Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie: The Starman Shall Shine On and Rise Like Lazarus

My tribute to David Bowie, assisted by two of my Party Animals: Ursula (the Disco Bear) and Miffy (the Rabbit from Mars and Thin White Bunny).

It's hard to believe that three days ago I posted birthday wishes for two rock legends, one in the past tense (Elvis Presley) and the other in the present (David Bowie), and now the latter has joined the former in that sense.

Except, not really. That's the thing about icons whose artistic, scientific, philosophic, or political creations outlive their physical bodies: they never die, except for the ones who eventually become footnotes.

David Bowie was a gifted performer of many personas, a man who claimed that he was a robot offstage and could only feel emotion while acting out his many roles onstage. Interestingly, he had the same Sun/Ascendant combination (Capricorn and Aquarius, respectively) as another rock legend of the Pluto-in-Leo generation: Janis Joplin. Both were bisexual, although Bowie later called himself "a closet heterosexual." But whereas Joplin's persona of Pearl, adopted during the last year of her tumultuous life, was a grotesque caricature of her party-hearty self, used to shield her extreme vulnerability (Moon and Jupiter in Cancer), David Bowie identified with each of his personas (including the junkie Major Tom, the glammed-out alien Ziggy Stardust, and the self-destructive Thin White Duke) so thoroughly that he often feared for his sanity.

His Moon at 3 degrees of Leo was exactly conjunct his Descendant, as well as trine his Venus and Midheaven at 2 and 3 degrees of Sagittarius; this connection blessed him with the instincts of a creative performer who probably was the most at home in the spotlight and also the ability to give his fans (who tended to be outside the norm in some way) what they wanted (e.g., dystopian fantasies and validation for freakiness) before they even knew what they wanted. When transiting Neptune passed over his Venus and Midheaven in the early 1970s, he became a star -- an exotic, erotic, gender-fluid, shape-shifting star. In all of his public guises, Bowie was a sexy alien or outsider, not the boy next door. A trine from Saturn in Leo to Venus-MC indicates staying power, yet Bowie's Moon was also closely conjunct Saturn, indicating a tendency to emotional isolation and the sort of depression that comes from being perpetually hungry for unconditional love -- the type of starvation that propels many individuals who had cold, isolated, or unloving childhoods toward fame (the title of one of Bowie's biggest hits), which is its own double-edged sword (just as a bowie knife cuts both ways).

His Sun-Mars conjunction in his 12th house, as well as Mercury on the cusp of the 12th closely squaring Neptune, ensured that he had plenty of inner demons and a genuine fear of insanity. Mercury-Neptune contacts often manifest in left-handedness, and Bowie was indeed a southpaw, but Mercury can also point to sibling issues; in this case, the square between Mercury and Neptune is a read of Bowie's half-brother, who was institutionalized and later escaped the mental hospital, committing suicide.

This past weekend, Mars at 3 degrees of Scorpio squared Bowie's Aquarius Ascendant and Leo Moon; the Moon was in Capricorn for most of the weekend, passing over Bowie's Sun-Mars conjunction during the Dark of the Moon, before moving into Aquarius on Sunday. Clearly, the Moon-Mars contacts took him out, with transiting Uranus just a few days away from squaring his Mars for the final time (exact 1/14/16; also occurred in April and December 2015). He had apparently been fighting cancer for 18 months, and in early 2014 transiting Uranus opposed his Neptune, which can result in a weakened immune system. And of course, the transiting Uranus-Pluto square of 2012-15, with its erratic, explosive yet oppressive energy taking a global toll, put Bowie's Sun-Mars conjunction in its line of fire. This aspect was obviously terrible for his physical health, yet in 2013, seemingly out of nowhere, he released a new album, The Next Day, to much acclaim.

Since transiting Pluto in Capricorn will go back and forth over David Bowie's Sun-Mars conjunction this year, his death will bring him even greater fame -- especially since he released an album on his 69th birthday, with the rather Plutonic title Blackstar (and a Plutonically titled song, "Lazarus"), and a concert he planned to give at Carnegie Hall in March, with Pluto just past his Sun, is now turning into a full-fledged memorial.

Back in 1993 or '94, David Bowie showed me that there really was life on Mars. In 1998, he showed me that I could be hero just for one day while Christiane F. and her teen junkie friends cinematically looted a shopping mall in Berlin. And in the summer of 2002, a certain someone whose heart I was breaking quoted this line from "Win" to me: "Someone like you should not be around to start any fires," which made me feel simultaneously ashamed and proud.

Rock on in Peace.

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