Of Cazimi Kings and Queens and Peregrine Powers…

Title Image

Here’s a good question to ask all your hip café-crowd real-world friends next time you’re congregating for lattés and croissants down the King’s Road: what do Jimmy Page, Annie Lennox and Carole King all have in common? Now the appeal of this question is that everyone is going to have an answer; they’re all iconic musicians, they each defined something of the cultural ambience of their time, they were all somehow credible and meaningful in their art, the list goes on but I’ll bet that nobody is going to pipe up with the fact that they all share a Cazimi Mercury!

Cazimi, an ancient term used in Arabic astrology to determine a placement within “the heart of the Sun” is rare because it requires a partile (exact) conjunction of a planet to Sol, the closer the better, in the tradition of Persian star-lore any conjunction of less than 17 minutes will be purified and exalted, although in practise, greater orbs than this appear to on occasion offer some remarkable power to the conjunction.

Whilst a Cazimi placement can refer to any planet in partile conjunction with the Sun, the commonest placement is that to Mercury who never strays more than 28° from the Sun’s place on the ecliptic. Often, this configuration confers true genius in some area or other, consider these 10 fascinating examples:

  1. Alan Watts’ Cazimi Mercury in Capricorn (see this article for a full discussion).
  2. Montgomery of Alamein’s too, in Scorpio (see this article for a full discussion).
  3. Oprah Winfrey’s Cazimi Venus (at less than a minute of latitude!) in offbeat Aquarius.
  4. Donna Summer’s Cazimi Jupiter in Capricorn, in the 5th house of songwriting.
  5. Ed Moses’ Cazimi Venus in beautifully precise Virgo.
  6. Meryl Streep’s Cazimi Uranus in mimic and actor friendly Gemini.
  7. Alicia Silverstone’s Cazimi Pluto. There’s her source of hidden power!
  8. Kevin Costner’s Cazimi Chiron (he always did seem sensitive somehow…)
  9. Tony Blair, Yehudi Menuhin, Dan Rather and George Patton all shared a Cazimi Pallas!
  10. And how about Denzel Washington’s Cazimi North Node? Denzel’s chart is remarkable for about 10 different reasons, so I shall definitely be writing a future article on his astrology!

Today though I want to focus on the function of Cazimi Mercury in the charts of iconic musicians, and we shall begin by looking at Carole King, whose 1971 album Tapestry is considered one of the great works of the singer/songwriter story and is ranked at #36 in the Rolling Stone Top 500 albums of all time list.

Evidently the grand-trine between dreamy Neptune conjunct the fame-inducing Aries point, Uranus in comfort-loving, rich and mellow Taurus (which rules the voice of course) and the point of competence of Pallas conjunct the IC show a great triangle of talent, but King’s ability to hint at the profound shows a measure of Aquarian genius which is expressed through her Cazimi Mercury in the home-loving 4th; there is a gentle, lilting and safe quality, a tremulous hearkening to warm Sunday afternoon’s sat cosily watching the rain outside in her music, and there is no questioning her intelligence as a songwriter: “Will you love me tomorrow?” sung by such diverse talents as Roberta Flack and Amy Winehouse, “The Loco-Motion” (you remember when Kylie was only taken seriously by 7 year olds?) and “(You make me feel) like a natural woman” were all penned by King in addition to her own internationally recognised hits. With no easy aspect to the Su/Me placement there is plenty of drive to express its quality, and once it reaches the Uranus apex of the grand trine, that energy flows serenely out into the world.

Jimmy Page has been described as “unquestionably one of the all-time most influential, important, and versatile guitarists and songwriters in rock history” by AllMusic and Rolling Stone ranked him at #9 in the Top 100 greatest guitarists ever list too; so there is no doubting his pedigree. Mercury of course rules the hands and if we look at Jimmy’s chart we see that not only his Mercury Cazimi, but the conjunction with Sol is also peregrine! This means that the conjunction of Sun and Mercury makes no Ptolemaic aspect with any other planet, it is what Noel Tyl calls a “Peregrine Island”, and unquestionably it gives Page’s hands an almost superhuman and exalted ability to create structure, his fingers exaltedly communicate his message with almost overwhelming power and perfection. Think of the nature of Capricorn, think of that being Cazimi, think of it being Peregrine and you can well imagine the countless hours of building up of working slowly, carefully and methodically toward the summit of peak Mercurial experience and expression until one day his unparalleled power and magnificence could shine out and dazzle the world. And you only watch Jimmy give forth the opening bars of White Summer in the Albert Hall performance of 1970 to see how very apt that is.

