Charles Baudelaire: The Midpoint Journey

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

On its own, the first Saturn square can be quite traumatic: the child usually experiences the first real taste of restriction and discipline. The loss of the baby teeth—replaced by permanent ones—also seems an apt symbol of this stage of development.

One cannot really expect a young child to understand what the loss of a parent really means soon after the event.  It would seem this is the case for the young Baudelaire whose transiting Saturn not only squared itself in the months following the bereavement but it also transited the pertinent midpoints, which only serve to verify the young child’s grief.

In the week of 1 June 1827, Saturn transited Venus/Uranus, Jupiter/Neptune and Jupiter Uranus all of which seem to indicate separation and loss.  Venus/Uranus seems to indicate the suddenness of the separation, Jupiter/Uranus seems to indicate the shock of the separation and Jupiter/Neptune seems to indicate the bewilderment such a shock would bring.  The following weeks seems to bring more sad news (Mercury/Saturn) and perhaps the infliction of cruelty (Saturn/Pluto). Indeed, as I made notes of the keywords of the midpoints being transited by Saturn, there did not seem to be many happy times.

The week of the 22 June seems to be the height of the sadness.  Not only does Saturn make contact with 4 midpoints, it also makes challenging aspect to the benefics, Venus and Jupiter.  The Sun/Mercury midpoint seems to be about sad thoughts dominating one’s thinking, Mars/Saturn seems to be about the frustration one might feel by such an affliction and Sun/Pluto seems to be about decreased vitality or even an inability to rise above the circumstances.

The week of 26 June, Saturn transits Moon/Mercury which I think is more about the sadness of the mother and Baudelaire’s awareness of it.  Sun/Mars perhaps indicates Baudelaire’s awareness of his father’s absence whilst the transit to Saturn/Neptune means the lack of an authoritative role model. Saturn/Uranus may the feeling that nothing will change.

The depression of the week of 6 July is reflected in the Moon/Pluto midpoints and the Moon/Mars may indicate his mother’s inability to express her care for her son. The biography notes do not say if Baudelaire was ill during the week of the 13 July but Sun/Neptune does look like he may have been prone to some sort of infection.  Whilst the Sun/Uranus midpoint looks like Baudelaire may have felt powerless to fight anything.

One can only imagine the grief experienced by Baudelaire’s mother but the sadness and the unexpected nature of the loss is particularly difficult to look at with Moon/Neptune and Moon/Uranus during the week of 20 July. Venus/Saturn may be that Baudelaire was denied love or companionship during this time. Suffering, sadness and separation also seem to be reflected in the Jupiter/Saturn and Sun/Venus midpoints transited by Saturn during the week of 27 July.  Similarly, there seems to be lack of good fortune in the Sun/Jupiter midpoint transit the following week and the unhappiness of a woman in the transit of Moon/Venus the next week.  Likewise, the transit of Moon/Jupiter seems to be unable to experience happiness.

The next few weeks of Baudelaire’s life seem to show a break in the cloud of gloom as there are no midpoints to be transited until the Sun/Saturn of 14 September which looks quite gloomy and pessimistic.  The 28 September shows Saturn’s exact square to the Sun.  Perhaps this is the week Baudelaire finally understood what bereavement actually entails and perhaps he saw the rest of his life as being tinged with sorrow as Saturn was semi square his MC during the week of 5 October.

From 9 November, Saturn turns retrograde but because it does not make contacts to any midpoints, it would seem Baudelaire’s grief had peaked in the previous weeks, returned briefly during the transit of the Sun/Saturn transit of 21 December and then re-surfaced during the second hit of Saturn square Saturn in January. Saturn, in retrograde motion, transited Moon/Jupiter (which seems like pessimism), then Moon/Venus on 1 February (mother’s unhappiness) and then Sun/Jupiter by 8 February (which also seems to be quite pessimistic) and then on to Jupiter/Saturn which seems to be patience wearing thin—perhaps Baudelaire began to be tired of the grief.  After thus transit, in May (there are a few more transits in between but these have already been discussed) Baudelaire experiences the final Saturn square Saturn hit.  Could this be when Saturn had finished the lesson of grief and the new stepfather entered his life?  Could it be that Baudelaire transferred any remaining grief onto the man who would become the replacement father?  Without knowing the dates, we can’t be sure but I think Saturn’s last transit of this square to Sun/Saturn the following day is a significant one.  I think the qualities of the midpoints would take on a different tone following the last Saturn square.

