The Bloomsbury Group: A Soul Group – Introduction
A new three part drama entitled “Life in Squares” began on BBC2 (Mondays at 9 pm) this week. It owes its title to a quotation from Dorothy Parker, who described the Bloomsbury group lifestyle as “lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles”.
I have long been interested in this group, undoubtedly a Soul Group, but will start modestly with just a few astro-vignettes. Sometimes I start a theme, and if there is not much interest, don’t take it further. But hopefully there is enough interest out there for this subject.
Virginia Woolf, or Virginia Stephen as she began life, formed with her sister Vanessa the core of an intellectual group starting in the early 20th Century in London. Though the group were famed for their liberal sexual mores, there is no doubt that they were among the most talented contributors to the culture of their age. Virginia herself was a profound author, though her writing style indigestible to some. She struggled with her mental health and was possibly bi-polar, but perhaps that enhanced her work and creativity.
Her chart identifies her as a Soul Group leader with North Node exactly sextile her natal Sun (exactly at the Midheaven), with an entrepreneurial trine between Jupiter and Uranus. Her delicate mental structure is identified in her chart by Chiron exactly square Mercury. There is a depth of relating shown by Venus closely trine Pluto, and mental innovation from Chiron trine exactly Uranus. She had no water planets, which may have been a source of struggle in emotional expression, coupled with an exact square of Saturn to her Sun. Further indication that she didn’t do anything by halves is shown by 6 of her 10 planets being in the Fixed signs. She married political theorist Leonard Woolf who was karmically linked through his Sun being conjunct her North Node.
Virginia’s sister Vanessa Bell was a painter, and became close to Clive Bell through a mutual love of painting. She later married him, and he also formed a close relationship with Virginia.
Her Sun in Gemini is within 1 degree of Virginia’s, which indicates a close personal bond. Her cultural interests and talent are shown by Mercury exactly sextile Venus in her chart. There is an elevated spiritual quality about her exact sextile between Jupiter and Neptune. North Node trine closely Pluto shows a profoundly driven karmic mission. She has an exact conjunction of Chiron and Neptune in Taurus, a complex artistic talent possibly used as a route to her own self-healing. This conjunction sextiles Jupiter, assisting success in that field. In her marriage to Clive Bell, with her Pluto exactly conjunct Clive Bell’s Jupiter they built a focus of power. Clive Bell’s Neptune was exactly conjunct Virginia Woolf’s Jupiter and he was able to sensitively critique her work.
Lytton Strachey, author of “Eminent Victorians”, was a highly charismatic member of the core group, and predominantly homosexual (related with John Maynard Keynes and Duncan Grant), though he had a passionate relationship with painter Dora Carrington. His Venus trine Mars is a sign of lack of sexual inhibition. Mars also exactly squared his Uranus, bringing a continual need for excitement. He too was a leader, with the Sun sextile his North Node. He had Mercury conjunct Jupiter, a sign of success in writing. Virginia had these two planets closely square, showing the range of her intellectual interests.
His death through illness led to the grief stricken suicide of Dora Carrington, which was a contributory factor possibly to Virginia Woolf’s own suicide. His Moon squared Venus, often a sign that the females in someone’s life do not get on, and certainly Virginia Woolf and Dora Carrington had a troubled relationship. Dora’s Pluto was exactly conjunct Lytton’s Mars, which may have been destructive, but it was also exactly trine his Venus and they had a deeply magnetic relationship. They were also involved in a ménage a trois with Ralph Partridge.
John Maynard Keynes
Economist John Maynard Keynes, like Lytton Strachey, was a product of the Cambridge University culture of the time. Arguably his legacy is one of the greatest of all the Bloomsbury Group, as his economic theory is now coming back into fashion after the failed experiment of Neo-Liberalism. He was born on a New Moon in Gemini with the Part of Fortune on the Ascendant, bringing in new thought for the time. He had a psychologically heavy triple conjunction of Saturn/Chiron/Pluto in Gemini, and the independent controversial thought of Mercury exactly square Uranus. Venus conjunct the Midheaven in Taurus describes well his career as an economist. He had no fire in his chart, so relied heavily on the 5 out of 10 planets he had in intellectual Air to make rational sense of the world. His relationship with Lytton Strachey and painter Duncan Grant was very much a love triangle.
Also associated with Cambridge, E.M. Forster’s novels earned him many nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Notably, his novels are much easier to read than Virginia Woolf’s. I was required to read them all at ‘A’ Level, and our set text “A Passage to India”, though not difficult, was perhaps the most complex and enigmatic. He shares many natal aspects in common with other members of the Bloomsbury Group, some of those aspects being personal and some collective in nature. The Chiron-Neptune conjunction in Taurus which Vanessa Bell channeled into painting, can be seen in the complex enigma that is “A Passage to India” giving that work a haunting quality. There is an engaging portrait of E.M. Forster by Dora Carrington and they share the aspect of North Node conjunct Jupiter. Like Lytton Strachey, he had Mars square Uranus. He also had a very exacting square between his Mercury and Saturn.
