle via Ceres’ connection to the grand cross, it is delineated as a benefit via its connection to the kite configuration.

Venus rules Jones’ 5th house of children and within the kite it is in sextile aspect to Ceres and trine aspect to Mars.  While both of these relationships are supportive, the tight conjunction to the other asteroid, Vesta, offers critical symbolism.  Broadly speaking, Vesta represents the archetypes of focus, concentration and sacrifice:

The act of concentrating on one thing implies the need to withdraw one’s focus from other areas of life.  This in turn brings about a certain estrangement and alienation from the world…Vesta also suggests the sacrifices one must make in order to follow a self-directed path.  These sacrifices include the giving up of family, children, relationships, friends and home.[12]

Applying this to Vader’s biography, Vesta’s involvement could be delineated as withdrawing the children (Venus) from the world in order to focus on them exclusively.  Notice that Venus is placed within the 11th house of friends, but also on the 12th house cusp of that which is hidden.  This suggests that friends were involved with hiding the children away.

Also, with Scorpio on the cusp of the 11th, there are two rulers to analyze, Mars (traditional) and Pluto (modern).  While Pluto has already been identified as the main significator of confrontation against Vader, it is the trine aspect between Mars and Venus confirming the friends’ support of the children.

But it is Venus’ antiscia/contra-antiscia axis[13] tightly aligned to the Saturn-Pluto axis that confirms the nature of the friends’ involvement.  With the prior negative assessment of the Capricorn stellium and Venus’ contra-antiscia in tight alignment with Pluto, friends/associates were aware (contra-antiscia) of the threat Vader (Capricorn stellium) posed so in order to protect (Vesta) the children (Venus) they sent them into hiding (12th).

Luke baby

No Air

All of these challenging dynamics may not have manifested in such an extreme manner if it were not for the fact that Jones’ chart has a critical imbalance of planetary bodies within the air element.  With only Ceres and Juno in the signs of Libra and Aquarius, no other major planetary body (i.e. Sun through Pluto) is placed in a sign affiliated within the air element.

Those with too little emphasis on the air element in their charts rarely perceive this to be a problem, for they are too involved in action, feelings, and material concerns to consider the implications of their involvements.  However, it is just this lack of perception, this inability to reflect on life and one’s self that creates problems for these people.  It is difficult for them to achieve detachment from their personal actions, and hence they often find themselves burdened by involvements that were not sufficiently considered beforehand or by a lack of satisfaction in close relationships stemming from their inability to cooperate effectively.[14]

Anakin Skywalker’s critical failing was his inability to perceive the manipulation by Emperor Palpatine that tricked him into betraying the Jedi.  He was unable to detach from the circumstances, his emotions and fears and objectively realize what he was transforming into.  To put it bluntly, a lack of air within an individual who also has a hard aspect between Saturn-Pluto is like mixing gasoline with fire.  The tragedy is that this imbalance enabled many of the other dynamics within the chart to manifest into something horrible, monstrous and evil.

Anakin evil

Sympathy for the Devil

In life and art, villains are rarely portrayed comprehensively or intimately.  But, with over a generation of movies and books, the cultural emotional and intellectual investment into Darth Vader has been extensive and is further compounded by the fact that the story is a work of fiction.  As a result, the standard reactions of moral outrage and vengeance have been softened or muffled and this has fostered a more compassionate analysis into the tragedy associated with this mass murderer who killed scores of children with his own hands and assisted in the genocide of entire planets.

If archetypes are repeating patterns of human experience, then the popularity of manifestation confirms resonance, resonance reflects authenticity, authenticity translates into relatability which, ultimately, breeds empathy.  Yes, the highest priority eternally defaults to free will, but this can’t exist without an equally strong appreciation for overwhelming circumstances and dynamics that could break even the strongest of wills.  Unfortunately, the general aptitude for balancing this dichotomy doesn’t appear to readily exist in our everyday environment.  Only within unique situations with an overwhelming amount of evidence are we able to appreciate the weight of “fate”.

Conversely, astrology provides direct access inside an individual in order to understand the gravity of their struggles and how it may have contributed to who/what they have become.  With this insight, even the scariest of monsters may reveal themselves to be tragic, humane….and archetypal.

Vader finale

End Notes

[1] As an alternative delineation, Neptune also represents the function of redemption while the 8th house represents areas of transformation.  It is interesting that the same aspect representing Vader’s monstrous nature also represents the way back.

[2] Sun, Moon, Ascendant ruler

[3] Also, notice that the Ascendant ruler (Saturn) is stronger than the Descendent (Moon) ruler.  The Moon is in its Detriment in Capricorn, therefore, weakened and debilitated while Saturn is in the sign of its rulership in Capricorn.  The strength of the two planets is an obvious giveaway as to who has the power and who’s in control.

[4] Who can forget the multitude of generals Vader choked to death for disappointing him?  Punishment at the hands of Saturn-Pluto can be downright medieval.

[5] Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View (New York: Plume, 2007), 210.

[6] “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, is a good maxim for these types of individuals.

[7] Liz Greene, Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil (San Francisco: Weiser Books, 1976), 142.

[8] Pluto’s tight opposition to the Sun/Moon midpoint confirms this delineation as this midpoint is widely recognized as correlating with relationship needs.

[9] Since Uranus also represents concepts like technology, its conjunction to the North Node infers how technology may ease his ability to move about.

[10] Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses (Lake Worth: Ibis Press, 2003), 53.

[11] The actual mythology between Ceres and Pluto is interesting and informative.  While this article is focused solely on the archetypal implications of astrological relationships, I would recommend reading the background mythology for the strongest grasp on the material.

[12] Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses (Lake Worth: Ibis Press, 2003), 130.

[13] Anticia/Contra-Antiscia is a somewhat ancient and rarely method most often associated with Horary astrology.  It evaluates points that are equidistant across the solstice axis (Cancer-Capricorn).  For example, a body at 25 degrees Cancer would have an antiscia point at 5 degrees Gemini.  Both of these degrees would be equal distance away from the 0 degrees Cancer solstice point.  The opposite point at 5 degrees Sagittarius would represent the Contra-Antisicia point.  These points represent a “reflection” or “shadow”.  While minor, they can add additional detail and confirmation of a delineation offered by the major bodies.

[14] Stephen Arroyo, Astrology, Psychology and the Four Elements (Sebastopol: CRCS Publications, 1975), 117.

One thought on “Born to Play the Role: James Earl Jones/Darth Vader

  1. Pingback: Born to Play the Role: Robert Downey Jr./Iron Man | Electric Storm Astrology

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