If children grew up according to early indications, we
should have nothing but geniuses.
During the last few years, I have been intimately concerned with the astrology of childhood. This has arisen from the experience of having two children of my own while being astrologically aware. These children, my sons, are now aged one and four. The experience of children in itself brings circumstantial evidence for the validity of astrology – what parent or carer can deny that each baby comes into the world complete with its own particular personality? And the wonderful interweaving of children's charts with that of their parents and wider family, and their resonance with the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy and birth are beautiful demonstrations of the interlinking planetary pattern at work.
If my belief in the validity of astrology had ever faltered (it hasn't thus far), the remarkable interconnections between my own chart and those of my children would be sufficient evidence to convince me. Yet there are certain aspects of the astrology of childhood that seem relatively unexplored, and little treated in astrological literature. For example, what does it mean when a young child has a major transit? I recall reading once (I can't remember where) that because the egos of young children are undeveloped, their major planetary transits are likely to be externalised and experienced entirely through the parents. This may well be one level of manifestation.
However, I would like to take the view that all transits and progressions to a natal chart are meaningful and relevant to the 'owner' (for want of a better word) of that chart, albeit at times in a rather abstract manner. In fact, as numerous psychologists have noted, childhood is an extremely formative period, setting us up for the rest of our life. Is it not the case, then, that in terms of our overall purpose in life, early transits and progressions, and the meaning that can be extracted from them, may well be more significant than later movements of the chart?
Take my son Alexandros, currently at the grand old age of one. He was born with the Sun conjunct Pluto (applying) in Capricorn in the 8th house, and the Moon in Scorpio. Just in case he needed any more seriousness, intensity and power thrown into his character, the Cosmic Mind has decreed that his first two years of life, astrologically speaking, are being dominated by a Pluto transit to the Sun. I take this to mean that in absolutely clear terms, given the plethora of similar energies, Alex's life purpose involves pursuit of the deep, the dark and the hidden, the more specific nature of which might be found through attending to the circumstances surrounding his birth and early years. Just to be clear, I do not take it to mean that his first years of life are destined to be characterised by terrible trauma that he will spend the rest of his life trying to come to terms with.
In the latter stages of my pregnancy with Alex I was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening (to the baby) condition necessitating the taking of drugs unlicensed for pregnancy and early delivery due to an enhanced risk of still-birth. On the evening before Alex was born, an elderly family member suddenly died. At the very time Alex was born, another newborn baby died in the same hospital unit. In Alex's first year of life, two of his grandparents battled very serious cancer scares, and two other family members died. In the month of his birth, while visiting the hospital every two days to check that my son was still alive, I recall that I was particularly affected by the story of the shooting by Greek police of a 15-year-old boy, which led to riots in Athens. This boy was also named Alexandros, the very name I had always intended for my own (half-Greek) son. Questions of ultimate concern, of life and death, have surrounded, and continue to surround, the wider matrix of Alex's early life. This is significant, and such significance is, I believe, connected with his vocation, what he was born to do. The events surrounding his birth, in the family and wider world, and also in the first few years of life under such a major transit, will I think have meaning in the wider context of his life. Perhaps he will become a cancer surgeon or a businessman involved with drugs or medicine, a psychotherapist specialising in bereavement or a political revolutionary in his father's land; there are many possibilities of course. I'll try to remember to update you, in 20 years or so!
In The Soul's Code, psychologist James Hillman encourages us to envision the events of childhood not as psychological determinants but as clues to and indicators of our inner calling.(1) His acorn theory, described as "the theory that each person bears a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived"(2), fits wonderfully with the natal chart as a map of that innate uniqueness. And Hillman's celebration of childhood as the time within which to seek the clues to our vocation, rather than our pathologies, fits extremely well with an astrology of childhood focused on the symbolic meaning of early transits and progressions. If childhood contains the seeds of our destiny and inner calling, then the astrology of that time is the language that can help us to identify that calling.
Let's consider another example: Richard Branson. Branson might be described as the ultimate entrepreneur, having built up the extremely successful Virgin brand through numerous companies and ventures from its small beginnings as a mail order record retailer, established when Branson was 19. The Virgin Group now has around 200 companies in over 30 countries, spanning a diverse range of industries including leisure, travel, tourism, music, finance and health. In addition to phenomenal business success, Branson is famous for his adventurous nature, having participated in several hot-air ballooning world-record attempts. One of his latest ventures, combining both business and his adventurous spirit, is his foray into commercial space travel through Virgin Galactic.(3)
Branson gives his own life story in his autobiography, Losing my Virginity.(4) Born into a family of lawyers, and educated at private boarding school as per the family tradition, Branson's family may well have expected another lawyer to emerge. Yet fate had something else in store for him. Aged 8, he was still unable to read; he describes himself as dyslexic and shortsighted.(5) Conventional learning simply did not come easily to him and although he showed great talent as a sportsman, even this avenue closed in late 1961 (aged 11) when he had an accident playing football which damaged his knee and effectively ended this career possibility. Yet it seems Branson never gave up trying to make something of himself; following an early idea that he might become a journalist, he started the magazine Student while still at school, and after leaving at age 16, continued to develop this, prior to starting the first Virgin business aged 19. The rest, as they say, is history.
