Those who have studied astrology are very aware that there are ways of employing different astrological techniques to arrive at the same conclusion as the more popular technique of chart analysis.
For example, midpoints, the halfway point of planets. Midpoints are not “real” planets but half sums of two planets’ position in the zodiac. This series of astrological articles on the life of the writer Charles Baudelaire uses the interpretation of important midpoints (Sun/Moon and ascendant/descendant) only as a means of demonstrating the versatility of astrology.
A Brief History of Midpoints
Guido Bonati (d. between 1296 and 1300) used midpoints to refine timings in event charts. However, the calculation of “lots” was most likely in use well before Paulus wrote his Introduction on them in the fourth century. After the fall of the Roman Empire, many texts fell in to the hands of the Persians who translated them from their original Greek and used the lots described so prolifically (Abu Ma’Shar, who lived from 787-886 described fifty-five lots in his The Abbreviation of the Introduction to Astrology) that when these texts were translated into Latin, it was assumed that it was the Arabs who had created these lots. Hence, the lots became “Arabic Parts” to later astrologers. However, by the time of William Lilly of the 17th century the only Arabic Part still in use was the “Fortuna” or lot of fortune in his horary practice–and it was used in a way that the ancient astrologers would likely not recognise. The 19th Century German astrologer Alfred Witte revived the use of midpoints and it is this work that was finally available to the English speaking world as “Uranian Astrology.” Reinhold Ebertin’s “COSI,” one of the reference books I will use to delineate Charles Baudelaire’s midpoints, was based on the research of Witte.
Ebertin’s method for interpretation would appear to be to keep possible delineations short and clear. For example, he indicates that the 8th house placement of the Sun is “people with will power, the struggle for existence. . .(and) excessive passion.” Ebertin’s interpretation of the Moon in the 11th house indicates a “wealth of ideas. Deep concern for other people’s troubles. . .and love of independence.” These tendencies have been noted in my interpretation of Baudelaire’s chart (except I was far more wordy in my description—one of the advantages of using Ebertin’s COSI is that he uses the bare necessities in his descritions).
Another astrologer noted for his use of midpoints is Noel Tyl, who wrote the exhaustive Synthesis and Counseling in Astrology. On page 65, he writes that “the Sun is fuel and the Moon is form and function.” Through the blend of Sun and Moon, we can gain an idea of how the fuel system functions, how manageable it is, what it is compatible with and how efficiently it is doing its job. Further, he indicates “the essence of the Sun and Moon, related to each other is relationship (male-female: and also the drive of life with Sun as life energy and Moon as reigning need). The midpoint between the two symbols invites synthesis of those two symbols, whether or not they are in aspect to each other.” However, in order to understand the midpoint of two planets, it is completely necessary to understand how they relate to each other by sign, house and aspect.
Natally, Baudelaire had his Sun and Moon in the challenging square aspect indicating his solar will was at odds with his deep inner emotions. However, when these energies are blended together mathematically, it creates a completely different interpretation: the fiery masculine Sun in Aries blended with sensitive emotions of the Moon in Cancer synthesize into the airy intellect of Gemini. Using symbols to add depth to the interpretation, it can be imagined that a fire is being sprinkled by a summer rain: the elements of fire and water are completely transformed into steam. As midpoints are used in conjunction with the fourth harmonic, the sun/moon is at 5 degrees 30 minutes of all mutable signs and 20 degrees 30 minutes of all fixed signs. The only natal point on these degrees was Baudelaire’s MC at 4 degrees 30 minutes Gemini. Expounding on Tyl’s recommendations, it can be said that Baudelaire’s independent will (Sun in Aries) was smothered by his emotions (Moon in Cancer) and transmuted into his intellectual ideas (Sun/Moon in Gemini) which ultimately became how he would be remembered (MC=Sun/Moon). The key words of this interpretation can be altered to add further depth: Baudelaire’s independent struggle for existence (Sun in Aries in 8th) was splashed by a deep concern for other people’s troubles (Moon in Cancer in 11th) which he intellectualized and wrote about (Sun/Moon=MC).
