My thanks to Frank Clifford for the idea for this week’s blog, and his permission to include his observations about Maya Angelou from his Horoscope Detective column (TMA Apr./May 2011). I will begin with a slightly edited excerpt from Frank’s article, add a few of my own notes, then link to some other writers on Miss Angelou’s horoscope.
“Sun–Jupiter in Aries Personified
What of those born under the conjunction? In Aries, the Sun–Jupiter person may have a naïve, somewhat innocent take on the world — a blind faith and perhaps a passionate belief that their personal truth will be embraced by others. With this combination, there’s a generosity of spirit, an innate faith in life, an all-consuming hope that’s inhaled at the start of each new day, a fresh quality of exuberance, and a thirst for adventurous enterprise. One may have a strong sense of destiny, of being on a mission — taking up a quest — but sometimes an exaggerated sense of one’s importance (haughty arrogance), a need to play god or to overextend oneself and live life in the moment, though beyond one’s means. There may be high expectations and a desire to be seen as the front-runner, an urgent need to claim one’s birthright, and an eager pursuit of affluence and influence.
Acclaimed poet and activist Maya Angelou has a Grand Passion for life and is an inspirational example of embracing one’s potential, putting one’s heart into life. ‘Life loves the liver of it,’ she has often said. She has written of the triumphs, frustrations, hopes, and joys of the human experience in six volumes of autobiography. The theme of her work encapsulates the positive message of Sun–Jupiter in Aries: the refusal of the human spirit to be hardened.
Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928; 2:10 p.m. CST; Saint Louis, MO, USA (38°N38′, 90°W12′); AA: from birth certificate, as quoted in Contemporary American Horoscopes by Janice Mackey and Jessica Saunders (Astrolabe, 1990).
The 1994 Current Biography Yearbook notes her ‘inexhaustible capacity for renewed hope, determination, and love.’ (1) Essentially, her philosophy is to engage in and experience life with courage. Angelou says, ‘You may encounter many defeats but must not be defeated.’ In true Aries style, she notes, ‘One must learn to care for oneself first, so that one can then dare to care for someone else.’ In May 2009, the Maya Angelou Academy opened at the New Beginnings Youth Development Center. The Academy is designed to help students fulfil their academic or career potential.
Dr. Angelou is a charismatic, 6-foot empress of African-American pride (whose father was ‘much too grand for his colour’). She stands tall as an imposing, positive embodiment of a Sun–Jupiter conjunction (ruling her Leo Ascendant and 5th house): a woman of honesty, integrity, and dignity, living a full life without false modesty or excuse. In her colourful life, she has journeyed from being the first female and first ‘negro’ trolley conductor in San Francisco to a dancer, actress, and nationally treasured symbol of hope, whose literature, poetry, and speeches touch that which is human and universal in all of us (Neptune rising). Her poem for President Clinton’s first inauguration, On the Pulse of Morning, was a soaring call for peace, justice, and harmony. Maya Angelou read this poem at the ceremony on January 20, 1993 (as transiting Jupiter in Libra opposed her Sun–Jupiter, and her progressed Jupiter–Ascendant Astro*Carto*Graphy line closed in on Washington, D.C.). She spoke of the conjunction’s philosophy of being present and vigilant in living life to the utmost: ‘Give birth again to the dream … lift up your hearts. Each new hour holds new chances for new beginnings.’”
(1) Current Biography Yearbook, ed. Judith Graham, H. W. Wilson Co., 1994.
Maya Angelou’s natal Sun is at 15° Aries and there are many connections to the current cardinal planet transits, which other bloggers below have noted. I looked at the solar return preceding death, set for her place of residence, Winston-Salem, NC. Her death was seven weeks after her birthday and she died at home. I am assuming she was there for her birthday, as reports said she had been ill for a while. (1)
Saturn is ruler of the solar return 8th house (Aquarius cusp). On May 28, her death day, transiting Saturn was at 18°42’ Scorpio, conjunct the natal nadir, i.e., the end of the matter. (See natal chart above: the natal Midheaven is 17°39’ Taurus.) Jupiter, ruler of the natal 8th house (Pisces cusp), had come to the solar return Ascendant.
