Marie Cardinal


Marie Cardinal presents the Sun in Pisces trigonal to Pluto, which is in the eighth house, and to the Ascendant, which means that the luminary is extremely potent, and with the characteristics of Scorpio so marked as to be perfectly visible even in the corporeal form. Even the Moon is in Pisces, in the third house, opposed to Neptune in the ninth house in conjunction to MC, so it’s clear that the writer had very strong Piscean characteristics. We can therefore visualise a kindly person, attentive towards others and with a very important bond to the mother, who in the birth chart of everyone of us is represented by the Moon.

A very prolific writer, and one of the major outstanding figures in the contemporary French literary panorama, her most notable work was “The words to say it”, in which, in a simple and direct way, she described the seven years of analysis she underwent. Marie, in fact, found herself gripped at the age of thirty by a total and paralysing crisis, which overwhelmed her just when Saturn, very positive in the trigons with Venus and Neptune, but which also formed a very strong opposition to Mars, returned to the birth position in her horoscope. Arriving on the threshold of her thirty third year, a graduate working as a teacher, Moon in the third house, married and mother of three children, she suddenly began to spend all her days lodged between the bidet and the loo, completely alienated from her entire social life and her relationship with her husband. The reason for her affliction was an uninterrupted menstrual cycle that forced her to avoid any contact since, when she was among people, she was obliged to constantly check that she was managing to hide the loss of blood. This so restricted her as to force her to lock herself up at home, hidden away in the bathroom. In addition, she also suffered serious anxiety crises, during which she perspired copiously while her extremities remained completely frozen.

Marie was born to an upper middle class family in Algeria, where she spent her entire adolescence, until the war forced the family to return to France. As her uncle was in charge of a psychiatric clinic, when Marie began to show symptoms of her illness, the family tried sent her to that institution, where, after examinations of every type had failed to reveal any physical ailment, the doctors decided to administer an experimental medicine in tablet form that was designed to produce a sort of chemical electrical shock, but whose side-effects were little understood. They further planned to remove her uterus, at which point Marie, who in the meantime had began to secretly spit out the pills every time they brought them to her, decided to escape because she resolutely did not wish to give up so important a part of her body. Her strength and poise at least partially recovered, thanks to a friend, she put into effect her plan to flee the clinic and the family, and put herself in the hands of a psychoanalyst, a short, slender man, with sharp, penetrating, black eyes, who she would call throughout her book “The Man”. Once he had hear her story, he ordered her to make three visits a week that, he said, Marie should pay for all at once, forcing her to find herself a job. He put her mind at rest at once saying that the decision to refuse the pills had been a wise one, but that she needed to begin therapy, that she mustn’t take medication of any sort for the duration of the analysis, and that, above all, he told her in no uncertain terms that her menstrual imbalance was purely psychosomatic. These last words were like a slap in the face for Marie, so much so that she immediately decided to change analyst. But hardly had she left his office and got in a taxi for home, she checked, as usual, to see whether she was losing blood and discovered that it had all vanished, after a single sitting. That irrevocably convinced her to continue the therapy with him, and in fact it went on for seven years. The sessions began with the analysis of less painful subjects, such as the figure of her father, whom we will outline through Marie’s story, analysing the Sun in her birth chart.

The luminary is in Pisces, which tells of a sweet father, and an extraordinary one, someone who needed his freedom, and great space in which to operate, and in addition, it formed a very beautiful trigon with Pluto in the eighth house, which shows a strong and creative personality, but given the nature of the solar sign, which was lodged in the fourth house, it was highly probable that he would not enjoy good health. Pisces tells us as well that he might have been an absent, idealised father, and further, we should not undervalue the fact that the house of the Sun is trigonal to the eighth. Reading the book, we discover in fact that Marie’s mother, represented let’s not forget, by a Moon opposed to Neptune, while she was carrying her in the womb, started the separation from the husband, but because she was extremely religious, she opted to renounce men forever in addition to estrangement from her husband. It’s clear, therefore, that in this situation, the pregnancy cannot have been a serene one. Marie therefore did not have a father present in the domestic environment, as we could suppose from a superficial look at her Sun, and she saw him only at the week-ends under a court order, but during the analysis, she slowly realised that he was the only person who had truly loved her, which is without doubt observable in the trigon that linked the luminary to Pluto. She and her father loved each other because they were fundamentally alike, both gifted with the same energy and creativity, with the same need for freedom, but Marie continued to rebuff the father’s tenderness, because in the meantime the mother had done everything she could to diminish him in her eyes, with the aim of emotionally separating them.

