The forces at play

First Impressions - Georgia O'Keeffe

I've been contemplating this series for a while now, 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 they potentially played out the energy positively or negatively. This is a way to begin to show you how a chart works and to highlight how everyone expresses their chart in a completely individual way. We are more than our sun sign and even then, no two people with the same sun sign are identical in the way they live that sign. So lets start with one of the greatest.

Georgia O'Keeffe

06:30am, November 15th, 1887

Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, United States

Georgia O'Keeffe.jpg

'I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing i wanted to do'

- Georgia O'Keeffe

Photograph by her love, Alfred Stieglitz

Some charts click in to place immediately for me, as though the energy pattern is so laser-point precise that you get the whole download on first look. O'Keeffe's chart is one of them (you can view her chart here), the intent feels very clear. 

What jumps out first is the deluge of Scorpionic energy - not only is Georgia's Sun, Moon and Ascendant all in Scorpio (making her a triple Scorpio and HARDCORE), she also has Jupiter and Mercury here. Coming in to the planet with this concentration of energy in a sign as intense as Scorpio is a brave move...she could have very easily crumbled under the lower expressions of Scorpio - chronic fear leading to control issues and utilising manipulation to ensure outcomes. The fact that she ever left her house and entered the world suggests she was brave - this could also have played out in extreme privacy or shutting herself off from life, Garbo style. While her final years seemed to swing more in to reclusiveness, her youth and middle years seemed to be played out very much as part of the world, in intense rapture with life itself. 

Scorpio is ruled by Pluto and its worth noting that most Scorpio's have at their disposal the powers of regeneration and an x-ray vision into people's deeper selves and social structures, a natural investigator and psychologist. Whether or not they utilise them is a matter of free will. This is the sign of transmutation and alchemy, it is the phoenix in action. Life will always have intense moments but for a Scorpio (or someone with a lot of Scorpio in their chart or a dominant placement of Pluto), this intensity is palpable and always within reach. Its higher expression mimics that of the alchemical process; for base metals to turn into gold they must relinquish control and enter into a process of change, similarly, the Scorpionic process occurs when the individual surrenders control of their identity, sinks in to their intensities and fears and deep-dives amongst their own shadow - here they return with the gold of self knowledge, a deeper experience of self and a wider spectrum of emotional experience. It is the experiences gained from this regenerative process that brings with it the second gift of psychological knowing; a penetrative mind that innately senses a persons motivations, whether someone is telling the truth or not and an immediate understanding of social dynamics upon entering a group setting etc.

Georgie O'Keeffe exemplifies both of these gifts both in her process of individuation and her artistic development. Her Sun (life force), Moon (emotional/unconscious self) and Ascendant (outer identity) all swam in these waters, as did her mind and way of communicating (Mercury) and it was also here that she sought to find meaning in life (Jupiter) and the place from which she she taught/passed on her understanding (Jupiter). While she certainly took part in society and spent most of her twenties as an arts teacher, moving around the States frequently to learn and teach, she seems to have always heard and followed her own call.

L: Evening Star No. III, 1917, watercolour on paper, MOMA, NY  R: Untitled (Abstraction Two Green Lines and Red Circle), 1979, watercolour on paper, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

O'Keeffe's concentration of the personal planets in her 1st House suggests that a very large part of her mission in this lifetime was to develop the self, to develop her identity as an individual separate to others - through the process discussed above. What's interesting is that (Scorpio's ruler) Pluto is just outside an opposition to these planets in 7th House Gemini - meaning that throughout her life she will draw in individuals, be they friends, lovers or acquaintances who will ignite this regenerative process inside of her, that is, if she has stayed small and works to control her reality and environment and not embrace these qualities within herself, she will attract to her Plutonic characters who shake up her life entirely and she will feel as though life is happening to her. I interpret this as a very clever fail-safe design within her chart - if she does not activate her regenerative power(s) herself, they will come to her via outside triggers.

Its worth noting that her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, was often viewed as a controlling figure (Pluto). At the same time, he seemed to assist O'Keeffe in a number of ways:

He helped to visually define and document her. From 1917 on-wards he documented her in a series of over three hundred and fifty photographs, capturing her magnetic intensity, strength and defiant individuality in images that are as popular to her admirers as her own art is. So many of us have fallen in awe of Georgia O'Keeffe the entity before we even come to know her art. We are lured in by the individual - classic strong 1st House Scorpio/Pluto.

Born on 1st January, Stieglitz is a Capricorn and his Sun shine's in O'Keeffe's 2nd House of money and self-worth. Stieglitz was O'Keeffe's launchpad into a much larger audience, showcasing her work at his gallery and overseeing the development of her career both artistically and financially. O'Keeffe became a very financially successful artist and was afforded the great bonus (and rarity) of being financially independent to her husband at a time when this was definitely not the norm.

The pair began their affair during her Saturn Return and as they always are, her Saturn Return was a defining transition into a stronger version of herself. During this period she not only sustained a bout of Spanish Influenza but she re-located from Texas to Manhattan, ended her career in teaching and turned full-time towards the development of her art and her relationship with Stieglitz. He also marked the beginning of her second Saturn Return with his death in 1946; she spent the next two years dividing up his estate and then moved full-time to her homes in Santa-Fe at the end of her Return as she entered her Crone phase. What I find interesting here is that Stieglitz was a Capricorn, ruled by Saturn. Saturn is our mastery of things over time, and Stieglitz was the marker of both of O'Keeffe's Saturn periods.


'I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught'

- Georgia O'Keeffe

At the same time that Georgia was experiencing the initiation of her Saturn Return, Saturn was also making contact with her North Node (conjunct Saturn in 9th House Leo), assisting in laying the foundations of this energy. North Node energy is where we are heading towards in this lifetime, being in Leo it meant that a large part of O'Keeffe's journey was in stepping away from the group and being celebrated as an individual. In the 9th House it gives her a lot of experiential leanings - she couldn't take on ideas, movements and beliefs in blind faith (all 9th House territory), she had to envelop herself in the joy of life (Leo) and create and define her own movement and beliefs. 

Her independence is apparent again in the 11th House where Venus is conjunct Uranus, meaning that in O'Keeffe's experience of love, beauty and adornment, she needed to feel singular and express herself in a way that was unique to her alone.  This we can see in her beautiful monochrome uniforms of hand-made desert kimonos, in her financial independence in love and her strong representation and abstraction of the feminine in her art. Psychiatrists in Manhattan in the 20s actually sent female clients to visit her exhibitions, feeling that being in the presence of such strong female power would free their clients of their sexual repression.

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'I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality, I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what i want to say in paint.'

- Georgia O'Keeffe

Finally, all of her Scorpio planets are directly opposite Neptune, which for her sits in the 7th House in Taurus. Taurus is where we try to secure ourselves in a material sense. With Neptune here, she could either secure to delusion and daydream (negative expressions of Neptune) or to a relationship with a higher force, one that I would argue she found in nature. The more she could release control, having faith in both herself and in something higher (assuming it was a benevolent force), the easier it would have been for her to go through her intensities, knowing full well that what was happening was a a seasonal process of refinement, self-actualisation and a natural unfolding of self.

Next week we head into the synastry charts of one of modern history's greatest couples.

Georgia O'Keeffe's natal chart
'Georgia O'Keeffe', Randall Griffin, Phaidon Press, 2014