So well she knew them both! yet as she came
Into the room, and heard their speech
Of tragic meshes knotted with her name,
And saw them, foes, but meeting each with each
Closer than friends, souls bared through enmity,
Beneath their startled gaze she thought that she
Broke as the stranger on their conference,
And stole abashed from thence
Poet and Horticulturalist Vita Sackville-West had Sun, Mercury and Jupiter in Pisces. She had a brief affair with Virginia Woolf, and was immortalized by Virginia in her book “Orlando”. Vita herself came from an aristocratic background and was brought up in a 365-room mansion, Knole, in Kent (North Node in Taurus conjunct I.C.). She had a very interesting 5th House of Creativity, which included her North Node conjunct I.C. (many of her poems were about her ancestral home). Another notable feature of her 5th House is an exact conjunction of Neptune and Pluto in Gemini, which lends depth to her work. She was also involved in a love triangle, between her husband Harold Nicholson and a school friend novelist Violet Trefusis.
There are so many more characters and intricacies involved in the subject of the Bloomsbury Group, which I hope to explore at some stage.
There is a prolilfic line-up of aspects this week, something to occupy you each day, so without further ado, and with precise times (for the U.K.):–
Saturn turns direct today at 5.53 a.m., bucking the retrograde trend with Venus, Neptune and Pluto still retrograde, not to mention Asteroids Chiron, Pholus, and Ceres who are all retrograde at the moment. You may find a chink in the brick wall now, and start to be able to move something which has been resistant for a while. Saturn has been retrograde since 14th March.
At 14.50 Hrs Mercury trines Uranus, so you may have a lightbulb moment just after lunch, whether inspired by a great meal or an earlier breakthrough. Take time to be open to new ideas before you go about your afternoon planned activities.
Tomorrow, Monday (3rd) holds the most important key of the week, the aspect of Jupiter square Saturn at 10.36 a.m. You may find you are chasing your own tail, at least initially, until you realize that the task is to balance two ostensibly incompatible forces in your life. Jupiter is freedom, and Saturn is restraint. Jupiter is in the fun-loving sign of Leo, and Saturn is in the darker sign of Scorpio, so there are two contrasts already. Depending on where they are placed in your birthchart, there will be more factors to balance. Identifying the task is half the battle, then expanding your consciousness to look at the bigger picture may provide a way of dealing with it, or thinking about it.
You are in for a treat on Tuesday (4th) with the happiest of aspects, Venus conjunct Jupiter at 21.47 Hrs in the early evening. As Venus is now retrograde, you may remember the recent occurrence of this aspect on 1st July, when you may have received a reminder of the unconditional love and abundance ever-present in the Universe! There may be romance, and the promise of weddings or engagements in the air. Friendships too are blessed. If you receive a social invitation, take the opportunity! Couch potatoes can always catch up on their favourite programme on i player or nearest equivalent.
Be prepared for a slump in mood the next day Wednesday (5th) when Venus then squares Saturn (the antithesis of Venus conjunct Jupiter) at 15.08 Hrs. Could be that you may have underestimated the enduring nature of the previous day’s euphoric events (if indeed you did benefit). A more realistic tone in relationships now ensues. For example, a suitor may have proposed marriage on Tuesday, and on Wednesday you realize there may be some impediment and the road may not be clear in practical terms. You may be able to clear this on a level of consciousness, e.g. determining a negative thought in relation to past relationships which is still lurking and may yet be cleared.
Another step forward occurs the next morning, Thursday (6th) with Mars trine Saturn at 8.29 am. There literally may be an action you can take to move things forward in the direction of your goals. Seize the day; the early bird will catch the worm.
Still seizing, next, at 14.25 Hrs Mercury is conjunct Venus, favouring literary and artistic pursuits, and forging on with documentation, diplomacy and discussion.
In the afternoon, after a fruitful and creative early afternoon, stop seizing the day, and turn to reflection and meditation. For in the evening, at 20.19 Hrs Mercury will square Saturn, and you will be required to slow right down, and calm and focus the mind. There may be a specific task concerning documentation or calculation which needs to be dealt with, or some difficult news to process or digest. The week may by now feel like a mini-roller coaster.
So it will not be difficult to imagine that another beneficial aspect is coming your way on Friday (7th) – Mercury conjuncts Jupiter at 7.08 a.m. If you have entrepreneurial designs for Friday, especially involved with the dissemination of information, you will be able to sail through them. Teaching and travel are especially favoured. The up side or silver lining of yesterday evening’s news will reveal itself.
Early evening at 19.15 Hrs Mercury moves from hedonistic Leo into conscientious Virgo, so you may switch from holiday mode right into work mode. A deadline may present itself to get stuck into a project or assignment lasting approximately the length of Mercury’s stay in Virgo which is until 27th of this month – it’s time to tackle my Tax Return!. Perhaps the task is something preparing for the Autumn term, if you are a teacher or student. It would involves the mental faculties.
Summer is not over though, fear not! On Saturday (8th) your physical energies will be back surfing the waves of the holiday season with Mars leaving Cancer (the sign of home and family preoccupations) and entering Leo. Perhaps you are basking in the sunshine home or away, are enjoying a staycation, or have been invited to a summer wedding. Celebration, display and show are once more highlighted. Whether you are a main player, supporting act, or behind-the-scenes worker, don’t hide your light under a bushel, behind the curtains, or under false humility. Everyone’s a winner!
The week in bullet points:
- Today – moving forward with good ideas
- Tomorrow – important balancing
- Tuesday – happy clappy
- Wednesday – grumpy slumpy
- Thursday – two steps forward, one step back
- Friday – mind-broadening and successful, then application
- Saturday – show your wares