Neil Peart and Rush – astrological birth charts

Canadian drummer and lyricist Neil Peart passed away in January at the age of 67, following an eighteen month battle with brain cancer. Through his work with the band Rush, he has left an astonishing legacy of world-class drumming, great rock music and a whole library of sophisticated and insightful lyrics across the band’s studio albums since he joined them in 1974. Peart was born on 12th September 1952 in Hamilton, Ontario, time of birth unknown. The perfectionist streak of Sun and Mercury in Virgo showed in his approach to both drumming and writing lyrics. He continually strove to improve his drumming technique, even to the extent of re-inventing his style to incorporate more jazz influences in 1994. The sharp Virgoan analysis features in the words of his songs and no doubt also in the seven non-fiction books that Peart wrote in later life.

Mercury square Mars

One of the closest natal aspects is a square between dynamic Mars in visionary Sagittarius and the perfectionist mentality of Mercury in Virgo. Astrologer Stephen Arroyo has written the following on Mercury-Mars aspects in the chart: “Conscious mind blends with physical energy (possibly good hand-eye coordination), stimulating both powerfully – an energized intellect”. To say Neil Peart had good hand-eye co-ordination and an energized intellect is a major understatement! He has consistently been ranked amongst the top drummers in the world for many years, fourth behind John Bonham, Ginger Baker and Keith Moon in a poll by Rolling Stone magazine in 2016.

With Pluto conjunct Neil Peart’s South Node squared by Jupiter, it’s perhaps no surprise to see that despite his extraordinary success, the hands of fate dealt a tragic blow to Peart. The birth chart doesn’t predict extreme misfortune but it does show tendencies towards certain types of experience. In August 1997, Peart’s first daughter was killed in a car crash and his common-law wife of 23 years, Jacqueline Taylor, died from cancer the following year. In true Plutonian style, Peart eventually rose from the ashes and returned to drumming.

Peart, Lee, Lifeson

All three members of Rush were born with Saturn conjunct Neptune in Libra, aspected in each case by various personal planets in their charts. This shows the potential to work hard at the reality (Saturn) of living the beautiful (Libra) dream (Neptune). Bassist and singer Geddy Lee (Sun in Leo) was born in July 1953, guitarist Alex Lifeson (another Virgo) was born in August 1953, Peart in September 1952. Peart had an additional emphasis on Libran art and beauty due to Venus in Libra. A civilised and humane desire to balance (Libra) ideals (Neptune) and reality (Saturn) is reflected in much of the lyrical content of Rush’s music and also some of the album titles – Grace Under Pressure (Neptune in Libra grace and Saturnian pressure), Counterparts (Libra) and Clockwork Angels (Saturnian clockwork time and Neptunian angels).

Final album Clockwork Angels (2012)

The cover of final album Clockwork Angels is notable for a clock face that looks suspiciously like an astrological chart, even though different symbols with different meanings are featured. Many fans of Rush consider the following lyrics from The Garden some of Neil Peart’s very best, a fitting farewell from a great man.

The Garden

In this one of many possible worlds
All for the best or some bizarre test?
It is what it is and whatever
Time is still the infinite jest
The arrow flies when you dream
The hours tick away, the cells tick away
The Watchmaker keeps to his schemes
The hours tick away, they tick away
The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect
So hard to earn, so easily burned
In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect
In the rise and the set of the sun
‘Til the stars go spinning
Spinning ’round the night
Oh, it is what it is and forever
Each moment a memory in flight
The arrow flies while you breathe
The hours tick away, the cells tick away
The Watchmaker has time up his sleeve
The hours tick away, they tick away
The treasure of a life
Is a measure of love and respect
The way you live, the gifts that you give
In the fullness of time
Is the only return that you expect
The future disappears into memory
With only a moment between
Forever dwells in that moment
Hope is what remains to be seen

 

This is an edited version of an article originally published in IAM Infinity astrological magazine https://infinityastrologicalmagazine.com/

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

Astrology: Using The Wisdom Of The Stars In Your Everyday Life by Carole Taylor

Beautiful and thorough introduction to modern astrology

As both the Director of Studies at the Faculty of Astrological Studies and a previous editor of the UK Astrological Association Journal magazine, the author Carole Taylor is well-established in the astrological community.

