Thursday, August 18, 2016

Remembering Bowie

It’s been seven months since David Bowie’s death - 11 January 2016 - and the outpouring of feeling is ongoing, the evidence of which can be found on social media and in the various cultural events held in his honour throughout the world. It’s difficult to pigeonhole David Bowie as an artist and as an individual; he represents many things to many people. His natal chart reflects his multi-faceted and contradictory nature, where layers of personality and talent seemingly clash, causing internal frustration but manifesting outwardly creatively, sometimes brilliantly, sometimes not. Here, the Air element is powerful. In the early stages of Bowie’s career at least, this airy quality overshadowed his more subdued and traditional Sun in Capricorn, which hid away in the twelfth house, the horoscope’s sanctuary. Bowie’s story reflects what some astrologers call ‘growing into our Sun signs’, the mythology for which Capricorn as tenacious goat climbing the proverbial mountain to reach its pinnacle is noted for.
Outwardly, David Bowie embodied the qualities normally associated with the air sign Aquarius – scientific, futuristic, progressive, prophetic - despite his Sun’s placement in pragmatic Capricorn. With Aquarius rising, the planet Uranus becomes chart ruler, giving Bowie an alternative edge. Uranus’ glyph resembles a satellite designed to explore the far reaches of time and space, a theme often repeated in Bowie’s early work. His 1969 breakthrough single Space Oddity, released close to the moon landing, covers cosmonaut Major Tom’s existential space journey. Through classics such as Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust, Life on Mars, Starman, Moonage Daydream, and Loving the Alien, we learn of the visions and possibilities forgotten on the earthly plane.
His chart ruler, Uranus in Gemini, in the fifth house of romance sextile Pluto in the seventh house of relationships alludes to Bowie’s experimental and transformative sex life. He was magnetised by the gay scene, which was still underground in the early 1970s, and became a camp icon in an era when homosexuals lived in fear of discovery. Critics such as the queer writer John Gill condemned Bowie for using and betraying gay culture for his own commercial gain. Nevertheless, Bowie set a precedent that heralded in a new generation of androgynous stars who were successful in the 1980s: Gary Numan, Boy George (Culture Club), Marilyn, Phil Oakey (Human League), George Michael (Wham!), Morrissey (The Smiths), Pete Burns (Dead or Alive), and Steve Strange (Visage) who appears in the Ashes to Ashes promotional video:

Bowie was aware of his role as an interpretative performer and the fact that his personas only had a short life span (one or two albums). He found it easier to write for his characters than for himself (twelfth house Mercury) and wasn’t sentimental about them; he could move on (Aquarius rising). Bowie's image developed as time progressed, earning him the moniker of ‘pop chameleon’ (chart ruler Uranus in Gemini):
‘… I wanted to be the instigator of new ideas. I wanted to turn people on to new things and new perspectives … I decided to use the easiest medium, which was rock n roll, and then add bits and pieces … so that by the end of it I would be my own medium’
Occultism flavoured Bowie’s life and work up to his last recording. His twelfth house Stellium (Sun, Mars, and Mercury) indicates a rich inner world and psychic possibilities. The Sun and Mercury in this sector of the chart function as mediums for the expression of mythic or archetypal images in the collective unconscious through art or some form of psychic work. Bowie had the capacity to bridge the conscious and unconscious, and communicate to an audience what was operating in the murky depths of the psyche:
‘All I knew was that there was this otherness, this other world, an alternative reality, and one that I wanted to embrace’

The above is a extract from the next issue of Astrobabble, copies of which I will be flogging at Manly Zine Fair in September. See you there.