Weirdo Book Reviews: Two Great Books On Fixed Star Algol

 

The fixed star Caput Algol, often simply referred to as Algol, has quite a fearsome reputation in astrology. Of course, one must always see the nuances of the potential behind the astrological interpretations before rushing to judgement, and also use personal experience with how potentials actually manifest in real life. Two books I’ve found very useful in de-mystifying Algol’s infamy are Beyond The Planets: Algol’s Use In Fixed Star Astrology by D.M. Hoover, and Brady’s Book Of Fixed Stars by Bernadette Brady.

 

It’s probably necessary to give a little explanation of what Algol is first. Algol is a fixed star located at 26-27 degrees of Taurus. It’s exact degree changes from time to time due to precession of motion, so you may occasionally see Algol located at 24 or 25 degrees Taurus for older chart interpretations. Algol is actually a binary star system -the first to be discovered- meaning the “star” is actually three stars that orbit and therefore eclipse each other like so:

 

Algol astrology stars eclipse

 

This eclipse orbit gives Algol the appearance from Earth of occasionally “disappearing” and then re-emerging with a distinct blink. Thus, in ancient times it became known as the “blinking demon” star. In Hebrew it was called “Satan’s Head”; its current name comes from an Arabic word meaning “head of the ghoul”, Al-Ghoul or now Algol. Ptolemy drew mythological connections to the story of Medusa, who was of course beheaded.

 

This association with cruelty, pain and even decapitation unfortunately seemed to be reflected in events associated with Algol. People nowadays do not like hearing these connotations, but they arose from somewhere and astrologers wouldn’t have continued such a brutal association unless it had merit. Algol is located in the sign of Taurus; while Taurus is generally thought of as a sensual, slow Venus-ruled earth sign, it has a shadow side just like every other astrology sign. The shadow side of the sign of The Bull is indeed a raging bull; slow to anger but when angered even slower to cool off. The earthiness of the sign means its dark side can manifest in physical ways; and as Taurus rules the neck, it became known that the bright blinking fixed star located in Taurus seemed to epitomize this brutal dark side.

 

There’s still the same associations of brute physical force, considerable violence, and severe neck/body injury attached to Algol today. As I have my Mars conjunct Algol (you use a tight orb -degree of separation- for fixed stars; 3 degrees or less for aspects) I, of course, have made a point of looking into how such a horribly malefic influence actually plays out in real life and in the charts of people who, like myself, are not in any way as violent or brutal as the reputation would suggest.

 

So, with that out of the way, the two books that I think explain Algol on a regular human level are the ones I’m hoping people will defer to when first studying Algol. The first book is Bernadette Brady’s Brady’s Book Of Fixed Stars. This is probably the more well known of the two, since it details pretty much all the fixed stars, not just Algol, so has been considered a staple in fixed star astrology interpretations.

 

Brady’s take on Algol is brief, then, but still illuminating. Brady explains that despite such associations with typical masculine areas of violence such as battles, assassinations and the like, Algol was generally considered a feminine star: the wife of the Devil to the Arabs, and in Talmudic Law Algol was actually Lilith, the first wife of Adam who was not made from Adam’s rib but was her own person and was cast out of the Garden of Eden for not being submissive. To quote Brady:

 

“Algol, in other words, is the wild, raw, frightening face of the outraged feminine which has been labeled as demonic or simply evil. This star seems to contain immense female passion and power. It is the power of the feminine or the potential power of Mother Nature, not to be called evil for being strong.”

 

Brady then goes on to use examples of Albert Einstein (Pluto conjunct Algol) unlocking the power of the bomb, and JFK’s and O.J. Simpson’s similar displays of maschismo and uncomfortable relationship to the feminine as examples of Algol at work.

 

We obviously learn from these types of sample cases, which leads me to the second book that I highly recommend. D.M. Hoover’s Beyond The Planets: Algol’s Use In Fixed Star Astrology is devoted exclusively to Algol and uses a wide selection of sample charts and history. The book offers little in the way of cookbook style interpretations, instead letting the examples speak for themselves.

 

At first glance, the examples in the book seem to reinforce the terrible reputation of Algol. The blinking demon star was prominent in events such as the 2012 Benghazi attack and the first World Trade Center bombing. Algol was also strong in the event chart of the invasion of Iraq, as well as in the birth charts of Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein. It featured in the event charts of the Columbine school shooting and the Boston Marathon bombings, and again in the birth charts of the people who carried out those events. Timothy McVeigh, Jim Jones (the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana guy), and notable earthquakes and hurricanes also have Algol signatures in their respective charts.

