The Luminaries: the TV show’s astrology explained 

Emmy Griffiths

The Luminaries premiered on BBC One on Sunday night and all episodes are currently available on iPlayer, but some viewers have admitted to finding the series somewhat confusing. Since the bestselling book was released in 2015, we’ve had plenty of time to piece together the novel’s ever-so-slightly convoluted plot – which is largely focused on astrology to help with the storytelling. Find out more but warning, spoilers ahead for the TV show and novel.

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Although the book and the TV show follow the same story, they are approached in very different ways. The book follows Walter Moody, a newcomer to the town of Hokitika in New Zealand who hopes to find his fortune during the gold rush. On his first night in town, he accidentally stumbles onto a private meeting of a group of men who are all somehow unwittingly involved in the death of a local man named Crosbie Wells. 


The drama premiered on Sunday

While, in the book, each man takes it in turns to tell Walter their part of the story, with Walter eventually working out how the pieces fit together, the TV show follows Anna Wetherell instead, and tells the same story from her perspective. So how is astrology involved? 

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In the novel, each of the men who Walter meets on his first night is meant to represent a different zodiac sign. For example, Thomas Balfour represents Sagittarius, Te Rau Tauwhare represents Aries, and so on. 

Meanwhile, other characters including Anna, Emery Staines and Lydia Wells are associated with ‘planetary’ heavenly bodies, with both Anna and Emery representing the sun and moon as ‘astral twins’ (we’ll get to that in a moment). 

The Luminaries

Each character represents a star sign or heavenly body

The novel, each chapter hints at who will be involved based on a different astrological title, such as ‘Venus in Capricorn,’ which indicates that Lydia, who represents Venus, and Aubert Gascoigne, who represents Capricorn, will both feature heavily. Are you with us so far? 

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In the TV show, there is a much heavier focus on the mysterious connection between Emery and Anna which is only alluded to in the books, after Lydia explains to Anna that an astral twin is another person born at the very same minute of the same day as you, with whom you share a soul. In this case, Anna and Emery are such twins, and this is the basis on their mysterious relationship. 


Astrology plays a big part in the book and TV show

After spending the night together, Anna finds herself no longer addicted to opium, which she previously had a dependency on, and while Emery…

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