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  • Writer's picturePeggy O'Donnell

Joan Didion - Mercury at an Ending Degree

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Young Joan Didion holding cigarette

Joan Didion was born Dec. 5, 1934 in Sacramento, CA. She split her life between two coasts, California and New York. She had a unique ability to observe and to write about place. Consider this opening from her 2011 book Blue Nights.

In certain latitudes there comes a span of time approaching and following the summer solstice, some weeks in all, when the twilight turns long and blue. This period of the the blue nights does not occur in subtropical California, where I lived for much of the time I will be talking about here and where the end of daylight is fast and and lost in the blaze of the dropping sun, but it does occur in New York, where I now live. You notice it first as April ends and May begins, a change in the season, not exactly a warming-in fact not at all a warming -yet suddenly summer seems near, a possibility, even a promise. You pass a window, you walk to Central Park, you find yourself swimming in the color blue: the actual light is blue, and over the course of an hour or so the blue deepens, becomes more intense even as it darkens and fades, approximates finally the blue of the glass on a clear day at Chartres, or that of the Cerenkow radiation thrown off by the fuel rods in the pools of nuclear reactors. The French call this time of day "l'heure bleue."

Mercury is the planet associated with writers. Joan Didion had Mercury at 29 degrees of Scorpio in the 6th house, conjunct her Moon in Sagittarius. A planet in an ending degree is a very strong expression of the sign in which it is placed. Scorpio is intense, and Didion is known for her writing about death and disorder, or as John Banville phrased it, she was known as a *connoisseur of catastrophe*. Her Mercury is sextile Mars in Virgo, facility with language and an exactness that is doubled by Mercury in the Virgo house, sextile Mars in Virgo. Mercury is also trine Pluto, contributing to the Scorpio theme, and her unflinching gaze for which she was known. The closest aspect in her chart is Mercury in quincunx to Pallas, Pallas being her ability to see patterns. Mercury in aspect to Uranus granted her a very unique voice, and possibly contributed to her sensitive nervous system. Her death on Dec. 23rd was due to Parkinson's disease.

Didion had a stellium in Sagittarius in the 6th house, Sun, Moon and Venus, with Sun and Venus in square to Neptune in the 4th. Sun Neptune is often present in the chart of artists. Sun to Neptune would also equate to magical thinking, and her memoir of her husband's death was titled *The Year of Magical Thinking*. She also has a Pisces midheaven.

The most difficult month and year in her life had to be December 2003, the year her longtime spouse and co-author John Gregory Dunne died, and her only child fell into a coma from which she did not recover. Her progressed Sun was just past an opposition with Saturn at that time. Progressed Venus was opposite to Neptune in the 4th, and the nadir progressed was conjunct her Vertex. Transit Uranus (shock and sudden events) was square to her natal Mercury, ruler of the 4th. Didion's solar return for 2003 has Pluto in the same degree (not same sign) as the node. It has been stated that if you want to know the theme of a Solar Return for a year, look to see if any planets are in the same degree as the node. This does not have to be the same sign. Pluto shows the theme of the year to be change, and in this case, grief. To her everlasting credit, she kept going forward and continued to write, using that last degree of Scorpio of Mercury to the utmost.

horoscope of Joan Didion

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