I have been in fraternal love with David Bowie since the first time I heard “Hunky Dory”. I was working at the time in Jordan Marsh, a department store in downtown Boston, in their record department. I was a fledgling hippie and recently out of the closet. When I first saw that album cover with his shoulder length bleached blond locks I was beyond fascinated. Changes, Oh! You Pretty Things, Life on Mars? , they all played a part in influencing me to alter my perceptions of life and identity.
Later, I sat in the 20th row, right side, in Boston’s Music Hall in 1972 for “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” US tour. I sporadically wore glitter for two years afterwards. My interest and devotion in him never faltered. So when I opened my computer this past January 10th to witness the shocking news of his death, I literally cried for days. There was no realization that he was ill beforehand.
I hadn’t looked at his birth chart in years. However, being the compulsive and inquisitive astrologer that I am I felt compelled to pull his chart once again to determine what had transpired. Astrologers should never predict death but many analyze a chart after someone has transitioned totally out of curiosity for which transit may have been the catalyst. There has never been a determination or a consensus by astrologers on any one transit or progression that may be predictive. Since each soul may be influenced differently through complex, interactive and myriad energies as they continue to engage in the blueprint of their birth chart, which can trigger a metamorphosis in their physical, emotional or spiritual state.
My intention here is not to review or analyze Bowie’s natal chart except to mention that there has been some past discussion on his exact time of birth. I am compelled to accept the Lois Rodden’s A rating of that time and the purported acknowledgement of this timing by Bowie himself. Simply looking at the death chart itself, it would be exceedingly difficult for me to accept any other time of birth. Upon continuing reflection I still remain amazed at the scientific community’s demotion of the once “planet” Pluto to non-planetary status. Astrologers have long been aware of the energies manifested through the symbolism of this planet. Its energies are in no way diminished.
Although a few close friends were aware of Bowie’s illness, after his passing it was revealed that he had suffered from liver cancer for approximately eighteen months. Transiting Pluto had made the first entry into Bowie’s 12th house on March 2nd, 2014, twenty-two months before his death. In Bowie’s case Pluto was the harbinger.
Pluto is like a heavyweight prize fighter. When it hits you, you know it. The Planet itself symbolizes death and rebirth, decay and regeneration, the symbolic Phoenix rising from the ashes. Whenever it aspects a natal planet or moves into a house it will transform the original essence of the meaning of those aspects, often through their total elimination. He will gut whatever he touches. Then you are forced to experience unexpected metamorphosis. It is certainly unlikely that you will be able to maintain those aspects of your life which Pluto will habitually and relentlessly run roughshod over to force changes. Pluto also rules one’s inner psychology and the personal nature of obsession. It can be an avatar for an almost mindless compulsion to possess a thing, or a person.
Pluto in the twelfth house particularly wants to focus on the ‘meaning of life’. It will compel and coerce us to re-evaluate those aspects of our nature which have lain hidden or are no longer useful. It corresponds to the native's inner self or those psychological ordeals we have sublimated, potential hidden enemies, or serious illnesses. It is intimately related to places of confinement such as hospitals, prisons, monasteries retreats, etc., and also includes personal periods of solitude and major inner crises.
Natally, Bowie had a 12th house Sun conjunct an exalted Mars in Capricorn, separated by less than a half degree, it was definitely indicative of someone strong willed and hard working. Maybe part of my affinity for him was because my own 12th house Sun sextiles that conjunction and my Mars trines them synastrically; two peas in a pod, literally. Traditionally a 12th house Sun will usually indicate someone who periodically retreats from others, or from being in the spotlight.
Conversely, if a 12th house Sun person finds themselves as the center of attention or in any kind of public role, they will tend to mask their real self behind that role. Hence in Bowie’s case the iconic rock n’ roll chameleon. His 12th house Mars, strangely enough, compliments that Sun in a tight conjunction. 12th house Mars people tend to want to do their work covertly or ‘under cover’ so to speak, and to not reveal their plans or accomplishments until the work has been perfected and the timing is right. Bowie’s last two ‘surprise’ albums were surely indicative of that inclination.
