Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Boys Behind the Candelabra

Michael Douglas as Liberace
Wladzia Valentino Liberace was born 16 May 1919 at 23:15 in West Allis Wisconsin (Rodden Rating: AA; Collector: Steinbracher) with Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Leo. With Jupiter in Cancer, he was a well known Mummy's Boy and his shows always featured members of his family.

Saturn in Leo may seem odd for a man who became known for his stage persona--but he guarded his "real" character very carefully indeed. This was a man who clearly understood his strengths and weaknesses and knew exactly which side to face to the cameras. As I wrote in "Growing Pains": 

"Saturn in Leo children quickly learn where their strengths are — be it verbosity, sporting prowess, knowing who their allies are or understanding the weaknesses of their enemies. Once the battle has begun, there’s no stopping it until the metaphorical dead bodies are carried away." Saturn in Leo can also be extremely touchy about their hair: beneath his wigs, Liberace was completely bald. 

Interestingly, not only was he born with a caul but he was also a twin (the twin died at birth). He began playing the piano at his first Jupiter trine (in Scorpio) and commenced formal lessons at his first Saturn square (also in Scorpio) at the age of 7. His talents were obvious from the earliest stages.

Perhaps one of his most intriguing astrological features is Venus/Pluto conjunct his descendant.* The descendant tends to be the first signals the native puts "out there" and can in turn be the type of people they draw to them. Venus/Pluto is magnetic indeed; some people might even say hypnotic. His legions of female fans were perfectly fine to disregard his blatant homosexuality and focus on his flashy showmanship. He allowed fans to visit him backstage to touch his piano, his clothes and his jewellery. And he wasn't afraid to let his fans touch him through handshakes, kisses, hugs and caresses. His ostentatious costumes were worn so he could be better seen on stage (though one wonders how he managed to play the piano with so many clunky rings).  And no one could take their eyes off of him. Part of his charm may have also been due to his ascendant in Capricorn: his fans loved it that he was a midwest boy who worked hard and made it big.

Liberace also had a Sun/Mars conjunction on the "dreaded" fixed star Algol in the 5th house. Intensive entertainment indeed! A further example of the power he had over his fans.

As a musician, Liberace was highly criticised for altering compositions to suit his personal style "like showmanship topped with whipped cream and cherries." He flounced through Chopin, slaughtered Debussy and chopped up Beethoven and made them his own.

In 1956, a London newspaper implied Liberace may not have been the straight ticket. The exact words to describe him were: "…the summit of sex—the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter. Everything that he, she, and it can ever want… a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love". Transit Uranus had just passed over his natal Neptune in the 8th house along with transiting Venus and Saturn. His response? "What you said hurt me very much. I cried all the way to the bank." He won the libel case. Liberace continued to mask his sexuality by fostering "romantic" links with famous women. As Saturn opposed Neptune's natal position 26 years after the libel suit, his male lover sued him for palimony.

Liberace's final television performance was 2 November 1986 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. A pre-recorded interview with Oprah Winfrey was re-leased on Christmas Day 1986. A final bow is  significant and how utterly charming Uranus was transiting his natal Moon and Neptune was crossing his ascendant when he said his public good byes to his still adoring fans. He died a few months later on 4 February 1987 with transiting Saturn exactly conjunct his natal Moon.

On 26 May 2013, Behind the Candelabra, a movie about Liberace's life starring Michael Douglas was released to a disbelieving audience. Michael Douglas was born on 25 September 1944 at 10:30 am in New Brunswick New Jersey (Rodden Rating: AA; Collector: Steinbrecher) with Jupiter in Virgo and Saturn in Gemini.

How would the ageing lothario portray the legend that was Liberace?

Well considering Douglas had his South Node within a few of degrees of Liberace's Venus/Pluto conjunction (and ascendant/descendant axis), he didn't do too badly at all. Michael's Moon opposed Liberace's Neptune and his Saturn opposed Liberace's natal Moon. It was a total role reversal for Michael. 

In his posthumous chart, Pluto had crossed over Liberace's ascendant and Neptune had transited his natal Uranus and transiting Uranus passed over his natal Chiron as filming took place. Perhaps most tellingly, transited Saturn had passed over his natal MC. Behind the Candelabra was a light-hearted glance at the life-long work of a man who used his Saturn in Leo to disguise his true self.

* Although not much of a television fan at any point in my life, I was enthralled by Liberace as a kid: my natal Mars is bang on his Venus/Pluto.


