Bipolar and Astrology
Can you spot bipolar disorder in a horoscope, and does astrology show a way of dealing with it? Naturally, it is to the Black Dog Institute, the doctor, the psychiatrist and/or the psychologist that anyone with bipolar turns first. Yet, if you are curious about your birth chart, as an astrology reader – you may also be curious to find out more about unusual patterns in the charts of famous sufferers.
Bipolar’s highs and lows have been linked to the swing of a pendulum, which is exactly how astrological chart patterns work, back and forth. Bipolar disorder is a serious condition which has prompted a range of support and information websites, including – appropriately – Pendulum.
I became intrigued by this question about the pendulum of astrology and bipolar depression (sometimes called manic depression in the past) after steering a former boyfriend through an episode of madness and sadness.
Another friend (both are successful authors) then confessed to me, that she was bipolar too, though in a mild form. I took a look at both charts, out of idle curiosity, and was astonished to see both my friends had horoscope placements in a chain, at the same – or close – degrees. Their horoscopes were tilted. Unbalanced.
If you have an open mind about bipolar and so-called ‘bipolar light’ which is the milder form of mood swings – Cyclothymic Disorder – the clue is in the name. Cycles which are out of order, sound rather like cycles in a personal birth chart which are also ‘disordered’ or not evenly balanced.
By this, I mean those transits where it never rains but it pours. This happens when you have many factors in your chart all at the same degree, or one degree away. I interviewed Kurt Cobain many years ago, and when Nick Soulsby asked me to include my story about Kurt in his brilliant book, Cobain on Cobain, I went back to the tape.
You can hear the exhausted, flat voice of someone on a low, throughout. He was nice. He was funny. He was sensitive. He may also have been on the down curve of bipolar. Kurt’s cousin, Bev Cobain, a registered nurse with a background in mental health, said he had been diagnosed with bipolar but did not seek treatment.
New Approaches to Bipolar
New approaches to Bipolar are far more open and broad-minded than we ever saw last century. In fact, in Bipolar Disorder – The Ultimate Guide, by Sarah Owen and Amanda Saunders – you will find Reiki and aromatherapy on the list of complementary therapies which accompany medication and cognitive therapy.
Astrologers in general tend to eyeball Bipolar Disorder and also Cyclothymic Disorder with interest, because elation/elevation/grandiosity are associated with Jupiter and depression with Saturn. These two extreme states, which are common with Bipolar, reflect horoscope symbols. Even the idea of a swinging pendulum, S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and rhythms suggests Ceres. She is a symbol for the four seasons. Summer, Spring, Autumn and Winter. When I wrote about Ceres and Depression on this website some time ago, I was overwhelmed by comments. Kurt Cobain, born on 20th February 1967, had an extreme chart (a lot of factors clustered together at the same degree, or within one degree) and he was born with Ceres locked into a chart pattern. In a moment I’ll look more at Bipolar, Cyclothymic Disorder, and highs/lows in general – in terms of your chart. We will also look at ways to use a diary or journal to track your own cycles.
Bipolar is also about extremes. Extremes of mood and sometimes quite extreme behaviour. Some horoscopes show extreme patterns. Clusters of planets or other symbols at the same degree, or close by.
In the interests of opening up the discussion on an astrology website, let’s take a closer look at everyone from Adam Ant to Catherine Zeta Jones, who have gone public about their bipolar illness. If you’re on this website, then you’re already familiar with the idea of cycles in a circular horoscope, back and forth from one zodiac sign to another. Does our astrological pendulum model have anything useful to say about the other pendulum?
Going to Extremes – Poly Styrene, X-Ray Spex, Sir Ray Davies and The Kinks
“By now, Davies was in a seriously conflicted state, drinking heavily and self-medicating. He was mixing champagne and valium, in an attempt to stabilize his mood swings which oscillated between elation and depression.” (Ray Davies: A Complicated Life by Johnny Rogan).
