Houses of Horror

Nick Civitello

Our first guest blogger is AYA’s very own Nick Civitello. Nick is a playwright and astrologer living in New York City. His blog, Nerdcore Astrotypes, details correlations between archetypes found in astrology and those in pop-culture.

True to his pop-culture style,  Nick uses the tropes of horror  stories to explain Saturn in Scorpio in all 12 houses.  Bridging the gap between Halloween horror and the real fears that Saturn’s time in Scorpio will evoke, the AYA is proud to feature Nick’s brilliant article.

Happy almost Halloween, dear readers.

The greatest and best holiday of the year is nearly upon us, and I hope that you’re all doing your due diligence: psyching up with horror movies on Netflix, stocking up on candy corn and Jameson, and of course, putting the finishing touches on your costumes. The origins of Halloween are disputed, but an across-the-board hallmark of this time of year is the conceit that dialogue with “the other side” is possible. Whether this just means taking a moment to honor and celebrate the souls of the dearly departed, or whether one believes that ghouls and goblins will walk the Earth, it’s a time for confronting the dark and fearful side of things.

We wear masks in order to either externalize these fears and blend in with the creepy crawlies (ala Batman,) or to project the image of a champion who can stand up to them (ala all other superhero costumes,) or to do a bit of both through the mockery of a gag costume. Because societal transgressions are normally fraught with fear and anxiety, we see a lot of transgressive attitudes externalized during this time, as well. (ala, girls in skimpy clothes. Transgressions are awesome.)

Saturn already represents a lot of fear for most folk. It was known as “The Greater Malefic” to classical astrologers, and was the seventh and last planet, representing the furthest reaches of the cosmos, the crossroads, a gatekeeper between this world and the next.

While modern astrology has made efforts to shine a more positive light on the curmudgeonly old bastard, there’s still no getting around that Saturn represents some pretty dark stuff, such as structure, boundaries, work, and life purpose. That may seem benign enough laid out like that, but structure can be grotesque – skeletons and innards and dank, smelly caves. Boundaries (whether personal or societal) are necessary and helpful, but the anxiety involved in either overcoming or working within boundaries can be maddening. Work is a real horror show for many people, and usually has nothing to do with fulfillment of a life purpose. And even that fulfillment itself carries with it a fear of success, which carries transformation on its broad back. Unpleasant experiences are almost always required in order for one to get where they need to be, and some are required to do the unspeakable.

Since Saturn’s ingress into Scorpio a few weeks ago, it is this darker side of Saturn that’s had its slimy underbelly exposed. As AYA President Austin Coppock remarked, “It sort of feels like it’s going to be Halloween for a couple of years.” Now the Sun’s annual trek into the same sign will throw on the high beams, especially since horror is Scorpio’s bread and butter. The Mars-ruled Water sign is a big fan of emotion as a weapon, and fear is usually the first dagger to fly from its scabbard when the scorpion is on the attack. Its sneaky nature also means that blending in is second nature, so costumes (disguises) are a must…however, to paraphrase the very foxy Irene Adler from BBC’s Sherlock, “no matter how you hard you try, disguise is always a self-portrait.”

With this in mind, let’s jump to a solar breakdown of the character of fear that Saturn  will represent for you until it leaves Scorpio. What mask should you wear for the next couple of years?

*Please note that many of the best horror stories are multi-faceted. So for the spookiest possible costume, please read the sign of your Ascendant/Rising sign, as well as your Sun and Moon sign. Add sugar and mind-altering substances, mix well, bake at 666 degrees, and let cool.

 Aries – Deceitful Predators

Fear isn’t something Aries likes to admit to. Like Scorpio, it is ruled by Mars, but its energy tends to ignite in a more obvious, visible fashion. It’s the gladiator, the samurai, the swaggering badass. It’s the sign of willpower and bravery, but also of their lame cousin, bravado. But there are some monsters that are simply stronger than you, and worse yet, most monsters don’t believe in a fair fight. Poisons, stealth assassination, mind-control, transformation and shape-shifting – these are all ways to fight too, but they’re not “honorable.” It’s the monsters without scruples who you’ll be learning to deal with this next couple of years.