A brief consideration of Branson's natal chart shows some interesting patterns in the light of his childhood experiences and later career.(6) With Pluto rising in Leo, his ability to effect immensely profound changes on his environment with great charismatic style is indicated, and certainly seems suitable for one who has built an empire from modest beginnings. His 12th house is also interesting, containing both Sun and Mercury – neither of which makes any major aspect to another planet. Perhaps this indicates the difficulty Richard had in contacting his skills for learning in early life, and the difficulty he also had in clearly defining a suitable path.
His vocation, what he was meant to be at his very core, shown primarily by the Sun in Cancer in the 12th, is all at sea, difficult to contact through rational planning and direct action. This was perhaps important from an astrological viewpoint, for it suggests that early transits to the Sun are even more important than they might otherwise be, given a lack of support from other planets in the natal chart. We might also note, with some satisfaction, the Moon in Virgo opposite Jupiter in Pisces, an apt symbol for the ever-expanding Virgin brand, and Branson's own optimism and forward-looking nature, despite a life run, on his own admission, by list-making. Also worthy of note, in this very short chart analysis, is the very tight major aspect between Jupiter and Uranus – a wonderful combination for the entrepreneur and adventurer, who time and again takes unconscionable risks in order to chance on greater rewards.
In picking out early significant transits to the natal Sun, we must be aware of those which we are all likely to experience, such as major transiting aspects of some kind from Jupiter and Saturn. The significance of such transits may depend on other coinciding transits or progressions and the role each plays in the natal chart. In Richard Branson's case, I propose that the most significant transits to the Sun in his first few years occurred in 1954 and 1955. This period saw the end of transiting Neptune's square to the natal Sun (and there is no doubt that Richard's life reads in many ways like a fantasy) and, more impressively, Jupiter and Uranus coming together three times to conjoin closely on Richard's 12th-house Sun. The first time they were a month apart (August and September 1954), but the second and third times they hit it in the same month, January 1955 and May 1955, when Richard was four years old. I suggest that this triple transiting conjunction primarily represented a symbolic awakening to his destiny. The close natal trine is significant – Richard was always closely attuned to Jupiter-Uranus energy – but their coming together three times in a conjunction on the virtually unaspected (by planets) natal Sun, is almost too good to be true from an astrological point of view, since Richard seems to embody this energy so very powerfully. It is as though the gods made good their natal promise at this time, with Jupiter and Uranus claiming him for their own. Henceforth, these are the masters he would serve as entrepreneur extraordinaire, hot-air ballooning champion and conqueror of commercial space travel.
In fact, chapter one of Branson's autobiography opens with a key memory from this period. The story involves Richard desperately wanting to learn to swim and being challenged by his aunt to try one last time to do so in a river in return for a reward of ten shillings. Ignoring the danger and taking the challenge despite nearly drowning, Richard's gamble pays off. Somehow he manages to swim across the river and win the ten shillings. With the 12th-house Sun in Cancer being transited by reckless Jupiter-Uranus (both natally in water signs), this story seems highly apt. How embellished or over-dramatised it is in reality does not necessarily seem important: Branson's recollection of it, which may reflect its influence on his life more truly than a strict factual account, marks it out as formative; and it would seem that the astrology is in agreement.
If our earliest transits and progressions are able to intimate those planetary gods we were born to serve during the course of our lifetime, it is worth examining this astrology to see if clues to our own calling can be found. Paying attention to the Sun, as symbol of the heart of our vocation, is perhaps the simplest and most revealing approach. As I looked through the Sun progressions and transits thereto of my early years, one pattern stood out: a transiting Saturn-Pluto conjunction square my Sun! Somehow I knew it wouldn't be Jupiter and Uranus for me…
1. James Hillman, The Soul's Code, (London: Bantam Books, 1996) 2. Hillman, Soul's Code, p.6.
3. www.virgin.com/richard-branson/autobigoraphy, accessed 7th April 2010.
4. Richard Branson, Losing my Virginity, (London: Virgin Books, 2009), 5. Branson, Losing, p.30.
6. Chart data from The Clifford Compendium can be found v.2 (2000), Rating A.
Branson chart provided by the AA Journal
Richard Branson: By Chatham House [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Other images: CC0 public domain, by pixabay.com
First published in: The Astrological Journal, Jul/Aug 2010
Laura Andrikopoulos DFAstrolS is Vice- President of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (FAS). She obtained her Faculty Diploma in 2006, winning the Margaret Hone Award, and became a Faculty tutor in 2007 and Vice-President in 2009. She runs her astrological practice from Birmingham, UK. Laura has a degree in Mathematics and a Diploma in Theology, and is currently writing her dissertation for her MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology upon the subject of astrology and its relationship to spirituality. She can be contacted through the FAS website www.astrology.org.uk. In the above article, she sets out some preliminary thoughts and reflections on this topic as a background to her APAE lecture for the Faculty of Astrological Studies at the AA Conference in September 2010.
© Laura Andrikopoulos - published by The Astrological Journal / The Astrological Association of Great Britain 2010
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