John Le Carre (1931 – 2020)

“Le Carré was one of the giants of postwar English literature, a master of his chosen form and an exceptional prose stylist. He had an ear for the dialect of the governing classes of this country, perfectly tuned to their evasions, their deceits, their melancholy.”

~ Jonathan Freedland

The highly respected writer of espionage novels John Le Carre, died on 12th December.  He wrote, among other titles, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974) and The Night Manager (1993), which were adapted to screen.

Birth Chart

We do not have a birth time for John Le Carre, which is disappointing: I often look for 12th House planets in connection with espionage (he worked for MI5 and MI6).  But in the absence of that, significant Neptunian and Plutonic planetary aspects are indicators. He had the Sun in Libra exactly conjunct Mercury, a combination which lends itself to a very focussed and legal type of mind.  He had an extraordinarily difficult relationship with his father  and that is reflected in a T-square between his Sun/Mercury (representing the father) on an opposition between Saturn and Pluto.  His estranged relationship with his mother is also represented in his chart:  the Moon in detached Aquarius (his mother left when he was five) was square his Venus.  Mercury square Pluto hints at espionage, and the dark side of communication.  Venus closely sextiled Neptune in his chart, complicating relationships.  His chart is very energetic, with Mars square Jupiter (often over-the-top energetic enthusiasm) with Mars exactly trine Pluto – a huge powerhouse of energy, able to handle extremes within the human psyche.  Mars exactly opposite Chiron indicates wounding through men (the spy Kim Philby being an example).  The Entrepreneur Archetype shows up too, in Jupiter closely trine Uranus – he was able to use his experiences in Intelligence to write his books.  Saturn exactly square Uranus brought personal earthquakes, and loosely tied in to his T-square, completing a Grand Cross.  Uranus square Neptune increases the complexity of his make-up, and reflects the cloak and dagger nature of working in Intelligence, but as a saving grace Pluto exactly sextile Chiron meant that he knew the healing power of transformation.

Life and Career

Le Carre (or David Cornwell as he was originally named) was born in Poole, and did not really have any relationship with his mother after she left, briefly meeting her at 21.  His father was jailed for insurance fraud, was a friend of the Krays, and was declared bankrupt in 1954.  He and his brother learned to duck and dive their way through their childhood, constantly having to lie and cover up to get by, and on their father’s behalf. He later had a step-sister, who is the actress Charlotte Cornwell, who remembers him fondly as a wonderful older brother.  He attended Sherborne School, but chafed at its regimes and withdrew.  He developed a facility for foreign languages, especially German, and received a further education at Lincoln College, Oxford.  During the cold war, he worked with MI5 (The Security Service) spying to obtain information about possible Soviet agents. He transferred to working for MI6 (The Secret Intelligence Service) in 1960, around the time of his first Saturn Return in Capricorn (politics).  In 1964 Kim Philby identified John Le Carre as a spy, and he had to curtail his activities.  Kim Philby’s astrological signature for the Spy Archetype was North Node exactly sextile Pluto, with the North Node and Saturn in the 12th House.  Both Kim Philby and John Le Carre had the North Node in Aries.

The Spy Archetype

The Spy Archetype that Le Carre sought to portray was in sharp contrast to that of Ian Fleming’s James Bond, essentially de-glamourizing the role.  Ian Fleming himself was another air sign, Gemini, but had the Mercury-Pluto connection (in a conjunction, in Gemini).  He also had the Venus-Neptune connection (in a conjunction, in Cancer), representing deception in relationship.  There is also a strong macho Aries theme in the espionage genre: the birth of James Bond in fiction, in Casino Royale (published 13th April 1953) shows a triple conjunction of the Moon, Venus and the Sun in Aries.  The spy Guy Burgess had the Sun in Aries.  The James Bond franchise, of course, had been enormously successful in literature and film, but undeniably John Le Carre’s depiction in his creation of the character George Smiley would be closer to the truth.  George Smiley first appeared in the book “Call for the Dead”,  published in 1961, but we do not have a date of publication.  John Le Carre’s portrayals were deliberately unheroic, whereas James Bond is patently heroic.  In the Guardian Obituary for Le Carre by Eric Homberger, George Smiley is described as an unexpected sort of a hero who has “sacrificed his life to institutions but who is determined to protect what is worth protecting in a world of disintegrating values”. John Le Carre’s son Nick also writes espionage novels, under the name Nick Harkaway.

“But until le Carré came along, no writer had nailed the toxic combination of bad faith and blundering, the confusion of tactical cynicism with strategic wisdom, with such lethal accuracy.”

~ Simon Schama


Venus trines Chiron today, which may aid healing and recovery from the shock of Christmas being cancelled yesterday.  We personally are unable now to travel to see relatives, but since yesterday have been offered help with shopping etc. after it has been revealed that the new strain of the virus is spreading rapidly.  Try to keep the heart open; it is the antidote for many things.

The Sun conjoined Mercury early today, at 29 degrees Sagittarius.  John Le Carre had this aspect in exact conjunction, in the sign of Libra, and it characterized his precise and focussed style of writing and content.  If you have any paperwork, documentation, or novel-writing in process, that may aid your endeavours.  This conjunction favours philosophical conjectures, as well as sporting interests.  It also supports global vision and interests.

Mercury moves into Capricorn at the last hour of the day, urging us to be practical and realistic in our plans, and methodical and systematic in our mental approach.  Ah how the frivolities of Mercury in Sagittarius seem to have been so short lived (just 1st to 20th December)!  Again, this will favour official documentation needing to be worked on, forms to be filled in, authorities to interview, etc.: not what we would normally be expecting to be focussing on right now.  Maybe you are completing a house sale, for example.

