Saturday, September 15, 2018

Michael Hutchence

During the 1980s, when women swooned over INXS’ charismatic front man, Michael Hutchence, I wasn’t paying attention. Silly me. I missed what became Australia’s greatest musical export since Bon Scott and AC/DC. In the early 1980s when I was in my early teens, INXS were still developing as a band. I recall an interview on the kid’s television show Simon Townsend’s Wonder World in 1980, and then later that year, a video for Just Keep Walking, which aired on Sounds, the Saturday morning music show hosted by Donnie Sutherland. Yet, nothing registered. Even Michael Hutchence-as-sex-on-a-stick flew under my radar. Music writer Toby Creswell states that whatever you think of INXS’ style or music, you can’t deny the charisma of Michael Hutchence in his prime. It’s taken me nearly forty years to realise this. Slow or what? I am making up for it with the new issue of Astrobabble (#15), which is dedicated to the sexy Water Bearer and all things Aquarian.

In true Aquarian fashion, Michael Hutchence was an intriguing individual who sort recognition as an underground artist of the Nick Cave variety. Having fallen short of that ambition due to his commitment to INXS and an early death (he died aged thirty-seven), it’s this aspect of the man I find fascinating. Creating this issue has been an inquisitive voyage; my research confirms that all things are connected. INXS was formed in the Farriss brothers’ family home – in the garage of a house not dissimilar to my own family home, in a suburb not dissimilar to that of my adolescence - in Sydney’s north. Michael’s memorial in the grounds of the Northern Suburbs Crematorium in North Ryde is within the vicinity of my parent’s house. Both the Hutch and I have our Ascendant at twenty-eight degrees Capricorn. I can safely say that the similarities end here. Since creating this issue, I have taken to visiting Michael’s memorial regularly (on the way to mum and dad’s place), bringing gifts of flowers, candles and books. Each visit is coloured by an unexpected event, such as the time I was mistaken for Michael’s step-mother, Susie Hutchence, by the crematorium’s manager. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to fame and fortune.

The following is an extract from Astrobabble (#15), which is available at the following Sydney venues - Manly Zine Fair on 22 September,
Red Eye Records, Repressed Records, Paddington Book Exchange, and Alfalfa House Street Library in Enmore:

INXS’ 1987 album Kick marks the band’s imperial phase for which they are celebrated. The now-familiar tunes Mystify and Need You Tonight reflect the sonic template the band would use from this point onwards to generate international hit singles and platinum record sales. It deviated from Michael’s original vision of what it meant to be an artist. He reached a point where he wanted to explore other areas, glimpses of which surfaced as early as 1981 when he collaborated with Cold Chisel’s Don Walker on the raucous Speed Kills from the soundtrack to Scott Hicks’ film Freedom.

By 1989, aged twenty-nine, the very Saturnian Michael Hutchence began feeling the inklings of his first (and only) Saturn Return linking into the beginnings of the major planetary aspect of Uranus conjunct Neptune in Capricorn. Michael would have experienced a profound internal shift that mirrored events in his outer world. On a global level, it was a time of revolution – the Tiananmen Square massacres, the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany and the creation of the world wide web. The stirrings caused by this waxing aspect would have urged the Hutch to revise his inner values. The paradox contained deep within him began to emerge. In Western astrology, the Return at age twenty-nine is the individual’s separation from the parental mould; it’s a coming home to our innate autonomy and authenticity. By this stage, Michael was residing mostly in Hong Kong (for tax purposes), having finally severed his long-term relationship with Michele Bennett (although they remained friends until the end of his life). It became obvious to those around him that he was outgrowing the INXS family and needed a break from its sound, which had become safe and ubiquitous. Craving the space to unleash his inner-Nick Cave, the musician he always aspired to be, the Hutch called underground luminary Ollie Olsen and suggested they make music together.

