Remedios Varo

This piece originally appeared on Art Zealous.

Remedios Varo Uranga was born in Angelès, Spain on December 16th, 1908. A witness to the antics of macho surrealists of the Deux Magots crowd in Paris, and an under-recognized genius of occult feminine imaginary, Varo’s art should be held up with the greatest of her era. She painted lush, mythic dreamscapes which evoke archetypal feelings, uniquely attuned to her own inner universe, one populated by bird-women, troubadours, and portals to the underworld.

 

The World, 1958

The World, 1958

Astrology is comprised of twelve principles, each of them with its own archetypal significance. These twelve principles work in accordance with cycles of life, and map out the trajectory of lived experience from birth to “death,” or the ineffable. 

 

Charts of artists carry with them particular patterns, which to this astrologer’s eye are discernible, and important to recognize. We look to the ascendant, the point of initiation in the natal chart, to the midheaven, the angle of legacy, and then move through principles three, five, and twelve, which each speak on these unique topics: intellect and the symbolic order (3), self-expression and the imaginary (5), and divinity, formlessness, and the real (12). Engaging the chart in this way reveals the language, materials, and spiritual themes that are most important to the artist in question. Each chart is undoubtedly unique, and the life of the artist can be traced in this esoteric pathway each time. Let’s take a look at Remedios’s chart. 

 

Mercurial Influences

 

The first place we look in the natal chart is the ascendant, the angle of the chart that depicts where the eastern sky met the horizon at the time of your birth. It is the angle of initiation, based on the very moment we take our first breath in this lifetime. Varo’s ascendant is located in Virgo at 13°. Virgo is the sign of service, constriction, earth connection, and rituals of the body. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the planet of communication, language, and intellect. Virgo represents the sixth principle—specifically, the child’s formal introduction into the symbolic order, when the child is forced to become a responsible person. Every poet must use the mastery gained during the Virgoan stage of development to paradoxically return to Edenic childhood and with its principles 3, 5, and 12, a state necessary for the creation of art.

  

In Roman myth, Mercury was the only god who could travel down to the depths of the underworld unscathed, as he guided the souls of the deceased to the afterlife. That commingling of dayworld and nightworld gives Mercury important access to the recesses of the unconscious, no doubt an important resource for artists of any medium. 

 

Icono, 1945

Icono, 1945

In Varo’s chart, we see that chart ruler Mercury is conjunct her Sagittarius Sun in House 4, the house associated with the private self, reflections of the interior mind, as well as ancestry, and one’s roots. This is a deeply sensitive house, even psychic in its connection to memory. 

 

Varo’s Sun opposes Pluto in House 10, the house of public persona and our career path. This opposition in Varo’s chart sets up a binary between home, private, domestic, mother and public reputation, career, and worldly success. There was a tension here that likely pushed her to dig deep into the private realm of the psyche, while also being motivated to share her insight in a public sense throughout her life. 

 

Tugging at the strings of this planetary knot, we see that this Mercury/Sun conjunction is deeply impactful to Varo’s psyche. Mercury, lord of House 1, invites House 1 energy, that is to say, ego-expression, to the 4th House. What’s more, is that the Sun, lord of House 12, activates the Sun in House 4 for anything in relation to the 12th House. This means that Varo’s 4th House contains a blending of the ego identity and the body (House 1), with the spiritual, the ineffable, and the fantastical (House 12). These energies are rooted and manifest in House 4. 

 

Artists with placements like these are often working out of a shared sensibility, one that works with subject matter that is striking and familiar, and rooted in a sensibility akin to the divine feminine, or mothering archetype, as House 4 is traditionally connected to Cancer, the sign of the mother. This blending of private feminine and spiritual, or ineffable qualities surely comes through in Varo’s work, and is one of the features we most immediately recognize while looking at her paintings.

Cazadora de astros, 1956

Cazadora de astros, 1956

We must also recognize that Varo’s midheaven, the angle of destiny, legacy, and public reputation, is found in Gemini at 10°. Gemini is the third sign symbolized by the twins. This sign talks to us about duality, binary, and tension. Day and night, up and down, life and death, all circulate here.

 

Mercury is not only the planetary ruler of Virgo, but also rules Gemini, coloring the ascendant and midheaven angles of the chart in Mercurial energy. Mercury in Varo’s 4th House, therefore, is imbued not only with House 1 energy, but House 10 energy, as Mercury is lord of both of those houses. This shows that she is extremely busy in the home in terms of her artistic work. And indeed this is confirmed by her biography, especially her time in Mexico, when she and Leonora Carrington met on a daily basis to paint and write together. In private, engaged in secret conversations only they could fathom, they were manifesting this iteration of House 4’s power. 

