Winter Solstice: December 21st, 2018. Sun enters Capricorn 2:23 PM PST. Jupiter in Sagittarius, November 8th, 2018 through December 2nd, 2019. Saturn in Capricorn, December 19th, 2017 to December 16th, 2020, PST.
This is a love story as much as it is an astrological post. But isn’t that what life is really about? Human connection, soul connection; others in our life bring us the grace we need to be our most gifted self.
Everyone thinks of Winter solstice as that time of the year when night is at its longest and when light then begins to slowly return. How can we rise from the darkness, awaken to new life and light? Astrologers will immediately say “Pluto”! And as a gal who has felt the power of Pluto transits destroy and rebuild her life, who am I to argue? But I’d like to also point out a part so critical to evolutionary astrology: freewill in response to life’s challenges and turning points. I chose to discuss two charts of two well-known people, two lovers, to illustrate my points in this article, and, as you will see, the charts reflect the solstice season: Winter solstice (called “Winter” in the northern hemisphere) marks the Sun’s ingress (entrance) into Capricorn from Sagittarius.
Capricorn and Sagittarius are such very different signs, and they will become a part of this story. A Capricorn should never marry a Sagittarius! That is what we often see in “pop” astrology – don’t marry the sign immediately adjacent to your own Sun sign. Of course, we all know this is garbage. The birth chart is an intricate celestial map, much more complex and nuanced in meaning, than a simple Sun sign reading. If we think of the harmonics embedded in the “music of the spheres,” the music of the cosmos, two adjacent signs are like two keys back-to-back on a keyboard. Played together the noise is not right. But a chart is a symphony of sound, polyphonic and rich in character. As the night sky changes, the chart plays out, resonates with others near and dear to us, and we all move with the changing astrological rhythms – hopefully, but not always, in sync.
Throughout most of the current year ahead, 2019, Saturn continues to move through Capricorn, Jupiter through Sagittarius. Both planets are at home in these signs, strong placements reinforcing their respective energies. Time for us to expand into new dreams, new horizons and paradigms, open doors to opportunity for growth through faith in shooting that Sagittarian archer’s arrow. Look to see where Jupiter is transiting in your own natal chart to make the most of the coming year. Meanwhile, in Capricorn, Saturn’s call is to reality, maturity, and discipline, in order to make those dreams of Jupiter, real. I will stress the nature of these two planets and these two signs in the synastry reading below, hopefully giving a flavor of each in the natal chart but also by transit (current movement in the sky) and by solar arc.
We begin with two birth charts, 19th-century artists, Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin. Most of us know them well through college art history surveys, popular films about their lives, or through seeing their art exhibited in museums. I include the charts of both below. Camille Claudel was born December 8th, 1864, at 5 AM in Fère en Tardenois, France, (AA Rodden rating suggests recording of accurate birth record or certificate) and Auguste Rodin, November 12th, 1840, at 12:00 Noon, Paris, France (Also AA Rodden rating). The rounded off birth time of both suggests they probably are not the exact birth time. In terms of learning astrology and the “ins and outs” of synastry, the two make an ideal choice for seeing connections as well as illustrating traits of Sagittarius and Capricorn helpful in our reflections about the current sky in 2019. Their birth charts read like a fairy-tale romance, with many classic conjunctions between the two charts. I want to teach a little bit about how we can look at synastry, two natal charts in comparison, along with the passage of time and potential for growth, through transits and solar arcs, diagnostic techniques used in astrology. For simplicity’s sake, I will use chart comparison only, though I recognize there are a number of useful techniques used in synastry analysis. Keeping Winter solstice and the year ahead in mind, this post will also comment upon the nature of the planets in both Sagittarius and Capricorn in the two birth charts.