Born on 21st June 1944, Sir Ray Davies, one of the most brilliant writers and performers in modern music history, has a complicated birth chart, to suit a complicated life. In common with so many people who go to extremes, and suit the eccentricities and extremism of the music business, he has an unbalanced chart.
Saturn is at 0 Cancer and Neptune is just one degree away, at 1 Libra. The Sun is at 29 Gemini, so approaching 0. The North Node is at 29 Cancer and The South Node is at 29 Capricorn. That is a big horoscope cluster around 29, 0 and 1 degree of four signs. This is a really good example of how transits, or travelling planets, can land on 29, 0, 1 degrees and simultaneously trigger not just one part of yourself and your world, but five. This lopsided ‘weather’ in the chart can take you high and low, depending on the planet triggering. Jupiter moving across 29, 0, 1 from one zodiac sign to another, would always hit Sir Ray’s complicated Cancer-Libra-Gemini-Capricorn pattern on a regular basis. That’s a high. Then Saturn comes along. That’s a low.
Poly Styrene, one of the best-known and best-loved punks, also had an extreme chart. Born on July 3rd 1957, Poly had the Sun at 10 Cancer, Mercury at 9 Cancer, Saturn at 8 Sagittarius – so it never rained but it poured. If you have one cluster at the same/close degrees that means even the monthly cycle of the Moon will repeatedly trigger not just one, but as many as three parts of your life and yourself. If Saturn is one of them, that can be very hard work. It seems to have been this way for Poly Styrene, who poured herself into her creativity.
Highs, Lows, Astrological Weather
You are obviously under medical care already if you have Bipolar Disorder or perhaps Cyclothymic Disorder, and perhaps you are trying alternatives which complement your approach to life. See how astrology works for you. This may be particularly useful if you are tracking your own moods and trying cognitive therapy.
Even if you just have obvious highs and lows, in terms of your enthusiasm, energy levels, lust for life – going from sharp spikes ‘up’ to very low periods – it may be handy for you to see if you have clusters at the same or similar degrees in your chart, and then track what happens when those patterns are triggered by transits (or travelling planets) at the same degree.
Watch what happens when Mercury is on that spot, or even retrogrades over that spot. Watch what happens when Ceres and Saturn pass through. When Jupiter passes through. If you feel you go rapidly from high to low, track the Moon, which also moves quickly across your horoscope. You can always see the ‘astrological weather’ on the front page of this website.
Unbalanced Horoscopes and Mental Health Balance
The term ‘multipolar disorder’ is gaining interest as an alternative to ‘bipolar disorder’ because there is a lot more to the condition than just being up/down – it can have a wide range. A spectrum. Experts are also starting to consider each person ‘s condition as unique.
This fits with the clustering you’ll see in the personal birth charts of well-known people with bipolar, below. There are multi-patterns, or many points/poles in the horoscopes. Astrology itself is about the unique individual. The absolutely singular life, personality and experience of one person, with one birth chart, and his/her chemistry with those other unique individuals around them, who also have singular birth charts! This is Mariah Carey, born on 27th March 1969 at 7.27am in Huntington, New York.
Those red and blue lines across the chart are aspects, put there by Astrodienst, the source of the horoscope. They look not unlike the illustrated swing of a pendulum, going back and forth around a circle. Not just any circle. Mariah’s circle. She’s one of a kind.
Checking your horoscope, using a diary or journal – also understanding how transits (cycles) and even people – can create a particular chemistry with your astrological ingredients – may help you.
Calendars, Cycles, Time, Seasons and Rhythms
For the sake of convenience, let’s call multipolar ‘bipolar’ but bear in mind, it’s often about a big spectrum of mood. What is undeniable, though, is that depression and bipolar disorder often seem to be triggered by seasonal change.
This is a big one in astrology. The cycles of the Sun, for example, accompany the four seasons in a chart, at equinox and solstice. High periods and low periods connected with Seasonal Affective Disorder may have an astrological link. It’s worth looking for. This is especially worthwhile if you are interested in CCBT, or computer cognitive behavioural therapy, also known as Mood Gym online. It’s all about interactive ways to gather coping skills. For many people, figuring out chart patterns and ‘seasons’ is also an interesting way of working out.