With the Moon/Saturn transit in June, the energies of both the Sun and the MC are picked up—Baudelaire blamed his despondence (what he communicated to the world) on his step father.  This can be seen in the shift in midpoint focus: the midpoints transited by Saturn are more to do with Baudelaire’s Node, MC and Mercury.  On the 3rd July, Saturn transits the Moon by conjunction but also makes contact to Baudelaire’s asc/MC and Nod/MC:  here we can see there is a shift from personal planets to the angles and nodes. It’s a shift in life direction.  This is echoed a few weeks later with Saturn in semi square to the ascendant and the following week (31 July) a transit to the nod/asc, followed by the node itself.

The next midpoints transited involve Mercury/MC on the 11 September.  Perhaps this is the “bad news” that Baudelaire knows will alter his status in life.  The following week, it is Pluto/Saturn which seems like it could indicate submission or irrevocable change.  Mars/MC is also affected during this week so perhaps Baudelaire thinks this change will harm him in some way.

The transits to Mercury/asc, Neptune/MC and Uranus/MC in the weeks before his mother’s remarriage seems to further indicate the introduction of an authority figure on a permanent basis and the changes this will bring to his status.  Shortly after the marriage, Saturn once again turns retrograde and reiterates these themes—then turns direct one more time just to make sure Baudelaire gets the message.

Midpoint Trees

Mars

Ebertin indicates that the function of Mars in the radix, in its positive sense, is the native’s will-power, courage, enjoyment of fighting and the urge to do something.  As Baudelaire had Mars in Aries in the 7th, we must also consider this position as it adds further layers to the meaning.  Ebertin indicates Mars in the 7th is the ability to work within a team and to work with others to achieve success whilst in Aries, Mars indicates a fighting spirit.  This midpoint tree intrigued me because writing is usually a solitary activity, not a group one and I wondered how this midpoint tree’s “story” could relate to Baudelaire’s career as a writer.

Mars is on the Saturn/node midpoint.  Saturn contacts slow down the function of the planet and with the nodal contact, it may be expected that there would be an element of frustration, sadness or issues around maturity.  Saturn can also be associated with authority figures, especially fathers.  It is known that Baudelaire suffered from depression and that his father, according to Baudelaire’s biography, was thirty-four years older than his mother.  Ebertin indicates Mars on this midpoint can be an “enforced separation, bereavement within the family,”[1] which seems to be the case with the death of his father when Baudelaire was seven years of age (or the first Saturn square Saturn).  Baudelaire blamed his emotional depression on his mother’s re-marriage the following year, which again seems in line with Ebertin’s suggestion that Mars on this midpoint is “suffering through others.”[2] However, Baudelaire seems to have tried to escape his step-father’s influence by establishing a disapproved career in literature and spent much of his time away from his parents, though he had a complex relationship with his mother.  The Mars influence is about will-power and it can be seen that in choosing to live away from his step-father, Baudelaire was taking steps to avoid depression.  Ebertin words this as “the desire to gain release from emotional depression.”[3]

However, Baudelaire, even viewed apart from his Mars on the Mon/asc midpoint was a moody character:  he did suffer from depression.  Ebertin describes this midpoint as: “a change of mood, moodiness in the presence of others.”[4]  Further, Ebertin describes Mars on the midpoint as “conflicts with the female sex, ties with next of kin or marriage partner.”[5]  Baudelaire did not marry though his conflicts with his female lovers was a feature in his life and left an impression on his work.

In choosing to live away from his parents, Baudelaire was able to establish a career in literature.  This is expressed through Mars being on his Sun/asc midpoint or, as Ebertine outs it:  “the fighting spirit, the power to establish oneself in the world, industry and diligence.”[6]  Baudelaire used the energy of this midpoint in a more specific way by establishing and writing about the women in his life (N. Mars in 7th).  Ebertin indicates some of the more negative outcomes of Mars on this midpoint can be quarrels.  As he never married, perhaps it can be assumed that quarrels were a feature in these relationships (not mention he had probably given all of lovers syphilis!).  Also his friends discouraged him from entering the French Academy which he had hoped would advance his literary career.  His writing certainly caused outrage amongst his readers.  Not only did he use this energy to write love and erotic poetry, he also used it to work with other writers such as Edgar Allen Poe and Theophile Gautier and musicians Richard Wagner and  Eugene Delacroix as well as the painter Edouard Manet.  Ebertine’s interpretation of Mars on this midpoint is:  “cooperation, association with others, fighting for common interests.”[7]

Mercury in Pisces can produce unclear or even confused thinking.  However Mars on the Mer/Nep midpoint sharpened and focused his thinking.  Indeed Ebertin attributes Mars on this midpoint as:  “thinking with purpose, great powers of imagination (the disposition of a genius).”[8]  Though Baudelaire had condemned drug use in his poem les Paradise Artificials, he resorted to drugs to stimulate inspiration. Ebertin expresses this as: “the realisation of plans or inventions, acting according to deliberation and experience.“[9] In this interpretation, it can be surmised that though he knew better, Baudelaire deliberately chose to use drugs in order to continue with the writing for which he would be famous.  It is also said that the sense of smell has the best memory.  Baudelaire was well known for using fragrance to evoke feelings of past intimacy and nostalgia, again which seems to fit Mars on the midpoint.