Saturn will be transiting Aries’ 8th House, the place of death, sex, business deals, shared energy, absences. This is one of the three most-maligned houses of the twelve, as it represents a bunch of dark and shady stuff already. If functioning optimally, this is a place of wonderful give and take with others, where a loop of pooled resources is used to create growth and ecstasy through letting go and the processes of receptivity and openness. The reason this house is considered so dark, however, is that it’s very easy for give-and-take to turn into hostile takeover, and many predators will attempt to lure you into a process of sharing only to go back on their word and take everything. Just like Pennywise the Dancing Clown led little Georgie into the sewers with promises of sailboats, the predator dazzles with a colorful and attractive display, puts on welcoming face, and gets you close enough to rip your arm off.

Take, for instance, the xenomorph. This is the titular Alien from Ridley Scott’s 1979 space horror classic. The futuristic story has the crew of the Nostromo, a commercial towing spaceship, making an unplanned landing on a remote planetoid on orders from their employers. There, they stumble across a number of large eggs. One of these eggs opens, and a small creature, a “face-hugger” springs out and attaches itself to the face of the ship’s XO. It eventually detaches on its own and falls dead, and the crew believes that the horror is over. Then, during a meal, a creature bursts forth from the officer’s chest and runs into the bowels of the ship, where it quickly grows into a nightmarish super-predator and begins to hunt them all down. They are trapped on-board with an extremely dangerous animal that has no interest or capacity for dialogue, an alien that only knows how to take. It’s first step in its species’ proliferation is to use its host as an incubator, and then kill them.

Another example: probably the best and most classic example of this type of monster is Bram Stoker’s  Dracula. The vampire, of course, can only exist off of others’ life-force. They attempt to blend in and act like normal humans where possible, and lure their prey do their deaths with seductions of comfort, sex, and wealth. In the case of Count Dracula, Jonathan Harker is lured to Transylvania on the promise of a career-making business deal (once again, an 8th House affair,) where Dracula, in the guise of a kindly old man, uses him to find out all about London, which he plans to use as his new dwelling place and hunting ground. In some ways, a more sinister monster is at work here, as the vampire has cognizance of its actions, and because it used to be a human being. But like a sick addict, it is compelled by the hunger to take life. Even when it is able to share something, its tainted sharing usually results in a sort of mental infection, where they recruit others to do their bidding. We can see this at play in the character of Renfield, or in the more recent Swedish hit, Let The Right One In.

I’d be remiss to not include a different perspective: as the 8th is also the house of sex, any sexually transgressive horror stories belong here, too. I Spit On Your Grave falls into this category, centering on a woman who is raped by a gang and left for dead, only to return and exact her vengeance on them in a really brutal (though totally deserved) way. For a slightly different reason, all of the good Hellraiser titles seem to fall here too, exploring the horrible flipside of a successful shared energy. Here, what is shared is not pleasure, but terrible pain, and the place between the two concepts where the line gets blurry.

The good news is that these stories are full of champions, those who’ve learned the strengths and weaknesses of these predators and have devoted their lives to hunting them. For guys, see Abraham Van Helsing, Ash Williams of the Evil Dead series, the Frog Bros. from The Lost Boys, and others who stand up against the scourge of the undead. For ladies, Ellen Ripley from Alien is probably the best example…though there is something to be said for Carrie and Charlene McGee from Firestarter, both powerful psychics who lashed out against a corrupt system (“corrupt system” is a Saturn in Scorpio key phrase) which promised to share gifts with them, then reneged in a lethal way.

Taurus – Jilted, Scorned, Obsessed

While grinding through the 7th House, Saturn in Scorpio is likely to drudge up issues with open partnerships. “Open partnerships” are just what they sound like – could be a business partner, a partner in the workplace (like buddy cops,) or even an enemy with whom you have an open understanding of enmity. But most of all, astrologers use this place to talk about romantic partners, relationships and spouses. Therefore, the monsters you’re likely to encounter here are the ones you’re closest to, as Saturn in Scorpio teaches hard lessons about the structure of partnership.

There are a number of examples of monstrous stalkers, psycho exes, and lovers with a darkside populating the realm of horror. Because there’s rarely a supernatural element at play in these stories, they’re often billed as “thrillers” more than specifically within the horror genre, but the focus is still on fear and tension. Glenn Close’s rabbit-boiling turn in Fatal Attraction springs to mind, as does Marky Mark’s early role as an obsessed boyfriend in the 1996 film, Fear. The recently popular internet meme/series of videos centering around the “Overly Attached Girlfriend” is another good one, as are the Japanese concept of the “yandere” woman – one who is obsessed with her mate to a murderous degree – and the Hannya mask, which was used in Noh theatre to represent the spirit of a jealous woman-turned-demon. We’ve also got The Bride of Frankenstein, which in its way deals with the horror of arranged marriage and rejected affections. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven is worth mentioning here too, as it deals with a lonely lover’s anguish over both wanting to remember and also to forget his lost love, and how terrible it can be to be bound to someone’s heart forever.

