Drake – astrological birth chart

At the end of June 2018, Canadian hip-hop rapper Drake (Aubrey Drake Graham) released his massively successful fifth album Scorpion, which would appear to have been named after his astrological sign of the zodiac.

Strong Scorpio emphasis and Mars square Pluto

Looking at his natal horoscope chart (born 2.31 am, 24th October 1986, Toronto in Canada), Drake has his Sun, Mercury and Venus in the sign of Scorpio. Perhaps more importantly, there is a also a Sun-Pluto conjunction in Scorpio, with the Scorpio Pluto forming a close square (always very important in a birth chart) to Mars in Aquarius. This is an explosive and mighty powerful combination which needs to be very carefully channelled. An independent, progressive and humanitarian (Aquarius) power is being unleashed on the world!

The dark, often hidden side of Scorpio can get very murky, with the rights and wrongs of the use of power needing attention. Anyone born with such a Scorpio emphasis is very likely to have to work their way through more darkness than most. As far back as being bullied at school, Drake has had many confrontational exchanges and clashes with others – ongoing feuds, legal disputes and relationship issues (Venus in Scorpio) which form the basis of many of his lyrics. At the same time, there is a determined and strong Scorpionic sense of purpose, with the potential for healing both himself and others.

Drake’s chart from http://www.astro.com

Early years

Drake was born to a mixed-race couple in Canada in 1986, and raised Jewish in a middle-class family. He initially became famous in Canada by playing wheelchair-bound Jimmy Brooks in seven seasons of the popular teen soap Degrassi: The Next Generation. It wasn’t until a personal crisis in 2008 that his musical career truly began to take off. At the time, Pluto formed a transit to his Scorpio Sun (he was written out of the soap opera, to be re-born as a hip hop artist), Saturn had just crossed into his 1st house (marking the beginning of a new 29 year cycle of personal responsibility) and Uranus squared natal Uranus (that age 21 transit, time to break free from childhood). In 2009, Drake signed a record deal with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment and began his rise to the top.

Leo rising and a Grand Trine in Water 

With creative and dramatic Leo rising, Drake’s Scorpio planets are in the 3rd house of communication. This fits very nicely with his intense, emotionally-driven rapping style. Drake has the confidence and arrogance of other hip hop artists (such as Jay Z and Kanye West, whose influence he has acknowledged) but as one might expect from a typical Scorpio with so much Water in the chart, Drake’s words and language are also a genuine expression of deeper soul-searching.

Drake’s nurturing Moon in Cancer (the handle of a Bucket shaped chart, similar to Taylor Swift’s as it happens) has easy flowing aspects to super-imaginative Jupiter in Pisces and intense Venus in Scorpio – a Grand Trine in Water signs. This says much about the sensitivity that sets him apart from the majority of hip hop artists, also helping Drake achieve mass popularity with the public. Not many hip hop artists would call an album Take Care, the title of his second album.

2017-2019 transits for Drake – the magic of Neptune, Uranus and others

Drake’s universal appeal has recently been helped by transiting Neptune forming a conjunction to natal Jupiter in Pisces and 7th house, together with easy aspects to his Moon (2017 to early 2018) and soon to come Venus (2019). This comment from him sums up the Neptune experience well: “The whole thing is unusual at this point, so we’re just rolling with the fairytale vibe”. Expansive Jupiter has also been moving through Scorpio, a positive boost that occurs for each sign of the zodiac every twelve years. Uranus, the great awakener, had just passed its first opposition transit to Drake’s Sun when Scorpion was released on 29th June. Worth keeping an eye on Drake for the final stage of his Uranus opposite Sun transit in March 2019 (as Uranus fully enters Taurus) – more powerful Scorpionic excitement indicated!

Scorpion broke several streaming records and Drake became the first artist to top one billion global streams in the first week of a studio album release. With Saturn still moving up through the bottom half of his chart, Drake has many years to go until he reaches the peak of his career. Despite what some critics say, it looks like he is only just beginning. Never underestimate the power of a Scorpio to be continually re-born, rising from the ashes, again and again.

