It has taken me many weeks to be able to write this article even though I knew I wanted to do it. The death of David Bowie had a profound affect on me, as it did for many. Bowie’s life informed mine in so many ways, some I’ve only just realized as I dove into my past in the context of his music since January 10. Suffice it to say his music, movies, and music videos have punctuated my journey since I was about 15 – nearly five decades worth of music memories.
David Robert Jones was born January 8, 1947 at 9 am in Brixton, south London. With his moon at 10° 43’ Cancer in the 7th house, he would have come into this world a very sensitive person. The placement of the moon here helps to create a strong and secure emotional life even within that sensitivity. Bowie would have been hurt by criticism, but continued being himself regardless. A rare quality. He would be able to care for others and have ample opportunities to do so if his young life was nurturing and supportive.
Saturn, his chart ruler, is conjunct his moon. Because he believed in himself as an adult, his young life must have had the necessary support from family and friends. This aspect is very important and its positive expression is dependent upon early validation of one’s worthiness. That Bowie kept going, fame was slow in coming, is testament to this. This placement of Saturn no doubt helped maintain an emotional discipline to the degree that he did not, even if he feared it at times, loose himself entirely. He would always need to feel loved and accepted, and the early days of trying to get noticed, then later when people didn’t get what he was doing would have taken its toll. Yet he rallied.
Pluto is also in his 7th house at 19° 38’ Cancer. This placement declares that relationships will be pivotal and transformational in Bowie’s life. There would be many, but his first wife, Angie, is credited with encouraging his experimentation with feminine attire. Another was Lindsey Kemp, Bowie’s dance and mime teacher, who introduced him to Kabuki Theatre, and with whom he collaborated for several years. Kemp is credited with helping Bowie to free his body and his voice. Kansai Yamamoto was the designer that created the stage clothing for Ziggy Stardust and Bowie’s signature Kabuki-inspired hairstyle and makeup. This set the stage for the splendor to come.
Bowie would have felt a struggle against these powerfully transformative influences in order to remain authentically true to self, and maintain who he was, not his stage ‘character’. Bowie did indeed struggle with his stage alter egos and was aware of them taking him over at times, unable to separate David from Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, or the Thin White Duke, etc. With more than one instance of diagnosed schizophrenia in his family, he was well aware of the potential within his psyche. His beloved older half brother was duly diagnosed, attempting suicide before succeeding whilst institutionalized.
This placement also indicates a powerful effect upon the opposite sex. Bowie was self-admittedly bi-sexual, and both men and women found him irresistible. Young men started experimenting with makeup, and clothing; young women got to experience a different type of masculine energy. Both men and women got the message: its okay to be different.
When Davy Jones, of Monkey’s fame, started his rise in the 60s, Bowie decided to change his name – Uranus in the 5th house always needs to be distinctly individual. He joked that he changed his name to Tom Jones, then decided upon David Bowie after 19th century Jim Bowie, famous for the long dueling knife he used. With Mars closely conjunct his Sun in 12th house Sagittarius, this is a very martial and appropriate image for him. This aspect would also have given him the drive necessary to keep going when it seemed at times that success was just not in his stars.
This Sun/Mars conjunct in the 12th house could also relate to the eye injury he had at 13. Bowie was punched (Mars) in the eye in a fit of jealousy by a friend over a girl. After three operations, the sight was saved, but the result was the mysterious, other worldly (12th house) energy and allure (Sun) of one normal blue eye and one grey eye with a pupil that remained dilated. This was an injury that worked in his favor as he publicly explored his alien personae and feelings of isolation.
Bowie’s Sun at 24° 08’ Sagittarius gives him an adventurous spirit specially when exploring the inner realms (12th house) – the fuel that drove his art. He did the inward looking, and subsequent expressing, better than anyone I can think of. Most of his work is about isolation. Not only societal, but inner isolation as well. This 12th house placement, along with Capricorn Rising, made Bowie naturally shy and wishing to stay in the background. Indeed his initial ambition was to write for others, but when this didn’t occur, his adopted personae helped to make this a more acceptable avenue to explore: he could perform by being someone else. He subsequently became an accomplished actor, and I have never seen him in any movie or video where he didn’t seem completely natural, at ease and unaffected. Interviews were a different matter.