Ollie Olsen emerged from the Little Bands scene of inner Melbourne in the late 1970s, forming, among other groups, the Young Charlatans with Rowland S Howard (later of Boys Next Door/Birthday Party fame). Olsen’s electronic unit, Whirlywirld, was revered by Richard Lowenstein who asked him to be musical director on Dogs In Space (1986), a feature-length movie set in Melbourne’s post-punk era of which both Olsen and Lowenstein were an integral part. Michael was cast in the lead role as a thinly disguised Sam Sejavka from new wave group the Ears (and later, Beargarden). The closing credits of Dogs In Space feature a song Olsen wrote for Whirlywirld – Rooms for the Memory – that Michael sang with such conviction and edge that it unnerved some members of the INXS camp:

‘… we all listened to the finished song … everyone was speechless. It really was a turning point – the band [INXS] heard what Michael could do without INXS’ – Michael’s friend, Bruce Butler

Max Q was a psychedelic-electronic-dance-rock band comprised of musicians interconnected within Melbourne underground bands like the Reals, No, and Orchestra of Skin and Bone. Michael wanted to make an alternative record and Olsen wanted to make a pop record. They met somewhere in the middle. Max Q’s only album release meshes funk, rock and industrial trance with an anti-establishment flavour. It was in keeping with Michael’s Aquarian ideals. Olsen impelled him to explore places he left dormant:

‘I got back my lust for music through Max Q. I had to realise that there are other people I can play with and there are other songs that can be written. When I sat down and did that with Max Q, it renewed it all’ – Michael Hutchence

Melbourne experienced a golden period in the 1980s, producing a dynamic and eclectic music scene that embraced electronic/dance music and nightclub culture. It suited Michael’s innovative Aquarian nature. It was important for him to be accepted and respected by Melbourne’s underground:

‘He [Michael] was absolutely smitten with the Melbourne scene and the bands that came out of it … he loved the Birthday Party and early Hunters and Collectors … he maintained lifelong friendships with the people he met from that scene, including myself, Sean Kelly, Richard Lowenstein, Ollie Olsen … and eventually Nick Cave’ – former Hunters and Collectors percussionist, Greg Perano

Max Q represented a special peak, professionally and personally, for Michael Hutchence: the band blitzed the 1989 Rolling Stone Australian readers and critics’ poll, Way of the World reached number eight on the singles chart, and the album peaked at number thirteen. The road already travelled and the virgin track stretching ahead intersect at the Saturn Return. Max Q could have taken the Hutch down an obscure but authentic path, leading to a more radical and fulfilling life. But INXS management had other plans. Chris Murphy didn’t want his main cash cow squandering himself on these underground types, taking musical risks and having a good time doing it. He felt Michael’s creative projects outside of INXS threatened the band’s future. Murphy regulated any serious publicity for Max Q, restricting Michael from giving interviews to promote the album, and limiting single releases in the US and Japan where INXS had sizeable followings. The Hutch’s frustration and anger festered. By the time INXS reassembled for the album X in 1990, the momentum was lost; it would never reach the levels of the pre-Kick era. It marked a dark phase where Michael grew increasingly bitter, bitchy and cynical (negative expression of Sun square Moon) and from which he would never return:

‘He wanted to deconstruct what he was. He wanted to be taken more seriously as an artist and he was more than INXS and more than the sex symbol image. He wanted to be more respected by critics and not seen as a fluffy pop star. Michael had a hell of a lot more to him than people realise. We were just on the cusp of something’ – Ollie Olsen