 

Varo the Occultist

 

Varo is a solar Sagittarius, a sign known to be fiery, energetic, expansive, interested in philosophy, spirituality, and higher uses of intellect. Varo’s father was a huge influence on Varo from an early age, giving her books on philosophy, spirituality, and literature as she made her way through a conservative Catholic education. Varo’s biography characterizes her as a deep thinker who spent much time with poets as well as painters (one of her most significant romantic connections being Benjamin Peret, the French Surrealist poet, and her deepest friendship was of course with Carrington, another genius of her time).

 

Varo’s work regularly draws on mythic figures and makes references to the divine feminine and witchcraft. This is undoubtedly the influence not only of her Sagittarius Sun which attunes her ego to such matter, but of the fact that the Sun is lord of her 12th House, which is house of the unknowable contents of the soul. With Sun in Sagittarius, the expression of her ego sense is in service of the 12th principle, the principle of collective esotericism, healing, madness, and the divine.

La Creación de las Aves, 1957

La Creación de las Aves, 1957

Varo’s Sun acts on behalf of the 12th House, meaning that her ego sense is both Sagittarian and Neptunian. Here the occult and the intellectual blend together, spilling over like ephemeral dream-water onto her natal Mercury, the planet of linguistic and intellectual expression. All in all, this is a potent and mystical orientation for an artist. Her Sun and chart ruler are awash in rich psychic and philosophical material. 

 

Venus in Scorpio, Philosophical Depth

 

Varo’s 3rd House is ruled by Scorpio, sign of chthonic depth. To get more information on how the 3rd House expresses itself, we can look to see that Pluto, Scorpio’s ruler and the lord of her 3rd House is sitting in her house of career. Pluto makes critical angles to Mercury and Sun in House 4, connecting us back to that initial locus of artistic power. 

 

As Pluto is the lord of the 3rd House, Varo’s Pluto carries with it House 3 weight. Pluto is the planet of revolution, obsession, and underworld energy. In Varo’s chart, that all gets filtered through the 3rd principle—the intellect. Her Pluto is highly artistic, intellectual, and critical. This is another indicator of her ability to combine the realm of dream/nightmare (Pluto) with the innocent symbolic order, curious for curiosity’s sake (House 3). Another characterizing feature of Varo’s work is that she depicts the systems, machinery, pulleys situated in seeming dream landscapes. This is all stuff of House 3, which combines logic with movement, systems with magic.

Encuentro, 1959

Encuentro, 1959

 

Varo’s natal Venus is found in Scorpio, a placement that is known for its tenacity in love, as well as deep psychological intensity. Venus in Scorpio brings on a Romeo-and-Juliet type passion, and natives of this placement are intuitive and obsessive, often merging with romantic partners and friends, alike. Venus in Scorpio is an artistic placement, and Venus is the ruler of Varo’s 9th House, the house of philosophical and spiritual matters, travel, and higher learning. This brings a richly expansive and spiritual focus to Varo’s artistic and material sensibilities, as Venus is the planet of art, amongst other things. House 3 is also home to Varo’s Part of Fortune, indicating that great gifts emanate from this region of the chart, and the psyche therefore. 

 

Neptunian Innovation

 

Sitting in Varo’s 3rd House, we also see Mars, planet of war and conquest, sitting trine Neptune, planet of oceanic intuition and fantasy. This gives power (Mars) for making intuitive connections that go beyond the realm of reason (Neptune). Mars is also conjunct Venus, the planet of aesthetic values, passion, and intimacy. 

 

Venus is the goddess of surfaces. Varo’s Mars conjunct Venus and trine Neptune to me leaps out as an indicator of Varo’s style of painting, which is luminous and meticulously detailed as a Renaissance painting, but is also unique in terms of its approach to the actual surface of the canvas. 

 

Varo invented a method of spreading paint on her canvas whereby she would thin her pigments to a liquid state, gently drip them on the canvas, then blow them across the surface. This created that ephemeral and cloud-like irregularity that characterizes much of her work. With Mars conjunct Venus, she had the conviction to pioneer an innovative style of painting. With Venus and Mars trine Neptune, this new approach was one that lent itself to a dreamy haze, making the work of this Sagittarian painter strikingly Neptunian.

