Stellar Wheel
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Andrei Tarkovsky

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10 minute read
   The Man who saw the Angel

Picture this.

A young boy - turns on the television. He watches a program in which a boy who stutters badly is cured by hypnosis. The hypnotist gets him to repeat his name and say, “I can speak.” The opening credits roll over a black screen to Bach’s prelude ‘Das alte Jahr vergangen ist.’

Some of you, dear readers, might recognise the plot outline. The film is Andrei Tarkovsky’s autobiographical masterpiece Mirror (1974), which invites the viewer to consider the following question: if we had a mirror reflecting our deepest self, what would it reveal, and what would it teach us?  


It was clear to Tarkovsky that the mirror plays an essential role in our psychological and emotional functioning. Mirror has no judgment. The mirror serves as a face-to-face communication with our inner being. “We don’t need other worlds. We need a mirror”.


When we look in the mirror, it is right there where we invoke the first house of our human psyche and materialize the being-like intelligence that constitutes the archetype of Aries.

In this house, we see how the Soul manifests itself in the physical body and how it looks into the world through the physical eyes - oh hello me, I can see me before me, what can I do with me, how can I see me in everything I do?

Here, we unravel the great cosmic puzzle of the “I.” Who am I? Who are the I? The “I” is the consciousness, the celestial soul that was life before coming into manifestation. The soul that took the form of a circle without circumference and sat at the Heart of the Self.


“I have always been interested in a person’s inner world. I am interested in man, for he contains a universe within himself”.

As impressed astrologically upon the human constitution, Aries governs the head and the brain, the two highest parts of the human body. Arian is an earnest and devout alchemist of initiation; he marks a moment of a sudden, unselfconscious, exuberant immersion of “I” into the current of life. The planetary Mars 1 bestows upon the Aries the power of determination and leadership, guiding him in overcoming obstacles with unruffled ease.


What is the influence – I understand you would like to ask - this fiery archetype had in shaping the Soul of a man considered by many to be one of the greatest directors in cinema history?

In his true Arian nature, Tarkovsky offered his heartiest stories with courage. He disliked conformity and routine 2, and was known to have somewhat of a high-strung temperament. Independence was essential to him, and he hated being told what to do 3

“All that I wanted was to tempt into life things that wanted to come out of me. I spent so many years being told that nobody wanted or understood my films that a response like that warmed my very soul; it gave meaning to what I was doing and strengthened my conviction that I was right and that there was nothing accidental about the path I had chosen.”

This, in a nutshell, captures everything we must understand about Tarkovsky. Some artists indeed take decades to blossom; an Arian artist appears to arrive fully formed. Andrei Tarkovsky, of course, was one of the latter, an artist who was called to cultivate his gifts and serve his own talent.

Tarkovsky owed much to his heredity. He was born in 1932 into the Moscow intelligentsia. His father, Arseny, was a respected poet, while his mother, Maria, was a talented actress and an editor. As a teenager, Tarkovsky held his father in high regard, so much so that his parents’ separation evoked a deep crisis in Tarkovsky and his younger sister, a crisis he later explored in his films.


Much has been made of the feminine sensibility that influenced Tarkovsky as a child. Tarkovsky’s mother and grandmother continuously sought to instill a love and vocation for the arts and the intellect in the children. His mother, in particular, had high cultural ambitions for him. Young Andrei resented this and caused his mother a lot of worries. Despite his rebelliousness, he loved books and was only quiet when reading 4.


“Learn to love solitude, to be more alone with yourself. The individual must learn to be on his own as a child. Getting bored with oneself is a very dangerous symptom, almost a disease.”


His mother’s persistent attempt to foster in him a sense that he was an artist-in-waiting ultimately paid off. Now in his twenties, Tarkovsky saw himself as a dandy, a contemporary Dostoyevsky with a boundless, antimodern modernist aesthetic preference 5.

His belief in miracles, flying saucers, and extra-terrestrial harmoniously combined with his faith in God 6. He knew the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke practically by heart and could quote whole paragraphs.