Annie Lennox Nativity

Annie Lennox is the one person from this list that I have actually met (over breakfast in a hotel in Kings Lynn many years ago), and her reputation, initially as a singer and songwriter with the Tourists, the Eurythmics and latterly in her solo career has arguably to an extent been eclipsed by her poster-child status for the feminist movement, since she encompasses a near-archetypal lyrical, vocal and enduring power that somewhat transcends her role as a musician. She recently won an Academy Award for best song, written for the closing credits of the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).

Annie Lennox AstrologyAnnie’s chart is remarkable in many ways; without the inclusion of Chiron it evinces no oppositions, and her Cazimi Mercury is in Peregrine, the same as Jimmy Page’s, but her Moon is also Peregrine, a remarkable combination when you consider that her three most personal planets have almost no relationship with any other factor in her astrology. The message here is clearly one of isolation, and in the sign of Capricorn there is a “go it alone” mentality on the lonely road to success. It is reported that her childhood as an only child of a poverty-wracked family living among the shipyards of Aberdeen was unhappy and lonely because her father, overprotective of her interests, limited her independence. Her time at the Royal Academy of Music in London was similarly described as lonely, and there is a haunting note of loneliness or a certain apartness in Annie’s life which is strongly resonant in her music too. Capricorn is tough, it creates often harsh conditions, but especially it creates structure and Annie’s icy, chiselled bone structure is manifest in her iconically Capricornian good looks. Cheekbones like that define structure after all. And the pure peaks of her vocal range are almost unmatched in popular music. The disconnect of her personal planets from her wider nativity is an excellent example of the power of Peregrination in practise, here we see undiluted and startlingly pure Capricorn energy and once again we see the sheer, almost primal power of Peregrination at work, add to this the Cazimi factor and you have a voice of unremitting power and purity.

Alan Watts and the Philosophy of Cazimi and the Quindecile

The following is a continuation of the previous article, below. For a full appreciation of the themes and configurations in Watt’s astrology, please refer to the article preceding this.

To the casual listener, Alan Watts might well come across as extremely thoughtful, intelligent and insightful, but there is no question that his style was anything but taciturn; his subject matter, which consisted of various facets of esoteric, philosophic and indeed transcendental thought, also underlined his interest in fundamentals and unquestionably his style of discourse was to present an idea and then gradually and systematically to follow the trains of logic which ran out from that starting point to see where they would lead. So then, we have a picture of a communicator, taciturn and methodical in style, one that builds up a picture upon a base supposition and then ultimately reaches a pinnacle insight, usually of a philosophic or spiritual nature; unquestioned in all of this process, is an appreciation of the man’s genius; indeed, I could often feel his frustration at having to hammer home some nuance of his argument to an audience that would clearly be losing the thread of it.

The taciturnity of expression is found in the conjunction of Sun with Mercury in Capricorn. The sign of Capricorn, denoted by the mountain-goat, is profoundly objective focused, it does not have an affinity with frivolity or frolicking, because, like the goat, it sees its world as a hard and often harsh environment where it must be single-minded and determined in order to survive; the food in those lofty realms is scarce, the path is uncertain and treacherous and the drop, no doubt fatal to the distracted. One step after another, the goat makes it way up the mountain, sure-footed, intensely focused on its ascent, driven, but not urgently, driven in a calm, assured way, but driven all the same.

Apply these principles to the Solar principle, Watts’ sense of who he must be are informed by this same driven certainty, and blended with Mercury, he must communicate that sense of self, at all costs. Here also is a measure of his genius because the conjunction with Mercury is so close as to be termed Cazimi, an Arabic word meaning “the heart of the Sun” and it is reckoned by the old-world astrologers to be extremely fortunate, because the principle that is wedded to Sol thus is imbued with the power of eternal life. Mercury Cazimi then gives a power of communication and intellect beyond the pale, beyond the envelope of human norms and this is clear in Watts’ easy discourse on profound matters; actually the most profound matters imaginable, and I shall turn to his subject matter soon enough. Some consider Cazimi to become combust if the conjunction falls outside of 17 minutes of one degree; Watts’ Mercury conjuncts the Sun within 21 minutes; but clearly his genius is absolutely beyond question. This astonishingly close conjunction explains his brilliance, but here, in the sign of Capricorn, it also explains his taciturn manner; his downbeat style, his dolorous, almost flat and unerringly focused approach to the subject in hand. Capricorn describes exactly how he takes a proposition and gradually and undistractedly leads the listener on an ever-ascending journey toward a revelation, a pinnacle, peak, or you might say mountain-top of insight. Then, the first house placement denotes a great energy, it explains his goat-like demeanour and appearance, it resonates with that Mars in the 1st house too, also in its exaltation in Capricorn, where his great energy can build gradually, methodically, to a crescendo of self-expression.

