So, just before the beginning of the year I made a little playlist of old musical favorites, gripe about the current state of music, and gave a brief explanation of how Pluto in Capricorn is a major part of the killing of creativity in mainstream media and entertainment. Not long after the first of the year, I did get very fangirl-y excited upon hearing that David Bowie was releasing a new album on January 9th, the day after his 69th birthday. Of course, we all know he passed away two days later. The response was collective shock and sadness by his fans, and even by people who knew of him but never gave him a second thought before. He seemed to be one of those people like ones we’ve known in our personal lives, the ones you take for granted will always be around and always be themselves. Even knowing that no one makes it out of this world alive, it still catches us off guard to see those people leave. A lot of eloquent tributes were written for him and I can’t begin to do better than that so won’t try that here. I will just briefly touch on some of the astrology and throw some videos in, because Bowie is all I’ve listened to since.
Here’s his natal chart with the transits at the time of his passing over:
No surprise that he was a 12th house Sun. A significant amount of people who become public figureheads in their fields will have a strong 12th house. The Aquarius rising was the eccentric exterior everyone initially saw; in true Saturnian fashion it took time and age for the quiet dignity of his Capricorn 12th house Sun to be his distinguishing feature. When 12th house Suns become visible in the public eye, they seem to embody more than most an unspoken, intangible spirit or feeling that draws from the collective psychosphere while also moving beyond it, and as such are often catalysts in some way. David Bowie’s life and career were certainly full of those moments, but his death even more so.
The New Moon on January 9th, the day his album Blackstar was released, was at 19 degrees Capricorn, just 2 degrees off his 17 degree Capricorn Sun in the 12th. At the time of his passing, the Moon had moved on to Aquarius and was just about to cross his ascendant, bringing into the open the process started by the New Moon conjunct his natal Sun. Pluto at 15 degrees of Capricorn was also moving in on his 12th house Sun. Since January 5th, we have been coping with a particularly harsh Mercury retrograde, most of which has been in the sign of Capricorn, the serious sign of reality, aging, and personal evolution; for much of the retrograde Mercury has been conjunct Pluto, planet of death, regeneration, transformation. Mercury Rx conjunct Pluto in Capricorn has brought to many people news they’d rather not hear concerning illness and/or death of people in their circles; I’ve known of two families personally in my daily life who’ve lost someone to suicide the past two weeks. Although Mercury Rx in Capricorn has certainly dealt with a spectrum of issues, one of those was definitely gearing our mind towards facing certain painful but inevitable life realities. David Bowie’s death in the midst of this struck a chord, as not only did many lose someone who was the soundtrack to their life but Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, was devoted to this particular major life passage. He was aware he was dying as he recorded the record and it now belongs alongside other templates that help us cope with life’s physical ending. He was in an aperture, a point where the spirit has begun moving to another dimension, and listening to Blackstar posthumously we can stand there with him. How very 12th house of him.
So, this has become my current soundtrack, take a look and listen for yourself:
The first is my favorite off the album, beautiful jazzy saxophone on that one. The second and third are obviously the ones most are now familiar with; the last one and title tack especially. The video for Blackstar is powerful multilayer commentary on his career, the culture of celebrity worship, and obviously his own mortality: “something happened on the day he died, spirit rose a meter then stepped aside”. It does what any real work of art does and forces strong opinions of its message, with different people seeing different meanings not unlike a Rorschach test. The scene with figures similar to stuffed scarecrows (probably a reference to this TS Eliot poem) writhing around suggestively on a trinity of crucifixes has been understandably seen as sinister and blasphemous by many; personally, I get the impression he was mocking the way entertainers are put on pedestals after their death, elevated by the masses to near deities. The central figure on the cross is dressed similar to Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock (black pants, black and white striped shirt) and the hip swivel would certainly further suggest it is Elvis. David Bowie and Elvis Presley shared the same birthday, which I’m certain Bowie would have known. He was self aware enough at the time of filming the music video to know he’d have a similar legacy as his birthday twin. Elvis recorded a song early in his career called “Black Star”, which may have contributed another level of meaning to the title track:
Every man has a black star, a black star over his shoulder
And when a man sees his black star
He knows his time, his time has come
Mercury Rx in Capricorn may have created periods of reflection on life’s heavier matters, but it also showed how only love and art can truly break your heart and the often unexpected way exploring those issues through art can bring the living one step closer to understanding.
Still, these are the Pluto in Capricorn years, and we’re only just at the halfway mark. As I ranted in the original Intermission article, Pluto in Capricorn demonstrates creativity and originality being killed for profit, elevating mediocrity for mainstream commercialization. In the “reality TV” (arbitrary use of “reality”) driven current media model, nothing is too sacred to make a buck off of it. So, even though David Bowie has only been dead about five minutes, naturally Hollywood has already started on a shitty remake of one of his movies, and less talented artists who never seemed to be big Bowie fans before are going to
butcher record cover versions of his songs. There’s even those people wanting to name “Planet 9” Bowie if/when it is ever discovered. A hypothetical planet, reductive wannabe version of original planets… may I suggest Lady Gaga or Adam Lambert instead? Hopefully Coldplay (ugh) will at least know better than to pay “tribute” to Bowie when they play the Super Bowl halftime show after Bowie called them out.
For the remainder of the Pluto in Capricorn years, boycott any remakes. Rediscover the old originals and search and support new ones. There’s tons of inspired artists not being heard over the profit machines. Luckily, Bowie was well established and so his incredible art wasn’t lost. We are overlooking others, no doubt. Bowie’s final farewell really goes to show by contrast how tepid the waters have become.