Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bob Marley & Sinéad O'Connor

One Love and War


Venus: Venus' essential function is to unify separate forces. Symbolically, it represents a feminine principle and, among other things, is associated with one's personal sense of communal harmony.

Saturn: Saturn's essential function is to reject, ignore or control other forces and, among other things, represents authority figures and personal limitations; it is associated with the restrictions imposed on one's existence, including those enforced by governments and other authorities.

Square: The square aspect represents a discordant relationship between any two planets within range of 90 zodiacal degrees of each other, or between any two signs that are three signs apart from each other. As the Mars ruled signs, Aries and Scorpio, form square aspects to the Lunar and Solar ruled signs respectively, Cancer and Leo, the square aspect is associated with the essential character of the planet Mars, i.e. disassociating, aggressive, etc.

While the following article details events in the lives of two musicians from different cultures and eras, there are important links between them, astrological and otherwise, that tie these stories together.

Bob Marley: One Love

On the evening of December 3, 1976 - two days before Bob Marley was to appear at the Smile Jamaica free concert at Heroes Park Circle in Kingston (which, against Marley's wishes, had been surreptitiously turned into a political event for Prime Minister Michael Manley's election campaign) - unknown gunmen opened fire on Marley's home during a break in his group's rehearsal.

Though no one was killed, three people, including Marley's wife Rita, were injured. Although Marley had intended the concert to be a call for peace during a period of great political unrest, he was now unwittingly caught in the middle of a state of emergency.

Though apprehensive about appearing at the highly controversial event, Marley gave a triumphant performance, which he opened with a new song called War. The song was a protest anthem featuring lyrics adapted from an excerpt of H.I.M. Haile Selassie's (Ethiopian Emperor and Rastafarian prophet) speech to the United Nations on October 6, 1963 - a powerful message against institutionalized racial oppression (see Notes below).

Marley left Jamaica almost immediately following the show, and did not return for over a year. When he did, it was to headline the monumental One Love concert in Kingston on April 22, 1978, where he successfully united the leaders of Jamaicas two rival political factions the socialist Manley and right-wing Edward Seaga - onstage at the closing of his performance (he was later awarded for the gesture with the Third World Peace Medal by all the African delegations to the United Nations).

Once again, toward the end of this historic performance, Marley sang the song War to address the power division that continued to fuel violence in his country.

Sinead O'Connor: Fight the Real Enemy

Almost fifteen years later, on October 4, 1992, Irish singer Sinead O'Connor appeared as the musical guest on the popular American television program Saturday Night Live. O'Connor was a notorious figure on the pop scene at the time, known as much for her shaved head and strong vocal abilities as her less-than-diplomatic relationship with the press.

She first made scandal headlines in the United States on May 12, 1990, when she cancelled a scheduled appearance on SNL in protest of the shows inclusion of shock-comedian Andrew Dice Clay, known for his macho-misogynist persona, who was to host the show that night (see Notes below).

When she finally did appear on the program a year and a half later, she once again used the opportunity to make a statement that was bound to be controversial.

At the closing of her second musical number, an a capella version of Bob Marley's War, she shocked the nation by pulling out a photograph of Pope John Paul II, which she held to face the camera before tearing it up, while repeating the phrase "fight the real enemy".

Unbeknownst to the majority of her American audience, this was done in response to recent scandals in her native Ireland regarding reports of abuse committed by certain Catholic priests.

However, public reaction to this incident was, for the most part, harsh and unforgiving. The backlash reached its climax twelve days later when O'Connor appeared, along with a host of music stars, at the Bob Dylan 30th anniversary celebration concert at New Yorks Madison Square Garden.

As she was beginning her rendition of Dylan's I Believe In You, certain members of the audience began to boo her, presumably in response to her SNL appearance - an ironic twist considering the show was held to celebrate an artist who himself had endured hostile audience reactions during the peak of his career (Dylan was booed by audiences in 1965-66 when he first began playing "electric" music).

