Updated: Oct 9, 2020
The author of proclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, Jamaica Kincaid is a writer, Harvard professor, and gardener. Originally from Antigua and Barbuda, Kincaid came to the United States first as a seventeen-year-old when her mother sent her to be an au pair in New York City. From there, Kincaid enrolled in community college classes but dropped eventually dropped out to become a writer at a magazine for teenage girls. Soon, her writing would be published in the New Yorker, and she would go on to become successfully publish literature that draws, in large part, from her own life, and that through its emotional complexity richly portrays the inner lives of her protagonists.
Kincaid is also literally a quintuple Gemini, which says so much about the way her life’s purpose has unfolded. With the sun, ascendant, Mercury, Venus and Uranus all in the sign of the twins, the significations of this sign are extra obvious in Kincaid’s life. The most obvious of these is her becoming an author: the air sign ruled by Mercury, the planet of commerce and communication, of the entire zodiac Gemini is the sign most often associated with writing and literature. Creatively inclined and constantly seeking to make sense of the world, people with strong Gemini placements are gifted not just with literary talent but also things to say. Kincaid writes most often about her own experience—her sun is in the first house, making self-expression an especially important theme in her life—but she does so in a way that universalizes that experience, gracefully pointing to the pains and joys that we all know intimately.
With the ascendant at nine degrees of Gemini, Kincaid has the fixed star Aldebaran at arguably the most important point in the chart. One of the four royal stars in astrology, Aldebaran is one of the most auspicious stars to have in the chart, and points to success and overcoming in the person’s lifetime. Indeed, Kincaid’s story is one of tremendous resilience: although she excelled in academically, her mother forced her to drop out when she was sixteen to help take care of the household. Later in life, after being sent to the U.S. to work, Kincaid was able to become a successful writer in New York City without a formal education, publishing in magazines such as The Paris Review and the New Yorker—something that her peers both envied and admired.
What I think most speaks to the influence of Gemini in Kincaid’s life is her embrace of multiplicity. (In)famous for its ever-changing nature, Gemini is constantly in shift for several reasons. It is a mutable sign; it is ruled by a fast-moving planet; and it is named after twins, meaning that it represents the traits of two separate people. It’s worth saying, then, that Jamaica Kincaid is the author’s pen name: she was born Elaine Cynthia Potter, and changed her name as “a way to do things without being the same person who couldn’t do them—the same person who had all these weights.” In this way, Kincaid embodies the dualistic nature of her chart—she recognizes her own ability to embrace a part of herself that once felt completely out of reach, her ability to transform into what she never imagined possible.