Even at the age of 73, Olivia Newton-John was such a vital presence in our popular culture that many felt her passing as the sad loss of a very lovely and gifted lady. As I looked at her chart, I saw the beauty of her art in the Libra planets, the sweetness of her disposition and the love she inspired in audiences in her Cancer Moon, and the drive to live her life well and serve others in her Virgo Ascendant and first house Saturn. Olivia Newton-John was someone who had a soaring and brilliant career, a person who struggled in relationships until she found her “happily ever after,” and a human being who bravely fought cancer, one of our most dire and deadly diseases. What in her chart would tell us this story?
I have been pouring over Demetra George’s wonderful textbook for astrologers, Astrology and the Authentic Self. She gives us guidance on how to explore these topics of career, relationships, and health with our clients. When we examine career potential, we look first at the element of the 10th, 2nd, and 6th houses, which for Olivia would be air. This tells us that it will be important to her to communicate her ideas with the world. After her first bout with cancer, she was no longer simply an entertainer. She shared her experiences with cancer through her music, and invited others to tell their stories as well.
There is also a Hellenistic technique to look at what (traditional) planets are rising ahead of the Sun (but not under the Sun’s beams) to find indications of the career. Saturn, Venus, and the Moon all rise ahead of the Sun, showing us the discipline of an artist in Saturn, the love of performing with Venus in Leo, and the ability to touch others’ hearts with the Moon in Cancer in the 11th house of the audience.
There are no planets in the 10th house, but we look to the ruler of the house to determine how the “manager” of her career house is positioned. Mercury is in the last degree of artistic Libra, full of the power to bring beauty into the world. Mercury is direct and visible (not under the beams of the Sun). While it does not have the advantage of being in an angular house, it is in her house of livelihood (2nd) showing that she will be able to earn doing what she believes she was born to do (10th). And, Mercury is not “witnessed” by either malefic yet sees the benefics by sextile (Venus in Leo and Jupiter in Aquarius). Mercury then has the ability to bring its best potential to Olivia’s career.
Relationships were more problematic. Olivia had several difficult breakups before marrying in 1984, when she was 36 years old. The marriage ended in divorce in 1995. She was with a long-term partner for the next ten years, but he would disappear under mysterious circumstances in 2005, and no one is sure to this day whether he is alive or dead. Finally, in 2008, she married John Easterling, a devoted partner who was with her for the rest of her life. What in the chart would indicate this relationship path?
Demetra George suggests we first look to Venus for relationship potential – who we attract and are attracted to. Of course, it’s hard to miss seeing a partner who disappears without a trace indicated by Venus conjunct Pluto in the 12th house! But this Venus has some good potential. It is direct, visible, and it sees its ruler, the Sun, by sextile. Placed in the 12th house, though, its in kind of a fog, needing to feel its way through some painful and difficult times before it discovers what is good and real and true in relationships. It also in square to the malefic, Mars, suggesting maybe some selfish and demanding partners.
But Venus is also applying to a trine to Jupiter, the ruler of Olivia’s 7th house, giving her the promise of a happy union at last. And as the ruler of her 7th house, Jupiter has great potential, being direct, visible, and, best of all, in the sign of its rulership. It is also conjunct an angle, strengthening its influence in her chart. Its only disadvantage is a sign-based square from the malefic, Saturn, another indication that the loving partnership Olivia sought would come to her later in life.
But what would indicate Olivia’s struggles with her health? The Moon is the body, Demetra George writes, and we can consider the areas of the body it rules by sign to be vulnerable. Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 44. The first house and its ruler indicate vitality. Mercury, which is also her career planet, was very well positioned to bring good things to Olivia. While she did have to fight cancer for 30 years, she had the physical constitution to recover and even go into remission for many years at a time.
But the ruler of the 6th house tells us about illness and injuries. Saturn is strong, direct, visible, in the 1st house, and ruled by Olivia’s excellent Mercury. Placed in the 1st house, Saturn brings the topic of a long-term disease front and center in her life. After her first diagnosis, Olivia leaned into her illness, determined to do everything she could to stay healthy and help others deal with their own cancer experiences. She would build a cancer and wellness center in New South Wales and raised millions of dollars for cancer research.
A planet in our first house defines us, as Olivia allowed her experience of managing her illness to define her. But it was not to invite sympathy that she did this. She so openly shared her experience to be a beacon of hope and light to all those who suffered. “You have to believe we are magic,” Olivia sang.