O'Connor responded by abruptly stopping the Dylan song and launching into a fierce, abridged version of Marley's War, before being led offstage in tears. The fallout over O'Connor's bold actions appeared to be a direct cause of her professional decline, as she didn't release an album for the next four years.

She later explained that her performance on SNL was provoked by memories of abuse she suffered as a child, though she did eventually apologize for the incident during an interview on September 22, 1997.

Recurrence Transits

These stories can be used to demonstrate the use of recurrence transits in astrology. Most astrology books and articles that discuss planetary transits to a natal chart usually refer to what I call zodiacal contact.

If, for instance, someone has the planet Venus at, say, the 25th degree of Pisces in their natal chart, and the planet Saturn comes around by transit and moves to the same degree of one of the two signs that make a ninety degree angle to Pisces (Gemini and Sagittarius), then any astrologer will tell you that the person has just had a Saturn to Venus square transit.

However, recurrence transits refer to times when specific planetary combinations, such as Venus-Saturn squares, are repeated in the sky on a given day or series of days.

If someone has a Venus-Saturn square in his or her natal chart, and Venus and Saturn are squared at a given time, then that persons natal square gets activated. That is, there is some form of event or set of circumstances that somehow reflects whatever the Venus-Saturn square means in that persons life.

What is special about the recurrence transit is the fact that this activation will occur even if the transiting aspect doesn't make any kind of contact or aspect to a point in that persons chart. Needless to say, if someone has a recurrence transit of any kind that does make zodiacal contact to a given point in that persons chart, then it is likely to coincide with something really big in his/her life.

Rules and Rulership

Both Marley and O'Connor have Venus-Saturn squares in their natal charts, though in both cases they are contained in t-squares with outer planets.

A t-square is a term used for a configuration containing an opposition aspect between two or more planets, that makes a square to a third planet or set of planets from either side (for Marley the other planets are Neptune & Chiron; for O'Connor, the configuration includes Uranus, Pluto & Chiron - more on these natal t-squares in the following section).

The Venus-Saturn square on its own was in recurrence during both Marleys momentous One Love concert and O'Connor's startling SNL appearance. As landmark events in their respective lives, they can be seen as statements inspired by deeply personal motivations, both of which correspond to a basic interpretation of the Venus-Saturn square ones sense of communal harmony being at odds with the actions of authority figures.

However, despite this fundamental similarity in motivation, there is a clear difference in the manner in which it was expressed in the two instances. Marley's action was to unite two disparate factions - an effective solution to restoring communal harmony (at least temporarily), while maintaining his strict apolitical stance. On the other hand, O'Connor's action made no attempt at resolution, but rather was an outright revolt against an established authority that she felt undermined communal harmony, if not her own inner peace.

One way this marked difference between the two events can be explained is by examining the sign placement of both Venus and Saturn, with regard to rulerships, in each event chart. Planets are usually considered to be stronger when placed in signs they rule, and weaker when placed in signs opposite their own rulership.

In other words, while the Venus-Saturn square represents discordance between two basic principles in life (peace and authority), the stronger planet during a given recurrence transit will dictate the direction in which a related event will take.

In the case of Marley's One Love concert, Venus was in Taurus, one of its own domiciles (signs of rulership), while Saturn was in Leo, a sign opposite one of its own traditional domiciles (Aquarius). As Venus represents a uniting principle, it had dominance over Saturn in the context of the square on this particular day.

Conversely, on the evening of O'Connor's SNL appearance, Saturn was in Aquarius, its own traditional domicile, while Venus was in Scorpio, a sign opposite its own domicile of Taurus. Hence, Saturn, representing the principle of rejection, had the dominating influence in its square to Venus on that particular day.

Natural Mystic

Important details to note in both Marley and O'Connor's respective natal t-squares would be the planets found at the apex. For Marley, that planet would be Saturn in Cancer, which squares both his Venus in Aries and Neptune-Chiron in Libra.