At his time of death, the world still was experiencing the debilitating, general transit of Uranus squaring Pluto which had been in play since June 2012 as part of an ongoing Synodic square, which ushered in such dramatic and radical behaviors and events such as the “Arab Spring” and the “Occupy Wall Street” movements. As Pluto entered Bowie’s 12th house not only was that 12th house and the planets posited within it being affected but they were also aspected by transiting Uranus and Jupiter which were forming a triumvirate in a tight, tension producing T square.
At that time Jupiter had entered Bowie’s 6th house of health, while Uranus was firmly in his 2nd house ruling feelings and emotions, as well as the inner self with all its needs and wants. I cannot imagine these aspects combing in such a manner as to not affect the principal’s physical and emotional wellbeing in some fashion. On the day of his death transiting Pluto was merely one degree away from his natal Mars and less than two degrees from his Sun. Moreover the new Moon of rebirth in Capricorn conjunct that transiting Pluto and added yet another symbolic dimension to the event.
There also were other aspects in play for him on that day by transit, among those a transiting Saturn trining natal Pluto, and a retrograde Jupiter applying to a trine with his 12th house Sun. However the drama here comes into play by examining not only his Progressed planets, but also his Progressed chart. A cursory glance at where his Progressed planets were relative to his natal chart indicates that four planets and the MC had moved into his natal 1st house with the Progressed Moon applying to a strong conjunction with his ascendant. This is deeply indicative of an individual who was focused on his identity, his legacy, and his well-being. Moreover that Progressed Moon was in a tight opposition to his natal Saturn by less than half a degree. Progressions become an essential interpretive tool when one actually echoes a natal aspect. In Bowie’s natal chart his natal Moon conjuncts his natal Saturn by less than three degrees. The ruler ships involved here are again involving the 6th/12th house axis.
What remains simply stunning to me is Bowie’s actual Progressed chart at the time of death. Not only was his Progressed Moon sitting directly on his Progressed Midheaven, and his Progressed Uranus sitting directly on his Progressed Ascendant (perhaps finally allowing him to shed the masks), but almost all his natal planets which were in aspect at the time of birth were also in dramatic aspect by Progression at the time of death. The Progressed Midheaven/Nadir axis was involved in a remarkable dual ended opposition pitting a Saturn/Pluto conjunction in opposition to a Moon/Venus conjunction.
Was his subconscious involved in determining the timing of the soul’s transition? Perhaps it was. One of the indicators of a transition which astrologer’s look for is a harmonious aspect from Jupiter. Prominent is his Progressed chart is such an aspect. A brilliant and harmonious trine is there as a beacon between the Sun and Jupiter separated by a mere seventeen seconds. A professional astrologer would never predict a death to a principal but these aspects in a Progressed chart speak volumes.
It doesn’t stop there. Consider this. The Progressed chart brims with symbolism when we recognize the remarkable Seal of Solomon glaring at us. A near exact double trine forming a star, familiar to most as the Star of David or the Hindu Shatkona, but also a ritualistic and magical representation of Divine Union of the male/female identities. Kabbalistically this is an indication of perfection. Some would also make the connection to Biblical Revelation in the Hexagram, when many elevated souls may choose to make the transition before the appearance of the Beast. Whatever the soul’s intent, Bowie made his transition as remarkable as his prior life’s work. Completing his final masterpiece, the album Blackstar (sic) and a heralded and mesmerizing stage play aptly named Lazarus, based on another of his masterpieces, The Man Who Fell to Earth; strangely enough, Earth being the only element not anchoring that Progressed Star.
In the end David Bowie’s remarkable life is mirrored in his self-crafted, symbolic and enlightening passing. Aware he was dying; he remained true to himself towards the end. In doing so he continues to uplift, to teach and to transcend the mundane and therefore has left us not only a majestic and inspirational body of work, but a pathway to the divine.
Progressed Chart at Time of Death