All of which explains how Watts would express his thought processes, but not particularly why, and of course, for an astrologer, the why of a personality is the causal spark, the raison d’etre of incarnation. So then, why did Alan Watts feel such a powerful need to express himself in this way?

The first reason is the Cazimi conjunction of Sun and Mercury that we already understand. Every conjunction between the Sun and the energy of communication, Mercury has to some extent this effect; the self-image is fundamentally a communicating one; the “I” of the ego is an “I” that talks, writes or moves in such a way as to convey meaning. Normally, the wider conjunction gives an element of blindness and often creates a person that talks about themselves a great deal and struggles to talk about much else, but with Cazimi, the communicating awareness is refined and dignified, rather than scorched and obliterated. But this does not explain all of it; after all, Sol and Mercurius can never be more than 28° apart on the plane of the ecliptic, so it is a common association and not many were so driven to explain themselves in this way.

The Quindecile aspect is one that is not much understood in modern astrology, although it has been revived by Noel Tyl, an astrologer of no mean reputation from whom I have learned a great many useful and insightful techniques. For a full discussion of the aspect then read this article. Suffice to say that for the purposes of this discussion at least, the Quindecile (or 165° aspect) has an element of obsessive-compulsive behaviour attached; from the Aries Point, the aspect falls in 15° Virgo and 15° Libra which describes obsession (striving for mental balance and harmony) followed by compulsion (taking a practical step toward the attainment of perfection). This describes the nature of the aspect well, since it is a mental dissatisfaction that provokes a practical fix. The fix rarely actually fixes anything of course, it merely alleviates the imbalance for a time and then it is back to the start, of thinking that something is not quite right and that we had better do something about it.

In Watts’ case we find two separate Qunideciles to that Cazimi conjunction of Sun and Mercury. Looked at in this way we can posit the understanding that his need to express these carefully expounded mental constructs in the form of lectures was the Virgoan solution; it was the fix that he was striving for. The mental imbalance then comes from two separate sources; Saturn conjunct Pluto in the 7th and Neptune on the cusp of the 8th.

Let us consider each of these in turn. Saturn conjunct Pluto is a real soul-destroying aspect; it is back-breaking in effect, because it adds Hadean depth (and you don’t get much deeper than the underworld) to Saturn’s propensity for hard work. Put these together then and you get astonishingly profound limitations, hard work, difficulty, burden and constriction, and in Watts’ case, with Pluto on the Aries Point, and in the 7th, marriage was for him, hard labour. Of course, wherever Pluto is found we have to transform ourselves somehow, but it is the place where we are least able to change, so it is an irresistible force and an immovable object, you know that something has to give, but usually it is ugly and painful even so. Watts went through 3 marriages, and whilst not much is known about the conditions of any of them, there is a between-the-lines intimation that they were far from easy.

Thus, it is entirely reasonable to suggest that the pain and discomfort he experienced in his intimate relationships left him feeling out of balance, and the practical ‘fix’ for that imbalance was to express his ideas in this way.It is almost as though his philosophising about the benign nature of the Universe would assuage the brutality of his marriage experience.

This ties in somewhat with the second Quindecile configured to the Sun Mercury conjunction, from Neptune in the 8th. It is reasonably well-known that Watts had a drinking problem; although he never openly admitted such. When he died aged 58 (at around the time of his second Saturn return – thus Saturn would be transiting the natal Saturn-Pluto conjunction in the 7th) the cause of death was recorded as ‘heart failure’ although it is commonly acknowledged that incipient alcoholism was a contributing factor. This is simply one level at which Neptune might manifest in the 8th, as a contributing factor in the (confusing) conditions surrounding death, also as a motivating obsessive impetus to the compulsion of expressing his spirituality and finally there is the question of talking about death as well, in a spiritual context. Watts frequently spoke about the value of meditating on death, his themes were often uncomfortably Plutonic, his spirituality was all about 8th house ideals of letting go, of non-materialism, of Buddhist ideas about attachment; fundamentally his spiritual DNA was 8th house and he felt compelled to talk it out.

These are not the only Quindeciles in Watts’ chart, he has another from the Dragon’s Head to the Moon which perhaps conveys something about his fated compulsion to bring his ideas before humanity at large, and in this last consideration, he was only partially successful. The taciturn genius pinpointed by his Cazimi Mercury was, like the air the determined goat breathes at the summit of his lonely mountain, always going to be somewhat rarefied and remote for general consumption; his brilliance was of the type of the stars, distant and ethereal rather than the tactile and fawned over diamond of earthly desire, but arguably, it was more precious even so, and will hopefully appreciate with time and contemplation.

