THE VEDIC STARS OF RIVER JUDE PHOENIX
On the first day of November in 1993; family, friends, and fans all over the world mourned the loss of a remarkably special soul. River Jude Phoenix was a gifted actor, musician and a deeply motivated humanitarian. He used his celebrity clout to spread awareness of important social, ecological, and animal rights issues. He was a dedicated activist, but more than that, he was a highly conscious individual that was passionate about making a difference.
River has touched the lives of so many people and continues to be a source of inspiration through his films and all remaining traces of media that keep his brilliant legacy alive. There are numerous biographies about his life, several fan-based websites, and countless youtube videos where you will find a vast source of interview clips, film clips, biographies, and many fan-created videos. It is clear that River’s influence has endured in a meaningful way and that he continues to capture the imagination and hearts of so many people.
As an astrologer I have at my disposal a valuable tool for gaining insight about the human condition and the nature of duality. It has deepened my perspective about the interplay between the microcosm of personal destiny and how this individual blueprint manifests within the macrocosm of our collective existence. Astrology can be a profound divination tool and in this article I use it to delve into River's birth chart. The study of his birth chart is delivered through the highly accurate and spiritual lens of Jyotish, a word meaning “science of light” in sanskrit. The exploration of his Vedic stars has been a fascinating process of excavating the depths of River’s “raison d’etre” and in the process has revealed many complex facets that reach deeper into the soul design of his unique incarnation.
In a Vedic astrology reading, the Navamsa chart is a highly important divisional chart and must examined alongside the birth chart in order to gleam much more depth about the psycho-spiritual character of a person, their astral-level personality; as well as their dharmic path and level of spiritual evolution. In this article I pay special attention to his atmakaraka planet in order to understand what his soul purpose was in his lifetime and I examine his Karakamsa planet to gleam what gifts he possessed to achieve his souls desires. My focus with all Vedic astrology readings is to discover significant patterns in the birth chart relating to one’s dharma, karmic script and spirituality.
Dharma is defined as “that which upholds or supports” and means Natural Law (as in the natural order of things) and is a concept of central importance in indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties.
The first thing I noticed about River’s chart was that he had a balance of three debilitated planets and three exalted planets. The exalted planets are the Moon in Taurus, Sun in Leo and Mercury in Virgo. Any planet which is exalted or “moolatrikona” is considered a strong and fortunate placement. The debilitated planets are Venus in Virgo, which functioned as his chart ruler, Mars in Cancer, which functioned as his atmakaraka, and Saturn in Aries, which functioned as his amatyakaraka.
Atmakaraka (AK) means “soul significator” in sanskrit. According to the Eastern philosophy a soul is reborn because it has desires that were left unfulfilled in previous lives and chooses rebirth for another opportunity to fulfill them. The atmakaraka shows whether these desires will manifest or if they will be impeded. The atmakaraka shows us the true desires of the soul.
The amatyakaraka (AmK) planet functions like an adviser, minister and aid to the Soul. It guides the destiny of an individual towards attainment of the desires of the soul and its job is to ensure that the right patterns and conditions are being created to fulfill the souls desires and purpose.
To get a more complete picture of the astrological blueprint it is essential to examine the atmakaraka within the navamsa chart. In the navamsa chart wherever the AK is posited is where it becomes what is called the karakamsa lagna. The KL is represented as the soul and the lagnamsa, which is the rising sign, is considered the astral level body connected to the soul. The lagnamsa together with the karakamsa create what is called Swamsa, which is an astral-level blueprint of the soul whose influence percolates into the 3d structure of the physical body and also affects one’s appearance, attitudes, and demeanor. In relation to the AK in the birth chart, the karakamsa lagna directs how one goes about achieving the soul’s desires and purpose in the current life.
River’s AK is Mars in Cancer occupying the 10th house. Mars is fallen in Cancer. Its debilitated state actually strengthened the spiritual objectives of his soul within his lifetime. It is said that a debilitated AK carries the energy and nature of “prakriti” or “the feminine energy” which provides, heals and subordinates to others with gentleness and humility. His debilitated AK being in the powerful 10th house added strong spiritual overtones the domain of career and worldly duties. It is evident that his soul desires were meant to carried out through the highly visible 10th house of public recognition and career.
