The Astrology of Marital Breakdown…

Outer transits to the descendant can play havoc with the happily ever after...
Outer planet transits to the descendant can play havoc with the happily ever after…

It is unfortunate that love, perhaps more in keeping with Artemis than Aphrodite both waxes and wanes and there is no doubt whatever where the one is wondrous and fair, the other may often be laced with venom. I have advised a considerable number of clients in this particular regard and I have enough theoretical and practical experience of the astrology of marital breakdown to be able predict with some accuracy the likely course of such difficulties. In the event, knowing that it may all be for the best does not stop the vitriol and judgement of vaguely interested third parties, nor does it assuage the anguish of those more intimately configured, but if this life is to stand for anything at all – other than an empty and vainglorious accumulation of accolades and possessions – then sometimes a small measure of acceptance is the only compassionate path through such difficulty.

In reality, the astrology can provide a considerable insight into the conditions of the marriage, and further, the conditions at the end of a marriage; today I wish to look at various aspects of the psychology and the astrology of marriage breakdown and try to place the often narrow focus of the Saturnine detractor in a broader human context, one that the great Joseph Campbell determined thus: “Where the moralist would be filled with indignation and the tragic poet with pity and terror, [mythology (astrology)] breaks the whole of life into a vast, horrendous Divine Comedy. Its Olympian laugh is not escapist in the least, but hard, with the hardness of life itself – which, we may take it, is the hardness of God, the Creator.  [This] makes the tragic attitude seem somewhat hysterical, and the merely moral judgement shortsighted. Yet the hardness is balanced by an assurance that all that we see is but the reflex of a power that endures, untouched by the pain.” (Joseph Campbell, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces: The Monomyth” pp 45-46 – Princeton University Press 1949).

Astrologically there is no surprise that the vast majority of marital breakdowns occur between the ages of 36 and 42; the dissonance between a third Jupiter return and the Uranus half-return creates a tense space in which the unexplored horizons of earlier life crash jarringly into the phenomenon identified by Jung as the mid-life crisis; a term much maligned by laymen ever since. Jung well understood, as a student of astrology himself the need to identify a sudden revolution in the personal apprehension of life’s meaning that the Uranus opposition instantiated, he termed it a crisis only in the sense that it was a necessary precipitation that would well-up and finally run-free into a more inclusive contact with the Universe; for without crisis there could not be growth. This then in Jung’s view was not a great conjuration, but rather an opportunity. Of course, where Uranus, God of the skies draws us out, Saturn, his castrator and nemesis holds us back and this is the choice we all face during these crucial years: to grow and evolve, or to heed Kronos’ dull and dire laments and begin the slow shuffle into spiritual decline and death. The ‘crisis’ then, whilst not being limited to the institution of marriage, invariably promulgates an upheaval in all areas where scrutiny is required in the scope of a human life, and marriage is inevitably thus configured.

Astrologically it is clear, as it ought to be in mere psychology; the marriage that is basically sound and fulfilling to both parties ought to have nothing to fear from the various returns, progressions and transits at mid-life or indeed at any other time. If there is serious lack, imbalance, incompatibility or suppression of self then it will eventually find its way out, as ever through the various etheric and physical vehicles, spirit or body, creating anxiety, nervous disorder, depression or illness. In such a case, the result is very often a breakdown either within the marriage, or of the marriage itself.

Much can be gleaned from the ruler of the descendant, applications to it or its ruler by transit or progression, and the interactions within the nativity itself. Any of the outer planets crossing the 7th house cusp will instantiate at the very least a serious re-examination of marital objectives and a fair degree of analysis of the conditions within the marriage. Uranus crossing the 7th will create the potential for a sudden break, Neptune a dissolving, often with a difficulty to grasp what exactly is wrong, Pluto a grinding down and an invariably painful insight into the deeper psychology of oneself. Pluto purges us of compulsions and unconscious dependence too, and in the house of marriage this can often shine a new light upon our union; Pluto does not unearth only the difficult however, he also exposes previously unimagined treasures, and the same can be said for all outer transits, providing we understand that we cannot simply stand firm and resist. Life is a journey, we cannot refuse to get on the train.

This is not to say that an outer transit to the 7th cusp or ruler will always signify a marital breakdown, far from it: a basically balanced and sound partnership that fulfils the needs and desires of both parties ought to have nothing to fear.

Then too, look to the sign on the cusp of the 8th and its ruler for an insight into the nature of the break-up itself, should it occur. The 8th of course is analogous to the 2nd of the 7th, thus it determines the manner of the division of shared property – and the 8th is the house of joint resources for precisely this reason. Furthermore, the 8th rules endings, so the ruler and its condition as well as any tenants herein will give a further clue to the manner of the split. If Aries, Scorpio or Mars is configured, do not expect an amicable settlement, Saturn or Capricorn will make the process slow and practical and take all the joy out of it too, Venus, Taurus or Libra should allow some measure of grace or at least politeness to infiltrate proceedings; and in every case this bears out.

Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards underwent a deeply acrimoious split
Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards underwent a deeply acrimoious split

As an example, the breakdown of Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen’s union with actress and glamour model Denise Richards  is worthy of study. After two daughters and only 4 years of marriage, Richards filed for divorce citing unreasonable behaviour. Currently Sheen and Richards are engaged in an acrimonious custody dispute over their two daughters, with Richards requesting a custody evaluation, no overnight visits for Sheen, and authority to make decisions regarding the care of the children. Richards alleges abusive behavior by Sheen toward her and staff, paranoid behavior regarding the care of the children, and that he continues to have gambling and drug addictions. Sheen denies these allegations and further alleges that Richards later requested sperm from him in order to have another child. In short the split has been neither smooth nor swift.

00) New York, NY USA
Charlie Sheen, actor. 3 Sep 1965 22:48 EST (+05:00) New York, NY USA

Sheen’s astrology evinces a number of fascinating conditions although I will confine the majority of my insights to those specific issues relating to the marriage and in particular its breakdown. It is interesting to note the great difficulties denoted by the 3 point stellium of Su/Ur/Pl in Virgo – thus control and self control problems – opposed by Sa/Ch in the 10th, which immediately tells you something about his public life and the legacy of his father too no doubt. Peregrine Venus in Libra and the 5th is really the runaway factor and entirely describes, particularly in a nativity fueled by Sun conjunct Pluto his self-destructive appetite for licentious gratification: Sheen is reckoned to have slept with as many as 5,000 women in his lifetime and his inability to curb his tendency to sexual excess has damaged his career and his personal relationships.

Most pertinently however, the ruler of the 7th, Jupiter is profoundly stressed in all too flighty Gemini. Gemini on the 7th, or the ruler of the 7th in Gemini always suggests a strong likelihood of 2 or more marriages, but with Jupiter here there is a tendency to really struggle to expand one’s horizons; watch anyone with Jupiter in Gemini trying to have a good time and it is often quite exhausting to behold, they make the taking of ease into such hard work. Here the Moon opposes Jupiter which usually denotes some marital differences, often through being rather wasteful, truculent and generally contrary in one’s manner. Moon in the 7th denotes fluctuating marital conditions and in Sagittarius there are no doubt some boundary issues, an instinctive need for freedom that is not entirely conducive to marital stability at the best of times.

The 8th house ruler however is the key factor in determining the nature of the marital split. With Capricorn configured Saturn is clearly in considerable difficulty even if accidentally dignified; the trines to Mars and Neptune notwithstanding. Saturn ruling the 8th of course determines that the divorce will be difficult, drawn-out and burdensome, and in the 10th: public. The conjunction to Chiron makes it painful and in Pisces, there is little surprise that his history of substance abuse has been cited in the proceedings. The oppositions to the Virgo stellium include Sa/Pl: thus hard labour in Virgo, and a great deal of public (10th) criticism (Virgo) is the result, while the emotional tension of Sa/Ur will have to be endured over a protracted period.

It ought to be noted that having Saturn as ruler of the 8th does not by itself determine that any divorce will be acrimonious: a harmoniously placed and aspected Saturn may indeed allow the process to be handled with dignity and a responsible attitude; in Sheen’s case however, the oppositions from Virgo, and most especially the opposing nature of Pluto will force a power struggle and as with any mundane opposition: themes will be played out through other people.

Their divorce was finalised just as Pluto moved into orb of Moon in Sagittarius and my own view would be that matters will not be completely finalised for Sheen and Richards until the latter part of 2011 when Pluto applies to his 8th house; which might also suggest an entirely unsatisfactory eventual outcome for Sheen in any case.

Of course, the ending of any committed relationship is difficult and painful for all parties, and there are never any winners, but understanding the astrology of these traumatic events at least creates the possibility of knowing the likely course that must be navigated before a more harmonious mode of existence can be enjoyed by all those affected by such traumatic trials.

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8 thoughts on “The Astrology of Marital Breakdown…

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  1. One important tell tale sign I have found on impending divorces, the solar arc charts are very active the year prior. You can even pin point the days of make or break type arguements and their nature or cause.

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  3. Hi Jeremy. I would have liked to have seen the chart of Denise Richards here as well. When divorce is desirable to one partner – the tranists in that particular chart are always significant. However, this does not seem to apply in my experience to the chart of the other half of the partnership. The difficult transits here – often revolving around Saturn to Moon/Venus – appear up to a year later. Though Mars is always lurking….cos there is anger that’s for sure. Elizabeth

  4. Both good points for sure and I will follow up this article with a look at Denise Richards’ astrology and a foray into the SA directions as well.

    Some of the allegations that these two have put out there do suggest an astonishing amount of unresolved anger and hurt and there are a few indicators in Richards’ chart which certainly give one pause, so it is definitely worth some investigation.

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