From childhood, she loved to play with the children of her servants, with whom she usually ran through the fields without a care in the world, freed from the social binds, foreign to her Piscean nature, which the mother imposed. In fact, her Saturn in the second house symbolised the rules that were to be followed within the clan and because the planet is in trigon to Neptune and Venus, only the observance of them could make her worthy of love. In addition, the planet is opposed to Mars, therefore she would always be treated with extreme discipline. Seeing that authority is not gender specific, we can immediately understand that in Marie’s world, it was represented by the mother figure, in part because the father, as noted earlier, was all instinct, passion and sentiment, and what’re more, he was far away. He was in no way tied to rationality and duty, while the Moon in sextile to Saturn explains perfectly the discipline and extreme authoritarianism of the mother. The aspect is positive, so it’s beyond doubt that, although burdensome to put up with in her youth, the rule of the mother helped Marie enormously in her adult life, in fact her capacity for analysis and comprehension were exceptional. The Moon-Saturn aspect is the feature that would have allowed her to carry through to the end any psychological analysis, because Saturn always brings every enterprise to its conclusion, something that would otherwise not have been possible with the opposition of Neptune, which encumbered the Moon.

Marie’s father died while she was still very young and because of a delay in the means of transport, the coffin, damaged during the journey, arrived in Algeria eight days late. In the room in which the funereal vigil was organised, Marie remembered the intense scent of flowers with which the room was decorated, yet mixed up with another odour, which she discovered was the smell of the decomposing cadaver of her father, emanating from the broken coffin. This is the single memory she would retain of the death of her father, because Marie didn’t feel the pain of the loss, it was almost as if for her a stranger had died. Only in her adult years, during the analysis sessions, did she realise how much she had loved her father, the only one who had accepted and appreciated her for what she was, and from whom she received the only emotional gratification of her childhood, something she had been unable to recognise because of the hostility between the mother and her ex-husband.

Let’s move on now to analyse in an astrological sense Marie’s maternal figure. Because the Moon, in Pisces, is opposed to Neptune, we immediately find the picture of an extremely sensitive woman, but the sextile to Saturn in the second house tells us that she also felt it necessary to show a different personality to others, that is a rational and sensible one. A Moon like this can’t help but feel the need to charitably take care of her neighbours, and in fact we know from Marie’s stories that every morning her mother dedicated herself to taking care of the poor without pay because, something rare for a woman in those days, she had studied medicine. Gifted with a fervid imagination and with an immeasurable desire for freedom, Marie wandered through fields in search of little treasures, stones and sea-shells to give to the mother, convinced that in this way she could win her love, but she only felt she had that love when she was forced to take to her bed with some illness. In these circumstances, the mother would interrupt her voluntary activities to devote herself completely to her little daughter, taking care of her with dedication and tenderness and singing her very sad songs that spoke of death. In her book, Marie tells of having had her first panic attack at the age of twenty during a Luis Armstrong concert, and was forced to leave hurriedly because she had inexplicably started to tremble and sweat. Once she reached home, the mother came to take care of her at once and the young girl understood that, at that precise moment, she had recognised in the daughter what Marie would forever call “the thing”. This “thing” that united her to her mother was insanity. Even in these circumstances, the parent took loving care of her and above all tried to calm her, telling her that panic attacks were quite normal. In spite of this reassurance, a part of Marie began to suspect that, on the contrary, such experiences were anything but normal and in fact, ten years later, she found the strength to overcome the inner pain that afflicted her. It’s quite clear, then, that Marie’s mother not only showed her love when she was ill but that she wanted her to be in precisely that condition. Indeed, with the Moon opposed to Neptune, in order to obtain the mother’s approval and recognition, she tried in every way to destroy herself and submerged herself for many years under the mantle of victim. But Piscean strength is not the only force in her birth chart, Mars and Pluto are also present, in Cancer in the eighth house. Since Cancer represents the family, the presence of Mars in this sign indicates that she had to endure not inconsiderable violence in the family home during her infancy, but Mars and Pluto in the birth chart are very beautiful and very strong, therefore it’s clear that she too is a violent person, without however realising it. It could be no other way, moreover. All of us in the early part of our lives live through the Moon in our birth chart and, because her luminary was Piscean, it was absolutely not possible to express her aggression during childhood. The violence experienced is also readable in the sexual field, in fact we know from her stories that it was prohibited to mention that part of the body below the waist since any sexual allusion was regarded as a taboo. Her mother was a good storyteller, able to identify with the stories she told as only a Neptunian can, but when she touched upon sexual matters, she assumed an extremely low tone, because in her family sex was seen as filthy or at best ridiculous, never as a normal part of life. The violence to which she was subjected is therefore beyond doubt, but at the same time it was not displayed outwardly, but more than anything it was perpetrated at the mental level, therefore hidden and so even more underhand. After some years of analysis, Marie finally realised that the only conversations she had had with her mother had been formal, and what’s more, about the rules of the house to be respected, and that she, Marie, was exactly the opposite of what her mother would have wanted; she loved flowers, freedom and the scenery of Algeria, she was, in a nutshell, exactly like her father, whom the mother hated profoundly.

