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Home -> People -> On the Road with Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady

On the Road with Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady

The famous author Jack Kerouac met his travel partner Neal Cassady in late December 1946 in New York City, USA. They drove across the USA together visiting other friends, who would later become known as the Beat Generation. In time, Neal became Jack's writing inspiration, both in terms of writing content and in terms of writing style. What light can astrology shed on their inspirational relationship?

Seeds of Jack's Muse  [View chart]

The roots of Neal's muse-like effect on Jack lie in part in the death of Jack's older brother, Francois Gerard Kerouac. He died of a painful illness when he was 9 years old, and Jack was 4. The planetoid Chiron is associated with, amongst other things, a sense of vulnerability and suffering. Gerard's Chiron lies on Jack's Sun/Venus midpoint and indeed is conjunct Jack's Sun and Venus. This reflects a connection between Gerard's illness and death and Jack's artistic self-expression, his capacity to form relationships, and his ability and desire to give and receive love. Chiron is also within orb of many of Jack's other midpoints, indicating a complex influence on Jack's psyche.

Chiron's degree area - 24 Pisces - crops up again in Neal Cassady's chart, but this time it is Uranus that occupies the space. There are other degree repetitions, shown below with Jack's close degrees added, and the degree areas for Gerard's death:

 - Gerard's Uranus is at 17 Aquarius
 - Neal's Sun-Venus conjunction is at 18/19 Aquarius
 - Jack's 6th house cusp (work and health) is at 16 Aquarius
 - Jack's Mercury is conjunct these at 24 Aquarius
 - Ascendant and Jupiter were at 27 Aquarius when Gerard died
 - Neptune was at 22 Leo, directly opposite the Aquarius degrees, when Gerard died

 - Gerard's Saturn is at 25 Cancer
 - Neal's north node is at 25 Cancer
 - Neal's Saturn is exactly trine these at 25 Scorpio
 - Jack's AS/MC midpoint is at 27 Cancer
 - The 6th house cusp was at 25 Cancer when Gerard died

 - Gerard's Mars is at 20 Libra
 - Neal's AS/MC midpoint is at 19 Libra (assuming his birth time is correct)
 - Jack's Jupiter is at 17 Libra

Jack's transits for the time of Gerard's death are incredible. The Moon was at 9 Pisces 58, conjunct Jack's Uranus at 10 Pisces 16. Mars was at 21 Pisces 45, with Jack's Sun at 21 Pisces 33. Uranus was at 29 Pisces 02, with Jack's Venus at 29 Pisces 18. Mercury was at 10 Gemini 00 and the Sun at 11 Gemini 51, with Jack's MC at 10 Gemini 04. The MC was at 12 Sagittarius 18, with Jack's Mars at 10 Sagittarius 33, and his MC-IC axis at 10 Sagittarius 04. (These were not the only transits for this time; they are just the conjunctions). To say that Gerard's death shook up Jack and changed the course of his life, his relationships, his career, and his creativity is clearly a massive understatement.

If these transits are contrasted with the transits to Caroline Kerouac's chart (Gerard and Jack's sister), the above transits are put into clear context for the remarkable line-up that they are. Ascendant-Jupiter are directly opposite Caroline's Saturn at 26 Leo 25. Uranus is exactly conjunct her Chiron at 29 Pisces. MC is conjunct her north node at 14 Sagittarius. So you can see straight away and beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Jack's transits were of far greater volume and intensity than Caroline's for this event in both their lives.

These type of transits seed a personality and add to it, changing the way the individual birth chart is expressed in the future, although the seeds remain hidden from an astrologer who works solely with the birth chart in front of them and doesn't look into family context. They're a good example of how astrological practice needs to change, because Jack's deterioration after he became famous is only really explainable and understandable when we take these earlier seminal events into account.

Neal Cassady's character  [View chart]

Neal Cassady was a chaotic, wildly spirited person, as shown by his Moon and Mars in Sagittarius, and his cluster of planets in Aquarius: Sun, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter. Both these signs are concerned with freedom and exploration, experimentation and free-form expression. Neither of them live within mortal limits; they have a hard time being in body, and resist growing up. They crave excitement, stimulation, and adventure. They take risks, thumb their noses at authority, and are uncomfortable setting down roots. The itinerant life-style appeals because it satisfies many needs.

