“We never know what’s enough until we know what’s more than enough.”
Billie Holiday was one of the most influential singers in Jazz and 20th century music. Gifted with a unique and superlative vocal style, she led a life that was as troubled as she was musically talented.
In this article, I’m going to explore her chart and show how the symbolism therein correlates with the highs and lows of her life and career.
Astro Databank Entry, AA rating.
Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, to Sarah Julia “Sadie” Fagan. From Wikipedia;
Billie Holiday had a difficult childhood, her mother often took what were then known as “transportation jobs”, serving on the passenger railroads. Holiday was left to be raised largely by Eva Miller’s mother-in-law, and suffered from her mother’s absences and leaving her in others’ care for much of the first ten years of her life.
Her mother had moved to Philadelphia when thirteen, after being ejected from her parents’ home for becoming pregnant.
We can see some of this by reading the Moon, and the 4th house and ruler, all significations of the mother. Holiday’s Moon is in a good sign, but in the 12th house. Paulus Alexandrius called this house the place of ‘evil spirit’. Planets in the 12th tend to give effects of suffering and difficulty.
When the Moon is in the 12th house, we find there is a disconnection from the mother. A physical or emotional absence (or both), and a lack of nurturing is often evident. The Moon is aspected by Saturn from the opposing 6th house, indicating hardship for the mother, and for the native’s emotional well being.
Moon in 12th from Barbara Pijan’s excellent website;
Deprivation of early nurturing. Distancing and dissolving of the parents, especially mother.
Mother may be physically present but emotionally withdrawn, or if Chandra (the Moon) is affected by other graha (planets), she might disappear physically as well.
The Moon in this place indicates those born of a slave mother, base, of ill-repute, or abject.
Moon in the 12th can also set one up for escapist tendencies.
Needs access to a fantasy land where the environment is passively validating. This access may be created through meditation skills or through escape into drugs and alcohol, or “private” bed-pleasure relationships.
Her father, Clarence Halliday, did not marry or live with her mother.
At the age of 15 years old, Halliday became the unmarried father of Billie Holiday who was born to 13 year old Sadie Fagan. Halliday rarely visited Fagan or her daughter.
To find the father in the chart, we look at the Sun and the 9th house, ruled by Mercury. Mercury is debilitated in Pisces, in a fallen state; a bad sign for the father. Both the Sun and Mercury are in the weak 3rd house. The 9th House is also aspected by malefic Mars.
There’s some doubt as to whether Halliday was her real father. But it is apparent that there was no strong father figure in Billie’s life.
Venus is placed in the sign of friendly planet Saturn, and rules over holiday’s 5th (creativity) and 10th (career) houses.
A planet that rules both an angular house (1st, 4th, 7th and 10th) and a trine house (1st, 5th, 9th) is known as a yogakaraka
One planet owns two auspicious houses.
Give good results due to the combined action of houses in a yoked pair (Yoga)
Venus is highly benefic in charts with Capricorn rising.
Rahu associates with Venus and boosts her power in the chart. Venus is in the 2nd house which is the house of speech and the voice, among other things.
For these reasons, Venus is the best thing going for her in her chart, and this is evinced by her tremendous success as artist, in stark contrast to the rest of her life. Singing was Billie’s superpower.
Producer John Hammond first heard Holiday in early 1933. Hammond was impressed by Holiday’s singing style. He said of her, “Her singing almost changed my music tastes and my musical life… she was the first girl singer I’d come across who actually sang like an improvising jazz genius.”
It’s a full second house, and so a rich and complex voice is the result. Venus gives a sweet and attractive voice. Rahu provides the ‘smokey’ characteristic.
Venus is natural signifier of all things sweet and pleasurable, such as music… and drugs and booze…
Rahu/Venus is a mixed blessing;
Amplified beauty, pleasure, and wealth -an exotic (and perhaps notorious) love life
Exotic appetites of the physical body (addictions, excessive pleasures)
One will take risks and break taboos in order to pursue wealth and luxury
Rahu seeks pleasure through partnerships with a high content = extreme, exotic, forbidden.
the native is often magnetically attractive looking.
Obsessive or exotic pleasuring behaviors which become Addictions.
Rahu + Shukra may = addictions; via extraordinarily high levels of permission to enjoy all pleasures to excess.
Females are exotic women, unusual with an amplified feminine expression of beauty and grace.
A vast chunk of Holiday’s songs focus on the subject of romantic love, musically mulling over subjects like how pleasant love is, how great it is to finally meet a lover, how sad it is to be alone, and so on. The highs and the lows.
The Moon rules her 7th house, which holds significance for marriage and relationships. We’ve already seen that her Moon has significance for Holiday’s mother, but also she would have had problems with her marriages and relationships. She had multiple marriages and extra marital affairs with abusive and emotionally unavailable men.
Her career really began to bloom during the onset of her Rahu dasa period.
Holiday was hired by Artie Shaw a month after being fired from the Count Basie Band. This association placed her among the first black women to work with a white orchestra, an unusual arrangement for the times.
Rahu breaks traditions, taboos and barriers. At the time, black people mixing with white was very unusual.
In November 1938 Holiday was asked to use the service elevator at the Lincoln Hotel, instead of the passage elevator, because white patrons of the hotels complained. This may have been the last straw for her. She left the band shortly after. Holiday spoke about the incident weeks later, saying “I was never allowed to visit the bar or the dining room as did other members of the band … I was made to leave and enter through the kitchen.”
Not long after these events, holiday was introduced to the song 'Strange Fruit', a morbid and controversial song describing the aftermath of racist lynchings. She later recorded it for Commodore records.
Holiday’s popularity increased after recording ‘Strange Fruit’. She received a mention in Time magazine. “I opened Café Society as an unknown,” Holiday said. “I left two years later as a star.
After that Holiday enjoyed a period of popular success. But it seemed that her heroin addiction was expanding along with her success.
Holiday’s drug addictions were a growing problem. She earned more than a thousand dollars a week from her club ventures at the time, but spent most of it on heroin.
A few years later, she would die of cirrhosis of the liver.
It is believed that longevity and death conditions can be predicted. I am not certain, but I had B.V. Raman’s How to Judge a Horoscope handy, and he had the following to say. All conditions are met in Holiday’s chart;
If the 8th house is occupied by malefics, the native dies an unnatural death.
If the 6th and 8th lords are related, death follows ill-health.
If the 6th house and 8th house are severely afflicted, death comes after prolonged suffering as in the case of a chronic disease.
The 8th is occupied by malefic Ketu. The 6th and 8th Lords are Mercury and the Sun, together in the 3rd house. The 6th is afflicted by Saturn’s presence. Mars aspects the 8th and Rahu aspects 6th and 8th.