by Steven Forrest
Birth Data Rodden Rating: A
Agatha Christie b. September 15, 1890, 4:00 AM-GMT Torquay, England
Four billion copies of her books are in print. She is often described as the best-selling author in history. Her play, The Mousetrap, is the longest continuously running one in the world, having opened in London on November 25, 1952, and still going strong as of this writing.
But it is for her murder mysteries that Agatha Christie is best known. Her work practically defined the genre that Arthur Conan Doyle launched. Her vain Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, with his waxed mustache and his brilliant deductions, humanized the infallible “Sherlock Holmes” archetype. Poirot is the only fictional character ever to be given an obituary in The New York Times, after Christie killed him off in her 1975 novel, Curtain—such was the popularity of her work at the time. Her delightful Miss Marple, at least as brilliant as Hercule and a lot more charming, made it safe for older, middle-class ladies on both sides of the Atlantic to have a devilish streak and a gleam in their eyes.
Reading Agatha Christie’s mysteries today, one might be excused for thinking that they are riddled with clichés—until we realize that she originated most of them! Arguably, there is not a mystery writer today who does not owe her an enormous debt.
So who was this mystery woman?
Agatha Christie was born in Devon on the southern coast of England. Her mother was British and her father was an American stockbroker who died when Agatha was eleven. Their circumstances were comfortable—at age sixteen, for example, young Agatha went to Mrs. Dryden’s Finishing School in Paris to study piano and voice. In 1914, she married a pilot, Colonel Archibald Christie. She gave birth to a daughter, Rosalind, in August 1919. In October 1920 her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was published to glowing reviews. She had written it in 1916, with transiting Uranus and the progressed Sun applying to trine to her north node. It was published with Jupiter, ruler of her south node, rising into the seventh house by solar arc.
On December 8, 1926, with transiting Sun conjunct her south node, Agatha Christie disappeared for ten days. By then she was quite famous and it was a media circus. Popular opinion held that it had been a publicity stunt, but more likely Agatha’s own explanation was the truth. It was essentially a controlled and very private nervous breakdown, driven by her husband’s having an affair. She checked into the hotel into which she “disappeared” under the name of his lover—and please keep that odd fact in mind as we get into the deeper material, below. The marriage broke up shortly thereafter, in 1928, with Saturn spending most of the year transiting back and forth over her south node.
Agatha Christie remarried in 1930. Her second husband, Sir Max Mallowan, was an archaeologist fourteen years younger than her. That marriage was apparently happy for quite a while, although it too entered darker years as her second husband also began a series of affairs. Due to Mallowan’s work as an archaeologist, Christie had many opportunities to travel to the Middle East, the setting of many of her novels. Her best-known work is probably Murder on the Orient Express, which she wrote in Istanbul and published in 1934, with the solar arc south node trine her Moon and conjunct her node-ruling Jupiter.
In 1971, Agatha Christie was made Dame Commander of the British Empire. She died in January 1976. Astrologically, Agatha Christie is a Virgo with Virgo rising. Thus, Mercury rules her chart and disposits the Sun. She has two planets—Uranus and Venus—in the third house (communication), and two more in Gemini up in the tenth house: a tight conjunction of Pluto and Neptune. No astrologer would be surprised to learn that this was the chart of a prolific and successful writer. “Mysteries” would naturally be the domain of Pluto and Scorpio. With her Pluto in the tenth house and her third house Venus lying in Scorpio, we can easily see astrological support for what we already know: that she was a prolific writer who wrote mysteries.
Let’s see if Evolutionary Astrology can carry us more deeply into Agatha Christie’s soul. Click here to download a pdf of her birth chart.