River’s soul desires and purpose began to take shape at the beginning of his Mars Dasa when he was only 11 years old. It was at this time that his atma began awakening his consciousness. The planet whose dasa or time period is running becomes what is called the time lord and gives a predetermined period of time for the soul to experience the karmic script of cause and effect relative to its lessons. In his case, when the Mars began functioning as his time lord, the evolutionary leap toward his destiny accelerated and his soul lessons, which were essentially about compassion and non-violence began to manifest. Mars, in its worst expression, represents reckless violence or the tendency to bring harm to others. Those with Mars as the atmakaraka are learning the principals of “ahimsa” or non-violence as part of their spiritual evolution. It is interesting to note that it was at the start of his Mars time-period that River and his family began a vegan way of life. It is said that River was the instrumental voice in leading his family into veganism, all under the tenets of ahimsa - the principal of non-violence. Even as a child, it was clear that River was indeed a wise, old soul who whose influence was potent and radiated from a soulful place.
What is interesting to note is that River had Mars at the 29th degree and this is quite spiritually significant. It is said that when the AK planet is in the last degree and minutes of a sign, then that soul is in transition, i.e. progressing toward a higher or lower plane of existence in future lifetimes.
The following describes the symbolism behind Mars’s 29th degree from the book called “the Stars and Your Future”:
“Denotes one of character and skill who by the hand of destiny, will rise to a position in this world where he is fitted to play a decided part. He has a keen imagination and a constructive ability and gains from change and movement.”
Behari says of Cancer in domain 10:
"You generate profound ideas in approaching life's everyday problems. Deep insight and adaptability enable you to function smoothly on many levels. You will probably specialize in something that helps society. Your stage of soul-development is key.
If your attachment to carnal passions is not yet over, you will become immersed in a situation where an over-abundance of sensual gratification makes you realize its futility. If you are already spiritually advanced, you may be assigned an important task to perform in the interest of humanity. Otherwise, an evolved soul under this influence will be immersed in universal consciousness, enjoying the bliss of spirituality. This sign in the 10th house makes you quite special, and an interesting person to meet or know."
The fact that his soul significator planet functioned through the watery, feminine sign of Cancer indicates that his deeply internalized relationship to his role in upholding and protecting the delicate balance of Mother Earth truly reflected his soul-level purpose in life. In essence, Cancer is a protector and defender, both nurturing and compassionate. At times the tendency toward a quixotic perspective in his earlier youth most likely made his disappointments in life much more painful in his later youth. This very profound sensitivity was no doubt a culprit in his tendency to self-medicate through alcohol and drugs. A further look into his AK reveals that the soul agenda was greatly challenged by the very fact that it was in the lunar asterism of Ashlesha, therefore, great moral struggle with karmic undertones would mark his life throughout his Mars time-period right through to his Rahu time-period, from the age of 11 till 23. Ashlesha rules the whole naga kingdom. A naga represents serpent energy and is symbolized as a semi-divine serpent being usually represented with a human face. Having any planet in this lunar asterism is very difficult and psychologically challenging. It is clear that the influence of Ashlesha energy made River deeply aware of the dark side of human nature. To have this difficult, highly polarized and treacherous energy influence his AK signifies that on a soul level he came in with a real knowing of the dark side.
Having a debilitated soul significator gave him spiritual strength and support yet having ashlesha energy present was the constant reminder that the shadow (both personal and collective) must be healed and integrated, so that dark and light cease to create duality and move the consciousness into the transcendent light of source.
The following is a description of the nature of Ashlesha characteristics. It is quoted from a book called “The 27 Celestial Portals”:
“In general, the underbelly of nature is encountered here. One has to face all the dark demons of the inner psyche in order to come out shining and purified. Ashlesha’s natural tendency to look under the surface has to be utilized for understanding the hidden elements of nature’s functioning. The only way Ashlesha natives can overcome the dark side of this energy is by aligning themselves with universal will. It is interesting to note that the royal nakshatra of Magha lies right next to this serpent constellation. Ancient legends are trying to tell us that the crown and authority (represented by Magha) is only achieved after the dark serpent (vices and undesirable qualities) is subdued within each one of us. The lower nature has to be won over before we can tune into our higher nature. Ashlesha is therefore a crucial focal point for the battle between dark and light.”
Since Mars was in Cancer, that would make its dispositor the Moon in the 8th. River came into this lifetime with past-life memories of this conflict between dark and light, ignorance and wisdom. This position also indicates that there was some trauma in his childhood and manifested in his later years via the psychological pattern of passive-aggressive behavior and substance addictions. This position made his moods volatile and his emotional nature intense. Transformation was the name of the game and River was an alchemist of sorts. He was akin to a white magician - turning lead into gold, transforming poisons into medicine - he created harmonic energies of sound and color through his artistic expressions and thus embodied a tremendous healing force. But the shadow side reached its peak when those poisons could no longer be turned into medicine and instead began to leach his life force.