If Autumn or Fall is always when you hit mood highs or lows, for example, it may be that you have a chart cluster in your horoscope around the same degree, that is triggered by an Autumn/Fall New Moon.
Providence Dou photograph.
Extreme Charts, Extreme Experiences
People with bipolar can be unusual and often intense. They may go to extremes and have extreme experiences. It is common to find bipolar shopaholics, who spend over their credit card limit in a frenzy. Bipolar people can also churn out work in a great, sustained rush – with very little sleep. They can talk too much, to the point of gabbling. Great writing, music, performance or art can come out of it. Unforgettable achievements.
Before I became a professional astrologer, I was a music editor. I met a lot of rock’n’roll stars in the course of my job and many of them were either high/low swinging people, or actually had a serious illness.
Adam Ant used his creativity, courage, style and imagination to deliver the most outrageous, over-the-top performances and film clips, with hits like Ant Music, Prince Charming and Goody Two Shoes. He also crashed into dreadful depression and has recently ‘come out’ about living with Bipolar Disorder.
These ‘brilliant bursts’ are just some of the common symptoms on the bipolar spectrum, which is complicated. The down side is – not getting off the bed. Having difficulty concentrating. Dark moods. Dangerous moods, perhaps. Finding it hard to even brush your teeth. This Guardian story, written after Catherine Zeta Jones admitted she was bipolar, covers more facts in greater detail.
If you have a chain of extremely close patterns in your horoscope, that’s out of the ordinary. Just like you. And your astrological ‘weather’ will feel more intense, because it affects so much of your life and personality at the same time.
Ruby Wax (below) has a chain of horoscope factors at 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. When she has transits (travelling planetary hits) across 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 a huge part of herself, and her world, is triggered, for better or worse – according to the astrology. She has blazed a trail for herself and other people with depression and anxiety.
Spike Milligan, another brilliant mind, had factors at 25, 26, 27 in another chain. Another intense person – and life.
What turns up repeatedly in these birth charts is the presence of Saturn or Ceres.
Taking it apart, it means that every time you do X you get Y. Every time you try to ‘do’ your Uranus in Virgo in the Sixth House of work, if you are Sinead O’Connor, you get Saturn in Pisces in the Twelfth House of the inner self. Saturn has long been a symbol for all that is heavy, burdensome, difficult, weighty and often just…sad.
What do you do, when you have a chart like this, when Saturn is tied to another planet? Maybe you reach for another ‘cluster’ or big part of you, and do that instead. And maybe you do it a lot.
This takes us back to the pendulum idea of swinging from one extreme to another.
Mariah Carey, Spike Milligan, Ruby Wax, Carrie Fisher, Stephen Fry, Catherine Zeta Jones, Robin Williams, Adam Ant, Kurt Cobain
This is a very light piece of research – a glance – at bipolar people and their horoscopes, uncovering personal birth charts for famous people with this illness. This is not science. These are not proper statistics.
This is really there for you to ponder and perhaps apply to your own chart, and your own experiences – especially if you keep a diary or journal as part of the non-medical side of your treatment. It’s an experiment you can join in.
Even if you just suffer from physical, mental and emotional highs and lows – going from wild energy and intensity – to flatlining – you may find this experimental idea interesting, once you start to track it in your own chart and life.
Clustering degrees in zodiac signs are worth a closer look! Yet – it is important to know that astrology is not about statistics. You cannot feed a bunch of charts into a computer, look for exact degree patterns involving Saturn or Ceres (the two culprits in depression, below) and draw conclusions about the likelihood of depression, Bipolar Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder or anything else.
