Since its inception on April 17, 2011, HBO’s Game of Thrones series has left an indelible mark on our collective psyche. From popularizing baby names like Eddard and Arya, to popping up in the Twitter feeds of sports icons and politicos, many exude an unparalleled passion for this program. The response Game of Thrones elicits made me wonder if the characters and themes carry an archetypal resonance more substantive than that of other current fare. Game of Thrones, and I will focus my reflections on the television series rather than the books, is peopled by those that embody something ancient, yet familiar. Instinctually, I began to see parallels between the Game of Thrones panoply and the celestial archetypes.
In the same way that each planet and sign possesses both a shadow and its opposite, few in the Seven Kingdoms can be polarized into distinctions such as good or bad, but rather are acting in terms of both the darker and more ascended aspects of their nature. In almost every villain there is some merit, and in every noble, some dash of indiscretion. There is a sense that even the dastardly are playing out their roles, and that the results of their cumulative actions do often, in karma-like fashion, unfold their future paths. Imperfectly perfect, the Game of Thrones microcosm is a mirror not unlike the one written in our sky.
To begin, I felt it best to look at the chart of George R.R. Martin, creator of the novels upon which Game of Thrones is based. Although unable to find a time of birth, his 9/20/48 birth date gives Mr. Martin both the Sun and Saturn in Virgo. With a gift for craftsmanship, there is a feeling that these stories were forged in a smithy, hammered and wielded meticulously. Saturn in Virgo might indicate a tendency to improperly gauge whom/what to serve, and to what extent, as well as an eye for detail airing on the side of overcooked. Martin is notorious for his missed writing deadlines; Saturn in Virgo may play a role there as well. The Virgo Sun comprehends how a well-oiled machine functions; it is the sum of its parts. Perhaps Martin’s characters delight because they are wholly what they are, each with an important part to play in the unfolding story because of who and what they are, no apologies. As Lord Petyr Baelish says, “Only by admitting what we are can we get what we want.”
With Venus conjunct Pluto in Leo, Mr. Martin is someone who quite possibly delights in making a game of seduction, and is perhaps drawn to the subversive (ahem, Joffrey Baratheon, twisted much?). With Mars in Scorpio, this is someone drawn to the motivations behind actions, or what may be referred to as “power plays.” The Venus/Pluto in Leo square Martin’s Mars, which speaks to the push and pull between creative forces and an appreciation for intricate lattices of power. Throughout Game of Thrones there is a sense that no one person may hold the seat of power very long, but that there is an ever-moving cycle at play, one embodied by the Scorpio/Pluto story of annihilation and regeneration.
A grand trine in fire indicates a spirited individual, one with the inspiration to create a whole world outside one’s own, and, as mentioned, with the Virgoan work ethic to make it manifest. With the Moon in Aries, it is little wonder he writes about warrior women. In addition, perhaps his fiery, cardinal Moon gives him an understanding of the joy in the attempt? In a recent discussion of the World Cup as it relates to astrology, Aries was mentioned as that archetype which loves the competition, despite the fact that someone must lose. With Mars in Scorpio ruling that Moon, he probably has the ability to temper his emotions, to wait and plot his actions. With Mercury in Libra in a wide conjunction to Neptune, while also opposing the Moon, perhaps writing fantasy fiction became an outlet for hot emotions, and no doubt gave him a way to use language in a sophisticated manner.
Jupiter in Sagittarius may have inspired the exotic cultures across the Narrow sea, Meereen, Bravos, let alone whole continents, and tells of his success in publishing, as well as an interest in social justice (along with the Virgoan influence, this calls to mind Daenarys’ commitment to freeing those who are enslaved). With the Sun in late Virgo squaring Uranus in Cancer, Mr. Martin may have experienced some abrupt disruption in his life, one involving sudden change to his sense of security, something that, along with the Pluto/Scorpio influence, we feel so palpably in the unrest of the Game of Thrones world. Martin is revered for his willingness to obliterate characters, frequently those that are the most beloved. He has said, “If you’re going to write a story about war, and intrigue, and death, and all that, you have to establish to your viewers that this is for real, and that these people are in actual danger.” No one is safe, which makes Game of a Thrones a thrill ride.
Knowing more about George R.R. Martin’s motivations is telling, but why this story now? To gain further insight, I looked at the chart for 9pm EDT on April, 17, 2011, the date on which Game of Thrones first aired. The chart puts Saturn at 12 LIbra 48” retrograde in the 11th, opposing a stellium in Aries consisting of Uranus, Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter. Not only is it interesting that the show airs during the season reigned by the god of war, and that all of these Aries planets are in the 5th House of games, fun, entertainment, but it occurs during the exact opposition of Saturn and Mars. Mars seems to say enough with mediation, and egalitarianism, order, and diplomacy, it’s time to ACT. Perhaps there was a collective need for action, courage, and forward momentum, or the breaking point of a tension between formality, rules, protocol, and the will to stir things up. Keep in mind that less than a month later President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, Occupy Wall Street was right around the corner, and Republican Presidential candidates were vying for the chance to unseat the current President. King Robert Baratheon’s reign, it turns out, began roughly 15 years prior to where we find ourselves at the first episode’s start. Thus, if a chart were made for Robert’s crowning, his reign would have just experienced a Saturn opposition, possibly involving Mars, and perhaps exemplified by the death of the fatherly King’s Hand, Robert Aryyn. The clawing for what benefits I, me, mine, as opposed to who is truly equipped to be a just leader will become one of the most interesting questions posed by Game of Thrones.
