A SWAN'S SONG
an astrological analysis of Tchaivovksy's chart focusing on the Black Moon
by Juan Antonio Revilla
Message: 5 Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 21:05:16 -0600
Subject: a Swan's Song I
The chart of composer Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) appeared in Alan Leo's "Notable Nativities" (1917). It is #722 and says "speculative horoscope", with no data on its source. The chart is calculated for May 7 1840 (April 25, old style), 6:45 a.m. local mean time, although the Moon position, given as 2 Leo, is incorrect; the correct position at that time is 27,42 Cancer. This same chart appears in the Sabian Symbols collection (#891) --also without a source--, but this time the Moon position is given more correct as 28,50 Cancer (It is not made for 6:35 a.m as is often quoted).
The place of birth given by most sources is Votkinsk or Kamsko-Votkinsk,
a small town near the Urals, 57N03/53E59.
Of course this is only speculative, but I will keep working with this chart until I see a credible documentary (non-astrological) source about his birth time.
With an unknown birth time, the chart made for the moment of death may be a good reference radical for his life. He died in St. Petesburg (most probably suicide by drinking poison) November 6, 1893, at age 53 (October 25, old style). The time of death was 3 a.m. according to "Tchaikovski" Instituto Parramón Editores S.A. Barcelona, 1982 (page 20)
Before commenting on the True Black Moon, I would like to take a look at the main (1 degree oppositions and conjunctions with the Sun or Moon, or squares if the Nodes are involved) aspects with the centaurs and other similar asteroids:
Lunar node = 3,30 Pisces
Mars = 15,59 Taurus
Pluto = 19,04 Aries
Moon = 27,42 Cancer
Nessus = 27,35 Taurus
Jupiter = 13,34 Scorpio
1999TD10 = 15,37 Libra
So we have a lot of material already to comment about. Later I will deal with his marriage and with his relationship with Nadezhda von Meck, and we will also talk about the Swan Lake ballet and the possible Black Moon symbolism, and this could give us an opportunity to think about the difference of meaning between the Black Moon and the centaurs.
Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2000 14:00:57 -0600
Before going into his marriage and his platonic relationship with Nadezhda von Meck, let me share with you the main impression I have of him regarding the birth chart (centaurs excluded for the moment).
Of all the contacts mentioned, the one more striking to me is the Sun/Mars exact conjunction in square with Neptune. Tchaikovsky in his personal life was a tormented man, very prone to cry and often escaping through alcohol. This can be easily related to the "implosion" of this conjunction. Mars self-assertion and aggressiveness is being very strongly emphasized (a sign of a strong reaction against feelings of castration), but, in his case, instead of self-assertion and masculinity, we have fear, susceptibility, and despondency.
Perhaps the emphasis of the Moon (Cancer) rising in Cancer gave him such a neurotic attachment to his own inner and abandoned child, an all-encompassing thirst or mothering need (her mother died when he was 14, and he was strongly attached to his nanny, who left him while still a child). Neptune of course is also part of it, especially the use of alcohol and pharmaceutics, and the feelings of guilt for his homosexuality that tormented him all his life and ended in his suicide at age 53. But fortunately for us, the very strong repression of his Mars and his very feminine (or lunar) sensitivity had an outlet in his music, where we can plunge into a Neptunian world of romantic dreams full of rich textures and colors.
There is a wonderful self-assertion in most of his compositions, although present in many of them is his depression and his morbid self-compassion (epitomized in his 6th Symphony); but the happier moments are full of wonderful sparks, and a melancholy that is able to express the most intimate whispers of the soul (in particular, I am thinking in the slow movement of the string serenade, or in the majesty of the slow "cantabile" with the horns in his 5th Symphony, or the outbursts of passionate tenderness of his "Pathetique" (6th Symph.). It is said that the only "happy" and "light" composition he ever wrote was the "Italian Capricio"...
One can identify all that with the strong Cancer Moon, but probably Neptune could account for the morbidity, the getting lost in a world of tormented and repressed feelings, the guilt (e.g. for having fallen in love with his nephew, for having divorced his wife) and his shame of being homosexual... and, probably most of all, in my opinion, his ability to give expression to the "morbidity of a soul in love" (a very maternal or Edypical feeling).
