“Strawberry Shortcake” by Melanie Martinez
The Story of the Divine Feminine
Video commentary originally published June 4, 2022.
Transcript + article published March 12, 2023.
Melanie Martinez’s music video for “Strawberry Shortcake” tells the story of the Divine Feminine, The video (which is part of a larger film) is laced with Tarot and Astrology symbolism, and features references to occult art throughout.
The lyrics describe the pressures society places on girls and women to look a certain way. How it teaches girls to value their appearance but not their minds.
“People all around me watching closely, ‘cause it’s how I look and not what I think.”
We see Melanie, depicted as a “strawberry shortcake,” who is propped up between two tall vertical wall-mounted mirrors. In Astrology, the Moon rules all mirrors and reflections. The composition of the shot, with the two mirrors on either side of Melanie alludes to “the Moon” Tarot card, which features the Moon in between two large pillars (“mirroring” the position of the mirrors in the music video).
The Moon Tarot card speaks of magic, the spiritual realm, and things unseen. It is an energy of being submerged in darkness, where your vision is obstructed and you’re forced to rely on your intuition. Moving through a distorted reality, and discerning between truth and illusion: shifting between light and darkness and mastering “liminality,” as your journey progresses.
While this shot is very clearly of “lunar” influence, there is also heavy Venusian influence in the costume and set design. She is depicted as a literal cake, covered in flower-shaped frosting and decadent decoration. Venus is the planet that rules all food/fruit/cake through her rulership of Taurus, the earth sign that rules food (and her rulership of Libra, the air sign that rules luxury and decadent aesthetics and decoration).
Venus is something to be consumed (literally, strawberry shortcake), which is why Taurus rules the throat chakra (how we swallow/consume). Venus also rules traditional beauty standards, and the “societally accepted” expression of femininity that are soft and docile. The Moon is “exalted” in Taurus for multiple reasons shown here. The Moon’s rulership of mirrors and reflections is a key tool in maintaining physical and aesthetic beauty standards that are ruled by Taurus. If you were to give Venus a mirror she would be enchanted by her own reflection.
Additionally, the Moon rules the breasts, and therefore rules milk/cream which are produced by the breasts. Taurus is symbolized by the Bull (masculine), or the Cow (feminine). Cow’s milk, which is used to create most dairy products (including the creamy icing on Melanie Martinez’s strawberry shortcake gown), is a prime example of the Moon “exalted” in Taurus.
The video was filmed at Esterházy Palace Fetod in Hungary. An extremely quick glance at the ceiling reveals a full mural hiding behind a chandelier. After further searching, I found a full photo of the mural, which features imagery of a horse-drawn chariot. This is a gorgeous depiction of “the Chariot” tarot card, which is the Major Arcana card formally connected to Cancer and the Moon (surprisingly, the Moon card is not the official “Cancer” card, instead “the Moon” is the card for Pisces).
The Chariot/Cancer/the Moon are the Tarot card/Planet/Sign that rule the breasts. Melanie’s lyrics literally discuss her breasts, as she compares herself to another girl. The lyrics read, “I’m stuffing my bra so that mine look the best.” Again, she is driven by societal pressures to be more desirable than other girls. Tits out for the boys.
The next scene depicts the “poor dignities” of Venus and the Moon, or the “fall of the Divine Feminine.”
Venus is in her “detriment” in Scorpio (opposite her home sign of Taurus). Taurus rules the things you have, Scorpio rules the things you don’t have or the things you’ve lost. Venus in Scorpio is the feeling of “you can’t have your cake and eat it too,” and this is expressed symbolically as the boys cut into Melanie like they are cutting a strawberry shortcake.
Venus rules our physical possessions–but in Traditional Astrology Venus also represents someone’s partner or girlfriend/wife, and this plays a part in why traditional misogynistic men came to objectify women (it’s not an excuse, it’s just part of the reason).
Venus in “detriment” in Scorpio can almost be seen like a woman who is objectified to the point of violence or trauma. As the boys cut their knives into her cake, it symbolizes the sexual and emotional trauma of girls being treated like an object–like a strawberry shortcake to be consumed. Mars (the ruler of Scorpio) rules knifes, blades, and the acts of penetration and cutting. Aries is the one who stabs, Scorpio is the person being stabbed.
In relation to the Divine Feminine story of Creation, this imagery also depicts the Moon in her “fall” in Scorpio. The Moon represents motherhood, nurturing, and love for a child. The Moon in her “fall” in Scorpio can be viewed like a mother who is being cut up to be consumed by her own child. Though it’s not explicit here, the imagery in the video heavily mirrors the imagery associated with the Goddess of Creation (associated with Mother Earth and the Moon) and her child Saturn.
The Divine Feminine wants to be loved, but she is treated like an object (Venus) by the physical toxic masculine (Saturn/Mars), instead of like a true partner and queen (Moon). In the depiction of Melanie atop the cake, her breasts are depicted with no nipples, indicating that there is no tenderness or nurturing. She is simply an item being consumed by demonic entities.
The lyrics relay sarcastic commentary on victim blaming and rape culture, reading “That’s my bad, that’s my bad… no one told them not to grab. Now, the boys want a taste of the strawberry shortcake.”
