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Björk's Logic: Her birthchart, in her own words
This article was written & published in July 2006
People who study astrology find that we 'speak our charts' all the time. So instead of interpreting Bjork's birth chart, this article uses Björk's own words to illustrate some of the main features of her birth map. This way of examining a chart shows very clearly how a person is actually using the potentials symbolised in the planets' positions, bypassing the textbook interpretations and minimising the filters of the astrologer's interpretations.
Björk knows about her own birth chart from her mother. In a 1995 conversation with Interview magazine, Björk was asked if she had ever had her chart calculated. She replied, succinctly summing up the main patterns in her natal configuration:
"My mum did it. I think she took me to all the occult creatures of Iceland, from the age of zero until I was eighteen, when I became a rebel anti-hippie. I got my fortune told and everything. I think I probably believe most of it, actually. I've got Pluto in a very important place, and that's what I'm about. I have to re-create the universe every morning when I wake up. And kill it in the evening, which is a bit outrageous, but there you go. Heee! Well, maybe not every morning, but maybe twice a year I have to destroy everything. I've also got my Moon in the twelfth house, in Scorpio, and my Sun in Scorpio in the first house, and also Neptune. Then on my other half, my generational picture, I've got Pluto and Uranus in Virgo, and my Midheaven is in conjunct with those two. Virgo is the sign of the nurse, so this means I was born to nurse my generation. I'm still fifty-fifty about whether this is true, but I was breast-fed on it."
Here is Björk's birthchart:
Here are some quotes from Björk, spoken over a period of around a decade, organised according to the chart factors they express. These should hopefully provide an idea of how each part of a natal chart not only can be, but is always, lived and drawn upon in multiple ways.
Sometimes the idea of astrology in the public mind is of a simplistic, flat, one-dimensional set of descriptions or character traits. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each of us creates and re-creates ourselves in complex, multi-faceted, and ever-evolving ways using the birth chart configuration as our template and guide but not as our limit or prison.
Uranus conjunct Midheaven (MC)
"If I put something out in this world (MC), it would be the courage to go ahead and invent things (Uranus)"
"I've lived with the label "different" since I was a kid. I've always laughed at it."
"I've been called weird since I was three or four. I had got used to it by the age of five. I made a decision then: I'd either live my life by what people thought of me and to a set of rules which I didn't really know or understand which would make me incredibly unhappy, or I could just do what I wanted. And that's a lot more fun, isn't it? Call me a freak for thinking that, but it's what I do."
"Most people in Iceland are blonde and blue-eyed. I was nicknamed 'China girl' in school 'cos they thought I looked Asian. And most people in Iceland didn't like what me and my mates were doing. It took the English to discover it."
"In a way it was against my principles to do an old cover version [i.e. It's Oh So Quiet] because I'm so anti-retro."
Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Neptune in Scorpio, Mercury square Pluto, Mars in Capricorn opposite Jupiter
"I want to....to write with that kind of lust for life...completely full-on life, saying on the scale of one to ten I'm gonna live life at 17. They've got the joy for it, that fierce love for it, and also the pain."
"'Violently Happy' is about when you're a junkie on exchanging emotion, not at one but at the level 200. That thing. And then the person goes away and you really miss someone. When you're with that person you're really peaceful because you get what you need back and you both give everything you need to give. And that person goes away and all that exchange is not there so you get your kicks elsewhere, you end up running on rooftops in blizzards, drinking 97 tequilas just to feel. You know what I mean. So it starts off really happy then the longer the person's away from you, it starts getting self-destructive."
As above, but also Mars and Venus in Capricorn
"Enjoy is a lyric about greed, and how what you got isn't enough for you, you kind of have to go out and get it."
Scorpio cluster, with Uranus on MC square Mercury
"The last album was like pieces from my diary or my photo album. They were all about the past and now I want to show you things from my new diary, my diary of the last two years. There'll be some mix of emotions, happy, sad, confused, all that bollocks, but they'll be new."
The Scorpio cluster again
"I experienced that time [i.e. making a film] as very violent, because I'm not like that. I'm far more secretive. There are sides of myself that I don't show to anyone - I'm actually quite a loner. So when I had to be extroverted everyday for the film, the pressure built up like a volcano."
