Birth 10.15 am 27 November 1942 Seattle Washington. Died September 18, 1970
Throughout his adult life, Jimi Hendrix maintained that he was not from this planet at all. He was ‘a visitor’… from Jupiter, or from an asteroid off the coast of Mars, or the astral planes, which he claimed he had visited as a boy. The point was, Jimi was just passing through.
Wherever he came from, when he touched down on planet earth Hendrix arrived with a horoscope that was a perfect fit for a cosmic voyager. Jimi was born when the Sun was in Sagittarius, the sign of the traveller and visionary. Sagittarius doesn’t like to be fenced in, physically or mentally; the Centaur gallops far and aims its arrows high.
The sense of space, the ‘big picture’, informs the work of many Sagittarian artists; the thunderous joys of Beethoven (Sun and Moon in Sagittarius), the dark jungles of Joseph Conrad (Sun) or the sci-fi excursions of Stephen Spielberg (Sun and Mercury). Jim Morrison (Sun) was another Sag who wanted to ‘break on through to the other side’. Jimi was no exception. His songs are full of arcing skies, majestic oceans, distant planets and alien landscapes, images Jimi conjured up not just through words but with an astonishing array of soaring guitars and cutting edge sonic effects. No artist in rock ever travelled further, or with greater genius.
In Jimi’s horoscope the sign of Sagittarius is super strong, containing not just the Sun (the self) but Mercury (mind/dexterity), Venus (romance and style) and the all-important Ascendant (one’s destination) (1). This configuration describes a born artist, where nothing and nobody were ever going to hold him down. Jimi left home at the earliest opportunity and rarely looked back on a quest that Jimi’s biographer Harry Shapiro describes as ‘a firm belief he had a divine message to impart, that it was his duty to bring a vision of love and healing to the world’.
The Sagittarian desire for freedom is only half the story. Like Gemini and Pisces, Sagittarius is a ‘dual’ sign, with two contrasting sides. One half of the Centaur is human philosopher, head in the clouds, the other is lusty horse, feet on the ground – this sign is both beauty and beast, as fellow Sag Little Richard (in whose band Jimi played) illustrates. (2)
Jimi’s freedom fixation was not altogether to his benefit. Artistically it let him roam, but personally he could have used a calming influence. Instead, with Uranus, the ‘lightning strikes’ planet, opposite Venus, his relations with women were always likely to be screwed-up – he was drawn to crazy women, ‘electric ladies’ as he called them.
To go with the influence of fiery Sagittarius, Jimi had several planets in water signs, signifying a powerfully intuitive and emotional side. There are no planets in the pragmatic earth signs – Jimi was notoriously impractical – and little in intellectual air signs. He was a creature of fire and water.
The oceanic sign of Cancer contains Jimi’s Moon (emotional life) and Jupiter (sense of hope), and Hendrix, who was born by the Pacific, wrote songs that were haunted by water: by rain, waterfalls, and above all the power and mystery of the ocean. In ‘Are You Experienced’ he promises us we’ll ‘watch the sun rise from the bottom of the sea’. In ‘Angel’ he sings of ‘the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea’, and in ‘1983 (A Merman I Shall Be)’, he delivers an apocalyptic vision of a shattered planet where humanity retreats to the ocean depths and ‘Atlantis full of cheer’. Like the best science fiction, it’s a metaphor, allowing Jimi to evoke the primal waters of ocean and womb, a subject to which he would return on ‘Belly Button Blues’.
With his Moon/Jupiter duo sunk in the secretive eighth house of his horoscope, Jimi’s relationships were always likely to be difficult to decipher, his emotions hidden. Though he demanded independence for himself, he became wildly jealous if anyone abandoned him, a trait reflected by Mars (lust for life) in another water sign, Scorpio. The red planet Mars and its sign Scorpio have always represented the military, so it’s no surprise that Jimi served in the army as a paratrooper. He even came to fame wearing military uniform (an old English army jacket). Jimi never lost sympathy for the common soldier out in Vietnam where his music was popular among the ‘grunts’ (cf Apocalypse Now).
In another role, sexually (lusty Mars is ‘the hard man’) the red planet in its own sign gave Jimi natural flamboyance. Ever the sexual conqueror, on stage Jimi left no phallic nuance unexplored, stroking, thrusting and going down on his guitars.
Tying together these assorted configurations in Jimi’s birth chart is Neptune, the planet of mysticism, escape, drugs and drink. Jimi was hardly alone in being swept away in a drug-induced miasma, but his sense of spirituality was unusually strong. He often described mystic episodes from his boyhood, and identified with the red indian blood in his veins (even though he was only 1/16th Cherokee) that he felt brought him a shaman’s vision.
Predictably enough, Jimi himself was a devotee of astrology – at his 1970 concert in Hawaii he even invited the audience to divide according to their Sun signs. Listening to his cosmic voyages – to ‘as far away as Jupiter’s sulphur mines’, or to where mountains are chopped down ‘with the edge of my hand’ – one becomes aware of the multi-dimensional realm daily inhabited by Hendrix, with his passion for acid, numerology and space travel.
Yet Jimi remained careless about his earthly life. His horoscope shows no reasons why September 1970 should have spelt out his death. It was a foolish, avoidable accident. But, like he told us, Jimi, the brother from another planet, was only ever passing through.
1. Jimi’s Ascendant, the sign rising over the horizon at birth, was at the 25th degree of Sagittarius, which on the zodiac’s 360 degree circle, is the point of the ‘galactic centre’.
2. Jimi always wore lots of turquoise, Sag’s gemstone, just as Prince always wore lots of purple, Sag’s colour.