Her lunar south node lies in Sagittarius in the fourth house, in a conjunction with Mars. Sagittarius is the “gypsy.” It is fiery, with little tolerance for restraint or limitation. The hunger to explore, to see the world, to learn, to expand—all those are Sagittarian qualities. Mars, similarly, is fiery by nature—and of course also occupies the fire sign, Sagittarius. It too suggests an explosive, adventurous spirit, rebelling against outward constraints in a prior life with a “live free or die” attitude. Note the basic tension between these energetic nodal perspectives and the more cautious qualities suggested by her “double Virgo” status. Thus the sign of Agatha Christie’s south node and the planet conjunct it describe her prior-life nature in vivacious and boundary-busting terms. I italicize the word “nature” here because one’s “nature” is what signs and planets describe. They reflect what we are as human beings: our style, our affect, our energy. But if you want to know what Agatha Christie was doing, then look to the relevant houses. They give the circumstances and the biographical “shape” of the life.
Agatha Christie’s south node lies in the fourth house: home, family, the domestic environment. Again note the clash: a free-spirited, passionate, experience-hungry individual who found herself defined by domesticity. She was a fiery, Mars-enhanced, gypsy-on-steroids, trapped in a home. And she was not only frustrated about it, but also angry (Mars). The feeling this configuration invokes is of a tiger stalking in a cage or an eagle with its talons chained to the ground. The metaphor of the bomb going off inside the steel room comes to mind. It takes a lot to contain this kind of fire. What kept Agatha Christie so trapped and housebound in this prior lifetime?
Following our procedural outline, we would next look to the ruler of the south node. Here we immediately find at least one answer to our question. The ruler of Sagittarius is Jupiter, and it lies retrograde in Aquarius in the fifth house. As we have learned, this will give us “another dimension” of her past-life identity or “another chapter in the story” that casts light on her identity. One ancient correlation of the fifth house is children—and, naturally, when our first hint was “family” (south node in the fourth house), it is a very short jump to thinking about children. Those are exactly the kinds of interlocking metaphors we seek. In this case, we might speculate that we are talking about a lot of children as well—Jupiter tends to be expansive and Aquarius has some pertinence to groups of people.
We might add that Agatha Christie has already emerged as passionate—that is one message of her “hot” Mars conjunct the south node. And Sagittarius has a tendency to leap before it looks. And where did she leap? Into a home. Into the fourth house. Putting two and two together, remembering that birth control was quite dicey until recent generations, the notion that in a prior lifetime Agatha Christie found herself bound to a home by children leaps out.
It is doubtless relevant that she chose to have only one child in this incarnation, five years into her first marriage. And she had none in her second marriage. Nowadays such a choice would not raise an eyebrow, but in the context of her times, it was an unusual choice. People used to have more children, and the social mind-set in support of them doing so was entrenched and ubiquitous.
But in a prior lifetime children had been the lock on the door of Agatha Christie’s jail cell. The fifth house has other meanings too. Love affairs. Creativity. Celebration. Debauchery. Let’s not forget them—they are part of the archetypal field too—but let’s leave them to bubble on the back burner a little bit longer.
What about hard aspects to the south node? Let’s put a little more narrative into the mix if we can—planets in hard aspect to the south node always help with that. They provide the grit of plot.
The Pluto-Neptune conjunction is tantalizingly close to an opposition aspect with the south node, but it is a little too wide for us to make much of it—eleven or twelve degrees is pushing it. We will return to that aspect later as a kind of “tweak,” once we have the main thrust of the story understood.
No ambiguity about the Sun though—it lies on the second house cusp in Virgo, making a solid three degree square to the south node. Here we encounter another major element of the story. The Sun always represents some force in our lives which simply must be obeyed. Sometimes it represents an overwhelming, transcendent moral obligation, something upon which we just cannot turn our backs—a dear friend in dire need, for example. Other times it represents a compelling circumstance over which we have no power—the ship is sinking and we are a hundred miles from shore. Most often the best entry-point with the Sun is to try thinking of it as a person of compelling authority, someone “in charge” of us, someone whose word must be obeyed.
Let’s try that latter angle for starters and see where it carries us.