This is an edited and extended version of an article originally published in the July 2018 edition of I AM astrology magazine https://infinityastrologicalmagazine.com/

Getting To The Heart Of Your Chart by Frank C. Clifford

Quality and quantity for anyone interested in modern astrology, beginners or advanced

Over the last twenty years or so, Frank Clifford has breathed new life into modern Western astrology in a number of ways, and this book demonstrates why. His direct, enthusiastic and straightforward Aries approach runs throughout this carefully presented, professional and well written volume. It has been recently re-published after an original 2012 release. There is an astonishing amount of information and there are countless examples of astrology in action, which both beginners and experienced astrologers can benefit from.

This is very much a 21st century book – now that astrology charts can be quickly generated by computer, the whole process of presenting and interpreting them has speeded up since many of the classic 20th century astrology texts (Derek and Julia Parker, Liz Greene, Hand, Arroyo, Cunningham, Elwell and so on) were written. According to the cover, there are over 150 charts here. Drawing on his many years of experience, the author expertly zips through sometimes brief and sometimes in-depth analysis of a huge range of the horoscopes of characters from all walks of life. Frank Clifford is often meticulous in his attention to detail, including the accuracy of birth data, which he is well known for in the astrological community.

Overall, an excellent book, packed full of insights and information for anyone interested in contemporary astrology.

Cosmos And Psyche by Richard Tarnas

An academically rigorous, complete, presentation of the case for modern Western astrology. Outstanding

Author and respected academic Richard Tarnas had already established a name for himself with “The Passion of the Western Mind” before the publication of this extraordinary book in 2006. “Cosmos And Psyche” is a substantial volume, masterfully written and the culmination of many years extensive research. It fully lives up to reviews that have described it as “groundbreaking” and “breathtaking”.

Tarnas has cleverly chosen to not use the signs of the zodiac or even use the word “horoscope”, and instead puts the focus entirely on the planets and their archetypes. Early on, he recounts his own journey from sceptic to astrological practitioner and researcher, made through repeated and extensive first-hand observation. gradually overcoming resistance along the way. He has thoroughly absorbed the best of late 20th century astrology (from the likes of Charles Harvey, Liz Greene, Robert Hand and others) and applied it to an extraordinarily thorough analysis of history and culture.

Whether the reader is familiar with deeper astrology or not, there is a ton of high quality work here. I found the analysis of Nietzsche’s life and the correlation with subsequent Jupiter-Uranus and Saturn-Pluto cycles particularly excellent. Apart from having to overcome huge cultural prejudice, astrologers also have to be pretty on the ball when explaining the often complicated nuances and subtleties of astrological symbolism applied to human affairs – Tarnas is masterful and precise with his use of language. Using his background as a cultural historian, and with hundreds of international examples, light is shone on historical cycles and their repetitive nature. Chapters are given to specific planetary cycles: Uranus-Pluto, Saturn-Pluto, Jupiter-Uranus and Uranus-Neptune.

For the open and educated mind, still sceptical but aware of the possibility that there might be something seriously going on with astrology, this is the book to seriously shift your paradigm! For established astrologers who have been frustrated for many years that astrology does not get the intelligent treatment or respect it deserves, this substantial volume is deeply satisfying. Tarnas re-unites the human and the cosmic, restoring transcendent meaning to both. Surely just what the alienated Western mind needs right now.

Astrology, Karma & Transformation by Stephen Arroyo

40 years later, still a modern classic, great for beginners or advanced

More than any other astrological text over the last thirty years, this book has continued to provide me with astrological wisdom and insights that no other book can match. The depth of Stephen Arroyo’s writing here is extraordinary, with perhaps the only criticism being that so much is packed into one single book, sometimes in the form of very long sentences. But this is hardly a complaint!

The outer planets are covered extensively with many examples of aspects and transits to the birth charts of people with relatively “ordinary” lives. This makes a refreshing change from much astrological literature that deals only with famous people, or people with severe problems of one kind or another. The chapter on Saturn is excellent, particularly the journey of Saturn through the twelve houses. Show any 29-year old (with a bit of self-awareness) the section featuring the Saturn return, and watch their reaction as they read!

