A Spy in the House of Astrology: Anais Nin

Have you ever been to a book frenzy? It goes like this:

You’re in a small town in the middle of a pandemic where the local bookstore can no longer survive against the force of gargantuan online retailers. Human connection is discouraged and sensation-oriented activities such as browsing for books, picking them up, sticking your nose inside the seam to savor the scent of paper, determining interest and possibly returning a book to the shelf is definitely a no-no. You might look up from your state of book hypnosis to see a judgmental stare.

This small-town bookstore has no choice but to close its doors so offers all books for $1. People flood into the store, leave all fears of illness and death on the cold, empty street and start a frenzied grabbing. It is a judgment-free zone of pure chaos. You grab any book that is remotely interesting – a topic, an author, a beautiful cover.

During a recent book frenzy, one of my grabs was Anais Nin’s A Spy in the House of Love. Having seen a movie about Nin and her seduction of Henry Miller and wife, I was expecting a shallow play on the senses and planning a quick glance over some pages.

Much to my surprise, I found Nin a very perceptive and fascinating author. As with other female writers, I believe if she had been a male, her writing would have been accorded much more attention with focus on her deep qualities.

A Spy in the House of Astrology

Of course (of course), an astrologer must examine the personality of the object of interest. For this astrologer, all of our ideas, beliefs, creative outlets and expressions are extensions of the personality. The loving person has a loving god; the judgmental person and judgmental god. Test my theory in your life.

Let’s look at Nin’s writing against elements of her horoscope. Today is her birthday (February 21) so it’s a fine day to conjure her spirit. For context, A Spy in the House of Love is based on a fictional Nin called Sabina who is married but carries on a series of affairs. Sabina struggles with her need for security and attachment to her husband against the need for “multiple lives” with lovers of varying characteristic while trailed by a “lie detector.”

Nin’s Horoscope

Nin had Jupiter, sun and Venus in sensitive water-sign Pisces making squares to Neptune and Pluto in Gemini and Uranus in Sagittarius. Those are mutable signs which are adaptable, flexible and often face challenges through avoidance.

Nin had a wide air trine with Mars in Libra, Mercury/Saturn in Aquarius and Neptune/Pluto in Gemini. The chart is almost entirely air and water with moon in earth-sign Capricorn standing out as a stick in the mud in a chart that would otherwise be entirely social. That Capricorn moon appears to be a driver in this novel where the protagonist is trying to live multiple lives while a part of her always returns to the security of her routine and dependable husband who seems to accept her lies at face value.

The image presented at the beginning and end of this novel is Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2:

Eight or ten outlines of the same woman, like many multiple exposures of a woman’s personality, neatly divided into many layers, walking down the stairs in unison. If she went to Alan [her husband] now it would be like detaching one of those cut-outs of a woman, and forcing it to walk separately from the rest, but once detached from the unison, it would reveal that it was a mere outline of a woman, the figure design as the eye could see it, but empty of substance, this substance having evaporated through the spaces between each layer of the personality.

Imaginative and other-worldly Pisces sun combined with structured and responsible Capricorn moon

She understood why it angered her as people spoke of life as One life. She became certain of myriad lives within herself. Her sense of time altered. She felt acutely and with grief, the shortness of life’s physical span. Death was terrifyingly near, and the journey towards it, vertiginous; but only when she considered the lives around her, accepting their time tables, clocks, measurements. Everything they did constricted time. They spoke of one birth, one childhood, one adolescence, one romance, one marriage, one maturity, one aging, one death and then transmitted the monotonous cycle to their children . . .

But no one who listened ever shared her sudden gayety: in their glances she read condemnations. Her laughter seemed a desecration, a mockery of what should be considered tragic. She could see in their eyes the wish that she should fall from the incandescent trapeze on which she walked with the aid of delicate Japanese umbrellas, for no guilty party has a right to such adroitness and to live only by its power to balance over the rigidities of life which dictated a choice, according to its taboos against multiple lives. No one would share with her this irony and playfulness against the rigidities of life itself; no one would applaud when she succeeded by her ingenuity in defeating life’s limitations.

The vulnerability of sensitive Pisces sun combined with moon in Capricorn fear and avoidance of rejection

She was accumulating a supply of treacheries, so that when the shock came, she would be prepared: “I was not taken unaware, the trap was not sprung on my naivete, on my foolish trustingness. I had already betrayed. To be always ahead, a little ahead of the expected betrayals by life. To be there first and therefore prepared. . .

Before he could speak and harm her with words while she lay naked and exposed, while he prepared a judgment, she was preparing her metamorphosis, so that whatever Sabina he struck down she could abandon like a disguise, shedding the self he had seized upon and say: “That was not me.”

No place, no human being could bear to be gazed at with the critical eye of the absolute, as if they were obstacles to the reaching of a place or person of greater value created by the imagination.

Pisces’ mutable water sign qualities of imagination, escapism, longing for other worlds

Her habits like the habits of a spy. How she lay all her clothes on one chair, as if she might be called away suddenly and must not leave any traces of her presence.

The smoke issuing from Aladdin’s lamp was my first smokescreen, and the lies learned from fairytales were my first perjuries. Let us say I had perverted tendencies. I believed everything I read.

She had lost herself somewhere along the frontier between her inventions, her stories, her fantasies and her true self.

Astrological True Self

Much of astrology’s appeal is the validation of one’s true personality. The social structure of any society is Capricorn by definition which is ruled by the planet Saturn. So the Saturn in one’s horoscope or the horoscope of a nation explains how it creates the order and boundaries of its organization.

A sales manager once told me that when you try to control your sales people, you just make them liars. Likewise, our mutable signs need room to have “other lives” whether in social relationships (air-sign Gemini), with animals (earth-sign Virgo), the spiritual quest (fire-sign Sagittarius) or other worlds and emotional states (water-sign Pisces).

Nin is right – “multiple lives” are taboo, which, by extension makes the ideas of reincarnation taboo, something I never considered.

But like Nin there are many people out there with horoscopes full of elements and modes and aspects that need more stimulation than afforded by “one life.”

About ohioastrology

I'm just another soul trying to make sense of the world. As I've grown, so has my understanding of astrology. I'd like to communicate that astrology is not occult and not fortune-telling but that it is a fluid, creative description of the life we choose to live.
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