Walt Whitman was born on 31 May 1819 at 1:45 am (Rodden Rating: A; Collector: Rodden) in Huntington New York with Jupiter in Aquarius and Saturn in Pisces.
I have often said there is usually wonderful synastry between a fan and their idol. There is no disappointment here! This Walt Whitman lover shares her ascendent with Whitman’s Sun, the same Moon and Saturn degree and natal Venus in opposition to “The Good Gray Poet’s” Neptune!!
However, I will have to concede that Abraham Lincoln (12 February 1809, 6:54 Hodgenville KY, Rodden rating: B; Collector: Rodden), the object of Walt Whitman’s admiration, had better synastry: Lincoln’s Venus is bang on Whitman’s ascendant.
“To say Jupiter in Aquarius pupils march to the beat of a different drummer is a bit of an understatement. These pupils seem to have an internal beat that is completely off whack to fellow pupils or to yourself and indeed seems to have no logical rhythm at all.
“Teaching them to read will be impossible if you have them sitting in a circle reciting the sounds of every letter the way children usually do. These pupils appreciate inventiveness, experimentation and doing what has never been done before. Stumped for ideas? Ask the pupils. Their creativity will astound, inspire and worry you all at the same time.”
Right on cue for his first Jupiter return, Walt Whitman was an apprentice and printer’s devil for a New York newspaper. He learned skills that would serve him well for the rest of his life and would no doubt be an aid to his self-published book of poetry, Leaves of Grass. The collection of poetry was published during a series of three Jupiter oppositions to Whitman’s Moon in Leo in the summer of 1855 and would be revised and re-published several times.
Whitman’s poetry was noted for its use of freestyle, without rhyme or metre. Yet it is profoundly moving.
The Jupiter in Aquarius touch is evident in “Song of Myself” (how Moon in Leo are we going to get?):
I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy.
Leaves of Grass was also published as transiting Saturn opposed Whitman’s natal Uranus: not only was the poetic style ground-breaking, it was also highly controversial. The 19th century world was not quite ready for Whitman’s style of sensuality. The book’s sexual imagery and covert (or maybe not so covert) homosexuality.
Saturn is Pisces has difficulty maintaining order and form so it is not surprising Leaves of Grass had many subsequent re-publications with a final version, “the death-bed” version, being published in January 1892 with a flurry of transiting Saturn oppositions to Whitman’s natal Saturn, Chiron and Pluto as well as a square to his natal Neptune.
As I wrote in Growing Pains:
“Pupils with Saturn in Pisces fear being overwhelmed and swept out to sea. They are content to paddle on the shores of education but often won’t take the full plunge. Teaching them to overcome their fears is often as easy as reminding them to stop panicking. Remind them to let their feet touch the floor. They forget the water isn’t as deep as they had feared. At the age of seven, they may have been reluctant (but not incapable) of being able to read and write. To them, letters and numbers are pathetic, meaningless squiggles. They could come up with much better symbols. Thus these reluctant pupils become wonderful artists if left to their own devices.
“But, of course, leaving pupils to their own devices is not part of the educational repertoire. Every moment must be supervised. Pointless meandering is not permitted. And so the teacher feels forced to instil some serious discipline. The pupil is left with the idea that learning is painful. They are often tested in sink or swim conditions. The consequences of not passing the tests are so frightening that they have no choice but to make feeble attempts to keep their heads above water. Then someone will feel sorry for them and rescue them. Or not. Because of their experiences in the educational system, Saturn in Pisces pupils very often become teachers as they think they can save their pupils from similar experiences.”
Although Whitman did not become a teacher in the conventional sense, his work is used in English curriculums across the world. His style and sense of imagery, his passions and his laments continue to inspire students everywhere. I was a reluctant reader of poetry and preferred longer texts with their broader canvases to explore the written word. But I remember being totally hooked by Whitman and even now, in times of stress when I need a little distraction, it is to Uncle Walt I turn to when I recite:
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
I know. . .strange words to recite. But it does not take much imagination to feel Whitman’s sorrow in the days following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. How beautiful to be remembered by Whitman.
When I was on Brooklyn Bridge (yes, I know, not quite Brooklyn Ferry), I couldn’t resist shouting my favourite Whitman lines, the very ones that got me hooked on him, from “Song of Myself”:
“Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged.
Missing me one place, search another.
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”
Goddess bless you the Good Grey Poet.
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