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
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.
© Alex Trenoweth 2005
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