If you are not that familiar with the two sculptors, let me explain. You have probably heard about the infamous “love affair” – a relationship which lasted about 15 years – between Camille and Auguste. There are even sketches in existence of their carnal and sensual play, and many at the time acknowledged the heat and shared passion between the two. They remain one of the most well-known passionate lovers in the history of art. Although we have many sources about Rodin’s life and work, we know very little in detail regarding the life of Camille Claudel. Most of her letters and the archival resources about her life are gone. We do know both were critical catalysts for each other’s creative work, muses one could say, for the art they shared (most controversial is the probability that Claudel actually made some of Rodin’s most accomplished pieces – certainly we know her hand was at work modeling and carving, as well as posing for, many of his renowned commissions). Rodin was 43, Claudel 19, when they met. Some art historians have argued that, once separated, Rodin’s work was never the same. Most tragic was the more than 30 years following the end of the relationship, later in Camille’s life, when she suffered from mental illness, extreme poverty, and eventually life in an asylum where it seems she stopped creating art all together.
Let’s start with just a brief look at some of the basic insights into Camille’s birth chart. Her natal Sun is at 16˚ 25’ of Sagittarius, and falls in the 2nd House using the Placidus system. I find I am often drawn to charts by synchronicity because they help me reflect upon the current astrological moment. I decided to explore Camille’s biography, in part, because by chance, I discovered she has Jupiter in Sagittarius at 10˚ 11’, similar to Jupiter’s current location in the sky. (Jupiter is at 10˚ at Christmas time, 2018, this year. Jupiter has a 12-year orbit, so the planet is at this exact degree roughly every 12 years. Depending upon the particular passage, it may hit the degree more than once in a year due to retrograde motion – but not this year). The planet is in a wide conjunction to her natal Sun. Her ascendant is in Scorpio, 14 ° 51’ and her Moon sign in Aries, 11° 7’, 5th House, house of self-expression, joy, creativity, among other things. A fiery trine between Jupiter and her Moon gave Camille a lust for life and a passion for her art. The first quarter phase of Moon she was born under underscored her need to express a unique, potentially transforming, message through her art, one the world may not have been receptive to hear. The placement of 1st House Jupiter and 2nd House Sun, along with an Aries 5th House Moon, held possibilities for taking the risks needed in life to be a confident, successful woman artist at a time when the field of sculpture was dominated by men. Jupiter the “King”( or in this case, the “Queen”) in the 1st House of self, her unique identity, allowed her to approach life with a jovian (Jupiter-like) enthusiasm and confidence, though its tie with the 2nd House meant she needed to claim that confidence, step up and recognize her own abilities and talent.
Jupiter now in the sky in Sagittarius graces our own birth charts with such optimism, opportunity for growth or perhaps life lessons, depending upon how your natal Jupiter is positioned in your chart and where the planet is currently moving (by transit). For Camille, her Jupiter gave an outlook of life similar to seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. She was known for being quite arrogant about her talent early on in her career. Yet her ascendant is in the neighboring sign of Scorpio (remember the piano key analogy above), so as she encountered the world and others perceived her, she carried also an intensity, passion and depth of curiosity into the psychological forces that move people through life. Near the end of her life, while suffering from mental illness, her Scorpio nature sadly became one of compulsive suspicion, jealousy, and obsession. If we turn to her descendant, the sign ruling her 7th House of one-on-one relationship, we find Taurus, an earth sign, grounded in a need for stability, long-term commitment, and a desire to embrace the simple needs of the heart and body in partnership.
We can sense the fundamental difference between Sagittarius and Capricorn, the two music keys side-by-side, by balancing Camille’s Sagittarius Jupiter and Sun with a brief look at her Capricorn Venus and Mercury. The natal position of Camille’s Venus, 22°8’ Capricorn on the cusp of the 3rd House, reinforced the partnership needs of her Taurus descendant, giving Camille a basic drive for a stable partner, perhaps older and mature, one she could relate to on an intellectual, mental level, supporting her artistic ideas and work. This Venus gave a promise of hard work and discipline to bring about a “great work,” Capricorn, through her voice as an artist. Her 2nd House Capricorn Mercury made her great work a mission in her life deeply tied into her self-worth and confidence (2nd House) and her abilities to express and communicate through clay and marble. With Mercury’s sign, Gemini, ruling the 8th House of deep intimacy with a lover in Camille’s chart, her partner, Rodin, would need to offer that bond. The classical ruler of her chart, Mars, is in Gemini, 7th House; Camille needed a variety of experience in terms of partnership, but also a lover who could engage her intellectually in supportive dialogue and exchange. As we will see, Auguste Rodin, as her mentor and lover – and rightfully, one could argue, her partner for a time – held potential to awaken Camille to her own self-realization as an artist. Unfortunately, however, as many of my readers know, Rodin missed the boat in terms of fully mentoring Camille. Or perhaps he intentionally used her as a sex object, though I’d like to believe he truly cared for her. I applaud Camille because as we will see, she did take the chance, she did awaken to her own authentic self, yet cultural and societal roadblocks, along with the struggles of mental illness, made true success as an artist not possible until after her death.
