Astrology and Horror
Take a step back to the gothic corridors of horror’s ancestry, and you’ll find astrology lurking in the shadows. The alignment of stars and planets, the zodiac signs, have long been believed to influence human behavior. This belief has trickled down into the crevices of horror fiction, coloring characters and plots with a mystical hue.
Consider the work of the master of cosmic horror himself, H.P. Lovecraft. His mythos teems with references to celestial events and eldritch entities linked to the stars. While he doesn’t call upon astrology per se, the implication that human fate is tied to incomprehensible forces mirrors the basic tenets of astrology—that celestial movements have direct bearings on terrestrial happenings.
Doris Lessing’s “The Fifth Child” is another specimen where the horoscope plays a grim puppeteer. The novel’s unnerving child, Ben, is born under an ominous conjunction of planets, which some interpret as the harbinger of his unsettling nature. Lessing doesn’t spell it out, but the inference is clear: the stars have conspired, and the family is merely dancing to a cosmic tune.
The screen has not been immune to this stellar influence either. The classic horror film “The Omen” has astrology’s fingerprints all over it. The tale of the young Damien, who turns out to be the Antichrist, begins with astrological portents. The film taps into the fear of a celestial prophecy dictating a doomed fate for humanity, an angle that sends shivers down the spine with its suggestion of predestined chaos.
On television, the influence of astrology in horror narratives continues to cast a long shadow. The “American Horror Story” series, with its penchant for twisting reality into unsettling tapestries, often uses astrological motifs. The characters’ fates, their traits, and the timing of events frequently align with astrological phenomena, suggesting the hand of destiny at play.
There’s a psychological angle to this starry-eyed fear as well. The zodiac is a system of archetypes, and horror fiction thrives on such archetypes—the innocent, the skeptic, the harbinger. Writers don’t just pluck these characters from the zodiac wheel by accident. The Zodiac Killer, who taunted police and journalists alike with ciphers and cryptic messages, has also influenced this space. True crime and horror fiction often blur, and the fear that such a killer invoked resonates in stories that feature an astrological killer leaving signs as clues, a motif explored in various novels and films over the decades.
Stephen King, a juggernaut of horror literature, has often danced with astrology in his constellation of stories. King’s “It” toyed with the idea of celestial influence through the recurring theme of the Turtle, a cosmic force of good that stands in opposition to the malevolent entity, It. The suggestion that these two forces are locked in an eternal, astrological ballet adds layers to the terror—it’s not just the creature in the sewer, it’s the universe at play.
The astrological thread extends to the detective fiction genre, where the alignment of stars sometimes provides the backdrop for the unraveling of a mystery. The complex personalities of detectives, their intuition often bordering on the psychic, seem to echo the traits of Scorpio or Pisces, deep-diving into the human psyche, unraveling secrets as if guided by Pluto or Neptune themselves.
But it’s not all doom and star-crossed terror. There’s a lighter side to this astral obsession. The playful horror-comedy “What We Do in the Shadows,” for instance, flirts with astrology through its immortal vampires, who, despite being centuries old, are still subject to the whims of their zodiac signs, leading to humor that bites as often as the characters themselves.
In literature, the whimsical yet dark tales of Neil Gaiman often embrace astrological themes. “Stardust,” while not horror in the strictest sense, contains enough dark elements to be a kissing cousin to the genre. Here, stars are not just balls of gas in the sky but living, breathing entities bound to human fates, much like the astrological belief that our destinies are written in the stars.
The niche genre of astrological horror is a small but intriguing offshoot. Books like “Darkside Zodiac” by Stella Hyde tap directly into the vein, melding astrology with horror elements, creating a hybrid that intrigues as much as it frightens, presenting a zodiac where every sign harbors its own dark potential.
Beyond the page and screen, the digital realm has taken to this union with a voracious appetite. Horror video games like “The Binding of Isaac” incorporate astrological symbols and motifs, intertwining the player’s fate with the alignment of celestial bodies.
Let’s also not ignore the elephant in the room—or should we say the constellation? The current trend of true-crime podcasts has not bypassed this cosmic connection. “The Astrology of Murder” podcast delves into the birth charts of notorious killers, seeking patterns in the stars that might explain the inexplicable. While this doesn’t fall into fiction, it does influence it, as listeners often draw parallels between real-life horrors and the fictional ones they consume.
So what’s in the stars for the future of this genre-blending? The resurgence in popularity of astrology among millennials has seen a parallel rise in horror fiction that uses astrological motifs. With a new generation eager to explore the mysteries of the zodiac, one can expect to see a continued infusion of astrological horror in books, films, and beyond.
What’s more, with the advent of streaming services and the democratization of publishing, content that might have once been considered too niche, including astrology-based horror, finds its place in the sun—or should that be in the shadow of a new moon?
The influence of astrology on horror fiction isn’t just a matter of thematic embellishment. It’s a dance of destiny and darkness, where the stars align to spell out tales that terrify and tantalize. As long as humanity looks to the heavens for answers, the stars will reflect in the trembling waters of our darkest stories, telling us that perhaps, just perhaps, our fates are not entirely our own. And as horror continues to probe the psyche, expect astrology to remain a silent partner in crime, a co-conspirator in the tales that unsettle us at night.
This stellar relationship, woven into the fabric of horror and detective fiction, provides a mirror to our own world, reflecting our fascination with the unknown. It’s the secret sauce that gives the genre its unique flavor, a flavor that, much like the phases of the moon, continues to wax and wane in popularity, yet never truly fades into darkness. Whether through Lovecraft’s cosmic deities or King’s psychic children, the thread of astrology is there, sometimes visible, sometimes not, a reminder that the cosmos holds sway over the genre in more ways than one.
The influence of astrology on horror may not be the headliner in every spooky tale, but its presence is undeniable, a ghostly whisper in the ear of the genre, shaping narratives with an unseen hand. It’s the perfect cocktail of uncertainty and predestination, shaken and stirred under a blanket of stars. So next time a horror tale raises the hair on the back of your neck, consider the possibility that the stars themselves might just be complicit in your fright.