The Astrology Podcast
Transcript of Episode 314, titled:
Movies for Astrologers: Astrology Themes in Films
With Chris Brennan and Leisa Schaim
Episode originally released on August 10, 2021
Note: This is a transcript of a spoken word podcast. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio or video version, since they include inflections that may not translate well when written out. Our transcripts are created by human transcribers, and the text may contain errors and differences from the spoken audio. If you find any errors then please send them to us by email: email@example.com
Transcribed by Mary Sharon
Transcription released August 15, 2021
Copyright © 2021 TheAstrologyPodcast.com
CHRIS BRENNAN: Hi, my name is Chris Brennan, and you’re listening to The Astrology Podcast. Today is Tuesday, August 10th, 2021, starting at exactly 5:29 PM in Denver, Colorado, and this is the 314th episode of the show. In this episode, joining me today is astrologer Leisa Schaim, and we’re going to be talking about movies for astrologers, which is going to be a mixture of some movies that explicitly address astrology, but for the most part just movies that have some sort of astrological allegory or are interesting in terms of touching on themes that are relevant to astrologers such as a time, fate, free will and other concepts like that. Yeah, I think that’s it for the introduction. Cool. Well, thanks for joining me today in the studio.
LEISA SCHAIM: Quite welcome.
CB: All right. We actually re-watched a lot of old movies that we hadn’t seen in years, and some of them are like 20 years old and some of them were even older and some of them were a little bit more recent.
LS: Yeah, a good batch of these I think we watched together about a decade ago, give or take.
CB: Yeah, and originally we had, cause I’d been building this list for a while and I’ve been wanting to do this episode for a while or something vaguely like this, but I never had a running list. It was always in my mind and then I kind of lost it. So I’ve been rebuilding that list over the past few weeks. Yeah, so originally I was going to separate this because some of these movies are not actually great movies like in and of themselves, especially astrology movies and astrology documentaries historically have not gone super well or turned into really amazing cinematic experiences necessarily.
LS: Right, exactly. This is the kind of the equivalent of retweets or not recommendations or something. So some of these movies we actually enjoyed, some of them are just interesting to talk about because they’re relevant to astrology, but we’re not actually full-out recommending as a movie per se.
CB: Yeah. Although even some of the bad ones when I went back and watched, some of them were better than I remembered. So we’ll try to mention some of the ones that were good in and of itself versus on the ones that are a little bit less good but still interesting for different reasons.
CB: All right, should we jump right into it?
LS: Sure. So I think we’re going to start with the batch that’s more relevant to astrology themes not about astrology per se. Right?
CB: Yeah. So one of my favorite movies is The Adjustment Bureau which came out in 2011. It was based on like a Philip K. Dick story, who’s a science fiction writer and it starred Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. This is a movie that you actually found and took me to, and I was really surprised cause we don’t always have the same taste in movies. You’re not a big action movie fun.
LS: I’m not, but I saw the description. I was like, “You’ll like this one I promise, you have to go to this.”
CB: Yeah, and it turned out to be right. It was a really good call. What was the premise? Do you have like a synopsis?
LS: The premise is basically, there’s a young US Congressman who… I’m actually going read the little synopsis that I got online. So it tells a story of a United States Congressman who discovers that what appears to be chance events in his life are controlled by a mysterious powerful group. After an event not planned by these controllers occurs, a romantic encounter with a dancer, he struggles against their manipulation despite their promise of a great future for him. So basically, he meets this woman early in the film, and then he runs into all these shadowy figures who are trying to keep him from running into her again ever.
CB: Yeah, Matt Damon’s character meets her in a chance meeting, and it inspires him to do something and to make her comeback and politics. But then he isn’t supposed to meet her again. He accidentally runs again into her again on the bus after one of these guys that’s trailing him that turns out to be like an angel basically… I forgot to say, we should just say like spoilers because there’s no way to actually talk about these movies and the themes without giving spoilers. So for the most part, we’re assuming you’ve seen most of these movies cause we’re going to talk about some pretty popular ones.
LS: Yeah, most of these are older. There’s only one that’s a few years old, but most of them are older than that. So hopefully you’ve seen them. If you haven’t seen them, look at the list of the movies first here, go see them first if you don’t want spoilers and then come back and listen to this.
CB: Yeah, because we’re mainly going to be talking about the themes in them and some commentary and things, but we can’t really not spoil the movie in order to do that. So yeah. We’ll just put that out there ahead of time, spoilers.
CB: All right. So the premise though is like he’s supposed to meet her, but there’s these angels that are sort of trying to work this plan where it’s like a predetermined plan of what he’s supposed to do and who he’s supposed to meet and get together with. They were supposed to stop him from running into her a second time, but one of them makes a mistake and all of a sudden they run into each other again and fall in love. And he can’t forget her and so he proceeds trying to find her again. So these other guys or these angels proceed to try to stop him and eventually tell him that he’s not allowed to talk to her. But he goes about trying to fight it because he doesn’t believe in the plan and he feels internally that there’s something wrong with this external plan that they’re trying to force on him that’s supposedly written by God or something like that.
LS: Or a.k.a, the chairman in this movie. It’s funny, it’s all very bureaucratic. They go into a law library looking place and things like that. Anyway, yeah, it’s basically like a fight against fate is the premise, and it’s like him trying to assert free will over fate. He has this confrontation with them where there’s this quote, where one of the angels is like, “You don’t have free will David, you just have the appearance of free will.” I know that’s something that’s often debated within astrological circles, right?
CB: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting because it kind of ties into the ancient concept of the diamond and the idea that there is these spirits that can influence humans and push them in certain directions to do things or not do things that they might do otherwise. Some of that’s very intimately tied up in the origins of Western astrology in Hellenistic astrology. It was interesting seeing that concept almost woven into a narrative here of that they can kind of influence things a little bit one way or another, but they don’t have complete control over the person. Sometimes people can buck against the trend.
LS: Yeah. I was thinking about that a lot too when we watched the movie, and it was kind of like the idea that the diamond’s not really there to make your life happy, it’s there to keep you on plan, to keep you to your fate, basically.
CB: Yeah, so that was really interesting, and then also there ended up being this other theme once you got further into the movie where it turns out that there were different versions of the plan or of God’s plan and that in earlier versions of it, earlier in their life, these two were supposed to be together. And that’s one of the reasons why they’re still having these residual feelings of wanting to be together or that they’re meant to be together. Because there was this earlier plan in which they were, but that somehow was changed at some later point.
LS: Yeah. There were actually like whole bunches of earlier plans where they were supposed to be together, and it was only later after 10 different other drafts that they weren’t. I thought that was actually a really interesting idea that they put in there. Because usually when fate and free will is debated, it’s usually talked about as though it’s a static thing. Like either you have a fate like singular or you have free will or you have some mixture, but not like 10 different fates, you know?
CB: Right. Or even like, I think his name was David, the main characters personal had one specific guardian angel who started helping him at one point. That’s kind of interesting because in ancient philosophy and the Neoplatonic tradition, there was at one point this whole debate about whether you could invoke your guardian spirit or guardian angel and get them to help you to change your fate and Iamblichus and Porphyry had this whole debate about this that’s very famous. Iamblichus responds that it’s ridiculous to think that you could invoke or ask your guardian angel to change your fate when the job of the guardian angel is actually to enforce your fate and make sure you follow it. So even though it’s like a science-fiction story and then it’s been turned into like a love story, romantic thriller on for a movie and stuff, there’s some interesting themes that come in and out through the movie that are actually part of the Western intellectual and metaphysical and philosophical tradition. That’s really one of the main things I want to talk about with this episode was movies like that, especially because those are some of the modern myths that still tell us something about ideas that are in the psyche of different world cultures and some of those ideas of fate and predestination and stuff are very intimately tied in with astrology.
LS: Right. Definitely. Yeah, one of the other things I thought that was interesting about the plot there was the idea of ripples. They kept calling them ripples. Basically actions that would in turn interact with other people’s life plans. I always think that’s interesting in terms of for instance, when I look at relationship astrology with people’s charts, it’s like you can see what’s in your own chart, but you don’t know what’s in the other person’s chart that you may not have met yet. And that can completely alter things. So it just reminded me of that, of all the different timing and different charts interacting and like whose trumps whose.
CB: Yeah, and different interactions. And then yeah, to what extent you can change things that are predetermined because there’s so much in life already that seems to be arranged in a certain sequence. But certainly, once you get into astrology, I think that’s the big connection here with astrology or why even though this movie doesn’t in any way deal with astrology directly, the way in which I think astrologers might view it through a certain lens, because once you discover astrology and you discover not just birth charts underlying people but also electional charts underlying events or things like a marriage or a first meeting chart, you realize there is this underlying plan almost potentially or can be construed that way that people are sort of playing out. The second century astrologer Vettius Valens, for example, makes an analogy that we’re like actors that are playing a play and they have a specific role to play and try to do our best to play our part in whatever that cosmic drama is in some sense. Yeah, that was very literally played out in this movie through they had a book that they followed that showed people’s path and showed when they were diverging from the path or when they were right on track to do the thing that they were destined to do.
LS: Right. I really liked there were a couple instances, one in which they said if they have a real kiss, then the whole plan is messed up. Or if he sees her dance, then it’s all messed up. It’s going to go that way. I just thought that was really interesting in terms of those sort of pivotal little moments that you can track in astrology, too. Wherein, you know this cascaded out from this particular moment in time and you can see whatever transits or other timing you had going on at that particular moment. It sort of makes me laugh watching supposed angels debate like, “Oh no, you can’t kiss or everything’s done for,” you know.
CB: Yeah. Well, and also that is something that legitimately happens in astrology where you’ll see a timing happen that’s really huge in the person’s timelines indicating a major event is happening right now that’s going to change this person’s life and the course of their life from this point forward. But when the event itself actually happens, sometimes at the time, it seems like a minor thing in the person’s experience because they don’t know the long-term implications. So that can be like meeting a new person where that turns into a major relationship or starting a new career path that you don’t realize turns out to be like the person’s destiny to fulfill and to become someone great at or something like that. The origins of many things are very small. I mean, even for example, in my own life, I just learned this past week that an astrologer named Jackie Minkus passed away, who was like a Kepler student, but she gave me her podcast in 2010, actually right on my birthday in November 1st, 2010. I took over an old podcast that she used to do called Traditional Astrology Radio. She had done it for about a year, but she was going away to grad school. I think she was going to Nick Campion’s program in the UK, but so she wanted to hand over the program to somebody. So she handed it to me, and we had a connection previously where she’d interviewed me and we knew each other through Kepler, but that was the very small steps towards eventually starting this podcast cause that gave me the experience doing that. Then eventually I got the domain, theastrologypodcast.com and decided to launch something a little bit more broad than just traditional astrology. But it was that first step that really was the start of something that turned into a much larger thing in my entire life.
LS: Definitely. Yeah, it’s exactly like that. So, kind of having your astrological map is akin to having those books open in the movie and they’re kind of just plotting the path of like where are you going from here?
CB: Right. Yeah. So anyway, so thanks to Jackie and shout out to her for doing that. Yeah, it’s a good thing to think about, it’s something to pay attention to and it’s something that it takes a while to get used to. cause I remember at the time it’s like we knew it was notable and it was obviously synchronistic that she’d handed me the show on my birthday, but she did that on accident. I have the actual interview that we recorded in 2010 and I asked her jokingly if she knew she had scheduled that interview of handing over the show on my birthday, and she had no idea. It’s also the start of a third house profection year which is funny because then I started doing a podcast and talking literally multiple times a week as part of my job.
LS: Right, yeah.
CB: Yeah, all right. So were there any other major themes in that movie? I mean, one of the themes was that sometimes the different angels would do things to influence and push them in certain directions. I thought that was interesting cause I feel like you will actually see that sometimes when it comes to fate of a person like trying to go in one direction and if unimpeded, they would continue in that direction. But like a gust of wind metaphorically or something will happen that will alter their trajectory and push them so that they don’t have any choice but to modify or go in a completely different direction. And that is sometimes in a weird way how fate works. I guess that was the other theme of chance and they had these discussions, there were like little off discussions occasionally in the movie of when it was something that was purposeful versus when it was just a random act of chance that wasn’t part of the plan or something like that. But then sometimes there being this weird middle ground between the two where one looked like the other, but it was really something else.
LS: Exactly. Yeah, and I think that’s very parallel to everyday life and sometimes you don’t know if something happened because it was just chance versus something that was supposed to “happen”. Yeah, and even when you use astrology, sometimes you don’t know, I would say.
CB: You don’t know what?
LS: Whether something was supposed to in big letters happen versus what is the element of chance? It also reminded me because they set up those things like you were just talking about like the phones wouldn’t work when he was trying to call. He kept trying to go to different places and none of the phones would work. Of course, that was a little a bit of an exaggeration, but that kind of thing does happen. It reminded me a little bit of the Hellenistic timing technique, zodiacal releasing, where it’s the intersection of what you’re trying to do and chance. It’s the intersection of like are things hindering you or helping you get what you want?
CB: Right. Yeah, I mean, and for me, some of the stuff with chance, I don’t know. In some of the ancient philosophies, chance was subservient to fate and that’s something I still feel like I see in the astrology that random chance events often do end up being purposeful or meaningful. And even though that’s the whole premise of divination that you can shuffle up some tarot cards and then pull out a few and the ones who pull out will be random but will actually be meaningful and purposeful and will convey something to you about your fate essentially. But fate is glimpsed as a result of chance and chance like phenomenon and acts as a gateway into understanding the inner workings of fate. I think there’s something underlying astrology that incorporates that that I’ve been trying to work out that I still don’t have fully worked out for years, but it’s the extent to which astrology itself is based on chance like phenomenon but uses it to glimpse into a person’s fate. Because I think it has to do with the fact that the moment of birth was also viewed as a random chance like phenomenon because normally it’s outside of a person’s control and it comes somewhat unexpectedly at a specific moment in time. But that if you do a freeze frame and you freeze the cosmos at that moment and look at the alignment of the planets, it turns out that there’s something meaningful and purposeful about the alignment of the cosmos at that moment that will tell you something about a person’s life and character and fate.
LS: Right, exactly. So that’s the premise underlying all of astrology.
CB: Yeah, and that’s why I called my book the subtitle is Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune.
LS: There were a couple other things I thought were interesting about that movie. I mean, one was just that it’s interesting to see in the various movies that address fate and free will, usually they’re kind of against fate in the end. This one fate was seen as necessary because human beings would screw things up on their own. And they said, “Oh, we tried free will in the past, but you guys screwed it up and so we had to step back in.”
