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Neptune and the Sex Symbols

Part Three: Marilyn Monroe (Moon oppose Neptune)

No one epitomizes the relationship between Neptune and popular culture more than Marilyn Monroe.  While Clara Bow and Jean Harlow were certainly the dominant pop culture icons of their day, the allure of Marilyn Monroe has endured. It’s been nearly 60 years since her death and movies and books about her are still regularly appearing.  Each generation seems to find a new reason to be fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. (Click here to see the horoscope of Marilyn Monroe.)


As we saw in Harlow’s chart, the Moon and Neptune are involved in a T-square in the horoscope of Marilyn Monroe. Here the third planet in the T-square is Saturn. While the Neptunian allure of Harlow came with an aggressive Martian edge, Saturn added a note of sadness to Monroe’s. The audiences that were drawn by her glamour were also compelled by an urge to help and protect her.


Hard aspects to the Moon from Saturn are typically connected to depression. Monroe was diagnosed as being manic-depressive by two different doctors during her lifetime. Of course, this diagnosis made little difference since, at that time, treatments for this disease were sparse. Depression explains Monroe’s frequent mood swings, her insecurity and her inability to show up anywhere on time.


All the women I’ve written about in these three articles have been damaged people and all had extremely difficult relationships with their mothers. Clara Bow’s mother threatened her with a butcher knife on at least two different occasions. Jean Harlow’s mother controlled her career and then, inadvertently, ended it when she refused to allow her daughter to be treated for the kidney disease that was killing her. Marilyn Monroe’s mother was locked away in a mental institution shortly after she was born and her interactions with the poor woman after this were infrequent and unpleasant. Due to her illness, Monroe’s mother was psychologically incapable of expressing the affection that her daughter desperately needed and no amount of good will could ever make up for this fact.


Monroe was brought up by several surrogate mothers. For the most part, these women were kind to the orphan child and Monroe maintained affectionate relationships with them into her adulthood, but none of them were able to overcome Monroe’s sense that she had been abandoned. Saturn square the Moon also indicates a separation from the mother and a lack of nurturing.


The fact that the aspect between the Moon and Neptune is an opposition in Monroe’s case and the placement of Neptune in Monroe’s 1st House of outer personality is telling. The name Marilyn Monroe was picked by an employee of 20th Century Fox when the young actress signed her first contract. Her real name at the time, Norma Jean Dougherty, was a mouthful and she had no qualms about giving it up.


It was only later; after she had become a part of popular culture that this new identity began to take assert itself. Being “Marilyn” became a constant challenge for Monroe. It became a part she played, not just in a movie, but it the day-to-day activities of her life. The sign ruling the 1st House (Leo in this case) and planets located there always influence the outer mask we show the world but that mask rarely becomes as disassociated from the rest of the personality as it did with Marilyn Monroe.


This dangerous disassociation comes out of symbolism of Neptune. Neptune blurs boundaries and makes illusions seem real. The illusion that was “Marilyn” kept the needy child that was Norma Jean concealed in a fog, a fog that was constantly reinforced by barbiturates and alcohol.


There was a way out, of course. If Monroe had been able to come to terms with the damage done to her in her past and if she had been about to turn that adversity into strength, as people with strong Saturn aspects often do, then she could have possibly found peace. But, for various reasons, she didn’t do this and, after a while, the fog took Norma Jean away, leaving us with only the image of Marilyn Monroe, an image that continues to resonate in Neptune’s realm of popular culture long after it was finally abandoned by the human being who created it.

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