(Re)membering David “Bowie” Jones
David Bowie is an unforgettable cultural phenomenon who will be remembered, reiterated, and ingrained in the cultural psyche of the western world, likely for centuries to come. This homage to this amazing personality seeks to celebrate the man, the persona, and the subject as an astrological fascination.
David “Bowie” Jones came from unassuming origins, born January 8th, 1947 in Brixton a neighborhood of South London. An early interest in music would ultimately bring him to a stratospheric ascendancy that would make his name known across the world. It could be said that there are placements in his natal chart that pay tribute to these potentials and that is some unconscious way he was living out the dynamics of his chart, this is certainly speculation but there are some signatures that do suggest it.
Jupiter occupies the ninth house which is the native house of Jupiter, this symbol represents a big personality that is known to the world, and has a role in shaping the imagination of large groups of people, David Bowie certainly did that with his larger than life personas reflective of deep human archetypes and fascinations, especially religious iconography, something that was often present in David Bowies visual representations. His sun was in the decidedly Jupiterian sign of Sagittarius, which would reflect ninth house qualities, although being in the 12th house, he would naturally struggle with defining himself in rigid terms and there is a fluidity to his self concept.
He certainly demonstrated this going through many personas, a changing of his birth name (another persona) and was probably never very clear about his identity. Thankfully his uncertainty and willingness to play with the full strange array of identities benefitted those of us who would come to be inspired by him. Reveling in his experimental personification with various human archetypes and taboo and repudiated identities that western culture had relegated to the debris of social imagination. He certainly embodied an ever-changing set of personas which challenged established norms and placed disgraced characteristics into focus, everything from the leper messiah Ziggy Stardust, The Man from Mars, running the gambit to the Goblin King, and the Thin White Duke. He also actively has stated that he devoted his art to transgression and crossing artificial boundaries.
The moon sits intimately on the edge of his seventh house suggesting that he would appeal to the people (the moon is representative of the masses in astrology) and in Cancer it spoke to the emotional connection that people would feel to his and his artistic expressions. This is certainly true as he appealed to the hearts of millions the world over, and is instrumental in being a catalyst for helping many iconoclastic individuals the world over in establishing their identity through the awkward years of their youth (this author included). Not to mention the outpouring of sentiment and mourning the world over with myriad tributes celebrating his life.
Venus is worth noting as it is elevated in his chart and plays a strong role in his public persona and how the world would have received him. Venus in this case is conjunct his midheaven and in Scorpio. Venus represents art, harmony and beauty, and ultimately that was the definition of his public image. Being in Scorpio, there is an exploration of taboo. It is art that expresses the ethic of transgression, his career certainly a testament to that. I also call this placement the witch placement because Venus becomes the enchantress here, and perhaps this has a hand in explaining the preponderance of occult imagery that Bowie utilized in his visual presentations and made up a strong part of his personas. Further, Venus here softens a persona, bringing a charisma and charm as well as a gentleness to the nature. This is well in evidence with these quotes from his beloved wife Iman:
“My father taught me how to be a parent and gave me a positive connection with men because he is a gentlemen. And that’s what attracted me to David. He is a gentle soul.” Harpers Bazaar, 2010.
“We have fun with each other. He’s very English in a way that he’s a gentleman.” – Interview, 2013.
This gentleness was certainly in evidence with his exploration of what our culture would deem feminine expressions, and the tenderness he clearly shows to his family.
The other aspect of note is Chiron in Virgo, in his eighth house which suggests that often there is an internal feeling of intense pressure to confront wounding patterns that can be projected onto others. In this case it manifests in a feeling of being imperfect and needing to perfect oneself, a sense that there is something wrong with the self, a feeling of being broken into disparate pieces that need to be reintegrated into a whole. He went through a series of intense transformations throughout his life that very much read like a man putting the pieces of himself back together again. It could certainly explain the need to explore so many different pieces of the self and project many different personas, through his art he was seeking to find a wholeness, and what’s more is that in his final album he may have found it. The song Blackstar especially speaks to this in its declarative statement “I am a blackstar”, the song celebrates this sense of broken-ness and bringing all things together into a whole, no matter how fragmented the individual pieces. This quote from Iman sums it up beautifully:
“I fell in love with David Jones. I did not fall in love with David Bowie. Bowie is just a persona. He’s a singer, an entertainer.” The Guardian, 2014.
The final piece that falls into place is his Mid-heaven in Scorpio, a sign which delights in penetrating mysteries, making the unknown known and exploring all things transgressive and taboo, in the Mid-Heaven it would ultimately become part of his public image and what the world would know and celebrate him for. It seems he certainly lived up to his stellar potentials as his credits will stand as testament to.
The Immortal: The Astrology and legacy of David Bowie
“People are allotting to Bowie as a gender pioneer some credit that is actually due to so many more, like generations of drag queens who have struggled to eke out a living while breaking gender territory as wide open as Bowie ever did. But it’s also true that the boldness of his vision contributed to all of us having more space for creativity, weirdness, gender fluidity, and brash experimentation. The power of the imagination is probably the greatest gift of humanity. And right down to his last song Lazarus, Bowie had a magic touch for making earwormy songs in a genre that doesn’t usually hold my attention.”
