- Peggy O'Donnell
“Stars on Parnassus” - Ann Patchett
Photo by Heidi Ross
You can learn about the planets by studying the charts of those who have those planets in a prominent position.
Ann Patchett, the author and book store owner, was born with Jupiter at 9 degrees Aries exactly on the Ascendant in a perfect trine to the sun in 9 degrees Sagittarius. You can't get more Jupiterian than that. What is it like to be born with Jupiter on the Ascendant? It is kind of like having the Hallelujah chorus playing in the background. And apparently her arrival on earth was remarkably easy for her Mom. Always a blessing.
Ann also has Jupiter in a quincunx to the planet Uranus, exact at 9 degrees Virgo. Even in a stressful aspect, Jupiter Uranus aspects are beneficial. It is known as the "Praise the Lord" position.
In Astrology of the Ancient Egyptians the author states: "So few can resist the charm of this planet, Jupiter, for he gives gentleness of manner and a smile of kindness-being since, with the highest ideals for conduct and courtesy."
If you have ever met Ann, you know this to be true. I first heard her speak at the National Cathedral (a fittingly Jupiterian setting) on Creativity: Confidence of the Heart. She was extremely deep and soulful. She spoke about Bel Canto and how life becomes art and art becomes life. And how through writing a book on opera she ended up backstage at the Metropolitan Opera hanging out with Renee Fleming. (usually only the men got to hang out backstage).
Not only is she deep, she is incredibly witty. Ann has a Mercury Mars conjunction in Sagittarius in the 9th house. Again, more of the Jupiter influence. Two Sagittarius planets in the house of Sagittarius. And Mercury Mars aspects are often associated with quick wit. The mind operates at a high speed with the conjunction, trine or sextile. When the 9th house and Sagittarius are prominent the person has some sort of precognition. Neptune in Scorpio on the cusp of Ann's 8th house also tends to lend to excellent intuition, and it is in wide trine to her Moon in Cancer.
Sagittarius and the 9th house are both associated with the future, and Sagittarians really do like to keep their options open and can put off getting married. Although Ann had an early and short first marriage, she is now happily married to a double Scorpio. Ann has Juno (asteroid of marriage) in Scorpio in the 7th house of marriage and Sun in the 8th house of Scorpio. She did (in Sagittarian fashion) put off getting married for 11 years. Read the title story in the Collection This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.
Ann has Moon in Cancer on an angle, conjunct the 4th house cusp. Her Moon is opposite to Venus in Capricorn on the MC. Moon in Cancer women are the most charming and nurturing you will ever meet.
Venus on the MC often confers great beauty. With Capricorn on the MC, you really want to have respect for what you do, and you have the drive to pull it off.
Ann is physically quite lovely, a great author, the founder of a successful independent bookstore and as a side gig, a spokesperson for all independent book sellers. Jupiter on the Ascendant and planets in the 9th are great for publishing.
Venus on the MC gives one an adoring public, which she has.
In order to achieve great things one needs challenging aspects in the chart. The Sun in the 8th house exactly square to Uranus in the 6th house. When people have Sun in a hard aspect to Uranus they often wonder if they can trust their intuition, and are sometimes prone to making quick exits from a situation. Being trapped in the wrong setting can become unbearable.
In the 6th house of the horoscope Ann has Pluto conjunct Uranus in Virgo. This is a perfectionist aspect and confounds the entire cohort born with this conjunction. With this in her 6th house of work and health, she would be a perfectionist about her writing.
Ann's chart ruler is Mars in Sagittarius in the 9th house. With Mars conjunct Mercury in Sagittarius she is a very honest communicator. The Venus on the MC probably grants a good bit of diplomacy, but with Mercury Mars in Sagittarius you would have someone very direct in speech. The 9th house rules publishing, higher education, the law, philosophy, religion and foreign travel. With her books she has managed to work in quite a few of these themes.
The Moon is in a T-square with Venus and Jupiter. Mars is part of the T-square as well. She writes in the collection mentioned above about some of the chaos in her childhood, coming home from school one day to find a step brother she knew nothing about who had arrived for the summer with his three siblings.
If you read Commonwealth (one of my favorites) you will get a sense of what this might have been like. Ann grew up in the 70s, the great divorce decade, and just like some great literature was born out of the 1918 flu epidemic (read Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy and They came like Swallows by William Maxwell) the parental strife in the 70s was a source of inspiration for literature as well. Try Maile Meloy's book Both Ways is the only Way I Want it.
Ann's chart also works quite well to demonstrate the beauty of progressions. On May 7, 1991 she got her first book publishing contract. The progressed moon was back to its own place, at 6 Cancer, so it was her first lunar return. On top of that, progressed Sun was 7 Capricorn, so she was just one month shy of her progressed full moon, a time of achievement. 14 years later (exactly) on May 7, 2005, Ann got married. At that time the progressed moon, along with progressed Mercury was 4 Capricorn, exactly conjunct her Venus. Progressed Mars had just moved into Aquarius, ready for a change. This is especially significant as Mars is the chart ruler. And Aquarius always indicates change.
I learn a good deal about a person's chart by reading a biography or memoir about them, and keeping the chart handy. It is a great way to study the stars.