Tales from the Peregrine Moon: The Isolation of Nick Drake

Nick DrakeThose persons who tell you that the study of astrology requires an exhaustive understanding of every imaginable facet of cosmic knowledge are really telling only half the story. My own approach was once similarly flavoured, but then I noticed a peculiar phenomenon; I just felt the astrology. I began to get a strange sensation of empathic quality from looking at a nativity; often the sensation is faint, sometimes there is no sensation at all, but on occasion I can open up a chart and I am nearly moved to tears at some apprehension of the most delicate anxiety and angst before my brain has even had the remotest possibility of processing the actual astrology; I have come to the point whereby then, I do not read the astrology as a series of factors, like lines of computer code, but in fact I read the astrology as a glyph. Of course, as an afterthought, I can break it down to understand how that sense came about, but it is uncanny that even after reverse-engineering the delineations in this way, the conclusion is just the same. I am equally sensitive to the charts of murderers in this manner, Myra Hindley’s chart filled me with a sense of abysmal blackness so that I could not even look at it for more than a few moments.

I find those cases where the astrology is urgent in this way far more compelling, in fact, I understand how much a client requires help from exactly this phenomenon. It goes without saying then, that I am intrigued in my own astrology by whatever quality therein might offer a clue to the nature of this faculty. Now technically I consider the fact of my peregrine Mercury in mutual reception with Pluto below rising to be a possibility, but even more than this, I consider my Moon, also peregrine at the Eagle Point of Scorpio to be a good candidate.

Peregrine Moon in Scorpio is extremely uncommon in the literature, the actor Will Smith is one of the very rare individuals who has managed to express it at all. This rather cuts to the chase with the theme of peregrination, because actually there is an isolation, and with the Moon that can be very tricky, because you are emotionally cut off; you do not feel part of the world, you feel disconnected, separate and depending on the nature of the Moon sign, that might have some very difficult repercussions. Peregrine Moon in Scorpio is so rare in the charts of celebrities because their emotional security has no connection with anything else, they are thus forced to be emotionally self-sufficient, and in the sign of Scorpio: the most self-reliant and Spartan of all the zodiac, it becomes a life-and-death struggle against a sense of profound abandonment. If the Moon is peregrine in the sign of Cancer or Taurus, there may be clinginess or a tendency to eat for comfort and oscillate between that (and via the polarity) to be emotionally distant and to go off your food at times as well, but at least in these lunar-compatible signs, there is a real possibility of finding a sense of inner security. You may dissociate, but at least you can feel secure in your separateness. The native then with peregrine Moon in Taurus or in Cancer will give lie to the homily “no man is an island” because they are probably capable of being so.

Moon in Scorpio and peregrine then creates profound isolation too, but one that is deeply uncomfortable to the one experiencing it. This is key, because where Moon in the opposite sign of Taurus dissociates because he just feels so good about being “in his own world” because it is so comfortable a place to reside, in the Eagle sign it is akin to the eagle’s domain, lofty, distant and very, very lonely. The key to this position then is that the native can feel very different, very alone and very un-nurtured.

The text-book case is – in my view – that of the musician Nick Drake. His profound sensitivity of expression tells the story of the deeply private compassion of Moon in Scorpio, and his voice is the perfect delineation of the fragile, difficult quality of Neptune squared to Mercury conjunct Venus in the sad, hurting 12th. I looked at Drake’s chart this morning and felt a profound wave of sorrow wash through me, and I do not need to tell you that I listen to Nick Drake’s music all the time and it always has this effect on me. Of course, esoterically, his music is an expression of his astrology, which is itself an emanation of his soul, what Alan Watts so aptly described as an aperture through which the Universe shines.

There is no question though that the peregrine Moon in Scorpio aperture is profoundly difficult. Let us place that into the context of the whole of Drake’s chart:

Nick Drake Nativity

Even the minor aspects that Drake’s moon makes are not the easiest, the quincunxes to Sun/Uranus speak to an ever present dissatisfaction about expressing his feelings, and the quindecile to North Node implies an obsession with finding his destined vocation. The tee-square to “old hard-labour” Saturn – Pluto in Leo tells us that he was born to serve his sentence in this life in the creative sphere. In the second that creates a real need for warmth and prosperity, but Moon in Scorpio overrides everything, creating an intense sense of isolation.

Let us consider a few of the astonishing facets of this over-expressed Scorpio Moon in his life:

