Spiritual Company Newsletter
By Steffan Vanel • Astrologer • Tarot Reader
The Astrological Karma of the USA
Charles & Diana: The Inside Story: An Astrological-Karmic View
Now on YouTube:
The Astrological Karma of the USA and The New Presidency
Bridging Heaven & Earth Show #238
Lou Reed: Walking on the Wild Side
(Side Note: I will be arriving in Austin, Texas for lectures, workshops and readings Nov. 2 – 13, and then in Atlanta Nov. 13 – 29.)
I’ve decided to pen a few words about the enigmatic performing artist Lou Reed who recently passed away.
In 1966, my two best friends had older sisters living in Greenwich Village, New York City. They turned us on to what was then called ‘Underground Music.’ Something I am eternally grateful for.
At age 15 I was taking the bus after school into Boston to go to the rock club ‘The Boston Tea Party' (way better than today’s TEA party) and other clubs in Boston where, for $3.50, I could see Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, the Grateful Dead, virtually all the bands in the underground scenes. And, you could stand 15 feet in front of the band.
In that time period I also saw the Velvet Underground, in which Lou Reed performed. I also bought their first album, which only sold 30,000 copies at the time. I was quite a mesmerized 15 year old listening to the now classic song: ‘Heroin’ alone in my bedroom. Here are the lyrics to that song:
Songwriters: Reed, Lou / Lang, David
I don't know just where I'm going
But I'm goin' to try for the kingdom if I can
'Cause it makes me feel like I'm a man
When I put a spike into my vein
Then I tell you things aren't quite the same
When I'm rushing on my run
And I feel just like Jesus' son
And I guess I just don't know
And I guess that I just don't know
I have made big decision
I'm goin' to try to nullify my life
'Cause when the blood begins to flow
When it shoots up the dropper's neck
When I'm closing in on death
You can't help me not you guys
All you sweet girls with all your sweet talk
You can all go take a walk
And I guess I just don't know
And I guess I just don't know
I wish that I was born a thousand years ago
I wish that I'd sailed the darkened seas
On a great big clipper ship
Going from this land here to that
I put on a sailor's suit and cap
Away from the big city
Where a man cannot be free
Of all the evils in this town
And of himself and those around
Oh, and I guess I just don't know
Oh, and I guess I just don't know
Heroin, be the death of me
Heroin, it's my wife and it's my life
Because a mainer to my vein
Leads to a center in my head
And then I'm better off than dead
When the smack begins to flow
Then I really don't care anymore
About all the Jim-Jims in this town
And everybody putting everybody else down
And all of the politicians makin' crazy sounds
All the dead bodies piled up in mounds, yeah
Wow, that heroin is in my blood
And the blood is in my head
Yeah, thank God that I'm good as dead
Ooohhh, thank your God that I'm not aware
And thank God that I just don't care
And I guess I just don't know
And I guess I just don't know
Pretty deep stuff for a 15 year old!
This band from New York was definitely a pretty edgy, dark exploration for me, and even though I didn’t really follow-on purchasing Lou Reed albums, along the way I did enjoy when ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ would pop up on the radio or Lou Reed would appear as himself in a Wim Wenders film.
Having a long-standing resonance with Lou Reed, and hearing more details about him in interviews and tributes in these last few days made me curious to look at his Astrology chart. I then decided to share some of what I saw that reveals some of what made this man ‘tick.’
I must say I’m also enjoying the respite from trying to make sense of political situations. At the same time, this was a deep, rather intense man, and his chart is deep and rather intense.
After searching the web it seems there is no record of his birthtime currently available. I do have a method of using my Tarot Cards to access birthtimes when all other means, except Astrological ‘rectification’ techniques, have been played out.
The chart that I came up with does seem to work amazingly well. But before I look at the factors that would be determined by his birthtime I will look at the factors that we know for sure just from his Birthdate of: March 2, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York.
Yes, he was a Pisces joining the ranks of George Harrison and Kurt Cobain from my immediate memory.