Another quote from the same book reads: “Mars in the fourth quarter of this asterism this relates to all kinds of illusions. The moral struggle is at its peak here. People under the strong influence of this quarter asterism are more likely to get deceived by others, rather than them deceiving others. These individuals are always putting up fronts and hardly ever show their true nature.”
“In the universal scheme of things, Ashlesha relates to “visasleshana” which is the power to inflict poison. It’s symbolism has an approaching serpent above and a trembling below. This relates Ashlesha with all kinds of sharp, venomous attacks made at ones enemy or prey. Once again the dangerous and naturally malefic potentiality of this lunar mansion comes to light.”
River’s Atmakaraka planet enforced the principal of non-violence and its debilitation ensured that he would act with great humility. Yet the paradox can be seen in that the sharp venomous attack that can be unleashed by ashlesha’s energy was in actuality inflicted on himself instead of others. River died from a deadly cocktail of drug poisons at a Los Angeles nightclub called the Viper room. The irony here is chilling considering ashlesha rules poisonous serpents and is associated with poisons of all kinds, including drugs. Ashlesha represents the dark side of human nature and the struggle to triumph over our human vices. River’s soul chose to recreate circumstances that intensified this duality of dark and light at specific times in his life.
His soul’s desire was to live a life of non-violence and to teach by example the principal of ahimsa - but - this also meant doing no harm to himself. His chart shows strong evidence that he was vulnerable to the reversed and internalized poison of Ashlesha’s energy, which manifested as an attraction to drugs/poisons and the self-sabotaging pattern of self-medication. Another manifestation of Ashelsha energy working through a fallen planet is that one karmically attracts toxic, dangerous and deceptive people into one’s life.
It is said that luminous souls attract less evolved people to their light, like moths to a flame. As a deeply sensitive soul, River was both the holder of the light and the symbolic moth that gets burned by it. The paradox here is that it was not the light in itself which burned but the intense polarity of darkness that it also contained which catalyzed the destructive force. It seemed the greater his light, also the greater his shadow - and into the dance of dark and light came many less evolved people who were part of the story of how such a innately beautiful thing became a source of destruction.
Behari says: “Mars produces fiery enthusiasm in the Tenth house. It will make you an idealist who is ready to sacrifice your life for a cause.The person born with Cancer in the tenth will have a tremendous profundity in his approach to the everyday problems of life. His spiritual insight and adaptable behavior will enable him to function at equal facility at all levels of existence. No task assigned to him will be beyond his capability. In fact, his mission in life is very specialized and he has been given an extraordinary role to play in society.”
River's Karakamsa was Mars in Pisces at the 29th degree. This is no doubt a testament to the highly spiritualized markers in his birth chart. The Pisces/Jupiter/Neptune energy of imagination, art, spirit, and dreaming - connected to the process of dreaming, creating and channeling inspiration from the eternal muse... all things artistic and imaginal were the tools his soul choose to use to manifest its purpose in his life. As a pure creative artist, River followed his soul calling from the beginning.
The following describes the symbolism behind Mars's 29th degree from the book called “the Stars and Your Future”:
“Denotes one who binds himself in the chains of his own making. He has peculiar ideas, thoughts, fancies, and eccentricities; and the regulation and control of these and the cultivation of his powers of observation will lead him to the understanding of great things and open a gate which is at the beginning of the perfect way as opposed to the rough road of selfish materialism on which the majority of the worlds people have been content to travel till the closing of their earth lives. This is an unfortunate degree and the native is susceptible to suffer from heredity.”
River’s Amtyakaraka is Saturn in Aries 7th house. Saturn functioned as the planet which advised the Soul to take certain decisions or to create certain patterns for purposes of learning. It is interesting to note that Saturn is 10th from 10th house Mars both in his birth and navamsa charts. This indicates that his soul specifically chose the domain of career through which to carry out his soul purpose and dharma. A strong element of that purpose was to plant seeds of ethical awareness and the higher consciousness of harmonious living through his public, influential connection to the masses. The most important seed that he had planted was the seed of non-violence and compassion. Having Saturn functioning as the advisor to the AK created a heavy sense of responsibility and duty that would be evident throughout his young life. This position demanded the utmost integrity in his behavior. Saturn is a hard taskmaster and the lord of karma and earthly time; therefore, its matters are always serious in nature.
Saturn’s debilitated state sent strong signals to the soul to accomplish its tasks, duties, and to fulfill its desires in a compressed frame of time making him prone to rush into commitments and responsibilities without adequate assessment of the time and resources required. It is a super-human drive to accomplish more in less time, and yet River had an excessive energy and sense of responsibility which had him feeling that the whole world rested upon his shoulders.
