I am a man who, from his youth upwards, has been filled with a profound conviction that the easiest way of life is the best. Hence, though I belong to a profession proverbially energetic and nervous, even to turbulence, at times, yet nothing of that sort have I ever suffered to invade my peace. I am one of those unambitious lawyers who never addresses a jury, or in any way draws down public applause; but in the cool tranquility of a snug retreat, do a snug business among rich men’s bonds and mortgages and title-deeds. All who know me, consider me an eminently safe man.
from Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street by Herman Melville
If I were to guess the sun sign of this nameless narrator of Herman Melville’s short story I would start with the earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn) as they are generally focus on the practical and are routine and generally risk averse. Virgo doesn’t fit well, though, because of its anxious and worrying nature. Capricorn is definitely ambitious, not a trait our narrator professes.
That leaves Taurus, the fixed earth sign – steady, calm, safe and snug. Unlike most other signs, Taurus can experience general contentment and pleasure from life. Most of the rest of us are in a cycle of wanting the next thing, the better thing, a different thing.
If our man is Taurus, then something is shaking up his world.
The nature of my avocations for the last thirty years has brought me into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been written:—I mean the law-copyists or scriveners . . .
But I waive the biographies of all other scriveners for a few passages in the life of Bartleby, who was a scrivener of the strangest I ever saw or heard of.
What is odd about Bartleby?
At first he works quietly and carefully. Then one day upon being asked to run an errand states that he “would prefer not to.”
Each day Bartleby prefers to do less and less until he is completely inert and does not even leave the office. He says nothing save “I would prefer not to.” Our unambitious and non-confrontational lawyer cannot get Bartleby to work or move and to finally extricate himself from Bartleby moves the entire office.
Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!
These are the last words of the story of Bartleby after he was imprisoned and simply quietly wasted away as though the life-force had been sucked out of him.
Why the “Ah humanity!”
There’s no overt social statement in Bartleby. The melancholy overtone doesn’t provide a contrasting, more energizing, lifestyle. The story takes place in a Wall Street office and a prison – that’s all.
Melville’s horoscope doesn’t suggest a melancholy personality–there is much fire and air in his horoscope which are optimistic and social: sun in Leo (fire), Mars in Gemini (air), moon/Uranus/Neptune in Sagittarius (fire), Saturn in Aries (fire) and Jupiter in Aquarius (air).
There is some earth and water with Venus in Cancer (water), Mercury in Virgo (earth) and Pluto in Pisces (water) which are more introspective and emotional. But Melville is not by nature introverted or reflective. Maybe that’s why Bartleby suggests something bigger but never overtly demonstrates it.
In his youth, Melville worked aboard ships and traveled the South Seas. Sagittarius is evident here in the interest and pursuit of foreign. Sagittarius seeks the exotic the way Taurus seeks the familiar.
While Melville struggled for existence as many did in the 19th century, I wonder if he had that Sagittarius problem – traveling and wandering are so much fun that returning to the humdrum of daily life is a letdown. With the moon/Uranus/Neptune in Sagittarius there is a deep need for heightened experience; I expected to also read that Melville resorted to alcohol or substance abuse but did not find that.
The narrator in Bartleby is quite content and if his world is rocked, he simply moves to a different, stable world. But Bartleby is not content and we’re not clear why. And he represents humanity to Melville.
Was Bartleby representative of humanity and the dull, dreary existence we must face? Not everyone in 19th century America worked for 30 years at a desk copying law documents. Where are the others?
Ginger Nut is the office boy who gets spicy ginger nuts for the scriveners. Is this how we relieve the boredom of daily routine? Or is it through alcohol as we see with the older scrivener, Turkey. Or do we just get irritated by it all like the younger scrivener Nippers?
Maybe to Melville we are like Bartleby – passively resisting until we don’t exist.
Jupiter in Aquarius
Melville had Jupiter in Aquarius a transit about to enter your reality around with winter equinox. Aquarius, a fixed air sign, is traditionally the sign of humanity.
What does fixed air mean?
It means that like air Aquarius is thinking, curious and social. But unlike Gemini and Libra, the ideas are more firm and less likely to follow the conversation. Aquarius is idealistic and has exacting standards of perfection. Like the other fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, and Scorpio), Aquarius is strong and holds its ideas so firmly that it is not willing to acquiesce to lesser ideas.
In this way, Aquarius is the rebel.
Jupiter is the planet of expansion so in Aquarius cultivates the eccentric, unusual, utopian and futuristic ideas. Aquarius gone bad courts the unusual to provoke reaction; Aquarius at its highest is a leader in moving people forward and sees how innovation and ideas can improve people today. Astrologers have always called Aquarius futuristic, but that’s only because of the time lag between when people hear about new ideas and technologies and when they actually accept them.
Aquarius is ready to accept the future now.
Jupiter in Aquarius 2020
The 2020-2021 Jupiter in Aquarius transit will have a bedfellow – Saturn. Jupiter is expansion and Saturn is contraction. Together there is push and pull with all things Aquarius.
Humanity is going through a great challenge this year of 2020 with intense Capricorn transits which have brought increased government control and a national response to pandemic that has equalized and normalized all governments. Governments are one.
Will humanity be one?
Humanity – Aquarius – must decide the future together. Aquarius is not personal; it is not about the individual wants and needs that guides our daily lives. These are important too and must be addressed but the transits are asking us to rise above ourselves to think of the whole. This isn’t about politics and “isms” that take away your rights. This is about the fundamental fact that we share space and time so must solve certain problems together.
If we don’t think as humanity then we will remain as we are in Capricorn – individuals within a system in which we have no power getting angry and posting on social media. This anger is then misdirected toward groups of others.
Aquarius is humanity. You are humanity. 2021 is your year.