Attended a lecture at The Living Institute by Priscilla Costello about astrology in Shakespeare’s plays. She is not the only one to present this line of inquiry, however she did offer some fascinating ways to read S’s plays using astrological theory and the notion of archetypes. And while I am always a little wary when people toss around the term “Jungian archtypes,” Costello did a great job, providing many rich visuals, with some particularly nice transparencies of works by Robert Fludd.

To get to the specifics, Costello suggests that plays may seek to express qualities of a certain sign/planet through its events and characters. Romeo & Juliet for example, has many Gemini/Mercury qualities. The plot of the play may be read as a kind of Mercury retrograde from hell with miscommunication and poor timing leading to tragic consequences. The characters (including witty Mercutio) exhibit the flighty, impatient, tricky nature of Gemini, also to their detriment.

Costello also briefly discussed MacBeth in light of Scorpio with its themes of power, betrayal, subterfuge and general darkness. She then suggested we consider The Tempest as well from this perspective, and I’m inclined to suggest Pisces as the sign for this play for various reasons. What do you think? How about Hamlet?

Anyways, it is a fun way to revisit the plays.

Costello also pointed out that people today do not share a visual model of the world and the universe. If asked today to create one, she finds most people are at a loss. This might be a fun exercise to try sometime. Perhaps those who are successful might create some very interesting, idiosyncratic images.