"Everything must be done with passion. Dancing, fighting, f*****g, eating. Yes! I don't get into many fights, I usually stop them. I was attacked by a dog, though, but that was self-defence."
"I love secrets and mystery."
"I am a song-writer first and foremost. You have to give it a lot. Every song is different. I would die for a song, of course I would. It is the most important thing. I'm a down-to-earth person obsessed with music."
"I don't like in-between stuff. I love really, really sweet stuff like chocolate cakes and then I love curry, vindaloo, do you know what I mean? I guess I'm an over emotional person. I'm very, very happy or I'm very, very this or very, very that. Always two verys. Even when I'm miserable it's over in five minutes. It's like brraaaaaagh! And, then it's over, I go all the way to the bottom but then I go whooooooosh! That's a very Icelandic thing. A Viking, hardcore, don't-feel-sorry-for-yourself attitude. When I laugh, I laugh really loud. You have to hurt yourself laughing or it's no good."
"Medúlla is primitive, like before civilisation. It's the soft squidgy thing in the centre. After Vespertine I was going to do an album with intuition only, no brain please. I was thinking more visceral, flesh and blood, pregnancy… death metal."
"I was going to call the album Ink, because I wanted it to be like that black, 5,000-year-old blood that's inside us all; an ancient spirit that's passionate and dark and survives."
"I've got a lot of courage, but I've also got a lot of fear. You should allow yourself to be scared. It's one of the prime emotions. You might almost enjoy it, funny as it sounds, and find that you can get over it and deal with it. If you ignore these things, you miss so much. But when you want to enjoy something, especially when it's something you've just been introduced to, you've got to have a lot of courage to do it. I don't think I'm more courageous than most people. I'm an even mixture of all those prime emotions."
Sun conjunct Neptune in Scorpio, Moon in Scorpio in 12th house
"I like a good story too and I don't think it is necessary for everything to be true. I know there are myths about me and I quite like it."
"I just find it quite funny that when you love someone - whether it's a child or a boyfriend or whatever it is, a friend - it becomes so precious that you hide your ugly sides. Which I think is very funny because when my friends show their ugly sides to me, I'm almost honored. That means you're very intimate with the person."
"In my head, as a kid I always had this romantic idea of me in a lighthouse with a pipe organ, being a composer, and kind of doing it all myself. I didn't need any outside stimulus. Also, because I enjoyed being on my own so much, I never really understood the word 'loneliness'. As far as I was concerned, I was in an orgy with the sky and the ocean, and with nature. Now it's all about thousands of people, and I'm communicating with them full-on."
Moon in Scorpio in 12th house trine Saturn in Pisces in 3rd house
"I guess I really believe in the 12 notes on the piano. It's so magical. You kind of hit note two and you do note nine and note seven three times, and that's a map to a certain emotional location. And if you do note seven and then note two five times, that's a map to another emotional location. It's my favourite thing in the world: the power of melody. For centuries, folk melodies have had a very symbolic meaning to human beings. It's a map to our feelings that nothing else can map out. So I think I'll always be a melody kind of girl, you know?"
Mercury in Sagittarius, Sun on Moon/Mercury midpoint
"it has this story, this narrative: there's a beginning and something happens in the middle and the ending is different. So many pop songs, especially with English lyrics, are just 900 different ways of saying 'she left me!' Which i actually love because it's pop, just one idea, very simple, but it doesn't mean it's cheap. I can relate to it, but I (Sun) belong to the storytelling group (Moon/Mercury midpoint)."
Mars and Venus in Capricorn, Moon trine Saturn, Virgo MC, Taurus Descendant, contrasted with Mars opposite Jupiter, Uranus on MC, Mercury square Uranus, Sun quincunx Jupiter, etc.
"There's a side to me that likes to plan a little bit ahead and there's a side that just needs to be free. I've got problems with booking airline tickets - I always change them. Sometimes I wonder if it's just for me to feel free. To kind of not be nailed in is really important to me."
"I could be more in control but I don't want to be. I'm in control as much as I want to be. I decide what happens. I'm always so thirsty for this element of surprise that I don't want to plan more than a few days ahead."
