Whole Astrology Spotlight on French Pianist Helene Grimaud (Part Two)--Capricorn and the Depression Years

For intermediate astrology students and astrology professionals.


In part two in the fascinating astrological gaze at French Pianist Helene Grimaud, we delve into the Capricorn years which span from 1988 to 1990 when Uranus, Saturn, and Neptune transited in Capricorn and formed a Triple Conjunction in Helene's Natal First House. She was between 18 and 20 years of age, while just emerging onto the symphonic concert stage.

Quotes from Wild Harmonies (A Life of Music and Wolves) by Helene Grimaud, Riverhead Books, New York, 2006.



We'll be looking at several charts ranging from July 1988 when Neptune moved into Capricorn and crossed Grimaud's Ascendant (Uranus and Saturn were in the last degrees of Sagittarius) to August 7, 1989 when Uranus, Saturn and Neptune had all transited into Grimaud's First House in Capricorn. Her Ascendant is at 4 degrees Capricorn.

Since I'm also a musician (five years older than Helene) and have my Capricorn Ascendant at 6 degrees, I too endured three years of depression as I launched a career as a folk-rock musician in Seattle. Similar to Helene, I battled with depression--alternately conforming and rebelling against employers and the music industry (as would be expected with Saturn and Uranus conjunct in both Sagittarius and then, Capricorn).

Please note, that as I'm writing this post (which I researched in 2014), I'm listening to Grimaud perform Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major. She performs with the Berliner Philharmoniker. I love this piece of music and I enjoy Grimaud's wild interpretation of it. By the way, Maurice Ravel was a Pisces with a rebellious streak which turned him into an iconic performer-composer. I can see why Helene, with her astrological aspects would enjoy Ravel's spirit.

Getting back to the themes of this advance astrology student post, I believe that having Saturn and Uranus in the last degrees of Sagittarius and first degrees of Capricorn in the 12th House with Neptune on the Capricorn Ascendant would cause mental depression. Then this depression would intensify as Uranus and Saturn (conjunct in Sagittarius) transited into Capricorn within weeks of each other. While I'm unable to find an exact Triple Conjunction that includes Neptune, Saturn, and Uranus, Saturn and Neptune align exact several times starting February 22, 1989 and ending on November 20, 1989 (at least in Europe).

So this means that the Ruler of Grimaud's chart, Saturn first pairs up with Uranus in Sagittarius and then in Capricorn as they crossed the Ascendant together. Then later Saturn pairs up with the music planet, Neptune (which can also contribute to emotional imbalance and delusional thinking, especially when transiting in through the First House of identity. Grimaud even mentions in her memoir, Wild Harmonies that she suffered from arrogance due to her musical genius or precociousness.

On the other hand, having Neptune transiting in through the First House brings glamour, a glamour time in the spotlight (depressed or not), and brings stellar heights through musical expression. Saturn would bring discipline in the First House, if not also aches in the bones and exhaustion. And Uranus in Capricorn can bring a feeling of suffocation and want to rebel, even if through an illness or condition that causes the artist to retreat.

In her memoir, Grimaud describes her experiences of around August 1989 when she was invited to perform at a piano festival at La Roque d' Antheron.

"I was experiencing something like an acute loss of self. The abandonment of the self by the self, after being completely forsaken. At the festival in La Roque d'Antheron in 1989, where I had been invited the third time, I was in a deep depression. I really thought I would never come out of it, wrote Grimaud.

Without reading her progressed planets, we can look at the August 7, 1989 chart and then we'll look at the charts that led up to the depression, starting with a chart from November 1988 when Saturn and Uranus were still in Grimaud's 12th House (ruled by Neptune and Neptune was transiting in her First House, not far from the Ascendant). I imagine the depression started when Neptune was approaching the Capricorn Ascendant as early as November of 1986 or there might have been delusions of grandeur at that time (Grimaud was 17 years old at that time).

So in the August 1989 chart, Saturn and Neptune occupy Helene's First House, while Uranus RX has crossed Helene's Ascendant and headed back into the 12th House (which can rule an emotional and mental state). Meanwhile, Neptune and Saturn oppose transiting Chiron in Cancer in the 7th House so she might have been dealing with issues revolving around an intimate partnership too or this could be how she saw herself in partnership with her profession, but that would be more aligned with 6th House themes or 10th House themes.

Jupiter in the 6th House would bring more work than the musician could handle or a huge sense of responsibility since Jupiter expands upon the 6th House work environment. Meanwhile, Pluto in Scorpio transforms the career and public sector as it transited through the 10th House. And the transiting Natal Moon at 14 degrees Libra hooked up with Helene's Stellium of Libra planets and then when it moved into Scorpio (as it would do every month), it passed over her Triple Conjunction in Scorpio that include her Sun/Mercury/Neptune.

