Mars and a Will of Iron: Revisited

On April 23, Jean-Dominique Bauby would have been 57 years old. His destiny and how he mastered it, is an exemplary lesson for us all. I discussed his chart last year in: Mars and a Will of Iron. I would like to return to his radix chart later in this article.

In my last article I briefly discussed hermeneutics. It is now time to go into more detail and to demonstrate what I mean.

Some might understand Aristotle accepting only one level of meaning for each semantic construction. This is possible, but I would like to suggest another approach – one that accepts many levels of meaning instead of following a reductionist view. Aristotle suggests that a word alone is indeterminate in meaning, most likely because it is not given in context. But if we look closer at language we find that even a single word may be suffused with layers of meaning. We must provide the context for one of these layers. It doesn’t mean that only one is possible. But let us begin with a complete sentence – one from the Tao Te Ching:

The Tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao

The word ‘Tao’ has many meanings. We see it in the many different translations that have been made of this sentence:

  • The Way that can be taken is not the true Way.
  • The Doctrine that can be told is not the unvarying Doctrine.
  • The Principle that can be named is not the eternal Principle.

This sentence is purposely enigmatic. The intention of the author is to engage his readers’ faculties of intellection. And so essay after essay may be written on this sentence alone. Each one giving an interpretation, but never exhausting it. Such too is the celestial script.

Now to return to Jean-Dominique Bauby. As I have already explored his chart and the relevant solar return charts using a quadrant system it is time to explore them with “whole signs” particularly since I want to demonstrate that each system has something to offer! As a comfort to those readers who prefer to reverse the Part of Fortune for night charts, I have used this particular convention here. First the radix chart:

Jean-Dominique Bauby, 23.04.1952, Paris, 2e20, 48n52

Jean-Dominique Bauby, 23.04.1952, Paris, 2e20, 48n52

The first thing one notices with this method of presentation is how the planets are ‘weighted’. We have the stellium of planets; Mercury, Venus, Moon, Jupiter along with the Ascendant  in the first place in Aries opposed by Saturn in the seventh place. And then there is Mars the lesser malefic in the eighth place opposing Sun and PoF in the second. This chart is notable in that all of the nocturnal planets; Moon, Venus and Mars are above the horizon in a nocturnal chart. They are in sect. The diurnal planets; Sun, Jupiter and Saturn are below the horizon. They too are in sect. That leaves Mercury. As he rises before the Sun he is a diurnal planet. He is not in sect, but he does shine as the Morning Star. He is also in the house of his joy. So we have strong planets. We also have plenty of angular planets. None are in cadent houses. Both Malefics are very stong. Mars is in his domicile and Saturn in his exaltation. Mars is also the ruler of all of the Ascendant and all the planets in the first place. The triplicity rulers of Mars are all in angular houses. So this chart gives the promise of success, of firm and active engagement in life, and an indomitable will. But we have a chart dominated by opposition from the Malefics. And they through their opposition attack the physis and substance of Jean-Dominique. But because of the angularity of most of the planets this will manifest in a pronounced and remarkable way.

Now on to the 1994 solar return:

Jean-Dominique Bauby, solar return 1994

Jean-Dominique Bauby, solar return 1994

The axis of the radix chart shifts 90 degrees, placing the radix IC exactly on the solar return Ascendant. Mars is in the 10th place with Mercury and Saturn is cadent in the 9th place with the MC. In fact Saturn conjuncts the MC. In this chart Mars is not in sect but he is in his own domicile and is angular. He squares the Ascendant and also beholds the PoF in the 6th place. He does not behold any other planet. Something is in the works with a focus on the physis and the nervous system. The Moon, Lady of the Ascendant, is in the 6th place from her dispositor, Mercury, and Mars. Mars and Mercury are in the 6th place from Jupiter, the lord of the 6th house and dispositor of the PoF. The Moon has no dignity, but she is in the house of her Joy, so this mitigates matters. Also Venus and Jupiter both behold the Ascendant from the others house of Joy. This further mitigates matters. So what in the following year is to become actuality, is postponed. The danger of stroke is there, the base has been laid, but the benefics and the Lady of the Ascendant are in helpful places and so help to prevent it.