Being that we’ve got a lot of female examples, let’s focus for a moment on The Phantom of The Opera. Before becoming a Broadway musical hit, the story was first a novel, and then a 1925 silent film starring Lon Cheney, which went down as a classic Universal monster picture. The plot focuses on a young singer named Christine, an up-and-coming understudy to the prima donna who has made great improvements since beginning a musical partnership with The Phantom, a shadowy man with an ingenious musical sensibility who lives in the bowels of the Paris Grand Opera. The Phantom, who terrorizes the management of the theatre into bowing to numerous demands, sees promise in Christine, and works from the shadows to help her. He also grows infatuated with her, and kidnaps her, “Rape of Persephone”-style, bringing her down into his lair. Here, she discovers that underneath his mask is a horribly disfigured face, just as his beautiful music masks his often ruthless and dastardly intentions.

This is especially apropos within this discussion, given that Taurus and Scorpio are opposite signs. With any axis such as this, there is a truth to the “opposites attract” axiom, as surface-level similarities with draw these types of people close to one another, and the subtle differences will seem fascinating. But when you get up close and rip the mask off, you may be utterly horrified to discover that you could not be more different. Both of these signs are obstinate, emotional, and like to hold a steady course through life. But where Taurus natives treasure Earthly, placid comforts, Scorpios often crave transcendence and power, or lapse into self-destruction and apathy. There’s a level of intensity that may be too much to hang with for the gentle, giant Taurean sensibility.

Also worth noting: while the 7th is generally considered a strong and positive house, being angular and the home of the Descendent power point, the Hellenists did caution that it is the setting place of the Sun, and thus, could be seen as the place where the ego goes to die. This is appropriate, given that partnerships require more than just one person’s will, effort, and input. At least, healthy partnerships do. In an unhealthy partnership, you might find yourself dominated and disintegrated by someone with a stronger personality. So be careful with that.

Gemini – Brains, Bodies, and Evil Monkeys

A lot of horror to be had in the 6th House, the place where Saturn will transit for Gemini. The 6th is widely considered one of the darker, less-fortunate houses. Its significations include work and daily life, slaves, and pets. But its primary signification will take the spotlight here, and that’s the realm of health and sickness. You can take your pick of epidemic flicks, from Outbreak to Contagion to the Japanese Infection. Poe’s Masque of Red Death belongs here, and Stephen King’s The Stand starts from this place, though it ends up opening up to a wider realm of horror as the story progresses. All portray a wide-spread disease that causes a terrible, fatal corruption to the body.  Disease is also the most common explanation for zombie outbreak, such as the T-Virus of Resident Evil.

Zombie apocalypse is particularly appropriate here, because in the 6th House, Saturn in Scorpio will teach Geminis how to deal with corruption as part of a daily routine. A single zombie on its own is usually not that big of a threat – the real threat is infection, and the problems caused by epidemic. The corruption to structure is not only evident in the zombies themselves, but in the way the survivors must now adapt to every day life (“Was anyone bitten? What’s that wound from? Where can we get food and water next? What’s the best place to hole up, where would be easiest to defend?,) and in the shaky group dynamic often present in these sorts of stories (“Who’s leading this group? Can we trust them? Who’s the resident Starscream? Who’s having sex with who, and what problems will this potentially cause?”) Gemini is inherently cerebral and adaptable, so these concerns are workable so long as the cooler-headed Twin prevails.

Pets are also in the dominion of the 6th House, and stories like Cujo and Monkey Shines show how horribly wrong that can go. A synthesis of these two horrible concepts can be seen at work in Pet Sematary, where pets (and later, people,) buried on a certain spot return as evil versions of themselves. Although it’s worth noting that the most horrific thing in the story (at least in the movie version,) is the screeching, contorted form of Aunt Zelda, who is seen in flashbacks suffering from spinal meningitis, a regular, old disease that has nothing to do with zombies or the supernatural.