It is said that the person with this position will endure a bitter struggle to achieve dominance through true humility, often being humiliated in the process. Saturn is one of the karma planets, and so having this fallen Saturn intimately tied to his fallen AK really means that on a soul level he intended to balance his karma script in this life. His soul aimed for transcendence.
Saturn’s debilitation created the impetus to channel his innately hyper-active drives into creative pursuits. River chronically felt that there was never enough time and thus had so little inner permission to rest.
River once said: “There’s only so much time we have in life, you know, and I don’t want to spend my time investing in something that isn’t going to make any sort of difference, whether it is artistically or whether it has something to do with helping... progression in the world, or in the medium that I’m in, you know, I want it to be casually significant without any forced profound measures taken, you know, just a relaxed truth to whatever I do.”
It has been said that he would often drive his band members to exhaustion because he had a fervor of passionate energy to create as much as he could in the shortest amount of time. His time commitments were divided between his flourishing acting career and his passion for music. River was highly intuitive and sensed the fleeting temporal-ness of life. It was as though he knew that his time was especially limited.
River’s Ascendant is Libra 11° and this makes his chart ruler Venus in the 12th. Both the chart ruler and the Moon share the same debilitated planet rulership. Venus would prove to be a challenging force to contend with during its time-periods and would awaken hereditarily psychological problems and addictions, as well as super-creative feats.
Behari says of Libra Rising:
"You are subject to contradictory thoughts and actions; you are fond justice and law but easily irritated. Your friends and benefactors tend to be well-placed individuals, but you can also associate with dishonest people who, unfortunately, stick with you for years.”
Jupiter is found in the ascendant at the 7th degree. In sanskrit Jupiter is called Guru. It is a powerfully benevolent planet that brings spiritual wisdom into the chart.
The following describes the symbolism behind Jupiter’s 7th degree from a book called the Stars and Your Future:
“Denotes one with a great message who will travel everywhere and whose thoughts and feelings are expanded and uplifted thereby. His wanderings are often directed beyond this earth to the heavenly fields and up to the lands closed to those held in material bodies. He is capable of performing many good acts for others and is ever ready to resist actions unworthy unworthy of a true man.”
Behari says of Jupiter in the Ascendant:
“Jupiter in Lagna gives you a cultured and polished taste, and makes you generous and helpful. You gain through the opposite sex, those in authority, and the highly enlightened. You respect spiritual leaders because they represent principle centered persons. Externally, your physical appearance is healthy; you are affluent and secure; but your personal and social life is full of tangled knots. You create self-destructive situations for yourself. You get trouble through unfaithful friends.”
The lunar asterism associated with River’s Libra Ascendant is Swati. Qualities like extreme strength, strong sense of ethics, fairness, resourcefulness, intelligence, wisdom, loyalty and ability to serve without letting the ego get in the way; apply to the highest aspect of Swati’s functioning.
Swati’s relation to Saraswati, the goddess of music and learning, reveals the higher nature of this asterism, which is conducive to all sorts of learning - material, philosophical or spiritual. The Swati rising native is eager and open to learning - a rare quality.
River’s Libra Ascendant was in the first quarter of this asterism. This quarter epitomizes the restless and inquisitive aspect of Swati. It gives talent in writing, communications, and promotes all kinds of travel.
Any planets in the first house will show a strong personality who becomes iconic in their social setting. In River’s case, Jupiter here lent an expansive aura and a magnetic energy that poured out its wisdom. In River’s chart, Jupiter is lord of the 3rd and 6th houses. This would mean that River identified himself via his communication skills, conversational narrative, and his unique mentality. The 3rd/6th psychic imprints of communication and personal genius, servitude and conflict were part of the energetic repository of the Self – projected out into the world. Because his 6th house lord is in the ascendant, River identified with the disenfranchised and marginalized classes. He really understood the victim state of conflict, oppression, inequality and imbalance. He was a voice of the dispossessed and a champion of many causes. The higher aspect of having lord of the 6th in the ascendant is that karma yoga is activated in one’s life and thus one can choose either to serve or suffer. It seems to me that River chose to serve and yet he still endured suffering due to his deep soul level sensitivity.
Karma Yoga is defined as entirely selfless service, in which the ego is given up to the desire to serve the divine in every thing, be it man, animal, plant or an inanimate object.
