Stephen King: King of the Supernatural
by Sister Ray
As originally published in the September, 2013 issue of Dell Horoscope, The World's Leading Astrology Magazine
This article is the property of Dell Magazines and is not to be copied or reproduced without permission.
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“Monsters on the way. They’re in the suburbs.”
The Stand, 232
“I am dancing on the grave of the world.”
Ibid., p. 341
“I am not the potter, not the potter’s wheel, but the potter’s clay; is not the value of the shape attained as dependent on the intrinsic worth of the clay
as upon the wheel and the Master’s skill?”
Ibid., p. 1069
A Solitary Man
Saturn Conjunct Pluto in Leo: The Writer as Actor
Sun T-Square/Out-of-Sign Stellium: Maximum Imagination
The Mysterious Moon and Mighty Jupiter
Aspect Balancing Act
Soul Choices: Past Life Priest?
The Accident: Scary Transits
The Stand, a Great American Novel
The Stand: King’s 1978 Birthday Transit Chart
Stephen King is the High Priest of Horror, the Master of Monsters and the King of the Supernatural. From the universe of his imagination he has brought forth madmen, demons, vampires, rabid dogs, self-willed machines and even the devil himself. He is an All-American, a model of American Exceptionalism, who loves beer, baseball and rock and roll and even has his own radio station, WKIT, 100.3, "Streaming Live to the Undead." Despite his worldwide fame and prodigious wealth, he is a humble and self-deprecating man who calls himself a “salami writer” – p. 266, Feast of Fear.
King is the only living writer whose work has itself become a franchise, selling over 350 million books worldwide since the 1974 publication of his international bestseller, Carrie. About his first published novel (a tribute to Hitchcock’s Psycho (p. 72, Feast of Fear)) he says: “I didn’t expect much of Carrie. I thought who’d want to read a book about a poor little girl with menstrual problems? I couldn’t believe I was writing it.”
He had discarded the manuscript, but his wife rescued it and convinced King to complete the project. Carrie was more successful than King could have imagined and permanently ended his salad days. For a man who is so successful and adulated like a rock star, he leads a relatively normal life with the woman he married in 1971, Tabitha Spruce. At 6’4”, he is a big man, and larger-than-life like so many of his characters, for example, Stu Redmond, Randall Flagg and Roland the Gunslinger. What does his horoscope reveal about him?
A Solitary Man
At first glance, King’s horoscope reveals an emphasis on the self with six planets and the Sun in the Eastern hemisphere. Stephen King has consistently stated over the years that he writes for himself, for his own entertainment. Writing is a solitary profession and to succeed, you have to spend many hours alone at the keyboard.
A great deal of self-discipline is also needed to succeed as a writer. Before his accident in 1999, King used to write two to three thousand words every day of the year except for his birthday and Christmas, but after could only produce about a thousand. With Saturn conjunct Pluto in the first house of personality--with Saturn close to the second house of values--self-discipline is second nature to Stephen King. This conjunction is the dispositive celestial force of his chart that gives him not only the discipline to produce thousands of words every day, but also the penetrating insight into character that makes his work come to life. One of the reasons his work has been so popular is because his characters are like real people who love their dogs, drink Budweiser and are afraid of the dark.
Saturn Conjunct Pluto: The Writer as Actor
Saturn conjunct Pluto also gives King the ability to look into the darkest corners of the universe without flinching, translating what he sees into words. This conjunction is in Leo, sign of the actor and entertainer. Although he is not an actor by profession, Stephen King has performed in many TV and film roles over the years, such as in Creepshow, an appearance in The Stand, and as “The Cleaner” in the TV series, Sons of Anarchy. He may be one of the most entertaining writers alive today, but he is also an actor!
Sun T-Square/Out-of-Sign Stellium: Maximum Imagination
The Saturn-Pluto conjunction is disposited by the Sun in Virgo in the third house of the mind and communications. The Sun is in a weak, out-of-sign conjunction with Venus in Libra, which gives him humor, insight into relationships and sensitivity, resulting in the creation of realistic characters. The Sun is part of an out-of-sign stellium consisting of the Sun, Venus, Neptune and Mercury. It is also in a wide T-square formation with the Moon in Sagittarius and Uranus in Gemini.