About the Astrologer




Alex Trenoweth is an MA graduate of the Cultural Astronomy and Astrology course at Bath Spa University (2007) and has gained recognition as an outstanding schoolteacher for her tireless and innovative education of adolescents. Her unique expertise in both astrology and teaching, coupled with ground-breaking research, led her to her write Growing Pains, a book aimed at helping parents and teachers support and guide young people into maturity. Alex’s articles have appeared in astrological magazines across the globe and in addition to her many writing accomplishments, she was voted “Best International Astrologer, 2015” by the Krishnamuti Institute of Astrology in India for the energetic presentation of her original and thought-provoking investigation into astrology and education. As of October 2015, Alex is on a world tour, lecturing on a variety of astrological topics and is enjoying meeting other astrologers from different cultures.  "Mirror Mirror" is a work in progress and will be published in 2016. All rights reserved.



Friday, 29 January 2016

Happy Birthday Oprah Winfrey

The following is an extract from "Growing Pains"
Copyright: Alex Trenoweth


Case study - Oprah Winfrey
29 January 1954, 4:30 CST Rodden rating: A; Collector: Rodden
Kosciusko, Mississippi 38 ̊N03’27” 089 ̊W35’15”
Jupiter in Gemini, Mercury in Aquarius
Saturn in Scorpio, Pluto in Leo
First Jupiter return: July 1965, 11 years 5 months
First Saturn Opposition: April 1970, 16 years 3 months; 4 years 10 months Saturn return November 1983
Second Saturn return December 2012, April and September 2013 Fourth Jupiter return April 2013
Allegedly, Oprah could read at the age of three, at the time of her first Jupiter square, and she was nicknamed
“The Preacher” at
Sunday school for
her ability to recite
Bible verses. Such
is the eagerness of
Jupiter in Gemini to
acquire information
and regurgitate it on demand.
Oprah had been sexually abused from the age of nine, when Saturn made a series of conjunctions to natal Mercury. This aspect demands silence, so it is astrologically unsurprising she kept this a secret until 1986 when Jupiter transited the same point. Transits from Jupiter and Saturn to this point feature in many aspects of her life. When Jupiter transited Mercury by opposition in 1967, she ran away from home, became pregnant and gave birth to a son who died in infancy. In 1971, at the end of an intense affair, transiting Saturn was square to her natal Mercury.
Shortly after the death of her son, her academic prowess was discovered and she was sent to an affluent high school. Tired of having her impoverished background rubbed in her face, she began to steal money from her mother. She was then sent to live with her father, changed to a school where she regularly made the honour roll, was voted most popular girl, was part of the debate team and eventually won a full scholarship to Tennessee State University for her oratory skills. At seventeen, when Jupiter was conjunct her natal Neptune, she won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty competition.
In 1976, Jupiter was square her natal IC in Sagittarius, and later opposite Saturn in Scorpio, as she began work as a news anchor in Tennessee — she was the first black person to do this as well the youngest anchor the channel had ever had. In 1978, Saturn was in the middle of a series of three conjunctions to natal Pluto and three squares to Mars, and Jupiter was conjunct Uranus as she worked on a show called People Are Talking. In November 1983, at her Saturn return, she moved to Chicago and began The Oprah Winfrey Show which quickly trounced The Donahue Show as the highest rated talk show in Chicago.
In 1985, as Jupiter was in opposition to her natal Uranus, Oprah launched into a new media branch: the movies. Even with little acting experience, she won a role in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple, eventually gaining an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. Saturn was also active at this time, squaring first her natal Mercury and later her natal Mars, so appropriate for her portrayal of the feisty Sophia who is beaten into submission for being too loud and strong. A Jupiter square and Saturn opposition to her Sun coincided with voice over roles in Charlotte’s Web and The Bee Movie in 2006.
Transiting Saturn was semi-square Oprah’s natal Mercury three times in 1996 when she began her Book Club. Her opinion and endorsements had such an effect on sales of featured books that even the most obscure tomes became instant best sellers. It was a force that became known as the “Oprah Effect.” She discovered further power in her words when she nearly sank the American beef industry with her comments on mad cow disease. Her bacon was nearly cooked when she was taken to court by Texas cattlemen who were furious that their businesses had been so badly damaged. During the time of the trial (she was eventually found not liable) Jupiter had made a series of three conjunctions to Mercury, the last of these in February 1998. Shortly afterwards, Jupiter and Saturn began making a series of transits in tandem to several of her natal planets.
Although she has always been generous, following the lesson learned from her first-hand experience of the Oprah Effect, she began using her influence to persuade others to give to good causes. Oprah’s Angel Network raised $80,000,000 in the Jupiter cycle of its existence. As of 2007 it is estimated she has given away $303,000,000 of her personal fortune and she has become the first black person to be listed as one of the US’s top fifty philanthropists.