"I always felt strongly about authority. I don't like to be told what to do and I don't like telling other people what to do. I think we work fine without bossing people about."
Uranus conjunct Pluto and MC all in Virgo forming a T-Square with Mercury in Sagittarius and Saturn and Chiron in Pisces, plus the Scorpio cluster
"I guess I'm on this stupid mission -- I know it sounds like a silly fairy tale, but I'd like to try to make the perfect song. I still haven't, and I've got 50 years to still try, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes."
"I'm naturally quite introvert, but if it's a question of going to the middle of England and becoming the most extrovert person in the universe, if it's a question of traveling the world like a lunatic on 950 cappuccinos, I'm up for that. If it's a question of not communicating and going and isolating myself for 50 years so I can get as much work done as possible, I'm up for that."
The Capricorn planets - Mars and Venus - and Moon trine Saturn in 3rd house, Sun septile Saturn
"Part of me is probably more conservative than people realise. I like my old string quartets, I don't like music that's trippy for trippy's sake."
"In my group of friends, I'm probably one of the most grounded ones. I've got three sisters and three brothers so I'm really responsible (Saturn in 3rd house of siblings). Maybe not what you'd call the sensible one, but I'm definitely the one who's responsible...a bit too responsible sometimes. My friends say to me 'Just chill out for a minute.'"
"I guess I'm really organized. But naturally so. A lot of people don't know that about me, because it's very hidden; I guess that comes from being brought up with a lot of hippies, when being organized was almost a fault. So I would hide that very carefully, and sneak off with my rucksack, and get out of town and concentrate on school. But it would be really hidden.
Well I don't believe in astrology, but if it works, it was probably written in my map that '93 was going to be a good year. The whole thing has been so effortless for me. At the same time, I realise that it was something I've been preparing for unconsciously for ten years, so it's not just come out like that. But it's been ten times better than I ever thought."
And in other people's words..........
Alexander McQueen: She just absorbs people, and that's why she comes out with so many different and brilliant ideas. (Sun conjunct Neptune, Sun quintile Uranus, Uranus sextile Neptune, Sun on Moon/Mercury midpoint.) She inspired me for a collection I did for Givenchy with the cover of Homogenic; just the way she was talking inspired me to think differently." (Mercury square Uranus.)
Drew Daniel (Matmos): With Björk, emotion is absolutely key. (Scorpio cluster, Moon in 12th, Sun conjunct Neptune.)
Catherine Deneuve: You have to her accept her like she is, wild, unique. (All those Uranus aspects.)
Hildur Runa Hauksdottir (Bjork's mother): When I first heard her album I was so surprised because for anyone who knows Björk, it is so very much her. It is a bit to do with being here, to do with the light and dark, the dramatic contrasts. (The Scorpio cluster, plus Uranus on MC, Mercury in Sagittarius, and Sun conjunct Neptune.)
Margaret Cho: There's something about her that makes people go crazy. I went to see her in Los Angeles on her last tour for the Vespertine album, and the audience was like none other I had ever seen. They were seething with emotion, people were passing out and crying. (Scorpio cluster, Uranus and Pluto on the MC in square to Mercury and opposite to Chiron in 3rd house near to the cusp of the 4th house.)
Shirley Manson: She's a visionary genius and a musical genius, and I love how unique she is and how she does things on her own terms. (The Uranus aspects, the uncompromising Virgo planets and Scorpio cluster, the authoritative Mars in Capricorn, etc)
Tori Amos: I think people saw the mother come out as Bjork [defending her son in the infamous fight with an obnoxious journalist], and nobody's really seen that. You see the playful, young, quote-unquote "woman", but the mother is quite, ah, powerful, wonderful and protective. (Moon in Scorpio in 12th house.)
Graham Massey: Björk in two words? Strength and timebomb (Scorpio cluster), especially now she's in the mainstream. Her background has an anarchic streak (the Uranus aspects), and it hasn't died out yet. It is in a position to kick off, which is one of the most interesting things in pop. I think she's completely misunderstood: people think she's just being clever but there is a genuine integrity (Uranus conjunct Pluto in Virgo at the MC, square Mercury in Sagittarius, Scorpio cluster) about her music. Maybe it was a bit glossed over on the album, but look at what happens next. She won't go for the easy option. [speaking in 1994]
Ken Micallef, writing in Raygun: Part Nordic goddess, part giggly ingenue, part visionary and part opportunist. (That T-Square of Mercury in Sagittarius, Saturn and Chiron in Pisces, Uranus, Pluto and MC in Virgo, combined with Sun conjunct Neptune in Scorpio and a Scorpio Ascendant.)
