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"Trading her Tomorrows"
An astrological biography of Janis Joplin
by Alex Trenoweth

Janis Joplin’s biographers puzzle over how a seemingly shy girl brought up in a small town in Texas could become one of the most beloved and memorable icons of the 1960’s. How did a woman with such a conventional upbringing break into the male dominated Music Industry in the first place? How did a woman of such unconventional beauty eventually tally up a long list of lovers that included Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison? How, biographers wonder, could such a successful and driven women - a woman who had finally seemed to have all the love and respect she so craved all her life - end her days alone and of a heroin overdose? To these questions, biographers can only shake their heads and wonder. Astrology, however, can open up an entirely new perspective.

Janis Lyn Joplin was born on 19 January 1943 at 9:45 am in Port Arthur Texas. Looking at Janis’ chart, it can be seen she has the sign ruled by Uranus, Aquarius, as her ascendant. Janis was truly an original and perhaps it is unsurprising she so represented the heart of the rebellious ‘60’s. She was unpredictable and free-spirited and disliked the “squares” on which she so frequently poured her venom.

Janis was noted for her emotional and gut wrenching performances. She had both the ruler of Cancer, the Moon, and its exalted planet, Jupiter, in the fifth house, the house of creative expression. In itself, this is remarkable. But coupled with the stellium of planets (Venus, Jupiter, Sun and Mercury) of the US chart conjunct to these natal planets in Janis’ chart and it is no wonder America provided the stage for Janis to express herself. Additionally, the Pluto of the US was conjunct to Janis’s 12th house Sun. Janis’ identity of self and creativity was plugged into the collective power of the US. To top it all off Janis’ Sun opposition to Pluto provided the spine of a kite formation. Janis was truly a high flyer in her profession and the powerful effect on those who saw her perform is legendary. Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders said: “There was something scary in her total delivery... Her performance was so in your face and electrifying that it really put you right there in the moment. There you were living your nice little life in the suburbs and suddenly there was this train wreck, and it was Janis."

Janis was aware of her Sun sign as she was part of a trio who called themselves “Capricorn Ladies.” No doubt, the irony of being a sign so noted for its stability and love of the traditional would not have been lost on Janis. However, on careful inspection of her Sun, it can be seen that not even a trine from Saturn can provide the usual stability this Sun should have: Saturn is conjunct Uranus, both co rulers of her chart. She struggled to resolve the energies of these incongruous planets and would totter between the reliable and revolutionary all her life. Incidentally, the Uranus-Saturn conjunction looks suspiciously like the apt title of one of her albums: “Cheap Thrills”.

From infancy, Janis enjoyed singing and playing the piano just like her mother, the owner of a beautiful soprano voice. By all accounts, Janis was the apple of her mother’s eye - until throat surgery put an end to her mother’s singing. Unable to bear hearing Janis sing when she herself was could no longer do so, Janis’ mother had the piano removed. About the same time that Janis lost the piano, she gained a new baby sister. During this tumultuous period of her life, Uranus was transiting her N. Moon.

At the age of 14, when Uranus was opposite her Sun and Pluto was on her descendant, Janis developed severe acne and began to gain weight. It was usual in 1950’s Texas for the less than beautiful to resign themselves to the corner. Rather than suffer this fate, Janis began to do anything to gain attention. The more people ignored her, the more outrageous she became. She became the only beatnik in town, she developed a grating cackle, she began to use language the likes of which most people had never heard spoken let alone dare to use and it is alleged, she began sleeping not only the older boys in her school but a few girls as well. In desperation, her parents took her to a psychologist - an admission back in the ‘50 that was akin to admitting their daughter was mentally ill.

The start of a new progressed lunar cycle began in 1959 and unable to stomach the banality of life in a small town, Janis began sneaking out of her parents‘ home and exploring the music scene on the Texas state border. She began singing in bars, often being paid in beer. Unusual for the time, Janis idolised the Black blues singer Bessie Smith. At this time in US history, segregation was at its ugliest and it was very uncommon for blacks and whites to have contact, let alone declare - as Janis did - that “I want to be the first white black person.” Eventually, through her mother’s insistence, Janis enrolled at the University of Texas to study art. Again, she antagonised people, this time the fraternities who saw to it she was voted “Ugliest man on campus.” Whether Janis was offended or saw it as an opportunity to gain further attention is unclear but it was Janis herself who made this fact known to the general public once she became famous. Her singing was gaining popularity but she had also developed a terrific speed habit which was compounded by an addiction to barbiturates and sedatives.

At 21, (towards the end of 1964) as T. Saturn was square to Janis’ N. Uranus, Janis had to admit to herself that she was like a human yo-yo and she suddenly got a craving to be normal. She got engaged and moved back to Port Arthur to wait for her fiancé to make the date for the wedding and to break her drug habits. Though friends cringed in her choice of a man (he was handsome but had a reputation for unreliability), the two of them talked of turning over a new leaf, of wanting a pretty little house with a white picket fence. Janis looked to her younger sister, Laura, for advice. Laura was the epitome of grace, style, academic brilliance - and tradition. “Man, I want to be like you,” Janis said to her. Laura looked at Janis’ second hand clothes, the tie dyed T shirts, the holey jeans and knew where to begin: clothes shopping. Taking her elder sister to a respectable clothes shop, Laura was horrified to discover in the changing rooms that Janis no longer owned any underwear.

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© Alex Trenoweth 2005
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