This book is not only full of essential contemporary astrology; Arroyo also draws on his considerable experience of other tools for spiritual and psychological growth. He has a background in marriage and family counselling (chapter on “Karma and relationships”), and his many references to various spiritual teachers, Eastern religions, Western psychology and the Edgar Cayce psychic readings add to the spiritual power of Arroyo’s writing. Like nearly all of his books, still a modern classic.

Taylor Swift – astrological birth chart

An unstoppable force to be reckoned with! Taylor Swift was born on 13th December 1989 in Pennsylvania, where she grew up on a Christmas tree farm. The ambitious and conservative Capricorn rising chart (below) is the one most commonly used. There is some doubt about the 8.36am time of birth but it makes astrological sense. Her Sun sign is fiery, optimistic and enthusiastic Sagittarius but Earth and Water are the strongest elements. The large number of Cancer-Capricorn oppositions indicates strong motivating conflicts – between home and career, romance and cynicism, and other challenges.

Unaspected Sun in Sagittarius

At its best, an unaspected Sagittarian Sun (possibly 12th house, serving the collective) is free to shine out in a truly unique and visionary way. The unconventional, humanitarian love nature of Venus in Aquarius is also largely unaspected (there is a wide-ish sextile aspect to sexy Mars in Scorpio) – again showing potential free self-expression but possible difficulties with inconsistency. A close novile minor aspect (40 degrees, 9th harmonic) between the Sun and Venus indicates joy, peace and a sense of completion. Neptune is at the Sun-Venus midpoint, a combination of self (Sun), love (Venus) and universal “Swiftie” ideals (Neptune), or a glamorous deception (Neptune), or maybe both?!

Taylor Swift’s chart from http://www.astrotheme.com

Everyone born in 1989 has the Capricorn Saturn-Uranus-Neptune conjunction in their chart, with varying degrees of strength and importance. Many astrologers have written about this and the so-called Millenial generation, with a focus on those born around the late eighties and early nineties. Although she can no doubt comfortably afford to do so, perhaps Taylor Swift is playing a small part in the birth of a new dimension (Uranus-Neptune) of material and economic responsibility (Saturn in Capricorn), having consistently donated many millions to a very wide range of charities and causes.

Moon and Jupiter in Cancer

Taylor has a Moon-Jupiter conjunction in the sign of Cancer, signifying her warm, kind and emotionally generous side. She is well known for her supportive and nurturing attitude towards many of her fans. Interestingly, a quick look at the Cancerian USA chart for 4th July 1776 shows a strong compatibility with America as a whole. A candidate for the President of the United States one day? Stranger things – much stranger – have happened.

Between 2003 and 2006, she laid the foundations of her career in Nashville, as Saturn moved over her Cancerian planets. The musical and lyrical style of country music fits the sign of Cancer perfectly – sentimental, traditional, romantic, with an emphasis on home and family values. In 2004 and 2005, transiting Pluto to her Sun unleashed a powerful and ambitious drive as she signed to Big Machine Records and became the youngest ever artist signed by Sony/ATV publishing. Her career took off, as swift as a Sagittarian arrow (sorry, couldn’t resist that one).

In August 2017 – at the time of a karmic Saturn transit to her natal Sun – Swift successfully countersued a former radio deejay she had accused of her groping her in 2013. Taylor Swift showed herself as unusually enlightened for someone in her position: “I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, in society and in my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this. My hope is to help those whose voices should also be heard. Therefore, I will be making donations in the near future to multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”

2018 and her January 2019 Saturn return

The latest album Reputation has put her closer to the sales figures of Pink Floyd and Madonna, right up there in the big league. Saturn entering Capricorn for 2018 shows some serious challenges, a heavy time with hard work ahead. The schoolteacher of the zodiac will pass over Taylor’s four Capricorn planets (lessons in responsibility and career) and oppose her planets in Cancer (emotional struggles). This is a crucial time in her life. A single pass Saturn return over her close Saturn-Neptune (the reality of her ideals) conjunction in late December 2018 to January 2019 will be a major personal and career re-assessment. Good luck to her!