 

So far, so not good… but, there’s just as many other examples in Hoover’s book that helps one see how Algol might affect otherwise ordinary, decent people. Sylvia Plath is an interesting example that seems to harken back to Brady’s impression that Algol can represent the repressed feminine that becomes feral or rabid if not released from the cages society has placed it in. Plath had Chiron (that odd mixture of pain and charisma) conjunct Algol, and Hoover has an interesting insight of this aspect as it played out in Plath’s chart:

 

“In Sylvia’s natal chart, it was Chiron symbolizing the inner wound that never healed for her… It’s uncanny to think that Sylvia wrote in her nove The Bell Jar about “the windowless corridor of pain”, or what was to become her own bell jar. She penned the words, “From the bottom of a pool, fixed stars govern a life”.” 

 

(As an aside, the poet Ted Hughes whom Plath fell in love with was an avid astrologer himself, and supposedly she used to tease him about drawing up charts for everything he did.)

 

Stephen King and Martin Luther King Jr. are two more examples in the book of good people with a malefic influence in their charts, both with their North Node (their manifesto) conjunct Algol. Dr. King was not the perpetrator of violence; he was someone who definitely had firsthand experience of it and he used his passionate response to violence to preach the gospel of non-violence, and to inspire others into tangible actions leading to change and reform. Unfortunately, he was another Algol person who was assassinated. At this point I have to say that having a strong Algol in a chart does not show assassination or unfortunate endings just by itself; other factors must be taken into consideration, of course. Stephen King hasn’t been assassinated, though he did nearly lose both legs in an severe accident. Algol conjunct his North Node seems to have operated in his life by aligning his life purpose with the psychological understanding and expression of the deeply unsettling and pathological. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung also have strong Algol aspects, and in other examples in Hoover’s book we see that it isn’t a stretch to imagine that Algol’s ferocity need not be physically violent but can be psychologically aware of the brutality of life that others would prefer to run from.

 

A few other examples from Hoover’s book: we do not have reliable birth information for Joan of Arc (there’s that wild woman influence again) but at the time of her being burned at the stake (ahem, for being her own person) transit Jupiter was conjunct Algol at the mundane level. Edgar Cayce would go on to do a reading for a woman from Lyons that he believed to be the reincarnation of Joan of Arc; his client was born with Jupiter conjunct Algol.

 

One interesting case study for me -because I’m a music geek- was the plane crash that killed The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens (aka “The Day The Music Died”). In his book, Hoover explains that the last two of those singers had prominent Algol aspects in their charts, particularly Ritchie Valens who had a Venus-Jupiter-Algol conjunction in his 3rd house. What isn’t mentioned in Hoover’s book but that I knew from memory when I seen this event included (again, music geek) was that Waylon Jennings was supposed to be aboard that flight but, in a twist of fate, didn’t go:

 

“After a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2nd, Holly decided to charter a plane for himself, guitarist Tommy Allsup and Jennings so they could fly to Fargo, North Dakota, instead of taking the long, frozen bus trip. Richardson, who was suffering from the flu, asked Jennings for his seat on the plane, and Valens asked the same of Allsup. When Jennings told Holly that he was going to take the bus, Holly jokingly told him he hoped the bus broke down, to which Jennings replied, “I hope your ol’ plane crashes!” 

 

“God almighty, for years I thought I caused it,” the country legend said decades later.”

 

So, of course I looked up Waylon Jennings chart; Algol conjunct the Midheaven opposed by Mars in Scorpio conjunct the IC; in some weird way he still experienced Algol without actually experiencing Algol…

 

So, Algol didn’t earn her fearsome reputation for nothing, but hopefully these two books will put a more humane and insightful face on her and the people who live life in that gear. To close this article out on a more successful ending, one of the case studies not found in ether book but that I personally like is actor Danny Trejo, Taurus Sun conjunct Algol:

 

Danny Trejo ASTROLOGY

 

who started out life as a juvenile delinquent, becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, served time in prison and at one point was maybe eligible for the death penalty. Of course, after controlling the demon star within he’s known now for his softer side, working still as a drug counselor and of course as an often comedic actor.

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Demitra M. N. says:

    Clarissa, this is yet another splendid astrological focus; you are NEVER boring! 🙂

    I was wondering: was your focus on conjunctions to Algol deliberate? For example, do other aspects, like squares and oppositions, affect the chart in as meaningful a way? If yes, with such a dark fixed star would the softer, kinder aspects ameliorate the difficult aspects, for example? Essentially, what I’m really asking is: do we work with fixed stars in the same way as we do with other ‘moving’ celestial bodies?

    Thanks!

    • The conjuction is strongest, followed by the opposition and the square. Some of the people mentioned above have the opposition and the square. The trine and sextile don’t soften Algol 😉

      You’ll notice Ritchie Valens had both benefics conjunct Algol…

      You’ll use a tight orb too, 3 degrees or less. William Lilly was a bit more generous, so it can be played with on a case by case basis, but generally that’s the rule of thumb.