 

There is more to say about Varo’s chart, but we will stop here for now. From witchcraft to dreamscapes, from night gardens to castles in the sky, Varo’s paintings are truly her own, and emanate brilliantly from her unique astrological makeup, which blends the symbolic with the mystical, painting the chthonic depths of femininity that is at once future and past. At once delicate and powerful, historical and fantastical, Varo’s work demands our attention over and over again. Look deeply, and try to fall into one of her echoing chambers, constellated with magic only she could produce.

The chart of the artist, given a Rodden Rating of AA

The chart of the artist, given a Rodden Rating of AA

Frida Kahlo

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón was born on July 6, 1907 at 8:30am in Coyoacán, Mexico.* Known to us now as the patron saint of pain and passion, Kahlo lived a life steeped in tragedy, and from the recesses of her soul created a body of work that stands as a testament to her immense power to transfigure raw feeling into paintings that merge dream and reality, human and animal, flesh and underworld. 

Finding her body fragmented by illness and accident, she used painting as a means of formal exploration, both aesthetic and physical. Extreme events of her life cultivated extreme modes of self-expression. She is our radical, our communist, our surrealist, our icon of Mexicanidad, lamentress with spider-monkey familiar. Let’s take a look at her stars.

Yo y mis pericos   (Me and my parrots) , 1941

Yo y mis pericos (Me and my parrots), 1941

Astrologically, Frida is a solar Cancer with her Moon in Taurus and Leo on the ascendant. The ascendant is the angle of beginning, and indicates to us that the Sun is the ruler of her chart, as Leo is ruled by the Sun. In her chart, the Sun in Cancer sits in House 11, conjunct Neptune, and alongside Jupiter and her North Node, which rest conjunct one another as well. And so in House 11 we see the ego (Sun) blend with the planet of illusion, fantasy, and madness (Neptune), and the planet of fertility, optimism, and excess merges with the node of fate. There is deep karmic purpose here. 


Each house of the chart talks to us about a unique set of themes, divisions or phases of the lives we lead. House 11 in general terms talks to us about the will-to-individuation of the many, meaning politics, one’s chosen circle of equals, friendship, communal energy. House 11 is the house of the individual free from familial bond as well as free from the rigid constraints of dogma, or hierarchy. The ideal collective rather than the ideal self; utopia. 


Kahlo vehemently opposed any and all capitalist ideology, and devoted much of her life to her political efforts which sought to spread her and her contemporaries dream of communism as an antidote to colonialism which had injured her native Mexico. With her Sun in House 11, we see that her ego sense is wedded to social questions of her time. Jupiter’s presence her shows that she finds expansion in the public, communal arenas of life. 


Working with those who were her ideological equal was paramount to her. It makes me think of her dismissal of the European surrealists whom she met in Paris, saying, “They make me vomit. They are so damn ‘intellectual’ and rotten that I can’t stand them anymore… I’d rather sit on the floor in the market of Toluca and sell tortillas, than to have anything to do with those ‘artistic’ bitches of Paris.”** French surrealist Andre Breton famously described Frida as “A ribbon around a bomb” and tried his best to claim her for his movement. In characteristic fashion, she vehemently resisted. While the European surrealists explored themes of dream and psychology, Frida and her contemporaries were invested in projects both artistic and communal, which sought to provide social critique, and to empower the downtrodden. This is absolutely something we can trace back to her 11th House stellium. 


As an artist, Kahlo’s Sun conjunct Neptune shows that for her, reality and dream were virtually indistinguishable. Neptune is the planet of fantasy, madness, intuition, and inspiration, among many other archetypal influences. Neptune rules the realm of dreaming, of healing, illness, illusion. Planets that make contact with Neptune are enveloped by its energy, and from this merge comes a highly spiritual way of being in the world. 


One of the hallmarks of Kahlo’s work is her fierce and imaginative engagement with trauma. Her Cancer Sun’s conjunction to Neptune imbues it with energy of the 8th principle, as Neptune is the ruler of her 8th House. We associate 8th principle energy with underworld, cycles of karma, trauma, and the subsequent rebirth that comes from engaging the shadow. It is a fertile space, but a dark one, no doubt. Kahlo’s continual ability to rebirth herself through magnificent pain is depicted in works like The Broken Column (1944) and The Wounded Deer (1946). 