I had put the chart of Tchaikovsky aside in the past, because I feel these aspects (Sun/Mars/Neptune and Moon in Cancer rising) could account for his traits without the need for the centaurs, but I was struck recently when I saw the exact relationship between the Sun/Mars conjunction and the true Black Moon (TBM):
Mars = 15,59 Taurus
This triggered my imagination, because I could see the sign of his "repressed womanhood", his castration, the horror he felt for the physical proximity of his wife, his ghostly (platonic) relationship with Nadezhda von Meck, and the wonderful magic symbolism of "Swan Lake", the young Princess who has become a swan through the evil spell of a black magician, and the fight amidst a tempest between the prince and the magician to release her from the spell, which happens only at the moment of death. Wonderful. Tchaikovsky himself was the swan-princess.
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000 09:10:17 -0600
By 1876, at 36, in one of his numerous nervous breakdowns and depressions, Tchaikovsky took the decision to get married, in order to mitigate the social effects of his homosexuality. Three very significant things happened then: he received the first letter by Madezhda von Meck, a very rich widow who was to become his confident and financial protector (though they never met in person and he never mentioned his sexual preferences to her), dated December 30, 1876; the "Swan Lake" ballet was first performed at the Bolshoi in March, 1877; and in May-June 1877 he met Antonina Miliukova, whom he married less than 2 months later.
While he was working on the "Eugen Onegin" opera, he received a series of passionate love-declarations letters in May, 1877, written by one of his students at the Conservatoire. Since the last letter had a return address, he went to visit her at her house on June 1st. And the marriage ceremony was celebrated July 18, 1877.
I note the following positions:
there is a Yod pointing to Nessus:
Sun = 25,22 Cancer (square his natal Venus in 25,24 Aries)
Venus = 14,57 Leo
Black Moon = 27,15 Capricorn
Unfortunately, we don't know the time of the wedding in order to ascertain the position of the Moon, but at 12h UT (around 2:30 p.m. in Moscow) it was in 7 Scorpio, opposing Neptune and conjunct natal Pylenor. Since it is probable that it happened before noon, it may be conjunct Hylonome and opposing Chiron and natal OX3.
Tchaikovsky explained later to his friend Kashkin that at the time he received the letters from Antonina, telling him that without his love life would be worthless, he was deeply involved with the Eugene Onegin story by Pushkin, where a similar love plea is met by rejection, and he had identified with the young girl of the story (Tatiana), hating Onegin, so he didn't want to do the same thing to the woman who wanted in her letters to throw herself to him. This would be a very typical Hylonome signature (except that Antonina was 27 and not so innocent, while the Tatiana of the story was 17).
But the honeymoon in St. Petesburg was a nightmare for Tchaikovsky. He physically repudiated his wife and could not stop crying; he drank heavily and took lots of valeriana so he could be sleeping most of the time. His wife turned out to be mentally unstable. A few weeks later he clumsily tried to commit suicide by putting ice on his chest to get pneumonia, but this served as an impulse to take the final decision and fly away, for which he invented a telegram recalling him to Moscow. When he arrived, he collapsed in the hotel room and was unconscious for 2 days, after which a doctor told him he needed a rest or otherwise he would soon be completely mad...
In the film about Tchaikovsky by Ken Russel (1971), which he describes as <<the story of the marriage between a homosexual and a nymphomaniac>>, there is a wonderful scene where Tchaikovsky attempts suicide by submerging himself in the waters of a lake. With the water up his neck, drowning inside in self-pity, he hears the magical Swan Song played powerfully by the horns and the brass, as the betrayed princess-swan tries desperately to die as a woman and the prince fights the storm made by the black magician to stop him from uniting in death with his beloved princess...