The stellium starts in the third house of the mind and communications Gemini’s natural home and the sign of the writer. Both Gemini and Virgo are Mercury-ruled, so King’s writing skills and ease in communication come to him naturally.
The Sun is conjunct Venus in Libra, sign of balance and relationships. His love of writing and brilliant sense of humor are symbolized by this conjunction, which also underscores his many productive relationships--as well as his ability to effectively create imaginary ones.
The next two planets in the Stellium--Neptune and Mercury, flank the Libran Nadir in Libra. Thus, the planets of imagination and communication work in harmony with the Sun and Venus to enhance and augment King’s gift with words. Neptune also rules film, and many of King’s novels have been made into movies. He often writes his own screenplays and once directed a movie based on one of his stories, Maximum Overdrive.
Neptune also rules music and Mr. King's love of popular music is well known. A recording of Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, a musical with music and lyrics by John Mellencamp; libretto by Stephen King; and musical direction by T. Bone Burnett, is set for release in June 2013. The recording has exciting guest stars, including Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Neko Case, Taj Mahal and Kris Kristofferson. Thirteen years in the making, it is a gothic tale about two brothers, the woman who came between them and their tragic fate. CBS's television adaption of Under the Dome is another recent venture. Music and film (and film's offspring, television) have always been a big part of Stephen King's career, Neptune and Mercury's influence at work with Uranus in Gemini in the background.
This Libran-Neptune conjunction on the Nadir in Libra connects King’s imagination with his deepest inner self, contributing to his remarkable ability to create with words imaginary relationships and people who are so vivid that they seem real. Neptune is also disposited by Venus, which is in its own sign conjunct the Sun and participating in that wide Moon-Uranus T-Square. Used in the highest way, the three Libra planets take the edge off the tension of the T-Square, balancing the potential negative energy and harnessing it into visionary creativity. The squares from the Sun in Virgo to the Moon in Sagittarius and Uranus in Gemini give him a healthy idealism and articulate inspiration with a delight in surprises. They are also, however, a source of constant tension, putting pressure on King’s third-house Virgo Sun, pressing on his drive to be a writer.
The Mysterious Moon and Mighty Jupiter
It is interesting how the two largest planets in the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, pair up with two smaller, but deeply significant heavenly bodies, the Moon and Pluto: Saturn is conjunct Pluto and mighty Jupiter is in the same house as the mysterious Moon. This adds the qualities of profundity (Pluto) and insight (the Moon) to the two anchor planets of our solar system -- Saturn and Jupiter -- located in King’s first house of self and fifth house of creativity. Saturn and Pluto in the house of self give King the profound self-awareness that is the pool from which he draws his rich population of imaginary characters; Jupiter and the Moon in the fifth house of creativity give him the abundant insight into human nature that affords him the ability to bring his characters to life.
The Moon in the fifth house of love, children and creativity allows King to breathe life into all kinds of characters, but he is especially good at depicting children, like Danny in The Shining, Charley in Fire Starter and, of course, poor, tragic Carrie White. Sharing the fifth house with the Moon and the South Node, these two planets work together to blend practical mysticism (Jupiter in Scorpio) with expansive idealism (Moon in Sagittarius) and bless Mr. King with solid, yet lofty foundations for the expression of his abundant creativity.
Aspect Balancing Act
Jupiter and Saturn: Perhaps the key to King’s creativity is the balance between Saturn conjunct Pluto in the first house in Leo and the Jupiter and the Moon in the fifth house. These four celestial bodies really work together in harmony, unlike the Sun which is caught up in and burdened by its T-square with the Moon and Uranus. Saturn and Jupiter have an even balance between easy and hard aspects and they cross-reference their companions (Pluto and the Moon). Saturn is sextile Mercury, the planet of words, and trine the Moon with its mystery and emotional depth. We already understand Saturn is conjunct Pluto, and with its Jupiter square, we see the two largest planets in the solar system bound together in a massive creative building block.