  • He lived a frugal existence, his only source of income being a £20 a week retainer he received from Island Records. At one point he was so poor he was unable to afford to buy a new pair of shoes.
  • He would often disappear for days, sometimes turning up unannounced at friends’ houses, uncommunicative and withdrawn. Robert Kirby described a typical visit: “He would arrive and not talk, sit down, listen to music, have a smoke, have a drink, sleep there the night, and two or three days later he wasn’t there, he’d gone. And three months later he’d be back.”
  • Drake ended his studies at Cambridge just nine months before graduation, and in autumn 1969 moved to London to concentrate on a career in music. His father remembered “writing him long letters, pointing out the disadvantages of going away from Cambridge…a degree was a safety net, if you manage to get a degree, at least you have something to fall back on; his reply to that was that a safety net was the one thing he did not want.”
  • By the winter of 1970, he had isolated himself in London. Disappointed by the reaction to Bryter Layter, he turned his thoughts inwards, and withdrew from family and friends. He rarely left his flat, and then only to play an occasional concert or to buy drugs.
  • Upon completion of his third album (Pink Moon), Drake delivered the master tapes to the front desk of Island Records’ office building. He placed them on a receptionist’s desk, and left without speaking to anyone.
  • In the only Drake interview ever published, the “shy and introverted folk singer” spoke of his dislike of live appearances, and very little else. “There wasn’t any connection whatsoever“, the interviewer said. “I don’t think he made eye contact with me once.”
  • In his 2006 autobiography, Drake’s producer recalled being taken aback at Drake’s anger and bitterness: ” I had told him he was a genius, and others had concurred. Why wasn’t he famous and rich. This rage must have festered beneath that inexpressive exterior for years.”
  • Throughout his body of work, Drake writes with detachment, more as an observer than participant, a point of view described by Rolling Stone “as if he were viewing his life from a great, unbridgeable distance.”

This perceived inability to connect has led to much speculation about Drake’s sexuality. Joe Boyd (Drakes’ and Fairport Convention’s producer) has said he detects a virginal quality in his lyrics and music, and notes that he never observed or heard of the singer behaving in a sexual way with anyone, male or female. Shall we point out then Drake’s peregrine (disconnected) Mars (sexuality) in the sign of Virgo (the virgin)?

I really fail to understand just why astrology isn’t taken so much more seriously than it is!

Nick Drake died aged just 26 of an overdose after having failed to connect with his life.

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5 thoughts on “Tales from the Peregrine Moon: The Isolation of Nick Drake

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  1. I have read this piece three times now, it is fascinating. It is very helpful for me to get a better feel for Moon in Scorpio even though (or especially because) I don’t have that configuration.

    In addition to my own chart stuff, I am aslo very interested in getting insight into the energies which either are not present in my chart other than one placement of an outer planet, or lacking all together. I find that very difficult to do without writing such as this.

    May I ask you for the birth data of Myra Hindley when you have time? Somehow I have ruined my astrodatabank or erased it, and I need to get it replaced. In the mean time, I would really like to see her chart as I do study (intensely) charts of suicides and murderers, (along with charts of unusually lengthy longevity.)

    I really identify with what you said about looking at certain charts of murder/suicides and getting a feeling or sense of them immediately. Their charts don’t ‘fill me with a sense of abysmal blackness’ or else I would not be able to study them full time like I do, but I can certainly see and sense the chart as a whole, on first glance at times.

  2. You make an excellent point; we as astrologers are often required to imagine completely alien modes of expression. I am writing a report today for A peregrine Moon in Taurus sufferer; that is about as opposed to my own subjective experience as it gets!

    It becomes abstract, you just have to trust the astrology then in place of your direct experience.

    Myra Hindley’s birth data is:
    23 July 1942, 02:45 (-2) Crumpsall, Lancs. England (53N31, 02W15)

    Do you post your investigations online at all?

  3. Thanks much for the birth data!

    I will be posting some of the results of my projects soon and I’ll make sure to get the link to you.

  4. Hi, I have a peregrine Moon in Taurus and it was very nice to read that there is an astrological reason why I sometimes feel I can detach emtionally when others are unable to even comtemplate it. And I’ve always loved that phrase ‘no man is an island’ now I know why…

    thank you!

  5. Hi, I was listening to Nick Drake’s music here, and thought to look up his face in the net, cause it had been quite a while since I last looked at it, at his pictures. I like to put a face to what I listen, and I was not remembering his anymore.

    I noticed that (to me) he looks quite sensitive and contemplative, someone that might have a rich inner world, full of thoughts and reflections and understandment, and compassion, and … maybe even fear…. thought that is not apparent to me in his face. Just what I think happens afterwards, when a person is like that. He appears to have been someone easily moved by others people sufferance (besides the compassion of Scorpio Moon, Cancer rising, I think contributes to that to an extend, to him, having that “look” ), and reluctant to go through the same. And his songs, more that anything else, like you wrote in the article, make him look like more of an observant, someone that talks about what he learned from what he had seen others living, than someone that talks about what he learned from what he lived.

    I was curious to see his chat interpreted, and found his article that I enjoyed very much. It has been a long while since it was written, years, but I felt like giving my two cents as people say..
    He also has a sun in the 12th. And I think that might play a part in his disconnectedness too. I’m also a 12th house sun (conjunct Neptune in my case), also with Moon in Scorpio, but mine is conjunct Pluto, and MC. With a Cap asc. I think 12th house suns people, if they allow themselves to go way overboard, and if the rest of the chart helps in that direction, might even become a “self in exile”, might develop some schizoid, or avoidant traits. Of course I’m also talking about myself. And I have a Sun/Neptune conjunct too, and he doesn’t, he has Sun/Uranus conjunct, but still… And his uranian influenced 12th house sun… A person that sort of hides, himself partially, cause he senses that he in fact is a little different that most that surrounds him. Venus/Neptune wants the ideal, and the Scorpio Moon is so keen at noticing the dark parts of the world, the less that lovely motivations of people.

    Anyway… just my two cents, lol

    Thanks for the article, 🙂

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