Unpacking My Library: Invisible Man

Friday March 2nd 2012
Nude by Francis Cadell.

“There must be possible a fiction which, leaving sociology and case histories to the scientists, can arrive at the truth about the human condition, here and now, with all the bright magic of the fairy tale.”

– Ralph Ellison, Born March 1, 1913
Sun in Pisces, Mercury in Pisces trine Neptune

We find out the truth of who we are slowly, through experience, through conversation, alone or encountering others. It comes in flashes of insight sometimes, and sometimes as a slow dawning.

We find ourselves through books, within the lines of text. Some works of fiction give you more insight into the human soul than ten astrology or psychology textbooks.

And some books seem to speak directly to the soul. For me, Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison’s only completed novel, shouts, whispers, sings, hums. This book is such a profound and penetrating examination of what it means to be human that I think it should be required reading for anyone studying psychological astrology.

It’s the story of one man’s journey to self-awareness in mid-20th century America, but the themes are universal. And if you want to gain a deeper understanding of the energies of certain planets, in particular, Chiron, Neptune, Pluto and especially Uranus, read this book with them in mind. You don’t really need to study his chart but for what it’s worth, here it is.

What is interesting to me is how some of the things that Ellison writes are so clearly reflected here. Because he is a great writer I will simply quote from his work and point out the chart configuration.

“And I knew that it was better to live out one’s absurdity than to die for that of others.” 

Ellison has an exact Sun-Chiron conjunction in Pisces in the third house of writing and as a person he epitomised this combination. Chiron is labelled the “wounded healer”. His book is about being black in a racist society, but through exposing his own wound in this book, he helped to heal others. Chiron is the maverick asteroid. When it’s strongly placed in a chart, you can be sure of that possibly unwillingly, the subject is a non-conformist, but getting comfortable with that may take time.

“It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!” 

The book is about the visible and the invisible, blindness and truth, mental slavery and freedom. These are Uranian ideas. Uranus, as we all know, is the planet of freedom, breaking rules, and flashes of insight. But astrology works in polarities. At the same time that Uranus is about freedom, it is about bondage, although not in the same way as Pluto. Think about a Muslim woman wearing a niqab. In many ways she is crippled, but in some ways she is free. She could be wearing nothing but a g-string under there. She creates an entirely private space beneath her black tent.

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free” 

Uranus is the planet of Prometheus, who eventually, after millennia of suffering, breaks free from the chains that bind him. Uranus is about individuality, and finding our individual identity. Uranus is about being different; about being black in a white society, an intellectual among philistines.

Ellison was of the previous generation born with Uranus in it’s own sign, Aquarius, and it is conjunct fighting Mars in his second house of talent. That conjunction is unaspected. He really struggled to express this powerful energy. He squeezed out the one book but spent the rest of his life  (like more than 30 years) working on a novel called Juneteenth which eventually ran to 20,000 pages and was never finished. Which brings us to Neptune: dissipation, and in his case dissipation of talent.

The closest aspect in his chart (aside from Sun-Chiron) is Mercury in Pisces trine Neptune in Cancer.

“What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?” 

He wrote prose as if it was jazz, improvising themes and weaving variations and repeated rhythms through the whole book. Neptune (music) and Mercury (words) work in harmony.

“I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even as just now I’ve tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied.” 

Pluto is about telling the truth even when it hurts. Pluto is about telling the truth that no one wants to hear. Ellison’s is in the 7th house of the “other” and it zaps his Moon in truth telling Sagitarius in the first.

There is much more to this chart, but I urge you, next time you go on holiday, take a copy of Invisible Man.

Finally, you may ask, is this a writer’s chart?
Sun in the 3rd
Merc conjunct (ish) North Node
MC in Virgo

I think so. But I’ll leave you with this description of Uranus from the master. This passage reminds me of another Uranian figure from fiction, the creature from Frankenstein.

I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids
- and I might even be said to possess a mind. 
I am invisible, simply because people refuse to see me.” 

(And here is a “co-incidence”, I just looked to see when I wrote about Frankenstein. It was exactly one year ago, on March 1, 2011. Click here to go to it.)

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  1. Isy Aweigh says:


    I’ve had this book on my list for over 25 years. It’s a classic of American literature and human insight. Perhaps my own buried racism kept me from surfacing it but I’m about to trot over and download it to my reader right now. I don’t think the themes could possibly be more timely.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your choice of material and capacity to delve into the meaning and astrology is absolutely incredible. I was touched by this article –having read this book in college soo many years ago and have remembered its content not on a mental level but on a deeper cellular one. Being a pisces….. now I realize why it resonated so deeply with me. After 40 years, I was amazed to see the book mentioned and described in the manner I had experienced it so long ago. Thank you! You often discuss present individuals or material that are of interest to me. This is my first time posting a comment on any Blog… I admire your ability and insight. Good luck to you and thanks again for providing such informative posts. Regards Thalia

  3. Christina says:

    @Isy – you go get that book now – and do it through my Amazon button please.

    I think that certain books, for lack of a better term, become ghettoised. Invisible Man is a great, great book in my opinion – up there with Moby Dick. But people don’t read it because it was written by a black man and they have all kinds of preconceptions about earnestness… In fact, it’s a funny book as well as profound. The same thing happens to books written by women sometimes – unless they’ve been dead for more than 100 years.

  4. Christina says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Christina says:

    @Thalia – so glad you liked it.

    Let me tell you something Piscean. I wrote about this book a university a long time ago and have held it in my heart since. A few weeks ago it came into my hand and I thought about how Uranian it was and thought I’d put it in this series Unpacking my Library.

    I relate very much to the narrator even though he is a black man living in a basement 60 years ago and, on the surface, could not have had a life more different than mine.

    I decided to write the piece a few days ago and looked up Ellison’s birthdate – that was on March 2 and his birthday is March 1, the same day as mine.

  6. Sabrina says:

    Happy Birthday Christina!!! Hope it was a wonderful one…
    I’ve always wondered how mercury in pisces works, this is a wonderful way to explore it! For what I gather here (and peeking in the amazon look-inside-feature) This book speaks specially to those who have strong outer planet influences in their charts. There is the constant element of the outsider…

  7. Sabrina says:

    Oh! and that isolated Uranus Mars conj that you mention, with uranus ruling his 3rd house of neighborhood, and then pisces sun/chiron right there. I can’t even find the words…Vage/invisible/misterious and in your face provocative!?

  8. Christina says:

    @Sabrina- thanks :). One of the effects of that Merc in Pisces is the fate of his second novel Juneteenth. It had no boundaries. It just kept growing and growing and growing. If you read about it, you can see that he was just overwhelmed, trying to get the words into a structure was like trying to control the sea.

    You are very perceptive about the Outer Planets here.

  9. Anonymous says:

    My birthday is March 2….. what a coincidence.