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:
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:
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.