The above is an edited and revised version of a more detailed 2000-word article, originally published in the January-February 2018 issue of the Astrological Journal magazine https://www.facebook.com/AstrologicalJournal This is the bimonthly publication of the Astrological Association http://www.astrologicalassociation.com dedicated to educating the public on astrology since 1958.

Arrival – a film about astrology?

The film Arrival appeared on mainstream cinema screens towards the end of last year and has been widely acclaimed as the best science fiction film for many years. It has been both a critical and commercial success. Although there are perhaps one or two clichés near the beginning, Arrival is far more sophisticated than the average film about aliens visiting Earth. There is an unusual depth and intelligence throughout, as themes of love, grief, memory and the passing of time are explored. What does it mean to be human, what is our purpose? The film is nicely paced, the award-winning music is suitably haunting, there is often a sense of magical wonder. Leading actress Amy Adams is outstanding.

Directed by Dennis Villeneuve, Arrival is an adaptation of a 1998 short story Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang. Amongst many other things, it explores the idea that language determines thought and perception. The concept of linguistic relativity has been linked to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, first published in 1940 by linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf. Philosophers such as Wittgenstein (“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”) have explored similar territory. I had never come across Chiang before but one review had this to say about him:- “If there is a single recurrent theme in Ted Chiang’s work, it’s the attempt to square the circle between human fantasies of belief, and the perceived certainties of a rational, scientific worldview. There’s a strong sense in Chiang’s work that he sees conflicts of faith v reason, or freedom v determinism, as illusionary. That if we can simply see clearly enough, all conflicts give way to harmony. Chiang’s rigour and logic take him to a point of mysticism.” (1.)

After a brief but important introduction, the film begins in the style of many other science fiction films about aliens landing on Earth. The spaceships hover in twelve locations around the world and there is worldwide panic as humanity wonders what to do next. Some strange sounds are recorded at the spaceship that has arrived in Montana and the American government calls on linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to lead an investigative team. “You approach language like a mathematician”, Ian says to Louise at one point.

To the accompaniment of a drone that would not be out of place in a Tibetan Buddhist ceremony, Louise and her crew make their way down a tunnel in the nearest alien spaceship. This begins a series of attempts to communicate with the Heptapods, as the aliens become known. They are more interested in visual communication rather than sound.

IdentifyingLogograms

In Arrival, each logogram is divided into 12 sections, just like an astrological horoscope. As a person learns the alien language, their perception and experience of time is altered.

For astrologers, this is where it starts to get really interesting. In reference to the twelve spaceships, we have already been told that the twelve fit together to form a whole. The aliens now gradually begin to communicate by drawing a series of circular puffs of smoke in mid-air, each of them containing specific visual blobs that carry highly complex information. These circular patterns bear a striking resemblance to horoscopes, both visually and in their function. The alien language of the Heptapods is nonlinear, with no beginning or end – the whole of a particular sentence or idea is communicated at once, not in a progressive order. The past, the present and the future are presented as one.

Louise and her team set about examining the meaning of the circles, as do investigative teams in other countries. Problems emerge when different conclusions are drawn about exact interpretations of one particular message. Does it mean “Give technology now” or “Use weapon now” and is this a threat of some kind? This leads to a global crisis point and the final scenes of the film, when it becomes clear that Louise’s perception of time and reality has become altered by learning “The Universal Language”.

Researching on the internet, I have not been able to find any acknowledgement of astrological knowledge in relation to the film or the original story. It has been suggested that the alien circles may have been inspired by a Zen calligraphic symbol. Presumably, the number of striking similarities to astrology must therefore be a co-incidence. A visual language based around circles and symbols, a language that communicates complex information and changes our perception of time, a language which when learnt can change our experience of what it means to be human in the world. That certainly sounds familiar to serious astrologers! See this excellent film and draw your own conclusions, or lack of them.

