Steve Jobs’s Vision Quest

In 1974, at the age of 19, Steve Jobs traveled to India ostensibly to find a renowned yogi, Neem Karoli Baba, who might guide him toward enlightenment. In an eventful life studded with much accomplishment in the tech world, this India chapter was an odd departure, incongruent with all that was to come. It has always been on my mind to get to the bottom of this adventure through astrology, in a bid to unearth what exactly drove him to make this trip, and in fact, whether he was even fully aware of the reasons.

A search for enlightenment is tricky business. It’s a quest for some kind of vision, a special something that will set you free. But how do you know you are there? Often, what appears to be a vision quest, a foray into the vast expanse in a bid to seek that special feeling of liberation is really a search for something else, a longing for a way of being that makes you feel whole, perhaps even a quest for identity that makes you feel purposeful. Vision, enlightenment, redemption, illusion all fall squarely in the Neptunian realm. In the world of Neptune, something is other than it seems, there’s magic and fantasy and a turning away from the so-called real world.

So we must look at what Neptune was doing in Jobs’ transit chart in the year 1974. I couldn’t find any account of exactly when in 1974 Jobs was in India; the best I came across was that he departed in early 1974. The transit chart I show below is set for April 1, 1974. Since we are looking at Neptune, which is not exactly zipping through the zodiac, the effects of its transit on a planet or angle will last several months before and after a precise hit. So April 1 as a stand-in for early 1974 will serve as a nominal focal point for a few months before (when the idea of going to India came to mind, followed by the mental and emotional preparation for the journey to a strange land), during (the lived experience), and after (the effect, the replaying, the questioning of what was gained or lost).

Transiting Neptune is square natal Sun. The Sun is the identity. It is also the father figure. Steve Jobs had been given up for adoption immediately after birth by his biological parents who had him out of wedlock when they were graduate students, and couldn’t support him. This would have had a deep impact on Jobs when he was growing up. Why was he given up? Was he not worthy of love and support from his biological parents? Who was his father? It becomes clear that Jobs’ journey to India was a quest for identity, and the yogi Neem Karoli Baba who he was pursuing was a father figure whom he had mythologized into a savior.

The transit chart shows that Neptune has passed the exact square to the Sun, which would have happened when Neptune was round 5-6 degrees of Sagittarius. Let’s take a look at the monthly ephemeris for 1974 to get a look at Neptune’s transiting arc for that year:

From February to August, Neptune is on a retrograde path backing up from 9 degrees of Sagittarius all the way to 6 degrees. In August-September, it comes to a halt and then starts going forward. Around this time it is also very closely square to Sun. So whatever Jobs’ crisis of identity, he has arrived at some kind of turning point and is about to put it behind him. This doesn’t mean he has found closure or resolved the issue, only that he will be moving on, one way another.

It is also instructive to look at when Neptune made an exact hit to the Sun, which would have been sometime in 1973:

The natal Sun is between 5 and 6 degrees of Pisces. We see here that transiting Neptune makes an exact square to the Sun from Sagittarius around May-June 1973 when it is in retrograde motion, and again around October-November when it is in direct motion.

Since Neptune is already at 6 degrees of Sagittarius on Jan 1, 1973, it would have had to made an exact square to the Sun between 5 and 6 degrees of Pisces in 1972:

That exact hit happened in December of 1972.

Astrologically, that is the start of an almost 2-year period when Neptune was influencing the Sun through a square aspect. During this time, Jobs would have felt uneasy and confused about his identity, not quite able to verbalize his longing for a father figure, and eventually embarking on the India journey.

This Neptunian sense of being lost or abandoned could have played out in several ways, including lifelong passivity, alcohol or substance abuse, a quest for spirituality, etc. But in Jobs life it manifested as vision tied to practical action. And the telltale sign of this in the natal horoscope is the opposition of Mars to Neptune:

The opposition is an aspect that demands acknowledgment. The strong visionary and creative energies of Neptune simply had to be acted upon via the Mars energy and drive. With an orb of just over 1 degree, this is an extremely close aspect, and was primed to deliver full blast. Jobs was famous was creating what Apple employees termed a “reality distortion field” in which they would get sucked in and do his bidding, no matter how out there it seemed. I can’t think of a better characterization of the Neptune effect of illusion and magic.