CB: Yeah. They were trying to attribute to like there needed to be outside intervention otherwise humans would destroy themselves.
LS: Right, yeah. Which, you know, I can see, but it’s still interesting to see which stories or which movies sort of lean more towards like fate being fine versus free will really being where it’s at. And I think they usually go towards free will is like better, more positive.
CB: Yeah, fate’s usually seen oftentimes, there’s a weird dichotomy or tension in the Western psyche where fate is sometimes seen as something beautiful and romantic and idealized. And oftentimes, it can be then it’s sometimes framed and even used an alternate word is substituted of like destiny. Like when you’re destined to meet the love of your life or you’re destined to achieve some great thing career-wise, it can be framed in that way as a positive thing. But then the other part of the Western psyche is like the negative part of fate of seeing it as something that’s being forced on you that removes your free will and that makes you like a slave or something like that or a prisoner even.
LS: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, everyone loves destiny, but hates fate. It’s just like a little twist in words.
CB: Right, even though they’re essentially the same thing basically.
LS: Yeah, exactly. I mean, with the implication, of course, that destiny is more positive things that are fated to you and fate isn’t always. That’s usually how people think about it.
CB: Right. Or sometimes destiny is seen as an end thing that happens at the end and it’s like a final point of something, whereas fate is more of like an ongoing process. I don’t really know, it’s all very nebulous and not well-defined.
LS: Well, I think also just when people talk about destiny, it’s also seen as more purposeful. I think fate isn’t always in the way that people think about it, I’m not saying it isn’t actually. But I think that people often talk about destiny as like there’s this grand purpose for me in the big scheme of things and I’m supposed to do something, but then fate is more just like slings and arrows kind of thing maybe not seen as purposeful even if that’s not necessarily the case. Anyway, I thought that was interesting because of course the end of the movie was just like him breaking through the plan and fighting it to the end. Then finally, they change it because he demonstrated how much he was willing to use his free will.
CB: Yeah. I mean, that was the one thing I remember thinking when we first watched the movie and that was reiterated again, which is like the ending happens very fast. There was something that happened in the editing where it wraps up kind of quickly, but at the end it’s just like through his perseverance and temerity to be together, he ends up, I don’t know, demonstrating their love for each other. And then they convinced God to change the plan basically to allow them to be together or to make their own fate to some extent.
LS: Right. Yeah, and I wondered also there was this part where he wasn’t supposed to get together with her because he wouldn’t to then not have this gnawing emptiness to his soul that would propel him to become president in the future. And that was the trade off and that he was supposed to become the president because he would do good things presumably for the world in that position.
CB: Yeah, and then also for her, one of the angels was threatening him that if you get together with her, then she’ll never achieve her career goals and become a famous choreographer that changes the world in that sense. So there was also an issue about knowingness and what happens when you know your fate and that messing things up because sometimes that thing that you want maybe initially could somehow later on turn out to be not the best thing in the long run for you or for other people.
LS: Right. Yeah, and in that sense, sometimes you’re not having the best perspective in the moment versus like a bird’s eye view of several decades down the road. I had only assumed they didn’t really spell it out, but I had only assumed that at the end when they changed the plan to let them be together, that they then also got to do their respective careers as well. They didn’t really say that.
CB: Yeah. I don’t know. I mean, we’re kind of hoping that that was the case, but who knows?
LS: Yeah. Yeah. I assume that’s the case because it was supposed to be a happy ending.
CB: Well, I mean, that was why the ending was so abrupt and was a little too abrupt because what they showed very briefly at one point is like the notebooks that showed the grid of their fates and where the current trajectory would take them in the future was suddenly blank in one half. And I think they were trying to hand wave away the sort of a notion that suddenly they were writing their own destiny and they could do what they wanted.
LS: Yeah. So yeah, I thought it was interesting that they really pushed that free will was better kind of or at least better in the sense that if someone individually could push through and really fight their fate, then that was noble in some way. And then therefore you could change because someone upstairs would admire that.
CB: Right. Yeah.
LS: Yeah. The other thing that I thought was interesting, there’s a little quote that said when he ran into the angels or the diamonds or whatever, “You’ve just seen behind the curtain you weren’t even supposed to know existed, it must be jarring.” I thought that was a great quote that was kind of analogous to astrology and that people oftentimes when they first get into real astrology and see how much it can show about their lives and about their future, can get a little jarred for a little bit and be startled because you’re not usually thinking that that exists until you find that. So, it’s a similar thing, there’s this underlying structure that most people aren’t aware of exists.
CB: Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s a valid thing because that’s also a sort of quasi legitimate phenomenon of the burden of knowing one’s future, being able to anticipate it would be psychologically very difficult to some extent and can be traumatic or could be something that you’re not used to dealing with because it’s not a normal human function or capability to see the future and having access to any sort of forward knowledge is itself somewhat disorienting. So that actually might be a good segue into what one of our next movies. So we watched this last night, this is not one of your favorites, but we re-watched the Matrix from 1999, written and directed by Lena and Lily Wachowski. Starring of course, Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Ann Moss. So this was like an action movie obviously, but I think a lot of people liked it because of the heavy philosophical undertones and discussions that actually, I knew some part of it and had wanted to talk about it in an astrological context, because I always thought it was a good analogy for astrology to some extent. But there was actually a lot more there that I had forgotten until we re-watched it last night that had to do with issues of free will and prophecy and things like that.
CB: So do you have a synopsis?
LS: Sure, let’s see. The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction action film. All the people in it, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Ann Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano, it depicts a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality, The Matrix, which intelligent machines have created to distract humans while using their bodies as an energy source. When computer programmer Thomas Anderson under the hacker alias Neo uncovers the truth, he is drawn into a rebellion against the machines along with other people who have been freed from the Matrix.
CB: That’s pretty good synopsis, it’s pretty condensed.
LS: It wasn’t mine, but yeah.
CB: So the main thing about it though is just the notion that humans, entirety of humanity is like living in a simulation and they don’t realize it, but that the entire simulation itself is controlled or manipulated to some extent. But I guess the big tie-in with astrology is I think astrologers often or at least for me as an astrologer watches film and think about astrology because that’s kind of what astrology feels like sometimes is that you can see the code underlying reality. And that even though we’re having this experience of certain things, that there’s this other underlying layer that’s actually describing what’s happening in an almost omniscient sense that when you initially get into astrology, it has a similar feeling or undertone of what does this mean about reality and why would there be this underlying code that is describing what’s going on in reality right now and what are the implications and everything else?
LS: For sure. Yeah. I mean, even a technical apparatus under underlying it, right? Like the code the astrological technique.
CB: Yeah. Because that’s one of the oldest analogies for astrology is that astrology is a language. Even in Mesopotamia, they talked about the heavenly writing and the stars and planets inscribing this language about what’s happening in the past and present and future that’s being sent from, in their conceptualization, from the gods or what have you. We always have that famous image in the Matrix of this waterfall of code and like the green code that at some point they describe as what the Matrix actually looks like when you’re not in the simulation, that it just looks like this green language or green code that’s describing people and their appearance and locations and everything else.
LS: Right. Yeah. For sure. I think the main difference, that’s the similarity, the difference feels like the implication. This movie was a lot darker and more dystopian, so the implication is more like that it’s bad that you’re imagining this reality because it’s not real rather than it merely more neutrally describing the world that you’re living in.
CB: Right. Yeah. I mean, one of the things we talked about afterwards that’s actually similar to the ancient Gnostic view that we are all these sparks of divinity that got stuck in this material world that was created by these Archons, these gatekeepers, and that the point is to keep us stuck here in this darkness of the material world. But some of that notion in Gnosticism incorporated astrological elements, but it turned it on its head because then the planets become these gatekeepers that are helping to keep us enmeshed in the physical realm. So there’s this like Gnostic component almost it’s in the matrix where the overlords or the gods or the creators are these malevolent beings that don’t necessarily have positive intentions for us and are trying to keep us trapped here for some reason. But again, that’s like a theme that goes very far back in philosophy and in some religions that’s sort of weaved in different ways in Western society.
LS: Yeah, absolutely. It was interesting to notice that philosophy underlying the movie without parallel. I don’t feel like most astrologers, of course, feel that way about the fact that you can describe the sort of underlying reality doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad that you’re enmeshed in it. You know, I think that would be the difference there.
CB: Yeah. I mean definitely. I mean, most astrologers have a much more positive view of astrology and stuff and what you can do with it. I mean, I’m sure there were or there are still elements of that, like there were Gnostic cults that incorporated astrology in different ways. But it’s a debate even now in philosophy or in not science fiction, but in science circles of like, are we living in a sort of–
LS: A simulation.
CB: — a simulation, yeah, and what’s the possibility of that and what would that look like or how would you know if you were? It would be sort of difficult or what signs would you look for? And when that discussion always comes up in scientific circles, that’s one of the things I always think about is like astrology is, well, if you actually stumbled upon a code that actually seems to be describing what’s happening in reality on multiple different levels, then that would actually be really good evidence potentially for where that could be one of the conclusions that could be drawn from that.
LS: Yeah, for sure. And some astrologers do talk about using astrology in order to free yourself more from what you would otherwise do on automatic pilot kind of thing. So there is some element to that.
CB: Yeah. The idea that if you do the default then you will fulfill this astrological placement in a expected manner, but that the awareness of that and the sudden realization that that’s what you’re coded to do in some sense itself going back to the jarring experience that we were talking about in the previous movie, the notion of suddenly becoming aware of the underlying matrix or code underlying reality that is describing even your own actions and tendencies, the awareness of that in and of itself can sometimes offset what you might normally do.
LS: Yeah, for sure. So that is the similarity there. There was also the element of prophecy that you were talking about that you had forgotten since last time.
CB: Yeah, they did that… The whole first movie was done really well and like the second and third movies were universally not received as well as the first one, because the first one is really interesting like world building and it’s edited really well and it has like amazing music and sci-fi and action but also philosophy and other things. Yeah, but one of the elements I forgot that’s really heavy in the last third of the movie is this whole notion of prophecy and going to see the Oracle, who is able to know the future, both in the short-term and the long-term and some of the implications of that in terms of choice and decisions and everything else.
LS: Yeah. I thought it was really interesting that she told Neo that he wasn’t the one and that part of her that was talked about was that she told him what he needed to hear at the time to continue on his path rather than telling him the full story and the full future.
CB: Right. Yeah, that is an interesting concept in terms of the role of divination or the role of diviners and of predictions and prophecies and sometimes some of the historical themes about self-fulfilling prophecies and things like that. And the diviner being involved in creating the circumstance that leads to the predicted outcome.
LS: Right. Yeah. And even the first time he meets the Oracle, there’s something said really quick about when he breaks the vase and she’s like, “No, but if I had told you beforehand,” something about that.
CB: Yeah. She says, “Well, you’re really going to struggle with afterwards as if I hadn’t told you, don’t worry about the vase if you still would have broken it,” because that’s what causes him to turn and knock it over. Yeah. So there’s a lot of interesting stuff in terms of that, but so I guess that’s a whole side thing, and then that goes in other weird directions in the second and third movies that we don’t have to get into. But it was just interesting how much they were incorporating some of those different themes or themes having to do with prophecy in a modern sort of context.
LS: For sure. Yeah.
CB: Yeah. Okay. Is there anything else about that movie that we meant to touch on or mention?
LS: That’s all I can think of. I mean, I think the major thing is just reality is different than what you actually think or what you see.
CB: Yeah. Well, yeah and then what are the implications of that? What are the implications of any sort of external descriptive system that seems to be describing what’s going on in reality but not necessarily causing it? Which is one of the weird things about astrology, especially if you’re viewing it in a more archetypal or synchronistic context that just like the classic analogy is just like a clock on the wall is describing that it’s nine o’clock at night without necessarily causing it, that astrology might be describing what’s happening right now in reality or in your life personally, as well as universally without necessarily being the cause of that. And it’s a good analogy and way to approach starting to understand how astrology works as a system. Yeah. All right. Was there a connected movie with that that’s like relevant or what would be a good transition point?
LS: Let’s see.
CB: This is one of our next one?
LS: Yeah, that’s the next one here.
CB: Okay. So one of the other movies that we rewatched recently was Slumdog Millionaire from 2008. It was directed by Danny Boyle. So this was a movie that focused very much again on concepts of fate and destiny and the notion of things being predetermined, especially in the ultimate ending point and outcome. And this phrase that kept using throughout the film as this notion of like it was written, and the implication being what was written was like one’s fate or one’s destiny.
LS: Yeah. Should I do the synopsis?
LS: Okay. So it’s about an 18-year-old from the slums of Mumbai. So he was basically not formally educated, and he had a low-level job delivering tea to a call center. And it says as a contestant on this game show, Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Jamal surprises everyone by being able to answer every question correctly. Accused of cheating, Jamal recounts his life story to the police illustrating how he is able to answer each question correctly. So it basically goes through like every specific anecdote in his life, every specific incident that describes how he knew the answer to that particular question in flashbacks.
CB: Yeah. So the premise is that he goes on this game show and he’s able to get every answer correct, even though he shouldn’t know all those answers just because he had had really unique life experiences that actually taught him the answer to each of those questions leading up to this final pivotal event in his life. And yeah, and I really liked that concept because there’s a level of that happening with astrology and with the concept of fate as well if you pay attention to people’s lives, of sometimes events in a person’s life do end up teaching them things that are unique that sometimes put them in a unique circumstance that other people might not be able to handle or figure out how to deal with. But for some weird reason, they sometimes are the right person that is in the right place at the right time to do that certain thing.
LS: Exactly. And if you can look at the astrological features of what’s going on then and what’s going on in their birth chart, you can see those connections.
CB: Yeah, so what were the other main things about that? Did you write any notes?
LS: I mean, honestly, it was a nice long movie. I mean, that was really the main point, was like his fate happening here cause that was right in the first scene. There were four possible answers for why he got the answers to the questions correct. And number four was, it is written, so it is fated. And so the whole thing was just kind of about that, about like was that what was going on? Was he in the right place at the right time? Particularly, even though many of the experiences were overtly negative, but they somehow led him to still know these things that ended up really good in the end, at least in one way.