The father was born to a rich family but, wanting to make his own way in the world, and depend on his own strengths, he left home very young and managed to graduate while supporting himself as a bricklayer. The meeting and marriage to Marie’s mother soon followed, but the relationship fell apart because of a financial crisis and the continual betrayals by the man, seen in the aspect between the Sun and Pluto in Marie’s birth chart. The actual reason for the separation was, however, the tuberculosis he contracted during the war, which he passed on to their first daughter, who died of the illness at only eleven months. The wife never managed to forgive him, and chose to break off from him once and for all. When Marie was fourteen, the mother confessed during a walk that she had become pregnant by him during their separation and that she had done everything to induce a miscarriage since she was unable to accept having a child by a man she hated by then and who was not even her husband anymore. She started doing the riskiest possible things in order to provoke a miscarriage, but little Marie, rejected and maltreated even in the womb, survived, thanks to her trigon between the Sun and Pluto which was stronger than anything else, even the opposition between Saturn and Mars, which speaks of her very difficult prenatal life. With the mother’s confession, the young girl became distant, and during the analysis managed to bring to light all the unexpressed hatred she felt for her mother, beginning in this way to recover. Because she had Mars and Pluto in the eighth house, she had buried all her rage in her unconscious mind, experiencing only the anxiety that the opposition between the Moon and Neptune provoked. Neptune in fact corresponds to a less profound part of the unconscious and so his influence is more visible. At the age of twenty, Marie was still a virgin and chose a very handsome and experienced boyfriend to begin her sex life. She found their coupling satisfying, even though, again because of the aspect between the Moon and Saturn, she failed to reach an orgasm, but soon afterwards, she experienced her second panic attack. She graduated in philosophy and began to teach, also in this giving way to family pressure because they had not allowed her to study mathematics, her great passion, believing it to be too masculine an academic discipline. She was forced, in a nutshell, to submit to the will of others in every field, because the Moon in Pisces has a propensity to endure. Marriage and children followed and soon after the great crisis that would carry her into the arms of insanity began. Her husband, realising that the crisis had begun after the honeymoon, became distant, crushed by a feeling of guilt that he was unable to handle, and he accepted a job that took him to America. Marie therefore found herself alone once again, responsible for the three children, for running the house, making ends meet and unable to cope. There was nothing for it but to ask the mother for help to take care of the children. At a certain point in the analysis, she found the courage to admit that she had been tormented by a hallucination for some time: when she was among people, in fact, her right eye saw things as they were but her left saw a tube, inside which was an eye that stared at her. At first, she insisted the eye belonged to her father, but since the left side of the body is governed by the Moon and her luminary was in Pisces, domicile of Jupiter-sight, opposed to Neptune, which symbolises hallucinations, we can immediately understand that her interpretation was wrong. In the course of numerous sessions, in fact, she remembered that at the age of eighteen months her father had filmed her with a tubular movie camera while she was peeing and, as soon as she realised, she reacted with disproportionate anger, thumping him with all her force. Her father allowed her to vent all her rage, because the masculine part is positive and the right eye is objective and sees well. As soon as she realised that, the hallucination disappeared forever, and at the same time she began once again to walk erect and stopped perspiring. She then began to work for a publishing house for whom she wrote press releases, beginning thus to give voice to her third house, where Mercury and the Moon were lodged, and furthermore she bought herself a car and began to transcribe on a typewriter the diaries of her sessions, from which was born her first book. At this point, Marie believed herself to be cured, but part of her realised that there was still something not quite right, she no longer recognised her own identity and saw an enormous void before her that she didn’t know how to overcome. At this point, the reconstructive phase of the analysis began in which she began to discover the strengths and weaknesses that made up her personality, and, she related, that she began to understand that she could only know the former by delving into the latter. However, she remained upset by what she held to be her greatest flaw, that is her violence, represented in the birth chart by Pluto trigonal to the Sun and the Ascendant and by Mars trigonal to the Moon and to Mercury, not to mention the opposition between Mars and Saturn. Her reserve of energy was in fact enormous and it was only that which gave her the force to complete the difficult course of analysis, thanks to which she accepted birth and rebirth, but here it’s necessary to analyse more deeply the opposition between Saturn and Mars. This aspect indicates on the symbolic level the trauma of suffocation, which usually makes afflicted subjects explode into episodes of uncontrollable rage, rage that has been held in too long. Her last great stride towards recovery indeed was prompted by a casual event, a banal parking fine that provoked an uncontainable weeping fit, after which, in the studio of her analyst, where she had arrived desperate but also furious, she remembered a key event from her childhood. When she was small, she was forced by her mother to play only with dolls, which she did not like, because with such a strong Mars she couldn’t help having a preference for the more masculine games that found echo in her personality. Marie was not even allowed to give the dolls names since the mother insisted on naming them for her. One, the most hated, by the name of Philip, was a gift from her older brother, who was of course obliged to amuse himself only with purely masculine games. At the age of two, during a row with him, little Marie took a tennis racket and began to savagely beat the doll, Philip, as a surrogate for the brother who she could obviously not thump since he was much bigger than her. Suddenly the mother arrived, and after calling her insane decided to calm the daughter’s hysterical outburst by forcing her to stand under a cold shower. At that point, in order to stop the torrent of cold water, the child was forced to swallow her anger and stop shouting that instant. Here is the castration of Saturn opposed to Mars. From that moment on, she was unable to express her anger except through tears, that is the Moon-Neptune way, much more acceptable in the eyes of her family. Her aspect between the Moon and Neptune, furthermore, representing every type of liquid, also explains the uninterrupted menstrual flow and the sweat that poured copiously from her body during the panic attacks. While she was finishing her course of treatment, Marie realised that the “thing” belonged to her mother, the truly insane one of the pair, who had tried all her life to impose inhuman rules to make the daughter identical to herself. The woman, once back in France, fell into a deep crisis because she was forced to abandon the treatment for her illness and she began also to feel herself betrayed by her religion, which throughout her life had been her only refuge. And, faithful to the Moon-Neptune, once she realised that her daughter was becoming better, she chose to kill herself with alcohol. Only before her grave did Marie manage finally to find her mother again, declaring her love for her and thus becoming reconciled with her. The cure was at this moment complete, because, thanks to the analysis and her enormous inner strength, she had finally accepted her mother for what she was, and that made her free. It was only left at this point for Marie to stabilise her marriage so it could absorb the changes she had undergone. At the beginning of the analysis, her doctor had warned her that such a course of therapy could radically change every part of her life, and therefore her relationship with her husband, but realising her only alternatives were to remain confined in a clinic for the mentally disturbed, or die, she decided to face up to any risk to be cured, even divorce from her husband. When he returned from one of his journeys overseas, she showed him the pages from her diary in which she had described her analysis and the subsequent steps of maturity and change that had occupied her during the previous seven years, and contrary to her expectations, the husband was deeply moved and for the first time really understood his wife. The choice of companion by those who, like Marie, present the Pluto-Sun aspect, takes place at the unconscious level and so is for life. For this reason, she got back together with her husband. Indeed, the conjunction between Venus and Jupiter in Taurus tells us that her affection was extremely strong, even though difficult to express, since it was in the sixth house. In fact, she passed her life contenting herself with the crumbs of affection that she received from the servants around her, people far from her social class, just as the sixth house dictates. But because Taurus is more interested in stability and harmony than rank, in every case Marie found the emotional sustenance that she needed to overcome the painful periods of her life.