I include Rodin’s birth chart here as well, but I’ll dive right into the synastry. Right away it is easy to see the classic signs of immediate compatibility and lust and joy Camille and Auguste found in each other. Yet also evident is the potential for upset and emotional turmoil. Her natal Venus falls on his Capricorn ascendant; she must have been attracted to his very presence as the older, successful gentleman, the ascendant is how one shines through to the world. His Venus, at 18°44’ of Sagittarius, is conjunct her natal 16°Sun; he was attracted to that fiery Sagittarian gypsy spirit, her jovian solar self. His Saturn is also conjunct her natal Sun, and with a Capricorn Venus, Camille most likely was attracted to the mature man, one that had the potential to either dampen her soul or to give it structure and support. His Mercury, at 12°44’ Sagittarius, conjunct both her Sun and Jupiter, gave her the thoughts, ideas, creative stimulation, that her 3rd House Venus so craved.
Meanwhile, in Rodin’s chart, Saturn is in close conjunction with his natal Venus (Saturn at 20°19’ Sagittarius, Venus at 18°44’) showing a need for serious commitment to both his art and to relationship, wrestling with possible blockage and frustrations in the discipline and challenges both require. Both planets in the 11th House suggest Rodin would need to mature in his approach to relationships and most likely encounter his deepest love and greatest intimacy later in life (Planets in the 11th House, according to evolutionary astrologer, Steven Forrest, are often on “a long fuse” – taking time for their potential to manifest in the life).
Saturn conjunct Venus in Rodin’s natal chart provided him with the discipline (Saturn) to complete his “10,000 hours” of practice as an artist, but it also gave him a need for long-term commitment in love and partnership (Venus). He achieved this with his common-law wife (whom he eventually married near his death), Rose Beuret, whom he must have felt a great sense of obligation and commitment to support and maintain, despite his passionate love for Camille Claudel. Why did Rodin insist on maintaining partnership with Rose when sources suggest it made all involved miserable? Enter cultural and societal expectations: a male artist was entitled to his muse (Camille’s south node of the Moon conjunct Pluto falls in her 6th House; she was drawn into patterns of subservient abuse by a “superior,” in this case, a mentor). With a Capricorn ascendant as well as the strong Saturnian influence on his natal Venus, Rodin was concerned with creating a respectful and dignified public persona, one that he could control. Tragically, this did not allow for the reality of committing to his muse, pupil, and assistant Camille – a strong, willful woman with her own power and artistic voice that challenged his – a woman twenty-four years younger than him and eccentric in her passion and countercultural in her practice and lifestyle. Camille Claudel never healed from this rejection.
With natal revolutionary and rebel Uranus sitting on his 2nd House cusp and Camille’s natal Uranus in a conjunction to his natal 5th House Moon, Rodin needed Camille to awaken his self-confidence to “think outside the box” in his development of his artistic expression and style, which in turn would support his self-esteem and success as a sculptor (Note Camille’s natal Jupiter falls in Rodin’s 10th House of public mission and recognition, forming a conjunction with his natal Mercury). Uranus, planet of unpredictable, eccentric genius, gave a wealth of creative insight, but must have shocked and rattled Rodin’s emotional security.
