A digital age and the era of social media have turned the lives of celebrities, politicians and famous artists into something memetic. The passing of a rockstar, or a supreme court member will gets its mercurial 15 minutes, as if that does justice to the life of a person.
Nearly any remark that personalizes a given ‘larger than life’ figure might be followed with some cookie-cutter cleverness such as, ‘it’s almost like they’re people too, right?’ But it’s important to ground our perceptions of the archetypal.
In the same way that we might better permit those we accidentally deify to be human beings replete with flaws, it’s equally important to recognize the ways in which we might deliberately overlook flaws in those cultural figures whose work has taken on a larger than life quality to us. The religious function of the psyche is quick to overlook such glaring manifestations of the Wound, reaching out for something or someone to believe in.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an individual whose death last month prompted me to consider once more the ‘going beyond’ quality of what a person represents. Presently, the waning Moon in Libra fades to meet the Sun in the late degrees of The Scales, and it was about this time last lunar cycle with the waning Moon in Virgo opposing Ginbsurg’s Sun that she passed on.
The Supreme Court justice and champion of gender equality was born March 15, 1933, with the Sun in Pisces and the Moon in Scorpio. Water signs such as these varyingly represent feeling, instinct, and enmeshed relationship. Pisces, last sign of the zodiacal year, is often described as containing each of the previous signs in a syrupy, cosmic synthesis. The nocturnal sect of Jupiter, Pisces has been described as the ‘true populist’ and one whose energy under focus can facilitate the expansion of any skill or any person within its sensitive matrix.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was Jewish, and according to this tradition, one who dies on Rosh Hashanah, which began on September 18, 2020, is known as a tzaddick — a person of great righteousness. Hebrew teachings state that those who die just before the Jewish new year are the ones whom God has held back until the last moment because they were needed most.
The beauty of this symbolism is itself enmeshed in the more stark reality that Ginsburg passed before the U.S. presidential election. Days before her death, Ruth said in a statement dictated to her granddaughter Clara Spera, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” One cannot help but find it a portent that Ginsburg passed when she did. In context of Jewish tradition, it is gemlike. In context of American politics, is it ominous, or is it relief only in that someone was spared witness to a grim result? A portent or omen of what sort? The yet-to-be-seen answer feels as undifferentiated as the present Libra winds. It seems paradoxical. I don’t really know, and I'm not really sure.
Larger than life, representative of temperance and full measures both lauded and disagreed with, such people as Ginsburg come to represent more than we could have ever known them at all.