CB: Yeah. And I forgot one of the things was that a lot of them oftentimes were like hardships and there was an issue also about different classes and the class system in the world in general and in different parts of the world and how that can sometimes limit people that are born in certain social classes, that if you’re born in a lower social class that you don’t have as much freedom of choice or upward mobility as somebody that’s born in the middle or the upper class, which is a theme we’ll come back to later in one of the other movies. But that was one of the other underlying implications here as well is how much choice you have depending on the circumstances you’re born into.
LS: Right. And also, the idea that only fate could really override that in a very special instance.
CB: Right. But yeah, but sometimes that that does happen as well as is also like a love story and about the, again, just the drive that two people had to be together, that one person had for the other to pursue them and try to overcome the things that were necessary that were trying to keep them apart as an exercise in free will or something like that.
LS: Right, for sure because it seemed quite hopeless that he would ever find her again, much less multiple times.
CB: Right. Yeah, so different elements of like chance and things like that as well.
LS: Chance, but then also acting on those little opportunities like when he was in the call center and was sitting down in someone’s seat for a few minutes and he suddenly looks up all the people with his brother’s name and there aren’t that many and he starts calling them, that kind of intersection of like you have this very small chance, but you have maybe the free will to act on that chance.
CB: Yeah, because he kept trying over and over again repeatedly and he never stopped trying to achieve that thing that he wanted.
LS: Right, which was very similar to the first movie we were talking about, The Adjustment Bureau.
CB: Yeah, so maybe that’s one of the underlying themes. And that’s an issue with astrology is it being really hard to know sometimes when the answer is to keep pushing and keep trying to overcome something and when something’s like a surmountable difficulty versus when something is a roadblock that’s telling you no in some area where you can’t proceed further and having experiences with both is really important and sometimes, especially in metaphysical circles, can get too skewed in one extreme or another. There’s one extreme which is fatalism and being told you can’t do something and therefore just giving up and not continuing to attempt to persevere or overcome that but instead accepting one’s fate and not trying versus the other extreme is sometimes the notion that you can manifest anything you want and there’s things like the secret and the idea that literally whatever you put your mind to you can accomplish, which is also in its extreme manifestation just not true because we all have experiences on either end of that spectrum of sometimes having to run into an end point where you can’t proceed further with something versus on the other hand sometimes needing to just through great striving and perseverance being able to achieve something that you really want.
LS: Right. Yeah, it reminds me of debates over Saturnian principles, like when is Saturn a wall saying no and when is it just a test that you have to persevere, which is also a Saturnian principle. Yeah.
CB: Right. Yeah, let’s see. What else about this movie? I mean, it had a really great soundtrack is that thing I’m always left with.
LS: Yeah. Yeah, there was that one MIA. Is it MIA?
CB: Yeah, she collaborated with the main composer and it just had this amazing soundtrack. I think it may have won an Academy Award for that because it got a bunch of nominations that year in 2008.
LS: Yeah, I felt like some of the answers he would have known, he didn’t actually have to have a specific life experience around. But of course, cinematically, they had to show each one. There were a few where it’s like he would have know anyway.
CB: Yeah, yeah. Anyway, so it was a pretty good movie and one that brings up some interesting themes. There might be like others that we’re forgetting, but I think that’s like the main stuff. Which one do you want to transition into now? I guess there was one about when it comes to social mobility like this would be a good one. All right. The next one is the Up series that started with… Was the first one titled Seven Up? And that was in 1964. This is like a series. And do you have a synopsis?
LS: Sure. Up series of documentary films follows the lives of 10 males and four females in England beginning in 1964 when they were seven years old. The first film was titled Seven Up with later films adjusting the number in the title to match the age of the subjects at the time of filming. The documentary has nine episodes, one every seven years thus spanning 56 years. 28 Up was chosen for Roger Ebert’s list of 10 greatest films of all time. The children were selected for the original program to represent the range of socio-economic backgrounds in Britain at that time with the expectation that each child’s social class would determine their future. The series started much more focused on that, on like social class and trying to prove or disprove that social class was still the major determinant of people’s futures.
CB: Yeah, so it started in the UK and they got together a group of children that are all seven years old, and they interviewed them and asked them about their life and their aspirations, their future, and different things like that. And then every seven years, this director would film another roughly like hour and a half or two-hour documentary, where he would go back and reinterview the kids. First at 14 and then there was another at like 21 and then 28 and it kept going. And of course, like some of those early ones since they were doing in seven-year increments are really interesting astrologically because those are also like Saturn hard angles of the first Saturn square and then the Saturn opposition and then the waning square and then the Saturn return, so it’s like you can track it from that direction. And all of them were born in 1956 or so, right?
LS: Well, give or take. It was right around the time that Saturn was in between the end of Scorpio and the beginning of Sag, so I was often watching their life stories trying to guess which one they were. Some of them seemed pretty evident which one.
CB: Yeah, because they’re all born within a year of each other, so they all had Saturn in one sign or another and sometimes that came out very dramatically in some of their lives. I assume at some point somebody hid it in some journal, we haven’t been able to find any websites when anybody got birth data for most of them, but I’m sure in some obscure like British journal or something that some astrologer has gotten some birth times for some of the people at some point.
LS: Yeah, I wonder. It’d be great to look at their actual charts. But I really love this series. I mean, I like documentaries anyway as you know. But of course, every seven years just makes your ears perk up if you’re an astrologer because of that Saturn cycle you were mentioning. One little frustrating piece about that though is that since they were filming at the beginning of that time, the age 7, 14, 21, etc., I tend to think or guess that they probably hit at the beginning of those Saturn transits and so much of the major stuff that was happening probably for those transits for them hadn’t quite happened yet because you often hear in some of the movies like what’s happened since, which sounds more like the main events.
CB: Yeah, some of the stuff in some of the years happened like one or two years later because they hadn’t finished their Saturn returns yet by the time had caught up with them at 28.
LS: Exactly. Although even so sometimes you can see some interesting things.
CB: And then some of the ones with the years ended up overlapping with other transits like 42 was one and that’s one of your favorites because that’s also the Uranus opposition.
LS: Right, yeah. It can just be striking sometimes. And so, that was actually really cool to hear little things come out if you know astrology and know the ages that should be important like that and be like, oh, they suddenly left something that they’ve been doing up until this point. Well, of course they did, they’re in their midlife transits, things like that.
CB: Yeah. It’s like there’s that transit element, but then also the director Michael Apted, who actually became like a famous director and directed a bunch of other big films later on in his career and so it’s interesting that he also had this ongoing series. The last one that they filmed which just came out in 2019 was 63 Up, which we’ve been trying to see for the past couple of years, but it was weirdly not available and we just found a place to stream it literally like two days ago.
LS: Right. Yeah, for quite a while they were only releasing it to theaters. But then of course, the pandemic hit and I was like, “No, you just have to stream it.”
CB: Right. That sucked because we’d watched 56 Up several years back, so we’ve been looking forward to the installment of 63. Yeah, so we just got a chance to see that. And it’s a little depressing at this point, the last one is a little depressing because now everyone’s getting much older and there’s some people, for example, the director just passed away I think in the past year or so. So, there’s a question about whether the series will even continue because the next installment should be at 70 when all the kids are up to 70 and some of the participants either passed away or not doing very well either. But one of the interesting premises that they introduced right from the start was they said something like show me a child at seven and I’ll show you the adult or something like that.
LS: Yeah, give me a child till seven and I will show you the man. I think it’s a Jesuit saying, which is really more about formation, but in this case, they were treating it slightly differently which is like let’s just see them at seven where they’ve come up to this point and we can see going forward. And I actually found some great quotes from Roger Ebert’s review of 28 Up in 1986, which is really relevant to the astrological discussion. And of course, he’s not referencing astrology at all, but he says, “If we can see so clearly how these children become these adults, was it just as obvious in our own cases? Do we even now contain with us our own personal destinies for the next seven years? Is change possible? Is the scenario already written?” And then later on in the review, he says, “I look forward to the next edition of this film when its subjects are 35. I have hope for some, fear for others. It is almost scary to realize that this film has given me a fair chance of predicting what lies ahead for these strangers.” And I thought those were really great quotes because, of course, he wasn’t talking about astrology at all, but it’s very similar to what we do discuss in astrology. And basically, it’s just like if you watch these people over time, their personalities are such that they’re moving in a certain direction, their actions or experiences up to this point have either set them up or not for future experiences and so forth. Yeah, I thought that was a pretty cool quote from that review. And what I really liked about this movie series is that it was supposed to test the class structure, first that was the genesis, but then it became much more existential and just about human nature and human life. Right, it was following all these everyday people over time, over the course of their whole lives. And I really like that because that’s what you do in astrology as well. For most people, if they’re consulting astrologers, is you’re talking to people about their lives, not famous people necessarily, just everyday people and you have to care about everyday people’s lives and be interested in how that goes. And I thought that was interesting as well even apart from the astrology. I didn’t think 63 Up was quite as depressing as maybe you felt, but I think we’ve seen that trend with a few movies lately. But I find it really interesting on the human existential level watching them mellow out over time and the pieces that you also run into if you’re a consulting astrologer of just like life stages and how people often change on average over time. And I thought it was cool that most of them seemed relatively at peace with how their lives had gone up to this point. They were a little bit more content in terms of like well, this is possible, this isn’t possible, this is how it’s gone, it’s fine, you know? Not maybe 100% of the time but to a large degree. And I think you’ll see that too when you are consulting with people of different ages, they have different concerns going on oftentimes on average, building a career versus in 63 Up, they had a ton of grandchildren and they were talking about their grandchildren, you know?
CB: Yeah, their children at different stages and when they had children and some had children relatively early and some had them rather late and then some had no grandkids or like one, and then some had like a ton of grandkids and how that changed things. But I mean, the big thing that they kept coming back to also was just the notion of, to what extent is your personality? How early is that really formed in life? And how much is a person’s early personality really consistent and largely the same the older you get versus how much do life experiences change or inform that in different ways? And I don’t know what the end result was because they were asking all of them that and it seemed like a lot of them thought, subjectively, they all felt like that they were largely still the same as they were at seven on some level personality-wise.
LS: Yeah, most of them said, more or less, yes, I can see the child that I was in who I am now still. Then some of them said, I think one in particular said, but of course, then you have all these life experiences and those life experiences change you too. And I think that’s true, and it reminds me a bit of the birth chart versus ongoing timing in people’s lives and how the birth chart like a common uninformed critique of astrology is like, oh, well, it’s just static, it’s very like boxing you in. But there’s the natal chart, but then there’s also the ongoing timing which is your life experiences, and those do inform who you are going forward after that.
CB: Yeah, and that does change things. And one of our next ones that we’ll talk about gets into that even more. But yeah, that notion of nature versus nurture and how much inborn traits and characteristics are there and pretty fixed from the beginning or from pretty early in the life versus how much we’re molded and shaped in different ways by our upbringing and our surroundings or in this instance they focused a lot on the stratification of the British class system, especially in the 1950s and ‘60s. And even if that’s mellowed out a little bit, maybe to some extent that still in some ways the early education and opportunities people had for education setting them up on different paths relatively early on.
LS: For sure, yeah, yeah. And it was really interesting if you’ve watched all of them just to see their personalities go through. I think there was only one that was really different, markedly different than when they were younger.
CB: Yeah, there was one that struggled with some mental health issues and was really mysterious for a lot of the series because he was a really optimistic, thoughtful child at seven and 14. But then at 21, his personality changed really dramatically and there was something or clearly arrived by 21 where things had gone weird and it was not clear what had happened and then that grows and develops and gets a little worse by 28, and then we’re not really sure where it’s going for a number of years there and then it ended in a more ambiguous space I think in this last one than we’re anticipating because it was worrying to see if that was going to go downhill further, but it seemed like it had mellowed out like a little bit.
LS: Yeah, a little bit. And I found myself cheering for him, the successes that he did have even if it was more limited than some of the other people and also guessing it like what that birth chart looked like or what those events looked like because clearly something happened and you would see that in timing if you had someone’s chart, you know? Yeah, he had like an eerie thing too when they interviewed him when he was seven. I think it was when he was seven. He was talking about walking around and not having anywhere to go. There were occasional even like statements that the kids would make in the first movie that were oddly tied in to like things later. And I think that is a piece of that, like you are who you are even early on. Yeah.
CB: Right, yeah. There’s different life stage stuff, just seeing a person and that’s the ultimate triumph of the entire series as it’s like literally some of these people have been interviewed every seven years and you can see if you watch the entire series which like early on when you first found it. Had you already seen parts of it?
LS: I’d seen some of them, yeah.
CB: Okay. So, you showed me almost the entire series and then we later watched the most recent two. If you’ve watched them in quick succession, you see these people grow up in front of your eyes and it’s really interesting in terms of just the whole like a seed versus what a plant grows into in that trajectory and seeing a person grow from their initial trajectory into like a full person but there still being a lot of commonality throughout that, but you still get to see them grow and develop in time.
LS: Yeah, yeah. I’m trying to think if there’s anything else about that. I just really like this series.
CB: Yeah, that’s really good. You were a little skeptical about whether it’s going to be over. I hope even though the primary director Michael Apted has passed away, I hope somebody steps in in order to do the next one when it’s time in five or six years when everybody is 70 to continue the project.
LS: I just actually read another article the other day and it was saying that the director while he was still alive, he was at a Q&A at a showing and someone asked about that, and he pointed to this person who was part of the directing team for a long time and he was like, “Well, I guess she could do it.” And she may, actually.
CB: Okay. I mean, that would make sense to me because he’s been doing it. He’s been around forever so there must be other people that have also been involved in it for years as well.
LS: Yeah. I think she had been involved in for long, although she said she is in her 70s as well. She was like, “Maybe they’ll need to take us around in wheelchairs by then, but I’ll do it if I can.” Yeah.
CB: Right. Yeah, and it was also interesting like you’re saying just seeing different stages of career aspirations and there was one that had really big aspirations to get into like nuclear fusion and you can see him when he was at his Saturn return being very optimistic about that and wanting to change the world, but then in later years feeling like that was a dead end and it wasn’t a good choice in some sense or that he wasn’t able to do what he wanted to accomplish there and so ended up changing course or focusing on something else or some of them the changing course was like having children and how much that became the focus and passion in their life in different ways.
LS: Right. There were a couple that were interviewed earlier on and they’re like, “No, I’m not interested in having children.” And then at 28, they’re like, “Here are my children.” And then there’s the one that had the hardest life path, you can see him bottoming out around 28, which you would expect if someone was having a hard Saturn return, and then he gradually went up from there.
