One of the presents Santa left under the tree for my daughter this Christmas was “Brave,” the latest animated motion picture from Pixar-Disney.  What a delightful movie!  As with any good tale, there is rich opportunity to explore the astrological themes involved.  But first, let me tell you a little about it.

 The story is set in the Highlands of Scotland, with plenty of magic afoot: stone circles, will-o'-the-wisps, and a local witch-woodcarver whose shop is stocked entirely with bear-themed carvings. Why bears? Because the good King Fergus lost his leg battling a monstrous bear, Mor'du, who threatens the kingdom and its residents. Completing the royal household are Queen Elinor, Princess Merida, three rascally identical-triplet princes, one very buxom servant, and two hounds.


Princess Merida is all fire, as evidenced by a fabulous mop of long, red hair (reason alone to see the movie, if you ask me!). When just a wee lass, the King gives her a bow and arrows for her birthday--though the lovely and proper queen disapproves.  That same day Mor'du nearly kills her and the queen. The king loses his leg saving them from harm.


By the time she is a teenager Merida is the best archer in the realm, able to hit every bull's eye even while riding at full gallop on her horse-pal, Angus. She climbs rocks, too, free-soloing her way to the top of a tall rock tower where she drinks from a magical waterfall, and still makes it home in time for supper! Merida is happiest when allowed to roam freely doing her own thing--a girl after my own heart :)


Queen Elinor's job, in contrast, is to prepare the princess for the roles and responsibilities that royal duty requires.  Elinor is a consummate queen, the very picture of refinement.  She tries hard to shape our little firebrand into a proper princess, but Merida is not interested.


The crisis begins when the time comes for Merida to be married. Three firstborn suitors from allied clans must vie for the princess's hand in a contest of strength and skill. The princess gets to decide the format and chooses archery.  In an act of rebellion to avoid what she sees as a cruel fate, Merida enters the contest on her own behalf—and wins! Her defiance infuriates the queen, and the two face off in a terrible fight. Both lose themselves in the heat of the moment and do things they soon regret: Merida rips a gash in the family tapestry (sewn by her mother with Virgoan perfection), then storms out of the castle when the queen throws her cherished bow into the fire.


Into the story comes a clever old witch. Merida stumbles upon the witch's cottage and quickly sees an opportunity.  She asks the witch for a spell 'to change my mother,' and the latter obliges by producing a cauldron-cake made especially for that purpose. (She remembers the recipe, as it's not the first time she's been asked for this spell.)  Merida returns to the castle under pretense of reconciling with her mother and offers her the cake. The queen takes just one bite, and changed she is—into a huge, black bear! She's still the queen on the inside, though, so now the two have a pressing problem to solve. Their only hope of success is by working together rather than against each other.


At first, Merida refuses to face what she has done: “It's not my fault; the witch did it!”  To avoid harm to her mother while the latter is in bear form, the two must flee the castle.  Anxious to remedy the situation, they return to the witch's cottage only to find it empty.  But the witch has left Merida some information she 'forgot' to include during the princess's first visit: at sunrise on the second day, the spell will become permanent. Mercifully, the old hag has left a clue as to what Merida must do to make things right again.


If I were to pick one planet to summarize the story, it would be Venus for its core theme of right relationship. Love often requires that we put aside what we want in order to meet the needs of another, or of many others who look to us for guidance.  Queen Elinor and Merida are like two planets in opposition.  Each must learn to take the other's needs into account in order to resolve their differences.


We could see the queen as a strongly dignified Venus, perhaps in Libra, while Merida is like Mars in Aries--bold, fiery, and headstrong.  Each of them has their virtues and strengths, but they take each other into detriment. Mercury and Jupiter also come to mind while watching the two characters.  In one scene the queen, preparing Merida for the suitor ceremony, stuffs her into a dress that covers her from head to toe and hides every bit of her hair. She won't let Merida pull out even one strand!


The witch, of course, is a Saturn figure.  I see her as a dignified Saturn, old as the hills and challenging the princess to learn some lessons about responsible love and limits, the hard way.


And learn she does.  Without a moment to spare, Merida figures out what she must do, chooses bravely, and... Well, you'll see! :)


There's plenty of enjoyment for children and adults alike in "Brave," so if you like animation, don't miss it!


First published Dec 27, 2012 on