"Art, as a spiritual action, is very much bound up with certain inner religiousness. Our soul, our existence, our way of existing is linked with art, and that is bound to show in our works. The manner of thinking and the manner of expression always convey some inner spiritual state. "

With great pleasure, he admired progressive and exciting minds. He honoured Dovzhenko, Bresson, Antonioni, Fellini, Vigo, and Paradzhanov, for they knew how to conjure the spirit of abundance in their creations: “they had the ability to love the beauty and be completely free inside their own creation.” Those film poets he promoted to the sky.

Throughout Tarkovsky's seven feature films, from Ivan's Childhood (1962) to The Sacrifice (1986), Tarkovsky makes every detail of his inner universe visible to society. His use of Bach, childhood memories, the poems of his father, and artistic introspection reveal a unique look into his life and culture, daringly expressing that which lies beyond silence 7.


Cinema, of course, brings stories to life. However, Tarkovsky’s aim was not to put across a few good stories but to send a universal message and stimulate reflection on what is essentially human and eternal in each Soul. This refers to the root of our mutual recognition. Our lives, separated only in appearance, had been, deep down, lived together.

Every one of his creative acts was deliberately puzzling. He wanted the viewer to build an idea of the rest and develop a connection with his characters on a level other than words, in mind, in the subconscious: "it isn't a question of details, but of what is hidden." 

Nature, the pantheistic Goddess, appealed to him deeply 8. She, as it seems, forces herself through the screen and flows as the central theme in all of Tarkovsky’s work.

As a transformative element, Fire in his films is present in the form of candles, bonfires, self-immolation, buildings ablaze, and flares. The element of Fire is often seen as something that purifies but also destroys. As a creative force, Tarkovsky felt the most kinship with the element of Water: 

"water is very important, it is alive, it has depth, it moves, it changes, it reflects like a mirror" 9 10 .

The element of the Earth acts as a unifier and appears mainly in the form of mud, firmly reminding his characters that they are inherently earthbound and in unity with Gaia and that on this Earth, their destinies must be found and lived out. Air, as a communicator, is perhaps the most numinous element for Tarkovsky; it usually occurs in the form of sudden winds that blow up, most memorably in Mirror and Stalker.


Tarkovsky, working in communion with the great alchemical laboratory of Nature, coaxes humanity toward higher consciousness. Habits of feeling (Water), thinking (Air), acting (Fire), and relating to the material world (Earth) are actual states from which the material universe emerges.

“My films are not a personal expression but a prayer. When I make a film, it's like a holy day. As if I were lighting a candle in front of an icon or placing a bouquet of flowers before it.” 11

Much more could be written about Tarkovsky and his cinematographic poetry of the beautiful, but for now, I leave his flowing poetic scenes to make a connection with you. There is something very intimate and personal about his seemingly transcendent films that can only be understood by those submerged in the experience of the great unknown and unknowable, the divine, the spiritual, and the indecipherable.



Literary references:


Bird, R. 2008 Andrei Tarkovsky: Elements of Cinema, UK: Reaktion Books


Martin, S. 2011 Andrei Tarkovsky, UK: Kamera Books.


Tarkovsky, A. 1989 Time Within Time: The Diaries 1970–1986, UK: Faber & Faber


Tarkovsky, A. 1988 Sculpting in Time: Reflections on the Cinema, US: University of Texas Press

Image references:

The Mirror (1974) a woman levitating several feet above her bed. 

Collage inspired by Tarkovsky's film Ivan's Childhood 1962. 

Collage Letter A - inspired by Tarkovsky's polaroids.

Andrei Tarkovsky's 'Angel' Polaroid taken outside St.Vittorino's Church (Cittaducale), the so-called ‘Church in the Water’, inside which were shot some scenes of the film 'Nostalghia', 1983


Mars is a Source of self in action. This planetary intelligence shows us how we assert ourselves, express our energy and go for our goals.
Tarkovsky’s Mars was in Aries. This Mars is charged with a force that can move mountains.

In the 3rd house, Mars acts like a rocket launch pad, providing the thrust for Tarkovsky’s creative endeavors. The native with this placement
needs a variety of mental stimulation to feel comfortable. Each answer is a source yet for another question. 

Ascendant in Sagittarius. Here fire is directed toward an idea where creative self-expression is made visible to society. Tarkovsky found true happiness in continuously expanding his horizons mentally and spiritually to a larger and more inclusive context.