CB: Yeah, yeah. And also, it’s just a good meditation. It makes me think of some of the discussion that I was having months ago about time and the notion of time being a fourth dimension and to what extent time or all of time is happening simultaneously but we only experience it in slices from moment to moment, but that there’s actually this continuity where if you’re able to step out of time and view it objectively that each of us has a life and a starting point. But then it’s like a snake in time that grows and develops and matures into your full adulthood and then eventually goes until the end of your life and then is cut off. And we’re experiencing those slices of time which interestingly is exactly what a birth chart represents because the two-dimensional snapshot of time, but also the planets keep moving after that point. So, if you think about it, it’s really cutting just a little slice of time and then freezing just a part of it there when in fact it’s part of some longer continuous thing that is a continuous moment.
LS: For sure. As you were talking about that, it reminds me of the concentric circles and tree trunks. It’s like we’re trees because you start at the beginning and there is a seed, right? And then there’s the young part, where you can see the seeds of what will be and what will grow further and then there’s just concentric rings where you’re not revisiting exactly who you are, but it’s flowering out from that point in a circle. Yeah.
CB: Right. Yeah. I mean, the birth chart is like a seed because it sets certain things in motion that will then grow and develop into full plants or a full tree later on that has different characteristics and different branches or is missing branches or different things like that, but a series like this where you can see several individuals grow and develop from being small children to adults to old age is probably like the closest experience that we can ever have as humans to seeing the totality of that long moment in time stretched out of a person’s life in its totality rather than just in slices because you’ve got all the slices in seven year increments lined up here and you can see the full time lapse of a tree growing and then sprouting and then eventually wilting and passing away.
LS: Yeah, for sure. In a way that you don’t frequently get to see unless someone your whole life, like if you’ve had friends that you’ve had since you were a child or something like that, but many of us don’t see that many people throughout their whole lifespan rather than just like little slices here and there.
CB: Yeah. Well, even children. If you raise children, you see that. But the problem is that because it happens so slowly and so gradually, you don’t actually see it as much because you’re a part of that continuous process and that experience is much more of visceral if you are somebody that leaves and comes back, then you see it like a much more because it’s not as gradual.
LS: Right. I think there was someone in there that even answered a question like that. It was something like, well, you don’t really notice when it’s all gradual like that and you’re in this experience yourself. Yeah.
CB: Yeah. There’s just a bunch of interesting things in that movie for astrologers to think about in terms of that seed potentiality thing or the potentiality in the birth chart and its relationship to that, the nature versus nurture thing, and then also the critical turning points and transits of different astrological cycles and the times when a person’s life can change somewhat dramatically and when different themes can either start or can stop in different areas becoming important parts of a person’s life.
LS: Right, for sure. Yeah. And in this last one 63 Up, we could look back. They did the previous one at 56, so it would have been just at the beginning if that of some people’s Saturn returns and some may not have been into that yet. And so, you could hear in the recollections like oh, this happened four years ago, this happened five years ago, and you could place what happened at different people’s second Saturn returns. Yeah.
CB: Right, yeah. Well, that’s what you do and in astrological consultation usually, part of it is the astrologer having to get used to the person’s life. And one of the biggest keys to prediction in astrology is that if you can figure out the trajectory of a person’s past and what astrological cycles were tied into the crucial moments of that, then you can anticipate and project into the future and do a pretty good job of predicting the future by just carrying through that trajectory.
LS: For sure, which is why I love that Roger Ebert quote that I found because I’m sure he wasn’t thinking about astrology at all and it is things that we think about all the time as astrologers, but people don’t otherwise often do, I don’t think. It was almost sounded like a strange realization that if you did watch this progression, you could predict what would happen next most likely for the different people. Yeah.
CB: Right. Yeah, yeah. All right. I think that’s a good transition into our next movie which is one that you found recently titled Three Identical Strangers, which is actually a documentary that came out in 2018.
LS: Yeah. So, the synopsis is that it’s about the lives of these three guys, a set of identical triplets adopted as infants by separate families. And it recounts how they discovered each other by chance at age 19, how that ensued their experiences together, and then them finding out that they’d been part of an undisclosed scientific nature versus nurture psychological study of putting different siblings who are genetically identical in differing socio-economic circumstances and family upbringings to see if they would be really similar to each other despite their environments or if they would be very different because of their upbringings.
CB: Yeah. And again, this is like outline dramatically, so we’re ruining it for people in terms of some of the reveal of the film. But like we said at the beginning, spoilers so I guess we can talk about it though now that you’ve said that with all the details. The premise is that initially, there’s this guy that goes to college when he’s 19, and he gets to campus and everybody seems to recognize him and he doesn’t understand why. And then right away, this other guy comes up to him and says, you look exactly like my friend Dave or something like that.
CB: And they call Eddie and very quickly realize that they are twins that were separated at birth but they didn’t know about each other and they were both adopted into different families. And then a newspaper runs the story and then somebody is like reading the newspaper and they realize that these two twins actually look like this third guy that they know and then it turns out that they were actually triplets that were separated at birth, which is interesting. And then it focuses on how the three of them became celebrities and eventually very quickly became friends and have some similar mannerisms and stuff even though they were separated at birth from that just genetic inheritance evidently. But then later, it becomes darker when it turns out that they were deliberately separated at birth as part of this scientific experiment. And one was placed in a more blue collar family, and one was placed in a more middle class family, and one was placed in a more upper class family by this psychiatrist who in the 1960s wanted to run a test to see how that would affect things. But they were upset about it because they all felt like that breaking up their family robbed them of having that family or sibling relationship together, but also may have caused them psychological harm and stress because they may have all experienced separation anxiety or there were indications that they experienced separation anxiety from splitting them up early on.
LS: Right. Yeah. I mean, they were just upset, of course, on principle that this shouldn’t have been done unknowingly to them.
CB: Right, that it’s like they’re being experimented on like lab rats.
LS: Yeah, exactly. But also, all of them apparently had maladaptive behaviors as infants. They would hit their heads on their cribs and things like that. Seemed like they had some trauma responses going on which had later ramifications as well as they got older. One of the things I thought was really interesting is that they did get a hold of the researcher’s past assistant. Part of the issue was that the study was never published and it was sealed. It was sealed at Yale University until 2066.
CB: In early 1960s when this was started, psychology was a little bit more like the Wild West and there was a lot more stuff that was viewed as ethical then or is not a problem that today or later would be viewed as ethically irresponsible or terrible or what have you.
LS: Yeah, exactly. They didn’t get a hold of a lot of people who are willing to talk on the film about it, they got ahold of two. One of them was the researcher’s past assistant, and she didn’t seem that sympathetic about the ramifications to the kids. Honestly, she seemed more like in between. But she was claiming that this study came out more strongly in favor of nature. And I thought there was this interesting statement that she was like, “But people don’t like that, they don’t want to think they have that little free will.” And I thought that was an interesting little astrological tie in there.
CB: Yeah. Well, because that was the point of the study was that in the 1960s it was much more of a major psychological question of whether a person’s genetic nature was determinative of their future and their character or whether a person’s upbringing like how they were nurtured or upbringing by their family, how much of that affected things. And so this was supposed to be a test of that. But we saw elements of both seemed like came out during the course of the documentary.
LS: Right, yeah. And so, there’s actually birth times in Astrodatabank for these triplets, which is interesting. They all end up having the same rising sign and so virtually the same chart, slightly different degrees on some things, the Ascendant and the Midheaven. That’s interesting as well because this ties in in a couple different ways to astrological things. One is, of course, what do you do with twins or with multiple births, especially if they have a really similar chart because they’re still different people in some ways even if they have lots of striking similarities as well, which I think was shown in this film. They were all emphasizing how they had the same mannerisms, they had the same preferences in many areas of life, they would almost mirror each other in how they would move their bodies and stuff. And so, some of this is like the genetics, but some of it’s also like they have that almost the exact same chart astrologically, right? It’s two different things going on. But then they got into later, like well they had different families, they had different upbringings and that seem to have affected them a little bit differently, each of them.
CB: Yeah, and they were definitely emphasizing the similarities so much more earlier on in the first half of the documentary and then later in the second half got into more of their differences. And it’s hard always with documentaries because it’s like a lot of what your perception of the viewer in your opinion is formed by what the director’s opinion is and the way that they shoot and edit and present the film very much will lead your opinion in a certain direction. It’s like sometimes in hesitance, you don’t always know in documentaries and stuff like that when they do have a specific narrative that they’re pushing like if you would have the same conclusion yourself or if there’s anything that you’re not seeing or not understanding, but yeah, there were elements of both of very close similarities between the three of them but then also differences. And one of the things they really emphasized was just how one of them or two of them had pretty strong upbringings, pretty supportive upbringings in terms of their adopted families, whereas one of them had a much more stern or strict or authoritarian father figure as his adopted father, and he ended up not doing as well later on in life. And at least the documentary and some of the people interviewed were trying to say that that may have been a contributing factor to some of the stuff that happened later on for him.
LS: Yeah. And I don’t know if you want to look at charts now or you want to wait a minute, but there is an interesting little tie in terms of those differences in their specific charts with the birth times.
CB: Yeah. So, according to Astrodatabank, which one was the earliest?
LS: It was Bob. Bob was 1:04 a.m., Bob Shafran.
CB: Okay. Here’s the chart and this was in the Astrodatabank source notes. It sounded like an astrologer wrote to them asking for their birth data.
LS: I’m not sure what the letter was about, but it’s citing a letter from one of the triplets who mentioned all of the times in the letter.
CB: Okay. Okay. This is the birth chart of then the first triplet, and they were born several minutes apart. The birth chart for those listening to the audio version, it has 6° of Taurus rising and the ruler of the Ascendant is Venus which is at 5° of Gemini, which you liked because the ruler Ascendant is in the sign of the twins, which is sometimes a sign when there’s like multiples or like more than one of something, what the ancient astrologers called the double bodied signs. Then there’s a little stellium in Cancer with Mercury which is interesting because of course with Taurus rising, Cancer is the third whole sign house. So Mercury is at 1° of Cancer, the Moon is at 13 Cancer and the Sun is at 19 Cancer and the degree of the IC for the first of the triplets, Bob, is at 20° of Cancer.
LS: And then those are all opposed Saturn in Capricorn at 27 Capricorn in the ninth house, which is in this first birth chart about 7° off of the Midheaven at 20 Capricorn.
CB: Right. Quickly other than that, it’s like Jupiter’s at three Aquarius in the 10th whole sign house, Uranus is at 23 Leo in the fourth whole sign house conjunct the north node at 27 Leo. There’s a Mars-Pluto conjunction with Pluto at six Virgo and Mars at seven Virgo in the fifth whole sign house. Neptune is up on the Descendant at 8° of Scorpio in the seventh whole sign house and like I said, it’s besides the south node 27 Aquarius.
LS: And Uranus, it’s not obvious from this chart, but is about 10 days from stationing in the fourth whole sign house conjunct the north node in Leo, which I think is very apt in terms of their separation from their birth mother and also separation from each other eventually. I love that stellium especially the two luminaries in the third house opposed Saturn in night chart in the ninth. I don’t love of course in terms of the effects of that, but it just so perfectly describes that siblings is like a strong feature of each of their lives with both luminaries and the Moon in its own sign ruling the third house of siblings. But then those are opposed and actually applying oppose Saturn in a night chart was the more challenging Saturn placement in the ninth house close to the Midheaven, and I think that’s the separation. Saturn is often about separation. I also love in an astrologer good way not in an actual humanistic way, that the villains in this story are academics. It’s academia. And that’s a ninth house thing with Saturn there. The records are sealed at Yale. They wanted to get the records. They have actually gotten some of the records as a result of this film, but they’re heavily redacted still so they still didn’t give them a lot of answers.
CB: Yeah, like so scientists and it was done for a scientific or theoretically an academic study which we might associate with the ninth house which is usually like education and higher education in college. And it’s interesting some of the photos of the kids from early on are being photographed, having them do tests and putting blocks in different holes and things like that to study their reflexes and IQ and other things like that. Yeah. So that was one of the things we’re focusing on is just having this stellium in the third house of siblings of the Sun, the Moon and Mercury, but then having Saturn in a night chart opposing that stellium and the separation and the breakup of their triplet family unit very early on.
LS: Right. And the separation was from intellectuals basically. That’s really interesting. The Uranus almost stationing is interesting in the fourth. There’s a few other interesting things, but those were the more striking ones.
CB: Yeah. I just redid the thumbnail because I had a terrible thumbnail forever. I did an episode on twins with Adam Elenbaas years ago. It was actually a really good discussion about the issue of twins in astrology. You can find that on YouTube. I think it’s titled Twins in Astrology or something like that, I forgot what episode it is. But this is a good example and application of some of the principles that we talked about that goes back to ancient astrology, have been talked about by astrologers for a long time, which is there was an astrologer from the first century or so who when posed the issue of twins by like a skeptic of astrology, he supposedly took a potter’s wheel and put a piece of clay on it and made a pot and then spun it really quickly, the pot, and then he struck it twice in rapid succession in the same place while it was spinning with a stick in the same place. But then when it slowed down and stopped, those two taps that were given to it in the same place were actually pretty far apart on the actual vase because of how fast it was spinning. And this was used as like an analogy of what happens in astrology that sometimes even two people that are born seemingly very close together or in quick succession, there can be notable changes in their birth chart due to how quickly the degrees of the angles like the Ascendant and Midheaven and IC and Descendant actually move over the matter of just a few minutes.
LS: Right. Yeah. And I think that’s actually one of the interesting things here, in fact. So this is 1:04. The two others, they’re born within a half hour of each other, so the second one’s 1:15.
CB: Okay, so this is the first one is Bob, and he’s got the Ascendant at what?
LS: 6 39 Taurus and Midheaven at 20 and a half Capricorn.
CB: Okay, and then the middle one is Dave.
LS: Mhm. Yeah. And so then he has the Ascendant at 10 44 Taurus, four more degrees further, and the Midheaven at 23 Capricorn, which is now four degrees from Saturn.
CB: And how many minutes later was this compared to the first one?
LS: 11 minutes.
CB: Okay, so that’s the second triplet. And then?
