Tales of Fallen Reception: Sun in Libra, Saturn in Aries

Carole LombardThe astrology of Carole Lombard has a raft of fascinating factors; born in 1908, she was arguably the template for comedy acting; despite her deliriously dreamy good looks she was never much enamoured of the screen-siren mantle that could have been hers for the taking; she was a fast-talking, strong willed dynamo who swore like a trooper and knew her own mind. Her nickname on the studio circuit was “the Profane Angel” and Howard Hawks said of her: “Marvellous girl. Crazy as a bedbug.” She died in 1942 aged only 33, when the aircraft she was travelling home in crashed into the summit of Mount Potosoi, south west of Las Vegas.

No surprise then that her forté was Screwball Comedy, nor that Hawk considered her to be “crazy”, her astrology is as screwball and crazy at it gets. Far from evincing a single pointed focus, her astrology is a dizzying, confusing maze of indications and contraindications. But let us consider a few of the extant themes:

  1. Chiron rises in Aquarius, crazy but sensitive.
  2. Moon also rises, but in dreamy Pisces.
  3. Moon opposes Venus conjunct Jupiter, giving (according to Ebertin) “Film Star mannerisms”, this on Regulus too, and forming the basis for a tee-square to her Midheaven.
  4. A grand trine: across the 1st/5th and 8th/9th houses that includes Pallas! Why am I not surprised!?

And finally, consider the debilitated mutual reception in opposition of Sun in Libra with Saturn in Aries. Both these planets are in fall and thus considered weak, but by mutual reception they are placed in the signs of each-others exaltation, in opposition they are difficult to balance, but how else explain Carole’s enormous determination to succeed in comedy? Saturn in Aries is a strange placement, it ought to in theory be more or less the most debiltated of positions for Saturn, but somehow the stubborn, wilful nature of Aries seems to suit Saturn in a manner that the other fire-signs simply do not. There is no smooth sense of persistence with it, rather, like the Ram the Saturnine Arian will butt against a problem out of sheer bloody-mindedness for a while and then give up, but importantly, it rankles, so he or she will be back eventually and butt away some more, and again, and again. The truth is that Saturn in Aries gives astonishing, if intermittent persistence.

Carole Lombard Nativity

Traditionally the placement gives a high level of entitlement without the necessary humility; Saturn in Aries wants your respect but doesn’t want to serve his apprenticeship to earn it, but when he does eventually learn that he’s not getting your respect he’ll persist.

Sun in Libra is equally indifferent to solar qualities which demand a sense of entitlement too, the Libran is always expending effort on ensuring the other person feels at ease, only to realise that he or she is the only person that feels dissatisfied with things; all the energy has been spent on everyone else!

So then, consider the reversal; Sun in Aries gives a real power to focus exclusively on one’s own needs; subjectively it is a great position for the Sun – even though the downside is that you can appear to be very selfish – but by its very nature Aries doesn’t actually care all that much about what the other person thinks, so where’s the crime? Similarly, Saturn is very comfortable in the sign of Libra, which rules the serious business of justice and gives a weighty consideration and an element of gravitas in the demeanour that usually commands the respect that Saturn in Aries feels is his divine right.

The mutual reception then, especially one where the planets see each other in aspect (thus by quincunx, quindecile or most powerfully, by opposition) gives the potential to realise the very best potentials of the interchange of energies by mutual reception, but only after the lesson of Saturn has been learned. Now Carole Lombard may have been considered ditzy, but she certainly displayed a great quality of persistence and other factors in her chart allowed her to experience great success even before Saturn had transformed. Intriguingly she married Clark Gable at the time of her Saturn return, just as the mutual reception would have been raised a notch or two in her psyche.

Another notable actor with the same debilitated mutual reception is Guy Pearce, who although ostensibly Australian, was actually born in Cambridgeshire, England. The release of his most critically acclaimed movieGuy Pearce The Proposition Memento in 2000 saw Pluto transiting his tenth house whilst Solar Arc Sun applied to conjunction with radix Neptune, the actor’s high-point therefore; although no doubt the sense of confused, continually dissolving real-world conditions that were at the heart of that movie’s plot were reflective of some genuine sense of dissolution in Pearce’s life at that time. As above, so below and life imitates art, as any good astrologer understands. Similarly the movie dealt with the difficult aftermath of a head-injury, Carole Lombard suffered a serious scar to her face during an auto-accident early in her short career, and due to the polarity of Saturn with skin, the opposition to blemishless Libra and Aries of the head, Saturn in Aries very frequently gives scars, skin eruptions and injuries to the face.