Now for 1995:

Jean-Dominique Bauby, solar return 1995

Jean-Dominique Bauby, solar return 1995

In 1995 the chart has shifted to the mutable signs, with Virgo in the first place. Virgo is the 6th place of the radix. There are several cadent planets; the Moon, Sun, Mercury and Mars. Of the four, Mars is the worst off. He has no dignity, is out of sect and is in the worst possible place. Mercury is just a little better off, but not by much. He is under the Sun’s beams and is also with the South Node. He is in his terms or bounds but this isn’t enough to offset his weakened condition. He is also conjunct a vicious Mars, Lord 8, by antiscion and also beheld by him. Mercury Lord of the solar return Ascendant is also beheld by Saturn, Lord 6. Saturn also opposes the Ascendant. If Jupiter hadn’t been in an angular house and in his own domicile and hadn’t beheld both Mars and Saturn and the Moon in the 6th, the stroke would have been fatal.

As you can see the charts looked at from this particular standpoint reveal another side of the skein of events that led to Jean-Dominique Bauby’s extreme situation. I would suggest you read Mars and a Will of Iron and compare both approaches. And if you approach these charts with other interpretive instruments, I haven’t even mentioned other Parts or midpoints, etc., even more will unfold and give a deeper insight into and an understanding of a truly remarkable person. No saint, I am sure, but a human being who mastered a truly monstrous fate and showed the power of the human spirit.

Whole Houses and where they lead to

Who invented whole houses? My Hellenistic astrologer friends would say, “Easy, Hellenistic astrologers.” And if I want to pull their legs I ask, “The modern ones or the ancient?”

I don’t think that anyone would argue that the oldest astrology known is that of ancient Mesopotamia. Nor that the 12 sign zodiac, divided into a circle of 360 degrees, the sexagismal number system to measure both arc and time and the use of ephemerides for finding planetary positions were some of the Mesopotamian contributions to astronomy/astrology. The few Babylonian ‘horoscopes’ available to us all have the character of recording the celestial omens for the birth. The position of Sun and Moon and planets are given and any notable celestial phenomena such as eclipses might also have been recorded. There is no Ascendant. Charts were not used, but then even in the Hellenistic period charts were not the usual form in presenting a horoscope. A horoscope was recorded in simple list form. This means that only an equal, whole sign visualisation was possible.

What was the Hellenistic contribution? First the concept of the rising degree, the horoscopos, from which we derive our term of horoscope and as a consequence the concept of mundane houses. So we can say that the Babylonian used whole signs and early Hellenistic astrology did indeed use whole sign houses. A later refinement was equal sign houses in which the Ascendant degree determined the cusp of each house. There seems also to have been some experimentation with using the Part of Fortune rather than the Ascendant as house determinant. But this wasn’t the end of the line, there was more to come. In a certain sense, at the beginning of the Christian era in 333 AD,  Hellenistic astrology hadn’t reached its full potential. It’s fullest flower was when it no longer was ‘Hellenistic’ but Islamic.

One notable difference between Babylonian and Greek astroscience is that the Babylonians used arithmetic to solve their astronomical problems. Arithmetical progressions where useful in describing planetary cycles. I suspect that such divisions as the terms have a Babylonian arithmetic progression concealed in them. Just which has yet to be discovered. The Hellene prefered geometry and invented trigonometry to solve astronomical problems. Ptolemy’s Almagest is the classical example. (by the way, Almagest is from the Arabic and means ‘the greatest’. The English word ‘majestic’ could also be used). All systems of house division used today are in fact based on geometric division of the celestial sphere. (See Rüdiger Pantiko’s essay, ‘On Dividing the Sky’) This is Hellenistic. In fact any form of geometrization can be considered such! So whichever house system you use, it is Hellenistic. 🙂 But Hellenistic only means one stream of inheritance. In fact the astrology practiced today is a blend of many different historical periods. Some no longer recognizable because thoroughly integrated into the substance of astrology (360 degrees for example). What it boils down to is that many discussions as to which was first and which is best and which works best because more ancient are superfluous. Astrologer, if you are wise, explore all roots of astrology. And while you are at it ask yourself what the modern contribution is?