K U R T

Today it has been nineteen years since Kurt Cobain's death. To commemorate him, his life's work, his bittersweet poetic and musical contribution to the world (which I personally think was of tremendous importance), I will delineate a few elements of his natal chart that I believe speak a great deal to his style and character and maybe also to his destiny.  

As you probably already know, much about astrology is finding recurring or reiterating themes (i.e. confluence). Usually one does not make a judgement or assessment about a chart based on a single factor alone. This is especially true when examining a natal chart (a person's birth chart). When an astrologer sees repeating or similar factors emerging from different aspects of the chart, they can be near to certain that the expression of those themes will be present and active in the native's life. With Kurt Cobain we see this.
 


First, some basics. You can see in his chart the Sun is under the horizon in the sign of Pisces, Venus' exaltation. He was born after sunset. The rising sign is Virgo, and in the hour and minutes of Cobain's birth the long-standing conjunction of Uranus and Pluto were rising right on the horizon at his Ascendant. His character was greatly defined by these two radical outer planets.

Mercury is the lord of, and is exalted at, the Ascendant and is another major definer of character. It is in Pisces, which is the sign of its fall, and it sees the Ascendant from the seventh place. A planet in its fall frequently must do things outside the box -- in some way outside what society deems is acceptable or normal or appropriate. This somewhat androgynous Mercury, guiding souls to and from the underworld, is a powerfully descriptive planet for him. In earlier times, when we would not have had Uranus and Pluto to help us see immediately the revolutionary or rebellious qualities inherent in his chart, we would associate much of these things to Mercury in Pisces (along with the position and aspect of Saturn, more on that in a minute). 

Cobain's powerful Moon in Cancer (the Moon rules Cancer) is positioned in the eleventh sign from the Ascendant, the place of friends, gain, and Good Spirit. The Moon is the sect light (the 'luminary of the sect in favor' - due to it being a night chart) and is of supreme importance. It is configured with Jupiter which is also in Cancer (Jupiter is in its exaltation). Jupiter is a great benefic and can bring great success, and Jupiter is positioned here in its own house of Joy strengthening the association. There can however be a tendency toward indulgence and extravagance with Jupiter and that possibility is increased here due to its being a night chart. Because Jupiter is a planet belonging to the day sect, and is therefore out of sect in this chart, its potential for boundlessness, knowing no limits, is increased. This can be good and bad, and in Cobain's case I believe we see both. The good and bad is reiterated again by aspects the Moon and Jupiter receive: superior trines from both Venus, the benefic that is of the sect in favor (for a night birth), also in its sign of exaltation, and Saturn, the most difficult malefic being out of sect at night. Venus Saturn being dark art, torment and love. (As an aside, you see the Moon configured with Jupiter in Whitney Houston's chart too, though in the second sign from the Ascendant; Saturn also is in a superior aspect. She too was a night birth. I'm not implying that you will always see problems associated like the ones shared by these two artists, but wanted to mention this similarity in expression.)

Returning to Pisces, the seventh sign from the Ascendant -- classically a place of marriage, enemies, the later part of life, and death -- we see the Sun configured with Mercury, Venus, and Saturn. Saturn being contrary to sect is a very important player here, it colors Cobain's character in a very strong and distinct way -- a way of decay, darkness, and heaviness, like lead. (Another aside, these are a lot of planets dispositing to a very dignified (by sign and place) benefic, Jupiter. We see something similar in Jimi Hendrix's chart: the Sun, Mercury, and Venus all in Sagittarius disposing to Jupiter also exalted in Cancer and configured with the Moon.)
*See charts for both Houston and Hendrix at bottom of article. 

Next we note Cobain's Mars, the "better" of the hard-working malefics, is dignified in its own sign Scorpio, which favors meaningful conflict and struggle and a preference for experiences that are passionate and devotional. This is the third sign from the Ascendant, one might say a place of oracles, and as it's Mars (in Scorpio) its expression is intense. Configured here with Mars is the south node of the Moon (a.k.a. Ketu, a mystical, otherworldly figure) and Neptune. This leads us to an importantly precise grand trine between Neptune, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. Flowing, and again, knowing no bounds, for better and worse . . . inspiration, devotion, manifestation of melancholic beauty, fantasy, slipping into escape, overwhelm . . . a dream that's gotten out of control.

The Lot of Fortune (an alternate Ascendant) is in Taurus and its ruler Venus is located in the eleventh sign from fortune, a place of acquisition. Again: the place of friends, gains, and Good Spirit, a place associated with Jupiter; a theme is reiterated. 

Much of what we associate with Neptune was originally expressed through Jupiter and Saturn. Something to think about....

 

MUSIC +
POETRY

Cobain was born just a couple of days before both Mercury and Neptune stationed retrograde. Because stations occur over time, meaning the planet from our perspective doesn't just stop on the day of its station, but slows down and stalls out, literally standing still for days at a time, any planetary station which occurs within a week of one's birthday (on either side of the date) is of huge importance. 

Indian astrologers hold the opinion that retrograde planets are actually at their strongest -- this usually differs from traditional or modern Western thought. 

Mercury, along with Venus, is very much associated with music and musicians.
Neptune, the imagination. 

 

SYMMETRY

 

Being the huge nerd that I am, I also love to examine declination +and+ antiscia.

With Cobain we see parallel conjunctions of Mercury, Venus, and Saturn. We already know that the planets are conjunct by zodiacal degree (longitude), but by declination (sharing the same latitude) they are even more closely aligned. This further strengthens their conjunction and because they all rest near the celestial equator (by 2.5 degrees of Southern declination), they are very much tied to the earthly plane.

Note too that the Moon is way Out Of Bounds. Another signature for a bit of a radical character and unrestrained energy; and ruling the eleventh, extremes apply to fortune and friends, and, as astrologer Austin Coppock points out, fans.

 

ANTISCIA?
 

Planets and angles connected by antiscia (symmetry around the zero degree cardinal points) have been recognized as important and potent for at least two thousand years.

A more modern perspective sees connections across the axis as illuminating 1) that a person will connect to the world, and 2) how that person will connect with the world (whether it be intentional or not).

With Cobain we see a strong connection between the powerful and dignified luminary of sect the Moon and his Midheaven. The Moon is emotion, it rules the public, also women and the feminine. And this ties the lord of the eleventh (again), the place of Good Spirit, fortune, and friends, to the MC (Midheaven) - the point of profession, one's mission or path, and culmination in the life, and for Uranian astrologers: the soul. In fact, in Reinhold Ebertin's classic book, The Combination of Stellar Influences, the principle delineation given for Moon|MC is =

"One's own soul." 

 

To me, Kurt Cobain expressed, exposed, and shared with us his soul. He certainly touched other souls. Like the Moon, his work and nature was not, or seemed not to be, rational. And his music, his lyrics, prose and poems, uncomfortable at times (Saturn), sometimes desperately sad, touched and spoke to others on what I can only think of as an emotional (Moon) soul level. 
 

 
 



Leave a comment if you like. 


androgynous mercurial chart ruler 

androgynous mercurial chart ruler 

dark, haunting beauty

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.

 Self portrait

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. 

 x