Agatha Christie is in a family situation and feeling bound there. Love for her children is part of the binding. The Sun here can easily indicate her partner—and we would naturally be looking for a partner in a “family” storyline such as this one. Had the south node been making her look like a hermit, we wouldn’t consider that possibility. But with a domestic setting for the story, thinking of the Sun as husband or wife is natural. What can we say about this partner? First, he or she was characterized by dominating (solar) authority. Very likely, there was a demanding, picky quality in the person—that is one of the darker faces of Virgo: never satisfied, always quibbling and criticizing. It is not fair to say “all Virgos are like that,” but in this kind of astrology we are trying to ferret out unresolved problems from prior lifetimes. We do not begin our search for them at the highest levels of each symbol’s expression—quite the opposite.
So, in a prior lifetime, Agatha Christie’s partner was domineering and critical. That’s a start. The Sun lies at the cusp of the second house. The partner was probably quite concerned about money. This does not indicate either wealth or poverty specifically, only concern and worry (Virgo).
Taking the Sun more broadly as a possible indicator of compelling circumstances, we might speculate that Agatha’s situation was somehow fraught with financial issues that could not be ignored or gotten around—not an unusual situation in families. The kids have to eat, and so forth.
Virgo can indicate self-doubt, a quality driven by enslavement to impossible or unreachable standards. The second house, from a psychological perspective, deals with feelings of inadequacy, of “not having what it takes.” Taking the Sun as indicative of the partner, we now achieve a deeper, critical insight: the partner, though domineering, was insecure, felt inadequate, and was inwardly self-critical. He or she somehow held the aces of power, but was not fundamentally as strong a person as Christie herself.
So far I have been referring to Agatha Christie’s prior-life partner as “he or she.” Might we narrow that down a bit? Trying to scope out gender from the planets is shaky work. You can never be totally sure, although sometimes it becomes fairly clear. For obvious reasons, a story of death in a military action probably suggests a man, whereas death in childbirth would rather definitively suggest a female prior incarnation. The very rough rule-of-thumb that Venus indicates a female and Mars indicates a male must be taken with a large grain of salt—there are surely exceptions to it. Here, with Agatha Christie, seeing a fiery Mars conjunct her south node, I speculate that we are talking about a prior lifetime in which she was male—and thus a husband and a father. The Sun then would naturally become female here: Christie’s demanding, self-centered, critical, ultimately insecure wife.
Going further, Sagittarius represents philosophy, religion, and belief. Generally speaking, it has a moral quality. With Agatha Christie’s south node in that sign, we can assume that in this prior life she was quite identified with her energized sense of right and wrong. Likely, this moral framework was significantly conditioned by fourth house values: family, and “the ties that bind.” She made a religion of family. Throw in the passionate, over-the-top qualities of the Warrior archetype, represented by Mars: she would die for the family, if necessary.
This kind of domestic commitment has a robust kind of moral authority to it, but it is not to be confused with love. It is not about soft feelings of connection; it is about fierce, self-sacrificing feelings of moral duty. It is surely not intrinsically indicative of happiness. We already know that she was a stalking tiger within the cage of family responsibilities: angry, not happy. But we can now add another set of bars to the cage: a moral commitment to “doing the right thing by the family,” no matter what she (or he!) was feeling. Several paragraphs back, we posed the question: What kept Agatha Christie’s free spirit so trapped within a family in this prior lifetime? Now we have three answers. All are relevant. First, children. Second, a demanding, insecure, needy partner with all the manipulations that entails. Third, a compelling sense of moral obligation.
These were the bars on the soul-cage. They made her furious (Mars). But the bomb went off in a steel room (the fourth house).
Cutting to the dark heart of the matter, it is the nature of Mars that it wants to kill. Better said, the part of humans that sometimes feels homicidal is called Mars. That is simply the name for it. We have all got one. Whenever you have felt like hitting someone, your Mars had risen up.