As benevolent and spiritualized as the energy of Jupiter is, it also acts as a double edged sword in River’s chart because it is the lord of the 6th house, is 6th from the Moon, and is lord of the 3rd house, therefore, 8th from the Moon. This indicates that River embodied conflict karma, manifested as deep internal discomfort and the ever present awareness of the dark side of life. Past life and early life childhood memories of exploitation, unfairness, and conflict were embedded in the cellular memory. Jupiter being the epicenter of many of the challenging energies, represented the agent of emotional servitude and liberation. While the conflict management tendencies of Libra reinforced his desire to work for the good and to overcome dark with light, hate with love. As lord of the 8th from Moon, Jupiter represented the wisdom-force behind the cycles of psycho-emotional-physical destruction and rebirth. The deeply embedded karmic script of conflict in the cellular memory were linked to these cyclic tides of change - offering destruction, rebirth or transcendence. When the flood gates of memory opened from this cellular-level place, it would co-activate the chart ruler, Venus, and trigger the escapist tendencies and addictions. On a higher level, this would also give him the opportunity to withdraw from the physical world, into the realm of dreams and clairsentient insight, to work directly with spirits through creative ventures and meditative intuition. Though River was a deeply private soul, having lord of the 8th in the 12th house indicates that privacy was largely destroyed. As a celebrity that was very much the case.
River’s Moon sign is exalted in the earthy, sensual sign of Taurus in the 8th house. Taurus qualities are pragmatic and artistic, sensual, deeply attuned to higher aesthetic values and the Venusian domain. Through this sign one may gain access to creative inspiration and beauty to ignite and elucidate the messages of the soul. A Taurus Moon is born grounded and very conscious of the magnetic earth vibrations. Yet they can also turn their gaze toward the ethereal, and they become the divine seeker in search of the divine muse. River was a supreme naturalist and his fundamental drive was to enjoy each and every sensual pleasure in life, whilst providing as much loving embrace to his family, extended family, friends, lovers and the Earth he could generate ~ and that’s a lot of love!
Behari says of Taurus in domain 8:
“You respect the energy of nature perhaps more than the idea of the creator of nature."
River’s Moon was occupying the eighth house and this manifested as that inexhaustible intensity that marked his life pattern. This Moon position is considered quite condemned in classic Vedic texts. Not only is it weakened in this “dusthama” house but it is also alone here without any other supporting planets or aspects to strengthen this impressionable Moon. The Moon governs the mind and the physical body, this is why the Moon is also seen as the second ascendant. The lord of his Moon being Venus weakens its position even more since Venus is debilitated in the 12th house.
The 8th house can make a person susceptible to depression, mood swings, psychological imbalances, and physical illnesses as it generally weakens the constitution. On the more positive side, River’s Moon in Taurus was also exalted and therefore it made him much more resilient. In classic texts, the Moon in the 8th house signifies a short life and the 8th house in itself is a powerful indicator for accidents. It is said that when the Moon is afflicted, receives no beneficial aspects and is found in the 8th house, which was River’s case, the lifespan is shortened. Although he had an exalted Moon that alone could not circumvent his karmic patterns, but only serve to strengthen his resilience. With the Moon in the eighth house, it is said that “the circumstances of death are highly emotional, and attachment to those left behind remains strong. The native will be long cherished by their loved ones.”
Quem di diligunt, adolescens moritur “Whom the gods love, dies young”
In his short 23 years on earth, River lived a life of constant upheaval, change, rejuvenation and recovery from shock. The themes of death and rebirth are strong here, and it is no coincidence that he was a “Phoenix” - both symbolically and literally, by way of his surname. He effortlessly maintained a veil of mystery and yet always seemed to have a striking transparency and vulnerability. When the Moon occupies the eighth house transformation can be gentle or violent, according to the consciousness of the nativity overall. In River's case, his transformations were both gentle and violent. He craved deep and profound change.
Behari says of Moon in domain 8:
"Harms the mental composure. The past is brought to the surface. Defects in character, ailments, and adversaries appear in the forefront and you find you have to deal with these. Circumstances of death are sudden, potentially violent... indicates death in a public place, by drowning, road accident, public calamity. Death typically from accident rather than disease.”
When the Moon occupies the eighth, the most difficult house emotionally becomes the first house because it is sixth from the ascendant. In River's case, we find Jupiter there in Libra. Internalized emotional difficulties defined him due to disagreements within his own body and regarding his social personality. At times he had a ragged appearance; this bedraggled or unbalanced appearance expressed the internal conflicts. Jupiter here lent a deep, all-pervading wisdom to his personality and yet, like a double edged sword, it also produced obsessive and excessive behaviors, which contributed to the internalized conflict and emotional imbalance.