El venado herido (The wounded deer) , 1946

El venado herido (The wounded deer), 1946


In paintings like these, the body is subjected to extreme conditions of pain, penetration, disruption. The Broken Column is famously concerned with the intense spinal pain Kahlo experienced after a bus accident in 1925 in which a trolley car crashed into a bus she was riding. Kahlo was pierced by a steel beam through her pelvis, shattering her spinal column and pelvis, as well as her collarbone and two ribs. Her right leg, already a source of discomfort due to childhood polio, was fractured in 11 places, and her right foot crushed. In her months-long recovery period, Frida began to paint. This serious trauma set her on a course of a lifetime of physical pain, but was also one of the catalysts for her artistic path. 


Kahlo’s House 11 stellium is pierced by an electric opposition from Uranus and Mars, which sit conjunct in House 5, the house of art, creation, and self-expression. The opposition is impossible to ignore as it cuts across the body of the chart, inspiring this imaginative astrologer to see this as a cosmic manifestation of that famous steel pole. From the house of art emanates a red ray of opposition. Discomfort, pain, and tumult come from Uranus’s opposition to the Sun, as well as great gifts of inspiration and a sense of invention. 


Uranus is the planet of innovation, futurity, and shocking change. Conjunct Mars in Capricorn, the visionary energy of Uranus blends with the warring impulse of Mars. The two planets graft together bravery and innovation, forceful action, and inventiveness rooted in the material (Capricorn). We should also see that her 5th House is ruled by Jupiter, one of the planets in her 11th House stellium. A link, an arrow, from art to community. Self-expression, futurity, instability, and genius emerge here. 


The Moon is of vital importance in the chart of an artist. Kahlo’s Moon in Taurus sits conjunct her midheaven, showing us that her path of destiny was completely wedded to the luminary of art, intuition, and emotion. Taurus is the sign of sensory experience, material being. With the Moon in sensual Taurus, Kahlo leads with the body. The Moon also carries with it 12th House energy, that is, the energy of divinity, madness, and the sublime, as Kahlo’s 12th House cusp is in Cancer, thus the Moon on the midheaven is imbued with the 

La columna rota (The broken column) , 1944

La columna rota (The broken column), 1944



strange and vast power of House 12. This enriches her path as an artist, as the Moon on midheaven carries traces of earth (Taurus) and soul (House 12).


Alongside the Moon in House 10 we find Pluto conjunct Venus in Gemini, imbuing her 10th House, the house of public persona with Gemini energy—traces of the 3rd principle circulate here. This is crucial for the expression of her Venus, the planet of aesthetics and passion. Venus conjunct Pluto in Gemini says to us that her sense of art as well as romantic love is fed or inspired by Plutonian energy. Cycles of birth, destruction and rebirth. An engagement with the richness of the unconscious, the soul. With these planets in Gemini, they take on an intellectual bent, a quality that surely permeates Kahlo’s work.

Las dos Fridas (The two Fridas) , 1939

Las dos Fridas (The two Fridas), 1939


We cannot ignore Saturn in this chart, which sits in the 8th House, that aforementioned house of underworld. Saturn is the planet of self-mastery, responsibility, and diligence, and Kahlo’s sits in Pisces, imbuing this practical planet with Neptunian energy. Even in her most diligent efforts, Kahlo was sensitive, intuitive, and embroiled in cycles of illness and healing. Saturn aspects almost all other critical points of the chart—trining her Mercury in House 12, which shows that her intellect was rooted in a stream of consciousness approach. Saturn also trines her Jupiter, giving her great strength of purpose, a stubborn nature, an unchangeable bravery, as the planet of responsibility supports and harmonizes with the planet of expansion and optimism.


Squaring Venus and Pluto, her Saturn again imbues her with a tenacity, a stubbornness. This is one of those larger than life aspects that when found in the natal chart is sure to indicate a life of great intensity, struggle, cyclic strife, but one that is also supported by an indelible force of will. Squaring her Venus, her Saturn shows that she may

be attracted to partners who are older than her, almost fatherly, even, and that that dynamic will be difficult for her, tumultuous and cyclic as well. With Saturn trine her Moon, we see that Frida is a woman who had the ability to transform her vision into reality, lending practical power to her sense of art.