LS: And then the third one Eddie was at 1:31 a.m., and that moves a little further. So now the Ascendant’s at 16 1/2 Taurus. And most interestingly to me anyway, the Midheaven is actually almost exactly exactly conjunct Saturn here. So Midheaven’s 26 53 assuming the seconds. Saturn’s 27 04. So it’s like right on the Midheaven. And I thought that was so interesting and kind of telling in terms of the differences in their lives because he was the one who was supposedly… I don’t know if they overplayed the authoritarian father piece, it was kind of similar to what you were talking about in terms of you don’t know how much is the slant of who’s telling the story versus them trying to find an explanation for why his life went worse. His father seemed okay. But, of course, he was older at that point when he was interviewed for the movie.
CB: Yeah. It’s like, who knows? We’ll take it for granted that there’s like a kernel of truth to that cause it does actually line up relatively well with the chart.
LS: Right. And that’s what I was thinking is like even if he wasn’t the worst father in the world, the idea of someone more strict or authoritarian with Saturn right on the Midheaven degree versus just sort of in the neighborhood like with the other two charts actually quite lines up really well.
CB: Yeah. And that ended up being really tough also in terms of where the documentary went later. And, again, spoilers. If you haven’t seen it, just stop listening to us at this point and watch it if you don’t want it be spoiled. But one of the triplets, the one that was born the latest, ended up committing suicide later in life. And he happened to be the one where Saturn was right on the Midheaven and that was born the latest and had supposedly at least according to the documentary, again the caveat, the more authoritarian father versus the other two who had more supposedly supportive or loving or lenient fathers.
LS: Right. And I thought that was interesting in two different ways. One, maybe his father was actually more strict than the other two, and that was represented by Saturn conjunct the Midheaven more closely. Alternatively or and/or, sometimes when you have something like that, it’s like the person has a stronger tendency towards being more negatively impacted by things. They have a stronger tendency towards depression or something like that. He ended up having manic depression which preceded his suicide. And so it’s like it doesn’t always represent the externals or at least it’s not only the externals necessarily. It’s like, yeah, maybe his father was more strict than the others. But also maybe he was more impacted by that than the others would have been.
CB: Yeah. And I think they were saying at different points in the documentary that he was the one who ended up committing suicide was the one that was more interested in delving into initially finding their mother and they were able to track her down or was the one that was most invested initially in the reunion of the three triplets and some of the things surrounding that. But then after they started a business together and they ran into some problems and tensions and one of the triplets left, it’s possible that he was one of the ones that was more impacted by that or took it harder, like that separation.
LS: Yeah, that’s actually what they said is that he took it really hard compared to the others.
CB: Okay. So, yeah, there’s a lot of different things. But it was also interesting cause I think it was the first one. Didn’t we decide who was born first? Who had the–
LS: The doctor father?
CB: Well, one of the ones who had one of the supposedly at least according to the documentary the more supportive father figure had the IC closer to the Sun.
LS: Yeah, I think that’s actually the middle one though. Yeah, it would have made more sense if it was the first one, but I think it was actually the middle one.
LS: Cause I think that first one, Bob Shafran, was the one with the physician father who was supportive but also not able to be there as often versus the one in the middle had the blue collar father who was very jovial and supportive.
CB: So that actually brought up the other point though that was really interesting which is the difference that you can’t control or predict but is the wildcard factor in terms of astrology and how two people born with the same or similar birth charts whether we’re talking about twins or triplets as in here or whether we’re talking about two people especially that were born at the exact same time with the same birth chart but two different families, one of the other factors astrologically that has to be taken into account or is actually relevant in a person’s actual life is who are their parents and what is the synastry between the child who has that birth chart and the parents? And is the synastry something that is a little bit more flowing and supportive or is the synastry a little bit more challenging so that it’s describing inherent tensions or incompatibilities between the parent and the child that are maybe felt more difficultly by one or both of them?
LS: Right. And you can’t see that at all by the birth chart itself.
CB: Yeah, it’s the one factor that the birth chart doesn’t contain but is actually crucial when it comes to the nature versus nurture question cause that’s the nurture side of things. I guess the birth chart is the nature side of things. But then part of the nurture side is the synastry of the family union which can involve the parents, it can also involve siblings, it can involve other factors as well in terms of the home and living situation or the financial situation early on and different things like that.
LS: Mhm. Right.
CB: So the film just brought up all sorts of things like that, but it definitely also was a good study. And we haven’t done a very in-depth one, but there were little things that you do notice as astrologers when it comes to seeing three charts like that and seeing what happened with the angles and their lives and seeing that kind of track a little bit what they ended up saying in the documentary.
LS: Right. For sure. I thought it was also interesting that not only the third one Eddie had Saturn right on the Midheaven, but his Ascendant degree, speaking of those angles, actually was the one that got much closer to squaring that stationary Uranus in the fourth. Not that that’s everything in itself, but both of those together are kind of interesting.
CB: So it got to what, 16?
LS: 16 1/2. Yeah. So it’s about seven degrees off, the other ones are not nearly as close.
CB: Uranus is at 23.
CB: It’s like six degrees, right?
LS: It’s about seven.
LS: Yeah. So, I just thought that was interesting as well. I think the biggest piece was Saturn landing right on the Midheaven and that being different compared to the other two. Yeah.
CB: Yeah. One thing we didn’t check or didn’t look at all is if any lots changed signs or anything like that.
LS: I tried to look at the lot of the father, that one changed. But the first one was in Libra for Bob Shafran, and the other two were in Scorpio.
CB: Wait, is spirit in Taurus for all of them?
LS: I think so.
CB: Yeah, 04.
CB: Depends on if the time’s exact.
LS: Right. Yeah, cause the first one is like just barely right.
CB: But there’s stuff.
LS: Yeah, fortune’s the same. And it’s actually interesting if you do look at the zodiacal releasing from the Lot of Fortune. It is angular from malefics and with a little loosing of the bond to Capricorn, the sign of Saturn in the night chart when Eddie killed himself and then which would also have been a major life event in a bad way for the other two. And they all had the same releasing sequences.
CB: Yeah. And then with twins there becomes a weird thing sometimes about whether using derived houses there’s anything there like in the Indian tradition. It’s like the third house has younger siblings, but the 11th house is supposed to be older siblings. And whether that technique works and is applicable and changes the experience of the chart or where different siblings, if you’re talking about twins or triplets, where they experience specific siblings from different parts of their life or different parts of their chart that are all interesting questions if somebody wanted to do a more systematic or thorough study of twins and triplets and so on and so forth.
LS: For sure. Yeah, there’s something that sometimes people also do like divisional. And I have not played around enough with 12th parts to say anything definitively, but I did actually look at all of them just to see. And it was quite interesting to me that Eddie’s which was the third one actually had the harshest of the three which was kind of interesting. His 12th part of Ascendant and Midheaven landed right with the 12th part of Saturn. So, again, more of a Saturn influence on the other two. And I don’t know if you can do 12th parts with outer planets cause it’s kind of mixing metaphors, but it actually landed 12th parts of Uranus right on his natal Ascendant exactly which was fascinating.
LS: So he was the one from a few different directions that had something else going on compared to the other two.
CB: Yeah, I never used to pay that much attention to 12th parts until… People always say that they think I must have heavy Virgo placements , and I’ve always said my classic response is no. It’s just people are misinterpreting my Mercury-Saturn conjunction which is in the 10th house with Saturn squaring my Ascendant for Virgo characteristics which is understandable. But then somebody at one point a few years back pointed out that I actually have my 12th part for my Ascendant if you break up Aquarius into 12 two and a half degree segments, that my Ascendant degree is in the 12th part of Virgo. So that would give me Aquarius rising but with a Virgo sort of overlay. So I don’t know. It could be.
LS: Yeah. No, it could be. I always like that my 12th part of my Ascendant is in the ninth for astrology.
LS: But I otherwise haven’t played around a lot with it, but I thought that was really interesting cause I did bother to look at those three. And his was more striking than the others.
LS: Striking in a sort of negative way.
CB: But when it comes to twins and stuff, that is stuff that you would look into in order to differentiate them as subdivisions and divisional charts and things like that.
CB: Yeah. All right, so that’s pretty good. I think that’s good for that film, right?
LS: Yeah, that’s most of what we were thinking about. The only other thing that I had thought about was that there are other multiple births that were in the same study. And they showed briefly towards the end of the movie a pair of twins, two women, who found out in the course of this that they were also part of this study unknowingly. And I looked up their chart, and I don’t have it pulled up ready.
CB: Well, cause they said it in the film.
LS: Yeah, we both–
CB: We both got excited because she reads a letter from the adoption agency that told her her exact day and time of birth in the documentary.
LS: Yeah, and it hasn’t printed on the letter visually. And we’re like, “Wait, freeze that, let me pull that up.” Watching movies with astrologers.
CB: There’s always a lot of pausing, let’s cast charts, including even for some hypothetical charts that we’ll get to later.
LS: Right, right. So I did pull that up. It didn’t jump out as much as these in terms of luminaries in the third and stuff, but it was interesting that I did pull the one up of the woman who read the letter in the film. And Saturn was ruling her third even though it was a day chart this time, and it was within about four degrees conjunct the IC.
LS: So, again, sort of a major Saturnian role in her life of something about siblings and something Saturnian about siblings i.e. like removing a sibling or distance from a sibling.
CB: Right. Okay, that makes sense.
LS: Yep. So that’s that one.
CB: All right. One of the other one’s the next movie. So one of my favorite movies is Stranger than Fiction which came out in 2006, and it’s a Will Ferrell movie. But I think it’s one of the first or the first where he played more of a dramatic role instead of his usual, this was during a string of comedies that he was doing in the 2000s. So starring Will Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Yeah. So what was the synopsis?
LS: It says the main plot follows Harold Crick, an IRS agent, who begins hearing a disembodied voice narrating his life as it happens, seemingly the text of a novel in which it is stated that he the main character will soon die. And he frantically seeks to somehow prevent that ending.
LS: So it’s basically like he starts hearing the voice of a narrator as though it’s narrating a book, narrating every action that he takes during the course of his day.
CB: Yeah, which was a really amazing premise. And, again, spoilers cause we’re gonna ruin the rest of it if you haven’t seen it yet and you don’t wanna hear the ending. He starts hearing a narrator, and it’s basically just that concept is really the main primary thing. There’s a few things in terms of why I like it as an astrologer. But that premise of what if you’re just going about your daily life and all of a sudden you hear somebody narrating your life and your inner thoughts but also your actions and your choices that are coming about as a result of your own free will. But for some reason there’s some omniscient whether they say at some point third person omniscient narrator who seems to be narrating it in a way that is people’s experience sometimes with astrology if you’re doing it as an astrologer on a regular basis is this very weird and sometimes eerie experience of living your life and making choices as a result of your own volition which are sometimes then you if you pay attention to astrology the astrology itself is sort of describing those choices as you’re making them even though it doesn’t seem like it should be and it’s not really clear why that’s happening.
LS: Mhm. Yeah, there’s parallels with some of the other ones we’ve talked about so far like the Slumdog Millionaire it is written kind of thing. Yeah, so basically saying he realizes that someone besides him is mapping out the trajectory of his life. There is an author to his life that is not him.
CB: Yeah. But then the problem is that at some point the narrator who is a woman with a English or British accent, and she says something like, “Little did he know that he is about to die,” or something like that. And then it freaks him out because all of a sudden the narrator who’s been right about everything up to that point in describing his mundane day-to-day life is suddenly saying that he’s gonna die soon and his impending doom is somehow coming up in the not too distant future.
LS: Right. So he runs out and tries to figure out what to do about this, go see a psychiatrist. She’s like, “You need to take medication.” He’s like, “No, I’m not schizophrenic.” And then that leads him to where he’s like, “What if another alternative possibility here, what would you tell me to do?” And she was like, “Maybe someone with literature knowledge because it’s a narrative, right?”
CB: Right. And that’s my favorite part. Actually, it was one of the most creative and brilliant parts of the movie is then he goes and he sees Dustin Hoffman who plays a literature professor. And then they go about trying to figure out what kind of story he’s in and what–
LS: Right. Is this a tragedy, comedy? He’s making checkmarks next to each one.
CB: Yeah, and they go through a process of ruling out different things that he could be in in order to figure out what the correct one is. And through that they eventually do narrow down, and he figures out, he sees on TV at some point an old interview with the author, and he realizes that’s her voice. And she’s a famous writer who unfortunately has written seven books, and she always kills the main character at the end of her books.
LS: Right. Right. The professor’s like, “Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah, you’re in one of those. They always die.” One of the things I thought was really interesting in the course of their interactions that has a tie into astrology is he’s telling Will Ferrell to stay home one day and do nothing cause he’s trying to figure out whether the action will proceed forward without him trying to do anything or whether it’s actually more the volition from his own actions which I think has interesting metaphysical things going on with it. The professor says, “Some plots are moved forward by external events and crises, others are moved forward by the characters themselves. If I go through that door, the plot continues the story of me through the door. If I stay here, the plot can’t move forward. The story ends.” So I thought that was interesting and that, yeah, actually astrologically you can’t ever stop things from happening. You can’t stop action from going forward, something will happen regardless.
CB: Sort of it’s both cause there’s both categories. Sometimes there are things that require choices on your part, but sometimes there’s things that are outside of your control that do force you to go in a certain direction.
LS: For sure. Yeah. And to really test it, you would have to just do nothing for a while.
CB: Well, you can. Sometimes I’ve done that, trying different things like when you see a bad transit coming cuz sometimes bad transits will come and happen, and something goes wrong in your life. That’s a matter of you messing something up or doing something wrong like having a Mars transit and accidentally cutting yourself or burning yourself on a stove or something like that or driving and getting in a car accident because you were being irresponsible or not paying attention versus sometimes you can as an astrologer see a bad transit coming and stop doing everything which was very similar to that one scene where he’s just stopped and he’s not doing anything. But then something will still happen that is an external event that happens to you that’s negative or challenging, yeah, that’s outside of your control.
LS: Right. So in this case in the movie he stays home all day and tries to do absolutely nothing, and a big construction crane comes and eats half of his apartment while he’s home. So he runs into the professor again. And the professor’s like, cause this was supposed to be a test. And professor’s like, “Meeting an insurance agent the day your policy runs out is coincidence. Getting a letter from the emperor saying he’s visiting is plot. Having your apartment eaten by a wrecking ball is something also entirely. Harold, you do not control your fate.” So it’s basically saying the action is continuing even if you try to stop it.