In any event, be on the lookout for cough and colds, as well as rotting structures within your daily life and workplace. Is there a gangrenous limb that needs to be severed?

Cancer – Far From The Tree

Like Scorpio, Cancer is one of the three Water signs, and as such, may be particularly receptive to the lessons of Saturn in Scorpio as it transits the 5th. Cancer, ruled by the Moon, is the most naturally nurturing sign in the zodiac, and tends to put the whole of its heart into projects – or people – that they are trying to raise up. This results in some controlling mommies and daddies, and the horror we’ll focus on here is that of the child who somehow goes bad. They are still your child, and yet, on their way to becoming their own person, they’ve seriously deviated from the flight plan, and in some ways it feels like they are no longer – or were never – yours to begin with. The Omen is a prime example, wherein an adopted child’s parentage is revealed to be Hellish indeed.

It may also be that the horror is not from the child going wrong so much as the fact that someone is threatening your child. We can see things like this in the recent Ethan Hawke film, Sinister, which features a fictional Pagan deity called “Bughuul, Eater of Children.” (Which is also something Saturn is known for. Excepting Zeus, he swallowed all his godling children whole to prevent a prophesy that foretold his down fall.) A more mundane version of this can be seen in thrillers like Ransom, or even in the action film, Taken. It may also not be an issue of child-rearing so much as the innocence of childlike figure arousing a parental instinct and masking malicious intentions. We see this at play in The Ring, as well as in Children of The Corn.

Moving away from children for a moment, the 5th is also a place of creative works, and corruption within the structure of creativity can be a lethal poison to the artist or craftsman. Maybe a short story you’ve been working on is taking on a character very different than what was intended, or is being co-opted and transformed by an aggressive collaborator. Or maybe like the Dr. Victor Frankensteins of the world, you’ll find that the success of your grand work is having terrible repercussions. Misery is another good example here, as an author’s success results in a crazy fan’s wrath when the story doesn’t go the way she wants it to. Be careful what you wish for, as good fortunes are just a coin flip away from a less desirable outcome.

Leo – Broken Homes

In the 4th House, Saturn in Scorpio will bring focus to hearth and home, to foundations. Is your doorstep unclean? The proud lions don’t like to admit that there may be dirt on their faces, let alone disrepair on the home front, so this might be a difficult transit.

There are a few different ways that this tends to manifest in horror stories. The most well-known is that of a bad place, a haunted house, and the disintegration of the family unit upon inhabiting this den of evil. The Shining, The Amityville Horror, and the less-impressive Burnt Offerings are all fine examples here. It may be, instead, that the whole family was corrupt and proud of it from the get-go, though this is obviously more horrible for hapless outsiders who stumble into their territory than it is for the family. Examples include the families from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of 1,000 Corpses, and on a sillier level, The Addams Family. The Munsters probably qualify too, but I never watched that show. Mrs. Bates and her scion from Psycho must be mentioned here, too.

Synthesizing both of these ideas is one of the most shocking movies I’ve ever seen, Takashi Miike’s Visitor Q. Not quite a horror movie, Visitor Q begins with a family unit that’s become fractured to a nigh-irreparable degree: the daughter has run away and fallen into prostitution. The father is one of her johns, is having an affair with a co-worker, and is on the verge of being fired from his already pathetic job. The mother is routinely beaten by the teenage son, who vents his frustration from being bullied back on the family. A mysterious visitor enters the picture, silently arranging circumstances that will cause the family to become closer to one another. In the process of healing their bond, however, they are forced to do more unspeakably horrible things than they ever did apart from one another. But at the end of the day, their  familial love is reinvigorated, as is their twisted pride. The lesson seems clear: family above all else, even in the most disgusting and unforgivable circumstances. So roll up those sleeves, get your hands dirty, and root through that emotional garbage to find what’s important.

Virgo – Siblings and Silence

The 3rd House deals with making the rounds in one’s neighborhood, with siblings (or friends close enough to be siblings,) and with expressing the contents of one’s mind. Virgo, already sort of twitchy and nervous, may find that with Saturn in Scorpio, the caution will be the potential horror caused by making one’s voice heard. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can cause a domino effect of destruction in a social setting. Moreover, writers may fear causing offense with their work, being ostracized because of it, or in more oppressive environs, may fear imprisonment for airing their thoughts.