Why not? Astrology is alchemy. What you experience, and who you are, is based on the people around you, who also have charts which interact with your own. This is called synastry. Perhaps a parent, or partner, has the kind of chart which triggers your own clusters/patterns. Moreover, with any chart, we have to look at the weather passing through. The transits. As you’ll see below in two well-known examples involving Stephen Fry and Adam Ant, when they hit crisis, they also hit rare astrological weather.
What else contributes to the alchemy of a unique person having a unique moment in time, around other unique people? The place. Countries and cities have horoscopes too, which surprises some people – yet prediction shows us that they work. Number-crunching vast numbers of people can only help us up to a point in astrology, because everything is a combination of factors, in one complex piece of chemistry. It is unrepeatable.
I looked at the charts of famous people who have gone public about living with this illness called Bipolar Disorder. Not just Spike Milligan and Ruby Wax, but also Mariah Carey, Carrie Fisher, Stephen Fry, Robin Williams, Sinead O’Connor, Catherine Zeta Jones and Adam Ant. I also looked at Kurt Cobain, whose cousin claimed he suffered from it too.
Here’s what I found, using Astrodienst data. Out of a small handful of planets and nodes -without even using the angles or the asteroids – we’re seeing a striking number of birth chart factors at the same numbers (degrees) or extremely close by.
In all these birth charts, there is an intense and concentrated emphasis on just a small handful of signs and houses (personality traits and life areas). It means – it never rains, but it pours. There is nothing even or balanced about having exact aspects, or virtually exact aspects, in a chain like this.
In astrology, ‘aspects’ is an ancient word referring to the angles that horoscope factors make. If you have the Sun at 15 Sagittarius, North Node at 14 Taurus and South Node at 14 Scorpio (like Sinead O’Connor) then the Sun, North Node and South Node are in almost exact ‘aspect’ to each other.
Sometimes you’ll see one planet doubling up in a couple of ‘chain’ patterns. This happens with Ruby Wax, whose Mars at 21 Taurus appears in two close horoscope connections. When other people with regular charts have transits at 21 degrees, it only hits a small part of their chart, and their life. In astrology, when Ruby Wax has a transit at 21 degrees, it’s a double whammy. A bigger pendulum swing.
As you can see, below, I have used charts with just 14 regular ‘old school’ astrology factors to keep it simple. So I’ve looked at the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Ceres, Chiron, North Node and South Node.
Out of those 14 classic chart factors we’re working with, a remarkable number fall at the same, or close, degrees.
For Sinead O’Connor, that’s half her chart. For Spike Milligan, more than half his chart. For Carrie Fisher, more than half her chart. For Ruby Wax, over a quarter of her chart. For Mariah Carey, over a quarter of her chart. For Robin Williams, more than half his chart. For Stephen Fry – almost half his chart. For Catherine Zeta Jones, approaching half her chart. It’s the same with Adam Ant.
The Importance of Ceres and Saturn
Ceres is often ignored by mainstream astrology, despite her being reclassified as a planet in 2006. In fact, she is seen by astronomers as the equal of Pluto. She is a symbol of the four seasons. In fact, Ceres was discovered in the year music lovers experienced The Four Seasons for the first time. She is also a symbol of highs and lows. Summer and Winter. If you are curious about Ceres, do hit Search to find out more.
Saturn is a symbol of tremendous responsibility and great burden. Saturn is one of the best-known planets in astrology, and is associated with fear. The planet itself is pale yellow, when viewed through a telescope. Saturn also has rings around it. In astrology, people with a prominent Saturn tend to ‘ring’ themselves with defences, or encircle themselves with walls and barriers.
In the charts below you will see unbalanced, extreme chart clustering – a lot of factors at the same, or very close degrees – but also the appearance of either Saturn or Ceres. Sometimes both.
How can astrology be useful? By identifying the signs, the symbols in the chart, the houses – and watching the transits – anybody who is prepared to keep a diary may be able to get new insights into what is going on.
Sinead O’Connor – Born at 7.37am on 8th December 1966 in Dublin, Ireland
Sun 15 Sagittarius, North Node 14 Taurus, South Node 14 Scorpio.
