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Billie Holiday: A Bold Aries Sun, Piscean Gifts, and the Fated Dark Moon

In keeping with using Charles E.O. Carter’s early-to-mid-Twentieth Century handbook for astrologers, The Principles of Astrology, to evaluate charts of prominent early-to-mid-Twentieth Century figures, I turned to the chart of Billie Holiday. Born in 1915 to a single, teenaged mother, she struggled to survive in her early years. Her amazing and unique vocal gifts were discovered by the late 1920’s, and her career flourished in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Addiction issues and legal troubles dogged her throughout her career, however, and she died, tragically, at the age of 44, leaving behind a legacy of musical genius in her phrasing and ability to make a song resonate from her soul to the hearts of her listeners.

Carter would celebrate Billie’s Aries Sun as “bold and energetic.” She did what she wanted in life, sang the way she heard the music in her mind, married men who were not good for her but gave her a heartbreak that infused her songs, and did not give up fighting against the addiction which over and over threatened to derail her. In the third house, this bold Aries Sun would give her the passion to connect her mind with others. She connected not just through her music but at the end of her life would write her memoir Lady Sings the Blues, which poured out her lifetime of struggles with poverty, racism, addiction, and abuse – and yet shows how her spirit overcame them, only to fall back into the painful cycle again.

This suggests the impact of the Pisces planets in the second house of Billie’s chart. Mercury here can be “mentally confused,” but also artistic and humorous. Billie did have trouble negotiating a clear path through life, but her book proved her to be sharply intelligent and bitingly funny. “You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation,” she wrote about the racism she continued to encounter even as she became one of the most famous singers in the world. She also heard and sang lyrics like no one before her, creating a unique sound which heavily influenced jazz singers who followed her.

Mars in Pisces can be “easily played on by others.” And Jupiter in Pisces is “devoted to philanthropy.” As her star rose, Billie’s generosity knew no bounds, and no matter how much money she made, she always ended up broke – cheated by the people around her (including husbands) she trusted, or giving it away to those whose struggles reminded her of her own poverty-stricken upbringing. And the exalted Venus in Pisces reflects Billie’s God-sent musical gifts. But it also suggests she can be easily swayed by others. It was Billie’s husband who introduced her to heroin.

The strong second house emphasis tells us that much of Billie’s life would be focused on money (or, the lack of it), that which, Carter writes, “the material that goes to support the living body.” As a young teenager, Billie fought starvation and eviction by doing whatever limited jobs she could find, including stints as a sex worker. She had sung all of her life, and was quite stunned to learn she could actually make money singing, showing that her Piscean artistic gifts became the means of her financial support.

But the Capricorn Moon in Billie’s twelfth house is the most haunting planet in her chart. There is something “cold” and “suspicious” about a Capricorn Moon, Carter writes, suggesting a lack of nurturing early in life that leads one to life-long mistrust. “The lunar nature dwells in the past and has a long memory.” Billie’s declaration that she is never far from “the plantation” of slavery and want reflects this aspect of her Moon.

And in the twelfth house, this Moon dwells in the space of “sorrows, confinements, secret enemies, betrayals, and ambushes.” Carter identifies the sorrows experienced in this house as those caused by others. Trying to survive and flourish in a system that denigrated her for her race, sex, and class, Billie experienced unpredictable arrests and even incarceration. Pursued by the feds for drug possession, she would ask that she be sent into treatment because she wanted to get clean, but instead was sent to jail. The government even arrested her for drug possession when she was on her deathbed. Some speculate that Billie aroused she enmity from the federal government because of those threatened by her growing power and influence. She died in 1959, at the eve of the Civil Rights movement, but she had raised her voice in defiance of racial segregation throughout her career, and her song “Strange Fruit” inspired anti-lynching activists.

Planets in the twelfth house, Carter believes, can indicate eventual success. Ruled by her fifth house Saturn in Gemini, Billie’s Capricorn Moon promises that her voice will never be silenced. Billie Holiday continues to inspire new generations of musicians and activists. Since her death, her recordings have been remastered and reissued on CDs, she has received numerous awards, including Grammys, movies have been made about her life, and statues continue to be erected in her honor.

All this is wonderful, of course, but Billie Holiday, with a soul who could hear the music which uplifts our fallen world, deserved better.


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