One of my favorite plays, Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, deals with this exact topic. I try to stick to movies, being more widely accessible to most folks, but I think this example hits the nail on the head. The plot centers around a man named Katurian, who has been brought in for questioning by the police in a fictional totalitarian stare. Katurian is a very prolific, if not widely-published writer of grotesque children’s stories. Nearly all of his stories feature children dying horrible deaths. Not a crime to write about that…at least, not until children start dying in the exact same manner that his non-published stories detail, and he’s held as the prime suspect in the investigation. He works frantically to clear his name and to figure out how this could possibly be happening, but there’s no denying that the origin of these crimes lies with the tales that poured forth from his mind, riddled with childhood trauma.

A more obvious and accessible angle can be found in the film Dead Silence, wherein a vengeful ghost will only murder those who scream or speak in her presence. Mary Shaw was a talented ventriloquist, who was heckled viciously by a local boy one night during performance. Though she stunned the audience with an impressive display of ventriloquism that put the boy in his place.  He later went missing, and the townsfolk accused Mary of the crime, murdering her by cutting her tongue out. The focus here is certainly on thinking before speaking, especially with regard to the destructive nature of uniformed criticism.

The 3rd is also about twins and siblings. Dopplegangers and evil twins come into play here, as well as brothers and sisters with axes to grind. Michael Myers, of the Halloween films, is essentially a modern-day Cain to his sister’s Abel, a figure meant to be a natural compatriot and defender who instead hunts her down…and who never speaks.

Libra – The Precious

In the 2nd House, the focus of fear centers around the corrupting influence of worldly possessions and those who wield them. Anything you can own that others may covet, or which you go too far to defend, or which causes unnecessary worry or obsession. These are the things that Saturn in Scorpio will focus on for Libras these next two years. “Money is the root of all evil,” is a phrase to remember here, as greed and jealousy are primary symptoms of a corrupt element.

We see this manifest in a few different ways. Maybe the fear is of a plutocrat, controlling everything with their influence and leaving nothing for the rest of the world. This is The Devil card from the Tarot: the corrupt politician, the evil businessman, the mafia boss. Or maybe that same powerful person is willing to give you your heart’s desire if you will only accomplish a menial task for them, one that violates your morals as in Needful Things. It could be that the object or artifact itself holds some sinister power, like in the animated Heavy Metal, or as we see with the One True Ring. Do you go all Gollum over a particular possession? A car or computer, your wardrobe, a set of books?

On the subject of books, one of my personal favorite horror movies (and a less appreciated one to boot,) is The Ninth Gate. It deals with possessions as a corrupting influence, as Johnny Depp plays a rare books dealer who is commissioned to locate an original copy of a true Satanic Bible, one supposedly penned by Lucifer himself. He, like all the other dangerous characters pursuing the book, falls under its spell as he searches, growing closer to evil as he draws nearer to the book.

Some horror stories showcase this idea in a more overt way. While the Child’s Play films eventually turned into schlock-fests about dolls having murder sex, the original film holds up pretty nicely as a chilling example of a treasured object attaining malicious sentience. Christine features a murderous car, and of course, there’s always Deathbed: The Bed That Eats People to consider.

Scorpio – What Am I?

Scorpio, you’re a ruthless, guilt-stricken monster that puts everyone around you at risk. But you knew that already. Let’s discuss what Saturn’s going to put you through while transiting your sign.

Saturn’s about structure, rules, and responsibility. And as much as many of Saturn’s darker elements seem inherently Scorpionic, the fact is that Scorpio’s “ends justify the means” character often rationalizes boundaries away, whether the imperatives be lawful, moral, or personal. Getting the job done, killing the problem – this almost always takes precedence, but bending the rules is a slippery slope, can lead to a habit of ignoring structure where it might be beneficial.

Embracing structure, knowing when it can and can’t be avoided, knowing when it can be harnessed to beneficial effect and when you’re headed into a trap – these are all things that can help you do what you do.

Without these things, your Mars-ruled predilection may see you doing harm to yourself and others where none was even intended. A werewolf, transforming when your emotional full moon comes around and ripping everything to shreds, only to wake up with torn clothes and eviscerated loved ones. The fear here is of the self unrestrained, and the balancing act of putting a leash on that wolf. Too tight a grip makes a weak and domesticated wolfman, ineffective and not at all scary. And we know you’ve got to be able to use fear at times, so that won’t do. It’ll take a lot of hard work to find the right amount of slack to give yourself.