Jupiter is sextile the Sun, relieving the pressure of the T-square through creativity and trine Mars rising from the twelfth house, which gives King his tremendous physical energy. After its Saturn square, Jupiter is quincunx Uranus, which gives King his love of surprises and his bountiful use of them as a plot device. That the surprises are usually upsetting fits in with the disruptive nature of Uranus and the nature of the quincunx, which often acts as a malefic.
Pluto: When we look at the aspect balance between the two smaller members of the solar system, the Moon and Pluto, while the ultimate balance is in favor of the easier aspects -- which helps offset the tension of the Sun's T-square -- . Pluto is conjunct Saturn and square Chiron. Ouch! This is painful. There is no doubt that King has suffered a great deal of physical pain in his lifetime, not to mention the psychological pain of being abandoned by his dad and turned down by the major publishing houses in his early career; but there are three beneficial aspects to balance this out. Pluto is sextile Mercury and Neptune, which contributes to depth of King’s insight into character and human nature. It is also trine the Moon, which gives him access to that sea of emotional ambiguity that is necessary to create believable characters that people will care about enough to read his books.
Pluto's disposition also contributes to King's understanding and courtship of the theme of death in his work. Although I have not read all of his novels, there has been at least one death in every one that I have read! Death and dying are a central theme to Stephen King's upcoming release of the sequel to The Shining. Doctor Sleep brings back the character of Daniel Torrance, who is grown up, but still has "the shining." Dan Torrance works in a nursing home and, with the aid of a clairvoyant cat, gives comfort to the dying, becoming "Doctor Sleep." The eponymously named novel is set for release on September 24, 2013 by Scribner and Hodder & Stoughton publishers.
The Moon: The Moon has five easy aspects, plus a trine to the Midheaven, the most in the group, once again providing a balance to the T-square of which it is a leg. Luna is widely square the Sun and opposite Uranus, which explains why King goes out of control at times. The pressure of this T-square is sometimes unbearable, enough to drive a normal person crazy, but King is certainly not a normal person. He is an exceptional one, a literary genius who has endured more than his share of suffering, which is why he understands it so well and why he can make us suffer with his characters. Did anyone who read The Dead Zone fail to weep for tragic Johnny Smith at the end of the book? Or poor Carrie when she is beaten and berated by her psychotic mother, then cruelly attacked at the prom? How about stoic Fran Goldsmith when she is burying her father in The Stand? King knows how to make you cry. He is brilliant and truly gifted at touching human emotion.
The Moon is sextile Mercury and Neptune and quintile Venus, which is conjunct the Sun. The planet of art and beauty in the third house is cooperating with the fifth house Moon to bestow a rare wonder of creative genius in Stephen King’s mind. She is trine that Saturn-Pluto conjunction in the sign of the actor, Leo, giving King the emotional depth to act out the course of destiny for his fictional characters and the discipline to then translate his inner experience into words. His horoscope is complicated, challenging and yet balanced.
Soul Choices: Past Life Priest?
In general, King’s chart, even with its intense planetary positions, is the relatively well-balanced chart of a highly advanced soul. An examination of Stephen’s soul choice houses offers great insight into his deeper motivations and reasons for being here. Soul Choices are the choices you make between lifetimes that form your incarnation. In my theory, the fifth, ninth and twelfth houses are the soul choice houses and their sign and disposition are very revealing about the soul’s deepest purpose in choosing incarnation, finding the means to express its given purpose and finally entering the world of form. In Stephen King’s case, the fifth soul choice house of choosing the path is full of details and meaning, starting with the fact that it is ruled by the most challenging, mysterious and often misunderstood of all the signs, Scorpio. Scorpio is a difficult sign to analyze and an even more difficult sign to cope with when you have one or more planets there, especially the Sun, Moon, Saturn or Jupiter. Scorpios are totally fearless, have superhuman stamina. They can plumb the depths of the human psyche and soar to the greatest spiritual heights at the same time. Weak people are frightened by the sign Scorpio; the strong are in awe unless they have aroused the wrath of the Scorpion, in which case, they may be utterly crushed.