Astrology (2018) starts as a basic cookbook and then goes much further. After beginning with the signs, planets and houses, there is an overview of the whole chart, including the axes, aspects and chart themes. Later on, transits are introduced as astrology’s key forecasting tool.

The last two sections, Understanding Yourself and Life Events, apply the basics covered in the first half to an individual’s life. Here, the huge astrological experience of the author shines through. And there are lots of pictures!

With accompanying case studies, there are guidelines with astrological perspectives on relationships, handling disagreements, finances, changing career, health issues and more. Occasional quotes from past astrological masters such as Howard Sasportas and Dennis Elwell are a nice touch, along with further resources and a glossary of terms at the back.

Astrology uses contemporary language in applying astrology to people’s everyday lives in the modern world. It deserves to play a part in raising the profile of serious astrology for all. Here there is considerably more substance than the majority of mobile phone apps, Youtube videos and Instagram posts that sometimes pass for current astrological wisdom.

Experiments and Experience with Astrology by Stephen Arroyo

An ideal companion to Arroyo’s previous books

This new collection of Stephen Arroyo writings (Experiments and Experience with Astrology: Reflections on Method and Meaning) was released in paperback form at the end of 2019, a small-but-perfectly-formed volume and an ideal companion to his previous books. Those familiar with Arroyo’s work will recognize familiar themes but there are various snippets of new information and fresh perspectives too.

The first chapter is a detailed interview with Arroyo, previously published in a Serbian astrological magazine and The Mountain Astrologer. Arroyo answers a range of questions and describes how he initially came across astrology through studying psychologist Carl Jung, then going on to study and build on the work of astrologers such as Dane Rudhyar and Charles Carter. Elsewhere in this book, Arroyo explores familiar themes of clarity, simplicity and viewing the chart from a holistic perspective. “Polish that lens… because astrology is a way of seeing… that’s why it depends so much on the individual practitioner and his or her personality and level of consciousness.” (p. 46)

Going against current trends for cramming the birth chart full of “extras”, the author cautions against using too many factors in chart interpretation. He suggests that rather than running the risk of confusing clients by adding more and more detail, astrologers can help people understand their lives and themselves more clearly by fully exploring the fundamentals of the birth chart. Arroyo keeps a focus on the basics, including an interpretive technique using subtones.

Whilst fully embracing astrology’s healing power and the huge potential for contributing to and interacting with both psychology and science, Stephen Arroyo also stresses the need for humility on the part of astrologers and astrology as a whole. As usual, he is pointing the way forward.

The Signs by Carolyne Faulkner

Deservedly bestselling introduction to astrology

From the punchy introduction onwards, The Signs by Carolyne Faulkner (2017) is a deservedly bestselling introductory text on western natal astrology. As the author breezes through the signs, the planets and the houses, her style is accessible, upbeat and comprehensively thorough. The Signs is an energizing and empowering book that does full justice to the basics of the chart.

As with all the best writers of more serious astrology, it’s clear that the author has had a great deal of first-hand experience of working with clients. Throughout the book, there are brief examples and observations from people’s lives, keeping everything fresh and relevant. There are also good practical suggestions for anyone starting out e.g. “Write stuff down, I am a firm believer that when we write stuff down we remember it more readily.”

Carolyne Faulkner makes enthusiastic claims for her “Dynamic Astrology”. Although her style is inspiring, positive and transformational, the “pioneering new self-improvement method” seems to be much the same as the approach taken by the majority of modern practising astrologers. “Nobody’s future is written in the stars, it’s ours to create.” “Forget how you were in the past, the future is in your hands.”

There are many original, sometimes quirky touches in the interpretations. Unusually and disappointingly though, there are no references or recommended further reading at the end. The spirit of the author and The Signs is summed up in the final words: “Thank you to the universe! May all beings be happy and free from suffering!”