It is hard looking back at the historic love narrative and not feel pity for poor Rose Beuret. Perhaps Rodin truly loved both, difficult to know. Rose must have felt the obvious bond between Auguste and Camille; she certainly knew of the ongoing affair. Funny Rodin never married Rose, until on the verge of death. Maybe he finally realized he truly loved Rose. Or, perhaps fearful to look and see what was really in his heart, Rodin left the door perpetually open. According to archival sources, Rose made a good cook, but they certainly did not share the same jovian passion and Saturnian commitment to art.
Camille appears never to have allowed herself to open to love with another, despite the honest intentions of other men. French composer, Claude Debussy (of ‘Clair de lune’ fame), also apparently tried to love her. One archival record claims Debussy and Claudel attended a concert together in July, 1899, when her progressed Sun formed a conjunction with her natal Venus - an event often heralding a time of finding one’s potential “right” partner. I describe this critical time for Camille in more depth below. But let us return to Claudel and Rodin!
One of the fascinating parts of exploring synastry between two souls is to study the moment they met. I can’t go into too much detail here, in part because we do not know the exact date or time of meeting between Rodin and Claudel. But if we look at the early years of their romance, solar arcs are particularly telling. Astrologers use a number of techniques to reveal the celestial spark or potential for evolutionary change in a person’s life, such as when they encounter a significant other. One technique is looking into solar arcs, which can be readily seen in a person’s outer life (I will allow you to explore what solar arcs are on your own if you are curious). Most scholars hold that Camille met Rodin sometime in 1882 or 1883, when solar arc Venus formed a sextile to her natal Jupiter. She developed her strong attachment to him in the years that followed. A critical time came when Rodin apprenticed Camille in his studio at 182 rue de l’Université, in 1884. Claudel’s biographer, Reine-Marie Paris, described this time, “The years when Claudel served as Rodin's studio assistant were the master sculptor's most productive; for Camille they were both the most instructive and, perhaps, the most destructive in terms of establishing a career independent from Rodin.” Keep in mind how this quote describes a kind of psychological limitation as well as artistic growth.
I include Camille’s birth chart above showing the solar arcs in the outer circle that were at play in her chart the year she became both intimate muse and collaborator with Auguste Rodin (set for January 1st, 1884). There are a number of solar arcs worthy of mention, but I’ll focus on only a few. Her progressed Sun at 5 Capricorn forms an exact square to natal 5th House Neptune at 5 Aries; her evolving self, needing self-reliance and hard work in Capricorn, was in tension with her artistic vision as well as her romantic fantasies and illusion (5th House Neptune) - and, we could add, a fiery, enthusiastic Aries passion. Solar arc Venus at 11˚ Aquarius formed a square with Camille’s natal Pluto at 11˚ Taurus (In the 6th House. It is important to note one could argue Pluto falls very close to her descendant and if the birth time is rectified to roughly 15 minutes earlier, it falls on her descendant, further stressing the need for honesty and trust in intimate partnership. Camille’s birth time is given as 5 AM, a time suggesting it was rounded off at birth). This solar arc suggests a time of meeting a potential partner who could help Camille process deep-seated psychological patterns or wounds in her psyche (Recall how I noted Pluto’s ability to transform us on a very deep level in the introduction above). Solar arc Mars is approaching a conjunction with Camille’s 8th House Uranus as well. The 8th House is house of deep intimacy with another, among other things. Such an encounter could help her face her shadows, bring them to the surface (with the square possibly forcing them into view) in a way that would free her to claim her own individual power as an artist.
The solar arc of Venus making a square to Pluto also suggests romantic passion and obsession, complementing the intensity of Rodin’s Scorpio Sun and Camille’s Scorpio ascendant in their natal charts, and certainly characteristic of their passionate, sexual obsession for each other. Pluto is the modern ruler of Camille’s Scorpio ascendant and one could argue with such an ascendant, Camille was here to self-actualize as a “shaman,” someone who could reveal psychological forces at play in human behavior for the collective to see. Her best artwork does just that; her gifts as a sculptress laid in her natural talent to express her subjects’ inner moods and psychological states of being, a talent Rodin admired and copied during their years of collaboration. In the year that followed, her solar arc Mercury formed a conjunction with her natal 3rd House Venus, her solar arc Jupiter, in turn, made a conjunction with her natal Mercury. Both provided a perfect time for her to develop her ideas (Mercury) about art (Venus) as well as cultivate a robust intellectual, artistic exchange with Rodin. It is worth mentioning that the composite chart of the two artists features a very close Sun and Jupiter conjunction. Jupiter as teacher or “guru”, we can see that each artist mentored and inspired the other.