Scorpio is at its best housing the larger planets, especially Jupiter and Saturn, where it can fully express its deepest profundity and bring about serious life lessons. People who have Jupiter or Saturn in Scorpio may dominate all others around them. With Jupiter in Scorpio, King has come here for a deep and penetrating reason. He has chosen to move people in their deepest souls, to challenge their tidy, orderly lives and bring thunderbolts of thought to the minds of his readers. His stories are deceptively direct and honest while undercurrents of the cosmic struggle between good and evil battle for dominion. King’s primary soul choice is to spread abundant love through creativity (Jupiter in the fifth) and to bring enlightenment as well with the Moon in Sagittarius lighting the dark corners of the soul where the primeval forces of nature lurk to challenge man’s higher self and higher aspirations.
With Jupiter, the planet of religion, conjunct the Moon’s South Node, King could be drawing on his karmic past, perhaps some direct experience with evil in a religious context in his soul’s history, such as the Spanish Inquisition. Perhaps he was once a High Priest and is mining memories of past lives to enrich the worlds and characters he creates in his novels. It is entirely possible that King’s soul is deeply troubled by a past life or a series of past lives involving the darker side of human nature, perhaps as expressed in that religious setting. He is working all this out now in his highly entertaining morality plays. There is always a moral lesson to be learned in a SK story and even if good does not always triumph over evil, it always does when it matters most, like when the future of humanity is at stake in The Stand.
This connection with the higher mystical world continues with Neptune ruling King’s ninth soul choice house of finding the path. He weaves mystery and illusion into his stories effortlessly even though they are well-grounded in reality. Neptune conjunct Mercury gives him his primary attribute of being able to put thoughts into words, and make imaginary worlds come to life in stories, as in the brilliant alternative world of The Gunslinger.
The twelfth house of walking the path is ruled by Gemini, sign of the writer. Gemini is ruled by Mercury, which is conjunct the ruler of the ninth soul-choice house, Neptune. Clearly, King’s is a self-directed soul with much to say and much to teach. King’s soul choices are brilliantly coordinated with Mars in a water sign in the twelfth house of walking the path. Mars in its fall in Cancer, but in Neptune’s house it works to coordinate King’s soul choices into perfect harmony, tempering the war-like qualities of Mars through water (Mars in Cancer) and diminished dignity (Mars in its Fall), while preserving its dynamic disposition because Cancer is a cardinal sign. King’s Mars in Cancer is also an archetype of many of his characters: wanderers (Mars) who have forsaken or lost their homes (Moon), like Roland the Gunslinger, Johnny Smith and all of the characters in The Stand.
This chart, well-balanced, but intense, is an inspiration to study. From a cosmic standpoint, it is possible that King is exploring the issues in the vacant houses (six through ten) in his work. He personally does not have a traditional job (sixth house); has had only one serious, long-term partnership, his marriage (seventh house); no particular interest in other people’s money or an overwhelming obsession with death -- it is the supernatural that drives his work, as opposed to death itself (eighth house). He is not a world-traveler (ninth house) and does not take his stellar success seriously (tenth house). He is still a down-to-earth, humble man who is renowned for his genial disposition and sense of humor (the Jupiter factor at work). He sure seems lucky, doesn’t he?
From a superficial perspective, SK would seem like a very lucky guy. He has fame, wealth, fortune, and a beautiful family; but, he has also borne more than his share of sorrow and misfortune. The first tragedy in his life was the loss of his father when he was only two years old. His Dad went out to buy a pack of cigarettes and never came back. His mother struggled to support him and his adopted brother, David.
Stephen went to work at a young age and at one point made a living writing and delivering sermons. He started collecting rejections slips when he was 12 (Feast of Fear, p. 7). He lived on the edge of abject poverty after working his way through college and was disappointed and discouraged when his first four novels were rejected. Before Carrie gave him financial security, he once worked in an industrial laundromat to try to make ends meet. He has suffered rejection, poverty, and frequent disappointment, such as the failure of the only movie he directed, Maximum Overdrive, and the crass critical reception of his best work, The Stand. (Mr. King jokes that the critics panned his best work because of its size!) These disappointments are diminished when compared to the most horrible thing that happened to Stephen King in his adult life: the accident.
The Accident – Scary Transits
On June 19, 1999, Stephen went out for a walk. Living in a rural area, there was usually little, if any, traffic on the road and no reason to worry, but while taking a leisurely stroll on the shoulder of a road near Lake Kezar, Maine, he was hit by a van and badly injured. Among other injuries, Stephen sustained a collapsed lung, multiple fractures of his right leg, scalp lacerations and a broken hip. He had three operations in five days and lost 100 pounds while recovering from the accident.
