Do you feel the call to adventure? We explore the astrology charts and lives of well-known adventurers
What is an explorer, a pioneer or adventurers? What is it that compels a person to investigate unknown regions, to be first — or among the first — in a particular field? What is it that drives someone to seek adventure or go beyond their normal boundaries?
Each of the three individuals profiled below — an aviator, a marine researcher and a philosopher — explored, pioneered and discovered. They broke new ground, took risks and had the courage to go where no one else had been. Astrologically, is there anything in their charts that hints at the impact each of them had on society? Let’s take a look.
The aviation pioneer
Amelia Earhart, or “Lady Linda” as she was known, was an American aviator, pioneer, author and adventurer. She actively campaigned for women’s rights and her courage captured the public’s imagination.
Earhart’s daredevil ways and propensity to do things that young ladies usually didn’t do marked her as a tomboy intent on defying convention. She was the first woman to get an aviator’s license and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic — a feat for which she received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Before her mysterious disappearance over the Pacific, while attempting to circumnavigate the globe, she set many speed and distance records, which helped keep aviation in the news and in the public eye.
Saturn in Virgo may be one source of Steiner's discipline.
As well as being a pioneer in women’s aviation, Earhart authored two books about her experiences and was instrumental in establishing organisations for female pilots. She served as a counsellor to women students, advised on matters of aeronautical engineering and actively promoted aircraft as a safe means of transport.
Despite her many accomplishments, flying didn’t come easily to Earhart. It took her many hours and plenty of mishaps to go solo. What set her apart was her perseverance. Earhart has Taurus rising in her astrology chart, which is known for its determination and a stubborn refusal to give up. Her Taurus rising gives her tenacity and intensity, which are common traits for those with “bowl”-shaped chart patterns, which Earhart also has.
The bowl chart pattern is formed when all the planets take up just four to six signs, or sit within just 180 degrees — about half — of the zodiac. A bowl chart is a focused and highly motivated arrangement, but can be frustrating as the person may have a feeling that something is missing. If so, bowl chart individuals can be determined to fill the void, which they often do by attracting attention.
Bowl chart people can become involved in causes and seem to always be on a mission. Earhart courted public adulation, pushing herself to achieve more and fly faster and further, taking risks others avoided.
The power of a pair
Earhart’s astrology chart also includes groupings of planets into multiple conjunctions, which dominate her chart. If one conjunction brings an intensity of energy, a stellium — multiple conjunct planets in a particular sign — it’s a potential powerhouse. Earhart’s stellium in curious Gemini, consisting of the Moon, Pluto, chart ruler Venus and Neptune, is an example of this. Pluto in the centre of this arrangement adds more intensity to an already focused chart, while Neptune contributes an element of idealism.
The ruler of this Gemini stellium is Mercury — which is conjunct her Leo Sun and sextile her Gemini planets. Mercury rules communications and the media. Mercury conjunct her Sun in Leo provided Earhart with star power that only intensified her inherent potential.
Mercury also rules the next planetary pair, an exact conjunction between Jupiter and Mars in Virgo that is square the Gemini stellium. A square aspect in a chart shows friction and potential. If her Gemini planets were asking “how” or “why”, Jupiter and Mars might well have been wondering “how high”, “how fast” or “how far”… or “why not”? This Jupiter and Mars pairing is a demonstration of her courage and propensity to take risks, which some might have described as foolhardy.
A square aspect in a chart shows friction and potential.
Mars-Jupiter also gives the urge to expand beyond one’s boundaries through action and adventure, and the desire to focus on self-improvement to see just how far you can push yourself. This aspect may also be associated with a broader goal to pioneer improvements in the lives of others. Jupiter is concerned with the concept of fairness and Earhart was certainly associated with programs that provided support for poor families and political causes promoting equality for women.
When working with a bowl chart shape, it’s useful to look at the planets on either side of the rim of the bowl. In the case of Earhart, the Moon and Pluto drive her chart.
Moon-Pluto people tend to have deep and compulsive, sometimes obsessive, responses but they also align their emotional security to transformation and rebirth. Inner contentment comes from focusing emotions and willpower towards remoulding accepted patterns and images. Earhart indeed rewrote the conventional view of what it was to be a woman in the early 20th century.
At the other end of the rim of the bowl is another conjunction, this time between Saturn and Uranus in Pluto-ruled Scorpio. While these planets have no contact with the other planetary arrangements in her chart, they provide further clues to her single-minded purpose and tenacity.
Any aspect with Saturn shows a concentration of energies and indicates how you might deal with limits and authority. Uranus is associated with innovation, science, disruption and aviation. When Saturn and Uranus work together, there’s a desire to be original in one’s thinking and self-expression and a need to give practical form to these unorthodox new ideas.
