The Quest for Life Force and Pure Being: Wilhelm Reich and Ram Das

 

In my previous gallery of the first and foremost I had to leave out a few original talents who also demanded attention as Aries does not like to be second- winning the race is what inspires them. They also wanted inclusion on the front line: Tracy Chapman (March 30th) wrote about a Fast Car  and Talking about a Revolution , and Aretha Franklin ( March 25th) one of kind with an unmistakable attitude of claiming that you give her R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Many fine actors born under the Ram wanted to be frontrunners. Acting was not enough. They burst beyond screen roles to become activists, directors, writers, or experimenters with life;  there are the likes of Dirk Bogarde (March 28th), Gary Oldman (March 21st), James Franco (April 19th) and Marlon Brando himself (April 3rd).

Then there was a unique kind of playwright in Tennessee Williams  (March 27th) who carved out his own territory of heightened emotions in his plays. There was also the man who dreamed in Medieval colours and started the entire Arts and Crafts movement with a powerful stellium in Aries, William Morris ( March 24th).

Beyond that, we saw that Aries pushed boundaries and going boldly where no man ever dared go. William Shatner (March 22nd) was the actor who played Captain Kirk in the Star Trek series, the leader of the Starship Enterprise. He fits perfectly as cipher and symbol of the intrepid Arian attitude as he was born at the earliest, the freshest point, at 0° of the sign.

Bowery
Leigh Bowery (1991) Fergus Greer

We also saw willingness to be bold and stand out. So if we felt that Vivienne Westwood (April 7th ) was oddball then put that to one side. One look at Leigh Bowery (March 26th, 1961-1994) transforms Westwood into a character from a kiddy flick by Walt Disney.  

Bowery broke every taboo – and even had a club by that name. He tore the norms of appearance to shreds with his unorthodox, chaotic and sometimes intimidating looks, each one different from the next, each one deconstructing an aspect of gender and normality. Aries likes to use the word ‘me’ and an exhibition of his work was called ‘Look at Me’ (1999). He had sun conjunct asteroid Ceres in Aries, and a powerful creative water trine of Mercury in Pisces, Mars in Cancer and Neptune in Scorpio. He swam in a soup of ideas.  Mars is square to the Sun giving crunch and bite, and Venus in Aries is the apex of the T-square of Saturn and the Moon so he had grist and grind to make himself his own most beautiful-ugly creation by his own defined aesthetic.

Every sighting of him in the London streets and gay clubs back in the 80s was to witness a one-off performance. He stood 7ft tall on extended shoes so he was humungous and frightening, as if a neon zombie statue had come to life. Few dared challenge him and many ran to hide. He was hyper-extrovert, a pure individualist with a trash aesthetic and in-your-face attitude. There is no birth time but it would not surprise me if he had been born with Pluto conjunct the North Node in Virgo on his Ascendant as he was a ‘transformer’ and master of constructing garments.

Bowery was part fool, part ogre, part drag queen, part public spectacle, relentless poseur and convention-challenging art work. He was sui-generis, born of himself, unlike anything else on the scene.  He had Saturn in Capricorn conjunct Jupiter in Aquarius which links to our time 2020-and the next 20 years – and after his death Bowery’s legacy still reverberates. He was born out of time. Perhaps it takes an Aries from Australia to have the raw nerve to stand out in London, a city fond of its eccentrics. He is hard to classify as none of his clothes were wearable by any one else but him.  As muse to painter Lucien Freud  (Sagittarius) he was painted nude i.e. emotionally raw rather than just without his mask. In the synastry chart of these two,  Bowery’s Chiron lands on Freud’s Uranus in Pisces and Bowery’s Sun shines on Freud’s Chiron in Aries, so something struck a flash chord of mutual inspiration between them.

Tarot card
The Fool card

Bowery typifies a life lived at breakneck speed without a single regret- the energy of the Tarot card, the Fool, total fearless trust in life teetering on the edge of a cliff. But we digress, away from the search for life force and pure being as is the theme- or maybe not? Aries walks off a cliff edge and discovers a whole world where others would just crash on the rocks. I intended this article to be about two leaders and shapers of thought,  whose cultural influence is monumental and who followed this zero Tarot card energy. The two Aries natives that stand out are – Wilhelm Reich (March 27th, 1897) and Ram Das, (April 6th, 1931) aka Dr. Richard Alpert.

