I’m very sad to hear the magician Siegfried Fischbacher died yesterday. I’m not a fan of keeping wild animals caged up to entertain humans but I always thought Siegfried and Roy loved their big cats and kept their animals well. I never got a chance to see any of their live shows but I loved watching you tube videos of their performances. Like everyone else, I was horrified when Montecore bit Roy and I kept tabs on Roy’s rather miraculous recovery. It was touching how Siegfried was such an integral part of Roy’s healing and it was profoundly moving how he modified their act so Roy, though partially paralysed by a stroke, could still take part.
Here’s an article I wrote about them several years ago.
By the time they were voted “Magicians of the Century,” Siegfried and Roy had become the 9th highest paid celebrities in the world. Their jaw-dropping shows, featuring exotic white lions, tigers and cheetahs (and a very compliant elephant), brought together humans and animals without barriers. Interesting people in their own right, it is the names “Siegfried and Roy” everyone remembers and, as we shall see, the synastry between them is remarkable.
Siegfried Fischbacker was born on 13 June 1939 at 7:20 am in Rosenheim Bavaria. He had an impoverished childhood, as demonstrated by a Saturn/Moon conjunction square to a Mars-Pluto opposition. By chance he found and bought a book on magic in 1947 which changed the course of his life. He began practising and perfecting his tricks, delighting friends and family with an early show of magic talent. We can see lucky Jupiter on his MC and are able to surmise that astrologically, he would need to live his life out as a big adventure. With Pluto on his ascendant, we can see how he might be able to extend a hold on future audiences.
Roy Horn, born on 3 October 1944 at 11:57 pm in Nordenham Oldenburg, was a dreamy child who claimed he could see safari animals in cloud formations. It seems quite auspicious for an illusionist to have Neptune and the Sun on IC, with Neptune ruling the 8th house and the Sun as chart ruler. His love of large animals can be seen with Capricorn on the 6th house cusp with the planet ruler in the 12th. In 1951, whilst out walking, he stepped into quicksand and would have died had his half-dog, half-wolf Hexe, not summoned a nearby farmer who rescued him. For Roy, this was the beginning of an understanding of the special link between humans and animals. Around the time of his first Jupiter return, he began spending his free time at the Bremen Zoo where he befriended a cheetah called Chico. His gentle and patient nature can be seen with his Venus-Moon opposition. Pluto as the apex of a T square in the Venus-Moon opposition suggests an element of control techniques—quite handy when working with predators.
In 1959, Siegfried and Roy met on a cruise ship. Siegfried was the ship’s entertainer was developing a good reputation as a magician and Roy was just a bellhop. One evening, Siegfried asked Roy if he would be his assistant. After the show, expecting to be pelted with questions about how he did his tricks and complimented on his cleverness, Siegfried found Roy to be very quiet.
“What did you think of my show?” Siegfried demanded.
“Well the audience really liked you. And it’s great you can do all those tricks,” Roy said to Siegfried. “But quite honestly I didn’t really like the show that much. The magic seems so predictable.”
It took Siegfried several minutes to rationalise that this boy—this infant—was simply too young to understand his talents. So he thought he would humour him.
“What should I do to liven things up?” he asked.
“Well,” said Roy, “If you can make rabbits and doves disappear, could you do the same with a cheetah?”
Siegfried did not have an immediate response for this question. Not really believing his skills as a magician were about to be put to a challenge, Siegfried simply answered: “In magic, anything is possible.”
Unbeknownst to the rest of the crew—or to Siegfried–Roy eventually “liberated” Chico from the zoo and smuggled him onboard the ship. Once Siegfried had recovered from the shock of coming face to face with a snarling big cat, it didn’t take long for the pair to combine their talents of magician and animal tamer to entertain astounded passengers. Roy’s MC is on Siegfried’s Jupiter, which also pulls Roy’s Neptune and Sun on his IC into the configuration. We can see the symbolism of large animals and illusion. Both men have Pluto rising with Roy’s ascendant in a disassociated conjunction with Seigfried’s Pluto, an indicator of the hypnotic hold they would have on people who would see them perform together. Speculation of the pair’s relationship has always been raised but we can see a suggestion what they meant to each other with Roy’s Venus/Moon opposition on Seigfreid’s Nodal axis. They needed each other and Seigfried in particular may have felt that Roy was a necessity for his life’s path for without Roy, Siegfried was just another magician pulling yet another rabbit out of a hat.