The Chariot tarot card (Cancer/the Moon) is the energy directly opposite to The Devil tarot card (Capricorn/Saturn). The Moon’s poorest dignity is her “detriment” in Capricorn, which can be compared to the energy of a mother being consumed by her own child… a mother drained dry by ungrateful or even abusive children. It’s the Divine Feminine energy of creation (Moon) being treated like an exploitable capital resource (Capricorn).
This is shown allegorically as multiple boys with horns on their heads devouring the cake portion of Melanie. The imagery directly alludes to “Saturn Devouring His Son,” with a divine feminine twist: “Saturn Devouring His Strawberry Shortcake.” The boy with a head full of spikes is a depiction of Saturn as the “Demiurge” in Gnostic Cosmology.
Saturn, the child of Gaia (Mother Earth), who was originally responsible for protecting Gaia from Uranus (Father Sky, the Child of Chaos), eventually becomes the child of chaos himself, devouring his own children–just like his father did.
The Divine Feminine is forced to take control of the chaos by doing what the Moon does best: inverting the roles with a reflection. The next scene depicts imagery of The High Priestess tarot card: the card that tells the story of the Divine Feminine (Moon) embracing the “opposite” role of Saturn: The balance of Dark + Light.
The High Priestess is the feminine expression of Saturn and the Moon combined. Restricted information (Saturn) of the magical mysteries surrounding the birth of the Universe (Moon), that allows the Priestess to take control of any situation (Saturn).
Saturn rules the color black, and the Moon rules the color white. The High Priestess is pictured in between a black pillar (Boaz) and a white pillar (Jachin) which represent the material sphere (physical realm) and the celestial sphere (spiritual realm) respectively. In the music video, Melanie is pictured in between a black girl (has more melanin, and therefore absorbs more light) and a white girl (has less melanin, therefore reflects more light) to symbolize Boaz + Jachin and invoke High Priestess energy.
In the next scene we see a depiction of Venus “exalted” in Pisces. A quick review of planetary rulership that’s necessary to understand:
Venus rules pleasure, physical stability, love, harmony, and balance.
Saturn rules stability, security, and protection.
Uranus rules chaos, monstrous behavior, and unpredictability of the cosmos.
Venus is the pleasurable part of “cosmic” experience. In the mythological story of creation, Venus was born when Saturn disarmed Uranus (the child of chaos). He did so by castrating him, then casting his genitals into the ocean, which resulted in the birth of Venus.
The Goddess Gaia (Mother Earth) empowered by the Spirit of Sophia, the Divine Feminine Goddess of Creation (symbolized by the Moon, now in the inverted role of Saturn: the Earth) has “harvested” and secured the parts of Uranus/the cosmos that bring her pleasure and protection. This is represented by Taurus, the fixed earth sign (ruler: Venus).
She has also secured and separated herself from the chaotic parts of the cosmos that harm and abuse her. This is represented by Aquarius, the fixed air sign (ruler: Saturn).
In her solitude, she takes over the absent role of “Divine Masculine.” Securing, or fixing her own Soul/Sol, her divine spark of creation, she is able to birth her own Sun. This is represented by Leo, the fixed fire sign (ruler: Sun).
In doing so, she has also trapped herself in a pool of her past emotions that are nearly impossible to escape. This is represented by Scorpio, the fixed water sign (Rulers: Mars, Pluto, Lilith). These inescapable emotions are what keep her bound in toxic and destructive emotional cycles, until she is either destroyed or forced to face reality and transform (enter, mutable signs).
The Wheel Of Fortune tarot card talks about these repetitive cycles of fixation. The wheel keeps on spinning, which means you eventually come back to where you started… just to do it all over again. The four corners of this card feature the four symbols of the fixed signs.
In Melanie’s video, we see a team of synchronized swimmers dancing beautifully in both a spinning wheel formation, as well as a heart formation (Venus rules romance and love). This is all while the chaotic and violent boys who were previously eating her cake are now stuck viewing her from above, trapped behind bars of a balcony but wishing they could devour her further. This symbolizes the “castration” of the child of chaos, and the separation of Heaven and Earth that is represented by the fixed signs.
We also see columns surrounding the pool, which have pink ribbons tied in knots around the base of them, representing Venus as both a symbol of the thing we desire: security, pleasure, + love… but also as a symbol of what keeps us bound to earth and separates us from “Heaven.”
Another reference to the Tarot and Gnostic Cosmology, the imagery as Melanie is lifted into the air by the swimmers–then slowly lowered below the water–is a body pose taken from “The World” tarot card. This card has a depiction of Sophia, the Divine Feminine Goddess of Creation, Mother of the Cosmos and connection to Source, surrounded by a Bull, Lion, Eagle, and Man (the symbols of the four fixed signs). Being raised into her Glory of “completion” (the World is the last Major Arcana card), but then being plunged into the depths of her own subconscious to continue her evolution and healing process… (where she explores her shadow, symbolized by Lilith).
This entire depiction of the Divine Feminine is also a conversation on the fixed signs, specifically for protecting yourself from the unforgiving chaos of the cosmos. It highlights the power of inversion + fixation (reversing the roles then locking it in place)... especially against misogyny, violence, and systemic oppression and exploitation. Simultaneously , it showcases the inevitable pain and struggle that comes with living in a dualistic world. There’s no beauty without pain.