Alan Leo said of the Sun opposition to Saturn (and he applied the same sentiment to the conjunction as well) that by it, “the native is frequently confronted with obstacles and delay, and unless in mutual reception, it is very unfortunate for all things signified by the two planets, bringing misfortunes in business, loss of public favour, likelihood of the father’s death, loss of father’s money or separation from or disagreement with him.” (from “How to Judge a Nativity” p249. LN Fowler & Co. 1928).

Sun in Libra, Saturn in Aries

Rarely do the natives with this particular configuration manage to shine in early life, theirs is the task of having to learn to combine the best qualities of Sun and Saturn, Aries and Libra, and usually the work has to be done – as is Saturn’s timeless directive – the hard way.

The Astrologer’s Degrees, a Study of the Evidence.

Today I wish to look in some detail at a specific phenomena that is of great interest to the astrologer, the provocatively named “Astrologer’s Degree.”

Provocative, not least because in binary thinking (which is ultimately commonplace even among astrologers!) it suggests an on-off state, it provokes the deterministic view that an ability for astrology can be realised through placements to a specific degree in the nativity. Of course, this is utter nonsense, it cannot, nor should be so, however, it most certainly is not unreasonable to posit placements upon any supposed degree to incline toward an astrological acumen, an acumen that need never be realised in the life unless other predisposing factors support the same view. Imagine it is like a pushbike. If you have two wheels, a frame, handlebars, brakes and a saddle then you can put them all together and actually ride off into the sunset. If you only have one wheel, then you are at something of a loss, and are going nowhere. An astrologer’s degree placement then is perhaps like a single wheel, useful only if you happen to have the other parts.

So let us discover the nature of those other parts first, before we examine the degrees themselves. Binary thinkers have run various algorithms through databases of nativities in an attempt to discover a golden astrologer’s bullet without any particular success. One such study came out with the following results:

  • 38% had the Sun in Scorpio, Sagittarius or Capricorn and these placements were found in the astrologers charts twice as often as they were found in the control group.
  • Sun, Moon or Mercury was found in a fixed house for 70% of astrologers and Venus, Mars, Jupiter or Saturn were placed in an air house for 71%.
  • Sixty-three percent of the astrologers had the ruler of the eleventh house direct.
  • None of the astrologers tested had a mutual reception between Sun and Uranus.
  • Pluto, Chiron or the North Node was placed in one of the Gauquelin power zones in 66%.
  • Uranus was found aspecting the vertex in the control group more often than it was found aspecting the vertex in the astrologers’ horoscopes.
  • Nothing was found in 100% of the astrologers’ charts.


This is not really useful particularly, because it is trying to measure a grey area (human potential); we might as well say that forty percent of vehicles are red, seventy percent have at least two wheels, but only five percent were bicycles! I only include this rather vile pandering to statistical scientism as a reminder of the pointlessness of measuring the immeasurable. What, then, pertinently, would I look for in the astrologer, apart from placements to an astrologer’s degree?

Urania, muse of astrology and astronomyFirstly I would look to the position of Uranus and to a lesser extent Saturn. Uranus configured to the angles seems to be prevalent, as does a strong Saturn. Uranus gives flashes of insight as well as mathematically themed abilities while Saturn provides rigour and an ability to structure. Traditional astrologers point to the importance of Mercury in the consideration of astrological ability. Some people say that the asteroid Urania -muse of astrology and astronomy both – ought to be meaningfully placed. Noel Tyl posits the view in his books that 18 degrees of mutable signs is significant in the study of astrology. Similarly, James Braha asserts that it is common for the greatest Hindu astrologers to have been born with a powerfully disposed Moon (memory) and 2nd house (knowledge).

All of this technical discussion though fails to address one key consideration, since the premise of the study – in my view at least – requires clarification. In my experience, astrology is as much – if not more – about counselling as it is about any technical ability to understand the patterns of energy in the nativity. An abstract grasp of rhyme and metre after all, does not a Dryden make. To pattern recognition, mythic-insight and meditative application you must then add an ability to talk to people, or at least to be able to convey sensitively in writing an appreciation of their struggles; some measure then of humanity and compassionate mettle forged through trial and adversity cannot be lacking otherwise the science of astrology becomes a brittle, artless parlour-trick with no practical application.