The following describes the symbolism behind Moon’s 6th degree from the book called “the Stars and Your Future”:
“Denotes one who will rise to a position of importance and whose mission and ambition in life will be to give instructions and to secure the advancement of worthy people of wit and talent and inspiration. These acts will reflect his own glory as the moon reflects the brightness of the sun.”
The lunar mansion which the Moon occupies is regarded as highly significant. River’s Taurus Moon is in the lunar mansion Krittika. A person born with the Moon in this lunar mansion needs to be "out there" on center stage, in the light, meeting with people, discussing brilliant ideas, getting attention, displaying brilliance like a king, celebrating, being a celebrity, beaming, radiating, reciting poetry and singing; channeling inspiration, truth, and divine love. The nature of the sun is highly radiant, creative, and spiritual. Individuals with Krittika Moon often have a very successful public life. They are sharply observant with incisive commentary. Under positive conditions, this individuals sharp social criticism may create a prophet or social reformer of great merit. The shadow side is that deep anxiety can trigger excessive behavior and one may express a gluttony for food, drink, and sex. It is said that those with Krittika Moon are particularly prone to self-medication with alcohol because of the liquid-feeding experience mixed with the mind-numbing drug that dumbs down his internal self-criticism.
River’s Taurus Moon is at 6 degrees and therefore falls in the third quarter of this asterism. There is an Aquarian energy here and so its function becomes highly altruistic and humanitarian. This placement combines futuristic visions and ancient knowledge on a weave of fixed principals. The emphasis here is on 10th house significations like ones collective duty. Krittika is ruled by the Sun and therefore, its element is fire.
“On the astral and more subtle planes, fire relates to the purifying principal in nature. It burns away karma from previous lives, so that a sense of unity with the original creative source may be achieved. In the universal scheme of things, Krittika relates to “dahana shakti” - the power of the astral body to cut ties with the physical body. The symbolism has heat above and light below.”
River had Neptune in Scorpio in the 2nd domain opposing his Taurus Moon. The mystical nature of Neptune in Scorpio cosmically attunes the earthy Taurus individual and creates a desire for activities such as transcendental meditation.
Behari says: “A mystical aura surrounds Scorpio in the second house. Scorpio requires a metaphysical approach in order to be interpreted properly. In this house, this sign links the individual with his inner most core, wherefrom arises an extraordinary power which elevates the individual to a higher plane. He derives his energy not from the social status he enjoys or the amount of money he possesses, for there is a concern for spirituality in his acquisition of wealth and status as well as the tenor of his human relationships. His speech will have a unique quality which draws people near him, but he may leave life behind him with unexpected suddenness.”
River’s chart ruler, Venus, is in Virgo in the 12th house. The house in which the chart ruler occupies will show the type of environments where one prefers to express his or her destiny. A closer look at his Venus reveals it is placed in the earth sign, Virgo. The expression of Venus within his nature manifested as subconscious, sensual drives that were evoked and experienced through the process of creating; music, song writing, acting, etc. Essentially any creative endeavor that put him in touch with his own private muse. The energy of Venus in the 12th is all about self-dissolution, the urge to merge and commune deeply with others in the physical and non-physical through creative energy. The shadow side of this placement is that it creates an intense sensual need for intoxication and escape and because Venus is fallen, it means that addictions will exist.
Venus is linked to Uranus in the 12th and this brings that eccentric Aquarian vibe into his personality, making him a highly creative, original personality that could channel organic creative power into his various artistic mediums. This also signified that he was attracted to secret relationships and highly unusual people. Next to this pair of planets sits Mercury with Pluto in the same degree. Mercury is exalted in Virgo and with Pluto here it shows that River was exceptionally mediumistic and able to channel information from the other universal planes of existence. This planetary combination likely made him prophetic, very active in dreams, naturally inclined to lucid dreaming and receiving important guidance in his dreams. Having Pluto in the 12th essentially put him in touch with psychic power structures and he was very aware of the larger cyclical nature of existence, the rounds of birth and death. It is highly probable that he was also able to recall his own past-life information through his dreams.
Prayer and psychic guidance with a specifically spiritual focus was very likely replaced by a deeply reflective appreciation for the beauty of the physical form. The Muse is empowered in the 12th house. Particularly high value is placed upon feminized, magnetically attractive, receptive sensual beauty. One's relationship to the artistic Muse is often strong or more important than one's relationship to other humans.