The chart’s Ascendent is in Scorpio, and is co-ruled by Pluto at 7 Cap 29” retrograde in the 2nd, and Mars at 12 Aries 17” in the 5th. Game of Thrones bares the reputation of being violent, sexual, and captivating. Danger, stratagems, and dragons, all linked to Scorpio, are part of the show’s profile. Pluto, the chart’s co-ruler, is the focal point of a t-square involving the exact Saturn/Mars opposition, as well as Uranus at 2 Aries 04”. In addition to the Occupy movement exampling this t-square (a call for an inherited financial system to be razed to the ground by a group of innovative free thinkers, who stood off against the entitled few), a little over a month before Game of Thrones aired, Japan was devastated by a catastrophic tsunami, catalyzed by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, and resulting in the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. I wonder if Game of Thrones speaks to our own communal transformation regarding how we value/recognize the rock that sustains us (Pluto/Cap/2nd)? Is the show hitting a collective nerve by asking, “What environmental threats awaken while those in power are preoccupied with petty squabbles, and has this loss of awareness contributed to a loss of awe?” Is a forgetting of the planet connected to a longing for wonder that dragons, magic, and the supernatural inspire?
Uranus having just settled into Aries may speak to the popularizing of a genre commonly reserved for “brainy” types. Did Uranus moving into Aries assist in making the realm of “geeks,” cool? Quite simply, Uranus, ruler of the air waves, Aries, in the 5th informs an innovative, unpredictable television program involving battles for a throne as entertainment. Neptune was also entering its home sign, Pisces, in the 4th, and rules the chart’s 5th house, which may be indicative of the fantasy genre, one involving family histories (4th House), that has seized the collective imagination. Venus too is in the 4th House at 26 Pisces 13”, adding to the appreciation of a mythic world into which one may escape from the comfort of one’s couch. The Chart’s Moon is at 26 Libra 39” in the 12th, opposing the Sun at 27 Aries 40” in the 6th. So, the show airs on a full moon, the peak of the lunar cycle, accentuating the polarity of negotiation vs. action, of the need for restraint vs. the urge to unleash. One additional fun fact, actor Sean Bean, who portrays Eddard Stark, arguably the star of Season One, was born on April 17th.
When I noticed that another R.R, J.R.R. Tolkien was born with an Earthy Sun, Capricorn, and, like George R.R. Martin, had created entire worlds complete with vast terrains and maps to guide us through them, I wondered further about how the element of Earth might be of significance. Now, I don’t have enough statistical data to warrant a decidedly Earthy influence, and I am taking a risk by solely utilizing Sun signs, but out of 37 Game of Thrones writers, directors, and actors, the Earth element was most represented with 13 to Air and Fire’s 10 each, Water lagging behind at 4 (and yes, Lino Facioli, who plays Robin Aryyn, does have Mars in Cancer). Taurus, followed by Aries and Gemini led within their elemental categories. Earth, and Taurus in particular, could provide the fortitude to endure a demanding shooting schedule in challenging terrain. Earth may also connect with the nod to medieval history, and creating something for now out of vestiges of the past. A friend of mine, when asked why he is drawn to Game of Thrones, mentioned, with a dreamy look in his eye, that the dragons feel like an ancient memory, that they seem so possible, and that there is a realness as well to how unpollyanna the show allows itself to be. No sanitizing for consumption here, just the harsh reality of cold steel to warm flesh. Quite possibly it is this sensate doorway into the imagination that is appreciated by so many.
The clan or House system of Westeros, as well as the terrain and climates that define each clan, are also connected to the elemental personality types. The Children of the Forest and the Northern Clans, led chiefly by House Stark, the name says it all, feel decidedly Earthy, while House Greyjoy and its Drowned God are connected to Water. The Lannister Lion, emblazoned in Reds and Golds, is quintessentially Fiery. The Stag of House Baratheon, as well as King Robert’s love of hedonistic pleasures, indicate another Earthy leaning, one more Taurean in nature, maybe with a strong Jupiter influence. To further the Taurean thread, Gendry, potentially Robert’s eldest living son, fashioned a helmet in the shape of a bull.
House Targaryen may be of the Airy temperament, as they are renowned for both their genius and dementia, their sudden bursts of white hot rage are reminiscent of Mars in Aquarius, and it was their facility with magic/language that allowed them to ally with dragons. The dragons, however, baring connections to volcanoes, obsidian, and the ability to completely transform landscapes both political and literal, seem more closely related to Scorpio. Daenarys Targaryen has also said that those uninterested in accepting her reign, “can live in my new world, or die in their old one.” The Khaleesi sounds Cancerian, she is the Mother of Dragons, but also Scorpionic in that she will level all those who stand in her way. The Targaryens have also been widely known to carry on incestuous relationships in order to maintain the power of their blood line, which rings of Scorpio. Perhaps the Free Folk, who are essentially plotting a revolution, and really rally the odd balls (wargs, giants, Thenns, etc.) are more allied with Air, Aquarius specifically. Of course these delineations are debatable, and within each House we see variations on the theme. What was of interest to me is the allegiance many viewers feel to a particular House. We love the tribal affiliations at play, and I believe the elemental types play a part in that connection.