The time has come to take into consideration the work environment in the birth chart of this excellent writer, because this too played a far from insignificant role in re-establishing her psychological equilibrium. Above all, we see from her Venus sextile to the Moon on the cusp between the third and fourth houses, that she worked between the domestic walls. There is also a particularly harmonious MC, touched by the trigon of Saturn, the sextile of Mars, Venus and Jupiter. Notwithstanding the fact that she had never dreamed of becoming a writer, she put herself to the test for the first time in this field during her analysis, when her employer told her to write the publicity for a milk production company. At first, Marie was dismayed, above all because she had a real distaste for the substance, closely tied to the maternal from the symbolic point of view, and also because she was at the beginning of her sessions with her therapist and was still suffering from the anxiety attacks that prevented her from even walking upright. Notwithstanding that, she realised she had no choice: she had to accept, since to lose her job would have prevented her continuing with the analysis. To her own surprise, she succeeded in carrying out the task without panic attacks and her pride was such that she wrote the article so well as to prompt her boss to suggest that she should start a career as a writer. A little later, Marie found the courage to type up her notebooks, which formed the basis of the first book she published. Mercury was placed in Aquarius in the third house, which grants great lucidity, but the planet was also in opposition to Neptune, therefore throughout her life she experienced alternating periods of confusion and great clarity. She herself wrote that the lucidity with which she succeeded in perceiving things when she was prey to mental illness never returned once she had been cured. In addition, the aspect that bound Mercury to Mars speaks to us of the constant provocation inherent in the absurd rules she was obliged to follow or risk the wrath of the mother. The planet was also in quadrature with AS, showing how in adolescence she was obliged to repress her vivacity and loquacity, not to mention her terrible relationship with her brothers. The eldest in fact was over-protected by the mother, forever terrified that the little one might get ill, since the tendency towards excessive worrying is typical of the Moon-Neptune aspects. The older sister, who died before Marie was born, always remained the centre of the mother’s life, and she forced Marie to go every week to the tomb at the cemetery and listen to the endless conversations she had with the dead sister. The little girl was completely excluded from these talks, filled with a tenderness that Marie never felt, because throughout the mother behaved as if she wasn’t even there. The woman began to talk about herself to the daughter only when the latter was cured and from her words Marie gathered that fundamentally her mother had lived only until she was twenty three, after which it was as if she had died with her first child, shutting herself away, protected by the self-imposed walls of her absurd rules, which had allowed her to hold her latent insanity in check as long as she remained in Algeria. On her arrival In France, however, the mental illness exploded and carried the woman in the end to suicide. It was as if her whole life, including her husband and other two children, had never existed.

