The Taurus/Scorpio axis is ruled by Venus and Mars (Pluto) and, like the Cancer/Capricorn axis, relates to the very early developmental period of attachment and bonding. (1) As the axis of ownership and exchange, the tension across this axis concerns the relationship between giving and receiving, and the natural rhythms of incorporation and elimination, retention and release. As a fixed axis, these themes can become very powerful and entrenched.
Personality Theory states that, if an infant’s instinctive and valid needs for nurture and nourishment are adequately and consistently met, if an infant receives sufficient emotional and physical reassurance, then it can pass through this stage with a healthy sense of entitlement, self confidence and a fundamental trust in life. When an infant experiences sensitivity towards, and attention to, its needs, life is experienced as rewarding, enjoyable and safe. Knowing what is right for them, they will not be afraid of the passion and intensity of relationships and develop a capacity to weather emotional storms, knowing that, at root, life is benign and supportive.
The oral character is formed when the child’s valid early emotional needs for symbiotic attunement and nourishment are either denied or ignored. The ‘wounded child’ experiences itself as abandoned. Internalising this situation, the infant believes its needs will always be denied, or are too great to be satisfied. A chronic core experience of not-enoughness, of deprivation, causes a persistent, underlying hunger. The developmental issue will be one of need, and the emotional reaction is voracious rage, which is pushed firmly into the unconscious.
The oral character consciously seeks partners who they believe will be supportive, nurturing and safe, who will be able to heal their primal experience of not-enoughness, but unconsciously anticipates being abandoned again. In spite of their best intentions, almost as soon as a relationship is formed, they will start searching for signs of rejection or waning affection. Any minor slight or withdrawal by the loved one triggers intense anxiety or jealousy. The underlying rage can emerge with terrifying power, making this one of the most violent of the personality types. In its extreme forms, the oral personality can become physically violent, even to the point of rape or murder. At one moment they can be hurling accusations at their partner, and in the next moment apologising profusely, to try and avoid a painful repetition of the primal abandonment.
As with all character adaptations, a polarisation occurs. Identifying with the Taurus end of the spectrum (Scorpio shadow), the voracious individual becomes extremely possessive in relationships, seeking to incorporate the other, body and soul. The object of their desire becomes, as it were, a possession. They tend to become increasingly controlling and obsessive, the partner is no longer allowed a separate life, and may become a prisoner in the relationship, subjected to constant surveillance. The partner is effectively being stalked. Any friendships, achievements or activities which the partner has outside the relationship are viewed with suspicion and irrational jealousy. For example, oral characters may be constantly on the phone, seeking reassurance and making all manner of demands, until they become so emotionally invasive that they eventually ensure they will be rejected again.
Oral characters suspect, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming or deceiving them. They are preoccupied with unjustified doubts regarding the fidelity of their spouse or sexual partner, the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends, associates or partners, and are reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fears that the information will be used maliciously against them. In extreme cases, such people are diagnosed as having a paranoid personality disorder.
On the other side of the coin, at the polarised Scorpio end of this axis (Taurus shadow), the infant may have experienced its caretakers as physically, emotionally and even psychically invasive and controlling. The infant’s personal boundaries may have been violated rather than respected, which sets the scene for similar relationships in adulthood. Alternatively, the individual may become unwilling or unable to reach out to others, for fear of being further exploited. One of the most recognisable responses to the experience of being exploited, is to develop an exaggerated sense of responsibility, to become extremely giving and generous, gratifying others at one’s own expense. The individual may try to get their needs met vicariously by nurturing and giving to others but, with all the giving coming from a place of not-enoughness, it is always resentful and bestowed in ways which demand something in return. There is a high price to pay for both parties. The recipient of all this generosity finds themselves increasingly controlled by and bound to the other. Equally, the giver is worn out by their commitment to heavy responsibilities, which can lead to illness or depression, partly caused by the primal rage which has been pushed firmly into the unconscious.
Stories, myths and films which concern obsessive, controlling or self-destructive relationships are an extremely rich source of information about the ways in which the polarised Taurus/Scopio axis is played out.
One example of this archetypal theme, with the woman as protagonist, goes something like this. A woman becomes obsessed with a man and she must have him, because she feels he will give her the support, nurture and safety she longs for. But she is unconsciously drawn like a magnet to a partner who can never love her and who will reject her in the end, thus repeating her original experiences of primal abandonment. .
As he becomes the sole focus of her existence, everything else in her life drops away. Her efforts to control him or her anxious and clinging demands cause him to pull back or to try to end the relationship. She refuses to accept his withdrawal, believing that her survival depends on him. She moves into a period of denial, doing everything she can to keep him from leaving, convincing herself that she can win him back. She is obsessed with the fantasy of a relationship which never really existed in the first place. The more desperate she gets, the more he pushes her away until a final rejection ends her denial of his disinterest. Now she is filled with a rage that terrifies her.
It is generally recognised that women tend to turn their rage and anger inwards, against themselves. They are more likely than men to self-harm, or to turn their need for control to food, in cases of anorexia and bulimia, or to become deeply depressed or consumed by obsessive thoughts. Sometimes they may try to kill themselves, not only because of their pain but also as an act of revenge – to show the world that he is her murderer.
Men in the grip of similar situations tend to turn their anger outwards and vent their rage against their rejecters, as in most cases of domestic violence. They are more likely to turn their partners into prisoners, cutting them off from other relationships and subjecting them to constant surveillance. It is estimated that well over half of all the women who are murdered in the UK are killed by partners they left or tried to leave.