With Venus in the 12th some attraction to narcotics (dream-drugs) in many chemical and behavioral forms may exist. It is said that alcoholism can develop over time, due to using alcohol to fall asleep. Pleasure from sleep and dreams. Enjoys the psychic reading and healing environment; inner reflection; Astral travel. Gifted in art and music drawing resources from fantasy and imagination. Sensual taste for fantasy in art and literature. Enjoys watching movies in a darkened room, read fantasy fiction, experience imaginative worlds, and confessional performance in which the speaker innermost private perceptions are dramatized.
Venus in 12th delights in the artistic imagery of astrology and dreams and with an exalted Mercury also occupying the 12th River was an exceptional interpreter of the creative or esoteric information that channeled through his psyche. Beautiful Venus effects the guidance of the Muse: imaginative results such as poems, songs, literature, paintings, sculpture. Spirit guides are active in this life and much imaginative intelligence is engaged. Venus rules sex, drugs and alcohol. If Venus is disturbed, the native will be prone to over-do the natural pleasures which can result in sex addictions, drug addictions, and alcoholism. Venus creates a craving for the sweet comfort of escape into the personal imagination, and detachment from reality.
Behari says of Virgo in domain 12:
"You feel a sense of responsibility which affects your every day life. You would rather act than talk about virtues. You would like to spread goodwill amongst all."
Behari says of Venus in Virgo:
"... produces a person who is singularly gifted in transmuting failures and carnal passions into sublime poetry, and in exploration of the deeper layers of the human psyche. You may be a failure as a lover, but you will be a success in exploring the immeasurable depths of human relationships. You will suffer from unknown maladies and personally feel disappointed in life, but while waiting for the final dissolution you will be able to enjoy yourself fully."
The following describes the symbolism behind Venus’s 22nd degree from the book called “the Stars and Your Future”:
“Denotes one of a refined and sweet nature who keenly feels the wickedness of his wrongly taught world, which would be God’s own paradise were men fair and kind to one another. He is ideal in thought and seer enough to see what might have been.”
In River’s astrological tapestry, I found a striking emphasis on the 12th house. In both the birth chart and the navamsa, the Moon’s lord is placed in the 12th house. And both chart rulers are found in the 12th house. What is also very interesting, is that in both charts the lord of the 12th is found occupying (its own house) - the 12th. This means that River was a very guided soul and very much had a specialized mission to express in his earthly life.
River had the exalted Sun in Leo in the 11th house with Ketu and they were both in the royal lunar asterism of Magha. Magha (magus, magic, imagery) has the power to cast illusion -- as when looking into a brilliant light such as fire. One is able to evoke the presence of the Divine in Fires whether earthly fire, emotional fire, mental fire, or spiritual fire.
When the Sun is strong, as in River’s case, one may accept iconic positions in politics and theatre. If one becomes famous, there is limited ego-attachment to the royal position and its privileges. Ambivalence toward kingship, fatherhood, politics, and celebrity.
If the Sun by its nature in the nativity should create notoriety or fame, one uses one's celebrity charisma and personal magnetism to further a host of non-egotistic (Ketu) noble (Sun) ideals. This is also due to the high dignity of the Sun in Leo, producing the characteristics of selflessness and charity, nobility and generosity. This was most definitely a very special attribute cultivated within River’s personality.
This Sun-Ketu pair allowed River to invest no ego energy into the broader enjoyment of his brilliant talents. With this planetary pair in Leo it is not possible to be blinded by the glamour, or to take oneself too seriously. Magha energy is flamboyant in nature but oddly detached. The lights are bright, the costumes are elegant, the audience is paying attention - but somehow it is unsatisfying (Ketu). Highly independent in action with strong sense of specialness coupled oddly with profound disengagement from the world. It is said that a person with such a placement may suffer flaky, inconsistent, or unreliable friends. Yet one will know the benefits of detached independence from community pressures and freedom from constant pursuit of profit via marketplace relationships. Extremely compassionate toward humanity as a whole, and often will express that compassion in social activism for "causes".
Behari says: “When the Sun occupies Leo the missionary spirit is greatly heightened.You can forge strong bonds of friendship with a few persons, but you are generally reserved, with a very exclusive sense of individuality.You become interested in life sciences; your fascination with occultism will also be deep and genuine. As an executive officer, political missionary, or eminent philosopher, you can make an imprint wherever you go. Your personal life, however, is full of deprivations. You often suffer from serious strain on your nerves.”
Behari says: “When Leo occupies the eleventh house the native is born to do some special work for society. He is strongly motivated to contribute something to his people. a person is not selfish. He is a strict disciplinarian; he can subject himself to austere religious observances or wage cruel wars, but at the base of all these enterprises will be his primary motivation for social change. He wants to make the world a better place to live, a more unified social organization, so that human beings may have greater opportunities for self-expression.”