The last note we can make about this chart and this life (which as you can surely tell is rich, deep, and infinitely complex), is the presence of Uranus and Mars in House 5, the house, among many things, of creation, self-expression, sexual affairs. With Uranus conjunct Mars in the 5th House, we see here indications of someone who is inventive and unrestrained in love and sex, as Uranus, outsider genius of the solar system, is empowered by fiery, active Mars. Frida’s long list of lovers is famous at this point, as is her fluid sexuality. To me, the presence of Uranus in House 5 is indicative of this expansive, progressive, passionate bent. Uranus in House 5 is also highly significant as House 5 (along with 3 and 12) is one of the three main houses of art. 


The presence of this planet thus situated had helped to urge and empower Kahlo to create a body of work that was as yet unseen by the public of her time. Uranus dives headlong toward the future. Kahlo’s work, wedded to dream, perfumed with bougainvillea, does the same. 

Natal chart of the artist

Natal chart of the artist


*AstroDatabank gives Kahlo’s chart a AA rating, making it trustworthy for our purposes

**Kaplan, Janet A. Remedios Varo: Unexpected Journeys. Abbeville, 2000. p88

Arthur Rimbaud

Poet Arthur Rimbaud was born on October 20th, 1854 in Charleville, France at 6:00 a.m.* One of the most influential literary voices of his time, Rimbaud’s work infused the Symbolist movement with heady doses of proto-surrealism, composing works at once immediate, passionate, modern, bespeaking dreams, derangement, violence, utopia. Blending abject misery with a sense of the divine, rooted in the senses, expressed by both intellect and heart, Rimbaud’s work is truly in a class of its own. In his late teens he ran away from home, escaping to Paris, where he devoted himself his works vigorously, and with great rigor. His young life was punctuated by a torrid, complicated affair with poet Paul Verlaine, a man nearly thirty years his senior. 

Possessed of a drive for new sensations, Rimbaud spent his late teens at his writing, only to stop completely at the age of 21. His great work Illuminations, has influenced the imaginations of countless poets after him. His legacy is that of the poète maudit visionary, enfant terrible, inspiring outsiders, musicians, dreamers of all varieties, to follow him into his ethereal realm where, with knife-like precision, he weaves language into flamboyant, ecstatic compositions. 

In his early twenties, Rimbaud abandoned literary life, choosing to pursue adventure and commerce as a gun runner in Africa. This is one of the strangest and most inexplicable changes of course in literary history, given the quality and promise of his work as a young genius. To perhaps better understand this, let us now take a look at his stars for an in-depth exploration of the astrological spirit of the dark flaneur

arthur_rimbaud_g.jpg


Rimbaud is a Libra in triplicate—Sun, ascendant, and Moon. The chart is ruled by Venus, for she is the ruler of Libra. Goddess of surfaces, pleasure, aesthetics, resources, Venus sits in House 12, domain of the ineffable. That the three major initiatory components of the natal chart, Sun, Moon and rising, are all located in Venus-ruled Libra is represented in Rimbaud’s work, not merely for its beauty, but for its passionate connection to the senses. His works often seethe with sensory overload and synesthetic linguistic merging. At once sacred and profane, pure and filthy, high and low, Rimbaud traverses the road between heaven and hell, in seeming pursuit of the most intense articulation of sensory experience possible. And it’s not only his intensity of the senses that is noteworthy, but we must also recognize the importance of the derangement of the senses for Rimbaud and his work.

That Rimbaud’s chart ruler sits in the 12th House is fitting, for the 12th House is associated with the order of the real, Dionysian unity, ecstasy, madness, cosmic beauty, wild music, prisons, intoxication addiction, the eternal and the divine, trances, suffering, the sea. With the chart ruler in House 12, these themes are emphasized, more strongly felt. If in the 12th House we see the fragmentation of the ego, we can think of Rimbaud’s famous quip, “Je est un autre,” “I is another.” The perfect expression of the disorganization of the ego, this sentence and its purposeful grammatical disjuncture seems to emanate from the 12th House. Venus is the planet of the senses, aesthetics and sensory experience. The fact that it sits in the 12th House, the house of disorder, perfectly captures the fact that Rimbaud’s project was to systematically derange the senses!

Venus is conjunct his Moon which is in Libra, a notable conjunction for an artist such as Rimbaud. Moon in the 12th House indicates that the emotions and unconscious needs are made invisible, withdrawn into the veritable sanatorium of House 12. Moon in 12H is a placement which a great many artistic people have had throughout the centuries. With it, the emotions are connected to the collective unconscious. What better source from which to draw inspiration as a poet? Rimbaud's Moon is wedded to his artistic and passionate sensibilities with its conjunction to Venus.