 

 

Orgone Accumulators and Cloud Busters: WILHELM REICH

Reich
Wilhelm Reich freudblogspot.com

The name Wilhelm Reich, born March 24th, 1897, is linked to what cheap newspapers called ‘sex’ boxes. These ‘orgone accumulators’ which his patients were placed in to balance their energy were much misunderstood and actively maligned. Even this century people are only just getting to grips with the radical nature of what Reich proposed- that there was a universal life energy that could be tapped to heal people of the unconscious struggle of being in their bodies, that the ‘ghost’ is not just in the machine but wedded to it. Orgone as Reich defined it may very well be chi or prana but is still a force that ‘science’ claimed was not there. For something that did not exist, it appeared so dangerous that the US authorities, the FDA, embarked on a campaign to destroy it along with Reich’s career reputation and eventually his life.  

He was that rare scientist to stand for life as many other scientists, including Einstein, were drawn in death games with nuclear and atomic energy serving nefarious purposes. But also as an Aries Reich stood against the courts. Aries opposes Libra- the law. The independent minded Reich chose not to appear in court and so was judged unfavorably in his absence. Decades of scientific research stands for nothing to the law which sent him to prison for two years for ‘contempt of court’.

 

Wilhelm Reich
Wilhelm Reich, March 24th, 1897 (astrotheme.com)

Before all this Dr. Reich suffered several rejections during his life, yet still managed to thrive. He was a survivor. The Communist Party expelled him. He did not fit into Freud’s clique either. But his followers knew he was on to something of magnitude. This may have been because he was continually inventive as a Scientist and thinker having Uranus in Scorpio where it is exalted. Saturn is close by in Sagittarius where it becomes master of ideas that stimulate the higher mind. These two planets sit oddly at the pivot point of the cusp of Scorpio and Sagittarius crossing energies from contrary realms. Also,  across Scorpio falls in the 9th house and Saturn in the 10th, so while the inventions were original, he may have promoted them in a dogmatic way that created enemies. He pushed the boundaries so hard many of his own followers and even his daughter Eva Reich fell by the wayside as they could not sustain the fearlessness and level of commitment needed.

Chiron is also in Scorpio which hints at  one of his major theories about ‘armouring’ the body in ‘The Mass Psychology Fascism’(1934). While the wound of Chiron could be related to sex itself, or control of that urge, the inability to relax into it and to heal through it was often the reason for this protective shell people create which he called ‘armour’. It made some people sink into that rigidity for life, normalising the neurotic. Some were able to release but then defaulted back into their rigid reflexes. The orgone was able to bring about peace and healing.  

What Reich perceived was more to do with the collective psychosis around unhealthy notions of sex or denial of its power. He observed a psycho-somatic mechanism where people unwittingly enabled fascist oppression through their own deep-seated fear of punishment and too easy adaptation to parental authority. The Uranus in Scorpio part wants freedom in sex as in Reich’s quote but the Saturn part wants order. The outcome was often societal shaming and scapegoating along with the oppression which is Chiron territory- where we are most wounded in Taurus, in the body.

 

Klimt  Mural
Hygieia Mural by Gustave Klimt (1894)

The ability to enjoy and relish the pleasure of sex Reich called ‘orgastic potency.’ The way he demonstrated proof it existed was to measure the charge of electricity (Uranus in Scorpio) on the skin (Venus in Taurus).The charge and discharge cycle of anxiety and release he called the ‘sex economy’ and the need for human touch and breathing exercises (Venus in Taurus) which is a kind of metabolic homeostasis of bio-psychic bodily energies. New products such as the Orgonite bloodzapper can rid the body of parasites and boost the immune system. This too relates to electricity.  What resonates here too is that Reich’s asteroid Hygeia is conjunct Venus at 13 of Taurus. Hygieia was daughter of Asclepius and she best represents the Latin adage mens-sanain-corpore-sane (a healthy mind in a healthy body) with cleanliness as key, sometimes however leading to hypochondria. Reich’s natal chart parallels the discovery chart of Hygeia, April 12th 1849 when the Sun was in Aries, the Moon in Sagittarius, Chiron was also in Scorpio opposite Venus in Taurus.

Orgonon
Orgonon, Maine, USA

This Chiron opposite a strongly placed Venus in Taurus may have grounded some of his more unsettling feelings and allowed him to make huge progress with his innovations and insights into life at Orgonon. This was his laboratory located in Maine, in an idyllic landscape of trees and fields next to a lake. There, he even found time to paint, sculpt and compose music. So while Venus in Taurus might stimulate that level of creativity the Moon in Sagittarius opposite Neptune conjunct Pluto in Gemini in the third house suggests he didn’t believe in being idle and was constantly learning, studying, transforming and creating with indefatigable energy. It was an inspired choice of location as it is very close to where the Venus DSc and Jupiter ASc lines cross on the astro-map. 