While Venus was the dominant planet by transit that day - hence resulting in a Venusian expression of his recurrence transit - Marley's dominating motive was to remain outside (Saturn) the system. He wanted to maintain his resistance (Saturn) to what Rastafarians refer to as Babylon, anything in society that does not appeal directly to Jah (God).

Neptune, among other things, represents the masses (in an idealized sense) or humanity as a united collective. As a singer-songwriter, Marley remains one of the 20th century's principle voices against socio-political oppression and injustice. His message, relayed throughout his music, was directed at promoting universality, a distinctively Neptunian aim.

In addition to the fact that Venus was the dominating planet during his recurrence transit and the One Love concert, the presence of Neptune in his natal t-square reflects his drive to bring together warring factions and inspire peaceful resolution to conflict. Also, Chiron's conjunction to Neptune in Marley's chart elevates his humanitarian sentiments to a distinctly spiritual aim his Rastafarian faith.

Although astrological understanding of Chiron - a celestial body (most likely a comet) discovered between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus in 1977 - remains ambiguous at best, its most common associations to date are with alternative forms of healing and faith.

Marley's death of cancer in 1981 was the result of his refusal to amputate a toe a few years earlier (1977, in fact), opting instead for an alternative treatment, after melanoma had developed in the digit. Neptune is often associated with a sort of insidious nature, relating to important matters that manage to go unnoticed until after they have had their full effect (some astrologers even link Neptune to infections).

Faith and Courage

Sinead OConnor's public image, that of the razor-tongued and razor-shaved warrior woman, is well portrayed in her horoscope (even without a given birth time). She has the Sun & Venus in Sagittarius, with Venus at the center of a t-square to the outer planet opposition common to most people born between 1965-67: Uranus & Pluto in Virgo and Saturn & Chiron in Pisces.

Along with the fact that Saturn was the dominating planet during her recurrence transit, the presence of Uranus and Pluto outer planets with a more radical (Uranus) and imposing (Pluto) nature than Neptune in her natal t-square with Venus and Saturn, characterize the severity of her actions that night.

With regards to Chiron's influence in her t-square, it is interesting to note that, following her apology to the Pope in 1997, O'Connor joined the congregation of controversial Irish Bishop Michael Cox, who eventually ordained her as a priest.
Again, as in Marley's case with regard to the Rastafarian faith, Chiron appears to have some relationship with the emerging new contexts for spiritual beliefs and practices in this case, the advent of female Catholic priests. With Chiron's conjunction to Saturn in O'Connor's t-square, her burgeoning wisdom directed her to more a more effective method of fighting the abuse of authority from within the system.

Lunar Eclipses

Finally, there is one other astrological thread common to these events the conspicuous presence of Lunar Eclipses in close contact with planets contained in the t-squares of Marley & O'Connor's natal charts. Long before the emergence of horoscopic astrology (the use of a horoscope to read the life of a given individual), eclipses were interpreted by stargazers as omens, indicators of important events that would ultimately affect the community at large.
Indeed, both of these events in some way reflected the collective anxieties of their respective communities, anticipating larger issues that would have to be faced down the road.
Long after Marley's death, Jamaica continued to suffer from hooliganism and random street violence, which had initially erupted because of tension between the islands stratified political factions. Ten years after O'Connor's daring and, at the time, baffling protest, church officials were finally compelled to face reports of serious abuse committed within their system.

In Marley's case, the Lunar Eclipse that occurred before the One Love concert was at 3 Libra, conjunct his natal Chiron-Neptune, emphasized his position as a spiritual leader (Chiron) in Jamaicas fight for peace and unity. His early demise raised him to a martyr-like status (Neptune), a symbolic representation of the struggle at hand, as well as a reminder of the consequences of a societys failure to resolve political differences peacefully.

