Sunday, August 16, 2015
The Astrology of Woodstock
Wishing a very groovy 46th Solar Return to the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which occurred from August 15, 1969, to the morning of August 18, in Bethel, New York. Although this is not a silver, golden (or Acapulco Gold), or even an anniversary ending in a zero, Woodstock's 46th birthday happens to mirror its birth day not only because it also falls on a weekend, but because the Moon and Mercury are both posited in Virgo. In fact, today Mercury is exactly conjunct Woodstock's Mercury at 14 degrees of Virgo. I base Woodstock's astrology chart on the time of its first performance: at 5:07 p.m., folk singer Richie Havens began playing. Havens, who was not supposed to go on first, stayed onstage for nearly two hours, as other acts were running late due to an unforeseen traffic nightmare, as no one predicted that so many flower children would show up (just as no one predicted that it would turn into a free concert, due to insufficient security in the form of widely spaced gates that were easily gotten around before being knocked down altogether). In the process, Havens exhausted his repertoire yet managed to improvise a new song ("Freedom," inspired by the old spiritual "Motherless Child," also performed by the band Sweetwater who was supposed to go on first). Havens had 5'05" degrees of Libra Rising -- the exact degree, to the very minute, of Woodstock's Jupiter, planet of good fortune and expansion. Havens also had a Scorpio Moon, echoed by a close, approaching Moon-Pluto conjunction in Woodstock's chart, but more on this in a bit. On Woodstock's Ascendant is 3 degrees of Capricorn, making Saturn the ruler of the chart; Capricorn is an Earth sign, and Saturn is placed at 8 degrees of fellow Earth sign Taurus in the 4th House of home, forming a strong Earth trine. In rock 'n' roll terms, in Joni Mitchell's ode to the festival, "Woodstock," this manifested in "going to camp out on the land [...] to get my soul free." For obvious reasons, farms are related to the Earth element, and by now it is common knowledge that dairy farmer Max Yasgur saved Woodstock's tofu bacon by agreeing to provide a venue for a festival that lost its original venue (in the very un-hippie-sounding Wallkill) just one month before the festival. To go along with this Earth-element theme, there were many "earth mothers" of both genders at Woodstock who nurtured and took care of those people who were having bad trips on the brown acid, and "fertility goddesses" who fulfilled many a hippie's wettest dream. What is less commonly known is the unlovely side of Capricorn Rising and Saturn in Taurus rearing its head in the form of greed and shady deals. Many top performers insisted on being paid up front and/or not filmed, or else they wouldn't go on. (And if one of the promoters, who had a million-dollar trust fund to put up as collateral, had not been able to get to the bank in time for Saturday night's highly anticipated, superstar-studded performances, the festival would have devolved into complete chaos, because the music would have stopped altogether.) Max Yasgur, who was paid $75,000 for leasing his land, was told to expect a mannerly three-day festival of no more than 50,000 people, when the four "Woodstock Ventures" promoters (three suits, one hippie) had already sold 150,000 tickets (which cost $18, about $100 in 2015 dollars) and were anticipating another 100,000 concertgoers to show up (when it was, in the words of Joni Mitchell, "half a million strong" by the time August 15 rolled around). There was only 1 porta-potty per 10,000 attendees, and Saturday's rainstorm transformed those few porta-potties into poop soup. Food from Woodstock Ventures ran out on the first day of the festival; "square" locals, many of whom were inconvenienced due to the abandoned cars clogging the roads within 10 miles of the festival site, took pity on the hungry hippies to contribute sandwiches. Food was also airlifted in from (ironic drum roll, please) the local air force base. I can safely say that this dark side of Capricorn Rising and Saturn in Taurus did not ruin Woodstock for most of those in attendance (though many who were there do not remember the particulars of that weekend -- hallmark of a Sun-Neptune square) because of the Ascendant-Saturn trine; it is the best aspect to have, period. Also, the square between the Ascendant and Jupiter-Uranus in early Libra contributed "good vibes" (Jupiter) and electricity (Uranus) once the Moon entered Libra on the second day of the festival. Interestingly, the Moon would also have conjuncted the majority of the audience's Neptune (which was in Libra from 1943 to 1957); Neptune rules music as well as psychedelic drugs. Yet during the first day of Woodstock, the Moon was still in Virgo. You would be forgiven for thinking that the sign of the prim, proper Virgin is an unlikely, if not downright inauspicious, lunar placement for a festival devoted to the unholy trinity of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. What must be considered is that when Richie Havens, the first performer up at bat, began to play at 5:07 p.m., the Moon was within a degree of an approaching conjunction to Pluto, which is all about intense, often illegal experiences that are more associated with the Water sign of Scorpio. Not only does Woodstock have a Moon-Pluto conjunction, it is placed, along with a critical-degree Leo Sun and Virgo Mercury, in Woodstock's 8th House, which transports you right into the Underworld and other Plutonian realms (e.g.: mud, poop). Four planets in the 8th House is a Plutonian powerhouse! As I mentioned earlier, Havens had a Scorpio Moon, which is similar to a Moon-Pluto conjunction. As for the younger teenagers (born between 1952-55) in attendance, the Sun would have passed over their Plutos in Leo during the Woodstock festival; I would imagine that many of these underage attendees were runaways or simply lied to their parents about where they were going that weekend. All three outer planets have to do with the collective, aka humanity, or at the very least, a huge crowd of people: Uranus, the collective mind and mutation; Neptune, the collective imagination and dream; Pluto, the collective birth, death, and rebirth. It is indeed highly significant that the Moon passed over two out of the three outer planets during the Woodstock festival, adding emotional resonance and truly providing a home (ruled by the Moon) and sense of connection to many of those in attendance. I do not know whether Joni Mitchell was into astrology, but her lines "We are stardust / We are golden" from her song "Woodstock" is a beautiful metaphor for the Pluto-in-Leo generation that dominated the festival. Despite the ensuing "Big Chill" decade of the 1980s that turned many of the Woodstock generation into smarmy, judgmental yuppies despised by my own rising "X" generation, I cannot forget how much I wished, as a teenager trapped in Reagan-era suburbia, that I could have been a hippie and hitched to Yasgur's farm to listen to some of the bands I was starting to love, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and the Jefferson Airplane...to have my budding mind blown and my body caked with mud.