Life Stories

are connected with the stars

This section is about how our lives are connected to the movements of the planets through the starry sky. It introduces some basic astrology concepts illustrated through examples of birth charts of historical figures. Three life stories are covered in more detail in the posts about the lives of F.D. Roosevelt and Emperor Hirohito through Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions and about the astrology of Steve Jobs' life.

A musical approach to the birth chart

Over the years we've learned to observe more, to listen carefully and to interpret less. Our goal is to share this minimalistic, and yet very effective approach. We focus on the relationships between the planets in the birth chart - the aspects between them - and on how the planets in today's sky resonate with the planets at birth - the transits. For us that is the essence of astrology.

However, most traditional and modern astrology uses a fourfold system of planets, signs, houses and aspects. We advise astrology students to keep in mind that the zodiac is a cultural construct which is all but universal, and that houses were created for the purpose of divination. There are as many zodiacs as civilizations, and multiple house systems. But, in the end, they're all arbitrary systems of categorization which only exist in our brains.

There is a strong analogy between planets and aspects on one hand, and musical notes and intervals on the other hand. Planets and notes are tangible, while aspects and intervals are absolute. A musical octave is the same for all human beings. Resonance is the universal phenomena at the core of astrology. That's why it's called the "music of the spheres".

Focusing on the relationship between terrestrial planets and giant planets

Over the last decade we've looked at about 1000 birth charts of extraordinary men and women. We've learned that their birth charts are all different and unique, but we've noticed the following patterns:

  • one or more of the luminaries or terrestrial planets (Sun, Moon; Mercury, Venus, Mars) is aligned with one or more of the giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune).

  • they were born during a major alignment of the giant planets (conjunction, opposition, trine, square or sextile), such as a Uranus-Neptune alignment, a Jupiter-Saturn alignment or a Saturn-Uranus alignment.

  • frequently but not always, one of their planets is conjunct an alpha star, such as Aldebaran, Sirius, Spica or Antares.

The following examples illustrate this perspective:

  • William Shakespeare was born in 1564 during a Uranus-Neptune opposition and a Jupiter-Saturn conjunction. His Venus is conjunct Neptune, and his Moon is sextile Uranus and in trine with Neptune. His Mars is exactly conjunct Sirius, the main star of constellation Gemini, associated to communication, including litterature and theatre.

  • Isaac Newton was born during the 1642 Jupiter-Saturn conjunction. Uranus is in trine with Jupiter and Saturn. His Mercury is square both Jupiter and Saturn, and his Venus is square Neptune.

  • Johann Sebastian Bach was born in 1685 during a Saturn-Uranus trine, with the Moon conjunct Neptune, the Sun opposing Jupiter, Mercury and Venus opposing Saturn. Jupiter is exactly on Spica, the alpha star of constellation Virgo.

Venus-Neptune examples

  • Classical music composers: Schubert, Chopin, Rossini, Debussy, Ravel, Granados, Strauss, Leonard Bernstein, Hans Zimmer, Luigi Boccherini, Olivier Messiaen...

  • Modern musicians: Madonna, George Harrison, Bob Marley, Max Roach, Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, Miles Davis, Joshua Redman, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Seal...

Character and Destiny

Aviation pioneers

Let's take the example of aviation pioneers Amelia Earhart, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Jean Mermoz. What do they have in common? Amelia Earhart was born during the Saturn-Uranus conjunction of 1897, with Mars conjunct Jupiter and Venus conjunct Neptune. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in June 1900, at the beginning of a Jupiter-Uranus conjunction, with a tight Mars-Jupiter opposition and with Uranus within 1 degree of the star Antares. Jean Mermoz was born in December 1901, with a tight Mars-Jupiter-Saturn conjunction. They have in common a Mars-Jupiter alignment. Their will and courage (Mars) was intensified by Jupiter's expansive and optimistic nature. They lived what could be described as a "heroic life".

Captain Jacques Cousteau was born with Mars conjunct Neptune. Such a Mars-Neptune alignment is exactly what one would expect for a sea explorer, as Neptune is the god of the sea and Mars correlates courage and the will to explore.

Renaissance geniuses

What do the two great artists of the renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo have in common? Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 with Venus trine Neptune and in sextile with Uranus (an artist of a new age), a Moon-Jupiter conjunction (great imagination) and a Mercury-Saturn opposition (scientific mind). Michelangelo was born in 1475, when Uranus was applying to its conjunction with Neptune of 1478-79, with Saturn trine both Uranus and Neptune, and Venus square Saturn. They don't have planetary alignments in common, but they both have a strong Venus. Michelangelo's Venus-Saturn alignment correlates with classical art, while Leonardo's Venus-Uranus and Venus-Neptune alignments correlate with a visionary artist. Leonardo has a scientific side (Mercury-Saturn) which, combined with his Venus-Uranus-Neptune alignment, explain his impressive designs and inventions that anticipated the future. Michelangelo was also a poet (Mercury is conjunct his Moon and sextile Venus).

