Harmonic Case Studies: 5H (Charles Baudelaire)

Alex Trenoweth uses the chart of Charles Baudelaire to demonstrate the astrological techniques pf Midpoints and Harmonics.

David Hamblin, in his book “Harmonic Charts” writes:  “When we move into the H5 chart, we move for the first time into unknown territory.”[1]  It is a move away from the familiarity of twoness found in the H4 chart and into the unevenness of H5–H5 forces us to choose the unnatural.  Hamblin uses the analogy of time signatures found in music.  As a musician, I can confirm that the time signature of 5/4 (or 4/5) is very rare and, in my opinion, uncomfortable and awkward both to play and to listen to.  I have never seen it used throughout an entire piece (though I’m sure someone has tried to do it).  Instead the 5/4 time signature is used only for a few measures, perhaps to induce a feeling of  emotional discomfort to the listener–it is a technique deliberately chosen by the composer for the effect it would have.

The H5 chart draws together the quintiles and bi-quintiles into conjunctions and all aspects connected through one-fifth of the circle (72 degrees).  Mathematically, this makes sense but what does it mean?  To me, Harmonics gives astrologers a chance to explore the meaning of numbers.  So what of the H5 chart?  John Addey, according to Hamblin says the H5 chart is “the putting together of form and matter and in this sense art.”[2] Addey goes on to indicate that this is a process of the mind and so the H5 chart is also connected to power because “to be able to arrange matter into a form of one’s choosing is to exert power over it.”[3] Hamblin clarifies by saying that “Fiveness is essentially connected with the idea of making, arranging, building, constructing, structuring, forming.  It is to do with the creation of order out of chaos. . .It is therefore the first number in which man asserts his power over the world.”[4]

So, how did Baudelaire create order from chaos?  I want to imagine a blank piece of paper in front of him and examine the process of how he writes–but this skips over his choice to put this piece of paper in front of him in the first place. Why does he chose to write is perhaps a better question with which to start.

Though Hamblin relates H5 to pure science and engineering, clearly this is inappropriate to Baudelaire, a word artist. As a writer, one might expect Baudelaire’s Mercury to feature highly in the H5 chart. On investigation of his chart, it can be seen that his Mercury is connected by the sextile aspect to Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune, by semi-sextile to Chiron and by square to his ascendant.

The Mercury sextiles in Baudelaire’s H5 chart seem to be indicating the search for truth, freedom and escape (Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune).  Baudelaire’s mind finds confidence in patterns (Jupiter) and he would not be troubled by the unexpected or the unknown of Uranus/Neptune (as he was in his natal chart). One of the most fascinating aspects in Baudelaire’s chart is his Mercury square the ascendant.  Natally, Mercury was conjunct Mars and Pluto which can be quite obsessive.  Also he had squares to both Uranus and Neptune.  The square indicates a great effort and between Mercury and ascendant in H5, it represents Baudelaire’s struggle to find a style.  It is known from his biography that he spent most of his inheritance on funding his sense of style:  he even called himself a “dandy.”  He chose to change himself from the ordinary into something quite memorable–a decision which lead to his financial downfall. In order to create, Baudelaire had to project the right image of himself.

Natally, Baudelaire had no planets on the asc/des axis.  However, in the H5 chart, he Saturn conjunct the ascendant indicating that he took steps to adopt self imposed inhibitions in his creative work.  Also in his natal chart was a concentration of planets on the western hemisphere.  In the H5 chart, there is a shift to the southern hemisphere with the Moon as the handle of a bucket-shaped chart.  Here is can be see his writing was created with the intention of being seen by the world–and his feelings were paramount for this to happen.  As the Moon and Saturn are in a trine aspect in H5, it can be surmised that he controlled his feelings with a deliberate lack of sensitivity in order to create.  Baudelaire moved from being challenged by his emotions in the natal chart to using them creatively to his advantage in H5. This is also echoed with Saturn and the ascendant square Pluto in H5 but this also adds the depth of being obsessive and single minded in his creativity.

Hamblin side-steps the nodes in Harmonic Charts because of the discrepancy between the true and mean nodes means there can be a vast difference in any harmonic chart if one chooses one or the other.  However, the mean nodes of Baudelaire’s H5 chart square Mars (the nodes are unaspected in the natal chart) so therefore are worth commenting on.  If it is taken that the nodes are an indication of creative destiny then Mars can be interpreted as a creative or stylized effort to change the direction of his work.  He may have been over used the Mars energy to drive his creative impulses–perhaps there is even a sexual element here with Baudelaire overstating the themes of sexuality in his creative work.  This theme also runs in the Moon-Uranus square of the H5 chart: Baudelaire found his style through the harshness of this aspect–a style that shocked a lot of people of the time.

Overall, there are fewer squares in the H5 chart as opposed to their abundance in the natal chart.  Baudelaire’s creativity was easier for him to express than his natal personality.  His mind found discipline through Saturn in the H5 rather than his emotions railing against the harshness and restrictions he faced in his natal chart.

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Copyright: Alex Trenoweth, 2008

Contact Alex Trenoweth on Skype (AstroAlex1984) for your tarot, palm or astrological consultation

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