His fantasy life would have been very real and possibly he had ‘imaginary’ friends as a child. Certainly, with Mercury also in the 12th, he could very well have communicated with the Starman. In a 2004 interview with Michael Parkinson Bowie alluded to receiving a divine message to create Ziggy, just as his father had had a ‘message’ to work for the charity, Dr.Barnardos. Fantastic ideas appealed to him to the end. His first hit, Space Oddity, July 1969, came out the month of the first lunar landing. Although it would be several years and albums later until success was assured, similar themes would appear again and again once he really found his voice.
Mercury in the 12th would also make him very careful with whom he shared what he was thinking at any point in time. He did keep things to himself as evidenced when he told the 1973 Hammersmith Odeon crowd that Ziggy would not appear again after that night – not even his band knew of this decision to retire Ziggy.
I find Bowie’s 12th house Mercury particularly fascinating. He had the capacity to communicate deep inner, subconscious parts of himself as an artist that resonated deeply with audiences and our Collective Conscious. His lyrics were rarely narrative in nature, but of inner imagery. Bowie used a very 12th house technique in his writing called Cut Outs, an old surrealist method rediscovered by William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch, et al) and Brion Gysin in the 60s.
This technique involves taking finished text, cutting it up, and rearranging it into something completely new. It allows the subconscious (12th house) to come forward with startling insights, hindsight, and foresight potential. I’ve been working with this technique myself and highly recommend it. It has a thrilling power to it.
Here is one of my favorite examples of Bowie’s Cut Outs lyrics from Moonage Daydream on the 1972 Ziggy Stardust album:
I’m an alligator, I’m a mama-papa comin’ for you
I’m a space invader, I’ll be a rock ‘n’ rollin’ bitch for you
Keep your mouth shut, you’re squawking like a pink monkey bird
And I’m busting up my brains for the words
Keep your ‘lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh! yeah!
He used this method his whole career and later on, with help from a friend, developed an Apple program called Verbalizer to randomize lyrics and facilitate working more quickly.
Bowie’s Capricorn Ascendant, at 10° 10’, as well as contributing to his hesitancy to be in the limelight, made him a practical person, and ambitious. It was said of Bowie that even when he was in his LA/cocaine phase he was always ‘together’ and organized – Capricorn all the way. Capricorn Rising gives one a good sense of humor and the ability to make fun of oneself, which he did on many occasions. He loved to joke about in interviews, specially post-LA, and was very self deprecating, but not in a disingenuous way.
Venus is in his 11th house Scorpio at 9° 02’. Bowie would have discovered over time that he preferred a few intense, close relationships rather than lots of shallow ones. In an interview with Dina Shore in the early 70s he eloquently states the difference between being in love with someone and loving someone. At that time, no one was talking in these terms. The host even says she thought they were the same thing. This is just one instance of how far ahead of his time he was philosophically. Self-admittedly he loved people who looked different and were different. Jim Osterberg (Iggy Pop) and Brian Eno, pioneers in their own right, were among his closest friends and collaborators. Being an Artist with a capital ‘A’, he gravitated to those who were authentically, and often outrageously, themselves.
Music was his saving grace, helping him to recover from drug abuse and a brush with psychosis in the late 70s, when he moved from Los Angeles to Berlin, through the creation of a trilogy of albums that are still considered possibly his best work (Low, Heroes, and Lodger).
Mars in Sagittarius is restless and likes to be physically active. It is the heroic, enthusiastic adventurer on a quest to discover nothing less than the meaning of life. In an interview with Russell Harty in 1973 Bowie was asked if he worshiped anything. He replied, “Life. I love life.” Bowie mentioned many times how bored he got (Mercury is also in Sagittarius; a double whammy) having to repeat the same songs night after night. When recording, at least in the early days, he would get the track in two, three takes at most, wanting to go on to something else quickly. In 1983 he took up boxing as a way to physically prepare for touring and stuck with it as his exercise of choice. With Mars here Bowie would have had a strong sense of justice, hating to see anyone receive unfair treatment.
Jupiter is in the last degrees (28° 30’) of Libra 10th house. Here again is an echo of early life lessons in worthiness and sets the tone for his huge success. He would have wished to achieve something that would be significant not only to himself, but to others – giving something important to the world that is bigger than self. He did that in spades. He did this without falling into arrogance and undoing all that he had accomplished. Of all the interviews I’ve listened to, I don’t remember anyone who knew him saying anything bad about him (except maybe Angie). People loved him. He treated people with respect, and as Mick Ronson pointed out, Bowie was always ready to let someone step into a greater aspect of themselves. For example, when Bowie suggested Ronson arrange strings rather than get someone from outside the Spiders.