Here is what Hilarion says about Pisces:
Pisces: The Piscean is one who, in a previous existence, ended the life in an act of desperation for no better reason than to end the pain. Suicide is never really justified in spiritual terms, but the least justifiable of all is to take one's own life for motives relating only to the self. Because of this self-destructive act, the Piscean is tapped into a source of despondency and pessimism, which can often filter down to the personality. But it is not the Creator's way to give only the negative. In addition, the Piscean is allowed to tap a deep wellspring of compassion and sympathy for others in the hopes that by occupying himself with the concerns and sadnesses of others, he will forget the melancholy of the self and make of the life a shrine of dedication to others. The sensitivity that results can often drive the Piscean to seek escape from the harshness of life through such avenues as drugs or alcohol. The avoidance of such tendencies is the primary lesson of the Piscean.
Lou Reed definitely had his propensity for using drugs but he also had that really sweet, sensitive Pisces nature, like his romantic song: ‘A Perfect Day.’
But Lou Reed was also known for being really edgy and critical, notorious for walking out on interviews with the media. In his youth he was a platoon leader in the ROTC but was kicked out for holding an unloaded gun to the head of his superior.
There had to be something more than Pisces here, and there certainly is. His Sun in Pisces is opposite a Moon in Virgo, hence a childhood with perhaps an excessive focus on details, and the likelihood of someone being critical. (His father was a tax accountant.)
The Sun/Moon opposition, however, is also t-squared by Jupiter in Gemini. This would bring in a powerful, exuberant mental energy, which could ‘pump-up’ or exaggerate the Pisces sense of victimhood, as well as the Virgo Moon criticalness. This is definitely someone who would ‘suffer no fools.’
Lou Reed has been, at times, compared with Bob Dylan, who also happens to have Pisces, Virgo and Gemini tensions. Someone else known for edginess with the media, as well as a combination of eloquent, detailed sensitivity along with that edgy mental criticalness.
Using the birth time that I came up with of 12:10 pm this Jupiter/Sun/Moon t-square falls into the wheel of the chart with the Sun in the 10th House of work, career, role in the world, opposite Moon in the 4th House of home, family, childhood and sanctuary; and both are square to Jupiter in the 12th house of the deeper unconscious, memory of the most recent past life, and the inherited family unconscious.
Personally, when I look at that configuration it really resonates with how I feel about Lou Reed.
This birthtime also gives him a Gemini Rising, adding to the Gemini quick-witted, edgy, mental energy, and making it more initially apparent than the Pisces sensitivity. The Aquarian Midheaven, with this chart, projecting to the world this as per Hilarion:
Aquarius: This sign at the M.C. points out a tendency to project a picture of independent thinking, emotional control and a certain "difference" which others will be hard put to define. The primary importance of this sign on the Midheaven is its tendency to cause a covering over of the affectional urges. A crust forms, and it is the task of the soul to learn to express the love nature freely despite this mask of indifference.
This Aquarian theme is augmented by his having Mercury and Venus in Aquarius. These factors would also help to hide away the Pisces sensitivity and vulnerability. In fact, in the Solar chart (exclusive of any birthtime) and the 12:10 pm chart, there are no other placements, except the South Node in an emotional water sign.
Interestingly, Lou Reed’s surviving wife, Laurie Anderson, is a Gemini, with her Sun conjuncting his Jupiter in Gemini, and in the 12:10 pm chart, his Gemini Ascendant. This would be a strong mental, communicative connection, but could also serve as someone who could live Reed’s Gemini energy for him and allow him to be more Pisces.
This t-square in the 12:10 pm chart, putting the Moon in the 4th House would also resonate with a major traumatic experience he underwent when he was only 14. The t-square, without birthtime houses, would resonate with the trauma of this event, but when you add these houses my gut gets wrenched.