We’ve already seen that having a bowl chart can give the desire for recognition to compensate for the feeling that something is missing. Saturn-Uranus wants social approval for the changes being implemented and for the new way to become accepted and embedded in the structure of society. This may have been the motivation behind Earhart’s campaigns not just for female aviation, but also for society to accept plane travel as a safe and valid means of transport.
The undersea explorer
Jacques Cousteau was a French naval officer, oceanographer, inventor, ecologist, humanitarian, anti-nuclear activist, filmmaker and author. He is arguably the most acclaimed undersea explorer in history. Cousteau also authored more than 60 books and won numerous awards for his filmmaking. With a colleague, he invented the aqualung, the precursor to modern scuba diving gear, which enabled humans to move about freely underwater for longer periods of time and expanded the possibilities of underwater exploration. For his involvement with the Resistance movement in World War II, Cousteau was awarded the French Legion of Honour. Fifteen years later, he won a battle against the French government to stop the dumping of radioactive waste, establishing himself as a pioneer for marine conservation.
Ironically, the man who brought the world under the sea to life for millions of people fell in love with the water due to a childhood illness. Diagnosed with a chronic disease, the only exercise he was able to tolerate and enjoy was swimming. But what is it in Cousteau’s birth chart that gives an indication of his pioneering spirit?
The first thing you’ll see in his chart is the majority of planets located at the top of the chart. This indicates a person who is concerned with events beyond himself and describes someone who is “seen” or has a profile, regardless of their intention.
Uranus in the spotlight
Similar to Earhart, Cousteau’s birth chart is incredibly focused. Where Earhart’s chart was in a bowl pattern, Cousteau’s is a “bucket” shape. In a bucket chart, all but one planet is on the same side of the chart. A single planet (or tight conjunction of planets) sits on the opposite side. This solitary planet is known as the “singleton” and acts not just as a counterbalance to the other planets in the chart, but also a “funnel” to direct and channel the energy.
Unlike the bowl chart where there may be a feeling of something missing, in the bucket chart, the singleton planet becomes a focal point, which can be very powerful. The entire chart may take on the flavour and intensity of Scorpio, with a relentless determination to succeed and a strong motivation to achieve goals.
To get more detail, look to the nature and position of the singleton planet. In Cousteau’s case, this is Uranus, associated with disruption, science, invention and forward thinking. Cousteau became interested in machines in his early teens and experimented with building model cranes and even a battery-operated car. This interest in machines is not unusual for a Gemini Sun, which can be curious about how things work.
Jupiter symbolises expansion through experience.
Action planet Mars is opposite Uranus — an aspect that is often rebellious and impatient. Mars-Uranus people tend to be easily bored and may assert themselves through pursuing new, exciting and original activities. Freedom energises and excites them. Cousteau was reportedly not stimulated at school and caused trouble as a result. His parents reacted by sending him away to boarding school. In this new environment, Cousteau excelled. Uranus in the 4th House can often mean someone who is looking to separate themself from traditions and the ties that bind. After school, Cousteau joined the Naval Academy — an environment that enabled him to begin exploring the world beneath the sea.
With his Gemini curiosity stimulated, he began experimenting with the possibility of a machine that allowed humans to breathe below the surface during longer dives. With unconventional Uranus in the 4th House, the part of the chart usually associated with Cancer, home and family, Cousteau may have felt more comfortable outside of the family, or felt his real home was underwater.
Jupiter and Saturn: focus and opportunity
Just as with a bowl chart, the planets on either side of the rim of the bucket shape will drive the action. In Cousteau’s case, it’s Saturn and Jupiter. Saturn is conjunct Venus in Taurus in the 8th House, which is associated with deep focus and going below the surface to find the truth. Earthy Taurus is steadfast and motivated by practicality and once started on a track, will not be swayed from it.
Jupiter in Libra is on the Ascendant and Cousteau came across as a larger-than-life personality. Jupiter on the Ascendant may provide the opportunities and freedom to expand beyond yourself — and Jupiter the broadcaster will want to tell the world about it. Jupiter is also a risk-taker and adventure-seeker, although the presence of Saturn at the opposite end of the rim would also have steadied the ship in Cousteau’s case.
The Jupiter theme continues with the placement of Cousteau’s Sun and Pluto conjunction in the 9th House — a house associated with Sagittarius and exploration. Pluto, the ruler of Scorpio and God of the Underworld, intensifies the nature of the Sun and may provide persistence and focus that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Any contact or aspect between the Sun and Pluto makes you aware of the underbelly of life and can give a desire to make a difference or transform, both the self and the outer world. The Gemini Sun is naturally curious and questioning, but the influence of Pluto would encourage the exploration of a deeper meaning.