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000 11:43:08 -0600
The fundamental axis: Mars = 15,59 Taurus; Sun = 16,36 Taurus; Black Moon = 16,45 Scorpio
An opposition to the Sun, by itself, causes a fundamental split of the personality. This can be seen as the Princess (Odette) transformed into a swan. The evil black magician (Baron von Rothbart) is the Black Moon, whose spell has enslaved the princess and her maidens into a non-human form. Only at night (the Black Moon again) can Odette temporarily return into a human form. The spell blocks Odette's womanhood, whose loneliness and innocent beauty is represented by the swan-Unicorn (the Black Moon).
The fundamental healthy self-expression (the Sun) is blocked by the spell of the Black Moon. This is an excellent description of a castrating mother complex. The terrible mother is a spider in whose web the self is trapped. This web can be seen as the region of the apogee-perigee. It is a pit where womanhood is all-powerful. She is no longer woman but either a goddess or a castrating witch, a seductress who swallows and devours. The apogee-perigee axis is like a vortex, the empty focus of the orbit "swallows" life, like the phallic mother.
Mars appears in Tchaikovsky inverted. It has turned into its opposite, the refusal to act openly and express creatively the self-assertive anger of the solar hero (the Prince Siegfried of Swan Lake). This happens only in Tchaikovsky's music, full of self-assertive sparks and colors, but the self always surrenders to the childhood melancholy, the lost maternal idyl, which is deadly for the adult and devours the ego. The Sun and Mars surrender, and instead of valiantness there is cowardice. The heroic is reserved for the music, for the fight of Siegfried with the black magician...
.... but he is fighting for death. Odette felt betrayed and was dying without hope, and Siegfried surrenders to the night in an embrace of love with the swan, his impossible love, the self-absorbent Unicorn. Woman (mother) swallowed man, who returns to the womb.
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2000 10:35:53 -0600
Here is a quote from the Britannica that can help us visualize the angle of his personality in which I am focusing in these notes:
<<He must have subconsciously known all along that an unconsummated marriage was hardly likely to be successful, but it was doubly unfortunate that his wife should have been a nymphomaniac who repelled him to such an extent that he made an abortive attempt at suicide. He now fully realized that in the eyes of society he was permanently to be a sexual outcast. He loved children but would never have any of his own. He was to live the rest of his life in frustration and loneliness alleviated only by occasional heavy drinking and by composition. Even the happy summers spent at his sister's house at Kamenka in the Ukraine were later spoiled by an overwhelming sense of guilt when he fell in love with her son, his young nephew "Bob" (Vladimir) Davydov.>>
The day Tchaikovsky died, the true Black Moon was in exact opposition to Neptune:
Neptune = 12,10 Gemini
This axis may have some relationship with the mysterious or deliberately cloudy circumstances surrounding his death, and also with the fact that, if we use the date of the first letter he ever received from Nadezhda von Meck as the starting point of their 13-years platonic relationship (December 30, 1876), we find:
Node = 12,14 Pisces
This epistolar relationship, which was to have a profound and beneficent effect for both, abruptly came to an end in a short letter she wrote to him, dated October 4th, 1890, where she lied about her economic situation and radically ended all ties --economic or otherwise-- with him. She never answered any of Tchaikovsky's replies, and the reasons for the separation are still unknown today. Tchaikovsky was deeply hurt, although he was by the time financially independent. Interestingly, the day of her break-up letter:
1181 Lilith = 28,04 Capricorn (opposition his Moon)
There has always been a legend and a great mystery surrounding Tchaikovsky's death. For a long time it was thought that, willingly and aware of the fact or simply unaware, he had drank a glass of water infected with cholera. The main reason to think in suicide, of course, was his Pathetique symphony, which had its premiere with him as director on October 28, 1893. Only nine days later, on November 6th, he was dead. While still writing the symphony he had written to a friend that the 6th was <<a programme symphony, but with a programme which shall remain a mystery for everyone.>>. The date of the premiere:
Sun = 4,48 Scorpio
This Symphony was his "swan song". Interestingly, at the time of the "Swan Lake" premiere, March 4, 1877, we find:
Black Moon = 4,57 Aquarius
which becomes significant especially if we consider it as an axis.