Rimbaud’s Moon and Venus form a square to Jupiter which sits in House 3 in the sign of Capricorn, imbuing the 12th House's formlessness with an excessive jolt of energy from mental House 3, domain of primary language, learning, and intellect. The 3rd principle, affiliated with Gemini and Mercury, thus, is important for writing and the literary arts. And with Jupiter in the 3rd House we see that Rimbaud’s ample gifts in large part issue from this area, since Jupiter shows where we have our greatest talent. 

Sagittarius is on the cusp of the 3rd House: this cusp is ruled by Jupiter, strengthening and emboldening Jupiter's presence in the third house. Jupiter here is both artistic and intellectual. Sitting at 19° Capricorn, it opposes Rimbaud’s midheaven: angle of public reputation. This angle is found at 26° Cancer. To divine greater insight into the path of the career, or vocation, we notice again the ruler of the midheaven angle, the Moon, located in House 12. 

The 5th House is the astrological realm of selfhood, the fictional self, and self-expression. Drama, narcissism, play, the stage—these tendencies emanate from House 5, whose cusp is ruled in Rimbaud's chart by Pisces, sign of the fishes. This means that the 5th House energy is attuned to things ethereal, fantastical, poetic. This energy is emphasized by the presence of Neptune, ruler of Pisces, which resides in the 5th house—a mystical coincidence. As Neptune is the ruler of House 12, which as I said before is about the dismemberment of ego, the presence of Neptune in House 5, the house of self, serves to bring 12th House influence to the 5th, reinforcing that fragmentation of self. Rimbaud's creativity was shot through with vatic power. The presence of Neptune in the 5th House further strengthens his already robust 12th House. 

We know from Rimbaud’s biography that his romantic-artistic relationship with Paul Verlaine, a major poetical forefather of French Symbolism and decadence, was a huge struggle during his time as a writer. The two were possessed by a passionate connection, despite living in poverty, using whatever money they had for absinthe and other mind-altering agents. We cannot deny the poet their chemical, or alchemical, support, yet it is notable that experimentation with substances was part of their very special dynamic, though it seemed to traumatize both men. 

Detail:  By the Table , by Henri Fantin-Latour, a group portrait of French poets. This detail shows Verlaine (left) and Rimbaud seeming dreamy, conspiratorial.

Detail: By the Table, by Henri Fantin-Latour, a group portrait of French poets. This detail shows Verlaine (left) and Rimbaud seeming dreamy, conspiratorial.


With that in mind, in Rimbaud's chart, we can see that Saturn sits in Gemini in House 8, domain of trauma, karma, death, sex, power struggle, rebirth. It is the realm of shadow, nightmare, not to mention the underworld. In House 8, Saturn can indicate an illicit affair with a much older (often male) partner, one which is tumultuous and difficult. Verlaine drew the suspicion of the Belgian authorities, eventually leading to a conviction of sodomy, when he drew a pistol and shot Rimbaud in the hand, a soul-level offense for someone who made art by the pen. It is notable that Saturn is in Gemini, sign of the writer, as Verlaine’s work was an inspiration for Rimbaud. Like celestial twins, the two men admired each other's work mutually, but the connection was violent and obsessive. 

Rimbaud’s North Node also sits in House 8, indicating to us that his karmic path forward was indeed to dive headlong into that dark and violent realm of the 8th principle, purifying and self-immolating, in a sense, his soul of the accumulated energy of previous lifetimes. He was tasked in this lifetime with the project of engaging the fertile dirt of the underworld, and finding transformation through that point of entry.  

The strangeness of Rimbaud’s fate as a businessman in a foreign country has always puzzled me. If his poetic work was so important to him, which it certainly was, how could he abandon that and simply become a businessman, a gun runner, no less? We can look to the midheaven to answer this question. The midheaven in Cancer is ruled by the Moon which sits in House 12. House 12’s cusp is ruled by Virgo, whose ruler Mercury sits in House 2 in Scorpio. Following this logic, which I call the midheaven path, we wind up at Mars in Sagittarius in House 2. 

Mars, planet of war, weapons, conquest, violence, in the sign Sagittarius, sign of foreign culture, travel, and far-off lands, takes up residence in House 2, which is the house of financial resources (among other things). From here we get a pretty clear picture that Rimbaud’s finances (House 2) wind up being characterized by the sale of weapons or an affiliation with war (Mars) in a foreign country (Sagittarius). 