The event was in relation to the fact that Lou Reed was bisexual, and as part of his medical ‘cure’ for this he underwent electric shock therapy described this way in the Wikipedia biography of him:
In 1956, Reed, who was bisexual,  received electroconvulsive therapy as a teenager, which was intended to cure his bisexuality; he wrote about the experience in his 1974 song, "Kill Your Sons".   In an interview, Reed said of the experience: "They put the thing down your throat so you don't swallow your tongue, and they put electrodes on your head. That's what was recommended in Rockland State Hospital to discourage homosexual feelings. The effect is that you lose your memory and become a vegetable. You can't read a
book because you get to page 17 and have to go right back to page one again."
—Lou Reed quoted in Please Kill Me (1996) Reed
This is what Hilarion says about the Moon in the 4th House:
Fourth House: A fourth-sector Moon is a very powerful significator astrologically, for it points to one whose natural rhythms and desires run in the direction of seclusion, isolation and the domestic routine. However, the life-pattern of this person is arranged by his guides to deny the full realization of such natural yearnings, the denial depending to a large degree on how afflicted the Moon is. The reason for the denial is to prompt the person to venture"out into the world ", and to experience the demands and rewards of the rough-and-tumble existence which the earth plane offers. In a typical case, the individual with the fourth house Moon has spent too many sequestered or sheltered lives in a protective, home-like setting, and has lost his ability to fend for himself in the outside world. In many instances these sequestered incarnations have included lives in a monastery or convent — and although much can be learned and laudable soul-traits can be acquired in such secluded experiences, there is the need to balance that isolation with a period of rugged contact with the grittierside of life that most people experience in an incarnation. We have been speaking of the "lesson" side of this lunar placement.
Karmically, the picture is quite different. The individual with a fourth sector Moon has invariably placed others in positions in which they were exposed before they were ready to the harsher side of earth life. Often this has occurredby ejecting children from a protective home environment, and forcing them to confront the rough realities of the world at an early age. As a result, again depending on the degree of affliction to the fourth-sector Moon, the individual himself usually finds that he has had to undergo a similar experience at a relatively tender age. In the absence of serious affliction (especially from Saturn) the individual may escape such an episode in early life, but will still have to go through some form of (to him) undesirable exposure to the harshness of the world at a later time in his life.
This was definitely an ‘exposure to the harshness of the world,’ but also, losing his mental capacities like he describes would dissolve the Virgo/Gemini mental edginess and land him in the non-rational waters of the Piscean Sea.
This would also set him up to have to deal with my oft-repeated ‘victim/victimizer ‘ program, something which often gets triggered by difficult aspects involving Pisces or Neptune.
The fact that Lou Reed was known as having a mix of being incredibly ambitious and aggressive in his dealings with people relative to his career, and seemingly completely indifferent to commercial success, would reflect the 10th House Sun component of this t-square. Again, re: Hilarion:
When the Sun is located in the tenth sector of a Natus, its meaning is that the individual has a strong drive to "project a role" into the world, to achieve something, to make his mark. This tendency is a habit built up in past lives of accomplishment.
From a lesson point of view, this solar placement shows a need to learn to be true to one's own inner essence, and not to compromise that truth for the sake of success. The more afflicted is the sun, the more that lesson needs to be learned.
Karmically, the sun in the tenth sector requires the individual to pass through stages of uncertainty and worry in connection with his "role in life". The degree of affliction to the sun speaks of the seriousness of these episodes. Under great affliction, the Sun here will show one who never seems able to establish the career role he yearns for.
The 12th House of the deeper unconscious, memory of the most recent past life, and the inherited family unconscious is Lou Reed’s most populated house in this chart. He has Saturn, Uranus, Mars and Jupiter there.
I make no promises that this birthtime is right. Just having Saturn, Uranus, and Mars conjunct to each other would give him a focused, disciplined, concretizing (i.e. Saturnian) engagement to an unconventional, revolutionary, liberating, iconoclastic (i.e. Uranian) energy, engaged, in turn, with a powerful, ambitious, perhaps aggressive Mars/martial energy.