According to the Britannica, this was the result of <<scholarship
in the 2nd half of the 20th century>>. The Britannica speaks of <<romantic
involvement with a male member of the imperial family>>, i.e., the Tsar's
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2000 22:02:45 -0600
In a biography I have there is a quote of a letter to his brother Modest: <<I feel the need of a feminine hand caressing me>>, but the biographer goes on to explain that this is an ideal hand, that of his mother (and quotes again:) <<... loved with tender and passionate love.>>. I feel that this unattainable "ideal" is what his Black Moon shows. It can be seen in the impossible love of the prince and the princess in Swan Lake, and in his passionate but ghostly platonic relationship with Nadezhda von Meck (they never met in person, although she wrote to him twice a day for more than 10 years!).
There is something "feminine/mothering" about a person's surrender to music. He used to cry a lot while he was composing... Music pours upon the listener like maternal grace.
The following quote from the Britannica may help here: <<His work is a manifestation, sometimes charming, sometimes showy, and occasionally vulgar of repressed feelings that became more and more despairing in later years and culminated in the composition of the Sixth Symphony, one of the greatest symphonic works of his time.>>
... In his personal life, as is attested by his numerous letters, he
was very unhappy and despondent. The 6th Symphony is especially interesting
regarding this "split" of his being: it is immensely beautiful but appallingly
depressing. In it, Tchaikovsky "closes the door".
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Juan Revilla)
I will try to deal with Tchaikovsky's centaurs now, at least briefly, beginning with the "better" known ones first and using his death chart. Of course these are only my subjective impressions and all others are welcome.
For example, there is a striking configuration at death:
Pluto at birth = 19,04 Aries
Needless to say, I don't know what this means, but my feeling is that it has a lot to do with death, and that it is depressing and "heavy" (Saturn/Pluto). The lunar nodes add intensity and focality. We can imagine the node as a door, as a "passage", so that perhaps there was a strong pressure (e.g. the depression) "pushing" toward that door. Pholus is the dissolving, the fragmentation, the "flight", which here, under the heavy burden of Saturn, pressing and pushing the natal Pluto, may be directed "into the night", the stopping, the No-No. As I have suggested earlier, the strongest evidence for this is the finale of his 6th Symphony, premiered only 9 days before he died.
There is a strong controversy about the real circumstances of Tchaikovsky's death. But, from my perspective, whatever were the true circumstances (e.g., suicide or not, "court of honor" or not), the symbolism is what matters, added to the testimony I hear in his music (which I have been hearing and loving since my adolescence). His intensely beautiful last symphony, considered to be his best, ends with an "Adagio lamentoso", and at the very end of the score he wrote (as instructions for its performance) "morendo" ("dying away"). It is very lugubrious...
A lot of people have tried to underscore the importance given to this very sentimental symphony in terms of the composer's real feelings and attitude to life at the time, basing themselves on an attack to the alleged homophobic prejudices of biographers who think that he was so tormented and unhappy "because" he was homosexual, and "homosexuals cannot be happy". In doing so, these people pretend to disentangle the sentimental and tragic "tone" of the music from the man, and try to demonstrate that he was not depressed at all and was not having thoughts of death or of suicide when he composed the music, that he was a very successful and "empowered" man, etc. In my opinion, judging from the evidence, this is an unbalanced reaction based on the same homosexuality prejudice, except that it goes in the opposite direction, wrongly assuming that those who --like me-- see depression, despondency, excess sentimentality and castration in the man decided to do so out of prejudices about his homosexuality. Things are not so simplistic.
Whatever others want to see or not see in Tchaikovsky, the above configuration is an interesting testimony.
There is also a "shining" aspect at Tchaikovsky's death:
natal Jupiter = 13,34 Scorpio
Which I think can be related to the enormous popularity, prestige, and socio-economic status which he enjoyed in his life, and very much after his death. His popularity has never decreased. Soon after he died, in 1895, a new representation of "Swan Lake" was premiered with a new choreography which was a huge success, and, together with his other ballets ("Nutcracker" and "Sleeping Beauty"), have never failed to generate enjoyment in the public, so rich in magnificence and color is the spectacle and the music.