Paul McCartney – astrological birth chart

Thumbs aloft! Sun in Gemini, Moon in Leo

Paul McCartney returned in September 2018 in spectacular style, with his excellent album Egypt Station going straight to Number One in the Billboard chart. It was his first solo Number One album since 1982’s Tug of War. As he sings on the new album track People Want Peace, “I’m not quitting while people are crying for more.”

Born on 18th June 1942 in Liverpool, Astrodatabank‘s currently preferred 2.00pm choice of chart (below) shows a hard-working and modest Virgo Ascendant (rising sign). Whatever the exact time of birth was, most of the main features of the chart stay the same in this case. All the planets are grouped in a small area across five signs of the zodiac, showing a shape somewhere between a Bundle or a Bowl, with strong emphasis on planets in Gemini and Leo.

McCartney is in many ways a typical Gemini. Starting with The Beatles, he has continually explored new ideas and new styles with his music, from pop to rock to classical compositions. There is often an effort to be up to date with contemporary trends and, along with the Gemini twinkle in his eye, a cheeky sense of humour is never far away.

Macca’s chart from https://www.astro.com

Gemini Sun conjunct Jupiter in Cancer

The Sun is at the end of Gemini, forming a conjunction to Jupiter at the beginning of Cancer (both in 10th house if the time of birth is reasonably accurate). Macca is known worldwide for his clever and funny Gemini self and of course he is also well known for being optimistic, romantic, a family man and proud of his Liverpudlian roots – all of which link nicely to a prominent Jupiter in Cancer.

The Sun-Jupiter conjunction forms a close square with Neptune. This combination of planets occurs in the charts of many musicians and artists, as well as spiritual leaders. The Neptunian universal visionary potential was there from birth. Paul’s long-term campaigning for vegetarianism is one expression of his high ideals and compassion. One could even say that McCartney is channeling a higher power – whatever that means! At the same time, his well-publicized use of cannabis is a classic example of Neptunian escapism.

He’s made a few quid…

Venus in its own solid sign of Taurus and Jupiter exalted in Cancer are two of the best basic planetary placements for potential financial success. McCartney has of course done rather well for himself and according to the Sunday Times, he is the richest musician in the UK as of May 2018. His net worth has been estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebratory Net Worth.

Moon, Mars and Pluto in Leo

The Moon in Leo gives a warm, enthusiastic and dramatic personality. There is more Leo in the chart from an explosively creative close Mars-Pluto conjunction. A Leo Mars carrying the creative power (and egomania!) of the Pluto in Leo generation, combines smoothly with the inspired intelligence, adaptability and potential mastery of language and communication shown by the Gemini Saturn-Uranus conjunction. McCartney is still fond of describing himself as working class – “I work bloody hard” – and that strongly positioned Mars in Leo is a sure sign that he does.

Egypt Station arrived with a Uranus transit to his Mars in Leo

Looking at recent transits and progressions, and after having allowed for the question mark around his time of birth, one relevant transit stands out. In the couple of months before Egypt Station was released in September 2018, transiting Uranus made (or came very close to) an exact stationary square to Paul McCartney’s natal Mars in Leo.

At that time, McCartney was very busy making unexpected (Uranus) playful promotional appearances (Mars in Leo). He popped up in New York, on the internet, television, in fact just about everywhere! Using the 2pm chart (above), Uranus is transiting from his 8th house, to Mars which is the ruler of his 8th house. Not only has Egypt Station suddenly regenerated (Uranus in 8th house) his career, there are also many more 8th house themes (emotional crises, sex, even some kind of spiritual salvation) in the lyrics than is usual for Paul. The final pass of this Uranus transit is in mid to late April of 2019, so worth keeping an eye out for some more unpredictable and playful Mars in Leo action from him then.

Long live Macca!

This is an edited version of an article originally published in the Nov/Dec 2018 edition of IAM astrology magazine https://infinityastrologicalmagazine.com/

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

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/

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

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.