Bi-Polar Part 2

Bi-Polar Part 2

Barbara Noble

If a man comes to the door of poetry untouched by the madness of the Muses, believing that technique alone will make him a good poet, he and his sane compositions never reach perfection, but are utterly eclipsed by the performances of the inspired madman. ~ PLATO (428/427 BC - 348/347BC)

he link between eminently creative individuals and manic depression, or bipolar disorder, has been acknowledged for millennia.

To try and fathom whether someone has been touched by "madness of the Muses" leads us to considerations of Venus, the planet representing "daughters", and its phases.

The natal charts of many people involved in the creative arts show Venus in an oriental arc to the Sun in diurnal motion (rising before the Sun on a given day, behind the Sun in zodiacal longitude), which reflects a desire to bring form out of the arms of chaos. To bring form out of chaos also involves a descent into chaos.

As a morning star (oriental, Aphrodite Pandemos - of the people) Venus was said to help men.
As an evening star (occidental, Aphrodite Ourania - heavenly or celestial) Venus was said to help women.

Venus on the ascendant by night will make men of divine intelligence... If Mercury is in aspect to Venus or in conjunction with her, the natives will be musicians, widely acclaimed. Venus on the ascendant by day makes the natives... embroiderers, or artists in paints... ~ Firmucus Maternus (280-360 AD)

Considerations involve the time when someone's born (day or night). Phase, whether retrograde or direct, position relative to Sun and Moon, domicile, rulership and to elucidate the qualities carried forward by the "Muse", Venus' aspectual relationships involving lineage, eg. Venus relationship in a chart to Zeus (Jupiter and its traditional rulership of Sagittarius and Pisces) with Mnemosyne (Memory: Moon) along with the condition of Mercury.

Venus is intimately involved in Nature's estrous cycle, and at the physical level plays a primary role in hormonal balances and imbalances which affect mood swings, including the extremes of manic depression (bipolar), thereby affecting our senses, sensitivities and social sensibilities, our internal and external aesthetics, harmony, balance.

To briefly re-cap considerations outlined in Part 1 when considering an individual's chart in light of manic-depression (bi-polar):
  1. Consideration of the quality and nature of planetary placements at or within orb of the 25 degree point of Mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) in the Tropical Zodiac, or 29-30 degrees of the fixed signs in sidereal;
  2. The solstitial & equinoctial changes of pace especially with regard to placements in Libra, Scorpio - the fast track, "burning way" which can confer a 'super charged' energy with currents running fast.
  3. The wax and wane, ascent (ups) and descent (downs) of the lunar cycle;
  4. Angular placements, squares & oppositions which provide 'poles' to swing between;
  5. Mercury-Moon - the breath of the soul, intelligence and memory, 'genius' (Jupiter aspecting Mercury increases intelligence, qualities further gleaned via position, domicile and sign)
  6. Mars-Venus, the fight/flight mechanism, passion and pain.
Following is the natal chart of a person who was medically diagnosed bi-polar when hospitalized. Personal data is not included for privacy reasons.
Transits shown in the outer circle are for the time of first hospitalization. Please note, the following chart is in sidereal.


With a quick glance at this nativity we see:

1. Moon is the prime luminary (nocturnal chart), angular in 4th conjunct Venus retrograde (rx) which is just several days shy of stationing direct.

The angularity of these two increases their significance and prominence in the chart.

Venus is oriental to the Sun, retrograde, which means it is in its closest passage to earth and appears on a limb of the Moon indicating attachments to preconceived notions of perfection, to making things 'perfect'.

If Venus is retrograde in a masculine chart it indicates a man in touch with his anima, in a feminine chart a woman in touch with her animus, also a certain autonomy, self sufficiency. Venus rx also indicates that there's a hidden dimension going on with the individual, in this chart a sense of somehow being different and swimming against the conventional streams. This Venus rx both disposits (is ruler of) and squares Jupiter rx, the retrogradation of Jupiter bringing forward its qualities as traditional ruler of Pisces, up front in the 1st on the 'fast track' in the 'burning way' - Libra.

The square between Jupiter rx and Venus rx here is indicative of underestimating and/or undervaluing personal feelings and needs, becoming overwhelmed and subjugating them in favour of duty, responsibility, particularly duties as relates to family.

Faith and confidence in own abilities, strength of character, high intelligence and a dominant will are all indicated (Jupiter rx trines Sun and Mercury - intellect - under the sunbeams is brought into this mix). Also indicated is the potential of biting off more than one can chew, overburdening self with responsibilities to the point it becomes draining and emotionally overwhelming. The willingness to take on responsibilities can be a way of seeking validation of self-esteem, but it can also be a fast-track to burn out.

Note, Jupiter rx has collected a trine from an assertive and driven Mars and positively projects this towards the natal Sun increasing vital forces, core physical strength. However, the Moon which is the source of natural power is diminishing, on the wane to new, and at an angle where it receives a square from Jupiter rx is under pressure, exposed, and is suggestive of an underlying illness that's chronic.