Much more could be said of this chart, but we must stop here. It is undeniable that the life of this wild poet is reflected in his natal chart, from his visionary output of divine and surrealistic poetry to his tumultuous personal life, to his final phase of life as a wealthy businessman profiting off of Mars pursuits. I hold him in my heart, even if it means the chambers are poisoned with absinthe, alighted on by the spirit of the damned. 

A while back, if I remember right, my life was one long party
where all hearts were open wide, where all wines kept flowing.

One night, I sat Beauty down on my lap.—And I found her
galling.—And I roughed her up.

I armed myself against justice.

I ran away. O witches, O misery, O hatred, my treasure’s been
turned over to you!

I managed to make every trace of human hope vanish from my
mind. I pounced on every joy like a ferocious animal eager to
strangle it.

I called for executioners so that, while dying, I could bite the
butts of their rifles. I called for plagues to choke me with sand,
with blood. Bad luck was my god. I stretched out in the muck. I
dried myself in the air of crime. And I played tricks on insanity.

And Spring brought me the frightening laugh of the idiot.

So, just recently, when I found myself on the brink of the final
squawk! it dawned on me to look again for the key to that
ancient party where I might find my appetite once more.

Charity is that key.—This inspiration proves I was dreaming!

“You’ll always be a hyena etc. . . ,” yells the devil, who’d crowned
me with such pretty poppies. “Deserve death with all your
appetites, your selfishness, and all the capital sins!”

Ah! I’ve been through too much:-But, sweet Satan, I beg of you,
a less blazing eye! and while waiting for the new little cowardly
gestures yet to come, since you like an absence of descriptive or
didactic skills in a writer, let me rip out these few ghastly pages
from my notebook of the damned.
— excerpted from Rimbaud's A Season in Hell
Rimbaud’s chart, in all it’s deranged glory

Rimbaud’s chart, in all it’s deranged glory

*AstroDatabank gives Rimbaud’s chart a AA rating, making it suitable for our purposes.

Joan Miró

Joan Miró was born on this day in 1893 at 11:30am in Barcelona, Spain.* To me, Miró’s work is always a sort of translation of a dream consciousness, as he painted landscapes populated by symbols both organic and fantastical, playful and a bit menacing. If in a dream you play with a snake or a flower that incidentally is also a serrated knife that bends in figure-eights, it might be a creature from Miró’s imagination. 

The Tilled Field, Miró, 1923-24, oil on canvas

The Tilled Field, Miró, 1923-24, oil on canvas

Associated with the European Surrealist painters in the 1930s, Miró is a painterly poet, a diviner of the unseen, and an artist who sought to break with tradition. He did this formally, by inventing his own style of painting, and in terms of his content, as he depicted dreamy and comical universes that function according to their own logic, untethered to the reality we find ourselves mired in at this very moment.  

Astrologically, Miró is a solar Taurus with a Moon in Gemini and Leo on the ascendant. Immediately this gives us indications that Miró’s ego is wedded to his senses, as Taurus’s ruling planet is Venus, goddess of the body. His Gemini Moon gifts an intellectual bent, and we know from his biography that he voiced “contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society, and declared an ‘assassination of painting’ in favour of upsetting the visual elements of established painting.”** Combine this intellectually critical disposition with his Leo rising, and we have the portrait of someone who leads with their own unique sense of self-expression, not to mention artistic vision, as Leo is the artist of the self.

In the natal charts of artists, certain principles or astrological energies are often more potent, harmonizing together in their own kind of cosmic song; though no two natal charts are alike, there are often patterns that can be discerned in the natal astrology of artists. In the chart interpretation of artists, we can look for the influence of principles 3, 5, and 12, specifically the symbolic order, the imaginary, and the real, or the sublime. Principles 3, 5, and 12 are connected to Gemini, Leo, and Pisces; the 3rd House, the 5th House, and the 12th House; Mercury, the Sun, and Neptune. Let’s take a look at Miró’s chart and see which of these principles are engaged, and how his natal astrology gives indications of his artistry. 

A painting such as Miró’s is a dream. And a dream is the underworld, a place where all of the laws of ordinary life are undermined, distorted, reversed. In order to dream, principles 3, 5, and 12 must come together, but unlike in waking life where 3 and 5 lead, in dreams it is 12 that leads. This undoes the symbolic order as well as the ego. 3 and 5 are Apollonian principles, while 12 is the Dionysian principle. But 3 and 5 combined are the very medium through which dreams can happen, by which I mean to suggest that 3+5=8, 8 being the 8th principle—the underworld. 