About the astrologer:



Alex Trenoweth was voted Best International Astrologer, 2015 for her dynamic presentation on Astrology and Education. Her book, "Growing Pains" is an exciting development in astrology as it combines classroom teaching experience, sound research and the potential to have a positive impact on struggling adolescents, parents, teachers and those who have been labelled "at risk". For queries, consultations or syndications, please contact Alex via www.alextrenoweth.com or leave a message in the comment section.

The Little Sparrow with No Regrets

Edith Piaf was born on 19 December 1915 at 5:00am in Paris France (Rodding Rating: AA; Collector: Geslain) with Jupiter in Pisces and Saturn in Cancer in trine aspect. As has been pointed out before, a trine between these two planets is not necessarily a positive aspect: the chronicle of her difficult life is legendary.

Popular mythology has it that she was born on a cold winter's night on a pavement in Paris. In actuality, she was born in a hospital. Even so, the life of the "Little Sparrow" is no less harrowing. Those born with Saturn in Cancer are susceptible to problems with the family--either perceived or in reality. In Edith's case, she was abandoned by her mother at birth and was raised by her paternal grandmother who ran a brothel. As I wrote in Growing Pains:

"Saturn in Cancer pupils have difficulty in knowing the difference between mandatory care and outrageous over-indulgence because they have issues with emotional boundaries. They know what should be done but often don’t feel like doing it because they are worried that some whale off the coast of Ethiopia is in danger of extinction and that is far more important than maths, English and science. They do seem to like history though, especially if it involves allowing them to recite every wrong ever committed by a tyrant." 

Jupiter in Pisces pupils are very susceptible to their environment. Again, as I wrote in Growing Pains

"If you can resist the urge to shake these pupils awake, you will discover that they are far more aware of the environs than you gave them credit for. Highly intuitive, Jupiter in Pisces pupils have tapped into your feelings and those of their classmates. They understand you; they want to please you and if you give them a chance, they will find a happy medium that makes everyone comfortable." Although Edith attributed her inability to say "no" to any man as a result of early observations of her earliest feminine influences ("I thought that when a boy called, a girl never said no," she would later recall), it is not difficult to see how Jupiter in Pisces played out in her life.

Around the age of 7, about the time of Saturn's first square to its natal position, her grandmother's prostitutes pooled their resources together and took the young girl on a pilgrimage to cure her of blindness: she claimed her healing was miraculous. At Saturn's opposition to its natal position, she joined her father's acrobatic street performances. These early transits, as is the case for everyone else, form the basic building blocks of life: her eagerness to please, her inability to find love and comfort in family would eventually lead her to find solace in alcohol and drugs.

But of course, it is for her singing ability that we remember her. As Jupiter transited her 12th house and later crossed her ascendant in 1935, her talents were discovered by Louis Leplee (born 6 April 1883, noon chart, assumed birth place in Paris) whose Mars was conjunct her Jupiter (in "La Vie En Rose" he was portrayed by Gerard Depardieu whose stellium in Taurus opposed Leplee's stellium in Scorpio). He heavily advertised her first gig, attracting many celebrities and securing her position as France's favourite singer. She released two records that year and blossomed under Leplee's guidance. Unfortunately, Leplee was murdered the following year and Piaf was implicated then acquitted for his murder as transiting Neptune passed over her natal MC. The subsequent negative publicity nearly finished off her burgeoning career but transiting Saturn crossing over her natal Jupiter/Chiron conjunction appeared to steady her progress. She flourished during the war years and emerged from the rubble of World War II with several prominent connections that would ensure her continued success. 

Edith's signature song, "La Vie En Rose" was written the year of her first Saturn return and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 on what would have been the year of her Uranus return. The movie "La Vie En Rose" was filmed in the latter part of 2006 and released when transiting Uranus was transiting Edith's natal Jupiter/Chiron conjunction. However the most notable transit was Pluto conjunct her natal Mercury: the chanteuse was given a posthumous voice to tell her tale.

The French actress Marion Cotillard, who portrayed Edith in "La Vie En Rose", was born on 30 September 1975 at 4:40 am in Paris, France (Rodden Rating: AA; Collector Geslain). Unsurprisingly, the synastry between the actress and the character explains why "La Vie En Rose" won the oscar for Best Actress and became one of the  highest grossing French language films in the US.