Moon 26 Libra, Mercury 25 Scorpio, Uranus 24 Virgo, Saturn 23 Pisces, Neptune 22 Scorpio, Chiron 21 Pisces
Spike Milligan – Born at 2.30am on 16th April 1918 in Ahmadnagar, India
Sun 25 Aries, Uranus 26 Aquarius, North Node 25 Sagittarius, South Node 25 Gemini, Moon 27 Gemini
Mercury 10 Taurus, Jupiter 10 Gemini
Venus 8 Pisces, Saturn 7 Leo
Carrie Fisher – Born at 12.49pm on 21st October 1956 in Burbank, Los Angeles
Mercury 14 Libra, Mars 14 Pisces
Neptune 0 Scorpio, Pluto 0 Virgo, North Node 0 Sagittarius, South Node 0 Gemini, Saturn 1 Sagittarius
Ruby Wax – Time Unknown. Born on 19th April 1953 in Evanston, Illinois
Neptune 22 Libra, Saturn 23 Libra, Mars 21 Taurus
Pluto 20 Leo, Mercury 19 Aries, Mars 21 Taurus
Mariah Carey – Born at 7.27am on 27th March 1969 in Huntington, New York
Jupiter 0 Libra, Uranus 1 Libra, North Node 0 Aries, South Node 0 Libra, Ceres 29 Capricorn
Saturn 25 Aries, Venus 25 Aries, Mercury 24 Pisces, Pluto 23 Virgo
Robin Williams – Born at 1.34pm on 21st July 1951 in Chicago, Illinois
Sun 28 Cancer, Saturn 27 Virgo, Chiron 27 Sagittarius
Mars 11 Cancer, Uranus 10 Cancer, North Node 12 Pisces, South Node 12 Virgo
Stephen Fry – Time Unknown. Born on 24th August 1957 in Hampstead, London
Sun 0 Virgo, Neptune 0 Scorpio, Pluto 0 Virgo
Saturn 7 Sagittarius, Uranus 8 Leo
Catherine Zeta Jones – Born at 2.40pm on 25th September 1969 in Swansea, Wales
Sun 2 Libra, Venus 2 Virgo, Mars 2 Capricorn
Neptune 26 Scorpio, Pluto 25 Virgo
Moon 28 Pisces, Ceres 28 Capricorn
Adam Ant – Born at 6.20am on 3rd November 1954 in London
Sun 10 Scorpio, Saturn 11 Scorpio
Neptune 26 Libra, Pluto 26 Leo, Uranus 27 Cancer
Kurt Cobain – Born at 7.38pm on 20th February 1967 in Aberdeen, WA, USA
Ceres 23 Gemini, Chiron 24 Pisces, Neptune 24 Scorpio, Uranus 23 Virgo
The Strange Case of Stephen Fry, Astrology Skeptic
I really like Stephen Fry. I met him in Melbourne on morning television, in the Green Room at the Channel Ten studios, and he was one of life’s nice surprises – a star who is just as thoughtful, funny and kind as he appears to be on the screen.
He’s a pretty good test subject for this non-scientific look at a small number of famous bipolar people. Why? Because he’s clearly never going to be guilty of fulfilling a prophecy by any astrologer. He can’t stand horoscopes!
On 21st February 1995, Stephen Fry walked out of a play in London and disappeared. He was at a terrifying low point in his ‘manic’ depression. The flipside of his mania has been a phenomenally productive career. That night he saw the darkest of dark sides.
Fry was born with two clusters in his horoscope as we’ve seen above. Both were triggered that night. In fact, one pattern in his birth chart could only be activated every 240+ years.
Stephen Fry was born with the Sun at 0 Virgo, Neptune at 0 Scorpio, Pluto at 0 Virgo. On the night he failed to show, Pluto was at 0 Sagittarius and the Sun had just passed 0 Pisces and was at 1 degree of the sign. Big pattern.