Water themes: Cancer and Neptune
Cousteau’s Midheaven is in Cancer — a sign associated with not only water but with security, nurturing and protection. Cousteau’s most famous invention — the aqualung — allowed for underwater exploration within a safe and secure environment. Further, he was known for his marine ecology and conservation work.
In his 10th House, Cousteau has a connection between Mars and Neptune, the God of the Seas, showing he can use his visions to motivate him to achieve his goals. Cousteau reportedly referred to himself as not just a dreamer but a doer. It’s believed Cousteau’s films and books were published not merely for their own sake, but to finance undersea investigations and provide increased public awareness of the importance of the work and research he was undertaking. This would be an almost textbook example of Saturn and Jupiter working together.
Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher, scientist, reformer and author. He pioneered new approaches in education, agriculture, spiritual thinking and movement. In what is usually a contradiction of terms, Steiner was a practical and prolific mystic, turning visions into reality. What might we see in the astrology chart of such a visionary?
Steiner’s astrology chart shape is closest to a “seesaw” pattern. The central focus of the chart is two oppositions — between Venus and Jupiter and between the Moon and Saturn in Virgo and the Sun, Mercury and Neptune in Pisces. Although Mars and Pluto are too close to Steiner’s Pisces planets for this to be a real seesaw (technically there should be a space of at least 60 degrees), this chart holds all the tension and dynamic potential of that chart pattern. These oppositions show that alternatives and extremes can be the source of great creativity. They also show the potential for more than one direction or life path.
Steiner’s Sun was in Pisces, a sign where anything is possible. Pisces can be incredibly perceptive and recognises no boundaries. Many people with a strong Pisces influence are sensitive to their environment and have strong intuitive gifts. Steiner developed clairvoyant abilities and from an early age was aware of things that were invisible to others. He wrote, “The reality of the spiritual world was as certain to me as that of the physical.”
Common to many with a Mercury-Neptune aspect or link, Steiner’s intellect was highly sensitised with an ability to perceive subtleties not apparent to others. His ideas went beyond the boundaries of what seemed possible. His inspiration and ideals directed his thoughts. With Mercury and Neptune conjunct in the 5th House of creativity and risk-taking, it would have been important for Steiner to express his ideas. He was exceptionally prolific, publishing numerous books and delivering thousands of lectures.
Saturn in Virgo may be one source of Steiner’s discipline, in addition to other influences. Focused and intense Scorpio was rising when Steiner was born, with Scorpio’s modern ruler, Pluto, conjunct Scorpio’s traditional ruler, Mars. Although Mars in Taurus can sometimes be slow to get started, once on a path, this placement never gives up. Combine the determination of Mars in Taurus with Pluto, and there may be a stubborn need to penetrate below the surface to the cause or core of whatever it is that you experience.
With Mars and Pluto conjunct, or working together, impediments can be eliminated, and transformation or reform may be the end result. We’ve seen that Steiner was not happy to merely theorise; he founded Rudolf Steiner education systems, the biodynamic system of agriculture, the science of spirit (known as anthroposophy) and a new way of moving that was a mixture of dance and yoga (known as eurhythmy).
Uranus is associated with disruption, science, invention and forward thinking.
Given his strong need to disrupt and reform, you might expect to see Uranus active in Steiner’s chart. Uranus forms a dynamic t-square pattern with Saturn and the Sun. When working with clients to maximise the potential contained within a t-square, look for points of release, which can include “easy” aspects, like the sextile or trine, to other planets. In Steiner’s chart, that powerful and earthy Mars-Pluto combination is sextile the Sun and trine Saturn. Mars and Pluto offer the opportunity (sextile) and ability (trine) to turn potential into reality.
Although Steiner’s ideas were unconventional, by giving them form and structure, he helped ensure his ideas would survive. In particular, his theories of biodynamic agriculture, where soil fertility, plant growth and livestock were ecologically interrelated, were the first of the organic agricultural movements and helped revolutionise land care and animal husbandry. It’s a perfect example of the Mars-Pluto drive towards transformation leading to real-world outcomes.
Jupiter, the ruler of Steiner’s Pisces Sun, sits at the top of his chart in Leo. This can show someone who wants to achieve big things. Like the Sun in Pisces, Jupiter in the 10th House sees the world as a place with limitless potential for exploration. Jupiter symbolises expansion through experience, travel and adventure, as well as through spirituality, teaching and philosophy. Although Steiner’s ambitions were broad and his interests wide, he was motivated by a need to make a difference that would benefit more than just himself.
Steiner might not have pioneered female aviation and set any speed or distance records, nor did he explore the depths of the underwater world, but he was still an adventurer, explorer and a pioneer. His visionary ideas pushed boundaries and explored concepts never before contemplated.
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