CB: All right. Yeah, the narrative. Life as a narrative or plot devices and things like that was an interesting concept, again, going back to the ancient notion of astrology being connected as a language and as like the heavenly script but in this context of being more like if your life was a book, what would the narrative be? And how would it be divided into different chapters and subsections? And what parts of that narrative are as a result of you making choices and actions and decisions versus what things are external circumstances that happen to you or that forced you to go in certain directions?
LS: Right. And how those in some ways are artificial categories in themselves but actually interact constantly.
CB: Yeah. But then what was funny and what set up the comedy portion of what was otherwise a dramatic film is him suddenly through some weird accident becoming aware of his narrative as it was happening and the initial problem that creates with him but then later when he discovers who the writer is that’s actually writing his life and is in the process of finishing up the novel which will contain the end of his life and how he dies then there being a crisis on her part and realizing that she in writing this fiction book is somehow narrating this person’s actual living life and this sort of crisis that creates for both of them.
LS: Right. Yeah, definitely.
CB: Yeah. Yeah. And one of the ones that this brought up for me that was different than some of the other films was issues with the length of life and notions about how a person dies or what the end of a person’s life is or when that is or even issues about knowing that because one of the sort of beautiful and touching things about that is once she finishes the book she gives it to him, and he and the literature professor read it. And they’re like, “This is actually really good, and this is the perfect ending to the book.” And the literature professor makes the argument that, “You’re inevitably gonna die at some point in some way, and there’s no way that you’re gonna end up dying in a way that’s more beautiful and fitting and poetic and admirable than the stuff that she’s written for you in some way.” And he partially as a result of that once he reads that the main character ends up accepting that in some sense and there ends up being almost like an acceptance of his fate in some way.
LS: Mhm. Right. Yeah, he kind of comes to peace with it. He starts to just live his life in his last days as though he would normally do.
CB: Yeah, he makes the most of it all. So he goes out of his way to live it to its fullest and do all the things that he would only do if he realized that his time wasn’t infinite but it had a limit in the not too distant future.
LS: Right. Yeah, yeah. And because of that, then there’s a different ending. And so basically the author changes it at the last minute partially because he’s at peace with it, and she has this great quote. And the professor asked, “Why did you change it?” And the author’s like, “Because it’s a book about a man who doesn’t know he’s about to die and then dies. But if the man does know he’s going to die and dies anyway dies willingly knowing he could stop it, then isn’t that the type of man you wanna keep alive?” So there’s definitely theological overtones going on with this one and also with The Adjustment Bureau, it’s a similar thing, where you’re by sort of being a good person or doing what’s perceived as the good thing to do, either accepting your fate or exercising your free will.
CB: Well, cause he dies trying to save a young child.
LS: Right, yeah. And so then the author’s like, “Oh. Well, he’s such a good person. I’m gonna let him live. He’ll just be very injured, and then I’ll let him live.”
CB: Right. Yeah. Well, that then also reminds me in and of itself there is like a classic in ancient astrology like length of life technique that was invented around the first century BCE and then a lot of astrologers dealt with. It was one of the classic techniques that all astrologers dealt with, and Ptolemy says that according to probably the ancient author who introduced the technique named Petosiris that the purpose of doing this technique before any of the others when you’re interpreting a birth chart is that you don’t want to as the astrologer predict great things for somebody who isn’t going to live long enough to see them. So there was this great actual preoccupation with determining the length of life in ancient Western astrology, and that sort of dropped out nowadays for various reasons. It is still somewhat alive and well in some parts of the Indian tradition, but I’ve been meaning to do an episode. I’m gonna do it at some point if I figure out how to do it well and carefully talking about that as a historical thing as well some of the different ethical implications and other things like that, I’ll get to it someday. But it made me think about, yeah, some of that and some of the issues surrounding that that do come up if something like that was possible with the length of life technique. And one of the modern answers to that when I took a module in Kepler years ago when we compared the Western length of life technique to some of the Indian techniques, is how sometimes in those techniques people will hit a bad point that will indicate a critical hit to a person’s vitality and how in the ancient world with ancient medicine and everything also how some of those things could have been the end of a person’s life but that nowadays with modern medical technology and other things a person might survive something that would have killed them 2,000 years ago. So some of the techniques one of the theories for example that some astrologers naturally put forward is that maybe the techniques are just showing various critical points in a person’s health history or in terms of a person’s health and vitality that could be exit points in that person’s story in terms of their physical vitality and well being but don’t necessarily have to be the actual definite endpoint to their life.
LS: Yeah, for sure.
CB: Which I honestly didn’t find was a very satisfying answer 15, somewhat years ago when I was at Kepler. And I said, “No. If it’s the length of life technique, it should tell you when you’re gonna die. And either it does that or it doesn’t do that.” Cause otherwise to me at the time it sounded like an excuse or something. Yeah, but I’m a little bit more okay with that actually as a thing here at this point.
LS: Yeah. No, I think that makes total sense. Yeah, cause the astrology isn’t gonna change. And so if there’s something also that changes i.e. modern medicine being able to save lives a little bit better, then sure. Then it’s gonna be more hits to vitality. I think it makes total sense. I was thinking about that piece as well because he was actually fairly injured in the movie. But he was in a hospital, and doctors were taking care of him. And so he didn’t actually fully die. He just was very injured. But he would take a few months, and then he’d be better.
CB: Right. Yeah, he broke a bunch of bones and was in a fullbody cast. So he was seriously critically injured but survived. And they said that he just survived through an act of chance through his wristwatch which was tied into the story in some weird way that wasn’t fully articulated, got lodged in his arm and stopped him from bleeding out or something through an act of chance or something.
LS: Right. Yeah.
CB: Yeah. So, yeah, that’s one of my favorites. It’s not one of your favorite movies.
LS: Well, you see, completely aside from the metaphysical views, it has a Manic Pixie Dream Girl storyline wherein there’s a love interest that would totally not have gotten together with him and they do not explain why she’s interested in him at all.
CB: All right. Well, yeah, you’re not a fan of the mid-2000s Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, you don’t feel like Maggie Gyllenhaal would have gotten together Will Ferrell.
LS: There was no reason.
CB: All right. I disagree. And you’re ruining this for all boring middle-aged guys that fantasy so you get suspension of disbelief, I think.
LS: It was a fantasy.
LS: A fantasy directly on one side of the aisle.
CB: All right. Well, did we figure out what the alternative was of that? Or did we figure out if there was a–
LS: Oh, whether there’s a male equivalent of Manic Pixie Dream Girl?
LS: I’m not sure if there is. I was mid-Google search and sort of forgot about it.
CB: Yeah. All right. Well, people can let us know in the comments if there is a different version of that.
LS: Yeah, please let us know your theories.
CB: Okay. All right. So that’s Stranger than Fiction. So, at this point, we’re sort of transitioning away from talking about some of like the really good movies or the movies that I really like to another subtopic which just is like there’s also been some not very good movies made that involve astrology that are in varying levels of good or bad. And I was trying to think of different just movies that are connected with astrology or mentioned it. And there’s definitely a bunch of those ones that we didn’t get to that either have astrological allegories or that are directly related to astrology in some way or incorporated into the narrative that I know that we’ve missed or completely overlooked. I know some people mentioned The Arrival, which we watched a few years ago but we didn’t rewatch and has some themes having to do with time and time travel and language and things like that that are interesting and kind of relevant. What else is there?
LS: There’s lots of movies out there about time travel that we’re just not covering here today.
CB: Yeah, that are sometimes interesting or useful in terms of astrology. There is sometimes documentaries. The History Channel did a documentary on astrology back in the mid-1990s that features some astrologers like Rob Hand. It features a dot matrix printer that’s painfully slowly printing up a birth chart in 1994, 1995 to give the kids some idea of what it was like to print up on the early computers a birth chart. If you do a search on Google for History Channel astrology documentary, it comes up pretty high cause they posted it in the past year or two as a free just video on YouTube. This used to be a History Channel thing, so that’s worth checking out.
LS: Mhm. I had another honorable mention for Sliding Doors from 1998.
CB: Okay, that was a early Gwyneth Paltrow movie?
LS: Mhm. Yeah, and it was basically just the two totally different life trajectories that would happen if this person either missed their train or made it on time and everything that rippled out from there in two different directions.
LS: I liked that one. You didn’t like it so much.
CB: It was pretty depressing.
LS: It was depressing at the end.
LS: Speaking of spoilers. But the one thing I did like about that one that was interesting in terms of relations to astrology was how even in the two different timelines that she had going on she still had some constants that were happening in both lives. She got pregnant on both lives and at the same time and things like that. She got into an accident towards the end in both lives. And I thought that would be actually how it works. So if you think about if there are fate and free will elements of astrology, then you would still have a lot of constants even if there were some differences in different timelines depending on your actions or decisions cause you would still have the same transits going on going forward from that point and things like that.
CB: Yeah, that’s true. That’s one of the unfortunate things of how you can actually never really test astrology is that’s what it would be like if you could experience the same exact transit twice with different circumstances and whether it could be different or whether it could go one way or another. But you can never exactly repeat the same transit precisely.
LS: Yeah, exactly.
CB: Cause you can sometimes try to isolate that transit with all the other transits around that are actually different that you’re in completely different circumstances.
LS: Yeah, it’s one of those things about astrology not being particularly amenable to the scientific method in terms of charting both chart lives and events and things like that. There are some things you could do, but that’s a side note. But in many ways, it’s not because of that factor.
CB: Yeah, it’s hard to get control basically. Yeah, and also because no each two moments in time are always unique. And even if there’s sometimes overlaps or similarities in certain things, there’s gonna be other things that are wildly different.
LS: Mhm. And the moments before affect the moments after, and it cascades up from there.
CB: Yeah. Or even some of the other ones we’re talking about like the triplets that were separated at birth and later put into different circumstances. Even though they have similar charts, they get put in different families. So they have different synastry with their different families that then affects them in different ways and matches or doesn’t match with their chart in different ways. Yeah, so that’s one movie. Other movies I know in passing that have some minor astrological element, I was just thinking this morning the classic horror movie The Omen about the birth of the Antichrist starts with I think some monks observing a rare alignment of the planets or something like that.
CB: So there’s these little themes that are built into some Western thought in religion and philosophy, and that in and of itself goes back to the notion of the Magi showing up to the birth of Jesus by following some sort of unspecified astrological alignment that led them to his birth supposedly.
CB: Yeah. All right. So in terms of other movies, there was a movie called Five Star Day that came out in 2010, and I had originally heard about this like a year or two or three before it actually came out because I had read a press release about it. And that it was in a movie that had an astrological premise. And the premise was basically that there was a guy who on his birthday read his horoscope in a newspaper, and it said he was gonna have a great five out of five star day. But then he had a terrible birthday, and a bunch of different things went wrong in his life. And it was a terrible day. And so for a school project he was gonna interview three other people who he found that were born on the same day and see what kind of day they had on that same birthday.
LS: Yeah. And he was basically going from the premise that astrology has no legitimacy, that it was bullshit in his words, propaganda and so forth. He was doing this for an ethics class interestingly. So they didn’t really develop that too much further, but I thought that was interesting in itself in terms of the ethics of fate and free will and things. So he goes and he finds the three other people. And he finds out that they actually did all have terrible birthdays, right?
CB: Right. Yeah, that ends up being the narrative for like 90, 95% of the story. And then something that we were always kind of baffled by at the end is the ending was really weird because suddenly even though the entire narrative is it seems like he’s demonstrated the opposite of what he expected that the three other people who had his same birth chart. And that’s actually one of the things that’s interesting is it describes and talks about birth charts and using the birth time and birth chart placements and transits and all sorts of other things at the beginning. So there’s a little bit more advanced discussion of astrology than you might normally see in a movie.
CB: And then it seems to, in its fictional narrative, set it up in a way that it’s actually he accidentally much to his surprise validated astrology. But then at the very end, there’s just this monologue where he’s presenting the results of his findings. And it unexpectedly veers in an anti astrology direction seemingly. At least that was like by original–Back in 2010 I remember both of us being very disappointed by it cause we were surprised that it goes in that direction even though it doesn’t seem like it’s going to. And then today when we rewatched it, it still did that. But I wonder if how that comes off to the audience was necessarily exactly what they were shooting for as the filmmakers or if there’s some of that that just came out that way in editing or what. cause it kind of comes out of nowhere.
LS: Right, yeah. And it is interesting. As you mentioned, there’s more advanced pieces of astrology earlier. He goes out of his way–That character goes out of his way to not just find people born on the same day which we would normally think from kind of a general astrological film from people who are not astrologers but actually like a writer on the same birth time and location which was actually kind of advanced to know that that matters. And they’re all within like five minutes of each other or something in the same hospital. But, yeah, the ending. We were both talking about how this was supposed to be for an undergrad philosophy class basically, and the ending monologue kind of sounded like that like how an undergrad philosophy person might think something sounded a little more profound than it did. But it was basically like, well, it’s what you do with what’s handed to you or it’s what you do with bad experiences from that point forward.
CB: Right, that ended up being what he said at the end?
LS: Mhm. Yeah.
CB: He was like, “It’s up to you. You are the choices that you make as a result of the cards you dealt,” basically is what it said. It didn’t seem to dwell on that point very much. The actual experience of 90% of the narrative of the film up to that point seemingly was validating that for whatever reason all three of these independent people that had independent lives experienced something subjectively negative on the same day.
LS: And notably negative not just sort of negative, right? They all had terrible days.
CB: Yeah, like life-changing events.
LS: Mhm. Yeah.
CB: Yeah, so it was one of the films that was just weird because it’s a low-budget indie film sort of to begin with. But, yeah, just the way it ended was always just kind of weird. But that’s actually available on Netflix we just discovered, so you can stream it and watch it if you want to.
LS: Mhm. And Netflix? I think that was on Amazon actually, one of those. But it was funny, too. It reminded me a little bit of skeptics who get a little bit of evidence that astrology might work and then just completely dismiss it out of hand despite that. I remember there was some sort of study like that, where they tried to cover it up that it seemed to be validating something astrological. So it reminded me of that a little bit. Because it’s like most of the entire film was like, “Oh, this seems to be working actually.” And then they’re like, “Oh, we’ll just put that aside in the last 10 minutes.”