As impressive as the synastry is, it is the composite chart that steals the show: there is a massive five planet stellium in Leo plus ascendant. Big cats anyone? The chart is a macho display of all personal planets (except the Moon), the ascendant and MC, in masculine signs. In the year they had met, Uranus had begun making a series of conjunctions to this stellium.
Eventually, their show became one of the biggest shows on the planet with sold out performances in Las Vegas, France, Japan and they had worked with Michael Jackson, entertained Frank Sinatra and Liberace and even had an audience with Pope John Paul II. In the mid ‘80s, as Uranus and Saturn was trine to the composite stellium in Leo, Siegfried and Roy changed management. As that decade came to a close, Pluto had begun a series of squares to this stellium and not only did the pair receive a carte blanche to do whatever they wanted to do in their show, they were paid an unprecedented $57.5 million guarantee to do so. They used this money to set up a sanctuary for big cats and used their influential friends to acquire rare white tigers and lions. In 1991, they were awarded the Iron Cross and Order of Merit from their home country, an honour usually reserved for diplomats and dignitaries..
However, “Siegfried and Roy” were not without detractors and were often the targets of animal rights campaigners who have clearly stated the show was morally wrong in its use of live animals for entertainment. On the evening of 3 October 2003, their concerns were confirmed when one of their white tigers pounced on Roy, severely injuring him.
The astrological language of the horrific event speaks clearly, even if transiting Mercury is on the Neptune of the composite chart, making it difficult for everyone else. Witness statements for the event vary but Roy claimed the cat, Montecore, was distracted by a woman with “big hair” in the front row seat. The woman seemed to try to reach out to touch the cat so Roy positioned himself between them to prevent this. Transit Venus is on Roy’s Mars, a factor which could be seriously detrimental when handling a 380-pound cat. Sensing the cat was too interested in the audience, Roy resorted to striking the animal with his microphone to refocus it its attention. Montecore is then seen to bite Roy’s arm. However, “play biting” was a common feature between man and cat, clearly things were getting out of control as Roy could be heard saying “release, release” in a desperate bid to get the cat to let go of him. In the meantime, there were frightened cries from the 1500-strong audience. Confused, Montecore seemed to try to stand up on his back legs (again, a common trick frequently used in their shows), knocking Roy off balance. This was when the cat bit Roy on the shoulder. Stage hands used fire extinguishers to separate the cat from Roy. Severely injured, Roy was able to say “Don’t shoot the cat” before a massive, debilitating stroke.
Reflecting later on the event, Roy has repeated over and over that if the cat had wanted to kill him, it would have torn him apart. He believes the cat was trying to protect him and had only done what all cats do to their offspring: grabbing them by the scruff of the neck with their teeth. Montecore, said Roy, could not have known a human neck is not as sturdy as a cat’s. He cited early imprinting as a reason for Montecore to refrain from causing mortal injury: “The first voice they hear is mine, the first touch they feel is mine, the first human face they see is mine. They just think I’m a strange tiger who walks on two legs.”
Two angular significators can help bring more understanding to the event. At the time of the attack, the Sun was transiting the IC of the composite chart, suggesting the event of the time could become something which could drive the duo into seclusion. Secondly, although it was Roy who was attacked, as double act, Seigfried was also affected. This can be seen with Seigfried’s Mars in Aquarius on the MC of the event. Mars demands that we act independently. From the moment Roy was bitten in the neck, the show suddenly stopped being “Seigfried and Roy” and simply became Seigfield’s. Seigfried was the one who was in charge of the aftermath of calming the audience and making decisions post-catastrophe. He took over the legal aspects of the show, handled media enquiries, looked after their animals and ensured Roy received the best possible care.
Roy’s solar return, which was exact the morning after the attack, shows his return Sun on the return ascendant. This angular return Sun was receiving squares from both Saturn and Chiron which were also angular along the MC/IC axis. Roy’s health (or lack of it) would be headline news in the year to come.
Miraculously, Roy recovered enough for the pair to perform a final show in February 2010. As Saturn came into conjunction with the composite Neptune, the pair realised it was time for the illusion that they thought could go on forever to come to an end. On 23 April 2010, Siegfried and Roy announced they would be retiring from showbiz. “Of course our shows have always come from the heart,” Siegfried said after their final show. “Tonight’s performance comes from a fulfilled heart.”