I postulate that, in a prior lifetime, inside this steel room of moral and practical constraints, Agatha Christie built up a pitch of contained (fourth house) rage (fiery Mars) at “his” wife. I feel that this rage was never expressed outwardly or directly—it remained contained within the fourth house, held in check by the bars on the three soul-cages.
I postulate that these unresolved and unreleased fantasies of murder found expression in her novels in this present lifetime. Beneath their mannered English facade, Agatha Christie’s novels and plays are of course generally stories about “good, respectable” people killing each other, often quite horribly.
We have still got something bubbling on the back burner: the other possible meanings of the fifth house where Jupiter, the ruler of Agatha’s south node, lies. Love affairs. Creativity. Celebration. Debauchery. What might a passionate man do, trapped in the kind of situation we have described? How would he survive? What release might he find? He might comfort himself with life’s simple pleasures: food, alcohol, toys, games, sports, friendships. There are no serious indications of a prior-life addictive problem here—no major Neptune issues, for example—but I suspect that Agatha Christie “partied hearty” back then.
Aquarius, where Jupiter lies, is inclined to break the rules. It is the rebel. Factoring that element into our equations, might we imagine that “he” also took some license sexually? It is always critical to remember that, with reincarnation, we are dealing with history. Sex never goes away—or we will! But it is famously malleable by custom and belief. Different periods of time have always been characterized by distinct sexual morés. Males often experienced a different set of sexual pressures, norms, and expectations than did females—the infamous “double standard,” which is thankfully evaporating in many places today. “Wenching” and whoring have often been unspokenly acceptable, something “men needed to do,” something verging on acceptable so long as they did not talk about it—and came home afterwards.
Jupiter loves excess; the fifth house loves pleasures; Aquarius likes to “walk on the wild side.” All these hints apply to Agatha Christie’s karmic story. With this Jupiter configuration ruling her south node, I think it is fair speculation that while Agatha Christie was loyal to the family in the material and practical sense, “he” was not faithful in a sexual sense.
This speculation is further bolstered by that curious and exploratory (third house) Scorpio Venus squaring the node-ruling Jupiter. Both Scorpio and Venus represent sexual drives, and here—through the square to the node-ruler—we see them “making trouble.”
We can bolster this sexual speculation even further, but not with astrology. We turn to the actual facts of Agatha Christie’s life. Her first marriage collapsed partly because her husband was having an affair. And in her second marriage, while it started brightly enough, her husband also had many affairs. He remained “with” Agatha—but married his longtime lover the year after Agatha died.
Karma is most often simply pattern repetition, but sometimes we “reap as we have sown.” I believe that Agatha Christie’s promiscuous karma had ripened—the chickens came home to roost. Remember that when she “disappeared,” she checked into the hotel under the name of her husband’s lover. Why would she be identified with the lover? And what resonance did she feel sexually with these two unfaithful men?
We have one more element to consider about that node-ruling Jupiter in the fifth house: creativity. I suspect that another, healthier way that Agatha Christie survived being imprisoned in a hellish marriage with an “awfully wedded wife” was through some kind of artistic expression.
How many guitars are sold for every rock star? What’s the ratio? How many novels are started compared to novels even finished—let alone actually published? People are creative for the joy of it. That is enough sometimes. I suspect that Agatha Christie took simple pleasure in creativity in this prior lifetime. Creativity was another diversion.
We can take that notion a little further. The Pluto-Neptune conjunction in Gemini and the tenth house almost opposes the south node. We might safely ignore it, but everything in a chart has meaning—even this near miss. Let’s start by making a mistake—imagine the opposition to be closer, close enough to count. What would it mean then? A brick wall of reality out there in the “big world,” something that could not be gotten around—and perhaps something for which Agatha Christie longed. What could this longing be? The two planets are in Gemini. It is an “impossible” longing to be heard. Heard saying what? Neptune: fantasy and imagination. Pluto: serious, perhaps shocking truth. But public opinion and cultural reality would have been adamantly opposed to such expressions. They did not happen. Public opinion and cultural reality (tenth house) were the brick wall of reality.