Another example, somewhat more relevant example of a monster without restraint would be the monster in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. We’ve already discussed Dr. Frankenstein’s horror under the Cancer/5th House section, but the monster himself is experiencing a different sort of horror. Cobbled together from pieces of dead people, Frankenstein’s monster doesn’t know why he’s alive. All he wants to do is find family, friends, people to connect with and share himself with. But he conjures such terror and loathing in those that he encounters, that he lashes out.

Such is often the case with the Scorpio heart, seeking connection but harming instead. Again, this is something that can be amended through proper boundaries, and through an installation of a life purpose or mission, another hard gift that Saturn offers. For example, Dexter Morgan from Showtime’s Dexter. His father recognized what he was from an early age, knew he’d grow to be a ruthless killer no matter what. Instead of shunning him, driving him further into the darkness, he showed him love and gave him structure. Thus, Miami gained an avenger rather than another aimless killer. Sayid from Lost is another great television example of a Scorpio struggling to abide by a moral code.

Of course, the best example is probably Batman, another traumatized child who molded himself into an avatar of fear, but who wields that fear as a tool for justice. Batman’s moral code is so rigorous that, despite regularly butting heads with perhaps the most vicious and murderous rogue’s gallery in all of comics, he refuses to take a life himself for fear that he would not be able to stop. Again, wielding fear as a restrictive element, a building block in the skeleton of his moral boundaries.

So while Saturn’s making himself at home in your shadowy hidey-hole, sheathe your claws and take a listen. The things that terrify you may become your best tools.

Sagittarius – Unfinished Business and Dark Recesses

The 12th House is thought by many to be the most horrific house out of the twelve. They saved the best for last…just for you, Sag! The twelfth represents things you feel bound to or trapped by, imprisoned by. Sometimes this imprisonment is self-imposed, as with those seeking the divine who cloister themselves into monasteries. The fear here, though, is of that which cannot be escaped. Of personal histories, of skeletons in the closet, of things that make it harder for a person to live with what they’ve said or done.

Wow, take your pick. There are so many horror stories explore this concept, from The Tell-Tale Heart to I Know What You Did Last Summer. So many slashers or monsters come back to avenge a wrong done to them by the protagonists – here we have something the person or group has done that comes back to haunt them, as with Valentine’s Day, or the Friday the 13th movies, where Jason Vorhees (and originally, his mother,) seek to kill those who they think have done them wrong: the teenagers who, as camp counselors, were supposed to looking after Jason in life. As a result, his grudge extends to any teens unfortunate enough to come to his stomping grounds down at Camp Crystal Lake. (And then later, he goes to Manhattan for some reason. And then outer space…) The Japanese “onryo” ghost follows this pattern too, an undying curse that strikes out at whoever they perceive as those who have wronged them. We see this happen in Ju-On, as well as in the crappier American remake, The Grudge. Actually, the Japanese are really fond of this, so you see this in Shutter, One Missed Call, and probably scores of other similar films.

Jason and his fellow slashers really bring this concept to a Sagittarian place, though. They are usually hulking behemoths, slow-moving executioners who cannot be stopped. In the same way the Sagittarius fervently pursues a singular path, so do the Jasons of the horror world slowly but surely creep towards their doomed target. They’re sort of like the Tonberry from Final Fantasy, if any RPG nerds are reading and get that reference.

I group Freddy Krueger in here too, along with any other mind-flaying characters. Now, Freddy does have a vengeance grudge, but he was sort of a scummy child-murderer in life, long before the parents of Elm Street lynched him. For that reason, I’d normally group him in the 8th House, but the method of execution he uses is decidedly 12th House stuff. Freddy attacks through his targets’ dreams, a place they’re bound to and cannot escape from, a place where personal histories, relationships, and characteristics can be used against them. Same can be said for 1408, an evil hotel room which traps its inhabitants inside and forces them to relive the same hour over and over, an hour where the room subjects them to a barrage of hallucinations and horrors that usually include some deeply personal issues that the target would rather forget about.

The Saw franchise fits this mold too, possibly best of all. Jigsaw isn’t just senselessly murdering folks  – in his own messed up way, he’s trying to help them by binding in these elaborate murder traps. He takes the time to learn all about his target’s life, the ways that they’re wasting it or going astray, and then tests them accordingly. That the killer uses traps exclusively is indicative of the 12th House, as is the fact that each survival test is customized to the target’s personal failings.