2. Saturn (which is circled in the chart) rules and disposits the 4th and 5th house placements and is brought forward for illumination being conjunct one of the afore-mentioned points for consideration in manic depression (a 'crisis' point, and as this radiates from a solstitial point it's position is a prominent one), ie. conjoining 29-30 degrees fixed sign Scorpio in sidereal in the 3rd house

Saturn at this point is indicative of the native carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.

From here is where matters come to a head.

Let's also take a quick look at the collection and translation of light in this chart.

  • Jupiter rx collects the energy of Mars, raises it up and turns it inward and directs it down first to Venus rx-Moon.
  • This Mars in 3rd is reflective of 'brothers in arms' (Scorpio on 3rd - 'sisters'), the beat of the drums that quickens the pulse, running on nerves & adrenaline, military/martial strategy, a military-like precision, active communication etc.
  • Mars is also the planet closely connected with rage/anger, is a line of defense and is involved in the strength/weakness of the immune system.
Rage/anger turned inwards becomes corrosive over time and without a constructive outlet can result in depression.
  • The first port of call that this martial energy is conveyed to by retrograde Jupiter is Venus retrograde, which internalizes this dynamic further right down to the roots (feels it at the foundations).
  • Being oriental, bright and on its closest pass to earth in final days before stationing direct, Venus in this phase is no shrinking violet.
  • This is Venus in the final stages of the first part of its oriental phase which is when it first appears in the eastern sky (heliacal rising) as a Morning Star, the light bringer Phosphoros, and the Babylonian war goddess whose passion can spill over into ferocity.
  • Venus' heliacal rising was said to have the power to strike down those in high places.
  • It becomes a "masculine" deity or influence in its retrograde phase.
Heliacal rising occurs about 6-7 days after inferior conjunction during which Venus is always seen to be retrograde and is when Venus is about 8-10 degrees behind the Sun in zodiacal longitude (rising before the Sun in diurnal motion). Venus stations direct when 30 degrees behind the Sun and advances towards its greatest western elongation about 45-48 (47.8 ) degrees behind the Sun which occurs about one month after the degree at which it reached inferior conjunction.

The imagery around Venus heliacal rise was grisly and violent. It was said she rose up from the underworld still sticky with the blood and bones of the dead after her 40 day journey in the arms of the Sun. Mesoamericans set armies marching in synchrony with Venus' rise from the underworld.

The name Aphrodite (Venus) was connected to (aphros) "foam", interpreting it as "risen from the foam" and has reflexes in Messapic and Etruscan (from where we get April). The month from inferior conjunction to greatest elongation also had associations with purification.

Inherent within the cyclic pattern of Venus is the five pointed Star of Man. To be born in either of the stations - retrograde or direct - signifies a powerful connection with interior mechanism of the Golden Section.* The oriental phase relates to the solar paradigm - 'will' - being made manifest upon earth. The natures of such individuals seek to create order out of chaos, eg. make manifest the metaphysical through the physical. It also confers a dimension of the Taurean solar paradigm of physical sensuality.

* Golden Section (Golden Ratio; phi) = the division of a line into extreme and mean ratio. Phi, not to be confused with pi.

A straight line is said to have been cut in extreme and mean ratio when, as the whole line is to the greater segment, so is the greater to the less. (Book VI)

... as one of the antecedents is to one of the consequents, so will all the antecedents be to all the consequents. (Proposition 12) ~ Euclid's Elements (3rd or 4th century BCE)

One way of looking at this:

As an inferior planet Venus always lies within about 47 degrees of the Sun. Orb 1.5 degrees.
47 + 1.5 (orb) = 48.5 degrees elongation (line of measure)

30 degrees ("extreme" = a: inferior conjunction to direct station) + 18.5 degrees ("mean" = b: direct station to maximum elongation incl. orb) = 48.5 / 30 = 1.616 (close to phi)

If we take a measure from maximum elongation on one side of Sun (eg. occidental) and add the number of degrees to direct station on other side of Sun (eg. oriental), ie. (a) 48.5 + (b) 30 = 78.5/48.5 = 1.618 (phi) ... the larger totality of the journey from "below" to "above" gives a closer proximity to perfection.

In the chart presented, Venus being in its final couple of days before stationing direct ('caught in the middle'), combined with and ruling Jupiter rx - a combination indicative of alternative spiritual values - could also be said to describe a "spiritual warrior".

The call of Mars diffused through Jupiter rx agitates Venus rx via the square, permeating its boundaries which is also suggestive of being left emotionally vulnerable, heightened emotional states, feeling exposed. The power of these dynamics would suggest the need for grounding along with disciplined practices or it can leave one off balance.

This martial energy that's uplifted and redirected by Jupiter rx is readily managed creatively and constructively by the Sun (trine) before being directed and translated on to Saturn, which at the cusp is not on particularly stable ground, suggestive of a weakened nervous system over time.