These planets are all trine, harmonious, to Neptune, so it is natural that these energies would seek to be experienced/expressed through music, poetry, drugs, and possibly spirituality.
That’s all stuff we can see without a birthtime. If we put that configuration in a 12:10 pm chart with Saturn in the 12th (his last lifetime was not happy) Uranus in the 12th (it was quite unconventional or revolutionary) and Mars in the 12th (he was a man but perhaps involved with aggressive energies) but all trine to Neptune (there was some positive Neptunian component to all of this i.e. creativity, imagination, compassion, spirituality etc.)
The Jupiter in the 12th trines to Mercury and Venus and would therefore show a really positive, fortunate, expansive mental and emotional, philosophical and religious energies.
The Sun/Moon/Jupiter t-square, however, would show some major trauma involving Moon (home, family, children, mother/wife) and the Sun (his own ego or the ‘super-ego of an opposing society and culture) with some pumped-up Jupiterian component of exaggeration or fanaticism. He may have died in the Holocaust.
This, in fact, brings to my mind another common scenario. Lou Reed was Jewish, although there is this quote in Wikipedia:
His family was Jewish,  and although he said that he was Jewish, he added, "My God is rockʼnʼroll. It’s an obscure power that can change your life. The most important part of my religion is to play guitar."
The scenario which I have observed is in relation to another dimension of the 12th House. When I was studying with Liz Greene, in the 1980’s, she said that she didn’t know where she stood on the doctrine of reincarnation. She said that, in her view, the 12th House represented the inherited family ‘daemon,’ i.e. the inherited family unconscious that you get programmed with.
In my own observations I have come to be a firm believer that the 12th House is both. It shows what complex of memory you are carrying with you from your most recent past life, but then it is purposely arranged for you to incarnate in a family where that same complex of energies is being carried in the family unconscious.
Now each planet has only one in twelve chances of being in the 12th House. The number of souls who were born to Jewish parents between 1940 and 1955 who have traumatized complexes in the 12th House is way beyond what the normal odds would dictate in my observations.
Of course, anyone born Jewish during these years is going to be dealing with the psychological trauma of the legacy of the holocaust. However, especially here in the U.S. as opposed to in Europe, this trauma was generally not consciously dealt with, but rather pushed into the unconscious and not spoken about.
Again, I have no proof that this birthtime and these houses are correct. The fact we do know the Moon is in this t-square representing childhood, makes this discussion relevant regardless.
I do have total faith, however, that it is no accident that my Tarot cards steered me to this time and this discussion for, as they say, there are no accidents.
This possible relevancy of this interpretation of Lou Reed’s 12th House and the Jewish World War II legacy does add poignancy to his life and legacy of expression. It is a poignancy we can see in this chart without the interpretation of a 12:10 pm birthtime, but one that gives a certain dark resonance with what may have inspired Lou Reed to create his album ‘Berlin’ described this way in Wikipedia:
Reed followed Transformer with the darker Berlin, a concept album about two junkies in love in the city. The songs variously concern domestic abuse ("Caroline Says I," "Caroline Says II"), drug addiction ("How Do You Think It Feels"), adultery and prostitution ("The Kids"), and suicide ("The Bed").
The images and memory that bring this deep stuff to a more subtle, but nonetheless evocative, numinous resonance is Lou Reed’s performance, playing himself, in the Wim Wenders film: ‘Far Away, So Close!’ the sequel to ‘Wings of Desire’ where Angels in black and white filming in Berlin are observing people’s lives, listening in to the conversations going on inside their heads, and what happens when one angel yearns to experience more.
I think Lou Reed also existed, somehow, in that netherworld, neither there nor really fully here. I do appreciate where he brought us to though.
Steffan Vanel’s Spiritual Company Newsletters and ‘Starwise’ Monthly Forecasts are available freely by email. Those who wish to voluntarily donate on an annual, sliding-scale basis may do so here:
Steffan Vanel Archive
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