Marie’s intelligence is found in the position of Mercury, which epitomises, in the sign and in the house, the quickness of Gemini, and the unparalleled gift of analysis and synthesis typical of Saturn, which, as well as being one of the masters of Aquarius, is a very important planet in her chart, with the sextile that it formed with the Moon. The opposition of this last to Neptune is certainly a limiting factor, in the sense that it caused the subject periods of mental confusion, but also gave her a memory and an exceptional creative aptitude, which she was able to channel to best effect in her profession. The Moon-Neptune aspect was also a potent ally for her in finding the important keys to open up her psyche, here clearly using an instrument congenial to the sign of Pisces, in which it was housed; that is, dreams. In fact, she managed to begin the phase of reconstructing her personality following two very important dreams. In the first, experienced at a time in which she was aware that although she had overcome a crucial phase in the analysis, she was still a long way from serenity, she dreamed of being on a beach and that a very high wave, after having carried her away, deposited her once again on land, where she noticed with dismay that she had a snake coiled around her arm. Marie, still inside the dream, initially associated the animal with the penis, traditionally its symbol at the level of dreams, and commonly recognised as such among those who are accustomed to analysing dreams and to analysis itself, but she immediately realised that in her case it was more apt to interpret it as a symbol of the head and of mental activity. She then undertook lengthy and universally valid reflections on the role of women, whose gruelling day is sandwiched between chores of every type, to do with looking after the children, the house, the career and the attention that needed to be paid to the husband, leaving no time to dedicate to herself. She then realised that she absolutely did not want to return to this sort of life after seven years of analysis and the dream showed her that the solution lay in asking her husband to help, putting herself on a completely equal footing in their relationship. Her rebellion against the model, traditional family is quite clear in the accumulation of planets in Cancer in the eighth house, which formed a trigon binding the Moon and Mars. In fact, she was intolerant of patriarchal rules and from her birth chart it is clear that it wasn’t sex that caused her fear but instead a more mental dimension. Marie could not fall in line with the family situation dictated by Cancer because she had Pluto in that sign, who forced her to integrate the classic vision of the role of the woman with a more subversive one, in which one partner’s role was to equally support the other. This was the only solution that allowed her, with such aspects, to keep intact the matrimonial nucleus. We should not underrate the fact that Marie Cardinal reached these conclusions in the seventies, when the feminist struggle was at its height.

Translated by Nick Skidmore

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