Shortly after Janis’s death, Bill Graham sarcastically said, “I’m sure that somebody has thrown the I Ching or somebody is turning over the pages of some book and reading the charts and looking through the stars and saying, ‘I knew it, I knew it.'”
Well, Bill Graham was right. The following material is presented as interpreted from Janis Joplin’s astrology chart, with the help of astrologer Dan Wexler.
Janis was born in the sign of Capricorn on January 19, 1943 at 9:45A.M. in Port Arthur, Texas.
The 12th House is the most hidden, behind-the-scenes part of the whole horoscope, the most difficult place to express anything openly. Janis had three planets in the 12th House.
The Sun – the ego, the self, all her power – is locked up in the 12th House. So her ego drive, what she wants to do with her whole life, had to be done in behind-the-scenes ways. She generally prefers quiet and seclusion. (“We could never get her to sit down with us at a table. She used to hide on the stairway with a friend and sit there and sip champagne.”)
Her Mercury, the planet of the mind, of self-expression, is locked up in the 12th House. Thus, she can easily analyze other people’s problems, but not her own.
Venus, her romantic nature – locked up in the 12th House. This means her love affairs will be behind-the-scenes. She will be secretive.
Beyond this natural tendency to secrecy, the association of Sun in Capricorn with Aquarius rising allows the Saturnine tendencies of withdrawal and introspection to prevail.
Being a Capricorn with her Moon in Cancer – Capricorn doesn’t show feelings, Cancer does – her exterior will conceal what is happening inside her. Also contributing here is Venus in Aquarius, which helps refine the emotions to a more idealistic scale. Thus, even if personally unhappy, she would tend to conceal it in order to keep up appearances. (“I’m entertaining in front of an audience and I have to care how I look, regardless of how I really feel.”)
By using her Cancer sensitivity for practical Capricorn affairs, she had a great appeal to her audiences.
Capricorns are one of the most hard-working types of all twelve signs of the Zodiac. Most people born under the sign are very ambitious. They have a talent for self-discipline, and go about attaining their aims with amazing perseverance. They are capable of acquiring many possessions and considerable sums of money by sheer hard work. Nothing will divert them once they have set goals for themselves.
Pluto (an obsessinal, intense planet) in the sign of Leo (in the House of Work) in Janis’s chart results in an obsession to work, or fanaticism about work.
There is also a vital need for power. Looking at her chart, she used work to get ahead, and what she worked at and the way she went about attaining power worked very well for her career. She shows a definite use of imagination in her ambitions.
Mercury in conjunction with Venus rising in the 12th House establishes strong leanings to the artistic, which could become creative activity. She had a natural appreciation of art and music and could combine the principles of science and art in a very imaginative way for the benefit of the whole race. Somebody who has Neptune and Uranus working together for him can make extraordinary accomplishments.
Capricorns often have an inexhaustible supply of energy. Janis’s tremendous physical energy was from having the planet Mars (drive) in the sign of Sagittarius – a sign of sports and exercise. Mars would make it necessary for her to express her energy physically. (She never seemed to sleep,” her father recalled. “Always in motion, people always around her. It was never dull around her, even when she was a kid.”)
This combination of planets also gives philosophical energy. It makes it very important to philosophize, to be aggressive about abstract thought – thought for its own sake. Much of this energy could have been funneled through her career as she used all her intuition, imagination, and secretiveness to get there.
It was important for her to avoid overwork and anything which produced nervous tension, for her health’s sake. There was a tendency, Mercury being in opposition to Pluto, for her to over-tax her strength through excessive zeal, enthusiasm, and restlessness. She was so intense, that her intensity could burn her up, wear her out. Racing at full speed all the time, she couldn’t stop to consider what she was doing.
Mercury in Aquarius means she has the most idealistic mental attitude possible – innate discrimination and refinement. Her basic emotion is extremely idealistic, but it is Aquarian clear at the same time.
