French singer Edith Piaf's life has been described as sad yet valiant. By her early teens she was living rough as a street singer; by her mid-20s she had buried her own child, battled starvation, survived a murder attempt by a pimp, been discovered and signed up for a record contract, and witnessed her newfound fame crash in the scandal of becoming a suspect in the murder of her agent, (if for no other reason than her long association with the seedier side of Parisian life). Her life continued in the thread of tragedy rotating with success; passionate love affairs that trailed disappointment (Venus opp Saturn), and battles with alcohol and drug abuse. During her heyday she came to be the highest paid show business personality in the world, and yet she suffered prolonged periods of poverty and was never able to walk free from the shadow of disaster. The happiness she encountered in marriage in 1962, was cut short by her untimely death from Cancer the following year.
The retrograding trine of 8th house Saturn to the 4th house cusp, and the square of the Sun to her 4th house ruler-Jupiter, show her emergence from roots set in rejection, tension, squalor and poverty; yet Jupiter is strong and dignified, and in adding its expansive mutable virtue to her already mutable, fiery Sun, Piaf quickly learned to adapt to circumstance and build her strengths upon communicating raw emotion. Such heightened mutability also led to her immoderate and unbalanced lifestyle, where she found it almost impossible to feel a sense of 'belonging' to any one place or person. Jupiter aptly signifies her father, an acrobat by profession and - it seems - by nature. Abandoning Piaf into the care of a brothel owner after the desertion of her mother, he reappeared at brief periods but generally had little time for his child. Piaf spent much of her young life pursuing relationships with older men - father figures who could act as catalysts for the career opportunities she sought.
Scorpio on the ascendant suggests ruthless determination forged through exposure to the darker elements of society. Its ruler Mars is elevated on the trine of the Sun, bringing courage, a willingness to fight against oppression, and the promise of glory through the refusal of submission. Those who have the Sun favoured by Mars rarely experience easy, contented lifestyles; but the buoyancy of Sagittarius allows hopefulness to surface and offers the ability to look beyond the here and now. Piaf was rough and ready, fiery by temperament but also subject to the dissipating moods that arise from an emphasis on fire and water.
Piaf means 'sparrow', "the little sparrow" being the nickname by which Edith was widely known to her public and which was given to her on account of her tiny frame and generally nervous disposition. We can see the signature here of Mercury, weak in dignity but strong in significance: ruling the Virgo midheaven, disposing of the Gemini Moon and conjoining the Sun. With Mercury combust and in detriment, ruling the 8th house as well as the midheaven, Piaf remained emotionally insecure and tied to a sense of loss and trauma despite her professional success. In fact that was probably the fundamental reason for her great success - her voice was incredible for the unique way that she could communicate all this deep, dark emotion, and yet still generate the passion, ferocity, and hopeful bravado implicit in the Sun's trine to the Mars.
All the extremes by which she lived her life: joy and pain, hope and grief, romance and heartbreak, defiance and vulnerability, laughter and tears, combined to create the unrelenting spirit captured in her famous song "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" (No, I Have No Regrets) which made her loved, not in spite of her flaws, but for the freedom by which she exposed them to the world.
Data source - AA: from birth certificate; confirmed by Françoise Gauquelin as accurate.
Sir Winston Churchill is best known for his stubborn yet courageous leadership of Great Britain during World War II, when he led his nation from the brink of defeat to ultimate victory. His defining qualities are aptly illustrated by the dissociate square between the luminaries, demonstrating a theme of needing to combine energies that don't naturally support each other. Fixidity of mind, shown here by the Moon in Leo conjunct Regulus, can often conflict with the Sagittarian will to experiment and take risk; but when these qualities are successfully brought into line, a resilient and clearly defined sense of purpose will tend to anchor the mutable trait of remoulding visions according to circumstances. Thus flexibility and fiery eagerness can be combined with long term planning and the realisation that even failures are necessary steps on the road to success. Churchill was no stranger to failure, and in true Sagittarian style defined success as 'the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm'.
With his Sagittarius Sun sextile Mars, Churchill actively sought out challenge and refused to give up on a fight. As a young war correspondent he was captured during the Boer War, but later escaped to become a national hero. An undulating career in politics saw him rise to the position of First Lord of the Admiralty, but he was forced to resign following the disgrace of the unsuccessful Gallipoli campaign during World War I. He later re-entered Government when he joined the Coalition Party, but its collapse in 1922 left him out of Parliament for two years. He returned via the Conservative government but was denied cabinet office until 1939, when his ability to rouse public support against the German invasion of Poland allowed him to regain the position of First Lord of the Admiralty and go on to succeed Chamberlain as Prime Minister in 1940.
Although he had aptly demonstrated physical courage in his youth, it was through the 3rd house influences of his Sun - writing, reporting and public oration - that Churchill left his mark to become an icon for hopeful vision (Moon in 11th) and courage in the face of adversity. Political defeat followed the war but Churchill once again used the experience of failure as an opportunity for renewed success: "History will be kind to me", he stated on his retirement, "… for I intend to write it". He did just that, and emerged to recognition again when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953, on account of his Historical Studies of English-speaking Peoples.
Data source: T. Pat David quotes Jennie by R.G. Martin. Precise co-ordinates are for Woodstock.
Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots was recorded as very tall and beautiful but with a fiery temperament that often caused her to act on impulse and brought forth criticisms of tactlessness. She is one of the most colourful and dramatic figures in history. Profiles of the queen readily register the 9th house Sagittarian Sun: she travelled widely, led an extremely active life, loved horse riding and all forms of sport (reputed to be the first woman to play golf in public in Scotland), reveled in the open air, and was a keen student of philosophy (proficient in French, Latin, Greek, Spanish and Italian as well as English and her native Old Scot). She was described as generous, forgiving and sociable, too trusting for the good of any queen and remarkable for her outgoing humour (she held her 'smiling cheer' to the end, proclaiming at her execution that "she never had such grooms to make her unready, and she never put off her clothes before such a company").
Emotionally however, Mary suffered from her restlessness, and found it hard to accept the limiting responsibilities expected of a dignified queen. The Moon conjunct Mercury (ruler of the 3rd house) in the midheaven reflects her dexterity and talent for language, but the detrimented Moon's translation between Saturn on the descendant and Mars activates that hostile square, forewarning of downfall, and danger through enemies and ill conceived relationships. The illnesses that she was subject to arose from her choleric-melancholy disposition and included ulcers and violent fits of depression. By her own admission her faults lay in her willingness to follow her own heart and in so doing throw caution to the wind. With the Sun square Mars, her passions were too strong for the politically sensitive position she held. The sextile between the Sun and Jupiter only served to underline this. Though it added to her intellectual capacity and benevolent, trusting outlook, Jupiter is ruler of the oppressive 8th and 12th houses, indicating damage from an overflow of liberality in situations that call for delicate diplomacy.
Data source: Sally Davis quotes a letter written by Queen Mary on her birthday, December 8 OS, given in her biography written by Antonia Fraser.
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© Deborah Houlding, 17/11/04