Jul 27, 2011

Fame and Addiction: The Chart of Amy Winehouse

Many of us might think we want fame. Particularly in the U.S., many young people would say that they hope to be “famous” for something someday (it is quite possible to be famous for nothing, however, as evidenced by the success of reality shows).  Yet, as we have seen, fame can be a monster. The list of those famous writers, actors, singers, painters and other artists who have also struggled with addiction is a long one. We take for granted that fame and addiction often go hand in hand. The same sensitivity and openness which allows the artist to express their creative gift is often accompanied by deep fears, insecurity, and depression. The trappings of fame seem to simply fuel the demons which may already exist within the creative individual. The success, notoriety, and wealth that fame supplies can cause the addict to self-destruct at an accelerated rate.

When I heard the news of Amy Winehouse’s death, my first response was, well, not a surprise. Then I was taken aback at my own cynicism. I have family members who have struggled with addiction, and perhaps her death hit a little too close to home, triggering my own fears. It makes me angry at the waste of a life and of a beautiful talent. After that initial cynical reaction, her death and the sadness of it started to seep into me over the past few days. I have been stewing on this relationship between fame and addiction, and the tendency of young artists to self-destruct. I looked to astrology to find some help in understanding the forces at play, and to understand this soul and her burdens. 

There have been many blogs and FB discussions out there about the transits on her death date, so that will not be my primary focus here, nor will I provide an exhaustive interpretation of the entire natal chart. I found that in looking at just a few potent pieces – the South Node, its ruler, and aspects to the Nodes and their rulers – we can understand quite a lot about Amy and her karmic relationship to fame and addiction. Here is the natal chart on the inner wheel (with the transits included for those who are interested). I have labeled those chart elements I've chosen to discuss.

Amy’s South Node is in Sagittarius. With the South Node, we should consider the shadow side of its sign as the nature of the past-life dynamic for this individual. We ask the question:  What was left unresolved in the past life in order for it to now show up as karma (South Node) in this life? False bravado, arrogance, and living to excess can be negative expressions of Sagittarius, or dysfunctional Jupiter (ruler of Sag.)  It is likely that Amy experienced a past-life scenario in which she was a bigger-than-life character. There is even an indicator of past-life fame with the ruler of the South Node (Jupiter) conjunct the ruler of her Midheaven (Uranus). The Midheaven is the cusp of the 10th House of Career, Fame, and Reputation. But her bravado and arrogance were false, indicated by her Sun in Virgo square the South Node, representing the deep insecurities that plagued her. In the past life pattern, the combination of fame and insecurity likely got the best of her, ultimately isolating her (Uranus) from those whose approval was so important to her.  Most of all, she could not approve of herself.

The pain of not measuring up (Virgo Sun square Nodes), whether that was merely a self-perception or a real lack of skill, may have led to addiction and escapism (Neptune conjunct the South Node).  Likely she became dependent on a partner or other significant people in her life, leaning on them inappropriately and demanding more and more from them as she became incapable of caring for herself (South Node in the 7th conjunct Neptune).  The wide conjunction of her Capricorn Moon to the South Node also expresses a sense of being ruled by emotions of neglect and abandonment.

If these themes sound reminiscent of her present lifetime, such is often the case when we look to the South Node.  It is difficult to escape the patterns of the past, as they are deeply ingrained in the soul’s memory. We feel most comfortable when repeating the familiar. The gift of astrological awareness is that we can, if we are open to it, learn about these past patterns, become conscious of them, and move actively toward transcending them.  Even small success in escaping the repetitive traps of the karmic past can offer a feeling of joy and accomplishment on a soul level.

The North Node and its ruler in Amy’s chart points toward the way out of the karmic trap:  Gemini, the 1st House, and Mercury conjunct the Sun in Virgo 5th house. Gemini in its highest expression is an openness of mind and spirit, a curiosity about life, and a willingness to learn and to explore new ideas. Conversely, the Sagittarius South Node indicates a stubborn attachment to a dogmatic belief system, or to one’s own ego as God. The 1st House North Node suggests a need to learn to stand on her own two feet, to assert her free will, and to let go of blaming others for her circumstances or in relying on others to fix them (South Node in the 7th).  Mercury as the planet square the Nodes, hanging in the balance, is a very important planet for her as ruler of her North Node, ruler of the chart, and ruler of Virgo, conjunct the Sun in Virgo.  Mercury in Virgo was the  opportunity to use her voice (Mercury) within a creative (5th House) craft (Virgo). The Sun in Virgo also indicates a need for humility and willingness to deeply commit to the perfection of one’s skills. Who knows what kind of talent she may have grown into had she had more time?

Ultimately, did she feel she was worthy of all of the attention that fame bestowed on her? With a Virgo Sun, it is likely that she often questioned herself and her abilities, and the Sagittarius South Node compounded the situation by enticing her into arrogant and defiant behaviors in order to cover up her fear (just watch the video for “Rehab” to get a sense of that defiance.) I feel compassion for this woman who was born into a time wherein fame, and all the baggage that comes with fame, made it nearly impossible to move away from the seductiveness of the old patterns. 

Note about her birth time:

Birth data is from Frank Clifford as stated on The Mountain Astrologer’s Facebook page; RR: A