As if that wasn’t enough, Fry’s other intense birth chart pattern, with Saturn at 7 Sagittarius and Uranus at 8 Leo, was triggered too, by transits at 7 and 8 degrees. Many people living with bipolar have had their lives changed by his award-winning documentary, in which he tells the story of this well-known extreme bipolar episode, in The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive
How to Help Yourself if You Have Bipolar, Cyclothymic or Highs/Lows
If you are a Premium Member and have your birth chart, or even have a basic (free) chart from Astrodienst, look at the degrees where planets and Nodes gather, but also look at where they are – Aries, Taurus, Gemini and so on. The language of astrology may be able to help you crack your own code, if you have an open mind.
One way to help yourself if you have Bipolar Disorder, is to identify the zodiac signs involved in a pattern, where you have factors at exactly the same numbers (degrees) or just one degree away. The signs tell you the life department and part of your personality where the bipolar highs and lows may be centred. What trips your switch? Who or what is a trigger for your episodes or swings?
Aries – First House. Taurus – Second House. Gemini – Third House. Cancer – Fourth House. Leo – Fifth House. Virgo – Sixth House. Libra – Seventh House. Scorpio – Eighth House. Sagittarius – Ninth House. Capricorn – Tenth House. Aquarius – Eleventh House. Pisces – Twelfth House. Reach for your memories the way a detective reaches for clues and get your hands on something solid. Your personal birth chart. The signs and houses are at your fingertips.
Be Your Own Bipolar Detective and Look for Astrological Clues
By tracking the transits of the planets and other factors, which you can see on this website every minute, of every day, you may be able to keep a tally of patterns.
I am writing this in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle House, in London, where the great man wrote some of Sherlock Holmes’ best-known adventures. So – I’m inspired to say, take a magnifying glass to the sign and house which is locked into your chart patterns.
You know, Sherlock was probably bipolar or multipolar.
In the television series, Sherlock, the great man ‘flatlines’ and sinks into low, dark, brooding moods. He shoots his gun at the wall. He is irritable. Then – he flies high. He gabbles like a madman, so nobody else can interrupt, crashing to a crime solution in minutes. It would take the police months, if they ever got there at all. Sherlock lives with a doctor – John Watson – but they never discuss his mental illness. Instead, Sherlock self-medicates with drugs.
Highs and Lows With Adam Ant
I am a fan of Adam Ant’s, and admire his honesty about living with Bipolar Disorder. He was the subject of an excellent documentary about his highs and lows, featuring journalist Paul Morley, members of his band, friends who stood by him – and even his old teacher. He was seriously ill for a long time and is now back on tour.
He was involved in a gun scare and ended up being hospitalised in the middle of January 2002. The astrological weather at the time saw Mars at 26 Pisces, the North Node at 26 Gemini and South Node at 26 Sagittarius. This hit Adam’s chart cluster at 26 degrees exactly.
This is a key degree for him. He was at his lowest point then. During his high points, when he had Number One hits across Great Britain, transiting Uranus in Scorpio was also at 26 degrees or close by. This happened on 12th September 1981 (Prince Charming) and a fortnight after his second number one (Stand and Deliver) on 9th May 1981. This brilliant face in the music industry was born with Neptune at 26 Libra, Pluto at 26 Leo and Uranus at 27 Cancer – so you can see how the transits hit his chart in an extreme way.
Transits are complex! You also need to look at who is around you, and where you are – according to all the laws of astrology, both people and place have their part to play in triggering your chart. It’s all about the unique moment.
Keeping an Astrological Journal of Your Highs and Lows
If you are curious about the business of keeping a journal or diary based on your bipolar highs and lows, please visit my Pinterest Astrology page, which has a section relating to this feature.
Of course – Bipolar disorder is an illness which is always treated first and foremost by medical professionals. Astrology is just one tool in your tool kit of life, yet as minds are being opened to complementary therapies and cognitive techniques, from acupuncture to journaling, it may be time to cast your eye over your chart.