The Netflix documentary Britney vs. Spears was released on September 28, one day before the Los Angeles County Superior Court heard testimony on the Britney Spears’ legal battle to end her conservatorship.
If you’ve not been paying attention to the #FreeBritney movement, here follows a short summary.
After a psychotic break in 2007, Britney Spears was placed under a court-ordered conservatorship with her father, Jamie Spears, serving as conservator. This conservatorship’s mandate to protect gradually transformed into a state-sanctioned case of human trafficking. Under the provisions of the conservatorship, Britney has been forced to go on tour against her own will (coerced labour), she remains unable to hire her own legal counsel, and has no legal access to her existing wealth or revenues earned while under the conservatorship. It isn’t an exaggeration to suggest that nearly everything has been taken from Britney Spears while she sits captive, waiting on the mercy of the state to sanction her release.
Some details of modern celebrity may obscure the obvious parallel: we’re watching the myth of Persephone and Hades unfold. Tracing lines of mythological consensus, the story of Persephone’s abduction by Hades goes thus.
Hades coveted the beautiful maiden Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus. Sensing that Demeter would obstruct Hades in his intentions with Persephone, Hades sidestepped Demeter and petitioned her father, Zeus, directly. Zeus consents to Hades’ plan to abduct Persephone and bring her to the underworld. As she descends, Persephone must leave all her material possessions behind and go without, finding wealth only within Hades.
Demeter, having no knowledge of her daughter’s whereabouts, became miserable and desolate. In her grief, she caused nothing to grow. She is later told of the abduction and Zeus’s participation in it. Sympathetic gods and a starving people raged against Zeus to restore Persephone to the overworld. Reactively responding to public pressure, Zeus demanded Hades return Persephone, and Hades acquiesces – but not before tricking Persephone through the cunning use of a humble pomegranate. By consuming the food of the underworld, she was condemned to return to Hades for a third of the year (the time we mark as winter in the northern hemisphere, when most organic life turns inward in hibernation). But for two-thirds of the year, she is reunited with the overworld (and her material possessions), and vegetative growth returns to the world during spring and summer.
In both instances, we have a sociopathic father figure making a deal with a symbol of great wealth (Hades = Pluto = GRK ploutos = wealth), that being the sale of his daughter and her autonomy. The daughter is abducted in the prime of life, stripped of her material possessions, sentenced to the underworld, and held captive as an object of desire. The common people, the nobility and even gods in heaven unite in demanding the father undo his faithless injustice. He caves to this pressure, and greed’s grip is loosened.
The Greek myth ends with a woman being released – not wholly, for she will never be freed of the trauma borne of her abduction, and she will have to return to that dark place each year; but something of the life Persephone had before was restored to her.
How Britney’s story ends is yet to be seen – but it’s tempting to suggest that both stories should end at least as analogously as they started and progressed.
Perhaps the reason why Britney’s battle against her conservatorship evokes such clear comparisons to the myth of Persephone’s abduction is because the former is predicated on the hard contacts of Venus and Pluto. Persephone is sometimes called Kore or Kora, meaning ‘maiden’ – there is no planet better positioned to represent the archetype of youthful femininity than Venus.
The conservatorship was initially instated as a temporary measure on February 1, 2008. The active (preceding) lunation shows that this whole saga kicks off on a conjunction of Venus and Pluto in the 12th house. Venus here separates from an opposition of Mars at 24° Gemini (ruling the 4th house – i.e., the father) to a conjunction Pluto at 27° Sagittarius. We find 9° Capricorn on the ascendant, and 28° Libra on the midheaven. This midheaven is currently being transited by Pluto in Capricorn – a contact which will intensify as we move into 2022.
The conservatorship was extended indefinitely, effectively made permanent, on 28th October, 2008. Two lunations attend this decision – one preceding, and one which perfected as the court’s decision was being delivered that afternoon. We find the same angles on the lunation preceding as we do for the lunation attending the initial setup of the conservatorship eight months prior: 8° Capricorn rising, 28° Libra on the midheaven.