I have an informal study going on regarding the natal Porphyry 8th-house cusp being activated at the time of death. I have seen that degree being triggered by an eclipse (both Full or New Moon, either directly or by square) prior to the death, or by a progressed or transiting planet coming to the cusp.
In this case, Angelou’s 2014 solar return Midheaven is 22°40’ Pisces, on the natal Porphyry 8th cusp.
Here’s something interesting also that is purely anecdotal, not the result of research: in Angelou’s secondary progressed chart, the (Porphyry) 8th-house cusp is 6°46’ Gemini. She passed away on the day of the New Moon at 7°21’ Gemini. (It is interesting also to see Jupiter, ruler of the natal 8th house, directly on the progressed Descendant.) Travel well, Maya Angelou.
Here are others’ thoughtful words.
Tara Green wrote Maya Angelou, tribute to her life, with lots of biographical notes and astrological details. Writing about the transits at her death: “The planet Uranus — higher consciousness — was exactly on her Sun, with Pluto squaring her Sun and Jupiter squaring it as well. Jupiter is of course exactly on her natal Pluto, taking her back home. Pluto in Capricorn is opposite her natal Pluto. Mars is very close to her natal Moon in Libra, and Saturn is Retrograde as at her birth, exactly on her I.C., the roots, foundation, and ending-of-life point. Neptune, planet of spirituality, is close to a square to her North and South nodes, indicating a peaceful journey back to spirit and source from where Maya and all souls originate.“
Amy Eliott writes Maya Angelou: Voice of Power, Humanity, Grace at Planet Waves: “The Aries Sun, her chart ruler, is closely conjunct Jupiter, which powerfully brings to mind one description of her as a ‘professional hopemonger.’ The Sun is also very tightly square Pluto — to within about 1/6 degree — and along with Jupiter these form a t-square with her natal Moon in Libra. This appears to underscore the intensity, or ‘Sturm und Drang,’ as she once put it, with which her life was punctuated.”
Steve Kinsman writes A Brief Biography of Maya Angelou, plus her Horoscope. (This site also features some photos and video links.)
“There is a t-square between the opposition of the Sun-Jupiter conjunction to the Moon and their square to Pluto. (Sun-Pluto 180 degrees from the Moon; Sun-Jupiter and Moon all 90 degrees from Pluto). This t-square in cardinal signs is driven almost obsessively (Pluto) to make a profound (Pluto) difference within the world one inhabits……Finally, the Moon’s position is always notable in a horoscope, because it reveals the ‘reigning psychological need’ of the individual. It reveals what we need to feel like we belong. It is indispensable to our psychological well-being. For Maya Angelou, her reigning psychological need — with her Moon on the cusp of the third house of communication — has been to get her message out, through the form of writing. The extreme proliferation and volume of her writings is seen by the Moon’s strong square to Pluto.”
And this excerpt from Elisabeth Grace (graceastrology.com) in her recap for Thursday, 5/29/2014: Curiouser and Curiouser. “Maya Angelou, the beloved author, poet, activist and Tony-nominated actress, passed away. On Facebook, one of the many heartfelt tributes I read included a friend’s reaction to hearing Miss Angelou speak:
‘This woman has access to the same words as everyone else. How is it she puts them together more beautifully than anyone, and with such ease?’ In awe of her power then. In awe now…
That powerful way with words is suggested, of course, by her horoscope. Immediately we see nebulous Neptune sitting right on top of a queenly Leo Ascendant — opposed by action hero Mars, suggesting a need to be seen as the charismatic projection of a sublime, lyrical, soulful ideal. Alternatively, this pattern could have been expressed as a bewildering or suppressed sense of personal identity — at least in the early home life. The suggestion of suppression (a ‘caged bird’) is echoed by potent Pluto challenging her Sun in warrior Aries. A need for poetic social expression and thinking (a caged bird that sings!) is suggested by an idealistic connection between Mercury and Venus in Pisces. Also of interest: rebel Uranus running wild — and rising ahead of the Aries Sun — suggesting a need for uncompromising freedom and unconventionality — especially in her vocation. Miss Angelou managed the potential of Neptune well and became an inspiration. Her last Tweet: ‘Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.’ RIP.”