Milestones coincide with major planetary transits

Napoleon Bonaparte was born during a wide Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus T-square that occurred in 1769. He started to rise to power during the 1796 T-square of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, when he gained his first victory as an army commander at the Battle of Montenotte and successfully invaded Italy.

Remarkably, the 1796 T-square of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus repeated in exactly the same configuration 180 years later in 1976, when Steve Jobs founded Apple. Both birth charts have Jupiter-Uranus and Mars-Neptune alignments. For both men, a the time of their rise, in April 1796 and in April 1976, the Jupiter-Uranus opposition was approaching their natal Mars-Neptune alignment.

Napoleon Bonaparte's birth chart (born 15 August 1769 at 11:00 AM in Ajaccio, France) with the transits for the Battle of Montenotte (April 12, 1796)

Major alignments of the giant planets are the signature of new generations

The generation of musicians that wrote the history of Rock music and Soul music

The generation of musicians born from 1935 to 1947, around the Uranus-Neptune trine of 1939-1943 wrote the history of Rock and Soul music from the mid-1960s. The following Rock musicians were born during that timeframe. In 1939: Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane); in 1940: Joan Baez, Ringo Starr and John Lennon (The Beatles), Frank Zappa; in 1941: Neil Diamond, Ritchie Valens, Bob Dylan, Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones), Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel; in 1942: Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones), Lou Reed, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Hendrix (Saturn-Uranus conjunction); in 1943: George Harrison (The Beatles), Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones), Johnny Hallyday, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison (The Doors), Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones); in 1944: Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle (The Who); in 1945: Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Pete Townshend (The Who); in 1946: Patti Smith; and in 1947: David Bowie, Elton John, Iggy Pop, Brian May (Queen), Carlos Santana, Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Brian Johnson (AC/DC). See also our note about the history of rock music in our page about Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus alignments.

The following R&B, Soul and Funk musicians are part of that generation. Born in 1937: Gene Chandler; in 1938: Ben E. King, Dee Clark, Bill Withers; in 1939: Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, Betty Everett, William Bell, Jerry Butler, Major Lance; in 1940: Smokey Robinson; in 1941: Otis Redding, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Wayne Jackson, Andrew Love; in 1942: Aretha Franklin, Carla Thomas, Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Leon Huff, the O'Jays; in 1943: Mary Wells, Florence Ballard (The Supremes), Maceo Parker, Thom Bell, Kenneth Gamble; in 1944: Mary Wilson and Diana Ross (The Supremes), Patti LaBelle, Booker T. Jones; in 1945: Tammi Terrell; in 1946: Al Green.

A number of great jazz musicians were born during that timeframe: in 1939: Ali Farka Touré; in 1940: Herbie Hancock, Ralph Towner, Eberhard Weber; in 1941: Chick Corea, Bobby Hutcherson; in 1942: John McLaughlin, Buster Williams, Marlena Shaw, Jean-Luc Ponty; in 1943: Larry Coryell, Gary Burton; in 1945: Keith Jarrett, Tony Williams.

From Marvin Gaye, born during the Jupiter-Neptune opposition of 1939, to Bob Dylan, born during the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction of 1941, to Bob Marley, born during the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction of 1945, this generation of musicians shows a wide spectrum of nuances in the Uranus-Neptune range.

1941: a "grand cru" of rock musicians

Many of the musicians who wrote the history of Rock music from the mid-1960s were born during the Uranus-Neptune trine of 1939-1943. While Neptune's 5-year alignment with Uranus can be considered as the main astrological factor correlated to that generation of outstanding musicians, the specific timeframe of the Jupiter-Saturn-Uranus conjunction of 1941 seems to have given birth to some of the most unique representatives of that generation: Joan Baez and Herbie Hancock were born in early 1940, when the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction was 16 degrees away from Uranus. John Lennon was born in October 1940, during a tight Jupiter-Saturn conjunction within 12 degrees of Uranus, which was exactly conjunct the star Algol. Frank Zappa was born in December 1940 and Neil Diamond in January 1941. Ritchie Valens and Bob Dylan were born shortly after the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction of May 1941, when Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus were conjunct within 9 degrees, and with Uranus within 1 degree of Algol. Otis Redding (Sep 1941), Paul Simon (October 1941), Art Garfunkel (Nov 1941) were born in the later part of that year, when Jupiter had moved more than 20 degrees away from Saturn and Uranus.

Great jazz and classical musicians Chick Corea, Plácido Domingo, Martha Argerich and Christopher Hogwood were also born in 1941.

Bob Dylan's birth chart: May 24, 1941 at 9:05PM in Duluth, MN, United States.

Additional resources