Jon Savage, writing in Interwoman: The extraterrific, extraterrestrial-sounding extra out-there singer who seduces everyone on earth who's ready for what can't be pinned down. (The Uranian aspects, and the seduction of Sun conjunct Neptune in Scorpio.)
Postscript: Transiting planets and musical expression
When artists experience major transits their work undergoes radical change. They start expressing something different, or move to a different medium. This can be readily seen in Björk's tumultuous year, 1996, and the album that followed it - Homogenic. Writing in Raygun in September 1997 (the month of the album's release), Ken Micallef provides us with the context:
"Homogenic documents a cathartic transfiguration in Bjork's life. A minimalist album of Bollywood-styled strings and bruising alien beats, Homogenic signals, for Bjork, the obligatory difficult or dark period that descends on many artists when change or growth is in order. But this represents no welcome change for Bjork - rather, circumstance piling up or her doorstep like a plaque. Dealing with the loss of a lover shortly after the release of the remix album Telegram, Bjork was further confused when a deranged fan first delivered a pack bomb to her home, then committed suicide. Recoiling from the media attention and still frightened, Bjork and her son, Sindri, left for Spain, where the sessions for Homogenic began."
The Guardian newspaper sums it up thus:
"Björk became the toast of clubland, a chart star, not to mention an influential cultural icon to rival Madonna (for whom she wrote the track Bedtime Stories) with the release of her debut solo album proper, Debut, in 1993, a record full of accessible pop with dance beats. And then, almost as if in violent reaction to being the It Girl of the period, she recorded the harder, darker Post (1995) and Homogenic (1997)."
Astrologers will already be guessing that a transit of Pluto was within orb during this period of Björk's life, and they would be correct: transiting Pluto was conjunct Björk's Sun in Scorpio within 2 degrees of orb from the start of 1994 through to Autumn 1996. By 1997 as transiting Uranus squared her Moon, she and her son had reassessed what 'home' meant and where 'home' was located.
Contrasting Homogenic and the album that followed it, Vespertine, Björk's words eloquently conjure up the difference between the intensity of Plutonic inner struggle and transformation, and the gentler, more tranquil emotional states of Neptune - Vespertine was recorded during a Neptune transit to her Moon and MC:
"Homogenic, for me, was very emotionally confrontational and was very dramatic, both in the melodic sense of the strings and the distorted beats. Everything on 11... a lot of steroids in the air. Vespertine is sort of the opposite. Very introverted, very quiet and calm and peaceful, and at peace with one's self.
After being obsessed with reality and darkness and always thinking everything else is bullshit, you know, suddenly thinking to invent a paradise isn't necessarily a bad thing. I used to always think that was escapism. This record is very much about inventing your own paradise, but underneath your kitchen table, so it's very secretive. It's sort of about being on your own in your house with your laptop and whispering for a year and just writing a very peaceful song that tiptoes. It's all about reaching those euphoric highs and those ecstasy moments, but with no outside stimulates. All it takes is inside you. I'm quite aware it's an artificial paradise, so it almost went Disney at times — you know, when you see pink Bambi jumping about? Those types of things. I don't think there are very many pink Bambis on Homogenic.
Vespertine is sort of a winter album for me. I think Homogenic was very summer, very hot, burning desert [i.e. a classic Plutonic experience]. Maybe 'cause I did it in Spain [she has Pluto square her Ascendant through Spain]; it might be something as simple as that. But this one's like ... those days when it's snowing outside, and you're inside with a cup of cocoa and everything's very magical. You're euphoric, but you don't speak for days 'cause you don't want to."
"From the beginning, I knew I wanted this album to be the exact opposite of 'Homogenic'. That album was so extreme and confrontational. I needed this album to explore what we sound like on the inside. You know, that ecstasy, that euphoric state that happens while whispering."
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