So to this list I would add a requirement of sensitivity, which might be supported by the configuration of Neptune with either of the luminaries, a strong Piscean influence, 12th house significators, Virgo too, through the polarity of Pisces and the service-oriented axis and any strongly Lunar characteristics. To the ideal for counselling I would suggest that a study of the descendant may be pertinent, since it is the Aries polarity point of Libra and thus it is concerned entirely with the other fellow.

Finally I would like to look at Chiron, since here is a new factor in astrology; indeed, Chiron was the first astrologer, so it is only fitting that he ought to figure in the craft very centrally. Chiromancy and chiropractics are both concerned with the hands, the healing power of the hands specifically and Chiron recognises, not a power centre in the nativity, but actually the astrologer, card reader, palmist him or herself, on one level at least.

So, these are the other factors, now what of the degrees themselves? I do not wish to discuss the etymology of the degrees as individual powers to promulgate fate and character, at this stage, let us just accept that for whatever reason, they have relevance. The sources are obscure, the interpretations many, but here are the astrologer’s degrees according to deVore:

From 22° – 28° Aquarius.
From 25° – 29° Leo.
With particular emphasis being given to the 27° Leo – Aquarius axis.

Furthermore, 11° Virgo is considered an astrologer’s degree, no doubt with a very tight orb, thus 10° – 12° of Virgo and there may be a polarity point at 11° Pisces, although this is by no means agreed upon uniformly in the various sources.

It is assumed then that any placement upon these degrees will give some propensity toward astrological ability. Let us look at a couple of cases to check the veracity of these degrees. Firstly, Alan Leo, the great Edwardian astrologer who very much revived the art in the early days of last century. From our list of correspondences then:

Uranus: in the 10th, so career configured, but not much otherwise.
Saturn: Rising, partile Ascendant at 27° Leo (the astrologer’s degree).
Mercury: nothing here particularly, Rx in the 12th, separating from Saturn rising.
Urania: Found at 5° Libra in the second, which is relevant according to James Braha.
Sensitivity: This does not appear to be a big theme in Leo’s chart, his Moon is in mania-susceptible Aries, and highly stressed as the focus of a t-square from Venus opposing Mars. Neptune is in its rulership though and at the 30th degree, thus it is especially fated.
Chiron: He falls conjunct the descendant, an ideal counselling position, especially for the astrologer Chiron and opposing the Saturn and Ascendant, he too falls in the astrologer’s degrees of Aquarius. Evidently it is this axis in particular which is of overwhelming import in creating an aptitude for astrology.
18° of Mutable signs: Nothing here either.

Beyond this, there are no other major asteroids on any of the astrologer’s degrees, although his Part of Plays falls exactly conjunct Chiron at 25° Aquarius.

Applying the same methodology to my own chart I get:

Uranus: Rising, thus prominent.
Saturn: Nothing here.
Mercury: Peregrine (unaspected) in the second.
Urania: At 11° Pisces, thus at a possible astrologer’s degree.
Sensitivity: Moon is probably peregrine (unaspected) but the closest major aspect at near 9° is a conjunction to Neptune. I am never sure whether to count this or not.
Chiron: conjunct the descendant in Pisces and partile to the Vertex.
18° of Mutable signs: Mars at 17°49′ Sagittarius.

Otherwise, I have Jupiter at 27° Leo exactly opposing Isis at 27° Aquarius, Pars Fortuna at 25° Leo and Pallas – pattern recognition – at 26° Leo, all astrologer’s degrees, with Venus in the 12th on the cusp of Virgo, just a degree or so off the range of Leo.

I know a fair few astrologers around the world, and I can comfortably say that those who appear to have the greatest blend of skill in applying the understanding of the science to the practical and compassionate art of counselling all appear to have some strong configurations around the aforementioned degrees, and usually several other indicators to boot.

I should add as a disclaimer, because I have read message boards on this subject before and those who do not have the configurations indicated seem to delight (I think for fairly understandable reasons) in debunking the theory, but again, I am not claiming that without these degrees configured there is no ability in the study of astrology. Far from it, I have known many people who are deeply skilled in astrological techniques who show none of these indicators; to which I say only that they source the individual cogs and gears of their bicycles from different suppliers and pedal along with just as much enthusiasm as myself or anyone else, and to them I wish safe journey, to the stars, the sunset, or wherever the great art might take you.