A cursory look at the chart for the day of David Bowie’s passing shows that Pluto was conjunct his natal Mars and Sun positions, a signature that speaks to a highly influential individual leaving behind a powerful and profound legacy for future generations, this is certainly true as his credits certainly speak to. Further Uranus was sextile or in harmonic resonance with his natal Uranus, which means that his authenticity and visionary aspects will be what the world remembers the most about him as well as what will persist in the cultural imagination for generations to come. By no means is he a perfect man and he had his passages through the utter darkness (a burgeoning drug addiction which gave him the reprieve of his Berlin years, for example), at the same time that only adds to his legacy and his humanity.
David Bowie has achieved a legacy that very few of us will ever attain, he has become the Shakespeare of the post-modern era. His collected works will be discussed, disseminated and presented for centuries to come, much as Shakespeare is still talked about 500+ years after he walked the Earth and authored his masterpieces. In essence he leaves a profound legacy one that will excite our cultural imagination for generations and will continue to impact our evolution in myriad ways, and in a sense he has attained a kind of immortality from that.
While it’s true that “Bowie” was not his real name, and it was just a persona, it seems likely that even his humanity will live on through his family, and through articles and other media where these aspects have been intimately described. (Not to mention his myriad personas, Ziggy Stardust, The thin white Duke, The Goblin King, Space Oddity, The Berlin Phase, just a smattering among others)
Another legacy he left us is that we can all change our names to better fit with our truest identity. It may seem strange but for the longest time our culture was obsessed with the idea that only writers, artists, and entertainers were permitted to change their names, and now it seems anyone can! (I was enamored with this idea and became a witch for this reason as witches can change their names too, and even have secret names!).
Bowie opened the way for everyone of us to have more creative expression, gender plasticity, impetuous experimentation and general strangeness. His flaunting of gender norms became an inspiration to the emerging LGBTQI community that was in the beginning phases of its modern liberation movements, a pivotal moment would have been his SNL performance with Joey Arias and Klaus Nomi on Saturday Night Live in 1979.
He taught generations of awkward, non-conforming boys, how to grow up to be true gentleman, to be radical and not mutilate the “feminine” within themselves. That it was okay to wear a dress or put make-up on or wear bright colors and mostly that is it was okay and necessary to rebel against stifling gender constructions and to really let the most radical elements of the personality shine through, especially the ones that challenged society’s strict identity codes and to demonstrate another way of being human on the Earth, one that was far more authentic to how it really feels to be a product of billions of years of cosmic and biological evolution.
He showed a generation of girls how to rebel against what was expected of them and to find their true authenticity their true voice, and to speak it loud and clear. He is a catalyst that ushered many girls into their womanhood, and potentially showed them that art was viable option for them to pursue; this can be garnered alone from many of the female artists he inspired and collaborated with, in particular the visionary artist Nina Hagen who even made song lyrics with his name in them, other artists that are female identified include Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae, Lorde, and Leona Lewis . Not to mention the fact the Blondie toured with Bowie in the 1970’s
Beyond the above mentioned artists, we can include: The Scissor Sisters, Pulp, Franz Ferdinand, Adam Ant, Suede, , and the very iconic pop singer form Iceland pop star Bjork and his famous collaborators Lou Reed and Brian Eno (seminal icons in their own right). There are also countless film credits and popular culture references including a Doctor Who episode in which humanity’s first Mars base is named Bowie Base #1.
His influence is even felt among the world’s scientists, many of his songs helped to popularize and glamorize space travel and astronomy, so ultimately this should come as no surprise. There is even a tribute from Chris Hadfield an astronaut on the International Space Station who sang a guitar rendition of “Space Oddity” (his mystique quite literally, is out of this world and extends beyond the physical boundaries of Earth). It seems the arts and sciences were not his only sphere of significance: there is a foray into video game design in 1999, his foray into asset based securities (yes he even had impacts on investment banking), and a very high profile interview with Mark Goodman in the early days of MTV where he called out the lack of inclusion of music videos for black artist (he can add social justice among one of his credits). As further evidence of his social justice and gender transgression credentials, the young David Jones at the age of 17 was interviewed by the BBC, on the idea behind his activism and the founding of the group The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men. The young David argues that there is nothing out of sorts for men to have long hair and that they should not be subjected to negative commentary or persecution for their choice in hairstyles, for someone so young and in a much more buttoned up time this was an act of revolution that smashed the complacency around enforced gender codes. This bold act would be the first in a cascade of brash tactics that would garner him his immortality.
His influence even goes beyond his contributions to cinema, music, and visual and print media and includes two musicals, “The Man who Fell to Earth” and one he co-wrote called “Lazarus”, both of which chronicle the prolific periods of his career and tell profound stories, and represent the culmination of his creative work. There are some who have suggested that he may have seen his final chapter, and hence the song Lazarus (and the musical) from the album Blackstar (oddly enough he did not title his last album, it was done posthumously by the record label). This was his parting gift to the world and perhaps another dimension of his influence, that of the occult. He also had a n interest in Buddhism starting in 1967, and frequently studied under Tibetan Lama Chime Rinpoche, and also under Chögyam Trungpa. It seems that his life touched nearly every endeavor of human expression and some influence in it, not to mention that he is an indelible part of many people’s hearts and an archetypal figure in the human cultural imagination, in this way he has attained his immortality, he is now a true star man, out there driving the expansion of the Universe, for eternity.
What is remembered lives!