Remember that this “opposition” is not close enough to be truly effective. To correct our “mistake,” we have to water the interpretation down. I think it is fair to say that fantasies of being heard publicly this way entered Agatha Christie’s mind only occasionally in this prior lifetime, and were quickly pushed aside as impossible and unreachable. In and of itself, this “opposition” is a very minor part of the interpretation. It only puts a little spin of wistfulness on Agatha Christie’s prior life creativity, which remained private. I could visualize “his” making up bedtime stories for the kids, for example—great stories that only the kids ever heard.
Pluto and Neptune take on a more serious tone when we take our analysis to the next level: to the Moon’s north node in Gemini and the tenth house. Agatha Christie came into this world with a compelling soul-intention to have her voice heard, and heard very widely. This would be the medicine for her soul-wound. She was angry, and profoundly tired of being trapped. It was time to break out of family and into the big world. It was time to tell the unvarnished Plutonian truth about what she felt about being trapped in conventionality, marriage and parenthood.
Mercury is the ruler of the north node, from the second house and Libra. Agatha Christie needed to prove herself to herself (second house) as an artistic (Libra) voice (Mercury). And that proof would be inseparable from her willingness to use imagination and fantasy (Neptune) to make some distinctly Plutonian points about the darker possibilities of social and familial dynamics!
A serious “skipped step” blocked Agatha Christie’s way: the Sun, squaring her nodal axis. If she was to attain her north node goal, she first needed to create an ego. In the prior lifetime, she had given too much power and authority to the partner. She had abdicated from her own natural autonomy in important, life-shaping matters, and only claimed it in the form of trivial, illicit pleasures which actually had the effect of keeping the situation stable—and stuck. In the end they only engendered more rage, and presumably leavened it with guilt as well.
Furthermore, Agatha Christie had projected negatively onto “the wife,” whom she had perceived as demanding and egocentric. She said, from the snooty—and highly compartmentalized—reaches of the morally superior high ground, “I would never be self-centered and demanding like that!” What this negative affirmation actually meant was that she would create a moral and philosophical justification for remaining in jail—a jail that she had at least partly created herself. Presumably the umbrella of this moral self-justification extended to cover the “modest comforts” she extended to herself in terms of various escapist excesses, sexual and otherwise.
All that had to be fixed. Agatha Christie needed to claim her solar right to be selfish, to claim what she needed for herself. Ask any writer: you simply cannot succeed at the craft without some degree of selfishness. Otherwise you will never have time to write. Virgo represents the idea of craftsmanship and skill. Part of Agatha Christie’s skipped step fell in the category of honing and polishing her skills—in this case, her gifts as a writer. Then, in full view on the stage of the world, she would honestly unload the great weight that she had brought into this lifetime—suppressed, murderous rage at the “nice” family that had clipped her wings and contributed to her corruption.
And just “talking” about it would make her feel a whole lot better! That insight is simple enough—commonplace, really. It is the rage we bottle up that is the true soul-poison. Get it out, put it into words, get it off your chest—we all know it helps. Even if agreements cannot be reached, it is still good to clear the air. Unprocessed anger blocks love, it locks up the heart. And we do not even need accord from a partner—often it is simply enough to know that we have been heard.
Some of us experience this healing, clearing process in a talk across the dinner table. Agatha Christie, with her Gemini north node in the tenth house, turned it into four billion books.
This article is an excerpt from Yesterday’s Sky. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love the full book, which is available now in print and also in ebook format for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Apple devices.
Yesterday’s Sky includes similar karmic chart analysis for Bill Wilson, Carl Jung, Adolf Hitler, and Christine Jorgensen.
Steven shows how the lunar nodes can provide the missing link in a traditional natal astrology reading.
Learn the fundamentals of Steven’s astrological past life techniques through the natal chart of Louis Armstrong.
Explore the lunar nodes, one of the foundational symbols of Evolutionary Astrology in this lecture with Steven Forrest.