And just as Jigsaw tests these people to see if they’re really willing to live, Saturn in Scorpio will ask Sagittarians to own up to the things they’ve done, to make peace with the closet full of skeletons, and muster the will to survive the transformative experience.

Capricorn – Hell Is Other People

The 11th is the House of friends and good fortunes. When fear is thrown into the mix, it calls for a restructuring of social circles which may result in a panicked frenzy of bridge-burning, and may leave the native a paranoid recluse.

The horror of this transit is perhaps best exemplified by The Invasion of The Body Snatchers. There have been a number of iterations of this classic story, wherein a town’s residents are slowly replaced by alien duplicates, but the creepiest version has to be 1978 film starring Donald Sutherland. The terrifying part about the invasion is how slowly and subtly it begins – an acquaintance suddenly acting strangely, like a new person. Then a small group who seems to be conspiring with one another. Suddenly, there’s a mob overrunning the town, and you and a small group are the only ones not pointing and hissing in a horrible, alien screech. Various other horror stories ape this pattern, like The Faculty and Stephen King’s Tommyknockers.

A slightly different way that this can manifest is in the fear of a welcoming group, wherein the fear is based on what they represent, and what you will therefore become by counting yourself among their ranks. Best example of this is the 1932 classic, Freaks, well-known for its famous, “One of us! One of us!” scene. The plot centers around a beautiful trapeze artist named Cleopatra, who seduces a sideshow midget after learning that he’s due a large inheritance. The titular sideshow freaks, frightening in appearance, but large in heart, make attempts to support their midget friend and welcome his new love into the fold. When her deception is finally uncovered, the group bands together to exact carnie justice, and it’s a pretty unforgettable cinematic moment.

Saturn is typically Capricorn’s homeboy. Make sure to listen up when he’s expounding on your social circles and your motivations for involvement therein.

Aquarius – In For a Penny

In the 10th House of career and honors, Saturn in Scorpio exposes the corrupting influence of the drive to achieve. Success is a frightening concept in many ways because driving toward it ups the stakes for a person, applying pressure to a life that might’ve been lived simply and with minimal ambition. The terror here is three-fold: the fear of what it takes to get to your goal, the fear of what happens if you don’t reach it, and the fear of what happens if you do. The fact that “success” is so nebulously defined by many is an additional cause for heartache and horror, as the societal idea of success may not fit a personal definition of what one would like to achieve.

American Psycho seems a commentary on what kind of person it takes to reach the general idea of American affluence and “success.” The protagonist, Patrick Bateman, is as mad as the title implies: a young Manhattanite investment banker of the 80’s Wall Street boom who gets his kicks by committing acts of serial murder. Obsessing over the peculiar, mundane aspects of his professional life, Bateman analyzes the color and texture of colleagues’ business cards (and, thus, their implied status,) praises and ridicules others on their fashion sense, and maintains a joylessly rigorous physical fitness routine. Indeed, the only things that seem to make him happy are Huey Lewis records and killing prostitutes. And yet, he thrives in this setting, continuing his rise to prestige even after attempting to confess all of his crimes to a colleague.

For a more classical and Aquarian look at the horror of success, consider H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, wherein a mocked scientist named Griffin alters his body’s refractive index, rendering himself effectively invisible. Here we see success of a goal, but not the honors that are supposed to go along with 10th House fare, as Griffin is unable to reverse the process or to enlist the aid of others to help him do so. Forced to choose between a life of invisibility or the life of a pariah (he has already assaulted several townspeople in a frantic attempt to make himself understood,) Griffin goes on a reign of terror against the society which refused to give him due credit for his Promethean discovery. A modern-day, less fantastic version of this personal horror can be seen in the Michael Douglas film Falling Down, where a laid-off, recently divorced engineer abandons his car in traffic and begins a shotgun rampage through Los Angeles. The honors he was due were revoked after years of work, and he became an “invisible.” He snapped under the pressure and lashed out, just like Griffin.

A final example is that of Charles Foster Kane, the lead character in Citizen Kane, a newspaper mogul so driven toward conventional ideas of success that he failed to note the corruption overtaking the structure of his personal life. Growing too obsessed with this area of life destroyed the rest of it, and left him a lonely shell of a man, despite his palatial estate, vast resources, and the power his name would evoke.