  1. “Ted Chiang, the science fiction genius behind Arrival”, The Guardian, 11th November, 2016.

The original version of the above article appeared in the March/April 2017 of The Astrological Journal, the flagship bimonthly magazine of the Astrological Association.

The Aquarian and Uranian nature of progressive rock

Aquarius

Aquarius

As both a fan and musician, I have had more than a passing interest in progressive rock (prog rock or prog) for the last forty years. As an astrologer for the last thirty years, I noticed some time ago that Aquarian and Uranian themes are very common in the charts of many progressive rock musicians and that the whole musical genre is essentially Aquarian-Uranian in nature. From the often original and experimental nature of the music, to the eccentric musicians themselves, to the frequently intellectual lyrics in search of the truth. Not all Aquarian and Uranian musicians are prog rockers and not all progressive rock musicians have Aquarius or Uranus strong in their charts but the link is there.

Progressive rock gradually evolved out of the late 1960s, beginning with the more experimental sides of the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys and others. “Progressive” and “experimental” are of course words that are frequently associated with the astrological symbolism of Aquarius and its ruling planet Uranus, both being concerned with challenging existing conventions and exploring new territory. It has been suggested that Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) by The Beatles was the first progressive rock album and it certainly has many features that have come to be recognised as prog rock trademarks. There is an overall concept, a Progrockcolourful album cover – a piece of art in itself – and an extraordinarily wide range of musical and lyrical influences. Others have suggested that In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969) by King Crimson was the beginning of progressive rock. By the 1970s and the likes of Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes having established themselves, progressive rock had emerged as a subgenre in its own right. The term “prog”, sometimes used in a jokey or derogatory sense, appeared much later.

 

 

SevenFourUnusual and quirky (Aquarius) time signatures and unconventional song structures are often a feature of progressive rock. Rather than conforming to the more typical 4/4 rock and pop beat, artists such as King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree often use alternatives such as 7/4 or 13/8. Pink Floyd’s Money on Dark Side Of The Moon and Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill are examples of using a 7/4 time signature. Aquarian progrock often breaks the musical rules in all sorts of ways – the traditional verse and chorus structures are frequently avoided in favour of extended instrumental sections or other alternatives. Unpredictability is the name of the day, although critics have observed that this can seem musically pretentious, sometimes appearing to sound different for the sake of being different. Such criticism is of course unlikely to bother a musician with several planets in Aquarius or a strong Uranus in their birth chart, who will follow their own path, regardless.

Dave Gilmour, Sun square Uranus

Dave Gilmour, Sun square Uranus

A quick look at the astrological charts of famous progressive rock musicians confirms the prominence of either Aquarius or many close aspects between Uranus and the personal planets. Guitarist Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd was born a Pisces Sun with a square to Uranus. In a 2014 interview promoting Floyd’s The Endless River album, producer Youth gave a perfect Sun-Uranus description when  commenting on his experience of working with Gilmour:- “It’s funny with David, you think he’s going to be one way and then he goes completely the other. He’s unpredictable like that, and that’s good” (1). Keyboard player Rick Wakeman of Yes has Moon and Jupiter in Aquarius, flautist and singer Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (a brilliant eccentric if ever there was one!) has Mars conjunct Uranus in 10th house. The extraordinarily gifted and uniquely intelligent guitarist Robert Fripp (King Crimson) was born with a close Venus conjunct Uranus trine Jupiter and another multi-talented guitarist and musician Steve Hillage (originally with the eccentric and sometimes brilliant Gong) was born with a close Mars conjunct Uranus at the apex of a Cardinal T-square. Kate Bush, who made her spectacular live comeback in 2014, has pretty much transcended all genres but the strong prog leanings are there. She has a natal Sun-Uranus conjunction and almost certainly, depending on the time of birth, Moon in Aquarius.

