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Astrology at Work: Joni Mitchell

I thought I would take a break from watching Republicans struggle to paper over the gaping hole that that the Trump/Putin summit left in US credibility and talk a little about how astrology works. I’ve been looking at the horoscope of Joni Mitchell and studying her sudden rise to fame in the late 1960s.

First of all, Mitchell’s chart is all about in Water signs. (Click on Joni Mitchell to see the horoscope.) She has the Sun in Scorpio, the Moon in Pisces and Cancer rising, a Water sign trifecta. This is a personality awash in emotion. Her Pisces Moon is positioned near her Midheaven, opposite her Venus which is at the bottom of the chart on her I.C. A prominently placed Moon often conveys popularity, while an angular Venus is typically associated with physical beauty. For a performer, there couldn’t be a better combination.

But not so fast. Both Mitchell’s Venus and Moon are involved in a T-square with Saturn and Mars. Both these planets are considered malifics. (That’s “bad news” in astrology-speak.) To make matters worse Saturn is in the 12th House of confinement and secrets. In terms of character, this T-square would describe a person who is mistrustful, critical and likely to have difficulty maintaining relationships. In terms of career, it would certainly guarantee some speedbump on the road to success.

Mitchell’s career took off in 1967 when she appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival. Previous to this she had spent several years playing in coffeehouses in Canada and Detroit, mostly with her husband, Chuck Mitchell. By 1967, however, she had ditched the husband and was ready to take on the world as a solo act. Given the predominance of Water signs in Mitchell’s chart, it is not surprising that this new phase of her professional life was accompanied by a new phase in her emotional life: a love affair with the prolific singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen.

At the time of her performance in Newport, transiting Uranus was crossing her I.C and square to her natal Mars. The next year, in 1968, Mitchell was signed by a record company and released her first album. By this time Uranus was conjunct her natal Venus. At the same time transiting Pluto, which was in proximity to Uranus during much of the 1960s, also passed over Mitchell’s I.C. The next year, when Mitchell released “Clouds” her second album and her first to win a Grammy, Pluto was opposed to her Moon. In 1970, she released “Blue”, the album that established her as a major figure in American pop music. By this time, transiting Pluto was conjunct to Mitchell’s natal Venus.

The situation with Mitchell’s horoscope, with a T-square involving planets placed near the M.C-I.C. axis made this axis a zone of tremendous power. When that zone was hit by not one, but two major transits, he life was transformed. She went from being an art school drop-out from nowhere-special in Canada to member of the California music glitterati, rubbing elbows (and other body parts) with the likes of Graham Nash, Carole King and James Taylor.

The planets making these transits are also interesting. Uranus transits to the angles of the horoscope often do bring shocking developments in one’s career, sometimes for the better and sometime or the worse. Pluto transits, on the other hand, more often bring us burdens. They tend to be oppressive periods in which are forced into situation in which our choices are limited and we are confined by powers beyond our control.

Joni Mitchell’s ambiguous relationship with her music career is well-documented. She sometimes characterizes herself as a painter who somehow got kidnapped by millions of adoring pop music fans. As a Scorpio, she no doubt appreciates the power her stardom gives her, but even in those heady, early days of her career, she was equally aware of the confinement that accompanies stardom. With all that Water sign influence, Mitchell is essentially an introvert, and it hard to be an introvert and a famous pop star.

So even though, by most standards, Mitchell’s Pluto transit brought her tremendous benefits, it also left her with a burden. That burden was fame. It was the burden of having her privacy under siege, of having her creative freedom constantly challenged by commercial concerns and the ever-changing mood of the public. One might wonder why she didn’t just give it all up, go back to Canada and paint pictures. But that’s the thing about Pluto burdens. You can’t just put them down. You have to carry them until they become a part of you, and you are transformed by them.

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