This may be a difficult transit for Aquarians. Though they have an affinity with Saturn through rulership, Saturn in Scorpio demands some work on the structure of the heart, a place many Aquarians are too heady to locate. Specifically, the lesson seems to be focused on emotional investment involved in professional matters, and the toll it may take on the rest of one’s life.

 Pisces – Belief System Meltdown

Finally, we have Saturn in Scorpio transiting the 9th House of Pisces. The 9th, despite being cadent, is generally considered to be a beneficial house, signifying spirituality, long journeys, higher education. Referred to by Hellenistic astrologers as the House of the God, it is on personally-held beliefs and their challenges that we will focus here. Though I can think of a few examples for the other significations…

Heart of Darkness seems a meditation on the fearful nature of a long journey into wild territory, and Final Destination begins as, and remains, one of the many films that make one think twice about stepping onto an airplane. Compulsory education is an unpleasant and fearful endeavor, but higher education implies that the student has sought out knowledge, though what will that knowledge turn them into? Apt Pupil explores this line of questioning, as an American teen discovers that his neighbor is a retired Nazi in hiding, and blackmails him into sharing his experiences from his time at the death camps. The boy grows obsessed with Nazism, and in turn, the Nazi persuades him to achieve in high school. He emerges as a well-educated instrument of malice.

Back to belief. Religion often plays a key role in horror, being that the dark forces ]manifest from a place of “opposite.” Most often, they spring from demons and Satan, opposite of angels and God, though that gets flipped on its head in films like The Prophecy or Legion, where angels become the demons who want to exterminate humanity. Sometimes it is the fear of persecution and dogma that drives the story, like in The Pit and The Pendulum, which centers around the horrors committed by the Spanish Inquisition. Witches and heretics represent challenges to widely-held beliefs, and thus, were hunted. The Crucible is a chilling look at the way that mass belief can be wielded as a weapon.

The best of the bunch seem to merge these two ideas, though. The Exorcist, and all pretenders to the throne, centers on a priest whose belief system is fractured, who is going through a crisis of faith. There is an idea put forth by the Catholic Church that demonic possessions occur because God wants to temper and fortify the souls of the righteous in order to perfect them, and the ordeal of possession coupled with the rite of exorcism is one way to do this. In the case of this film, this would focus not just on Regan, the possessed child, but on the young priest, Father Damien Karras, whose dogma-weary faith is bolstered by seeing God’s dark opposite. For if the Devil exists, then God must be there, too

Subsequent exorcism movies like The Rite, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and The Last Exorcism similarly explore these concepts. From a different angle, so does Candyman, the black, male, hook-handed Bloody Mary, who survives through legend and mythos, and who emerges to kill again when that myth is waning.

Lastly, fear of a foreign belief system is relevant here, as the 9th House is indicative of long journeys, and thus, foreign travel. Another favorite of mine is the 1973 film, The Wicker Man, which stars Christopher Lee (not the godawful Neil Labute/Nic Cage remake.) In this tale, a very upright, uptight Christian police officer from mainland England flies out to Summerisle, a remote island off Britain’s coast, in order to investigate the reported disappearance of a little girl. Once there, he finds that all the residents are incredibly unhelpful, playing dumb at times and outright mocking his search at others, providing contradictory answers and doing everything to confound him. Undeterred, he continues his search of the island only to discover that all its residents hold nature-based Pagan beliefs, including the rite of ritual sacrifice in order to appease the harvest gods. Learning that they had a bad harvest the previous year and that their annual festival is to be held soon, he suspects that they intend to sacrifice the girl, and moves to intercede.

Our protagonist’s disgust at the Pagan practices of the Summerisle residents causes him to dehumanize them and consider them monstrous barbarians. This assumption blinds him to a much more sinister plot, and in the end, holding fast to his beliefs ends up being the source of his greatest horror.

And so, with Saturn in Scorpio here, the focus must be on an evaluation of corruption of belief. Too much of this can lead to a disintegration and plunge one into Nihilism, but refusing to investigate at all will keep one entrenched in the realm of blind faith, and ensure that they either become a monster who persecutes or be persecuted themselves. True faith takes temperance and sincere emotional investment, and Saturn’s transit through Scorpio asks Pisces to meditate on these matters.

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