Clive James (1939 – 2019)

Polymath Clive James died this week at the age of 80, after a very long illness.  He was known for his acerbic wit, and produced a prolific quantity of books in his lifetime.  He wrote regular newspaper columns, and was in his heyday a regular personality on our television screens.  Australian by birth, he chose to make England his adopted country, and died in his Cambridge home.

Birth Chart

A Libran Sun Sign, Clive had a need to be liked, despite all the cutting soundbites he made as a critic.  The Arts were definitely his sphere of activity and influence, another Libran trait.  His Sun was in a square with Chiron natally, so there was an element of woundedness and self-deprecation (his father died in a plane crash when he was six years old, which he described as deeply formative).  His Moon was in Cancer in the 3rd House, a literary placement: he read English Literature at Cambridge, and also wrote four novels (specifically a province of Moon in Cancer in 3rd House), as well as his poetry and other literary output.  His Moon (emotions) received a complex set of aspects in his chart: Moon trine Jupiter (“I’ve had a lucky life, and I’m grateful for it”), Moon exactly square Saturn, Moon conjunct Pluto, and Moon square exactly the Nodal Axis (the latter three aspects making him emotionally deep and conflicted).  Mercury conjunct Venus in Libra is the Writer Archetype, and in accordance with the sign of Libra where the conjunction was placed, he wrote about the Arts; placed in the 6th House of Working Conditions, it made him a workaholic in this respect.  Mercury conjunct the North Node and trine the Midheaven represented a Media and Broadcasting career, and the North Node exactly trine his Midheaven (Careerpoint) ensured that his conventional career and his karmic mission were exactly in tune, a factor in his success.  His enthusiasm and joie de vivre is shown by Mars in Aquarius sextile Jupiter: Rachel Cooke writing in the Observer this morning says: “He could squeeze such pleasure from things”.  His sense of power comes from an exact trine between Jupiter and Pluto.  Saturn was conjunct closely South Node in Aries, suggesting difficult past lives, and Saturn implying lives in Russia – he was polylingual, and writes in his book Cultural Amnesia ” some languages are inherently more beautiful than others, and Russian is among the most beautiful of all.”  Most arrestingly, Uranus was exactly conjunct his Ascendant in Taurus, which gave him that maverick quality.

Education and Career

He first obtained a degree at Sydney University, in English and Psychology.  After he moved to England, he studied at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read English Literature, and became President of the Cambridge Footlights.  He specialized in Percy Bysshe Shelley (his Sun was exactly sextile with Shelley’s).  Between 1972 and 1982 he became television critic for the Observer, and I remember we avidly read his column on a Sunday morning.  He had a huge presence on television for a time, with various shows, and promoted the comic performer Margarita Pracatan who used to do a star turn at the end of a show (there is no birth date available for her).  He also presented shows about television programmes all over the world, alerting us to the cruelty of some Japanese game shows.  He wrote a number of autobiographies and compilations of his critiques.

Politics and Religion

James’ stated political stance was that of a liberal social democrat.  One of his most memorable quotes came at the beginning of Margaret Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister in 1979:

“Now that the incoming Tory Government has made greed patriotic there is no use pretending that we aren’t going to have a much easier time of it. Except, of course, for those of us who are going to have a much harder time of it. But in one thing we are all united.  We are all doomed to cope with five years of Margaret Thatcher’s liturgical tones…”

In religion, he was a firm Atheist (Mars in Aquarius in the 9th House of Religion).


In January 2010, after a lifelong penchant for drink and cigarettes, he was diagnosed with emphysema and kidney failure (Uranus was opposite his natal Neptune).  In April 2011 he confirmed he had been diagnosed with leukaemia (when Saturn was on his Sun, Jupiter squared his Chiron, and Uranus was on his Jupiter).  This concentrated his mind on matters of life and death, and in 2014 he wrote a farewell poem Japanese Maple:

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.

So slow a fading out brings no real pain.

Breath growing short

Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain

Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see

So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls

On that small tree”

But, life continued, and under the care of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, he was grateful (and embarrassed) to have his life prolonged by experimental treatments.  This gave him the opportunity to continue his prolific literary output, and he also continued to give interviews.

In February of this year 2019 he underwent surgery for skin cancer, which did not go well, and caused a marked deterioration in his condition, leaving him frail and blind (among other transits, Pluto was square his natal Venus).  On his passing this week,  Uranus was square his natal Pluto,  Pluto was trine his natal Uranus to the day (the final transition) and Pluto was trine his natal Ascendant in Taurus from 9th House cusp of Religion and about to enter that House (the atheist was about to find out the truth).


