Creative, wealthy, profound, original, egotistical, and lacking in integrity; these are the qualities that impress the mind of the reader of Norman Mailer’s biography of Picasso as a young man. If Astrology is true, an individual’s chart must describe his strongest tendencies and the most outstanding elements in his chart must show up as realities in his life. People that appear extreme to us in temperament or accomplishment are easier candidates for testing the validity of astrology since strong qualities should be easier to identify than subtle ones. Keeping this in mind, let’s look at the chart and life of Picasso.
The most interesting structure in his chart is the grouping of Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter, and Pluto in Taurus. This high number of planets in one sign activate it and focus attention on it. What does Taurus represent? It represents money, possessions, stuff, sensuousness, endurance, the earth, earthiness, the heart of spring, natural beauty, resistence, and stubbornness. Since these planets are slow moving and stayed a while in Taurus, many people had this placement as did Picasso. But, this grouping stands out in his chart for several reasons. First, they are in the tenth house where they are highlighted as important. Secondly, if we set the chart in motion, his early Scorpio Sun will oppose them and his early Leo Ascendant will square them. Thirdly, his Scorpio Mercury is in the process of opposing them all. These conditions show these Taurus planets to be important and personal. Imagine how many things, people, and situations in his life were described as elevated by virtue of these planets being elevated. Ultimately, these planets and their relationship in the chart show his extreme fame, his wealth, and the fact that he produced so much stuff. And I wonder if these planets in earth with their connection to personal planets was the correspondent of his being called a genius of form, since Taurus rules substance and also of his being melancholy, since this is a quality associated with of earth signs.
Picasso’s Sun and Mercury are in intensely emotional Scorpio in the low psychological part of the chart. So, any descriptions of him as emotional or psychologically distressed make sense. Scorpio is known for its profundity and its awareness of other worldly things and we’ll see these qualities in him shortly. Both Scorpio and the 4th house are associated with death. Picasso was still born until his uncle revived him by blowing cigar smoke into his nostrils. And his painting is said to have been motivated by fear of death. Another interesting death story is the vow he took not to paint if God would allow his sick sister to live. Finally, Picasso’s tendency to work at night could be associated with the nighttime position of these planets and his magnetism by their sign.
Like Steven King Picasso has Mars in Cancer. Picasso’s is in the 12th house. Mars is energy and trouble. Cancer is home and feelings. The 12th house is the house of mystery and one of the three psychological houses in the chart. Mars in Cancer in the 12th can be energetic, emotional, and mystical. Or it can be inner terror. Mailer says that Picasso dominated his inner terror and used it in his work. Max Jacob, his friend, says that Picasso believed in a dark force reining over the universe. Mailer suggests that he may have thought himself to have magical powers due to his ability to remember images. And he cites a friend saying that his art was operative magic. Pursuing a magical theme, Picasso understood the magical function of African Art. He cites African masks as items that ward off unknown threatening spirits. He seemed to think that his work could do the same thing and said that giving a spirit a form, makes us independent. On a higher 12th house note, he felt that he was “possessed” while painting; that something was working with him and that he was touched by God. He felt that God shares the “language of form” with some painters and that art brings us closer to God’s secrets. Please note the similarity between Mars in Cancer in the 12th and the Sun and Mercury in Mar’s sign Scorpio in the 4th ,the Cancer house. We can assign similar qualities to both places. This theme probably confirms these qualities in him.
If we think about his Leo Ascendant, we know that it represents creativity, entertainment, egotism, and willfulness. You won’t find these qualities lacking in Picasso. He is described as “funny, entertaining, and the life of the party”. He was raised by adoring women and treated like a king, later he would be defined as a bohemian. We can develop the Leo theme by noting his Sagittarius Moon in the 5th, Leo house near potent Antares and squaring original and rebellious Uranus. Noting extremes in entertainment, there was a bit of opium early on in his relationship with his first serious love, Fernande. This moves us into his developing square of Venus and Mars. He started at brothels at 14 or 15 and had seven major loves in his life. This Venus in Libra squaring Mars in Cancer shows his assaulting art, his tumultuous loves, his aesthetics, and his venereal disease.
Before looking at the stellar correspondents of some major periods in his art, let’s visit the fixed stars. Can we agree that fixed stars show points of energy available for use? Let’s see what he had at his disposal. His Jupiter was near Algol and his Pluto near the Pleides. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, was very near his Mars, which is ruler of his Midheaven. Praesepe was on his Ascendant and the royal star, Antares, on his Moon. I’d say he was energized.
Here are a few final notes of interest concerning the timing of his style periods. Within his blue period from 1902 to 1904, transiting Saturn was in Aquarius squaring his natal Sun and natal Saturn, which oppose, in 1903. It would be synonomous to call this the Saturn period, the blue period, or the depressed period. Incidentally right before this period, his friend, Casagemac, killed himself. Within his pink period, from 1904 to 1906, Jupiter is passing through his Taurus planets in the first half of 1905. During the cubism period from 1909 to 1914, Neptune is in the sign of his natal Mars and early in the period, close to it. And from May 1910 until July 1912, Saturn passes through his Taurus planets. Finally in 1937, the year of Guernica, Neptune is on his Uranus and Uranus is on his Neptune, which sounds like a wild imaginative ride. And more appropriate for the martial topic of the piece, Mars in 1937 spends nine months in Scorpio or Sagittarius, the signs of Picasso’s Sun and Moon.
Picasso by Norman Mailer – Atlantic Monthly Press, 1995