So what you have is someone undergoing enormous transformation in three angular houses (First, Seventh and Tenth) expected to perform at a high level when she felt paralyzed by the outer planets transiting in her 12th and First Houses. Anytime an outer planet crosses the Ascendant, it's a time of grand shifts in the personality. But we feel embryonic, and unformed like bread baking in the oven. We don't feel ready to be pushed out in the world and there's a sense of childlike abandonment with Uranus crossing and recrossing the Ascendant.

Let's go back and look at the first chart I pulled for July 1988. As we can see Uranus and Saturn are still in Sagittarius.

Chiron transits at 2 degrees Cancer approaching the Descendant (7th House Cusp), transiting Mars at 0 degrees Aries pulls into a T-Cross with Chiron and Mercury in Cancer, and Neptune in Capricorn.

Meanwhile, Saturn and Uranus form a duet (one degree orb) in Sagittarius as they prepare to changed signs and eventually cross the Ascendant. Grimaud would have anticipated a rite of passage or rebirth, at least on a subconscious level. She would have been in her late teens, an age where it's much harder to control depression. And she would have wanted to rebel against adults and adult responsibilities, while alternately taking on her fair share of responsibilities.

She would rebel against authority figures such as the stuffy professors at the music conservatory or perhaps, even the country of her birth as she began shaping her own identity or giving birth to her authentic self. But with all those Natal Planets in Libra she would have also wanted to be fair and strike a balance in her life, but balancing her emotions was taking some efforts.

On page 181 of her memoir, Wild Harmonies, she reflects about her emotional state in the late 1980s. "As a child, I had wanted to grow up because I imagined age (Capricorn theme) as an obstacle to flight and childhood as a purgatory."

Down further on the same page she reflects, "My suffering was an action (Uranus in Capricorn), and that contemplation of that suffering was an abyss (Neptune and Saturn in Capricorn). A huge black hole dug itself into my chest (Saturn in Capricorn in the First House). It communicated not with infinite space or the cosmos (Neptune), or the dizzying architecture of music, but instead--like a hole in the bottom of a boat (Neptune)--with the murky waters of the ocean depths, swallowing even the shadows there."

Then Saturn crossed Grimaud's Ascendant on December 19, 1988. So now we have Neptune, Saturn, and Mercury in Capricorn, not to mention that when planets transited in Capricorn they squared her Libra Stellium (includes Natal Uranus) and formed sextiles with her Triple Conjunction in Scorpio (which also involves Natal Neptune).

Mars transiting through the Third House would bring a bombastic personality style, but the Taurus Moon transiting to her Natal Saturn in the Fourth would have her contemplating building stable structure and dealing with familial issues. Saturn crossing the Ascendant could have brought on illness or exhaustion (depression). And this depression would last until a new identity was carved out.

Now, we're going to take a look at my final chart for this post, which is for February 12, 1989, the day, Uranus crossed Helene's Ascendant at 4 degrees Capricorn. When Uranus crosses an Ascendant, there is usually shocking news or a sudden event that occurs, if not, at least a shocking revelation. It's a time of breaking away from routine or an old way of thinking. It could even bring spiritual awakening. It could have, and thankfully it did not, bring on suicide attempts or a sudden death. Of course, other planetary transits would have to support this.

In this chart, Mercury, Neptune, Saturn and Uranus are all in Capricorn. Mars and the Moon couple in Taurus in the Fourth House, which could bring up repressed anger. But I'm guessing the overall feeling was aligned with Existentialism and even having the artist question about God and her role on the planet. "Why did I come here?" would be the type of question asked.

Others around her would have seen her as gloomy and want her to snap out of it. Meanwhile, the Sun and Venus transited in Aquarius in her Second House so she at least valued her eccentricities and unique musical gifts. She would have delved into works by iconic musicians and composers. There's a need to rebel but confusion about what to rebel against.

On one hand, Grimaud was definitely emerging and establishing herself as a musician and prodigy. She would have appeared shocking to some, even if that shock came from her unique beauty as well as, her talent as a pianist. She had mentioned in her memoir that she never went for the fashionable look and wasn't going to use her looks as part of the package of her success (if I can remember correctly). This makes sense with the Capricorn Ascendant squaring Uranus in Libra (not to mention the Libra Stellium which also includes the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter).

Personally, in my own life, I remember how I felt during the late 1980s as my own career as a musician (though not as a virtuoso) was beginning to form. I recall battling with depression, quitting or getting fired from jobs because of my rebellious nature. I recall thumbing my nose at authority figures and rebelling against the country of my birth. And it was a challenge and a hindrance to have Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn transiting through my First House as I can imagine Grimaud struggling with similar themes, though in a different language and in a far-off country, and at a younger age.

I hope you have enjoyed this advance study of astrological transits of a renowned artist. This post also acts as a live example of the Triple Conjunction in Capricorn (a rare event) with Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn in the same sign.



And if you would like to learn more about your own chart, especially if you were born from 1988-90, sign up for a personal reading.

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