The ascendant of the actress very nicely picks up the MC of the character: quite simply, Marion understood and could convey the journey of Edith's life. Edith's natal Jupiter/Chiron conjunction falls on Marion's descendant so the actress was able to play out the the character's turbulent relationships with depth, passion and understanding (and might I say with a touch of over acting?). Further the pair have a Venus/Mars conjunction but most tellingly, the actress' Neptune is conjunct the character's natal Moon/Saturn conjunction. You want on screen misery? You got it!

Finally, the song "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" was recorded a Jupiter cycle after her discovery and it too became the stuff of legends. As well as being a theme song for the film "La Vie En Rose", it is often popularly assumed that it is a theme for Edith's life. Released in 1959 as Pluto transited the final degrees of Leo, the lyrics speak of starting again at zero and of not letting the past be a bother. The rather Plutonic meaning is expressed beautifully in the film. And with Marion Cottilard's natal Venus conjunct the Pluto of the song, there should be little astrological wonder why we left the cinemas singing "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" at the top of our lungs.

About the Astrologer



Alex Trenoweth is an MA graduate of the Cultural Astronomy and Astrology course at Bath Spa University (2007) and has gained recognition as an outstanding schoolteacher for her tireless and innovative education of adolescents. Her unique expertise in both astrology and teaching, coupled with ground-breaking research, led her to her write Growing Pains, a book aimed at helping parents and teachers support and guide young people into maturity. Alex’s articles have appeared in astrological magazines across the globe and in addition to her many writing accomplishments, she was voted “Best International Astrologer, 2015” by the Krishnamuti Institute of Astrology in India for the energetic presentation of her original and thought-provoking investigation into astrology and education. As of October 2015, Alex is on a world tour, lecturing on a variety of astrological topics and is enjoying meeting other astrologers from different cultures.  "Mirror Mirror" is a work in progress and will be published in 2016. All rights reserved.













Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Mirror Mirror: The Julie/Julia Project

Photo found at: Sarah Forbes
Having nearly finished the second "Growing Pains" book (now in its "resting" phase before touch ups for submission of the first draft),  I am turning my attention to my next book on actors who have portrayed real life characters. As I understand I have competition (ahem, Frank Clifford!!), I'm furiously writing the rough draft. This is just a working draft of one of the chapters.

Julia Child was born on 15 August 1912 at 23:20 in Pasadena California (Rodden Rating: AA; Collector CAH) with Jupiter in its rulership, Sagittarius and Saturn in Gemini. Although she was mainly known for her role as "The French Chef" (pretty good going as she was neither French nor a chef), her earlier career at the Office for Strategic Services during World War II was also outstanding.

With Jupiter in Sagittarius, Julia would have possessed a natural sense of confidence and a thirst for adventure. As I wrote in "Growing Pains": "Pupils with Jupiter in Sagittarius seize life by the throat, shake it all about, wave it from the flagpole, dunk it into their coffee and then come back for seconds. Or thirds. Their enthusiasm is exhausting, their questions never ending, their energy ever flowing."

At 6'2" Julia was also exceptionally tall--despite having Saturn conjunct her ascendant. Her height gave her gravitas--although she often said it made her feel awkward. Julia's ability to research and translate her topic is very typical of Saturn in Gemini. (On a personal note, I loved Julia and as a child was mesmerised by her television performances. It wasn't until I became an astrologer that I realised that we share the exact same degree ascendant. My article on Julia here). But it was for her uncontrollable larynx that Julia is remembered: she throttled unsuspecting syllables and became particularly animated when discussing the merits of butter, whole ingredients and fine wine. Her manner and diction were an imitator's dream.

In August 2002, a young creative writing pupil by the name of Julie Powell began writing her now famous blog, "Julie and Julia: 365 days, 534 Recipes and 1 Tiny Kitchen Apartment". Her blog chronicled her attempts to complete all the recipes in Julia's seminal work "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Transiting Neptune hovered over Julia's natal MC so no one should have been surprised that the blog would become a movie.

"Julie & Julia" was filmed as Jupiter transited Julia's MC and was released in August 2009 as the North Node passed over her Uranus and transiting Neptune opposed her natal Sun--all fairly good arguments for the validation of posthumous transits.