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Vivienne Westwood

It's International Women's Day. I haven't written on my blog for some time but figure that today is a good day to pay homage to one of my all-time fave female persons, Vivienne Westwood, with an extract from the latest issue of my zine Astrobabble. Happy IWD, girlfriends!
One of the main features of Vivienne Westwood’s natal chart is the placement of the Sun (Aries), Moon (Leo) and Rising sign (Sagittarius) in fire signs, so we expect her to make a dramatic impact. The spontaneity of her temperament and penchant for innovation (Moon square Uranus) raised street fashion to haute couture. Vanity is a potential fault (four planets and Ascendant in fire element). Westwood once boasted that she gains undivided male attention in a room full of beautiful women. Fashion entrepreneur, Gene Krell, said of Westwood as punk rock catalyst in the 1970s that ‘her attitude, her body language, her look was striking – it took your breath away’. Aspects to Uranus (Moon square Uranus, Mercury sextile Uranus, and Saturn conjunct Uranus) point towards flamboyancy and exhibitionism, enabling Westwood to seize opportunities and take risks. Eccentricity is a feature (Moon square Uranus):
‘…I am unorthodox … I’m never satisfied to do things the way other people do them … I am proudly eccentric’
She is attracted to ingenuity and novelty, but may also be perverse, finding herself at odds with the establishment and taking the law into her own hands (Mars opposite Pluto). Westwood has shown courage against the ‘taste dictatorship of the masses’ (her words). This is compatible with her involvement with Malcolm McLaren and the punk movement. Fashion as a threat to society in the form of Teddy Boys, Mods and Rockers, and the jeans/t-shirt look of James Dean and Marlon Brando are the foundations of Westwood’s work as a fashion designer, but more than that, Westwood created acceptance through alternative fashion trends because these were the uniforms of society’s social rejects. Misfits, minority groups, the unemployed and disabled felt relevant through her clothes. Her designs gave women a license to dress assertively and to own the tools of subjection, usually reserved for men, like whips, razor blades and chains. This had not been the case with previous music cults.
Westwood said of Malcolm McLaren, ‘I felt there were so many doors to open, and he had the key to all of them’. They became involved after meeting in 1965 through Westwood’s brother, Gordon. Together they sought new forms of expression (McLaren’s Aquarian Sun conjunct Westwood’s Aquarian Mars). The relationship had a strong Uranian signature. Ideas were important to them. McLaren’s Uranus trining her Midheaven signified mutual career goals that involved nonconformity and purpose. A student at Croydon Art School, McLaren had his finger on the pulse where contemporary culture was concerned and enjoyed the idea of using art as a way of creating chaos (Moon conjunct Neptune in Libra). Westwood held the technical ability to translate his ideas into clothing (Saturn in the sixth house). So began the evolving vision of Westwood and McLaren that was to change the cultural climate of Britain in the 1970s, the effects of which still prevail.
This extract is taken from Astrobabble, issue 14, available through Red Eye Records, Repressed Records and the zine fairs of Sydney and east coast Oz

Friday, January 27, 2017

Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals

I’m prone to thinking that I’m alone in the zine universe. Very few DIY publications celebrating the unlikely marriage of astrology and contemporary culture come my way. Perhaps they are created on a sizeable scale all over the planet and I just don’t have the skills to trace them. When I occasionally do make a discovery, my insecurities kick in and it becomes a cause for both celebration and trepidation as I now have a yardstick with which to compare my work. Yikes.
Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals is one such yardstick. A cute and simple hand written-hand drawn zine, it’s the creation of American zinester and astrology enthusiast, Elizabeth Thompson. She describes it as ‘a guide to celebrating rock n roll and all the planets in our solar system’, a description I could easily assign to my own zine, Astrobabble. And like my zine, Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals celebrates the colossal culture-shapers of our age – Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Siouxsie Sioux, Chuck Berry, Brian Wilson and Kurt Cobain –  and pairs them with a planet whose characteristics they share. Here’s Elizabeth’s list:

Mercury - Jimi Hendrix
Mars - Freddy Mercury
Earth - Billie Holiday
Jupiter - David Bowie
Venus - Siouxsie Sioux
Saturn - Chuck Berry
Neptune - Brian Wilson
Uranus - Kurt Cobain
Pluto - Tupac Shakur
Ceres - Patsy Cline

They are interesting pairings, don’t you think? I surmised from my first reading of Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals that different planets can represent some musicians better, but what do I know? I discussed the pairings with an astro-buddy. After much mulling and debating during a week day lunch, we derived the following list:

Jupiter - Jimi Hendrix
Mercury - Freddy Mercury
Saturn - Billie Holiday
Uranus - David Bowie
Pluto - Siouxsie Sioux
Saturn - Chuck Berry
Neptune - Brian Wilson
Neptune - Kurt Cobain
Mars - Tupac Shakur
Ceres - Patsy Cline
The pairing of planet and musician is fluid. If we are to follow the first rule of Astro Club – that is, an astrologer can make any chart work with the information available (even dirty data) – then any combination of musician and planet is ‘correct’. Despite this, I question Elizabeth’s choice of planet for some of the musicians, possibly because each musician’s work and life speak to us in personal ways.