The main event of the week, month, and second half of the year comes tomorrow, on Monday December 21st, in the form of the great Jupiter-Saturn conjunction.  The Winter Solstice precedes it, at 10.02 a.m., when the Sun enters Capricorn.  We often feel a sense of relief that the light is returning to our lives, and a special connection with the natural beauty of the winter season.  Again practicality is the theme, looking at the general structure and order of things, and your relationship with authority and the institutions which govern our society.

The long-awaited Jupiter-Saturn conjunction takes place at 18.21 Hrs in the U.K. on that day.  As an Astrologer, I have been pinning my hopes on it, ever since the devastating Saturn-Pluto conjunction on January 12th which brought the coronavirus crisis.

I would like to take a breath here, and say that I have been asking people lately “What have you achieved in your life that you would not have done if the covid crisis had not derailed your life style?” – with interesting results (mine is finishing my novel).

Jupiter conjoins Saturn every 20 years or so, but this one is super duper special, occurring at the very first degree of Aquarius.  Aquarius signals hope, goodwill to all men and women, a fairer society, and the beginning of a New Age.  There have been many dawnings proclaimed, but this one is the most promising (and the most needed!).

There is a tradition that the Star of Bethlehem was composed of this conjunction, though to believe it you would have to let go of the date of 25th December 0 A.D.  It doesn’t come up that precisely in the ephemerides!  Nevertheless, as it is visible to the naked eye and presents an extra bright  spectacle in the sky, it is a delicious romance to believe in it.

At this point in time it would be lovely to think that, just as 2000 years ago the Piscean Age began with the birth of Jesus, a New Age could follow now in the form of the Age of Aquarius.  The visibility of this pairing in the night sky is available in the lower South Western sky at around 4.30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

In terms of effect in our lives, we may feel a significant shift, maybe not so much in circumstances, but in our ability to see a higher perspective and a more socially beneficial collaboration – we are all in it together, in terms of our collective effort to reduce the spread of the virus.  We can employ our higher sense perceptions, such as telepathy, higher philosophy, higher guidance etc. in order to get ourselves through this, and help others negotiate their way through it.

Jupiter conjunct Saturn itself is not a particularly easy combination, however.  It represents opposites trying to come to unity.  Thus we may have bittersweet experiences: witness yesterday’s announcement from Boris at 4 p.m. in the U.K. cancelling Christmas, juxtaposed and followed immediately afterwards by the crescendo of the final of the nation’s favourite winter treat, Strictly Come Dancing (and a particularly delicious outcome of the 55-year old Bill Bailey’s triumph!).  That was a good distraction, and maybe doesn’t exactly weigh up with not being able to see loved ones, but it is one of television’s finest outputs.

So in your own life, Jupiter-Saturn in Aquarius is a signal that things will change for the better.  We know that 2021 will need a lot of repair work from 2020, but hope that sufficient numbers taking up the vaccines will make all the difference to the pattern of our lives.  Some cannot take up the vaccine, but maybe enough will.  I am still grappling with the individual liberty issue for my philosophy essay; it is a genuine dilemma.

The day may pass like any other, but on the other hand, you may experience or witness something, either globally or personally, which symbolizes the arrival of a new paradigm.  If this magic happens for you, take it to your heart and hold it through the challenges of the coming weeks.

There may be a great deal of tension coming up to Christmas, with a square between Mars and Pluto on Wednesday (23rd).  Normally, I would be describing crowds jostling and cramming their way into stores for last-minute Christmas shopping. At this time, it will be more like people vying for click and collect supermarket slots on the internet.  There may be disagreements, e.g. in terms of which relatives are in and who is left out of the Christmas Day mini-party.  Mars-Pluto requires physical care, but on this occasion equally feelings could be hurt or bruised.  It is one of the most difficult aspects of the year.  The last time it occurred, in October, there were riots in Bali of all places (one of the most spiritual locations on the planet).  You may need all your conflict resolution skills.

Providing even more tension, Chiron squares Mercury also on that day, so mini-crises may arise needing problem-solving skills, and solutions which may be to hand, like dock leaves near nettles, or may require soul consultation, digging deep.  The cause of this may be general pre-Christmas panic, the brain fog of whether you have got that last minute gift or card, for example.

Christmas Day itself (Friday 25th) has a benign trine between Mercury and Uranus. It might be a relief that you haven’t got too much to do, unless you are having a full set of three bubbles together.  This leaves mental energy for playfulness and creativity, and good ideas to come out of nowhere, always a benefit of Mercury and Uranus.  Some of the best inventions come out of this space.  The mind is uplifted, and computers and I.T. devices given or received, will be on good form and working satisfyingly well.  Mental brilliance, technological upgrades, lightbulb moments, and futuristic inspiration can be yours.  So even if you thought your re-arranged plans seemed rather dull, the day could surprise you.

Caution needs to be re-applied for Boxing Day (Saturday 26th) with a square between Chiron and the Sun.  It may pose a dilemma, or a problem to be solved, or even a healing crisis to be soothed.  It is a time to hone your Inner Healer, both for your self-healing, and for anyone who comes into your two-metre orbit.  Some lessons from the Chiron-Mercury square on Wednesday may prove useful, if you have taken notes.

All that remains is for me to wish you a Happy Solstice, a Happy New Age, and a Happy Christmas!

The week in bullet points:

  • Today – healing and recovery, focus and practicality
  • Tomorrow – the return of the light, beginning of a new age
  • Wednesday – keep out of the fray, practise problem-solving
  • Friday – Christmas surprises
  • Saturday – Boxing Day healing needed and recuperation