Bowie’s fifth house Uranus is in Taurus, not a particularly easy placement. Radical Uranus wants to get loose and let go of material constraints, but there will be the need to have a secure material base as well. For many years he travelled here and there, never settling anywhere until finally when he married the beautiful Iman in 1992, and set up permanent residence in New York City. He said the only things he ever wanted to purchase was art (Taurus) and he had a significant collection by accounts. He loved traveling, but hated flying and would take train or ship when possible, giving him a break in quiet solitude which would have provided needed inner balance (Capricorn ASC).
With a void 4th house (roots, home), there is not the importance of home base that many have and he would have been fine living the gypsy life. The fourth house ruler, Mars in the 12th house, can indicate that someone in the immediate family, his older brother in Bowie’s case, would be institutionalized as mentioned above. This was very traumatic for Bowie, but home life and issues were things to be kept secret and not talked about, which we know was the case. He never invited the press into his home for interviews either.
With Neptune in 9th house Virgo Bowie had a great affinity to other-worldly, fantastical, and far away places with ‘reality’ seeming pretty dull if taken on its own. Bowie was interested in Buddhism, and had his own deeply personal philosophy on life. His Will stipulated that his ashes be spread in Bali per Buddhist custom. An idealist and a dreamer, he was also practical and kind. When Marc Bolan’s affairs were not in order at the time of his tragic death, Bowie paid for his son’s private schooling. He was quick to lend his time or star status to support those in need. Many of his music videos championed the underdog: China Girl (interracial couples; co-written with Jim Osterberg), Let’s Dance (the plight of the Australian Aborigine), Heroes (the Berlin Wall), not to mention gender bending and presenting beautiful androgyne. Stating in the British press in the early 70s that he was gay – at that time homosexuality was still illegal in Britain – this was a seriously courageous stand.
With his North Node in the 5th house, Bowie’s destiny was to become one hell of a performance artist. He would have longed for peace, harmony and beauty to make life worth living. There is more than a bit of soul despair with this placement and I think this drove him toward expressing what most of us dare not, though we may feel it. A lot of his music has a nihilistic bent to it to a very satisfying degree in my opinion. The Ziggy Stardust album’s first track, Five Years, about the Earth dying and only having five years left, and the Diamond Dogs album come to mind. Part of his journey would have been to discover what he truly valued in life, what was important and non-negotiable, and what was unnecessary. After a long and varied career (he was also a painter and sculptor as well as an actor), music was always his lifeline, specially at the end.
Black Moon Lilith is also in Bowie’s 12th house at 4° 23’ Sagittarius. He no doubt felt misunderstood at times, and stood apart from others without even trying to. Here, choices come forth around conformity or going one’s own way regardless of how one is viewed. He may have had self-doubts at times, but he was different because he chose the authentic route. Not many of us are willing to go the whole nine yards as Bowie did. This placement could have given him the attitude of, “fuck yeah, I’m wearing a dress” on the album cover of The Man Who Sold The World (1970). What man was openly wearing dresses back then – or now, 45 years later? David Bowie did it first – one of many firsts. He exhibited an entirely new energy of what being a man meant or looked like. I feel he created an energetic template for the future that is yet to be actualized.
Chiron in the 10th house at 13° 44’ Libra. Chiron was discovered in 1977 the year Bowie’s Low and Heroes albums came out. This era of Bowie’s music marked a shift toward electronic and a different kind of avant garde whilst he lived and worked in continental Europe. When Bowie left Los Angeles, he also jettisoned a great deal of the machinery and hangers on that had grown up around him. This placement of Chiron would have had him feeling as if he were taking care of the world around him, having nothing left for himself – which was true to a great extent. He pared down, moved to where he would not be bothered as a celebrity, and let his music heal him. He came out of this era a very different person, more poised and self-possessed than we’d ever seen him and certainly healthier for shifting his life style.
Bowie collaborated (Chiron in Libra) with Brian Eno on the Berlin trilogy of albums mentioned above, and also with Iggy Pop for two of his albums, Lust for Life, and The Idiot (both 1977), my favorite Pop albums. Iggy Pop is the undisputed Father of Punk Rock; Brian Eno was working on Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978) during this time which opened the way for the entire New Age music genre. Heavy hitters to be sure.