Take Siouxsie Sioux, for example. Aesthetically, the singer of British post-punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees embodies the qualities of Venus. Stylishly dressed with heavy make-up applied meticulously, Siouxsie is appealing in a feminine way, but she is not submissive or girly. On the contrary, her guise is detached and foreboding - the original Goth. When I first saw Siouxsie and the Banshees’ video for Spellbound in the early 1980s on SBS music program Rock Around the World, I was spellbound by Siouxsie’s appearance. For me, her persona redefined what a ‘rock chick’ could look like (at that stage, I thought female musicians had to look like Suzi Quatro).
While Venus represents Siouxsie’s visual appeal, dwarf planet Pluto best symbolises the woman known for her complexity, controlling nature and aloofness, not to mention her profound influence on a generation of female musicians. In the post-punk music scene of the late 1970s to mid-1980s, Siouxsie and the Banshees were no lightweights. Their songs dealt with subjects that were taboo even in the late twentieth century - mental illness, paedophilia, sexual and emotional abuse, esotericism, and urban discontent. Many of Siouxsie’s songs stem from the psychological damage she experienced when she was sexually assaulted as child. Pluto stuff, indeed.
Putting my two cents aside, Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals is a little nugget of a zine and a reminder for me to honour other people’s astrological analyses. I enjoy the checklists for each planet/rock star where Elizabeth invites us to do something noble in the spirit of the planet in question. The spec for Venus/Siouxsie Sioux includes:
*telling someone that you love them*
*reaching out to someone new*
*making amends with yourself or someone else*
Rock n Roll Astrology & Rituals is available at

Friday, October 14, 2016

Neptune in Pisces and the Submerged Museum

Reading ‘The Changing Sea Scape of our Times’ by Antonia Case in Womankind magazine (#7, February-April 2016) prompted me to examine the current Neptune transit and its place in the zeitgeist. More specifically, it got me thinking how Neptune and Pisces relate to the artwork of English artist and naturalist, Jason deCaires Taylor, the article’s intriguing subject.

Jason deCaires Taylor is a British born underwater sculptor who has gained worldwide recognition as one of the first artists to integrate contemporary art with the conservation of marine life. His artificial coral reefs installations divert tourists away from endangered natural coral reefs, providing these systems the opportunity to regenerate.

One impressive example is Vicissitudes, meaning changeability. Submerged in the Caribbean Sea in Molinere Bay, in the world’s first public underwater sculpture park, stands a circle of Taylor’s cement figures. With defying postures, they face outward, holding hands in an unbreakable link while algae and other marine life slowly alter their bodies over time. Within years, these sunken artworks will be transformed. Taylor’s work is a commentary on humanity’s relationship with the natural world and the need for conservation, decay and rebirth. Works such as Vicissitudes portray how human interaction with nature can be positive and sustainable, and that living in a symbiotic relationship with nature is possible.

The connection to Neptune in Pisces is discernible (to me, anyway). Planet Neptune transits the constellation of Pisces between 2012 and 2025. Neptune is Pisces’ ruling planet. Both are synonymous with water, especially the depths of the ocean, and both have a comprehensive understanding that all life is interconnected. As a gaseous and nebulous planet, Neptune’s boundaries are elusive; we are unsure of where the planet begins and ends. Neptune acts as one of the planetary gateways to a consciousness that is free from the limitations of Saturn and all planets inside Saturn’s orbital path (that is, the planets that are visible from Earth). Neptune symbolises the urge to dissolve a rigid sense of individuality and separateness in order to reconnect to the underlying unity of all life, qualities synonymous with Taylor’s work. His underwater sculptures plug into something primal - the ocean is too boundless and overwhelming for us mortals to comprehend. Once these manmade figures are submerged, they cease to belong to the material realm. Instead, they become part of the mystery that is the sea and, ultimately, life.

One critic described Taylor’s installations as ‘enigmatic, haunting and colorful commentaries about our transient existence, the sacredness of the ocean and its breathtaking power of regeneration’, but you can make up your own mind:

Neptune and Pisces rule museums, art galleries, and libraries. For Taylor, the ocean is an exhibition space and museum, embodying unlimited room, natural lighting, and infinite visitors at all times. It acts as a sacred place to conserve and protect objects of value for posterity. Taylor bemoans the fact that many of us don’t regard our oceans as sacred – we don’t see the sea.
The Neptune-Pisces cycle signals the importance of compassion and empathy. Global issues associated with Pisces are surfacing, such as rising sea levels and growing concerns over the availability of fresh water in parts of the world. Both Neptune and Pisces rule art and culture, and artists such as Jason deCaires Taylor have a role to play in engaging people on an emotional level. On writing, Taylor had placed approximately seven hundred underwater sculptures around the globe, generating masses of robust marine systems. His largest underwater sculpture to date, Ocean Atlas, located on the western coastline of New Providence in the Bahamas, is a metaphor for modern times: Ocean Atlas is burdened by the weight of the ocean pressing down on her shoulders. It symbolises global warming and the load that will be carried by future generations if we don’t take action. Ambiguity, confusion and passivity are hazards to growth and healing during a Neptune-Pisces cycle. We drift along with the oceans current at our peril. Only with self-actualisation we get to see the sea.