28° Libra is a significant degree. It calls out Britney Spears’ natal Pluto at 25° Libra. Britney’s natal ascendant-ruler Venus is at 25° Capricorn, conjunct her South Node at 24° Capricorn – where we find transiting Pluto. (This Venus-Pluto theme is relentless.)
The New Moon of 28th October has two notable chart features: Pluto at 28° Sagittarius culminates on the midheaven, casting a grotesque cthonic tenor over the entire chart; and, Venus is now relegated to the 9th, the house of litigation (but also the turned 12th from the 10th) – and applies to the square of 12th-ruler Saturn which transited Spears’ 12th house at the same time.
The first time Britney addressed her conservatorship was late September 2016 in an interview for The Jonathan Ross Show. Why did the discussion come up at that time? It seems almost drawn out by prevalent astrological tides. Venus cycles last 8 years – this interview fell 8 years after the establishment of the conservatorship. Further, the lunation preceding the interview was a full Moon at 24° Pisces opposite the Sun at 24° Virgo. A T-square is formed by Mars at 23° Sagittarius, opposite his place in the lunation corresponding with the initial provision of the conservatorship.
You can watch the interview here. Note Jonathan Ross, the interviewer, didn’t know how to talk to Britney about anything other than men – to the extent that Jonathan Ross’s guest has to tell him that she’s not looking for a man and happy with herself. Next, he moves to a game of ‘never have I ever’, one of those hormonal games played by puberty-stricken teenagers when parents are out of town. Once this concludes, he focuses on how she dresses, and whether or not she tries to relive any of these moments from her youth. Then follows a game of beer pong. He treated her like patronising men tend to treat Venus: as an object of desire with no intrinsic value outside what pleasure she can arouse in others. Despite the onslaught of sexist, patronising questions, Britney maintained composure, dignity and grace: a true southern belle.
After a high-level skim over events from 2008 to 2016, let’s fast forward to this year.
On 23rd June 2021, Britney addressed the Los Angeles Superior Court regarding her conservatorship. The testimony was chilling and disturbing – she told the world for the first time that her 2018 ‘Piece of Me’ tour was forced upon her: if she failed to cooperate and perform, her management company would sue her, and because of the conservatorship, she was unable to hire an attorney. She was caught between the malignant influence of her conservators and her management team. Among other shocking revelations, Britney raises abuse allegations against a previous therapist assigned to her by her conservators. Britney says during her testimony, “I’ve been in shock. I am traumatised. I just want my life back.”
As Britney gave her testimony to the court, Venus at 25° Cancer was culminating on the midheaven in Los Angeles, in opposition to Pluto at 26° Capricorn. These exactly configure to Britney’s natal Pluto at 25° Libra and Venus at 25° Capricorn.
On September 7, Jamie petitioned the court to be temporarily removed from the conservatorship. Venus was at 26° Libra in a square to Pluto at 24° Capricorn. Mars at 24° Virgo sat in square to his radical place. His occasional appearance around 24° of the mutable signs strikes me as a recurring secondary chronocator – note Britney is born with Mars in the 12th house at 23° Virgo in square to natal Neptune at 24° Sagittarius.
Just as Zeus responded to public pressure to free Persephone from Hades’ grasp, Britney Spears’ father has signalled his willingness to step down as conservator. The court has not dissolved the conservatorship, although public support for Britney has gained traction over recent months. The next hearing is on September 29th. (See update below). On that date, the Moon opposes Pluto from Cancer. Mercury will have stationed at 25° Libra, retrograding back to the square of Pluto at 24° Capricorn – which does, for me, call into question the reliability of the testimony that will be given.