Baudelaire was a maverick in his expression of eroticism, and perhaps because of this, he was ahead of his time. Ebertin describes Mars on the Mer/Ura midpoint as: “summing up a situation and acting accordingly, courage, determination, a sudden success and advancement in life.”[10] Baudelaire was able to choose the right words to establish himself as the write who could rejuvenate Romanticism (as Gustave Flaubert would say[11]).

Ebertin describes Mars on the Sun/Nod midpoint as “The desire to become a person of importance, desire for recognition, the desire to establish oneself within a community.  Associations based solely on physical attraction, cooperation and teamwork.”[12] Whilst I cannot argue that Baudelaire did not desire to be well-known, I feel the notoriety of Baudelaire’s writing is over-looked:  his sexual descriptions were considered scandalous and he and his published were nearly arrested.

Ebertin’s interpretation of Mars on the Nep/Plu midpoint as :“A lack of energy, the misfortune to be used as a tool for other people’s interest, a lack of resistance and stamina, the tendency to succumb to external powers, being utilized as a medium.”[13] Again, this seems to only touch the surface of its manifestation in Baudelaire’s life.  Baudelaire did lack energy at times but was it misfortunate that he was used as a tool for other people‘s interest?  Baudelaire captured the sexual zeitgeist, though it had been suppressed at that time–aspects of which can be seen in Mars on the Ura/Plu midpoint, which Ebertin had written was “The stage of bending or breaking”[14]

Jupiter

Ebertin indicates that Jupiter is the urge to expand and, along with the usual association of law, religion and harmony, he sees it as the faculty to survey the whole.  Baudelaire’s Jupiter was in the 8th house which Ebertin noted is about having an optimistic outlook on life and striving for possessions and pleasures, whilst it position in Aries indicates a noble character and the tendency for a lack of balance.  Baudelaire was known for his somewhat outrageous (as viewed from his time) for his literary and artistic decadence, I was intrigued by what I might discover using his Jupiter midpoint trees.

The difficulties of Baudelaire’s natal Sun-Moon square has been discussed at length.  Despite having a tendency towards depression, Baudelaire seems to have lived a life of achievement.  Jupiter on the Sun/Moon midpoint would seem to have the power to boost what could be quite a miserable square.  Ebertin notes that this combination brings “an optimistic attitude to life, the urge to enlarge one’s horizon and mental focus, a good thinker, orator and organiser, good connections, protection, sponsorship, travel.”[15]  Aspects of this description could be attributed to his strong Mercury connections (particularly his Virgo rising) but Baudelaire’s desire to comment on broad philosophical arguments such as dualism and his exploration of sexuality (Jupiter in 8th) seems to fit into Ebertin’s description.

Ebertin indicates that the Sun/Pluto midpoint is about the power of attainment and with such a creativity energy (Sun) combined with one that seeks power, it seems that perhaps there should also be a hint of fame/notoriety with Jupiter on this midpoint. As has been seen. Baudelaire was known for his observations on sex in his poetry as well as for his struggles with finance. Ebertin also indicates this midpoint is about “the urge to expand and to acquire wealth” [16] as well as be successful.  However, Baudelaire acquired most of his fame and respect following his death–which I think is a more appropriate interpretation of the Sun/Pluto midpoint on Jupiter.  I also find this midpoint somewhat contradicts the Sun/Mars midpoint on Jupiter which Ebertin indicates is “a positive outlook on life, optimism and a struggle for power[17] I wonder if this midpoint, in Baudelaire’s case, is more about becoming well known for being a womaniser as opposed to a struggle for power (which seems more like Pluto’s domain).