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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Going Home

I guess it’s a cliché to revisit your childhood home and get all heavy-hearted for the good ol’ days of youth. With rose-coloured glasses on, some of us insist that our formative years were magical, innocent and simpler than life is today. I am certainly guilty of this. True to my Cancerian nature, roaming around in the past is something I do regularly. Recently I had the opportunity to savour this fetish in a real way when I revisited the house I lived in from birth to twelve years of age when it came up for sale.

The experience was strangely consoling. The house is a three bedroom, red-brown brick American bungalow built in the 1920s. Curiosity drew me along with my mother and niece to have a peek when the property was open for inspection in September. Aesthetically, not a lot had changed except for the garden, which had been developed and maintained in a thoughtful way and included a well and picnic table. I noted that the front door with its stained glass of oversized red roses and green petals remained unchanged, more polished and fresher than I remembered. The wallpaper in the hallway had been replaced with a pattern similar to the one I’d known in the 1970s. The fact that these features remained unchanged or altered slightly to resemble what was there before gave me a strong feeling of de-ja-vu. I recall how straightforward and liberal life was then. As children, we drank wine diluted with lemonade at dinner, allowed to puff on our grandfather’s cigarette, encouraged to read books that grabbed our attention, and permitted to watch hours of television without ‘recommended parental guidance’. More importantly, we were let loose in the neighbourhood to run around, play cricket with other kids in the middle of the road, ride bikes or skateboards streets away, and let off steam in a healthy, physical way. There wasn’t much that was regulated in my childhood.

I don’t want to give away the entire address out of respect for the residents, but I do have to mention how significant the house number and street name are on a cosmic level - 40 Fourth Avenue. The prominence of the number four reveals a stable and traditional home, a stronghold well-shielded from the anguishes of the outside world. Occupants of number four dwellings tend to live there long term and are often entrenched in routine. My family lived there for fifteen years (1965 to 1980) before selling it to the couple who recently put it on the market (1980 to 2015). Our next-door neighbours also lived at 40 Fourth Avenue for a couple of decades prior to my parents purchasing the property, and before our neighbours owned the home, their own parents had lived there for some decades from the 1920s when the house was built! I find all this refreshing and comforting in our wobbly times where the status of ‘the home’ is demoted to nothing more than a box where workers go to be watered, fed and rested between long intervals of productivity at the office. It was gratifying to see the place lovingly refurbished to look, feel, and function like a ‘family home’, not an airbrushed real estate brochure. The current Black Plague of overdevelopment spoiling Sydney's suburbs means that houses like Fourth Avenue are an endangered species. Such properties are often targeted for demolition by developers to make way for depressing tower blocks of small cubicles marketed as 'luxury apartments'. On writing, Fourth Avenue would have sold for a ridiculous amount of money, probably to an overseas investor. I don’t know what is in store has for the property, but I hope the Gods are kind.

I am three years away from my number four pinnacle and turning the milestone age of fifty. It worries me when I think about this combination – a middle age where hard work and financial management are at the forefront of my life. How boring is that? I had hoped that by this stage I would be breaking off the shackles of conventional work. The visit to my old family home shifted my perspective. Having Saturn in the fourth house of my natal chart proved restrictive in my adolescence for many reasons, but I now witness the pearl forming inside the gritty shell.  The positive aspect of a fourth house Saturn is symbolised by 40 Fourth Avenue – stability, security, reliability of the people around you, and the certainty of knowing your place in that space. I can take these qualities with me into my number four pinnacle and believe that such a solid base is the perfect springboard for jumping into the activities I want to develop.

