Profile: Novelist Philip Roth

Recently I watched “Elegy,” a film based on Philip Roth’s novel The Dying Animal. Sir Ben Kingsley, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard cast in the same film are enough to get me to watch it, and I was impressed by Penélope Cruz’s performance (that’s the first time those words have ever emitted from me, for the record).

But I didn’t know this was based on a novel by Roth. I was intrigued not so much by the subject matter as the writing, except when Dennis Hopper was on screen with Kingsley. In those moments, my attention was scattered; I stopped caring about the entire thing utterly and completely. But then the story progressed and I was back in it. After the second of these cycles, I found the link to Roth, and it made total sense to me.

When I first found a few novels of his, I was thrilled. Then I kept reading and found something about him, that came through in the writing, off-putting. It was the same with the Hopper-Kingsley scenes, so I decided to look at his chart to see what annoyance button in me was being pushed (he’s just doing his thing, nothing wrong with it, but I wanted to see why I’ve been bothered by him these last 15ish years).

March 19 1933, 1 AM, Newark NJ (rated AA)

First thing I noticed is that 5th house Chiron in Taurus. Then the Moon in Capricorn in the 1st. And then Ceres in Pisces conjunct the Pisces North Node (NN).

One of the ways I see Chiron is in our childhood wounding, as we were rejected at birth by our parents when we did what’s symbolized by our Chiron. In the 5th, it’s about creative expression and there can be a sense of “Look at me! Look at me!” akin to the wounding that can accompany Pluto in Leo, which is what I thought I smelled when I felt into why I often don’t enjoy his work.

Ceres on the NN says that in his various lives, his family and environments lack a direct relationship with the energy of nurturing. He’ll be left with a longing to have some sort of mothering or caring-for he doesn’t get.

As a result, Moon in the 1st, whereby he’s carry the energy of the nurturer in full measure, can lead one to live in a relationship with emotions, feelings and needs that’s a little bit emotionally haywire. Add retro Pluto in Cancer in the 7th to all of this. This placement says that soul’s journey has much to do with learning to develop a healthy relationship with emotions (plus family, roots/heritage, parents, etc.) (Cancer), and he’s trying to learn through his relationships what’s fair to ask for from others re nurturing and validation of his emotions (Cancer in the 7th). The retro tells us that how he observes how others ask each other for emotional support and validation won’t work for him – he’s got to go his own way, which can include a lot of trial and error.

But then also that Pluto is squared by Uranus in Moon’s house, the 4th. This adds a layer saying that his karmic wounding includes friction/difficulty/pressure from erratic sources at home and in his inner world. All of this together says that his soul is trying to establish a true understanding of healthy relationship to the world of emotions, and it can be rough given the needs of others and the realities of our relationships with them.

In his writing, his focuses is usually on himself and his life. Thinly-veiled portraits of those closest to him and using himself as a character in his novels are common devices. To me, it feels like this large body of work illustrates his need to be the center of attention while trying to figure out what to do with his emotions, his personal life – how to think of them, how to share them, how to connect with others while being honest about who he really is on the inside. He can use all of this in a book, while simply having the feelings (if no one’s listening – Chiron in the 5th – and if it doesn’t serve a purpose – Capricorn Moon) isn’t enough, or to parts of him seems not enough.

Roth is trying to make peace with his inner self, and part of his process is asking others to validate him for being who he is. This is what his work is designed to do, whether he’s conscious of it or not. The real question for him in his soul’s evolution center on how the accolades, critical acclaim and public success make him feel. Does he feel validated? Does it make him feel heard and acknowledged? Does he (finally) feel loved because his books are loved?

Tom Jacobs is an astrologer, medium and channel in Tucson, AZ. Contact him via his site,