Four divinities nestled closely together: the Sun, Mars, Uranus, and Mercury (all in the sign of Aries) predisposed our director to move into his power, to generate movement, to spin the impossible dream, and make it come true.

Saturn, in his life, manifested through the energy of Aquarius in the 2nd house. This indicates that he had high standards and tremendous loyalty toward his work. He explored the universal question about the meaningfulness of any human effort. Leaving aside political aspects, he said: 

"I have never engaged in any criticism of the regime. As an artist, this problem has never interested me. I have my own quite special goals, aesthetics, and others."

The theme that strongly dominated Tarkovsky is our search for meaning and beauty in a world full of suffering, ignorance, and destruction.


Tarkovsky educated himself through book learning and other related ways outside of the school setting.  Uranus conjunct Mercury gives us an individual who is restless in nature. Tarkovsky was mentally acute and able to grasp new concepts very quickly.  

Mercury in the 4th house shows us that learning was a major focus in his early upbringing. This also indicates that an individual might come from a highly academic household unhampered by conventional attitudes.  

Fire is dominant in the chart. The Fire element is active, masculine, or yang. It loves to grow, and its outer expressive is in its basic nature. Fire corresponds with the Jungian typology of Intuition. Tarkovsky lived in the idealism of great thoughts and deeds. He had a "can do" and "doing my own thing" attitude, moving surely through life.

He demonstrates this in his masterpiece Solaris (1972). Solaris tells a story of a man sent to a distant space station to study (Jupiter/8th) a mysterious, seemingly sentient ocean (Neptune/8th) that can peer into people’s minds (Pluto/8th) and manifest what’s inside.  

 Here, Tarkovsky illustrates that life is like an echo. What you send out is your inner reflection. What you give comes back. What you see in others exists in you. 


In the late 50s and early '60s, the Soviet film industry was undergoing something of a renaissance (Pluto in Cancer), and the resultant surge in production went on to bode well for Tarkovsky and his generation. 

Pluto rules permanent change, and Cancer rules home, family, and emotions. During the transit of Pluto is Cancer, people's lives were drastically altered, and many families were uprooted. Collectively, people felt the need for security and safety.

Tarkovsky portrays this flawlessly in Ivan's Childhood (1962). He says: "suffering is germane to our existence; indeed, how, without it, should we be able to 'fly upwards."

His Sun trined his Jupiter, meaning he was dominated by overriding yearnings to find well-being through a search into the deeper forces that seem to be at the core of life's processes. He recognized the value and appreciation of tactile beauty (Venus in Taurus) whilst remaining faithful and intrinsically truthful to life (Jupiter in Leo). He saw beauty in being useful.

With Neptune, Jupiter, and Pluto (in the 8th house) above the horizon representing the outer world and public life, we can see that he had an innate sense of who he was and where he wanted to be. His approach to things was connected to his heart; for him, no honest communication could flow if sympathy or warmth was missing. 
Water signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces state that we can improve by seeking to cultivate greater sensitivity towards ourselves and others. 
Tarkovsky's Moon in Pisces predisposed him to be poetic and to have spiritual values. He was gentle. When the world seemed too cruel, he would escape to nature. 

He derived a strong sense of security from his family. Being part of a family made him feel that he was not alone and belonged to something larger than himself. 

The concepts explored in his films are of spiritual and metaphysical nature roughly revolving around this: his family and his childhood.


The Sun and Moon are great factors in human destiny. They are the magical Shiva and Shakti of the New Aeon. For Tarkovsky, both luminaries were in the same house but in a different sign. 

His Sun was in energetic Aries, and his Moon was in poetic Pieces. This indicates that conscious urges and needs are different from the unconscious, thus predisposing the individual to experience two very different sides of his or her personality.


Tarkovsky's 3rd, 4th, and 8th houses are quite prominent. Planets sitting here, asked our director to ponder various primordial questions about consciousness: what resonates with you? What alarms you? What frightens you? What inspires you?

For much of his life, Tarkovsky was preoccupied with the idea of the end of the world, and all of his films contain an element of apocalyptic crisis, either for the characters personally or for society as a whole.


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