 

Peter Gabriel's Aquarian birth chart

Peter Gabriel’s Aquarian birth chart

At their 1970s peak, Genesis were one of the most interesting and innovative progressive rock bands. A very English group of musicians making clever and eccentric (Aquarius/Uranus) music, fronted by Peter Gabriel’s clever and eccentric theatrical performances.  Although Genesis became more commercially successful after Phil Collins took over as singer, most prog fans consider that the more interesting and original ideas (Aquarius/Uranus) started to run out after first Gabriel and then Steve Hackett left the band. Both Hackett and Gabriel have natal Sun, Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius, being born one day apart on 12th February 1950 and 13th February 1950 respectively. The Aquarian urge for freedom and independence would have played its part in them branching out to pursue extremely successful solo careers, each achieving substantial international recognition for their artistic brilliance across a number of musical genres.

Peter Gabriel - Sun, Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius

Gabriel – Sun, Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius

With his Aquarian Sun and other 7th house Aquarian planets on display to the public, Peter Gabriel is the living embodiment of the most highly evolved Air sign. A major feature of Gabriel’s birth chart (2) is a powerful close opposition between Pluto in Leo on the Ascendant and Jupiter in Aquarius on the Descendant. Gabriel has achieved huge recognition and success as both a Pluto in Leo rock musician and a Jupiter in Aquarius visionary humanitarian. The tension between these two is mediated by a gifted and magical conjunction between Mars and Neptune in Libra, a perfect combination for a socially conscious artist and musician. He has often been years ahead of his time (Aquarius), from his founding of the Womad festival, to his support for world music through his record label and recording studio, to his involvement with one of the first music download services, OD2. Receiving the Prog God award at the annual Progressive Music Awards in London, September 2014 from comedian and prog fan Bill Bailey (there’s a fair bit of Aquarius in his chart too), Gabriel said:- “Despite prog probably being the most derided musical genre of all time there were – as today – a lot of extraordinary musicians trying to break down the barriers to reject the rules of music… We didn’t always get it right, but when it did work we could move people and get some magic happening.” (3)

 

Steve Hogarth and Fish - Mars in Aquarius

Steve Hogarth and Fish – Mars in Aquarius

Mainstream progressive rock was carried into the 1980s by Marillion, who are still going strong today. Both the original Marillion singer Fish and new boy Steve Hogarth (who has actually been with the band since 1990) have a prominent Mars in Aquarius. It has often been said that guitarist Steve Rothery is Marillion’s greatest musical asset, and Rothery was born with an almost exactly stationary Uranus in Leo. (Astrologer Stephen Arroyo recently observed that due to the use of computers, the importance of natal stationary planets is now often over-looked (4), something that contemporary astrologers might want to bear in mind.) Marillion were years ahead of everyone (Aquarius) when they famously first used crowdfunding to raise money for an American tour in 1997. As with many newer and lesser known 21st century prog acts, the Aquarian internet has continued to be essential to the band, enabling them to build a worldwide fanbase whilst remaining largely independent (Aquarius) of the music industry.

Francis Dunnery, Sun trine Uranus

Francis Dunnery – an astrologer with Sun trine Uranus

 

No piece on astrology and prog would be complete without a mention of Francis Dunnery, who is himself an accomplished astrologer. The inspired ex-It Bites and ex-Robert Plant guitarist and songwriter has a close Sun-Uranus aspect and Saturn in Aquarius. Appropriately, he runs his own label called Aquarian Nation.

Although progressive rock has always survived and thrived underground, it was uncool for many years. Since Radiohead’s OK Computer in the late 1990s, prog rock’s influence has become increasingly acceptable in the mainstream again – prog is no longer quite such a dirty word!

Notes

  1. “The Making of The Endless River”, Prog magazine, October 2014, p.44.
  2. Peter Gabriel, born 4.30 pm, 13th February 1950, Woking, England. Time of birth is from memory, according to astro.com databank.
  3. “Peter Gabriel honoured at Prog music awards”, BBC News website, 12th September 2014.
  4. “Experiments and Experience with Astrology: Reflections on Methods and Meaning”, Stephen Arroyo, CRCS Publications, November 2013.

This article was originally written for a book on the astrology of music, due to be published by Flare Publications, UK.