I’d like to jump ahead in years to a later stage in the lives of both artists and consider how Camille worked through her own claiming of her personal power in response to the planet Uranus, known in the astrological world as the “great awakener.” Uranus crossed Camille’s ascendant in 1893 and 1894 (during her 1st Saturn return), continuing throughout the 1890s in her 1st House, following in 1899 and 1900 to conjunct her natal Jupiter. As early as 1896, Camille had asked Mathias Morhardt, a writer and friend, to contact Rodin to request that he not visit her anymore. The two artists permanently ended their romantic involvement by 1898, the year Uranus entered Sagittarius. One of the most important public exhibitions of Camille’s sculpture was the inclusion of her piece, Hamadryad, at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. Her work appeared right next to Rodin’s, though her break with him both as an artist and lover had occurred two years earlier. Uranus by transit can bring about a sudden realization and liberation, helping a soul release old patterns, free the evolutionary path to individuation. Camille Claudel successfully navigated a pivotal Uranian period.
The chart of the opening date of the Exposition, April 14, 1900, shows Jupiter at 10˚ Sagittarius, an exact conjunction with Camille’s natal Jupiter, a time to have hope, take risks and have confidence in herself and her talent, while Uranus is at 12˚ Sagittarius, along with the mean north node of the Moon at 13˚, the node suggesting karmic destiny. All form a conjunction, the node at the midpoint, with her natal Jupiter and Sun. Transiting Saturn is at 5˚ Capricorn, a waning conjunction to her Mercury in the 2nd House, challenging her to make her own artistic voice heard. Once again, this story of Camille Claudel’s relationship with Rodin is telling in comparison to our current sky at Winter solstice and leading into next year, 2019. Recall how now both Jupiter is in Sagittarius, Saturn in Capricorn. Jupiter in Sagittarius offered Camille a moment to question “How can I bring out the best of myself?” in other words, in her 1st House, her willingness to have faith in and take a risk to be herself. Uranus, also by transit in her 1st House, between her Jupiter and Sun, awoke in Camille the urge to claim her independence from her mentor, Rodin, whose work, sadly, in this period became increasingly less experimental and more commercial. Uranus and Jupiter by transit in Rodin’s 10th House led to increased recognition and financial success for the artist, but the glory of his most creative period had past.
Why then did Camille Claudel fail so drastically in the later years of her life? By 1900, I believe, Camille had successfully separated from both the passionate sexual bond with Rodin and from the apprenticeship that kept her work tied so intimately to his. An evolutionary astrologer would recognize for her the radical potential the Uranus transits held to free her and awaken in her a true inner voice, one radical, independent and alive. Camille’s birth chart features Mercury out-of-bounds. Out-of-bounds refers to planets whose declination is beyond the maximum declination of the Sun, 23˚27’, either north or south. When a planet is out-of-bounds in a natal chart, it can manifest as extreme behavior in line with the nature of the planet. For example, Mercury out-of-bounds may bring a creative genius or it may bring eccentric thought processes in the extreme. It is challenging, in Camille’s case, to have Mercury out-of-bounds in her natal chart! Camille needed allies; people who would not only recognize her extraordinary gifts, but support, allow and encourage the countercultural creative mind, soul and heart of her artistic genius.