For O'Connor, the Lunar Eclipse that preceded her appearances on SNL and the Bob Dylan concert was at 24 Sagittarius, conjunct her natal Venus, indicated the crusaders ultimate desire to remain within (Venus) the faith that she was rebelling against.
Interestingly, just before her apology to the Pope in 1997, there was a Lunar Eclipse at 24 Pisces, conjunct her natal Saturn-Chiron conjunction, reflecting not only her regret (Saturn) over "the gesture of a girl rebel," but also her renewed allegiance to the faith (Chiron) she had acted against.


Curiously, Sinead O'Connor's refusal to appear on SNL on May 12, 1990 occurred during a Venus-Uranus square recurrence transit - another facet of her crusading nature.

Also, keen-eyed observers will note that Venus was at 11 Scorpio on the day her apology to the Pope was published (September 22, 1997) its exact position on the night she tore his photograph. The planets return to this position at this time represents the completion of a cycle, her renewed commitment to her beliefs.

H.I.M. Haile Selassies given birth date is July 22, 1891, near Harar, Ethiopia
www.exotericastrology.comImage hosting by Photobucket

Modern Astrology July 1936 quotes data from the Emperor's private secretary, given as the date of 16th Hamle, year 7384 Abyssinian, computer to a modern July 22, 1891 NS. Time of 6:00 AM Ethiopian time from a French magazine which stated Church Records.
(The time tends to be somewhat shaky due to the translation from an Abyssinian calendar. British Journal of Astrology gave July 17, 1891, 11:30 AM and the editor remaked that L'Astrosophie had July 24, 1891 "but it needs to be authenticated." SS #420 gives July 23, 1891, 11:15 AM LMT at Addis Abera. Two encyclopedias gave 1892.)

Lyrics from the song War, adapted from an excerpt of Ethiopian Emperor H.I.M. Haile Selassies address to the United Nations on October 6, 1963. Music by Alan Cole and Carlton Barrett, originally performed by Bob Marley.
What life has taught me
I would like to share with
Those who want to learn...
Until the philosophy which hold one race
Superior and another inferior
Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
Everywhere is war, me say war
That until there are no longer first class
And second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes
Me say war
That until the basic human rights are equally
Guaranteed to all, without regard to race
Dis a war
That until that day
The dream of lasting peace, world citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion
To be pursued, but never attained
Now everywhere is war, war
Of good over evil, good over evil, good over evil
Good over evil, good over evil, good over evil

Data Sources:

Bob Marley's birth data - February 6, 1945, 2:30 a.m., in St. Anns, Jamaica quoted from Astro Data Bank (Rodden Rating: C). Wayne Moody quotes 'Marley and Me: The Real Bob Marley Story', told by his manager Don Taylor, given in WTPE Sagittarius/1996.

David Fisher quotes Stephen King's biography 'Bob Marley' which quotes his passport for February 6 but Marley himself said that was the wrong date. Robert Duncan 'Only the Good Die Young', 1986, wrote, "there is a question of the accuracy of the data." However, the same date is quoted in the biography included on his official website (, which is run by his estate. Also, Cedellah Malcolm, Marleys mother, is quoted in Sheridans book for his birth date, and even the time of his conception (early May). Even if the birth time is questionable (though it is quoted in several biographies, not just Taylors), the confirmation of this date concludes that Marley was born with the Venus-Saturn square in his horoscope.
Sinead OConnor's birth data is quoted from her birth certificate and student i.d. card, images of which used to be included on this fan site: (unfortunately it is no longer online). Sadly, no time of birth is included, however, no matter what time she was born, the Venus-Saturn square would be present in her horoscope.

Biographical Sources:

Bob Marley
Catch A Fire: The Life of Bob Marley by Timothy White
Soul Survivor: The Stories Behind Every Bob Marley Song, 1962-1981 by Maureen Sheridan
Official Bob Marley website biography:

Sinead OConnor


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