The most striking aspect of Bowie’s chart is a Yod: Chiron sextile Mercury with his North Node forming the point. The Yod is devilishly difficult, if not impossible, to predict how the person with it will experience or navigate it. It is a challenging aspect to say the least, but one that can contain many gifts. Every time one of the three points is activated by transit, the inherent issues get activated too. It’s a lifelong process.
Bowie would most likely have had a great feeling and need to seek something ineffable, a restlessness that he couldn’t name. When he moved to continental Europe, he was seeking a new musical language with which to express himself. I suspect he was always searching for better and different ways to do so, such as the development of the Verbalizer software.
I can say that this Yod aspect is most likely responsible for Bowie’s ability to bring out and express subconscious and collective material that was very healing to him personally, and then, as it was performed, for all of us. Certainly he was driven to express the inexpressible. He brought to our attention the concept of space visitors years before it became popular (Close Encounters, 1977 or E.T., 1982), or part of mainstream vocabulary (which happened with the rise to New York Times #1 listing of Communion (1987) by Whitley Streiber). As a synchronistic aside, Bowie starred in The Hunger (1983), based on the novel (1981) by Streiber. People with Yods can also act as unconscious catalysts. Streiber didn’t begin remembering his Visitor experiences until the end of 1985.
Bowie’s first Saturn return was exact in early August 1976.
He was in the process of finishing up his Los Angeles cocaine period, his first film, The Man Who Fell To Earth, was released March 18, and he moved to Berlin producing some of his most influential work.
December 1985 Saturn transited Bowie’s Midheaven exact.
July 13, 1985 was the Live Aid famine relief mega-concert organized by Bob Geldoff of The Boomtown Rats. Bowie’s Dancing in the Street video with Mick Jagger was shown twice; he performed live as well. Dancing in the Street was issued as a single August 12, all proceeds going to charity. Bowie was on top of his game at 38 years of age.
Bowie’s second Saturn return was exact September 2005, February 2006, and the last pass, June 2006.
Bowie had a heart attack June 25, 2004 whilst on stage in Germany. Saturn entered his 7th house of Cancer in September of that year. He was originally misdiagnosed with pain from a rotator cuff injury. This second Saturn return would have involved a lot of self-reflection, and health vs. future work choices. I have read that he had six heart attacks over the years since the first one, but who knows how true that is. He pretty much disappeared until he released The Next Day, March 8, 2013.
Jupiter entered Cancer in June 2014, and in February 2015 Saturn transited Bowie’s Midheaven for the second time. Bowie was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, underwent chemotherapy, and in the summer of 2015 was in ‘remission’ (Jupiter entered Leo in July 2015). However, the cancer quickly spread and it was subsequently known to be terminal. On December 7th Bowie attended the opening of his off Broadway play, Lazarus. January 8th, 2016, on his 69th birthday, his final album, Blackstar was released. Two days later he left us.
Bowie apparently did a number of demo songs for a follow up to Blackstar, so the man was working right up until the end. Perhaps we will be fortunate enough to have this material released at some future date. We can only hope.
I did a transits chart for January 10 – I’ve been interested in death charts for many years. I cast it for noon as there was no mention of the exact time of Bowie’s death (if anyone finds out, please let me know). At noon on this day Pluto was at the top of the chart conjunct the Sun and Midheaven which were conjunct Bowie’s natal Sun and Mars. Transiting Moon and Mercury opposed his natal moon and widely conjunct his natal Ascendant. It feels like a winding up of a long, influential career, leaving a deep feeling legacy that will transform the way we see things philosophically as a Collective. His influence will be felt for a long time.
Discovered on December 21, 2008, asteroid 342843 Davidbowie was named on January 5, 2015 just before Bowie’s 68th birthday. It was discovered by Felix Hormuth at the Calar alto Observatory in southern Spain. Needless to say, I will be using this asteroid in future astrology readings. Where is Davidbowie in your chart?
As I said when I started, David Bowie had a profound affect upon my life. I remember reading after he died: The earth is 4 billion years old. Be grateful you were alive at the same time as David Bowie! We were very fortunate indeed.
I leave you with words from two tracks off Blackstar, Bowie’s last words to us:
Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a meter then stepped aside
Somebody else took his place and bravely cried:
I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar
How many times does an Angel fall
How many people lie instead of talking tall
He trod on sacred ground, he cried aloud into the crowd:
I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar
I’m way up, on money, I’ve got game
I see right, so wide, so open-hearted pain
I want eagles in my daydreams and diamonds in my eyes
I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar
I can’t give everything away……