Baudelaire’s contributions to society and his challenging of the social mores of the time seems to fit well with the Moon/Mercury midpoint conjunct Jupiter.  Ebertin says this combination is about “sound judgment, constructive, social or religious thinking, a large sphere of thoughts.[18] In general, Ebertin says the Moon/Mercury midpoint is about “thinking being influenced by feeling.”[19]  Baudelaire was instrumental in helping other artists in a variety of fields become known by writing reviews.  It has been noted that he was honest with both friends and enemies and preferred to tell the truth of what he felt about what he was critiquing– no matter how unpopular his opinion made him.[20]

Baudelaire had Jupiter on his Saturn/Uranus.  Ebertine writes that this is “the ability to adapt oneself to every situation, a fortunate release from tensions.”[21]  However, as in the following midpoint (Jupiter on Saturn/Neptune), I wonder if this is a more collective interpretation affecting many people born in the few days before and after Baudelaire (as opposed to a more time specific midpoint such as those involving the Moon or an angle). I think this midpoint, in Baudelaire’s case, is about rebellion from authority figures (such as his step father) and traveling to make a name for himself through publishing.

The Saturn/Neptune midpoint seems to be to do with suffering (Saturn) and escapism (Neptune), though Ebertin adds that this is also about taking care of others and he looked after Jeanne DuVal until the end of her life.  However, as these two planets move quite slowly and it is likely this combination would affect more people at the same time, I wonder if it would have more of a collective effect on society. (One other possible person who could have had Jupiter on Saturn/Neptune is the English mystic Father Thomas Pelham Dale born on 3 April 1821, only a few days before Baudelaire.)  Specifically, Ebertin says Jupiter on this midpoint is “the tendency to be upset or depressed easily, diseases of the liver or lung.”[22]  It is known Baudelaire suffered from depression and his excesses of alcohol and other drugs contributed to his death.  I do find this midpoint is in stark contrast to Jupiter on his Moon/Pluto which Ebertin indicates is “a rich and deep emotional life, great successes, lucky chances.”[23] As his biography will attest, Baudelaire’s experiences were many and he seemed to find opportunities wherever he went–though he seemed to use inherited money as if it would never run out! (the over-confidence of Jupiter).

I would have thought the Mars/Saturn midpoint would be a frustrating one due to the restrictive qualites found in the usual interpretations of the challenging aspects of these two planets.  Ebertin indicates Jupiter on this midpoint is “the complete concentration of energy upon a particular objective to the entire exclusion of other interests, the ability to render quick work, the ability to destroy or eliminate something thoroughly.”[24] I have to disagree slightly and that although this may be true, the evidence available on Baudelaire suggests that this may be more to do with Baudelaire’s inability to commit to a marriage but to turn this into an advantage by choosing a more unconventional relationship.  Finally, Ebertin attributes Jupiter on this midpoint as “a very pleasant and easy death.[25] I cannot think of a better death for Baudelaire than to die in his mother’s arms!

AstroAlex1984

Bibliography for this section

Baudelaire, Charles, The Flowers of Evil, text available online at: http://www.baudelaire.cz/works.html?aID=200&artID=

Baudelaire, in his essay about painter Constantin Guys, The Painter of Modern Life

Ebertin, Reinhold The Combination of Stellar Influences, The American Federation of Astrologer, 1972

Harding, Michael and Harvey, Charles: Working with Astrology: The Psychology of Harmonics, Midpoints and AstroCartoGraphy, Penguin Group,London.

Hyslop, Lois Boe Baudelaire, Man Of His Time,YaleUniversity Press, 1980

Proust, Marcel: Against Sainte-Beuve and Other Essays, ‘Concerning Baudelaire’ p. 286, trans. John Sturrock, Penguin, 1994.

Richardson, Joanna  Baudelaire, St. Martin’s Press,New York, 1994

Rimbaud, Arthur: Oeuvres complètes, p. 253, NRF/Gallimard, 1972

Richardson, Joanna  Baudelaire, St. Martin’s Press,New York, 1994

Tyl, Noel, The Indispensable Sun/Moon Midpoint, Article found August 2009 at: http://www.astrologyoz.com/articles/Sun%20moon%20midpoint%20Noel%20Tyl.htm

 


[1] Mars=Sat/Nod, Ebertin

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Mars=Mon/Asc

[5] Ibid

[6] Mars=Sun/asc

[7] Ibid

[8] Mars=Mer/Nep

[9] Ibid

[10] Mars=Mer/Ura

[11] Richardson, Joanna  Baudelaire, St. Martin’s Press,New York, 1994, p 241

[12] Mars=Sun/Nod

[13] Mars=Nep/Plu

[14] Mars=Ura/Plu

[15] Jupiter=Sun/Mon

[16] Jupiter=Sun/Pluto

[17] Jupiter=Sun/Mar

[18] Jupiter=Mon/Mer

[19] as above

[20]Richardson 1994, p.268

[21] Jupiter=Sat/Ura

[22] Jupiter=Sat/Nep

[23] Jupiter=Mon/Plu

[24] Jupiter=Mar/Sat

[25] Ibid

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