Alan Watts, peregrination and the Uranus principle

Alan Watts Nativity

Today I wanted to look at some of the astrological themes of spirituality and religious thought in a specific case; and since I don’t really have any work today I am going to take a glance at the chart of a man, who for me, embodied some of the highest principles in human understanding of cosmic law; the late, truly great Alan Watts. In fact I am going to use his chart to explore some of the key considerations of my work as an astrologer and hopefully demonstrate some of the effects of spiritual and religious configurations in the astrology. Today I am going to talk about peregrination.

It has been said of Alan Watts that he picked up where Joseph Campbell left off, and though I hold Campbell in high regard, there is no question that as a philosopher and commentator upon the human condition, Watts combined the sublime with the practical in a way that nobody before or since has managed. Quite beyond that, I see in him a facsimile for my own grandfather who was born at the same time, also had Sun in Capricorn, had a manner of speech uncannily similar to Watts’ and held many of the same beliefs and interests; this is why (as a purely personal observation) I can be deeply affected just by listening to the sound of Alan Watts’ voice; although having said that I don’t believe that my cognitive bias in this case particularly affects my respect for his profound and sublime genius.

I use that specific word advisedly, because Watts’ chart contains a highly unusual peregrine Uranus. Peregrination comes from the Latin pelegrinus which means something like alien, foreigner and stranger, all placed together, actually, it has a connotation of outcast, separateness and holding oneself apart too, but you get the idea. A peregrine planet is one that is not connected to any other by major aspect (that is technically by Ptolemaic aspect: conjunct, opposite, square, trine or sextile), or at least it has the same effect as peregrination by dignity, which harks back to the original Ptolemaic practise of scoring planets according to their placement by sign and decanate. I have a growing respect for the concept, because I do observe that planets that are peregrine by either dignity or aspect operate in a very similar manner, they are difficult to express and therefore they become an obsessive focal point in the personality. This makes the energy fitful, erratic and very binary. My wife’s grandfather then has a peregrine Mars, in the sign of its traditional rulership Scorpio, and he is renowned (and somewhat beyond the level of familias I assure you) for his astonishing forceful energy and motivation. Now this is a slightly contradictory case of peregrination because his Mars is dignified by placement but made peregrine by lack of Ptolemaic aspect. What this suggests is that it is an unintegrated but very powerful or natural energy. Thus he will either over-express his Martian qualities – like assertion, drive and determination – or he will not express them at all. This is very much in keeping with his essential character; which veers from a rather hopeless form of malaise and listlessness to astonishing periods of upward progress and no-nonsense up and at ‘em bouts of activity that belies his 90 years. So what of my own son then whose unaspected Mars in Cancer is thus doubly peregrine, both by (lack of) aspect and by (lack of) dignity? I should say that he seems to have very little urgency at all, which is not to say that he cannot get things done, but he only has one gear even if he seems happy enough to go at his own pace in all things.

So then, we hopefully understand something about the theory of peregrination which is mildly uncommon by dignity but decidedly quite rare by aspect. To see peregrination both by dignity and aspect is extremely rare and thus far I have only found it in two cases: that of my son and I; and I shall write more on these themes another day.

But in Watts’ case, his Uranus is in the sign of its rulership, thus it is raised up by dignity but made peregrine by lack of aspect. I think this has a rather profound influence since any planet that is peregrine is subjectively felt to be unintegrated and thus the tendency is always to try to heal the rift within and express those qualities inclusively. This, in effect makes Watts’ over-express his Uranus quality, and because it is so naturally domiciled within the sign of Aquarius, he therefore conveys those qualities majestically.

Uranus rules all those qualities of individuation, the need to be unique, to be different, to be raised up above mundane and conventional concerns and thus it has a say in all matters of genius, of originality, of sublime insight. It rules television, radio and the Internet, it rules cutting edge technology and invention in all its forms; in the body it rules the circulation and the lower legs.

No surprise then that Watts, with a peregrine but astonsishingly powerful Uranus in Aquarius in the 2nd house made his money from communicating on televison, radio and audio tape (the cutting edge technology of his day) all concepts of his incredibly insightful mind; actually he made money from communicating his genius, and what better exposition of Uranus in Aquarius in the 2nd and peregrine by aspect could you ask for than that?

Tomorrow I will take a look at some other interesting facets of this fascinating case.