Jupiter rx collects all this and propels it upwards, towards fixed star Spica, of the constellation Virgo, a daughter of Zeus, and into Mercury's terrain, out via physical exertion (Sun) and the breath (Mercury).

From an alternative spiritual perspective can we see how this potentially tips into the concept of Kundalini rising? Starting with the base, eg. Saturn ruling the foundations (IC/4th) to the head/crown (1st/Ascendant). And with Saturn in the 3rd the importance of breathing techniques. Spiritual disciplines.
Note, where Spica is illuminated (here rising at the Ascendant) it's worth considering this ancient constellation's association with Barley - the grain used to sustain and fortify Gladiators - which also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, contains all the B vits, iron and essential amino acids.

On a different health note, the Jupiter rx - Venus rx square draws attention to blood sugar levels (the internal 'fermentation' process) and hormones which are produced from cholesterol and processed by kidneys and liver.

When X marks the spot

Research is ongoing into an X-linked gene being a possible candidate for manic depression (bi-polar). When an X-linked gene is said to express dominant inheritance:

1. The trait is never passed from father to son.

2. All daughters of an affected man and a normal woman are affected. All sons of an affected man and a normal woman are normal.

3. Children birthed between affected women and normal men produce 1/2 the sons affected and 1/2 the daughters affected.

Note that the affected father - who would have inherited it from his mother - never passes the trait to his sons but passes it to all of his daughters. On the other hand, an affected female passes the disease to half of her daughters and half of her sons.

While the person who's chart is presented reported no known family history involving manic-depression, the Saturn placement suggests that there may have been a predisposition towards it in their lineage.

For example, in traditional context the house of the 4th is that of fathers which in this instance is governed by Saturn. In a nocturnal chart, which this is, Saturn is also representative of the father and being disposited by Jupiter rx - if manic depression is linked genetically to X-chromosomal inheritance - then following this traditional line it may trace back to this person's paternal grandmother.

But, with Moon exposed at an angle square Jupiter rx, indicative of a chronic underlying health condition, careful consideration would also need to be given to the mother's history and any possible hysteria or histrionics, issues involving the womb (eg. post partum depression) and sense of containment. The Moon at this angle on the wane is also indicative of an 'older' mother.

Hints of a predisposition towards manic depression (bi-polar) in the family can include things such as self-medicating behaviour, alcoholism, smoking, post natal depression etc.

A gene called MAOB which occurs on the X-chromosome is under study for its role in stress and manic depression (bi-polar). Preliminary research has indicated it has some correlation with manic depression and increased reactivity to stress when it's underactive. MOAB helps regulate dopamine. Smoking can reduce levels of MAOB by up to 40% and increases adrenaline, as do other stimulants such as caffeine.

Environmental factors also play a significant role. For example, many people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) later develop bipolar disorder. Repetitive traumas suffered throw the body into a constant state of stress and research shows that stress can induce the hippocampus to remodel itself and shrink. Hormones are also involved. Additional considerations involve head and/or neck injuries.

If want to know if chronic illness on the right or left, look from 10th sign to the sign of life. If any of the 7 (2 luminaries plus 5 planets) is in it, then the right side will be named, if there is none of the 7 in it then the left side will be named. ~ Dorotheus of Sidon, Carmen Astrologicum

In Dorotheus' time the planets Uranus and Pluto appearing on the 'right' in the chart presented would not have been considered.

In the natal chart this then indicates those planets on the 'left side' or occidental quarters. The left is also the side of the body governed by the Moon.

In the old order, the Moon was the planet associated with the path of ascension into the heavens whereas the Sun, which governs the right side of the body, was associated with the descent into matter, physical form.

This left and right path of ascent and descent is also reflected in our own physical beings.

Spinal cord

A 2003 study found that adult and adolescent bipolar patients tended to have considerably smaller amygdala volumes and somewhat smaller hippocampal volumes.

The Amygdalae - 'almond', 'tonsil' - are two almond-shaped groups of nuclei located deep within the medial temporal lobes in the brain. They have substantial roles in mental states and are related to many psychological disorders. Amygdalae = Venus. Hippocampus = Moon, Mercury.

In the natal chart presented the Moon is diminishing in volume, Venus while shining brilliantly is slight in form, retrograde, on the left limb of the Moon and Mercury is slightly weakened by being under the sunbeams.
Studies of depressed patients have shown exaggerated left amygdala activity.

Whereas by comparison, studies of patients with schizophrenia have shown that the right amygdala is significantly larger than the left and reductions in the size of the hippocampus.

Two fairly consistent features found in groups of people with bipolar are that they have lateral ventricles (= Mars) that were on average 17% larger than control groups, and were 2.5 times more likely to have deep white matter areas of high intensity (= Moon, Venus) which is thought to result from demyelination, loss of myelin sheath that insulates nerves (= Moon, Mercury) caused by reduced local blood flow.

Lateral ventricles are shaped like horns (Mars). In the natal chart Mars is amplified by Jupiter rx.

Barbara Noble

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