Those of you who may have seen the 2013 film about Camille’s later years, Camille Claudel 1915, directed by Bruno Dumont, with Juliette Binoche as Camille, know there is much more to the story involving her ongoing struggles with la différence she felt in comparison to the world at large and the frustrations she encountered as she lived among the mentally ill, as well as her tormented attempts to reach her brother, Paul. A comparison of the charts of Paul and Camille Claudel is yet another story in synastry! It is too much to wrestle with family astrological dynamics in this article, however it is important to mention Camille and her brother, Paul Claudel, had a very strong bond from childhood, recall her Gemini Mars in the 7th. He would be the one to eventually commit her to a psychiatric hospital. Her mother and sister never supported her creativity nor her eccentric lifestyle, though her father provided love and support throughout her life, until he died in 1913, the same year she was first committed to a mental asylum. Camille Claudel’s 4th House Pisces Chiron suggests a family wound to her visionary life as an artist, not to mention sacrifice at the family’s expense. Rodin must have “pushed buttons” for Camille in terms of her role as daughter and her ability to receive love and recognition within her family (Rodin’s natal Uranus is conjunct her natal 4th House Chiron and forms a square to her vibrant Jupiter and Sun, challenging her claim to her authentic self). Camille Claudel never healed from the broken heart of Rodin’s refusal to marry her, her bohemian lifestyle and sexual freedom always a source of scorn held by mother and sister. In 1913, she experienced her Chiron return (Chiron’s return to its natal position, roughly at age 50), a time that held such promise for her to heal the familial wound and step into role as healer. Once again, societal attitudes blocked her development as woman artist.
The years after Claudel and Rodin permanently separated, she struggled in poverty, not able to receive enough commissions. In part, I believe, this is because she was a strong-willed woman. Meanwhile, her past relationship with Rodin and the resentment she held for him continued to haunt her. Again, the synastry between Camille and Auguste played into this time, for both of them, as his natal Moon forms a conjunction to her 8th House Uranus. He undoubtedly played a part in her seeking her authentic self when eventually Uranus by transit opposed her natal Uranus, in 1903-1905, a transit that occurs for everyone in their early ‘40s, and formed a conjunction with her natal Mercury. Though he attempted to give her emotional and professional support in this period, Rodin’s love was erratic and volatile, upsetting and disrupting her needs for both deep intimacy and for financial support. Eventually, Camille Claudel was committed to a mental asylum, first in Ville-Évrard in 1913, then, in 1914, to Enghien, then finally Montdevergues, near Avignon, where she remained for 29 years until her death in 1943.
The cosmos gave Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin a chance for true, lasting intimacy and connection with shared work if they could process the shadows. But in 19th-century France, the reality of being an artist’s muse, apprentice and mistress is just that – one is a muse and pupil, nothing more. Rodin did try in earnest to give Claudel professional support and encouragement, but he lacked follow through on the most important of all forms of support – true, humble respect and recognition for her as lover, partner and equal. Solar arcs are windows in time that give circumstances to us for personal growth. Recall how in 1884, solar arc Venus moved into a square to Camille’s Pluto. If we read Camille’s natal Pluto on the descendant, and add in that Pluto is the modern ruler of her chart, we can imagine that she fell deeply in love in obsession with Rodin. Often Pluto in the Venus realm brings up psychological issues, unprocessed wounds ready to be released. I’ve heard of such relationships described as the potential partner serving as “coat rack” for the projections of the other. For Camille, much of her “coat rack” most likely stemmed from the limitations of a gifted, spirited, independent woman living in an age dominated by the power and privilege of men. By facing Pluto and taking Pluto head on, claiming the muck and guck, and rising from the ashes, Camille could then face Uranus and the potential to find authenticity. But we move in a human world, one limited by societal and cultural expectations, one very much at play in 19th-century France. Was the world not ready to receive Camille Claudel?
Camille Claudel’s birth chart, in comparison to that of Auguste Rodin, gives us insights into how chart comparisons can reveal times of potential change, times of awakening and self-realization. In 2019, Jupiter is in Sagittarius and Saturn in Capricorn. Like Camille, whose life held so much promise, so much passion (Jupiter), we have opportunities to see where we most need to expand, how we can do better, what gifts we can bring forth. And, like Camille, with her Capricorn Venus and Mercury, her hard work and her desire to have her artwork acknowledged (Saturn), we are asked to make our dreams real and last. We, too, have a chance to make our work endure. That is, if the world is ready to hear.
Wishing everyone a great Solstice yuletide season and a blessed 2019!