On the day of Stephen King’s accident -- Saturday, June 19, 1999, there was an overload of stressful aspects. Having two or more at the same time would be bad enough, but all of them together are indeed scary. He was lucky he didn’t die. The traditional malefics, Mars and Saturn, are involved with a heavy dose of mischief from the modern malefic, Uranus. Transits of Uranus to Mars, Saturn or Pluto can be very dangerous and require the utmost caution. Even when you are paying careful attention, subversive Uranus can still catch you off guard. On June 19, 1999, King had three Uranus transits zapping him, the worst of which was an opposition from transiting Uranus in Aquarius to the midpoint of his Natal Saturn-Pluto conjunction. This was sure to wreak havoc. Transiting Uranus also had the Transiting Dragon’s Tail right behind it and was trine King's Natal Mercury which, when combined with the trigger -- transiting Mercury moving to a conjunction with Natal Mars in the twelfth house -- opened the door to danger in the form of an accident involving a short journey or in one's neighborhood. Transiting Mars was moving to an opposition with transiting Jupiter while transiting Chiron was retrograding back to a conjunction with natal Jupiter and the natal South Node: a violent occurrence that would result in pain (Chiron), misfortune (beleaguered Jupiter) and injury (Mars).
Transiting Pluto was on its way to a conjunction with the Natal Moon indicating emotional upheaval for at least as long as it took to make its conjunction, while transiting Saturn was halfway towards its natal Jupiter opposition, signaling oppressive misfortune to come. Transiting Venus in Leo opposite transiting Uranus and conjunct the transiting North Node while opposing the transiting South Node, sits on his natal Saturn-Pluto conjunction, with transiting Saturn, ruling bones and the skeletal structure, making a tight square to this first-house placement -- complex, menacing and karmic configuration. With a first/seventh-house connection, could there have been a karmic tie between Stephen and the driver of the van? King’s first house of self and seventh house of partnerships are involved here, but without the van driver’s birth information, we can only wonder.
Finally, with the transiting Sun conjunct Natal Uranus and square King's Sun, this day would disrupt Stephen’s life profoundly. It would never be the same. The pain and suffering he endured, as well as the long-term damage to his right leg and hip, gravely affected his writing schedule, as sitting proved to be impossible for long periods. The driver of the van was not arrested as he was not speeding or breaking any laws and said he lost control of the vehicle while trying to restrain his dog. Mysteriously, the driver died just over a year later of unknown causes, which sounds just like a plot twist in one of King’s novels. The accident left Mr. King permanently scarred physically and no doubt emotionally. He has bravely carried on, and still publishes frequently, but even if he never wrote another word, he has given us one of the great American novels.
A Great American Novel
The Stand is King’s magnus opus, a great American Gothic novel that, I think, should be held in the same esteem as The Grapes of Wrath, Moby Dick, Gone With the Wind and An American Tragedy. Defying classification, The Stand is a work of horror and science fiction, adventure and romance, a morality play of biblical proportions and a political novel. For those who have not read it, The Stand is the story of the end of the world as we know it brought on by the inadvertent release of a killer flu virus called, “Captain Trips,” which was the nickname of the late Jerry Garcia, the famous guitar player and former leader of the Grateful Dead. There are only a few survivors of the great plague -- about 1% of the world’s population -- who then battle each other for dominion over what remains of human society. The Stand has everything: it is a great love story, a story of survival against overwhelming odds, the end of the world as we know it and the ultimate battle between good and evil. It is still in print and recommended reading if you want to be scared, entertained and uplifted.
The Stand: King’s 1978 Birthday Transit Chart
Stephen King calls The Stand, “. . . my own little Viet Nam” (p. 55, Art of Darkness) because it took two years to write and seemed like it would never end. It is really three stories woven together: (1) the story of the end of the world; (2) the story of the resurrection of the world; and (3) the final stand between good and evil. When it was published in September of 1978, Stephen must have had a big party, especially because his birthday is in September. What do his 1978 birthday transits tell us about him at this time in his life?