But there are other testimonies. For example:
Nessus at birth = 27,35 Taurus
Jupiter magnifying the natal Nessus could be easily related to the legend of his drinking a glass of water infected with cholera (it is not a coincidence that his mother died of cholera too when he was 14), and also to the speculation of his having voluntarily poisoned himself. This Jupiter/Nessus could also be a very good description of the 6th Symphony, a beautifully expansive flight into the sadness, tragic tenderness, and morbid realm of Nessus.
The position of QM107 is also telling:
Mars at birth = 15,59 Taurus
I don't know how QM107 works. Perhaps we can see it as a very disturbing Uranus, a stirring of the essential "Black Moon" axis of his life.
We also have:
Lunar node at birth = 3,30 Pisces
Melanippe could be the 17-year old Tatiana of Eugene Onegin. It is also his nephew he fell in love with, and more importantly, it is himself, the tragic 14 years old adolescent "fixed" in his psyche and which controlled his love life. To this we add:
Alastor at death = 3,38 Sagittarius
Alastor (BU48) "the avenger" would be a very good fit for the circumstances of his death. It is coming from the realms of Pluto to "abduct" the youthful Melanippe, to take her away to death, as Tchaikovsky's mother was taken from him.
The other contact at death is showing an interesting synchronicity with the conversation we were having 2 days ago:
Moon at birth = 27,42 Cancer
but my imagination has dried up...
<<This Jupiter/Nessus could also be a very good description of the 6th Symphony, a beautifully expansive flight into the sadness, tragic tenderness, and morbid realm of Nessus.>>
The importance of Nessus/Jupiter is strengthened if we consider:
Nessus at birth = 27,35 Taurus
The emphasized Nessus at death is exactly square its natal position. It is very interesting to see that when Swan Lake was first performed in 1877:
Swan Lake Venus = 27,38 Aquarius
... giving to his life a Nessus/Venus/Swan Lake signature. I feel that Swan Lake is more the Black Moon/Black Magician/powerful spell, as I wrote earlier, while Venus/Nessus represents the intimate and sad beauty of the slow movements of his music, such as the cantabile of his 5th symphony, the elegiac adagio of his string serenade... (This Venus/Nessus symbolism is explained more in my "Winged Planets II: Nessus" in my web site)
The Nessus/Jupiter presence is also preponderant the day he married in 1877:
Jupiter = 24,55 Sagittarius
The repetition of this exact aspect the day he died establishes a clear symbolical connection between the 2 events: his marriage and his death. Jupiter expands and "raises" Nessus, giving it breath, projecting it. This is why the 6th symphony is a good example of this expansion, and so apparently is his marriage, which can then be interpreted (as everything in life) as an enactment of a particular drama present throughout his life.
At birth, Tchaikovsky had the Moon and Venus in square:
Moon = 27,42 Cancer
and the day he married (assuming that the dates in the biography are all given"new style")
Sun = 25,22 Cancer
... which perhaps can be seen as a good sign of emotional incompatibility, and certainly a challenge to his Venus. We can take the story of his marriage as if it were a symphony, a summary of his life, and his 6th symphony a recapitulation of it, from the intimate or Venus point of view.
<<... giving to his life a Nessus/Venus/Swan Lake signature... Venus/Nessus represents the intimate and sad beauty of the slow movements of his music...>>
I found an even more direct Venus-Nessus contact:
Venus at death = 28,01 Sagittarius
which we then add to:
Nessus at death = 27,13 Aquarius
This Venus/Nessus is his love-tristesse, his intimate sadness and melancholy, the beautiful swan, the young princess in love, and the tragic separation. In my notes on the story Pelleas and Melisande:
"Nessus, maybe, represents the eternal fracture, the dis-ease, the accident that can and will always happen, the fragility of life, the imperfection, the ugliness; so Venus/Nessus can mean a profoundly "cemented" love that, at the same time, is based on an impossibility: it trembles, it is never solved or rounded, there is an abyss, a division, an incompatibility."
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