Tyl further notes that the Sun/Moon can completely dominate the native’s life. It is an inner marriage and key in terms of person’s potential for a relationship. Baudelaire did not marry in the traditional sense and of marriage, he said: “Unable to suppress love, the Church wanted at least to disinfect it, and it created marriage.” He found his own way to create his inner marriage and this fusion was presented to the world through his writing.
Charles Baudelaire’s Sun and Moon
Charles Baudelaire had his Sun in the sign of Aries. Aries is the sign of the pioneer, a trailblazer who bursts into the world with nary a thought to consequences. Impulsive and dynamic, the fiery and cardinal nature of Aries implies a certain amount of impatience and ruthlessness unequaled by any other sign of the zodiac. It is the spark of conception, the conflagration of competition, the combustion of initiation. As Baudelaire had his sun, his life purpose, in this bold sign, it is perhaps unsurprising (astrologically at least) that his influence on both French and English literature would be considerable. Marcel Proust would call him “the greatest poet of the 19th century” and Arthur Rimbaud would praise him as “the king of poets, a true god.” It is as if his life, even after death, left the lasting impression of still-smoldering coals. Many of Baudelaire’s works were published posthumously.
Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of his chart is Baudelaire’s squared luminaries, his Sun in Aries square the Moon in Cancer. Both luminaries are strong in dignity, the moon in rulership and the sun in exhaltation. Here we can see that Baudelaire may have been able to adjust to making changes or simply became immune to challenges as time passed. As both the sun and moon are in cardinal signs, we may surmise that he was not a person who paid attention to detail but rather jumped straight in at the deep end of new enterprises. And yet the profundity of his poetry suggests otherwise.
It seems almost incongruous to this luminosity of this vibrant sun that it could occupy the deep darkness of the 8th house. However, by the age of eighteen, Baudelaire was already making an impression on his contemporaries, who noted he was “an exalted character, sometimes full of mysticism, and sometimes full of immorality and cynicism (which were excessive but only verbal)”. This seems a very good reflection of his sun’s exaltation in Aries combined with the 8th house’s interest in the metaphysical. The interest in mysticism may also be attributed to the sun’s rulership of the 12th house.
As would be expected with this luminary, Baudelaire’s work enlightens the hidden recesses of Pluto’s domain. Baudelaire was unafraid to go where the common man of the time was afraid to tread. We can see this in his work:
Truly the Devil pulls on all our strings!
In most repugnant objects we find charms;
Each day we’re one step further into Hell,
Content to move across the stinking pit
Baudelaire also had Saturn conjunct his Sun in the 8th house, the only significant aspect to his Sun. He had inherited money at the age of twenty-one but had squandered it and was borrowing heavily against the mortgages. Eventually, his family was able to place his properties in a trust fund. During this time, Baudelaire had met Jeanne Duval who was to become his muse and would be his longest romantic association–and the person whom his mother blamed for torturing him and draining money from him at every opportunity. Consequently, Baudelaire was forced to live in poverty for the rest of his life. It seems apt that the planet regarded as one’s greatest obstacle in the chart so it is no surprise when viewed astrologically that Baudelaire found it difficult to handle the money he had inherited. If we also consider that the condition of the sun can indicate the condition of health, we can understand how his constitution would be compromi sed by syphilis, a sexual (8th house) disease he caught from the numerous prostitutes he frequented (again, paying for sex seems to be a sun in 8th house issue and being “punished” for this through ill health seems to be Saturn‘s influence).
Although we may expect a writer to be more influenced by Mercury or perhaps Jupiter, it can be seen how the themes of sensuality bordering on the pornographic (8th house) and poverty (Saturn in the 8th) would propel Baudelaire to infamy (Sun conjunct Saturn).