As a kid, I was madly creative. Bursting with ideas for plays, films, writing fiction, drawing, painting, and song writing, I knew who I was and what my talents were.  That knowing got lost on the way to adulthood, as it does with some of us. I believe my early development was a result of great schooling and a solid home base. It’s taken me many years to discover the gem hidden within the number four vibration and fourth house Saturn. I have 40 Fourth Avenue to thank for that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Life according to Keefe

I am currently producing this year’s issue of Astrobabble, the first in a new cycle where I rehash the astrological signs and planets in my revered and unparalleled style (yeah, right). Anyway, I decided to revisit all things (some things) Sagittarius since I had covered the sign in one of the earlier issues about a million years ago (yeah, right) and felt it needed refreshing, given the current Saturn-Sagittarius cycle.

To get motivated, I began the year with the challenging goal of ploughing through Keith Richards’ autobiography Life - which is the size of a house brick - before my birthday in July. It was effortless. What an engaging tale! At over six hundred pages, this epic work captures the Sagittarian spirit of ‘the journey’ through the well-worn themes of rock n roll, illicit drug taking, and intrepid travel. What elevates this story above the usual rock star dross is Keefe’s unique and unfettered voice, and his profound insight. For the Centaur, the real sport of life is to make ‘the journey’ stimulating, varied, and as expansive as possible. The goal is insignificant. This has been the undisputed path for Keith Richards since the mid-1950s (when he discovered rock n roll), leading to the formation of the Rolling Stones with Mick Jagger in 1962. What followed was a smorgasbord of life experiences spanning decades that would leave more sober astrological signs breathless.

You could argue that it’s difficult to dislike Keefe the man, even if you’re not a fan of the Rolling Stones’ music. While Mick Jagger has the air of a manipulative prima donna, by contrast, Keith appears accessible and genial (Sun in Sagittarius / Moon and Jupiter on Midheaven / Moon sextile Venus). A stellium of planets in the tenth house (Chiron, Moon, and Jupiter) is indicative of popularity and success on a large scale. Shrugging off the clichéd junkie image is a challenge (Scorpio rising / Pluto as chart ruler semi-squaring Saturn in opposition to the Sun / Chiron square Sun), however, the public graciously forgives Keith for his shortcomings and recognises him as one of the ultimate rock star icons (Uranus square Moon on Midheaven / chart ruler Pluto conjunct node in Leo).

A strict Virgo Moon on the Midheaven reflects the need to perfect his craft (blues guitar) with discipline. The Virgo Moon individual finds it difficult to express feelings and can be out of touch with their emotional side altogether if the Moon isn’t supported by meaningful factors in the birth chart. One of the more surprising revelations in Life is Keith’s inherent shyness with women. He claims that when it comes to approaching the opposite sex, he holds back (Moon in Virgo square Mars in Gemini) and waits for the object of his desire to make the first move. An eighth house Saturn in opposition to his Sun indicates his insecurity in intimate situations and the fear of being swamped by feelings that his Virgo Moon works hard at controlling. As a young single guy, Keith struggled with pick-up lines and had a preoccupation with finding the right line or one that hadn’t been used before.

‘I just never had that thing with women … “hey, baby” is just not my come-on’

The life of the mind is important to Sagittarius and Virgo. Both signs travel on a mental level. Intellectuals of the zodiac, they devour books and absorb all forms of knowledge. Another unexpected admission is that Keith is an avid reader who takes pride in developing libraries inside his homes in West Sussex, England and Weston, Connecticut. It's alleged that he attempted to classify his collection using the Dewey Decimal classification system but found it too overwhelming. Moon in Virgo, indeed!

'When you are growing up, there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully - the church (Sagittarius) ... and the public library (Virgo) ... the public library is a great equaliser'
On writing, Keefe at seventy-one shows no signs of slowing down. He says that he is still partial to beginning the day by smoking a joint. With the imminent release of his new solo album Crosseyed Heart next month, fellow Sagittarian Tom Waits has penned a interminable poem to celebrate the Rolling Stones guitarist’s legendary status. Part homage to Keith’s questionable physical attributes such as pissing blue urine and smelling like a campfire, the following lines are endearing:
Hands like a woodworker
Arms like a swabby
A back like a soldier
A mind like a detective
Shoulders like a boxer
A voice like a choirboy
And a country-western face

Keith Richards is testament to the Sagittarian adage that if you create your own luck, the road can go on forever. Read more in the new issue of Astrobabble, available at the Manly Zine Fair in September.