With Saturn in Scorpio on his Ascendant, Neal was challenged to accept mortal limits and adult responsibilities, but as sometimes happens with Saturn-Scorpio-Ascendant links, there is a self-destructive streak, or a death-wish in the personality. Other than Saturn close to his Ascendant and a Virgo MC, there is no Earth in Neal's chart for him to draw on to build some solid foundations in his life and to contain his wildness or put it to practical use. His Aquarian cluster of planets are in his 3rd house of communication and travel, opposed by Neptune - formlessness, inspiration, the search for bliss, but also the possibility of self-undoing through intoxication, addiction, and debauchery.

Neal and Jack

Neal's Uranus at 23 Pisces is conjunct Jack's Sun at 22 Pisces. In Neal's chart, Uranus rules the 3rd house of communication and mobility/travel. This combination reflects the galvanising effect of Neal's speaking style on Jack's creativity, as well as on his sense of himself, and reflects the wild journeys they used to take together. Simply put, Neal opened Jack's eyes to a way of living that jolted him out of his status quo. In a similar vein, Jack's Jupiter (travel and publishing) trines Neal's Sun, and it was through Jack's published writings (Jupiter) about their joint car drives (Jupiter) across the USA and to Mexico that Neal became famous (Sun).

Jack's Mercury (writing, speaking, and thought patterns) is opposite Neal's Neptune, and Neal's Mercury is opposite Jack's Neptune. This symbolises the two of them lending inspiration to one another through their ways of thinking, their interests, and their styles of communication. It was Neal's wild, spontaneous, free-form, unself-conscious manner of speaking that Jack adopted for 'On the Road', the book which had Dean Moriarty (aka Neal Cassady) as the lead character. Neal's Sun (himself, his self-expression, his identity) is square to Jack's Mercury/Neptune midpoint, showing how he enlivens Jack's capacity to fictionalise and to write in a fluid way.

Neal's MC axis is closely conjunct Jack's Ascendant axis, and his Moon. Neal's Moon is on Jack's Sun/Moon midpoint. This suggests a strong familial bond between the two of them, where they parent one another; the two of them form a mini family. Jack brings to this though a Mars-Uranus flavour with Mars square these axes and Uranus opposite Neal's MC.

Through his adventures with Neal, Jack expresses his wild, untamed, free spirited nature, upsetting the applecart and maybe - to be psychological about it for a moment - expressing a lot of his childhood anger (his Mars is in his 4th house of childhood background) about not fitting in and being an outsider (his parents were French-speaking Canadians living in the USA).

Neal's nodal axis is on Jack's AS/MC midpoint (if Jack's birth time is correct), showing how Neal's association with Jack was a very close one, and how Neal's path of development through his life was intertwined with Jack's life and work.

When they met in late December 1946, Pluto was exactly with Jack's Neptune (also highlighting the Mercury-Neptune aspect with Neal to do with fluid writing and inspiration from speaking), Neptune was exactly in aspect to his Mars-Uranus-MC trio (highlighting the links with Neal's MC axis to do with breaking from the past and living a bold, rebellious and risky life), and the north node was very close to Jack's MC (highlighting career direction as well as family background issues). There is also in this an indication of 'this is where the dissolution starts.'

For Neal, the major meeting transits were: Saturn exactly opposite Jupiter, symbolising a containing and grounding of his restless, unbounded spirit (given his chart, he may not have experienced this transit very strongly), Uranus trine Sun and sextile Moon indicating a dynamic, exciting, fresh stimulus, and of course the Pluto aspect already covered in the paragraph above where what he says and the way he says it can have a life-changing effect on the people who hear him at this time.

Publication of 'The Town and the City' and 'On the Road'

The release dates of Jack's first two published books back up some basic and traditional astrological thinking about people's lives and careers.

Jack's first book, 'The Town and the City', was published as he approached his birthday, so the Sun was moving towards its natal position. Also, Mercury (writing, books) was just two and a half degrees away from its natal position. These, and other key transits, are shown in the diagram below (Jack's planets are in blue, his transits in red):

Jack Kerouac - Town & the City transits

After 'The Town and the City' was published in 1950, there was a gap of seven years before Jack's next and most famous book, 'On the Road', was published. In astrology, seven years is a well known time period, because it relates to the cycle of Saturn around the zodiac. Every seven years there is a transition from the end of one phase of life into a new phase.

What makes this even more significant, is that when 'On the Road' was published Saturn was at Jack's IC, highlighting the career axis. When 'The Town and the City' was published Saturn had just crossed Jack's Ascendant and moved into his 1st house. In astrology, these are renowned for being major turning points in a person's life, on both personal and professional levels. 'On the Road' was published when the Sun was directly opposite where it was when 'The Town and the City' was published seven years before:

Jack Kerouac - Saturn Cycle

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