Jupiter in Capricorn

Tomorrow (Monday 2nd December), Jupiter leaves Sagittarius and enters Capricorn, and we may discern a distinct shift in how we view the world, and our philosophy of life, around tea-time.

Jupiter spends a year in each sign…What has Jupiter in Sagittarius done for us?  Jupiter represents global issues, and during this time climate change has come to the fore thanks to the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who is still travelling by sea to Lisbon, due to land on Tuesday.  Her own movement gave rise to another movement, Extinction Rebellion, which was founded 9 days before Jupiter went into Sagittarius.  However, there is still so far to go, and scientists agree we have reached the tipping point in our damage to the planet.  Jupiter in Sagittarius needed to bring hope, but there are still so many difficulties facing us, and that is partly down to Saturn and Pluto’s presence in Capricorn.

So Sagittarians (ruled by Jupiter) may feel a greater sense of seriousness, discipline and responsibility when their planet goes into Capricorn, but there will be some balancing because Capricorns (who have been bearing the brunt of the challenging planets) will receive some lightening of their load with the presence of Jupiter in their sign.  They may not feel the benefit (unless they are born early in their sign) until after the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto on 12th January (which will be challenging generally).  Late in 2020 (December 21st) Jupiter and Saturn will enter Aquarius together and conjoin at 0 degrees of that sign, which will be another major turning point.

If you know the House position Capricorn falls in within  your chart, you will be able to consciously work with that area of life to bring optimum results.  With Saturn and Pluto in that House, most likely it is an area you have been struggling with, and Jupiter will attempt to bring some enlightenment.  You may think back to the period of December 2007 to January 2009, and the benefits which Jupiter in Capricorn brought to you then.  Jupiter in Capricorn favours ambition and career advancement, politics, and public institutions.  Politics and public services have been battered since Pluto and Saturn entered Capricorn, and the much needed reforms that are due have been promised by all parties in the run up to the U.K. election on December 12th.  The issue of Brexit and its consequences of course continues to dominate, so it will be interesting to see whether we can get past this civil war enough to attend to other matters of great concern.  So Capricorns!  This is your year to lighten up.


Mercury sextiles Pluto on Tuesday (3rd), which can produce profound thought and communication,  honouring the gravity of a situation if necessary, and enabling meaningful debate to occur.  If you have something important lined up, you may be successful in getting your point across.

In the afternoon, Venus sextiles Mars, which is an altogether more relaxing prospect.  Time for some pleasure and enjoyment, which may include romance.  Take a break and socialize, but with Mercury sextile Pluto still operational, conversation could be soul-searchingly interesting.  With two sextiles, Tuesday is possibly the best day of the week, if you are planning something special.

Fixed Stars

With the rest of the week bereft of Aspects, I turn to the Fixed Stars to add meaning to the week.  There is an alignment of our Sun to Rastaban in the constellation of Draco, also occurring on Tuesday.  “Starlight Elixirs” by Michael Smulkis and Fred Rubenfeld provides the following complexion on the influence of this star:

“There are multiple influences from this star which can be useful in dealing with inner conflict and with trying to sort out ideas that do not necessarily make sense or that do not fit well together.  It may at first seem that you are only adding energy to the difficulties.  This will eventually sharpen the contrast and highlights between the competing ideas and allow you to take a higher form in which you are able to utilize the approach that works best in your life.  Then what may also emerge from this is an attitude in which there is laughter or separation from the competing ideas, and then you do not take that entire issue so seriously.”

Saturday (7th) avails us of the blessings of the star Wei in the constellation of Scorpio.  Again from “Starlight Elixirs”:

“This star can enhance hands-on healing energy to people.  The practitioner of Reiki, various form of massage, acupuncture or acupressure will do well to utilize this star.  The energies that are transferred are largely those already available in the person’s development; thus they simply are able to be more consistent and apply these energies more regularly than they have before.  Some energies from past lives served as a healer, energies of one’s guides that have direct healing capacities, or unconscious energies that might be available only under stimulating circumstances, will all be more clearly available to the healer.”

So it is nice to end the week on a healing vibe.  The energies of the Fixed Stars are far out, and have a subtler impression on us, so you may need to actively tune in.

The week in bullet points:

  • Tomorrow – discipline and boundaries for some; more freedom for others
  • Tuesday – deep communication; pleasure; adjustment
  • Saturday – healing