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Oh My Stars

matthew currie astrology aretha franklinAretha Franklin (born March 25th 1942, 10: 30 PM, Memphis TN), has died. She was commonly known as “the Queen of Soul.” But why, astrologically, was that?

Like many, upon hearing of Aretha’s death, I was automatically compelled to go back and listen to her work. And of course as an astrologer I had to look her birth chart. Her unique voice was undoubtedly a result (in part) of her Saturn Uranus conjunction in Taurus, in a mutual reception with Venus. But that doesn’t really tell us where the “soul” comes from though, does it?

I realized I didn’t know much about her personal life or personal history, and digging into it didn’t answer a whole lot of questions. It turns out that, despite being one of the world’s most universally beloved celebrities, Aretha was incredibly private about her personal life. This might seem like a bit of a paradox coming from someone with a Leo Midheaven, ruled by the Sun in Aries. Normally you would expect that combination to be on every red carpet and in front of every camera whenever possible. But that was not Aretha, at all.

The Sun is the Ego. Think of it as the part of you that you want others to see first. The Ascendant, on the other hand, is what people usually do actually see first. Aretha was in Scorpio, and that can be a protective and reclusive Sign. But in this case I don’t think that explains her profound need for privacy in her personal life. That came from something deeper.

Look at that Moon of hers. Moon in Cancer is a powerful emotional placement, often too powerful for those who stand near it or those who own it. I imagine it was a lifelong struggle for Aretha, having the gift of that voice of her and yet trying to remain as under-the-radar as possible. We can only be thankful that she managed it.

Liz Greene, in her epic-length book The Astrological Neptune and the Quest for Redemption, made the observation that when it comes to actors and performers, there appears to be a distinct shortage of people with Moon in Cancer… but that shortage is made up for by that placement in the charts of writers and composers. Moon in Cancer often needs a place to hide. The world’s emotions and grief and pain are simply too loud to deal with all day long., and yet that is exactly where Art comes from.

We were all blessed that Aretha was able to pull off the trick of sharing her emotional sensitivity — her soul — with the world and yet maintain the secrecy and privacy that she craved. She managed it by pouring all those feelings into her voice. In other words, the “real Aretha” was hiding in plain sight right in front of us the whole time.

Now go back and listen to Respect and Natural Woman and Freeway Of Love and I Say A Little Prayer. What you are hearing is Aretha Franklin’s Moon. What you are hearing is Soul. And that, my friends, is why Aretha was the Queen of Soul.

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