Being artistically-oriented myself, I quite enjoy looking at the charts of artists and musicians. Lately, I've been looking especially at the 360 and 90 degree dials with the TNPs (Transneptunians). I'm looking for recurring themes, threads to follow, something from which I can build my own experiential resource base for how these symbols (specifically the TNPs) speak to me.
The work of Francesca Woodman is one of my latest obsessions.
These photos were made by Francesca, a fiercely evocative photographer who died by suicide at a very young age (twenty two). Her work is rich in symbolism, and a theme of impermanence, or breakdown and decay, is portrayed quite literally through all of the imagery.
While I do not have an exact time for her birthchart, it is still valuable to examine the aspects and planetary placements, and by using the dial I can gather even more clues as to what themes are most prominent.
Placements I note first are Francesca's exalted Sun in Aries in opposition to a bright (full) Moon in, the Venus ruled sign, Libra - will versus feeling; Mercury's opposition to Jupiter, North Node, and Neptune - anabudance of creative ideas; Venus' opposition to Pluto - magnetism, and intensity in relating; And Mars' wide opposition to Uranus - unique, individualistic, sometimes rebellious expression.
This is a large number of oppositions to have in a chart, and it is noteworthy that all of the inner planets are being influenced by the outer transpersonal planets. Oppositions speak to the pull between what is inside vs. what is outside, yours or mine, yin/yang, even black and white (like her photographs).
Standing on the Cardinal axis, we find Mercury in antiscia to Pluto and Venus antiscion Node/Neptune.
The Node is her only personal point on the axis, and is how she is tied to and connects with the world. This combination can also be viewed as a completed planetary picture:
Mercury + Pluto - Venus = Node/Neptune or Me + Pl - Ve = No/Ne.
Reinhold Ebertin says of Mercury Pluto: the art of persuasion, suggestion. This speaks to her ability to powerfully communicate something to the world, but not totally literally. It is the element of suggestion that pervades her work. Pluto, also associated with the Underworld, can bring a darkness to what is [in this case] communicated. And it is known for great growth and development, or great decline. Venus Node is a love-union or pleasant connections with others, and Venus Neptune is creative imagination and can contribute to much idealism or disillusionment in love. Because Ve|No|Ne is on the same axis as Me|Pl they are all rather intensely connected, and being on the cardinal axis (the world's stage) it is for all to see.
Communicating beauty (and the female form) powerfully, and most often with an aspect of disillusionment, darkness, destruction and decay, was certainly her modus operandi.
With the chart on the 90 degree dial (below), we see Neptune also stands on the Cardinal axis at 11.25 (black dot is indicator).
Among other things, Neptune = Photography.
When we add the TNPs, things only get more interesting....
Sun Poseidon signifies her use of light (as in photographic images). It is pure energy and spirit, but can also be associated with spirits, as in ghosts. On this midpoint axis also lies Venus Pluto, indicative again of her immense creative power; and Ve|Pl pushes through Sun Poseidon its darker, more annihilative quality. Adding to this force is Mercury Vulcanus also standing on the axis. Many of her images have blurry or moving figures. This is literally what Me + Vu = Su means: a body in motion.
Zeus and Kronos also figure prominently, standing near Pluto. Zeus and Kronos, especially with Pluto and Venus, signify enormous creative inspiration, mastery, and an eagerness to work. Think how young she was when she began working and how many incredibly beautiful images she created in such a short amount of time.
One final important TNP to note on this Sun axis is Hades. Standing at precisely 22.5 from her Sun (see the large black dot), Hades reiterates many of the themes already noted, and additionally signifies old and outworn things, garbage, death, decay, filth, secrets or hidden things, want, and loneliness. Are her images not utterly representative of Hades Poseidon?
After writing this article, I came across a review and thought it described eloquently the symbols as I saw them. The New York Review of Books writer, Eizabeth Gumport, said of Francesca's work:
Her concealed figures, however, call to mind corpses, or ghosts, as if the wall between our world and the spirit realm had begun to fall. In her images, dust abounds, and there are no new buildings, only ruins, whose disintegrating forms evoke the wrecks admired by the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Gothic revivalists often cited as major influences. The out-of-focus figures are faint and friable-seeming, and Woodman’s gray tones as powdery as crumbling stone.
While there is so much more we could learn from this sadly poetic chart, I want to move on to the date of her death: Jan 19, 1981.
There are many things one can examine in timing and event charts. Here, I look primarily to just one large factor, a theme repeated again and again, because it speaks so loudly: Hades.
Because Francesca was 22 years old at the time of her death, her Solar Arc would be close to that degree; it was 22 19' 19" to be exact. That would mean any of the natal indicators in her chart standing at that distance to another factor would be coming to fruition - including Hades to her Sun.
You can see in the chart above that not only was Hades due to her Sun by Solar Arc (the green and red bars), but it was also transiting her Sun by exact half square (or semi square). This is something we find because Hades' orbit is about 360 years. It was a Hades time more than ever in her life. Clearly something needed to die and be let go of. It is sad she took her own life and wasn't able to force in entirety the expression in a worldly endeavor.
Neptune also was due on the Cardinal axis at that time (not visible in chart above). Likely this reiterated a feeling of helplessness, disappointment, and assumably disillusionment and despair or desperation.
But her ethereal, almost supernatural, Neptunian work does live on in the world. Certainly she continues to touch and deeply affect many people with her profound talent --> Communicating depth and beauty and darkness and light - and the transient nature of life.