Don’t be surprised that I’ve just watched the 2016 Academy Award Best Picture Moonlight. Normally I’m ten to 20 years behind the media curve as I still haven’t figured out where to find the time to watch the plethora of media available today. I clearly sleep too much.
Watching Moonlight, I’m surprised, pleasantly this time, how a culture with little interest in astrology or mythology uses its symbolism so readily and appropriately.
Astronomers, for example, are modern scientists disdainful of “superstition” yet continue the history of mythological assignment of heavenly bodies. Apophis, a comet that will fly near the earth in 2029, is named after an Egyptian snake goddess. Rarely does one hear daily talk of Egypt unless there’s Tutankhamen news about.
Today I’d expect comets to be named after Star Wars or Disney villains or some other popular culture characters of negative repute. With our absorption in media, why the blast to the ancient past when naming space objects?
Artists of all sorts are more likely than scientists to play with images, past and present. Reading interviews of the author whose work inspired Moonlight, I didn’t find his reasons for choosing the main character’s name. Mythology is appropriate here but astrology even more so.
For the first third of Moonlight, before the main character’s name was revealed in writing on screen, the pronunciation led me to believe a different spelling. Shocked, I read the main character’s name – Chiron. I’ve heard it pronounced differently in the astrological community than I heard in the movie.
According to Britannica.com, the mythical Chiron was:
… one of the Centaurs, the son of the Titan Cronus and Philyra, an Oceanid or sea nymph. Chiron lived at the foot of Mount Pelion in Thessaly. Unlike other Centaurs, who were violent and savage, he was famous for his wisdom and knowledge of medicine. Many Greek heroes, including Heracles, Achilles, Jason, and Asclepius, were instructed by him. Chiron frequently appears in the legends of his grandson, Peleus, and his great-grandson, Achilles. Accidentally pierced by a poisoned arrow shot by Heracles, he renounced his immortality in favour of Prometheus and was placed among the stars as the constellation Centaurus.
Moonlight‘s character Chiron is definitely placed amongst the violent and savage (as boys of many times and places are, especially when economically disadvantaged). Is our movie Chiron wise with knowledge of medicine?
You might say he’s sadder but wiser by the film’s end. But he’s also adapted in ways we hoped he wouldn’t.
The astrological Chiron is named for a large asteroid orbiting between Saturn and Uranus. In astrological symbolism, Chiron is the wounded healer. Chiron represents our deepest wounds and the ability to heal ourselves and by extension heal others.
From Café Astrology:
Chiron is a comet with a unique and erratic orbit. In the natal chart, Chiron is symbolized by the “wounded healer”. It represents our deepest wound, and our efforts to heal the wound. Chiron was named after the centaur in Greek mythology who was a healer and teacher who, ironically, could not heal himself.
Chiron in our natal charts points to where we have healing powers as the result of our own deep spiritual wounds. We may over-compensate in these areas of life. Chiron, as a wounded healer, first must face issues of low self-worth and feelings of inadequacy and learn to rise above these issues. Because the wound goes deep, and we may work hard to overcome the wound, healing powers are potent.
Wounds occur with life. Paper cuts, deep cuts, broken bones, hurt feelings, major trauma, crappy upbringing – these are the wounds of daily life that we all experience in some way.
Wounded is the major trait of Moonlight’s Chiron, who is sad and bullied from the very beginning of the film. He’s also emotionally-adopted by a loving couple who in the midst of the same environment as movie Chiron are better adapted and able, in the words of the wife, to have love and pride. Their circumstances have not destroyed their spirits. Yet Chiron has the greater challenge of being alone in his sadness.
[Spoiler alert] While the movie depicts the very difficult circumstances of growing up disenfranchised and bullied because of sexuality, I think it’s much, much more.
What movie Chiron possesses that is lacking around him is sensitivity. Chiron cries. As we see him in the three period of his life – child, teenager and adult – we see tears. We see tears of sadness and sensitivity, of sweetness. They are deep, sorrowful tears, tears for all the pain on earth. There is no dramatic music to accompany the tears – they are raw – no airbrushing, no forced feeling. In fact, they fall from the face of a boy-teenager-man who can barely express himself in words.
Rarely do we see men in American film cry in this way. In A Streetcar Named Desire, for example, Marlon Brando cries for Stella, a cry of desperation and passion. But it is not the same cry of sensitivity and vulnerability that we experience with movie Chiron. Movie Chiron is tender.
Chiron in Pisces – Bullying
When the astrological Chiron is in Pisces, it stays there for longer than other signs. I suspect many of the parents that rose up against bullying were born in the mid 1960s when Chiron was in Pisces.
Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac, an emotional water sign associated with empathy and sensitivity. So sensitive is Pisces, in response it can revert to escapism through imagination, drugs or indulgence in addictions, including film and media. Pisces can be the savior or the victim – sometimes both. Pisces is seen as the sign of self-undoing as it known for sacrifice and might not turn and run when placed in the position of scapegoat.
Chiron in Pisces is very sensitive to the wounds of life, the wounds of bullying, the wounds of victimization. In the movie we also see these manifestations as the community succumbs to drug culture both in use and commerce.
When Moonlight was released, Chiron was also in Pisces, and still is (the transit spans 2011 – early 2018). Moonlight focuses deeply on the spiritual wounds of childhood that do not pass with time.
In recent years, bullying has faced stiffer challenges from the public. Interesting that President Trump exhibits many traits of the traditional bully in a time when we are trying to protect against bullying.
Our nation appears to be undergoing some mass psychological shift with regard to bullying and victimization (a polarity). If the “meek shall inherit the earth,” as I sometimes hear, it appears to be a long way off. Or possibly the rise of the Great Bully will continue to polarize then energize the victims, as it seems to be doing already, until we achieve a balance of strength and compassion.
Strength is good and made distorted by bullying. In fact, our movie Chiron finally gives the bully what he deserves. Unfortunately for our ever-victimized Chiron, he must pay a hefty price for avenging a lifetime of injury.
Tarell Alvin McCraney
Tarell Alvin McCraney, the author of the short story In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue that inspired the movie Moonlight, was not born with Chiron in Pisces. Chiron was in Taurus when he was born, a fixed earth sign that deals with body, property and assets. As with Saturn in Taurus, there is a feeling of not having had basic needs met, or of not having enough. The feeling seems to exist and persist regardless of material upbringing.
If Moonlight is autobiographical, clearly there was material lack in McCraney’s life. But more than material lack, McCraney’s moon in Capricorn shows the emotional lack and subsequent reticence that is often in relation to a distant maternal figure. We see that too in the movie.
Moon in Capricorn is a difficult position emotionally as we see our character struggle to relate, even to those that embrace him. McCraney’s moon is in square to a Libra sun, an air sign much more interested in relating. Libra, in fact, seeks partnership above all else and often marries early in life.
Sun in Libra and moon in Capricorn makes for the perfect diplomat or judge, wise and fair, gentle but firm. There can be a nice trade off of Capricorn’s adherence to rules with Libra sense of pleasure.
Pluto conjunct the sun in McCraney’s chart is very powerful and often controlling, mostly of the partner. There is a fear of the partner leaving so extreme control is the response.
It’s interesting that McCraney’s Chiron so easily sheds tears. While there’s a little bit of water in McCraney’s chart (Mercury and Uranus in Scorpio), it’s not the most emotional of horoscopes. Possibly the character Chiron openly and easily cries the tears of his author. Or possibly moon in Capricorn cries more than we know. . .
Moonlight is about tears, male tears and male tenderness, rare subjects.
Thoughts on Chiron