Emile Zola’s Umbrella

Thomas Canfield

In 1937, the Oscar-winning film of the year was “The Life of Emile Zola” starring Paul Muni. There was a scene in the film in which Emile Zola was on his way to visit his publisher’s bookstore. It was a day of pouring rain, and Zola was struggling with his umbrella, which kept turning inside-out. A street peddler tried to sell Zola a new umbrella, but Zola turned him down by saying he was fond of his old umbrella. (We in the audience really knew that Zola is too poor to buy a new umbrella.) When Zola visited his publisher, he learned that his novel “Nana” was a best-seller, and the publisher presented Zola with a check that would lift him out of poverty. Zola borrowed a few francs from the publisher, ran into the street, and bought a new umbrella from the peddler. As he stood under the new umbrella, he had the satisfaction of seeing his portrait placed in the bookstore window. While he admired the portrait, his new umbrella suddenly turned inside-out.

     This amusing bit of movie-history was brought to mind by the arrangement of the Vernal Equinox chart, set for March 20, 2022, 11:35 am, in Washington DC. The bodies in the chart are within 150 degrees from the Part of Fortune at 25 Capricorn to the Ascendant at 25 Gemini. Such a cluster is usually called a Bowl, though in some cases one body might be outside of the Bowl shape. The odd singleton body turns the Bowl into a Bucket. In the Vernal Equinox chart, the bodies are in the public houses of the chart, from the Eighth House to the Twelfth House. Only the Moon is separate from the other bodies by being in the Fifth House. In this position, the Bucket chart looks more like an Umbrella.

     However, the difficulty with this Umbrella is that the Moon is void-of-course, just five minutes away from going into Taurus. Does this mean that the Vernal Equinox chart is marked by failure? Did Emile Zola have a bad day because his umbrella was broken?  In spite of the appearance of failure, there are positive qualities which make the chart successful. Pluto is in the Eighth House, its own house, and Pluto is conjunct the Part of Fortune. There are great opportunities for transformation and regeneration in the Spring. Pluto and the Part of Fortune are trine the North Node in the Eleventh House. There could be major changes in the public values regarding money, wealth, and ownership. People could start questioning the philosophy “I got mine” and wonder “What did you get it for?”

     Vesta, asteroid of hearth and home, and Mars are both trine Ceres in the Twelfth House. It is a good time to focus energy on domestic matters. Home improvement may be a good activity at this time. Tear down the old structure and set up something new. Trips to Home Depot or Lowe’s may provide the right tools, as well as improve the economy. Vesta is sextile the Equinox Sun, and Spring Cleaning may the leading home activity. Vesta is also semi-sextile the Midheaven, and making plans for a garage sale could help with finances this season.

     Mars is conjunct the Ninth House cusp, with Venus just on the other side in the Ninth House. It may be a good time to deal with legal matters that have been tied up during the pandemic. Thoughts of higher education may be acted upon at this time. Mars and Venus are squaring Uranus in the Eleventh House. Part of the legal issues may be over sudden cultural changes, and actions that seem revolutionary (even just taking a knee) that may face legal opposition. There may have to be a legal distinction between who is a Patriot, and who is just being a jerk.

    Mars and Venus are sextile Chiron and Pallas in Aries. There may be increased respect for the medical community at this time, and hopes for more approved remedies for dealing the pandemic. Pallas and Chiron are also sextile Ceres in Gemini. There might be comforting news from hospitals and other Twelfth House institutions that may be hopeful in improving the public health. Mars and Venus might also provide increased legal protections for the medical leaders who are being threatened by those who are not working to end the pandemic.

     Saturn is conjunct Juno, the asteroid of marriage, but also political connections. There could be serious litigation coming down upon conservative political figures. A lot of debate may be shouting on issues of law and order. Saturn and Juno are squaring the North Node, and that could bring up issues of public values and what we are going to allow certain people to get away with. Arguments over restrictions and censorship may be taking place. People may have to wonder how to advance their careers by moving backwards.  

     The top of the chart is blessed by conjunctions with Mercury, Jupiter, and Neptune. This may be a profitable time for film production, on-line games, or just a lot of streaming. It could be a time for new and provocative work, just as “Nana” was for 19th century people. There could be outspoken new figures, as Emile Zola was to France. Neptune is square the Ascendant, and there might be a need for a more humanist outlook in the world (as Zola offered in his works) and moving away from distracting mysticism. 

      The successes at this time may get a lot of public attention with most of the bodies above the Ascendant. The only distraction may be the void-of-course Moon in the lower part of the chart. This could represent the minor day-to-day problems that we have to normally deal with. Like Emile Zola, we may be on the verge of a turning point for public success. Dealing with a broken umbrella may keep us from fully enjoying the good news that we have coming. It may be a time to overlook the minor miseries and appreciate the greater accomplishments.