The astrological 3rd principle is associated with Gemini, the 3rd sign of the zodiac, the twins. Principle three is associated with the 3rd house, and talks to us about reason, the symbolic order, speech, writing, grammar, signs, and symbols, among other things. But unlike Mercury as expressed through Virgo, Gemini’s Mercury is irresponsible Logos, unconnected to labor. With it, the gods Hermes and Thoth come to mind, those patrons of intellectual exploration who move in the daylight world and underworld alike, symbolizing the stream of consciousness or symbolic language that often inspires and empowers our more rational form of speaking, writing, and learning. 

Miró’s Part of Fortune sits in House 3 in the sign Virgo, loosely conjunct his Saturn in Libra. While Saturn may not be an artistic planet in and of itself, a healthy Saturn is valuable not just for fame and career success but (more importantly) for artistic success, as a healthy Saturn is an absolute precondition for the consistent production of successful artworks. A well-used Saturn gives self-discipline, tenacity, and the ability to face adversity over the long term, something every artist needs, even under the most favorable conditions.

The Hunter, Miró, 1924, oil on canvas

The Hunter, Miró, 1924, oil on canvas

Miró’s Saturn beautifully trines his natal Mars, Neptune, Pluto, all situated in House 11, the house of social progress. There is also a wide trine aspect made to his natal Moon, which sits at the edge of his Gemini House 11 stellium. Miró sought to create a new style of painting that not only made critique of, but rendered obsolete, older styles of representation. 

This seems natural given the presence of this stellium in the 11th House, the house which talks about breaking with tradition to create one’s own. It is an individualistic house, and his is populated by the artistic Moon in Gemini (3rd principle), luminary of mythos, as well as Mars, planet of action, Neptune (12th principle), planet of dreams and inspiration, and Pluto, planet of power-struggle, obsession, and revolution. Significantly, all of these are in the sign Gemini, well-aspected by Saturn in House 3, the house of Gemini. The 3rd principle here is extremely strong, thus producing an artist who is focused on the symbolic power of the unconscious mind. Hermes/Thoth governs the ordered world of symbols that make up our unconscious, and presides over Gemini and the 3rd principle.

All of this powerful planetary energy in House 11 is colored by an immense desire to express Miró’s unique vision. This is because the ruler of the 5th House of self-expression, Mars, is found in the 11th House stellium. Here we find a blending of 11th principle with the 5th principle. House 5 is like Leo, and the art of self-expression, performance, and theater. We can understand the 5th principle as the imaginary order, the will to make images, dramas, fictions. Miró’s Gemini placements as such take on a Leonine expression, further  pushing him to express his utopian, anti-establishment values concerning both art and the world at large. 

Miró’s Gemini Moon strikes a sparkling sextile to his Venus, Sun, Midheaven, and North Node, all of which together is extremely important for several reasons. The Moon is a crucial component in the charts of artists, and is aligned with the 4th principle. Think back to the earliest poetry we have, and pre-Christian poets were writing (more likely singing) about the Moon in all her glory. The Moon is an expression of the heart, the womb, myth, inherited dreams, ancient traditions—the subject matter of art. And so we must pay careful attention to what the Moon does in the artist’s chart. 

With his chart ruler, the Sun, conjunct Venus, the ruler of his sun sign, both of those conjunct the midheaven in the 10th house, all sextile his Gemini stellium, there is little doubt that this is the chart of someone who will be determined to make his mark on the world, specifically through the force of artistic rigor. 

As a solar Taurus, Miró is indeed influenced by Venus, goddess of bodily rather than cosmic aesthetics. When we talk of aesthetics, we speak of materials. Surfaces, textures, colors, fabrics, paint, paper, mirrors, candlelight. All of these are of great interest to Venus, and Taurus therefore. With his chart ruler and solar ruler conjunct the Midheaven, or the angle of the public path, Miró’s life seems to have been destined to be lived publicly, and in dedication to the arts. 

* Astro Databank gives Miró’s birth information a AA rating, making this a trustworthy chart for our purposes: https://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Miro,_Joan 

**  M. Rowell, Joan Mirό: Selected Writings and Interviews (London: Thames & Hudson, 1987) pp. 114–.116

Miró’s natal chart, born April 20, 1893, 11:30am, Barcelona, Spain

Miró’s natal chart, born April 20, 1893, 11:30am, Barcelona, Spain