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Home -> People -> In the Front Row with Alanis Morissette

In the Front Row with Alanis Morissette  
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This article was written and published in April 2005

"I started writing songs when I was really little because there were things I could say through songs that I couldn't verbalise any other way. Writing was something I had to do."

Alanis Morissette has sold more than 20 million albums around the world. She started writing her own songs before she was even 10 years old, and after a brief television career she moved back into music, releasing pop music for the teen market of Canada.

When she was 19 she wrote the songs that were to make her internationally renowned for being an angry, man-hating woman - an unfair and inaccurate image but nevertheless one which has stuck to some extent to this day.

Her first album, 'Jagged Little Pill', is the biggest selling album by a female solo artist ever. She's released 3 more albums of new material since then, all of which have been successful. The first album was undeniably angry, the second had moments of mellowness and a great deal of long unrhyming lyrics, the third showed tremendous personal growth, and the latest, 'So-Called Chaos' marks the time when Alanis turned 30 - that great psychological turning point in a person's life, combining a maturity of outlook with great melodies and her trademark rock sound.

Aside from the 'angry woman' image, Alanis is famous for her wordiness in her songs, and the psychological slant that her lyrics express. She often writes about the phenomenon of projection and its effects. Blame, living up to expectations, being extremely driven and perfectionistic, being effed-up generally, and letting go of illusions, all feature strongly as themes in her music. So what about her natal chart?

With the Moon in Scorpio in opposition to Venus in Taurus, relationships for Alanis revolve around trust/distrust, intense passion, all-or-nothing bonding, and a pushing of the buttons that provoke rage and vengefulness. There's a love of pleasure and a desire for the simple life but a difficulty with indulging in it because of the sense of vulnerability that it triggers. There is panic at the prospect of being devoured through dependency.

Alanis was born when the Sun was opposite Neptune, across her 5th and 11th houses, the houses of identity and creativity. This means her sense of self has to wrestle with her desire to lose herself in the people around her. Where she ends and they begin is something she'll have to deal with inside herself. Neptune is the planet of projection, addiction, and illusion, and the Sun is a symbol of creative self-expression, so it's really no surprise that these are central to her songwriting. At heart she's a romantic, wanting to believe in love, beauty, and the brighter, lighter side of life:

"I think for a long time, because of my compulsively wanting to be viewed as an überfeminist, I would really stay away from things like being a hopeless romantic, being dependent on a man, or even wanting to be with a man, frankly."

Sun in Gemini is a classic indicator of creativity with words. With Mercury conjunct Saturn in Cancer in trine to the Moon, Alanis really hungers for communication of feelings. With this Mercury-Saturn conjunction in square to Pluto, her thoughts revolve around the darker emotions in her and the people around her, in stark contrast to her romantic side. She uses her mind to control and rationalise, yet longs to feel safe enough to not have to, and conversely, communication equals safety so anyone who withholds information makes her feel very unsafe. The Mercury-Saturn conjunction is also quintile to Chiron, symbol of suffering and vulnerability, and her MC, showing that she is able to powerfully and creatively channel emotions and words into her career.

Mercury-Saturn  are both on the Sun-Mars midpoint, reflecting literally 'judgemental words about men' and 'negative, angry communication.' They're also on the Jupiter-Uranus midpoint, indicating a quick and keen intellect, philosophical bent. Together they show how emotions and thoughts are dammed up for so long then they rush out all at once, full force, both barrels, no compromise.

Illustrating the importance of communication to her, one of Alanis's songs, 'Narcissus,' is about a man who is the centre of his own universe, oblivious and unaware of others, unable to deal with adult relationships that involve not running from problems and not working things out together, constantly evading responsibility and commitment, passing the buck to the women in his life. Talking about her recent engagement to the Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, Alanis reportedly said: 'He's courageous, he'll talk about anything, he takes responsibility.'

"I'm just allowing myself to be that giggly little girl, the giggly little princess that I never allowed myself to be. It doesn't mean the competent and powerful feminist isn't still within me. It's still there whenever I want it."

This quote from Alanis reflects both the Sun-Neptune (princess) opposition in combination with her Moon-Venus opposition (bonding, partnership), and her Mars-Uranus (power, rights, independence from men) square in combination with her Ascendant on the Sun-Pluto midpoint (power and independence again). Her words reveal that she's trying to knit together the two different parts of herself into one, recognising that to be feminine isn't to be weak, and that to stand up for one's rights doesn't mean rejecting relationships.

Her fiancé [view chart] has his Sun very closely conjunct Alanis's Moon. This is a classic indicator of 'two peas in a pod' closeness. It shows a feeling of comfort in one another's presence, and a strong sense of recognition between them. Ryan's Moon is also in Scorpio, just like Alanis's, so he shares a similarity of emotional depth with her and a similar need to feel totally safe with a person before revealing insecurities and self-doubts. His Moon almost exactly trines her Mercury-Saturn conjunction, and so he directly connects with her need to feel safe enough to communicate, and her use of communicative openness as a measure of safety and trust. These two will let one another into their hearts, minds, and souls.


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