There was an attempt by Britney’s legal team to pull this court date forward to Aug 23 – but the signatures didn’t fit on that date (have a look in your own astrological software). The trail of radicality is extinguished. The previously agreed date, September 29, plugs into the established roots and that appointment held. This is radicality in action, like a magnet bringing together appropriate and fitting events.
Taking a quick look at the lunation now passed which preceded the court date, we see Venus opposed to Uranus in the 9th house: litigation to be opened on a Venusian icon. A look at Britney’s nativity shows the Venus/Uranus opposition brings tight focus to Britney’s Moon, ruler of her 10th house. When you look at the shape of T-square (which is formed here, with Britney’s natal Moon at the apex), we do get the image of a third planet carrying the brunt of the opposition’s fall-out. All within an orb of 3°, we can expect something very tense. The message here is that in this battle being held at a mundane level between Uranus and Venus, Spears’ career is caught in the crosshairs, almost a stage for the transiting aspect’s manifestation.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t be surprised that at the exact moment I sat down to write this presentation, Pluto was culminating on the midheaven, and the Moon was in an exact opposition to Venus across the ascending/descending angles. The Moon is at 17° Taurus, North Node at 4° Gemini: the Moon is still ascending in her nodal path, like Persephone yet to resurface. The Moon separates from her opposition to Venus, and applies next to benefic Jupiter in the 11th, at 23° Aquarius, retrograde: a signature of benefic reversals, previous misfortune lifted; a message of release and freedom.
Out of curiosity (and you’ll have to forgive me these gratuitous tangents), I wondered when the North Node might recede back to 17° Taurus, the degree of the Moon in this chart. I was floored to see that mid-August 2022, while the nodal axis transits 17° Taurus/Scorpio, Venus perfects her opposition to Pluto at 26° Capricorn. Saturn is then retrograde at 22° Aquarius, near the degree of Jupiter to which the Moon next applied at the time of my writing this piece. (I don’t actually believe my writing this is all that relevant, except that I am now in some way participating in this story by giving it my attention.) On August 9 in particular, the Moon transits the Venus/Pluto opposition and the Sun stands at 17° Leo, which by longitude puts the Sun at the northernmost point of the Moon’s orbit (i.e., at the northern bending of the nodes). The Sun will be in Leo, the sign of summer, opposing Saturn the lord of winter: this again invokes the story of Persphone’s seasonal retreat to Hades and eventual promise of return. Not that I’m sure what to make of this, but the nodes are in square to their placement at the time Britney’s conservatorship was made permanent (28 October 2008).
I will continue to monitor this situation with great interest, not only out of concern for Britney and her wellbeing, but because there is a message about the autonomy of women that is being explored in Venus’s contacts to the outer planets Uranus and Pluto, made manifest through this chaotic and inhumane handling of Britney’s autonomy. #FreeBritney
Wade’s September 29 update:
Facing public pressure, Zeus compels Hades to return Persephone to the overworld. Hades does comply, but with cunning and subtlety lays an irrevocable claim on Persephone’s autonomy — by baiting her faith and naïveté.
Jamie is out, but he remains dangerous.
Bio: Wade Caves, based in Brooklyn, NY, is an astrological consultant, speaker and educator specializing in horary, electional and classical astrological technique. Wade was certified with honors from the Mayo School of Astrology in London, and is well versed in both traditional and modern psychological methods of chart delineation. Wade’s passion and focus is not only in understanding the historical and philosophical origins of astrological symbolism, but finding new and reliable ways to put this information to good practical use in a consultation setting. He is the editor and annotator of the 300th anniversary edition of William Lilly’s History of His Life & Times (Rubedo Press, 2015).
Wade received his certification as a horary practitioner from Deborah Houlding’s School of Traditional Astrology (STA) in 2013, and now serves as a faculty member. He began tutoring for the STA in October 2015 and delivers the Practitioner’s Level Horary Course as an intensive attendance program.
Wade has a busy consultation practice, lectures widely and publishes frequently on horary through journal articles and online podcasts.