Introducing the Stars
plus a PJ Harvey deep dive
For all my life, I have looked up in awe of the stars. I remember hearing in elementary school that the Greeks saw these nocturnal lights as pinpricks in the night through which the heavens, home of the Gods, shone through.
I remember India Opal Buloni reciting ten facts about her runaway mother in “Because Winn Dixie”, including that she knew the names of all the constellations and could identify them; even in 4th grade I was jealous.
So now, four years into studying the meaning of the fixed stars in astrology— sifting through ancient poetry, studying astronomy, beginning to identify the stars in the sky for myself— I like to imagine my younger self would be proud of where I ended up. How I spend my time.
It is quite a responsibility to not only learn of these heavenly beings but to translate their knowledge to others. My younger self, through her fear at the concept, tells me that this responsibility should not be taken lightly.
That’s why I am humbled and honored to bring you an introductory class on the fixed stars in astrology. It is meant to be a reenchantment for all skill levels; a portal to understand what, in the astrological schema, the stars have to teach us.
Much of the stars get their meaning from myths: Gemini from the story of Castor and Pollux; Cetus, Perseus and Andromeda from tale of the maiden saved from the sea monster. Stars speak in epic stories; grand archetypes and dramas that play out in the realm of spirit. My class provides a deeper understanding of these beautiful lights , a greater appreciation for how the stars touch and guide our lives, and provide us with our own personal mythology.
This class is a brilliant starting-point that is bolstered by your own direct experience and relationship with the stars. I see it as a scaffolding to begin such connections. (And stay tuned for more classes, including ways to relate to and learn from the stars yourself.)
Learn more about Introduction to Fixed Star Class and purchase below ⭐
p.s. Purchase the class now and receive a code for 20% off your next fixed star pan consult with me :)
PJ Harvey and the Stars
One way I always love understanding at the stars is through the study of my favorite artists. Recently, I was looking at musician PJ Harvey’s chart, and trying to rectify her birth time. Rectification in astrology is the practice of determining a person’s rising sign (and degree) as accurately as possible without the birth time. For most of human history, this practice was especially useful as there weren’t often clocks hanging in the places where people were born. Even today, with birth certificates, older people, adoptees, immigrants etc might not have access to this information.
Or in some celebrities’ case, it’s just not publicly available, as is the case for Miss Harvey. She is a musician from rural England, a chameleon of sounds, styles and stage presences. I am enamored by her shape shifting across albums, all while writing compelling, rich songs. I use William Lilly’s method1 for Harvey’s chart and got a Virgo ascendant but not just that; a Virgo ascendant with the Moon, the South Node, and Venus all exactly conjoined in the 1st house:
Some facts about this off the top of my head:
Valens on Jupiter’s term of Virgo (where this Moon-Venus-South Node conjunction is located): “agricultural, proper, reclusive but not ignorant. Men born under this term are trustees, fruitful, upright.”
Ever-shifting relationship to love; may be fickle or go through many different phases with people or creativity (Moon-Venus conjunction)
there’s something ghostly and haunted about her art, her beauty, her love. She may be good at wearing many masks that aren’t hers (South Node conjoined Venus)
She has a crucial but fraught relationship to womanhood and her body; she may wish not for something else but negation of the self, probably with the razor-sharp precision of her words to identify and divide (Moon-Venus-South Node in the first co-present Mercury in its domicile/exaltation)
But what I want to focus on today is a fixed star nestled near that cluster of planets: Denebola. Projected onto the ecliptic, where the zodiac is located, is the fixed star in the tuft of the lion’s tale, at 21º Virgo, only 2º away from her Venus-Moon-South Node conjunction.
Just last month I dedicated a newsletter to Denebola and I called this star the Changer, after the Arabia Al Sarfah, the name of the Lunar Station where Denebola resides.2 Referring to its electional power to change the weather, Al Biruni states that “The heat turns away when [the mansion] rises, and the cold turns away when it disappears”.
Not only is Denebola known for dealing in contradictions— turning hot into cold and back again— but its version of change evokes meteorological metaphors; the power of storms and scorching heat to force great change. Through her lyrics and stage presence, we get a view of woman as force of nature. She declares herself fifty feet tall and forty inches long on “50 ft Queenie”. On “Meet Ze Monsta” off her 1995 album “To Bring You My Love,” she exhorts a “big black monsoon” to “take me with you”. She’s always communicated a complicated and at times alienated relationship to being a woman and seems to identify more with chaos than her one human body. I see this as Denebola’s hand.
I also connect Denebola with gender fluidity, both through Cybele, the goddess attended by lion and trans priestesses, and those who are constantly playing with the binary. Harvey tells stories of growing up with her older brother and identifying more with him and his male friends than girls her age. She sings of being “man-sized” while bobbing her laquer-black curls and gold earrings, a cheeky smile on her face.
Though her Moon, Venus and South Node give plenty of information on their own, combining them with the fixed star near them gives a deeper, mythic meaning to what those planets alone tell us. We get images of flash floods and hurricanes; women worshipping a giant fire and lions hidden in the sahara.3 The way the planets and stars describe and deepen our complexities never ceases to amaze me.
I also want to help initiate people into the magic that is Polly Jean Harvey, so I made a playlist of highlights from her discography. Feel free to listen if you want to fall in love.
Other loves this week
I just bought these nail polishes i’ve been eyeing for years. I’m especially inspired by their color names, which are little courses on color study in and of themselves. A green shade called Eames is described in the copy as “Midcentury detail. Earthy chartreuse. The pleasingly unexpected”. For “Ghost Ranch,” a reddish terra cotta, “Red rock. Southwestern shadow. Painted desert”.
This Robert Pinsky poem, particular the final stanza:
We tilt roaring
Over the glittering
Zodiac of intentions.
The Peanut Pork Noodle with Celery from Molly Baz’s cookbook is great, speaking as someone who is generally over most peanut noodle recipe and used tofu instead of pork
Discerning the difference between a bop, a song that slaps, and a banger
The magnolias and cherry blossoms blooming in portland right around now
Having one drink at a bar in the early evening and then going home
Peach blossom kombucha
Until next week,
P.S. There will be no paid newsletter this week as that energy has been taken up by releasing my class, but stay tuned for another fixed star deep dive next week!
note: This rectification method is not 100% accurate. I see this exercise more as a fun thought experiment and interesting way to try and understand a person
We also explore the lunar mansions in my fixed star lecture :)
if you want to learn more check out my essay on the star!