CB: Right. Yeah. That was what happened with the [unintelligible 1.59.14] result at first, where the skeptic committee accidentally replicated the study, but they didn’t think that was possible. So they thought they must’ve made a mistake, so they hid the results until they could figure out what had gone wrong to validate astrology. Yeah, I still don’t understand what happened or with the ending this film or what, and I wonder if something happened in editing or… It’s one of the themes that sometimes comes up that’s weird. I was curious who the editor was and if the editor was different than the writer and director who it was his film. Because sometimes I’ve noticed, especially people early in their filmography or do more independent stuff, like one of the other movies that we’re going to talk about the end who edit their film in addition to writing and directing it, that’s not always a good idea because sometimes you want to leave in too much rather than cut out things that are unnecessary. But I guess the flip side of that is sometimes as the writer or director, you have a vision for what the film’s supposed to be and what it’s supposed to say, and so maybe you at least subjectively think that you do know what needs to be left in and what’s crucial to the film better than maybe an external person does.
LS: For sure. Yeah, pros and cons. I thought the ending also was a little bit similar, even though I thought that The Adjustment Bureau was a way better movie in terms of execution. They had similar endings in terms of just kind of talking about fate throughout the movie and then the end like free will triumphs. Like I don’t know where. There are differences of course, but that ending on free will is the good thing.
CB: Yeah. I mean, that’s just part of our society and Western thought at this point is just that free will is always pitted as a light and dark, good versus evil battle, where free will is seen as good and fate is seen as bad. And honestly, that’s actually for a large part, it’s part of our Christian heritage in Western society because that became the battleground when Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe by the fourth century, that became the dominant like objection to astrology was that it was impinging on free will, and free will was very important to Christian ideology. So that became one of the primary reasons that astrology was suppressed after that point because of its close associations with fate and was often skewed or looked at in a negative fashion versus up to that point, fate wasn’t necessarily seen as negative, but sometimes was seen as positive in that other side of it, which is the destiny side of it of, you know, sometimes you’re destined or you’re fated to have good things happen just as much as bad things.
LS: Right, exactly. And we don’t see a lot, it’s pretty skewed in these movies. It was Slumdog Millionaire that I think is the only one that had more of a positive destiny thing going on.
CB: Right, yeah. Which ironically, even though it was a British film was one that was more inspired by a novel and loosely based on a novel that was written by somebody from India.
LS: Right. And yeah, astrology never really got quite as suppressed there comparatively.
CB: Right, yeah. And notions sometimes of fate and free will are a little bit more, fate is not always seen as negatively or as oppressively, especially being tied in with other concepts like karma and reincarnation and things like that. Yeah. All right. Anything else about that one? You said it’s available on Amazon?
LS: I think it’s on Amazon and not Netflix if I’m remembering right. Yeah, I think we watched it on Amazon. I would say in a non-astrological sense both a bunch of these and on just love stories sort of wiping out the entire philosophy of what’s going on, which actually I find a little annoying.
CB: Okay. You’re not much for romantic sentiment.
LS: I guess I’m a non-romantic in these cinema things, but I mean, I’m not always non-romantic. But some of these are just so blatant, like they push the love story sort of to the foreground and ignore everything else we’ve been talking about up to that point. So, yeah.
CB: I think I am much more like won over by some of that stuff than you are.
LS: Yeah, could be.
CB: All right. So that’s a good transition into one of our other ones, which is again, not objectively one of the best films, but this is one that we found way back like 12 years ago. It’s an Indian film titled What’s Your Raashee? that came out in 2009. Raashee is the one of the Indian terms for a sign of the zodiac. So the title of the movie is literally what’s your sign, and do you have like a synopsis?
LS: Let’s see. This is a romantic comedy film. So this is based on a novel and follows the story of Yogesh Patel who must marry in 10 days to save his brother from harm, financial harm. Yogesh agrees to meet 12 potential brides, all played by the same actress, one from each zodiac sign, in order to get married within 10 days. He’s also going to inherit a whole bunch of money upon his wedding, which was part of how he’s going to save his brother because his brother owes a ton of money to like the mob or something.
CB: Yeah, to some like gangsters. So he has to get married, he has 10 days to do it. There’s different scenes like very early on where his father and mother are like visiting an astrologer and they’re getting the brother’s chart read, and then they read the main character’s chart and find out that the astrologer predicts that when he gets married that he’ll inherit a lot of money. And then later that turns out to be true. And initially, like the astrology element is interesting because the astrologer is making correct predictions and seems to have actual knowledge of the future. And it’s interesting seeing that coming from like an Indian film. And I don’t know if this qualifies as a Bollywood film, but it’s from sort of like Indian cinema and some of the different cultural connotations of astrology. And it’s somewhat more accepted in Indian culture. Although what’s a little bit weird is like the astrologer after initially being a smart, prescient character later turns kind of weird, because then somehow he has a side job as a private investigator and he has a weird comedic role later on that seems kind of odd.
LS: Right, yeah. He’s tracking down the brother of the father is cheating on his wife or something, yeah, whole side plot.
CB: It’s a really long movie.
LS: It’s three and a quarter hours.
CB: Okay. So it’s almost three and a half hours, and it’s criticized for that in virtually all reviews. Although I didn’t realize until this watch through why that was. And it’s for a very classic reason that any professional astrologer that’s ever written a Sun sign column or a rising sign column is very familiar with. Which is anytime you try to do 12 of anything, like that’s a lot of literally anything to do.
LS: Right, right. And so they had to go through like the dates with each of the 12 women, each of the 12 signs, and therefore it’s a long movie.
CB: Yeah. So it’s a super long movie cause there’s 12 characters, and the 12 women that the main character dates are all played by the same actress. And at least according to Wikipedia, this set like a record for like the most characters played by a single actor or actress in a single movie. And she plays 12 different characters. And in the subtitles, it kept saying like Sun sign, but I think it was just saying in Hindu saying Raashee, so it might’ve been more like rising sign or like who knows if it was really even specified. It’s just like different signs. And it had an amazing one like opening, where it has this James Bond style opening representing each of the 12 Zodiac signs. And then every Zodiac sign has like a song and dance sequence and there’s some amazing, great music and singing intervals if people are into musicals, an astrology-themed musical.
LS: Yeah. It is very much that which is kind of funny cause we’re usually not in the frame of reference of Bollywood here, and so, you know, we don’t usually get songs and dances for our characters.
CB: I mean, the songs are actually stuck in my head now. I forgot that that’s something that happens like after you watch this movie, the songs get stuck in your head.
LS: For sure, yeah. So it was interesting with the different signs. It seemed like for many of them they had some sort of characteristics that were supposed to be appropriate for that sign, sort of like well-known characteristics of those signs.
CB: Yeah. And if you do a search, like a Google search for What’s Your Raashee? Blog review or Chris Brennan, you’ll find like a very overly detailed analysis of this movie in an old blog post that I wrote on my old blog, The Horoscopic Astrology blog from like 2009, 2010, where I have like an analysis of like everything they did right or wrong and what they were going for with all the signs. And it seemed like they did go for a specific characteristics with just about all the signs. There were just two that didn’t make as much sense or that we weren’t sure what they were going for, which were Aries and… What was the other one?
LS: Libra. Aries, Libra, and to some degree Capricorn.
CB: I mean, they had a specific thing they’re going for with Libra, I’m just not fully sure why.
LS: Yeah. I mean, Libra was almost more like Capricorn characteristics, and I almost felt like they were going… I don’t think they were because they probably weren’t thinking this hard about it, but it reminded me of Saturn’s exaltation in Libra, because it was very Saturnian type of contractual thing going on.
CB: Yeah. We’re not really sure… That was one of the things, we weren’t really sure in the movie like how much they consulted with astrologers and how much they attempted to use astrology in any significant way to inform like the plot and some of the characters or to what extent it was just like a writer using that as a plot device with very little actual knowledge of astrology. And some of the signs of the Zodiac, they did take relatively typical traits.
LS: Yeah, really superficial knowledge of those signs.
CB: Yeah, like Gemini was chatty.
LS: And kind of flighty, and Scorpio had a secret persona going on that was sexy.
CB: Right, was supposed to be a sexy character, and Pisces I think was kind of new agey or something or like spiritual.
LS: Right. Sagittarius was actually an astrologer herself, which I appreciated.
CB: Right, and she read his chart and predicted some things, but then there was a weird curve ball where she tried to sleep with him.
LS: Yeah. She’s like, “Your first marriage from your chart that I see is going to not work out unless you have a full physical relationship with someone before you’re married.”
CB: I mean, I myself knowing a Sagittarius who might do something like that.
LS: Yeah. No, it was funny though that they brought in that. I appreciated the Sagittarius part that she was an astrologer, not maybe the rest of it. But it was interesting that they brought in that astrological knowledge beyond the superficial sign characteristics. That is something that is sometimes said in Indian charts. Like, “Oh, this will indicate that your first marriage will be bad or will fail, but then your second marriage will be okay,” that kind of thing. And she was bringing that in.
CB: Yeah, that you have to do this perpetuation ritual in order to avoid this negative thing in order to get the second thing.
LS: Right. Which I think she was going for in a sort of ad hoc fashion. She’s like, “Well, if you sleep with me, then you will have had a relationship before you get married.”
CB: Yeah. Because there’s a thing like that that’s become like… In the same way in the west that there’s certain astrological concepts that have become more mainstream like Mercury retrograde or like Saturn return, there’s one in India that is like the Mars Kuja Dasha, which like a Mars affliction which is when you have Mars in like the seventh or 12th or like a couple other houses is said to indicate bad marriage prospects at least for the first marriage. And so there’s some times certain propitiation type things that are recommended to ward off that. I don’t know how often that’s actually done or how serious that is, but I’ve heard one of marrying a tree or something like that in order to get the first bad marriage out of the way so that you can get to the second one. I don’t know to what extent they were incorporating some loose background knowledge of that. I know we re-read my old blog post and this was the one that was on Netflix. So people can actually stream What’s Your Raashee? on Netflix in all its glory and its musical interludes of which there’s basically like 10 or 12 with each of the signs. But there used to be in the original, cause we got the DVD, like we–
LS: We were very serious.
CB: Yeah, we’re very serious about this movie. And it has actually really great packaging and stuff and great marketing. They had really good marketing originally, even though the movie didn’t do super well in India, I don’t think. And when we read the reviews, but… Yeah, what was I going to say?
LS: I’m not sure, but I mean, I think part of why we were serious about it is because it’s just so novel that there is a movie that incorporates anything real about astrology.
CB: Well, that was the thing is they did have that was really interesting in the DVD. They had I remember it was a warning saying like this–
LS: Oh yeah, a disclaimer.
CB: There’s like a disclaimer at the beginning of the DVD, and we didn’t see that in the Netflix version. So we don’t know if they removed that or if we just didn’t see it at the beginning saying something about this is not meant to be an accurate depiction of astrology because it seemed like they must have been nervous about offending people that believed in astrology in India or something like that and some of the ways that they were taking creative liberties with certain things.
LS: Right. Well, and especially kind of making the character of the astrologer into sort of not completely great character.
CB: Yeah, in some ways as the butt of a joke or something, which was kind of weird at certain points. Yeah. So it’s not like a super deep or important film, it’s really light, romantic comedy of sorts, an Indian movie that incorporates some astrological themes. It was originally on our list of just like bad astrology films, but now that I’ve rewatched it again, I actually like it a little bit more than I remember liking it at the time.
LS: Yeah, same. I mean, it’s not bad outright, it’s just more like fluff, you know? That’s kind of like a light movie.
CB: Right. I do like some of the songs and some of the graphics they did for like the James Bond intro featuring different signs and like the actress that’s playing the different signs.
LS: Right. Aries was really off, I do remember that.
CB: There’s some things that I don’t know if they just didn’t, the filmmakers didn’t know. Or again, there may have been some things that happened in editing again when they were cutting down like a three and a half hour film. But I also wondered if there weren’t any that were different things like east and west in terms of east and west conceptualizations of the Zodiac signs, and if there were any ones that would have been more obvious to like an Indian astrologer versus Western astrologer, except so many of the ten seemed to be very textbook similar to what a Western astrologer, what Western-like cliches are about certain signs as well.
LS: Exactly. And you know, there’s a lot of overlap, even if there are some differences as well, in how the signs are conceptualized sidereally and tropically. So I mean, it is true that Aries tropically would potentially be Pisces sidereally, but I really don’t know if it was that deep, I think they just didn’t do a good job with Aries.
CB: Yeah. Well, what was it? It was just like she was trying to pretend to be something that she wasn’t, I think was the thing.
LS: Yeah, and she was kind of meek and kind of nerdy. She wasn’t very Marsy at all.
CB: Yeah, that’s a little weird. And then the one that was more aggressive was like they made Libra be like a businesswoman that was very assertive and high-powered and was like getting him to like sign a contract and was treating the marriage like a contract early on. And they did a musical interlude about him, controlling and dominating him if they were in a relationship, which is interesting. And I wondered… It’s like I didn’t know if they’re taking certain things theoretically from the signs or if they’re also trying to take certain things as if it was thought to be like the rising sign and what other indications I would have or something like that. I don’t really know.
LS: Yeah. I don’t think it went that far. That’d be my guess. I don’t know, of course. And then Capricorn was more like beleaguered by family tradition rather than you would think that the Libra depiction would be more stereotypically like the Capricorn.
CB: Yeah. I don’t know, it’s weird. But people should check it out and let us know if they notice anything interesting about each of the signs or what some of the motivations were for some of those that we overlooked or that might be unique to Indian astrology in particular. Yeah. All right, so that is What’s Your Raashee? which like you said is on Netflix and possibly like other places, so people can check that out. What was our very last one?
LS: Our very last one is Return of the Magi.