      • Demitra M. N. says:

        Thank you for that, Clarissa. I’ve had Brady’s book on my list of astrological books to get for some time but because it’s one of the more expensive one’s, I been putting it off for that reason. However, in light of this latest insight into the fixed stars I will be picking it up next, if only to understand and help someone close to me who’s Sun squares Algol within 2 degrees.

        A couple of years ago this friend of mine with the Algol square had dealings with someone whom he now admits to having had “murderous” thoughts about at the time. My friend ultimately did not harm this individual, nor did that person actually harm my friend, however my friend did eventually collapse from sever back trauma at the time, which no doctor could diagnose, a trauma that my friend is still recovering from.

        Clearly, my friend’s unexpressed violent thought forms found expression within his own body. At the time, I couldn’t find the astrological underpinning in his chart to explain what he was so obviously experiencing, but now I am wondering if Algol squaring his Sun makes him susceptible to unconsciously, and unintentionally, self-inflicted violence, or is Algol’s sinister actions always conscious, purposeful and outer-directed? What say you?

        Thanks! 🙂

        • Hi Demitra, Brady’s Book is great, but not a good purchase if you’re just looking for information on Algol and you’re on a budget since that entry is pretty short; she gives info on ALL fixed stars so keeps each one short. Great book overall, but I’d pick Hoover’s if you just need Algol info.

          As far as your friend… murderous thoughts aren’t something seen in a chart, I’ve got a tough Algol and I don’t have murderous thoughts lol. However, I actually do know the feeling of not being able to get out of very stressful situations and having that stress manifest physically, you’ll see that with any chart that has a stressed Mars, Saturn or Pluto.

          One thing about Algol re: “unconsciously, and unintentionally, self-inflicted violence, or is Algol’s sinister actions always conscious, purposeful and outer-directed?” Well its up to the individual, sometimes it’s neither of those things. Look at Marilyn, Nicole, Joan of Arc etc… sometimes it’s those things coming to them from outside, victims of the sinister and not perpetrators of it. This would apply to the Sun square, though obviously it was different for your friend.

          • Demitra M. N. says:

            Thank you so much for taking the time, Clarissa…your knowledge and insights in this area of your expertise are genuinely appreciated.

  2. Such a great post! I have Mars in Scorpio in exact opposition to Algol, and Juno conjunct Algol. I freaked so hard the first time I learned of Algol, years ago, I have never read a positive thing about it. The great thing about what you’ve done here is not sugar coat it, you let us know it’s as bad as it seems, but still find a better use or potential or what have you. Including MLK and his passion for NONVIOLENCE was great. And who doesn’t love Danny Trejo? He is inspirational.

    Concerning your own Mars conjunct Algol, I totally understand you might not want to share your experiences with us, but if you do have some I think it would be great, to hear how you handle it.

    Cheers!

    • I have a tough Mars-Saturn aspect, so it’s that on steroids 😀

      • Not to be rude, but I remember from your thing on Prince that he was epileptic as a kid and that you were too, thru your teens. I went back and looked at his chart, he has Taurus and Scorpio but I don’t see anything close to Algol. I think epilepsy is Uranus or Gemini? But he grew out of it quickly and you didn’t, is that your Mars Saturn Algol?

  3. Clarissa, I’ve been looking into some of these people mentioned here and found something interesting. You say that Bernadette Brady gave JKF and OJ Simpson as examples of “machismo” and difficulty with the feminine. Just thought I’d add to that: Marilyn Monroe had Saturn conjunct Algol, Nicole Brown Simpson had Sun conjunct Algol. I don’t think anyone believes OJ didn’t murder Nicole, and it’s been long speculated that JFK has Marilyn killed. So it would appear that the feminine experiences difficulty from the masculine, too. Beyond the usual. Perhaps that feeling of repressed animalistic instincts was triggered by all parties through synastry, bringing out the raging bull in all?

    • Wow, that’s interesting… Nicole had been stabbed to death in the neck, too…

      With Marilyn, I think she was something of a wild woman too, but conjunct her Saturn she found it difficult to break out of her dumb blonde persona put on her by society and the Hollywood execs. Arthur Miller said he considered her his intellectual equal; she was probably closer to Plath than what her image insinuated.

  4. Like Plath, I have Chiron conjunct at 25 Taurus (which is also the apex of one of my many Yods), and when I first learned of Algol, I got scared, and then pretty much tried to avoid it. I plan on picking up these books, as you always have outstanding recommendations, so I can learn to love my Algol/Chiron marriage.

  5. richardjhynes66 says:

    Thanks Clarissa, that’s a great article. I have North Node conjunct Algol, I can relate!

  6. Grandtrines says:

    Reblogged this on Lost Dudeist Astrology and commented:
    Absolutely SUPERB piece on Algol.

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