The transits for the moment the Sun returned to the position it held at birth (on September 20, the day before his actual birthday) include the transiting Moon in Taurus trine the natal Sun in Virgo, the sign of the critic. Transiting Saturn is in Mercury-ruled Virgo sextile transiting Venus in Scorpio and trine transiting Chiron, bringing him monetary rewards reaped after two years of hard labor through royalties for his book, a signing bonus and future licensing and royalties for the successful television miniseries made of the book, which is still broadcast today -0- and some sense of stable recovery from his emotional wounds. Transiting Mercury, the transiting North Node and the transiting Sun are also in Virgo, with the transiting North Node one degree from King’s Natal Sun. This fits in with Saturn's theme of karmic fulfillment and release. On a mundane level, King was released from a two-year literary labor, but on a cosmic and spiritual level, it is possible that he released a great karmic bond, perhaps something to do with his past life as a priest.
King was surely pleased to see his work in print, but he also must have felt a tremendous sense of relief upon completion of his magnus opus. King's liberation from this behemoth is symbolized by Pluto on the Nadir of his chart, closely conjunct that important Neptune. He was finally purged of a great burden and delivered from an oppressive obligation, which must have affected all of his relationships (Libra), especially those with his family (fourth house). King's birth family was shattered by the early-life loss of his father; his characters in The Stand must have felt like family to him (and to his readers, too!) after having lived with them for years. It is almost like he was creating an imaginary family: Stu Redmond and Larry Underwood could be his brothers; Fran Goldsmith, his sister; Glenn Bateman and the Judge, his father; and Mother Abigail, his grandmother.
The Transiting South Node on that date was in clairvoyant Pisces, perhaps a foreshadowing in his book of the AIDS epidemic that was secretly raging at the time of publication of The Stand. Transiting Neptune is one degree away from King’s Natal Moon in Sagittarius, symbolizing the creative potential that led to the successful TV film miniseries adaption from the book. The birthday Jupiter, ruler of Sagittarius, is rising in King's natal chart, symbolizing how overjoyed King must have been to see his masterpiece in print, not to mention the big party he deserved to celebrate his triumph. Jupiter rising is a very lucky transit, and it was certainly well-deserved after two years of hard labor.
What an achievement it must have been to have written the book, then see it appear in print. The Stand embodies the concept of American Exceptionalism, the theory that America occupies a special place in human history because of our unique combination of personal liberty and representational government that protects certain God-given rights. Indeed, Mr. King, a self-made man who put himself through college and found success through individual excellence and perseverance, is the embodiment of American Exceptionalism. In his masterpiece, The Stand, the Hand of God ultimately intervenes at the end, choosing the American West, ironically Las Vegas, to play out the final act of the battle between Good and Evil.
It has been 36 years since the publication of The Stand and its apocalyptic vision of the end of the world as we know it. The world is still turning and the Ferris Wheel of Karma continues to go 'round and 'round. These current years are made notable for their many predictions of the end of the world. These are nothing new, and seem to reoccur every five to ten years, which leads to the question: Why live for the end of the world? Why not live for today? Every day is an adventure, every moment a miracle! So, stargazers, get out there and live right now today! Carpe diem!
“Life was such a wheel that no man could stand upon it for long.
And it always, at the end, came round to the same place again.”
The Stand, p. 1153
“Small wheel turn by the fire and rod
Big wheel turn by the grace of God
Every time that wheel turn ‘round
Bound to cover just a little more ground.”
“The Wheel,” lyrics by Robert Hunter, from Garcia
Sister Ray has been practicing astrology for more than 35 years. Please visit her at www.sisterrayastrology.com.
Garcia, Jerry, “The Wheel,” Garcia, Nine Publishing Co., Inc. (ASCAP), 1988.
King, Stephen, The Stand, For the First Time Complete & Uncut, Doubleday, New York, New York, 1990.
Miller, Chuck and Underwood, Tim, Feast of Fear: Conversations with Stephen King, Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., New York, New York, 1992.
Winter, Douglas, Stephen King: The Art of Darkness, New American Library, New York, New York, 1984.
©Gail Lawson Clough 2012