CB: Okay. So Return of the Magi was like a docudrama that came out in 2008 by an astrologer named Kelly Lee Phipps that we knew who sadly passed away several years ago. And it came out eventually in 2008, he was actually filming it over the course of a few years because I knew Kelly and remember running into him. And he was interviewing tons of astrologers for this documentary over the course of a few years. And he would go to conferences and just do tons of interviews like back to back to back. But it was like his first film, he’d never done a film before and he raised some money for it and he was donated some money for it. I know he had one client who wrote him a check for this for something crazy like $20,000 or something like that to buy a bunch of the equipment and the camera and other things that he needed to like make this vision project that he had about doing, not just a documentary about astrology, where he interviewed a bunch of astrologers of the time, but also they had this like dramatic component to it which ended up being a little bit more of the part that didn’t go as well, where it was imitating the style of a movie that was super popular in the mid-2000s, which is What the Bleep Do We Know!? which is like a movie about metaphysical stuff, where like interviewed different scientists or metaphysical people that were expressing views about metaphysics or spirituality or philosophy or things of a more almost like new age band. But then it was interspersed with this dramatic component that was telling a narrative about like a central character that like drove the plot and added like some transition points into the different topics of the documentary drama. So Kelly tried to sort of imitate that and do a version of that for astrology, because basically for years astrologers have always said like, “Why isn’t there a good movie or a documentary about astrology that talks about and really shows what the astrological community is about in a way that’s positive and a more accurate reflection of what astrologers actually do and think and believe?” And for a long time, there hasn’t been and honestly there still isn’t. And it seems like that project itself often runs into weird problems and like roadblocks that at different points it made me despair about whether that’s ever going to happen or if anyone’s ever going to get it together to do a project like that successfully in a way that it would need to be done. So Kelly kind of took it upon himself to do that. But it was like his first film and he was very much, when you’re watching it, he was learning as he went, and you can kind of see the process of that learning. And eventually what happened is he approached, when I was the president of the Association for Young Astrologers, approached us and our board to help him premiere the film at the United Astrology Conference in 2008, which was in May of 2008 in Denver. And we got together with him and did that. We hosted a big premiere in this huge auditorium in downtown Denver in front of like 2,000 astrologers. But then it just did not go super well cause that was the first time I think he finished it like very shortly before it was done and it was his first film. And in addition to writing and directing it, he also edited it himself, which is extremely hard. And older I’ve gotten and the more I’ve gotten into doing video for the podcast and things like this, the more I understand what Kelly sort of went through to some extent in filming it as a first time filmmaker, which is it’s always really incredibly hard to write and direct something and then also to edit it because it’s really hard for a creator to like remove and get rid of stuff and to have the sort of objectivity that you need in order to know what you need to cut versus what is okay to keep. So the runtime of the final movie is just like wildly long. It’s like three hours long almost, like two forty.
LS: Something like that, yeah. Yeah. And you know, the people weren’t professional actors who did the dramatic roles.
CB: And that ended up being the biggest issue with it was he didn’t have like actors, he just had like friends and family members basically act out the dramatic parts. And he had this dramatic narrative or storyline that ran throughout it about like a girl who runs into hard times, and then she befriends an astrologer, learns about astrology, and then her life becomes better. And she has an astrology reading at one point that’s really long, and then that’s like the end of the movie. She finds happiness or something.
LS: Right. It’s basically about like trying to show the value of astrology for people who have been unaware of it and then lots and lots of interviews with professional astrologers. And that’s kind of the cooler part, honestly. And it’s even interesting now to look back because of course that really froze in time some of who the astrologers were that were known and some of them are still, but some of them have passed away since then, you know, 13 years ago.
CB: Like Robert Blaschke’s in the film, and he passed away more than 10 years ago.
LS: Chris McRae, who passed away more recently.
CB: He passed away just in the past year.
LS: Tim Tucker.
CB: Yeah, the head of Mountain Astrologer magazine, Paul Reeder, who is an astrologer a lot of us knew from MySpace who passed away I think like a decade ago. So yeah, and it’s really good and is still good for that. And a lot of the interviews that Kelly did were really amazing. And he had a YouTube channel at the time where he was releasing longer cuts of many of the interviews that would eventually end up in small segments in the film. And that was one of the other things that he was struggling with in terms of the running time was just he had interviewed so many astrologers. You can see how he was trying to find places for bits of all of those interviews, but there were just so many of them. I don’t even know what the final count was, had to have been something like 30 or 40 plus astrologers that he was trying to fit in different parts of the film. And he did break it up very loosely or broadly into different categories of some topics. Yeah.
LS: Yeah. So, I mean, honestly it just needed to be cut down a little more, and I know that it would’ve been really hard to do those interviews and then to cut any of them. But yeah, it needed to be streamlined a little bit more.
CB: Yeah. So the premiere didn’t go very well, it ended up being really long. We premiered it somewhat late at night. In fact, it was like three hours long and it was in the middle of this what was already like a major like the biggest astrology conference of the decade in 2008. Like a lot of people had walked out by the end basically, and it wasn’t like universally received super well. Yeah, I had always meant to recut it, and at some point I will or still may at some point or I’d like to recut it to just… You basically need to get rid of the dramatic portion of it, because that didn’t end up working out despite everyone’s best efforts, and just focus on, to whatever extent you can, the interview segments of it and there would be something really valuable there. There’s still going to be some technical issues in terms of they can tell more how he was learning as he went. And so in some of the earlier interviews, some of his audio was a bit rougher at different points and his settings get better as he progressed as well. Because he was learning and improving as he went. And you can see that if you know, like I know what conferences he was at because I kept running into him at these conferences and we kept missing each other cause he wanted to interview me. And then we finally did at one of the latest conferences at a Northwest Astrology Conference I think in Seattle, it must’ve been in 2007. He finally caught me for an interview like right before I went to do a lecture and portions of that ended up in the movie.
LS: So if anyone wants to see a very, very young Chris Brennan, check this out.
CB: Yeah, 22 is what we figured out must have been.
LS: Something like that, yeah.
CB: Yeah. So some of the interviews don’t have super good audio or there’s some people like standing outside and wind’s blowing really hard, or there was this one setting where there was a NCGR conference that was at like an old Masonic lodge that had been converted into a hotel. And there was this beautiful room that had a lot of interesting stone working in this like big sort of conference room or something like that and a lot of interesting stone designs in the background. And he filmed a bunch of interviews there cause it had a great background setting for the interview subject, but it was like a really echoey room. So the audio is really echoey in that interview. Yeah, so just technical things like that, they’ll still be there, but for what it is and I don’t think it’s actually widely available at this point, it might be actually really hard to find, but hopefully at some point it will be recut just to a better sort of second version of it and preserve some of those interviews.
LS: Yeah. It’s kind of like a snapshot in time of like astrologers at that point, lots of astrologers who are still practicing. Yeah, it had very good aims, I think. And you could tell, especially in the beginning of the movie, it was about trying to make astrology respectable and that it had fallen into disrepute over time, but that like really good people do astrology and that kind of thing, and it can be really helpful to your life. I think that was the aim, portraying that.
CB: Yeah, just had really good aims, and yeah, for what it was worth, it still captured a lot of astrologers that were professional speakers and on the lecture circuit at that point in time or that were doing interesting work and what their thoughts were about astrology and how they wanted to present it to the world, which is a really admirable project. And in some ways influenced what I’ve tried to do with the podcast over the past decade to some extent. Because I always also wanted to do something like that. And then in some ways what I ended up doing with the podcast and wanting to interview different astrologers was in wanting to do like a version of that in a way that was more what I would want to see.
LS: Right, yeah. And mostly based on the non-fiction part rather than the fiction part.
CB: Yeah. So that’s that movie, but also that’s the context where there still hasn’t been a movie like that, and I still hope at some point that somebody does that has some filmmaking experience. I don’t have that, and the more I’ve gotten into this, I’ve understood the value and wished that I had like gone to film school or something like that so I wasn’t learning things in the same way that Kelly did sort of on your own just by doing them, which is often as astrologers how you have to do things. Most astrologers are self-taught, and we sort of learn by doing and by self-education. But I’ve learned the value of some of those things of how film and filmography and cinematography is its entire field that people dedicate their entire lives to. So I hope somebody, at some point with that kind of background does put together an actual astrology documentary and does a good job that can display what astrology is that’s more palpable to the public.
LS: Yeah. And it seems like someone sort of more on the inside of the astrological community needs to be involved in something like that, because invariably, whenever they do these little film clips, not movie, but I mean, what am I trying to think of? Like little doc clips.
CB: Like news clips, like a news organization or somebody does something on astrology, they try to sensationalize it and they usually try to mock it or present it as this weird stupid thing.
LS: Yeah. Like there was a Vox thing at the last UAC, UAC 2018.
CB: And with stuff like Vox or other things like that, it’s always much more overtly antagonistic or attacking.
LS: Well, it’s like even when they do a good job or sort of a good job and try to get like some accurate stuff in there, like one of them asked us for feedback on accuracy, but they always have to add in like, “Oh, but it’s probably fake,” you know, like something that sort of casts like suspicion or derision or laughing at astrology for balance or something. And so that’s why it would be nice if someone more internal to the astrological community that also had some film tie in could do something like that, because otherwise it’s always kind of portrayed badly.
CB: Yeah. Even if it’s not a fluff piece for astrology, it always just inevitably, especially by outsiders, gets portrayed in some sort of weirdly distorted light. And that was ultimately what was refreshing and sort of ground breaking and what I respect about Kelly’s attempt, was the attempt sort of for astrologers to take it into our own hands to actually document what the internal thoughts and discussions are of a variety of different astrologers in the community and to provide that sort of snapshot of what astrologers were saying at that point in time.
LS: Right. And really to try to portray that directly rather than with some sort of outside lens.
CB: Right, yeah. So hopefully at some point somebody pulls that off. I mean, there’s been other various attempts, but none have been terribly successful at this point. There was one documentary that there was a Kickstarter for several years ago that was supposed to be partially based on the work of Richard Tarnas, but that’s been weirdly another one of these what seems like projects that has not gone very well or it’s been delayed numerous times. And it seemed like it was originally set up in a way that already seemed a little bit questionable and that it was going to focus on the Uranus Pluto square, which a lot of the mundane astrologers but especially the Tarnas school were very focused on in the early 2010s when like Uranus was squaring Pluto and there was some stuff going on in places like the Middle East at the time. But by focusing on that, it was a little bit problematic to start with because then the movie kept having major delays. So now it’s talking about a mundane astrological alignment that’s like way in the past and largely no longer relevant at this point. And it was kickstarted as a single movie, and I actually put money in for it cause I wanted to see something like that, but now it’s been turned into like a 12-part series, and it keeps getting delayed. And I’m very not optimistic about it at this point, but we’ll see what happens.
LS: For sure. Yeah. I mean, you talking about obstacles and people trying to make these kinds of things reminds me of the like, is astrology supposed to be a cult? kind of discussion. Is like, is there a reason that it shouldn’t be front and center in everyone’s mind but only people who should find it find it? You know?
CB: Yeah. I mean, it does feel like a sort of curse at this point that astrology never… None of these projects to give any sort of decent treatment of astrology ever really sort of come out super well. And that’s one of the things we’ve touched on in some of these films and just things that have gone awry or just not come out that well or why we focused more on in some instances for like half of this just like fictional movies that are sort of like broadly might be seen as astrological allegories instead of actual movies about astrology because there’s really not many or any that have gone terribly well. But and yeah, that question about whether that’s always going to be the case or whether there will be something that will break through that at some point or whether, you know, I know Demetra always talks about what you’re talking about, this idea of astrology as an archetype or is it like an entity that ultimately in some part of it wants to remain obscure and that’s part of its very nature. And so while it might come up and surface every once in a while, and sometimes you get these larger public periods of interest in astrology which we’re experiencing right now, that that’s always somewhat temporary. And then there’s always this eventual like submersion of it again, where it sort of goes away or becomes banned or societaly things start going against it or what have you.
LS: Yeah. And I certainly don’t want society to be against astrology per se, but I’m otherwise more or less okay with it being quizzical. Because I don’t know, I sort of do feel in accordance with like the people that should find it do find it rather than like everyone should be all about it. Because sometimes people treat it badly who don’t really have the right motives or something.
CB: Yeah. Or if it was widely accepted would it get perverted in different ways or become institutionalized in ways that are weird or inappropriate or not helpful ultimately, which ideally we would like astrology to be.
LS: Yeah, exactly.
CB: Yeah. All right. Well, we’ll see what happens if there’s any astrology documentary someday that’ll do a better job. In the meantime, I’m going to keep shooting interviews with astrologers and sort of documenting it in that sense and occasionally doing fun little episodes like this talking about the social or artistic or literary or other ways that astrology sometimes shows up in society in different ways. Cool. Well, thanks for joining me for this today.
LS: You’re welcome.
CB: Let us know, I guess people can let us know if there’s any movies that we missed that were either like fictional movies that would be good for astrologers to check out that they might enjoy that have like astrological allegories or narratives that might be interesting for various reasons to astrologers or even if there are other videos. Actually I did just remember there was a documentary that was made, we found it a few years ago when the filmmakers posted on Vimeo. But it was a documentary from the first United Astrology Conference from 1986. I think if you Google like United Astrology Conference documentary 1986, you’ll still find those videos on Vimeo. And that was actually an interesting, again, additional astrology documentary that was not like widely released as far as I know, it was just published online eventually like many years later. But it has a bunch of like interesting interviews with a bunch of strikingly young looking astrologers, especially ones born in the 1940s who were only in their like thirties or forties at that point.
LS: Yeah, that was really cool to see and kind of fun to see what everyone looked like when they were younger. Yeah, it was more of like an intra-community project. It was more like astrologers will care about what other astrologers were doing with the first UAC, not so much anyone else.
CB: Yeah. It wasn’t more of a public thing, but did seem more interesting internally. Yeah. So people can check that out, and let us know if we forgot or missed any other astrology documentaries or shows or other things that might be fun or useful or interesting for astrologers to check out.
LS: Yeah, I’m sure there are more, especially fictional movies. So let us know what you think of.
CB: Cool. All right. Well, I guess that’s it for this episode. So thanks everybody for watching this episode of The Astrology Podcast. Thanks to all the patrons for supporting us and making this work possible, and that’s it for this episode. We’ll see you again next time.
LS: See you next time.
CB: Special thanks to all the patrons that supported the production of this episode of the podcast through our page on patreon.com. In particular, thanks to all the patrons on our producer’s tier, including Nate Craddock, Thomas Miller, Catherine Conroy, Kristi Moe, Ariana Amuor, Mandi Rae, Angelic Nambo, Sumo Coppock, Issa Sabah, Jake Otero, Morgan MacKenzie, Kristin Otero and Sanjay Sreehari. For more information about how to become a patron and get access to bonus content such as early access to new episodes or private subscriber only podcast episodes, go to patreon.com/astrologypodcast. Special thanks also to our sponsors, including The Mountain Astrologer Magazine available at mountainastrologer.com, the Honeycomb Collective Personal Astrological Almanacs available at honeycomb.co. Astro Gold astrology software for the Mac operating system which is available at astrogold.io. And you can use the promo code ASTROPODCAST15 for a 15% discount. The Portland School of Astrology available at portlandastrology.org. Astro Gold astrology app for iPhone and Android which is also available at astrogold.io. And finally the Solar Fire astrology software program for Windows which you can get from alabe.com, and you can use the promo code AP15 for a 15% discount.