First Impressions - Jack Kerouac
A new series in which I look at the chart of a great individual or couple/duo in history and describe for you the stand out elements of their natal or synastry chart that jump out at me, almost as an initial sketch - which is exactly how I begin when working with a client's chart. My focus here is on explaining what I see and how the energy was potentially played out. This is a way to show you how a chart works and to highlight how everyone expresses their chart in a completely individual way. We are much, much more than our sun sign.
12th March 1922, 5pm, Lowell, Massachusetts
Pisces Sun, Virgo Moon, Virgo Ascendant
I am all about this human. I have been (like so many of us), since reading his books and having him contextualize all of the inner conflicts and inner yearnings present in a 20-something. He brought 'Heaven' down to Earth and arranged words and truths in a way that made people cognitively understand what we'd always felt; that there is something transcendent within us, within nature, within life and that contrary to how society works to shape us as individuals, the pursuit of freedom and self awareness is a worthy occupation.
But let the mind beware, that though the flesh be bugged, the circumstances of existence are pretty glorious.
The Dharma Bums, 1958, Jack Kerouac
Looking up Kerouac's chart (check it out here), my first thought was that of-COURSE this guy's Sun/Moon/Ascendant would straddle the opposition of Pisces and Virgo! This axis is the definition of Heaven meeting Earth and I think it's fair to say that during his life, Kerouac encapsulated both a fine balance between the two as well as an over-identification with the Virgo/Earth side and then an over-identification with the Pisces/Heaven side. I talk more about the shadow self and oppositions in this article here.
Kerouac is a very complete example of the extremes that a Piscean can experience when they are not anchored to the Earth (via their opposite, Virgo). On one hand he was the beatific writer who found perfect expression of experiencing divinity in nature, in other people and within. Yet, he also drowned himself in alcohol - his boundaries fully shot. Pisces is everything that lay beyond time and space; its the spirit aspect of the Zodiac, its our soul, our highest intuition; its the space we enter into the world via and the space we go to when we exit this world. The water aspect of Pisces makes this sign even more formless and malleable; it can arrange itself according to the structures, personalities and moods that it finds itself amongst. Its innate self is so empathic that unless the individual has a strong identity/ego and thus boundaries that define the identity, Piscean's may find it hard to tell where they end and another person begins as they naturally merge and adapt to other forms. Or they may feel (again, if not grounded) as though their mind is in a mist/fog and susceptible to depression. If there is one sign that should take it easy on intoxicants, its this gang. Because their psychic antennae is just naturally up and active, they are extra-susceptible to really losing ground on who they are.
I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.
- On the Road, Kerouac
Kerouac's Pisces Sun is offset by a clever counterweight in his chart, a Virgo Moon and Virgo Ascendant. Meaning that his emotional development (Moon) is filtered through a Virgo prism, as is his outer identity/identity development (Ascendant). I say that it is clever because it feels like an in-built protection that pushes him to indentify with his body and earthly analysis (Virgo) and anchor him so that that Pisces Sun can swim out far into the ether while remaining a conduit on the material plane. If not, the scales will tip. We can see that he was a great combination in different periods of his life, for example, this is the guy who got in to Columbia to study literature on the back of a football scholarship. After his shoulder injury left him unable to play football, he became a merchant marine; this guy was an athlete. We also see him clean up for a period in Dharma Bums where he perfectly meshes his study of Buddhist philosophy with the physicality of climbing mountains. These are the periods where Kerouac is shining his brightest; when he balances out the spirit aspect with being fully in his body. Even his act of writing On The Road was a physical, three week process; his wife at the time, Joan, has said that she would make him change his shirt every few hours because it was drenched in his sweat.
I thought, I'd never met anyone who'd lived with more absolute freedom...A need to keep moving, as if whenever he stayed anywhere too long, he exhausted the present by soaking it in too intensely.
- Joyce Johnson on Kerouac
There are also periods when it doesn't play out as well, when his balance was off. In the periods where he was static and not physical, he seemed to maneuver through the lower octave's of both Pisces and Virgo. When Virgo energy isn't being used in service to something, it can turn in to analysis paralysis. Because Kerouac's Moon is conjunct his Ascendant, it is his emotional self, his emotional identity that needs to have some form of expression, this is a large part of his service. Because of this positioning, his 'service' does not need to be some form of selfless and religious act, its very much about him exploring and expressing his 'self', his identity. This also means that if he is not expressing himself and his emotions or having some form of physical release through exercise (Virgo being body-aware) then his very keen, detailed analytical abilities would simply turn inwards and the way he would talk to himself would be so heavy and harsh. This would also affect his Sun expression which is in the 7th House. His later life was quite reclusive but anyone with a 7th House Sun feels alive through social interaction, a lot of their energy comes from being around other people. In his later life, and even at his most active periods, alcohol seemed to be a crutch. His pain and anger and inner turmoil shine out in later photographs of him and in that horrible interview he did on the William Buckley show. He seems so full of self hate and its hard to watch such a bright star actively drown their own magic in substance. Here, his balance between Virgo and Pisces is well and truly off...its as though he tried to obliterate his own identity (Virgo Moon/Asc) by deliberately becoming unconscious (Pisces' lower octave).
I don't want to end this when he was in his shadow form though, i want to leave this when he was at one of his brightest points, during his Saturn Return. During a person's first Saturn Return, they undoubtedly (and sometimes uncomfortably) come face to face with themselves. As I have said previously, this is an initiatory phase that leads a person in to the next level of self-understanding, becoming more accustomed to who they truly are. Jack's Saturn is in Libra in the 1st House and its so beautiful because during this period he dramatically altered his own expression. It was during this time that he wrote On the Road. This book was markedly different from his debut, Town and the City, which was more like a pastiche of influences from other writers and used structures and forms (Saturn) that he had learnt in his formal education. When Saturn moved through his 1st House now, he built a new foundation (Saturn) around how he expressed his own identity (1st House). His style (Libra) was re-imagined to be more in line with who he was and he arguably birthed an entirely new style of writing. What a babe. I hope this also alleviates some of the fear that people have about going through their Saturn Return. This can be a highly productive time if you utilise the energies of Saturn (discipline, structure, working to materialise something into 3D etc) and work with it, rather than against it or in fear of it. Some of the greatest works of art have been created in people's Saturn Return but more on that later.
I was a man of the earth, precisely as I had dreamed I would be.
- On the Road, Kerouac