Behari says: “Ketu in the eleventh turns your attention towards the ultimate reality. You seek union with the universal, which represents the ultimate degree of spiritual understanding. Thus, you consciously begin to take up the humanitarian activities in the hope of ultimately attaining that goal. You become renowned for your sympathetic behavior and attitude towards life.”
River's day lord ("dina") is the Sun. The dina shows the planet the soul feels most connected with. The planet that rules the dina has a lot to say about how it feels about this incarnation, what energy it is going to contribute to running the material world and how the soul communicates with the world.
It is clear that River's connection to the Sun manifested through his creative brilliance, his golden heart and his deeply compassionate core. The exalted Sun in Magha really radiates a pure royal brilliance and with Ketu a profound humility.
River's hour ("hora") lord is Jupiter. The dina we are born under will show how we act in life, the karma we create and what planetary energy we have inherited at birth. The hora lord shows how we use the energy and modify it for better or worse. These influences on the soul are reflected in our personalities. Jupiter was the wisdom-force energy that seemed to effortlessly flow out of River's presence. The Sun-Jupiter connection is an indicator of strong spiritual core.
After examining the Sun with Ketu I looked to the house directly opposite the 11th to find Rahu in Aquarius in the 5th. Rahu and Ketu are the nodal pair. Similar to the north and south nodes of Western astrology. Ketu connects to past life energy and accomplishments, it shows what we have mastered in previous lives. Rahu represents the desires and karma of our current life.
The following describes the symbolism behind Rahu's 9th degree from the book called “the Stars and Your Future”:
“Denotes one who is fated in the strongest sense of the term. If Venus is afflicted in the horoscope, the native will be liable to suffer from over-indulgence of some kind or from some trouble indicated by the Venusian position in the natal chart. He may do things he will later regret and from which suffering may come. He should take hold of himself as a rider does a restless horse. Let him learn to open his eyes and strike off his chains, and he will know the beauty which surrounds him.”
Behari says: “When Rahu occupies the fifth house, there is a malignant aura surrounding the creativity of the individual. He may be a very original writer, weaving such intricate relationships in his stories that his readers are always deeply absorbed. He has an innate understanding of the seedy or underworld. Such a person may, however, be deeply and genuinely interested in liberation from the round of birth and death. Rahu will associate the native with drug addicts and smugglers who he will try to reform; in this effort he will fail.For his personal glorification, he may stoop to many mean activities and try to make them appear respectable. His inner desires and personal goals will remain elusive.”
Behari says: “Aquarius in the 5th house influences the individual in very important ways. His life in various spheres of activity will make him much renowned. His scrupulous adherence to an ethical way of life will often put him in serious trials, but he will be able to withstand the ordeals of principled living. He will be interested in making his life useful and thus he will study those subjects which will help society. He will be prepared to be a martyr for the sake of attaining his goal in life. His ideas, no matter how well meaning they may be, will create problems for himself and his parents.”
Behari says of Rahu in domain 5: "Your creativity has a strange or foreign aura; not bad, but deep and unusual. Your writing, for example, is so deep that others get somewhat absorbed in it. You have a very easy time understanding the lower levels of society, the seedy, the underworld, the poor, the distressed -- this is an area where you move easily. You are deeply interested in liberation from material entanglement. Expert in understanding the inner meaning of things, in other words, has insight. During the periods ruled by Rahu, you will experience gains and success. Also, this Rahu brings you into association with the downtrodden of society and it makes you mentally sharp."
The lagnamsa, or the navamsa rising sign is Capricorn at 15 degrees. “Denotes one who is artistic and nature loving, who has a rapturous appreciation for the grandeur of creation and endeavors to by some media-art, letters of song – to express it. He has a strong affinity with nature and her many moods will act and react on his sensitive soul. This degree gives artistic talent.”
Also rising in the lagnamsa is that powerful Mercury-Pluto pair at the same 24th degree. “This degree is connected with God, authority in a more or less prominent capacity and is also significant of a very considerable musical ability.”
Written by Skye Morningstar
"The Stars and your Future" by M.C Jain
"Personal Panchanga and the Five Sources of Light" by Komilla Sutton
"The Spiritual Dimensions of Vedic Astrology" by Robert Koch
"The 27 Celestial Portals" by Prash Trivedi
"Planets in the Signs and Houses" by Bepin Behari
More by this Author
River Phoenix had true, natural talent brimming with originality and spirit. His performances heavily drew on candid pictures of reality and he became known for his "method acting" style. River went beyond...