Recently I’ve been watching the series Cosmos by Neil deGrasse Tyson because cosmology has always fascinated me and I enjoy the teaching style of Dr. Tyson. I was a bit dismayed by his lack of knowledge of history (he misrepresented the heresy trial of Giordano Bruno) and by his rather condescending dismissal of astrology (a subject he has never studied and only has uninformed prejudices about). As Wayne Dyer says, “the highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” One wonders whether Tyson has ever read the works of Giordano Bruno or the recordings which have survived of his trial for heresy.
Despite the show’s occasional glaring inaccuracies and biased stance against non-scientific disciples, I have been enjoying Tyson’s presentations. In the first espiode he paid a glowing tribute to the life-changing influence Dr. Carl Sagan had on his life. Sagan had a more balanced and respectful view of astrology. Although Sagan regarded astrology as a psuedo-science, he was unwilling to dismiss it on the basis of scientific prejudice which derives from the arrogant authoritarian posture of some scientists as final arbiters of the truth. Carl Sagan did not want to ally himself with such arrogance. Unlike his mentor, Neil deGrasse Tyson appears to embrace the authoritarian position wholeheartedly.
As an astrologer, I wondered whether a significant Pluto transit was occurring in Tyson’s chart when Dr. Sagan altered the course of his life. Pluto is usually active at times when events occur which divide our lives into “before and after” such and such happened. In this week’s episode, to my delight Tyson gave the date of his fateful meeting with Carl Sagan. It was December 20, 1975.
I looked up deGrasse Tyson’s birth date online (October 5, 1958, NYC, time unknown). My usual practice is to do a sunrise chart for unknown birth times. This was a practice recommened by Alan Leo whom I read many years ago when I was first studying astrology. Around the natal sunrise chart I placed the transits for Noon in NYC of 20 Dec 1975, the day of the meeting that changed Tyson’s life. To my astronishment Pluto was transiting directly on deGrasse Tyson’s natal Sun and Mercury. This finding was almost too good to be true, but it is based on the facts presented by Dr. Tyson in his Cosmos episode of this week. Here is the chart:
Frankly, I’m blown away by transiting Pluto, the planet of life-altering transformation, conjoining Tyson’s natal Sun and Mercury at the time of his meeting with Carl Sagan. The essential meaning of Pluto transiting the natal Sun and Mercury is a radically transformative experience affecting one’s sense of identity (Sun) and way of thinking (Mercury). In addition, transiting Uranus, a planet linked to cosmology and modern science, is crossing over his natal Jupiter, ruler of the sunrise chart’s 3rd house of mental interests. Astrological symbolism never ceases to amaze me.
The most significant of these aspects is transiting Pluto conjunct the natal Sun because the Sun is such an important factor in a natal chart. In my recent book Tarot Beyond the Basics (Llewellyn, 2014), I gave the following key words and phrases for Pluto conjunct the Sun: “Radical change, life changing events, profound personal transformation. Life is never the same afterward” (page 44). This entire list of keywords applies to deGrasse Tyson’s meeting with Carl Sagan. It was such a profound “Plutonian” experience that Tyson still talks about it to this day. In his own words, deGrasse Tyson says of his life-transforming meeting with Carl Sagan, “I already knew that I wanted to become a scientist, but that afternoon I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become.” What a beautiful description of transiting Pluto conjunct one’s natal Sun!
Had Neil deGrasse Tyson consulted an astrologer in 1975, he would have been told that December of ’75 and January of ’76 would be extremely significant months for his personal development during which he could expect to have life-altering experiences. Solar Fire would have interpreted his major hard transits (4th harmonic) during this period as follows (the dates of exactitude are based on a sunrise chart, so they may be slightly different from dates given by an accurate birth time):
TRANSITING URANUS CONJUNCTION RADIX JUPITER (1st House)
Exact Dec 11 1975
You can expect the unexpected during this transit. Life will suddenly change taking you in a new direction. This can be good if you are looking for a excitement and new challenges such as a new job opportunity or new relationship. You will enjoy a newfound sense of freedom during which you enjoy taking risks. Metaphysics, travel, science and computer technology may also fascinate you. In some cases there can be a sudden turn downhill coming out of the blue or a time during which you feel unsettled and unable to cope with the new turn of events. However, in most cases you enjoy exploring all the possibilities.
TRANSITING PLUTO CONJUNCTION RADIX MERCURY (12th House)
Exact Dec 30 1975, Exact Jan 28 1976
This is a time of intense communications, during which you are obsessed with certain thoughts. For this reason it is an ideal time for any project which demands mental concentration and deep thought. You are resourceful during this transit, easily able to obtain information and data. It may sometimes take some research, but you are able to persist and obtain the correct information. Your analytical abilities are also heightened and therefore this can be a good time for self-analysis or psychological studies. You would be wise to avoid destructive or negative obsessive thoughts.
TRANSITING PLUTO CONJUNCTION RADIX SUN (1st House)
Exact Jan 7 1976, Exact Jan 20 1976
No matter which way you look at it, this is a time of transformation. By the end of this period life will simply not be the same. Basically the purpose is for you to discover a sense of your own personal power; however, the means by which you make this discovery may or may not be pleasant. You are being asked to rely on your own resources and your own sense of well-being rather than on external sources. As a result you may find that people, jobs, health, homes and any other form of external support, are subject to change. This can be a frightening time, challenging your self-esteem and values. The best way to handle this period is to maintain your sense of balance and embrace the excitement and newness that comes with the process of change. Resistance is guaranteed to bring pain and the changes will then be forced on you anyway. By the end of this period you will be more purposeful and resourceful, strong in the knowledge that you have come through a testing time with flying colours.
PS: You can view a video of Neil deGrasse Tyson displaying his utter ignorance of astrology, its history and theoretical structure, in a video on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNQIGtFJmrQ#t=56 He equates all of astrology with sun-sign newspaper horoscopes, which no reputable astrologer views as anything but entertainment. Tyson does not know even the most basic distinction between a zodiac sign (a theoretical construct) and a zodiac constellation (an observational convenience). Nor does he seem to know anything about this history of the roles of the tropical and sidereal zodiacs in the development of Western and Vedic astrology. Tyson should stick to speaking about science which he knows something about and avoid pontificating about astrology for which he displays total ignorance.