One final example of sun in 8th house conjunct Saturn can be found in this verse from Fleur Du Mal. Here we can understand how a man with such significators could write about what can only be described as what horrors one might find in the 8th house:
But there with all the jackets, panthers, hounds,
The monkeys, scorpions, the vultures, snakes,
Those howling, yelping, grunting, crawling brutes,
The infamous menagerie of vice
As has been noted, the Moon square Sun in Baudelaire’s chart may be the most important aspect in his chart, due to the strength of their dignity. Whereas Baudelaire’s Sun went boldly, his Moon moved far more subtly. This is a man of terrific sensitivity and neediness. His Moon in the eleventh shows he would need the support of friends (or perhaps politicians) to feel better about himself. This is especially true for a person with Saturn square the Moon, as Baudelaire had in his chart.
With his sun in Cancer, Baudelaire was a well-known mummy’s boy. He said of his mother: “There was in my childhood a period of passionate love for you.” However, it must not be forgotten that his sun and moon were in the square aspect. If we take it that the Moon can represent the mother in the chart, then we can surmise that Baudelaire’s relationship with his mother was fraught with difficulties and challenges that would become easier to manage as time went on. As his father died when Baudelaire was young, his mother remarried and the relationship between step-son and step-father was noted to be difficult: “Oh, what grief!” his mother would lament, “If Charles had let himself be guided by his stepfather, his career would have been very different… He would not have left a name in literature, it is true, but we should have been happier, all three of us.” Perhaps no greater words could be uttered of a man who had Pluto conjunct Mercury trine the Moon! When his stepfather died, Baudelaire would write to his mother: “believe that I belong to you absolutely, and that I belong only to you.” Baudelaire’s family (moon) were also able to place his properties in a trust fund following his squandering of a family inheritance (Moon in Cancer square Sun in Aries in 8th).
Most of Baudelaire’s work was published posthumously, something we might expect of the Mercury conjunct Pluto aspect. He had a great need to express his emotions and he did not shirk from the intense sexual themes that were taboo in his time (he narrowly avoided imprisonment at one point in his career).
At times of need, he would find his mother, most notably following a half-hearted suicide attempt in 1845. When Baudelaire suffered a serious stroke, he would again return to his mother and died in her arms in 1867. As might be expected from someone with the Moon in the 11th square Saturn in the 8th, Baudelaire’s mother paid off many of his debts following his death, perhaps the final resolution of this difficult configuration. Interestingly, his letters (Mercury) to his mother (Moon) frequently begging for financial assistance (Sun in 8th) are recorded; her letters to him have never been found.
 Harding, Michael and Harvey, Charles: Working with Astrology: The Psychology of Harmonics, Midpoints and AstroCartoGraphy, Penguin Group,London.
 Ebertin, Reinhold The Combination of Stellar Influences, The American Federation of Astrologer, 1972, p. 45
 Ibid, p. 47
 Tyl, Noel, The Indispensable Sun/Moon Midpoint, Article found August 2009 at: http://www.astrologyoz.com/articles/Sun%20moon%20midpoint%20Noel%20Tyl.htm
 Richardson, Joanna Baudelaire, St. Martin’s Press,New York, 1994, p. 50
‘Concerning Baudelaire’ in Proust, Marcel: Against Sainte-Beuve and Other Essays, p. 286, trans. John Sturrock, Penguin, 1994.
 Rimbaud, Arthur: Oeuvres complètes, p. 253, NRF/Gallimard, 1972
 Richardson, Joanna Baudelaire, St. Martin’s Press,New York, 1994, p 42
 Baudelaire, Charles, The Flowers of Evil, text available online at: http://www.baudelaire.cz/works.html?aID=200&artID=2
 Richardson, Joanna Baudelaire, St. Martin’s Press,New York, 1994, p. 75
 Richardson, Joanna Baudelaire, St. Martin’s Press,New York, 1994, p 16
 Ibid, p. 70
Copyright: Alex Trenoweth, 2008