With Venus in Aquarius, she had very idealistic concepts about love. She put her loved one on a pedestal and usually ended up giving more than she got. (“You don’t know what it’s like/To love somebody the way that I love you.” – “To Love Somebody”)
Sun trine Uranus makes her attractive to males on the intellectual level – the pal type – and in these relationships, friendship is more important than love. (We used to get drunk and play pool together. She beat me 80 percent of the time.” – “Pigpen” of the Grateful Dead)
Someone who is this idealistic has to be on guard to overcome depression if the ideal doesn’t correspond to reality. Some Capricorns, especially if they feel that they have been unjustly treated, are subject to moodiness. They will start to brood and feel slighted. Some can become quite obsessed with this idea, and be very hateful and vengeful. With Saturn in Gemini, as in Janis’s case, she could think herself into a gloom. (“Before getting into this music, I used to have super-horrible downs.”)
They may take to drink, and Capricorns are generally warned to avoid alcohol in any form. With Mars and the Moon both square Neptune, drugs and alcohol would be dangerous because she is capable of being possessed, vulnerable to psychic invasions. She could get stoned and the aggressiveness, the ambition could be dissolved, with the energy going out after sensations.
Saturn – a planet of discipline, in conjunction with Uranus – a planet of revolutionary originality, together in the 4th House (the home) create a rebellious spirit, strongly centered in the will to be free, a battle between the world as it is and the way she thought it should be.
Because of her strong sense of responsibility, she might behave conservatively for a long time, applying self-discipline, and then suddenly blow everything conservatively acquired to bits. If she could combine originality with discipline, self-will with control, she could produce brilliant results.
With a Grand Trine in mental signs, she was very intelligent and had wonderful mental facilities, but feelings of inferiority kept her from utilizing them. She had an excellent mind and was capable of great achievement with it, but had to apply self-discipline. (“I wasn’t really surprised at her success,” her father told. “Like with her art, she generally managed to do well at whatever she tried. But when she would start to be really good at something, she would quit. I really expected her to quit music.”)
Mercury trine Saturn would have given her a practical, disciplined, responsible nature, able to organize and plan systematically. It also gives great concentrative power and the ability to control things by logical analysis.
With her Mercury in 12, her intellect would tend to be hidden, concealed. (“I read a lot, but don’t tell anybody.”)
There is a part of her that wants to stick close to the past and at the same time rebels against it. Her childhood environment wasn’t a help at all to her career. Had she stayed at home she never would have gone anywhere, and it was a very good move for her to split. But there is a fear about leaving since her planet of fear (Saturn) wants her to stay home, and Uranus, the planet of originality, wants her to leave.
Saturn and Uranus in Gemini create a conflict between her fear of being tied down and the fear of not having a home.
Jupiter in Cancer would cause her to seek opportunities that promote security; she likes luxury and doesn’t like gambles that would jeopardize security. Placing extreme value on security, she wanted everyone else to have the same comfort, and had a great desire to share the money she earned with her loved ones.
People born under the sign of Capricorn are often very conservative and this is often expressed in their homes. (“We were rapping about what she wanted from life,” Sam Gordon – who ran Janis’s publishing firm – said. “I said I wished I was on the road again instead of in the comfortable suburban life I’ve been living for a while now. She said, ‘Oh, I’ll take that.’ I asked if that was really what she wanted and she said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I really want.’ “)
Capricorn employers have no patience with laziness, and can be harsh and driving. Mars is in the career house and near the friendship house which would make her aggressive about friendships; her critical nature would exaggerate the shortcomings and failures of others. (“Man, I got out there and tried, and those guys aren’t even trying.”)
With Mercury (intellect) in the 12th House, she would not be understood by those in her environment and probably had conflicts with brothers and sisters – in fact, with all relatives – who were on different wavelengths. (“I was just ‘silly, crazy Janis.’ “)
The Sun and Venus in the 12th House, she would be more or less, eccentric, not attaching large importance to the customary moral standards. (“I’m doing just what I want with my life, enjoying it.”)
Her chart contains a Grand Trime in Air Signs, which means that periodically she would be very lucky and have fantastic success in artistic endeavors.
It also makes her a practical dreamer, with every possible help to bring ideas into concrete expression. They don’t have to remain vague imaginings.
Neptune is dominant in her chart, giving her the potential to be extremely psychic, wildly intuitive. It is meant for a spiritual approach, and until someone like this realizes that she is spiritually oriented, they will try to satisfy it through sex, drugs, liquor, lying, poetry – anything. In personal matters there is confusion in life until a spiritual approach is adopted. (“Every day I keep tryin’ to move forward/But somethin’ is driving me away/Something’s tryin’ to hold onto me/Don’t you forget me, Lord, no, no, no, no.” – “Work Me, Lord”)
We know that she was optimistic and idealistic and a really nice person. But she had a strong Pluto influence. She could come on with really gutty talk, but that was just a way of coming on because she was so terribly sensitive inside. Pluto perverts; it could transform Venus into something it never was. (Her father knew what she was really like: “She was trusting and lonely and put on all the hell-raising to cover up. Yes, she was a wild woman and a willful child. She cursed and carried on. That was her act….”)
Capricorns, especially with the Sun in the 12th House, are quite charitable, but never publicize or boast of their good deeds. They like to help people in a quiet way, and can be of great help to those in distress. (Shortly after her death, Janis’s father received a phone call from a girl in Lake Charles, Louisiana. “She had run away to Los Angeles to be an actress and was working as a waitress there when she met Janis in a restaurant and waited on her. They got to talking and Janis told her to get back home. Janis took her to the bus station, bought her a ticket, and put her on a bus for Lake Charles. She called up to say how much she appreciated that. Now she’s married and has a child and she said she would have gone wrong if she had stayed in L.A….That’s a side of Janis no one saw. She would only do that if no one was around that she knew, if none of her friends were around. She didn’t want to reveal her true feelings.” Similarly, completely without fanfare, she helped see to it that a proper marker was put up on Bessie Smith’s grave.”)
Because Mercury is in a different aspect with the Moon, there is some confusion – her mind and emotions don’t work together. When she’s being emotional she won’t understand reason and vice versa; she can’t get them working together. (“When I’m singing I’m not thinking. I’m just closing my eyes and feeling, feeling good.”)
Starting in 1968, she has Uranus (a planet of change) come by and hit Neptune. Those two forces which were already combined as a birth chart potential are now activated as innovators of energy. From November ’68 to August ’69 was a period from which she could have emerged with some fantastic accomplishments in her work, some highly original things. It was a time when she could combine originality and inspiration in unique ways. This could have been in one way, one of the most significant periods of her life.
During this period, with all this creative potential, Saturn came over (the planet of discipline) and hit her Mercury (intellect) in the 12th House, so she was worried about something. Since Mercury rules the 5th House, she was probably worried about love and romance in April 1970. In May she breaks up with somebody when Saturn hits Venus (in Aquarius). So while all that creativity is happening, there’s something she’s worried about. She had a deep disappointment, a definite secret sorrow in May, probably something emotional. Or else there were disciplines that had to be dealt with regarding the love or the loved one becoming a responsibility. There was definitely sorrow for two or three weeks.
Before she died (with transiting Uranus squaring her Moon) she was in a period – for six, seven, eight months or so – of running wild, an urge to express her individuality in some unique new way. If she could combine that urge with creativity, she could have come up with terrific accomplishments in that period before she died.
This running wild aspect was still in effect at the time of her death. With her Moon in conjunction with Jupiter in Cancer, she tended to be over-indulgent and over-optimistic. Mars in Sagittarius gave her a tendency to be slapdash, ignoring details. Probably at the time of her death she was feeling so good that she just took too much.
No, it was not in the stars for her to die when she did – she was feeling great, highly optimistic. But Uranus in the 4th House indicates the possibility of sudden death as well as strange experiences in her domestic environment at the end of her life – Janis had a steady boyfriend for the first time, someone whom she really loved and wanted to be with, someone she was going to marry. For her to talk about marriage was certainly sudden and strange for her character, usually concerned only about her concerts and her audiences.
Her Sun in the 12th House indicates an ability for self-undoing; and Saturn in the 4th House implies restricted, lonely circumstances at the end of her life. What more lonely way to die than alone in a motel room in Los Angeles, feeling great and being that careless, blowing the whole thing, all alone, quietly, before she was ready….
This section was taken from, “Janis Joplin: Her Life And Times” by Deborah Landau.