“Winter is coming,” the motto of House Stark, for example, speaks to the Starks’ realism, their sense that, like Capricorn, Taurus and Virgo, what you see is what you get. When Winter is coming, little else matters outside of physical survival, there simply isn’t time for extraneous considerations. Eddard Stark’s sense of duty compels him, although reluctantly, to take on the courtly role of King’s Hand. Ned seems much less apt for the intrigue, guile and flare required to survive at court, than for leading others through a harsh winter. Perhaps it is Ned who embodies Saturn in the program’s birth chart? He is struggling to maintain balance, order, commitment, and decency in a world that is about to explode. Unfortunately, we see the shadow side of his Saturnian sense of the rules, as he cannot foresee that others will play so deviously, and this blind spot leads to his destruction. Varys, the Eunuch, a more Mercurial character, who gathers information from his various “little birds,” chides Stark for being straightforward to a fault. Perhaps it is not off the mark to say that the intrigues at court, and the corruption Ned encounters, may have gone so far as to awaken an elemental nemesis in the form of the White Walkers. Could it be that the preoccupation with political games has left those in power unmindful of their ties to the land?
The religions practiced in Westeros, and Essos, are fascinating, varied, and truly warrant an exploration of their own. I would like to mention, however, that The Faith of the Seven bares a likeness to the seven planets used in classical astrology. Given that George R.R. Martin structured much of the Game of Thrones world on a medieval model, it is not surprising that we see a nod to the planetary map of that time. The Seven are different faces of one god, much as the Sun provides fuel which is differentiated by each planet. Mother/Moon, Smith/Mercury, Maiden/Venus, Warrior/Mars, Father/Saturn, Crone/Jupiter (this may seem counterintuitive, but the Crone is said to guide through dark places, which I link to Jupiter’s intuitive gifts), Stranger, well, The Stranger seems an amalgam of the outer planets, as he is the gateway to the unknown realms. Additionally, Martin has said there will be seven novels in the series, and Westeros is comprised of Seven Kingdoms. It might be worth noting that seven is also the age at which one experiences the opening square of Saturn to one’s natal Saturn, and Game of Thrones seems ripe with Saturnian transitory cycles. Eddard Stark even met his fate on an episode airing June 12, 2011, during Saturn’s station.
Where, I wondered, did astrology come into play, if at all? The inhabitants of the Seven Kingdoms have some interest in their solar system, one that George R.R. Martin must be clear about, or the coming winter would not loom so large. (For a more in depth discussion of the possible scientific explanation for the extended seasons, I recommend George Dvorsky’s 5 Scientific Explanations for Game of Thrones’ Messed Up Seasons). The Order of the Maesters, sometimes referred to as the “knights of the mind, ” wear chains consisting of links denoting proficiency in various subject matter. One of these, Electrum, is said to represent astrology, and bares an interesting connection to Uranus’ rulership of astrology. However, we don’t hear a great deal about how it is utilized. Comets are seen as portentous, and animals often serve as omens, but astrology as a divinatory tool is not mentioned. Perhaps, as astrologer Lee Lehman has hypothesized in her talk on the Use of Astrology in Harry Potter & His Dark Materials, it is because astrology “presupposes limits,” something that may not assist in driving the action of an episodic television program, especially one acclaimed for keeping viewers on the edge of their seats.
Religious leanings, omens, and magic are factors at play in dictating who will hold the seat of power, or Iron Throne (it may be of interest that iron, according to Vedic astrology, is said to mitigate the effects of Saturn, and that Iron and Mars have an affinity in the alchemical tradition). The characters that are arguably the most compelling, however, seem to be motivated by other means. Which raises the question, who will end up sitting on the Iron Throne, and will they be able to rule once seated? Is there anyone pure of heart, resilient, and well equipped to lead?
Jon Snow seems a valid response. As the family Houses have a resonance with the astrological elements, so too do the characters have their own particular celestial affinities. Jon Snow, it is my guess, in many ways exemplifies the chart of the actor who embodies him. Kit Harrington was born on December 26th, 1986, with the Sun conjunct Neptune in Capricorn. Snow is a compassionate leader, known for his post at the icy and looming Northern wall, dutiful, serious, solitary, impressionable, committed to the example set by his noble father, a leader with a conscience. He is the leader of the misfits and the misunderstood, the champion of underdogs. Kit was born Christopher Catesby Harington, but was unaware his given name was not Kit until age 11. Thus, both Kit and Jon seemed to have experienced an existential crisis relating to their given name (Neptune/Sun/Capricorn). Snow’s origins are also somewhat of a mystery, as his mother’s identity has alluded him, and he has suffered from the stigma attached to being born illegitimately.