Shirley Jackson – a magical way of taking revenge

Shirley Jackson, once dubbed ‘Virginia Werewoolf’, an American horror writer and self-proclaimed witch, is now a shining star with a bio-pic movie about her life and destructive marriage mesmerising critics and audiences.  Her short story The Lottery caused a scandal when it appeared in The New Yorker in 1948 – about a village draw which was to choose the resident to be stoned to death — even by members of their own family — in a ritual sacrifice to ensure a good harvest and general prosperity. Thousands cancelled their magazine subscriptions and it was banned in South Africa.

  Her own life was only marginally less odd than her fiction starting with an unpleasant mother who didn’t hide her disappointment that her overweight daughter wasn’t prettier and more feminine, and telling Jackson she was the product of a failed abortion. There was also a hint of sexual abuse in her childhood. Her fascination for the supernatural and magic became an obsession in her teens. She then married a literary critic Stanley Hyman, whom she met at university, who cheated on her constantly, relating the tales of his affairs to her. He did nothing to assist her in the house with four children, demanded she wait on him hand and foot, was jealous of her success which far outweighed his own and only gave her a portion of her earnings.

   Not surprisingly she ended up depressed and addicted to psychoactive drugs. She also, understandably enough, had a vindictive streak, putting curses on publishers. It was said she wrote ‘not with a pen but with a broomstick’. She died aged 48.

  She was born 14 December 1916 7.15 am San Francisco and had a Sagittarius Sun on her Ascendant which would give her a full-on personality, though to some degree damped down by a downbeat and fey Saturn conjunct Neptune in her 8th along with a hidden Leo Moon. Saturn Neptune can be neurotic, paranoid and in the 8th would make her troubled with a wild imagination and fears which got out of control. Which may be why she turned to magic to regain an illusion of control. Her witchy streak would also be partly associated with an intense, hugely frustrated and enraged Pluto opposition Mars Mercury, which does suggest a dominating cruel father whom she replicated in her husband. Mercury Pluto would give her a dark and poisonous streak.  

  Stanley Hyman, 11 July 1919, New York, had a Sun Jupiter in Cancer which fell in her intense 8th conjunct her South Node, pushing her back into her past rather than helping her move forward; and a ruthless Mars Pluto conjunction in Cancer which fell in her 7th house of relationships. He fitted her nightmare pattern exactly, poor woman.  Her Moon opposed Uranus squaring Venus, hinting at a mother who was not a stable support and may well have contributed to her over eating with Venus being involved. Seeking comfort from food since it wasn’t available elsewhere.

  What was her saving grace was an inspirational Fire Grand Trine of Sun trine Jupiter in Aries trine Moon which would give her some uplift through the difficulties of her life.  

  Her relationship chart with her husband was a toxic mix of love and hate with an affectionate composite Sun Venus opposition Mars square Pluto – a dance to the death. That Sun Venus opposition Mars forms a composite Half Grand Sextile to Jupiter and Neptune Saturn. There was as much holding them together as was destroying her.   What a tortured life. Her strongest Harmonic was her creative though often finely mentally balanced 7th. Seven in numerology is traditionally regarded as a spiritual number, endowed with a different kind of imagination, often artistic skills. Need peace. Perfectionism. A seeking soul. Also attracted to alcohol/ drugs and occultism.

2 thoughts on “Shirley Jackson – a magical way of taking revenge

  1. Christ, her life sounds like one hell of a heavy cross to carry. Utter toxicity left, right, and centre. It’s amazing she managed to create something that has lasted. Sometimes I think I hate people when they cause such emotional damage to others. Better to be alone for all the right reasons than to be with someone for all the wrong ones. Her life sounds absolutely insufferable.

  2. Thank you Marjorie. Very timely, since I’ve just started Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” as my halloween read. You can see the author in the main character of Eleanor, herself the victim of an unloving, critical, undermining mother. I read the short stories many years ago and remember the shocking “Lottery” very well. So I will be interested in the film and enjoying Moss’s portrayal, as I always like her performances.

    Jackson apparently had a sharp wit which the Mercury conjunct Mars in Capricorn reflects. But her own experience of her mother looks so painful in her natal chart with that Leo Moon in the 8th opposition Uranus and no doubt that her route to numb these childhood wounds – alcohol, barbiturates and cigarettes – shortened her life. At the time of her death that Moon/Uranus opposition was being squared by Neptune in Scorpio.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: