Playing Cosmic Detective

A couple of days back I was watching an episode in which face a challenger takes on Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. I was familiar with her presence on cooking shows, having often seen her as a judge on “Beat Bobby Flay”. As I watched this episode in which she speaks directly to camera, stakes her position with ardor, and communicates her will to to preserve her reputation as an Iron Chef, I was once again struck by her fierce competitiveness, her fearless talk, and the need to win written large on her face.

I began thinking of what factors in her horoscope correlated with these qualities. The first thing that came to mind was Aries, Did she have Sun or Moon in Aries? If not, did Sun or Moon aspect Mars, as the ruler and proxy for Aries? And, most important of all, she had built a career on cooking, so I figured Cancer must be prominent. I wanted to find out, there and then. So I looked up her birth date: June 20, 1972. (Wikipedia lists her birth date as June 20, 1969, but most other sources list 1972 for the birth year. So I am going with June 20, 1972.) I cracked open the ephemeris to that date. This is what I saw:

Mars is at 24 Can 30. And it is front and center, aspecting several planets.

First, a square aspect to the Moon at 13 Lib 44. I don’t know her birth time, and without an exact birth time (at least to within a couple of hour), determining the Moon’s position accurately is tricky. With Moon at 13 Lib 44, the aspect orb is around 11 degrees, but if the Moon had moved further along for the time of her birth, the aspect would be even tighter. So right away we have the key ingredients: Mars in Cancer, in a challenging aspect to the Moon: the combative chef who won’t back down.

Next, a conjunction of Mars to Mercury. Where Mars goes, so does Mercury and vice-versa. For one thing, Mercury’s presence in Cancer makes the Cancer significations even stronger (she thinks about food and cooking a lot, obviously), and for another, Mars sharpens this Mercury – you only have to see her in action as a judge in cooking shows to see how cutting she can be. On the flip side of the conjunction, Mercury brings dexterity to the Mars – all that super fast, superfine chopping and slicing!

In the “challenge the Iron Chef” show, the judges remarked on how fast Alex is in the kitchen. This speed relates to the third aspect of Mars, the square to Uranus in Libra. Mars-Uranus aspects can make the individual explosively fast, but also prone to accidents. (Don’t miss the fact that the Moon in Libra is conjunct Uranus, so this Uranus is joining Mars in doing a number on the Moon.) Alex lost to the challenger, and here’s how. She raced over to the ice-cream maker, grabbed the bowl that held the sorbet she had made, whipped around and as she scrambled to her station dropped all of the sorbet on the floor.

Well before I got interested in some of the cooking shows that are now all over TV, I was enamored of Anthony Bourdain’s food travel shows. To me he is the original, a pioneer in bringing awareness to how cultures around the world cook and eat. The thing that fascinated me really was the travel part, and it wasn’t just that he went to places searching for local, exotic, even dangerous food in a way that no one had before.

With all that traveling and learning (you could tell he was deeply invested in learning as much as he could about every new dish and every new culture he came across), there’s got to be a strong Sagittarian element in his horoscope, I thought. And of course, Cancer: he built his showy career on the back of having been a line cook and a chef. Sun/Moon connected to Sagittarius/Cancer? Either placed in these signs, or an aspect that involves Jupiter as ruler of Sagittarius (Moon rules Cancer, so there’s no new factor). One another thing: Bourdain was pretty blunt in his takedown on everything he considered to be pretentious in the restaurant business. He was not afraid to tell the truth come what may; his straight-up honesty in telling it like it is was a big reason for the success of his breakout bestseller “Kitchen Confidential”. This made me even more certain that Sagittarius was prominent.

So what do we find. His birth date is June 25, 1956. Here’s the ephemeris for that date:

The Sun is in Cancer. Ok, chef! But the Moon is in Capricorn (could be in Aquarius if he was born late in the day.) There’s no Sagittarius anywhere to be found. (The last column is for the North Node position, and can be ignored since it is not a planet.) Neither is there any aspect to Jupiter, the ruler of Sagittarius. And here I was dead certain that there is a prominent Sagittarius or Jupiter presence. We need to dig deeper.

As luck would have it, Bourdain’s time of birth is known (accurately, A-rated at Astrodatabank), so we can draw up his natal chart:

You can see the Cancer Sun in the 11th house, and the Capricorn Moon in the 6th house. So where do we get the travel stuff? If Sagittarius is not prominent, and neither is Jupiter, we look at the 9th house for travel. That house has no occupants. So then we look at the the ruler of the 9th house. Pisces is at the cusp, it’s ruler is Neptune. What we have done so far is to follow the bouncing ball, and establish that Neptune is the stand-in for travel.

So what’s with this Neptune? First off, it is in the 3rd house, very close to the IC. A planet, especially an outer planet, that is very close to an angle is of tremendous importance in the personality. This Neptune will make it’s presence felt, and it did in two related ways: as ruler of the 9th house, it pushed Bourdain to travel. And being in the 3rd house of communication, it pushed Bourdain to communicate and promote his travels, via television, which is ruled by Neptune (imagery!). At this point we can stop because of the absolute vindication offered by this astrological setup.

But, there’s more:

The all-important Moon is square Neptune, with a very tight orb–less than a degree. What this means is that Neptune has a direct channel into Bourdain’s emotional needs; he simply must bring Neptune into play every day to feel complete. Not to miss that the Moon is in the 6th house of employment: he was getting paid to travel and talk about food and culture. That was his job. Long story short, this is the Moon connection to the travel/promotion aspect. Along with the Sun in Cancer, it made Bourdain’s career and lifestyle.

My third and last anecdote in playing the cosmic detective has to do with the actor Kevin Costner. Recently, I found myself watching several of his movies in a short period of time, including “Draft Day”, and “McFarland, USA”. Both movies have to do with sport, about NFL and cross-country running (based on a true story), respectively. And of course, I began to wonder. Does Costner have a strong dose of Sagittarius in him? What’s with all the sporty, outdoorsy roles? Add to this his role in “Bill Durham” (baseball). If we think of the great big spaces that Sagittarius is so fond of, we also get to his role as a cowboy in the TV show “Woodstock”, and of course, the sweeping best picture winning “Dances with Wolves”. Costner’s birth date is January 18, 1955. Here’s the ephemeris:

There it is: Venus in Sagittarius. He loves being outdoors, it simply makes him feel good! I don’t know if he goes after these roles, or they just somehow come to him. One way or the other, the connection is undeniable. And this one I missed in my first list: turns out he also played a drifter in “The Postman”. (As an aside, the actor Jon Hamm who starred in “The Million Dollar Arm” – based on a true story in baseball – has Mars and Jupiter in Sagittarius.)

I have always enjoyed playing cosmic detective with astrology, starting with a speculation relating the life to the horoscope, and chasing clues to “solve” the mystery. (One of my earliest posts, Astrological Take on a Podcast, was on just this kind of detective work.) It’s fun, and it also helps me see all the different ways in which people live the qualities of signs, planets, and houses. Sometimes it’s such an obvious correspondence between the life and the horoscope (e.g. Costner), other times there is a kind of chain reaction (e.g. Bourdain), and often it’s somewhere in between (e.g. Guarnaschelli). Wherever it may be in this spectrum, it never fails to teach.

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