Time then for a few closing notes on the subject of Alan Watts’ fascinating nativity. We have covered some of the key issues that made him the enigmatic but brilliant genius that he so clearly was; his peregrine but dignified Uranus, Cazimi Mercury, qunideciles from Saturn conjunct Pluto and Neptune on the 8th and his Saturnine/Uranian soul, realised through an appreciation of his Capricorn stellium in the first. Of course, no chart is defined entirely by just one or two configurations, and really we have up till now concerned ourselves with confirming those aspects of his nature that we are privy to, so what of the rest of the man?
Astrologically I find the Moon opposition to Chiron intriguing. This suggests a painful and never-healed rift in the relationship with the mother; with his Moon in pure but perfection-seeking Virgo in the 8th there is a hint that she may have held high standards that the young Alan found hard to attain. His interest in philosophy and later eastern mysticism came about largely through the influence of his mother, Emily, as she was the daughter of a missionary herself and Watts recalled in his biography how his mother taught at a local school for daughters of missionaries to China. It was because of his mother that Alan had early exposure to Asian culture, via art and other gifts brought by parents returning from China. A Sinophile all his life, Alan attributed the start of his interest in the writings of Chinese poets and sages to his mother’s gift of a Chinese translation of the New Testament.
Immediately, we get a sense of Emily as having a deeply spiritual, albeit orthodox facet to her nature, and it is interesting to note how Watts spent a great deal of his philosophic effort upon deconstructing many of the inconsistencies of traditional theistic logic. With Chiron in Pisces, we get a sense that the damage in his maternal relationship was at heart a spiritual one, an inability to find a middle ground between the exacting rules of critical Virgo and the polarity of Piscean faith; an existential incompatibility between a mother who may have been obsessive and critical, and a need to find a sense of trust in a benevolent Universe. Indeed, much of Watts’ greatest insight speaks to powerfully Neptunian themes of dissolution, of impermanence, of illusion and compassion.
So what might have caused this rift? Moon in Virgo hints at a mother who wanted things to be just so, neat, orderly and if not exactly conventional, certainly humble and God forbid! None too flashy! Then we see the quincunx to otherwise unaspected Uranus in its domicile of Aquarius, suddenly (and thus fittingly for Uranus) we see the source of the pain. Watts was different, naturally he was odd, quirky, noticeable by dint of being not-normal; his interests were weird and profoundly unorthodox and he speaks of a childhood spent devising complex funeral rites for birds, and composing treatises on theology which he would discuss with his parents long into the night. There is no question that his mother loved him; he speaks of her fondly, but of course that quincunx speaks to dissatisfaction, and it appears that even after declaring himself a Buddhist at age 14 Watts was still inclined to try and reconcile his chosen belief with that of his mother’s choosing.
The maternal principle is internalised, and with Moon in the 8th, there is a theme of letting go; this opposed to Chiron further posits the idea that letting go of his mother drove him to seek some spiritual solution to his painful loss. Chiron in Pisces on the very cusp of the 3rd forces one to continually readjust their faith in hope of addressing the cold-shoulder of an uncaring cosmos.
A few other points worthy of mention:
- Neptune conjunct royal Regulus would dignify his spirituality.
- Venus in Sagittarius in the 12th gives a profound love of prophetic and far-reaching ideals, of far off places, of the exotic and mystical; it also gives a deep love of solitude, and it is well known that Watts would spend several hours a day meditating alone, a confirmed Buddhist; which in his day was certainly an exotic belief system.
- Venus furthermore rules the 10th, so this love of exotic belief systems would somehow define the career!
- Saturn in Gemini creates a challenge to articulate, and here, conjunct Betelgeuse denotes “success which is not blocked” according to Brady. Unquestionably so.
- Saturn furthermore mutually receives Mercury; thus lending great stability to his thinking and much faculty for adaptability in meeting his obligations.
- Pars fortuna is partile the Imum Coeli, suggesting that his most private self was his bounty.
This is the final article concerning Alan Watts. I strongly recommend that you listen to some of his marvellous teachings, and here is a podcast which will allow you to do just that.