These themes are repeated in many stories and films, not least in the figure of Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. Other chilling examples in real life are those of serial-murderers such as Dennis Nilson, Fred West and Joseph Fritzl.
The film Fatal Attraction is a good example of a story illustrating an extremely polarised Taurus/Scorpio axis. At the beginning of the film we meet two apparently mature, well adapted, professionally successful civilised adults, played by Glen Close and Michael Douglas, who decide they are perfectly capable of conducting an affair without disrupting their lives. Shortly afterwards, the Glen Close character has come to believe that her very survival depends upon him and she becomes ever more demanding and needy, to the extent of self harming. She slashes her wrists to try to bind him to her with guilt. In other words, the voracious rage of the oral stage is unleashed in the body of an adult professional, with all the force of the 18-month old child who is incapable at that stage of any kind of rationalisation. When that doesn’t work, her rage is directed towards him and his family, in escalating degrees. She destroys his car with acid, invades his home, kidnaps the daughter and boils her pet rabbit on the stove. Finally she tries to stab him to death with a large butcher’s knife, a scenario which ends with her own death.
Actors are often drawn to films which reflect their own charts, and Michael Douglas is well qualified to play such roles, having Taurus and Scorpio on his ASC/DES axis. He was born on 25 September 1944 at 10.30am in New Brunswick, NJ. Similar themes are evident in other Michael Douglas films, such as the War of the Roses with Kathleen Turner, Basic Instinct and Falling Down.
Bluebeard, his wife and the magical key, Gustave Dore
19th Century illustration
The Bluebeard story, a French fairy tale first published in 1697, (2) is a classic example of the male protagonist playing out this theme. At least thirty operas and over twenty films have been written on the Bluebeard theme, such as Hitchcock’s Notorious. The theme is also used in Stephen King’s novel The Shining (1977). The feminist author and psychologist Clarissa Pinkoka Estes describes the psychological symbolism of the Bluebeard story in her book Women Who Run With The Wolves (1996). The tale tells the story of a violent nobleman in the habit of murdering his wives and the attempts of one wife to escape the fate of her predecessors.
Bluebeard was a wealthy aristocrat, feared because of his ugliness and avoided by all. Although he had been married several times, no one knew what had become of his wives. However, he managed to persuade Fatima, the daughter of one of his neighbours, to marry him, and after the ceremony she went to live with him in his chateau.
Shortly afterwards, Bluebeard announced that he had to go away for a while; he gave over all the keys of the chateau to his new wife, including the key to one small room that she was forbidden to enter. Almost immediately after his departure, she was overcome with the desire to see what the forbidden room held, and finally her visiting sister convinced her to satisfy her curiosity and open the room.
Fatima immediately discovered the room’s horrible secret: its floor was awash with blood, and the dead bodies of her husband’s former wives hung from hooks on the walls. Horrified, she locked the door, but the key had become covered with blood which would not wash off. Bluebeard returned unexpectedly and immediately knew what his wife had done. In a blind rage he threatened to behead her on the spot, and so she locked herself in the highest tower with her sister. While Bluebeard, sword in hand, tried to break down the door, the sisters waited for their two brothers to arrive. At the last moment, as Bluebeard was about to deliver the fatal blow, the brothers broke into the castle, and as he attempted to flee, they killed him.
From a psychological viewpoint, all the characters in this story are aspects of Fatima’s psyche. Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes that Fatima plays out the very human story of the naïve young woman who is unaware that she is, in fact, prey. With as absent mother and neglectful father, she is seduced by the promise of power and wealth, and even unconsciously drawn to engage with her inner predator. It is the actions of her sister and brothers, those inner mercurial figures who encourage her to see what is actually happening, who help her to gain perspective and deliver her from the predator within her own psyche. She emerges wiser and stronger.
Beauty and the Beast is a traditional fairy tale, originally published in 1740, and adapted for screen, stage, prose, and television over the years. In this story, both characters have sufficient levels of self worth, which counterbalances the extreme neediness and possessiveness so often encountered when the Taurus/Scorpio axis polarises. It is this self worth and the ability to love which leads to the happy conclusion of the story.
Beauty is initially betrayed by her father, who exchanges his most precious possession, his daughter, for his own freedom. Significantly, the Beast insists that Beauty must come to his castle of her own accord. On her arrival, he receives her graciously and informs her that she is mistress of the castle, and he is her servant. Eventually she becomes homesick and the Beast allows her to return home, on condition that she returns a week later. Beauty sets off for home with an enchanted mirror, which allows her to see what is going on back at the Beast’s castle, and a ring, which allows her to return to the castle in an instant when turned three times around her finger.
Her older sisters are surprised and jealous when they hear of her happy life, and conspire to delay her promised return to the castle. In this story, the sisters are exposed as greedy and vengeful, only capable of using others to get what they want. After some time, Beauty uses the enchanted mirror and is horrified to discover that the Beast is lying half-dead of heartbreak. She immediately uses the ring to return to him. She tells the Beast that she loves him and, as her tears fall on him he is transformed into a handsome prince. As so often in fairy stories, it transpires that a curse had been put on the prince, only to be broken if, despite his apparent ugliness, he could find true love. Like all good fairy stories, Beauty and the Beast live happily ever after.
1. Stephen Johnson, Character Styles
2. Perrault, Charles (1697) Histoires ou Contes du temps passé, Barbin, Paris
Also by Clare:
Mapping the Psyche Volume 1: The Planets and Zodiac Signs
Mapping the Psyche Volume 2: Houses and Aspects
Mapping the Psyche Volume 3: Kairos, The Astrology of Time