Photo courtesy of: ABC
The synastry between Julia Child and Meryl Streep, who portrayed Julia in the film, is equally fascinating. Meryl's Venus/Mars conjunction is very nicely conjunct Julia's Saturn in Gemini. Although Meryl is known for her mastery of accents, her delivery of Julia's voice was a pure class act: she managed to do it without taking the proverbial mick and even made Julia's voice endearingly normal yet interesting. Meryl is not a tall actress but somehow she seemed tall in her role. Also noteworthy is Meryl's Saturn conjunct Julia's Venus/Mercury in Virgo: Meryl is portraying author who's translation of French recipes into not only English but to the imperial measurement system. But there's more! Meryl's Neptune is on Julia's Moon in Libra and the touching interpretation of a loving marriage between Julia and her husband Paul (played by Stanley Tucci) was the perfect mix of marital playfulness, subtle naughtiness and loving devotion and were nothing short of a delight to watch. Meryl's Jupiter (natally conjunct her descendant) is conjunct Julia's Uranus. Meryl turned Julia's quirkiness to her very great advantage. Of her performance, the notoriously difficult to please movie critic A. O. Scott of The New York Times said"By now [Streep] has exhausted every superlative that exists and to suggest that she has outdone herself is only to say that she’s done it again. Her performance goes beyond physical imitation, though she has the rounded shoulders and the fluting voice down perfectly."

There is one final point worth looking at. On 3rd November 1948, just after her marriage to Paul, Julia travelled to France for the first time and experienced French cooking: sole meuniere and oysters. She described it as the "moment of sensual delight". Occurring at about 2:30 pm near Rouen, transiting Saturn was conjunct her natal Venus: Julia had permanently fallen in love with French cuisine.  This moment in the movie was beautifully conveyed: a French waiter removes the lid of the dish with a flourish and as the fragrance wafts towards Meryl's/Julia's nostrils, a look of pure bliss crosses the character's face. One just knows a transformation has taken place.

What is in Meryl's chart that could pick this moment out so well? 

Meryl was born about 6 months after the actual event so no surprises for matching outer planets and progressions. Instead, this "moment" deserves its own birth chart. And it is absolutely, completely satisfying that Meryl's Sun is conjunct the Uranus of this chart. Small wonder then that even posthumously, Meryl made Julia Child a star all over again.

About the Astrologer


Alex Trenoweth is an MA graduate of the Cultural Astronomy
and Astrology course at Bath Spa University (2007) and has gained recognition as an outstanding schoolteacher for her tireless and innovative education of adolescents. Her unique expertise in both astrology and teaching, coupled with ground-breaking research, led her to her write Growing Pains, a book aimed at helping parents and teachers support and guide young people into maturity. Alex’s articles have appeared in astrological magazines across the globe and in addition to her many writing accomplishments, she was voted “Best International Astrologer, 2015” by the Krishnamuti Institute of Astrology in India for the energetic presentation of her original and thought-provoking investigation into astrology and education. As of October 2015, Alex is on a world tour, lecturing on a variety of astrological topics and is enjoying meeting other astrologers from different cultures.  "Mirror Mirror" is a work in progress and will be published in 2016. All rights reserved.




Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Paul Newman: An astrological perspective

Originally published in The Astrological Association Journal, January/February 2009

Paul Newman was a hero of mine. I loved his rebellious, sometimes cranky nature, his smouldering good looks with the piercing blue eyes. I loved it that he drove fast cars well and that he was so satisfied with what he had that he could donate some of his wealth to worthy causes. He exuded contentment in life and within his marriage. He was a wonderful cook – so much so that his friends inspired him to market his own sauces and dressings. What else could we expect of someone with the Moon in the 2nd house? In time, “Newman’s Own” brand, donating all its profits after tax to charitable causes, threatened to overshadow his acting career. Not that Paul himself seemed to mind very much! When he died, I couldn’t help but think, what if there were a few more celebrities like Paul Newman in the world?

My favourite Paul Newman role was the title role in Cool Hand Luke. In it, he played out his Saturn trine Uranus as a prisoner who would not be broken. In one rainy scene, he was challenged to eat 50 hard-boiled eggs in an hour. “No one can eat 50 boiled eggs”, one prisoner challenges and the betting begins. At 39 eggs, Luke’s belly was comically bloated. To the last second, there was uncertainty that he has eaten the last of the eggs, but of course he had – after all, he was the hero. When the men leave him, he lays down on the table as if crucified. It’s pure cinematic iconic religious symbolism at its finest. So much so, that the cast of Jackass (a somewhat raucous stunt group) tried to copy this feat – and failed miserably. Read the rest of the article here

About the astrologer:


Alex Trenoweth was voted Best International Astrologer, 2015 for her dynamic presentation on Astrology and Education. Her book, "Growing Pains" is an exciting development in astrology as it combines classroom teaching experience, sound research and the potential to have a positive impact on struggling adolescents, parents, teachers and those who have been labelled "at risk". For queries, consultations or syndications, please contact Alex via www.alextrenoweth.com or leave a message in the comment section.