Reich on Freedom

He created the Cloud Buster which was a simple device of metal tubes planted in water aimed at the sky to attract moisture. It was a rain maker that apparently worked. This element of his life was dramatized in Kate Bush’s video Cloud Busting (1985) where she played Reich’s son Peter. Peter was also born when the sun was in Aries, April 3rd, 1944. It is the emotional tone of Peter’s memoir  that Bush captures so well.

What drives individuals to push the limits and endure misrepresentation and character assassination?  Wilhelm Reich said it was ‘courage’ more than anything that he needed to pursue the unusual research that formed his life’s work. Courage is the most elevated of the qualities of an Aries native and it is a heroic virtue especially when he was forced by authorities to burn his own books and accept imprisonment. Aries can be this kind of warrior in the field of ideas.

According to James AinsworthReich’s work gives us the missing link that ties together astrology, astronomy, biology, psychology and spirituality as part of one living force or energy field.”  This is why it would require a scientist of equal range to test his theories as they crossed so many disciplines. He was a polymath and hence outside the main boxes and the only way to pin him down was to imprison him.

 

Psychedelics and the Search for the Divine: RAM DAS 

Ram Das
Ram Das in Hawaii

Born April 6th, 1931  Richard Alpert (Ram Das) had Saturn on the Descendant so he was perceived by those around him as master and teacher. He is all Cardinal Fire and Water, with just the south node in an Air sign. The emphasis was on the emotional sincerity- the wholeness of being- not the scholarship and remembering details. The very name Ram is significant for an Aries whose symbol is the Ram. But Ram in Sanskrit is not Ram in English. Yet, there is serendipity in this choice of name given to him by his guru. Ram Das means son of Ram or Rama from the Ramayana.

Before Alpert went to India was an assistant professor of Psychology at Harvard by the age of 27. But his claim to fame was that he had been thrown out of Harvard- the rebel reject (Sun conjunct Uranus/North Node in Aries) and that he advocated LSD along with his close friend Timothy Leary (Libra). This is what set him free from a life trapped in academia. He could then claim ‘My Life is my message.’ He was the pioneer of spiritual exploration and mind-expanding drugs. But he also helped bring care to people approaching death, working in hospices with AIDs patients and those with terminal illnesses, dealing directly wit the grief that brings- Chiron in the 11th House.

 

Ram Das
Ram Das (April 6th, 1922) astrotheme.com

His chart has a clear signature of the guru right on the Ascendant with two heavyweights there- Pluto conjunct Jupiter in Cancer. This might also suggest being born into money which he was not short of coming from a prominent Jewish family in Boston.  As an Aries spirit, he sought action and experience, learned to fly a plane and flew to Cuernevaca to meet Timothy Leary to try teonanácatl the magic mushrooms  of Mexico. Then he went off to India to find a a guru- all very Moon in Sagittarius eager to go places and experiment with life.

But it also signals Mars in Leo in the first house and Venus in Pisces -its most spiritual expression-and in the 9th house- through higher ideas. But what’s lovely is that Chariklo, wife of Chiron, is also on the Ascendant with Jupiter and Pluto, holding this beautiful presence and ‘abiding’ for him, healing and inspiring as Ram Das was able to do for those he met. It is ultra-close- just 19 minutes away from Jupiter at 11°. I think that makes Chariklo the much less visible presiding spirit or daimon even of the Ascendant. This matches William Shatner’s Jupiter conjunct Chariklo in Cancer as well. They were born in the same year, 1931.  Chariklo has been connected to science fiction but here she is all about transformational healing. 

Be Here Now Ram Das (1972)

Ram Das’s sun is conjunct Uranus in Aries so he was never going to be the ordinary type of leader- he advocated exploration of psychedelic drugs, to become a psycho-naut of the head-space of Aries. ‘Be Here Now’ (1971) was published in the year of the Earth Monkey to help finance the Lama Foundation. It is an illustrated book exploring consciousness that became the ‘counterculture bible.’ Perhaps the claim is exaggerated but It’s never been out of print and even became a song by George Harrison. The lines read ‘This One is Dedicated to the One Eye Love’. The eye refers to the pineal gland in the head, opening by psychoactive drugs and/or prolonged meditation. There is huge creativity in the interlocking of a T-Square. Venus is in Pisces opposite Neptune in Virgo and he Moon in Sagittarius which is the apex of this T-Square but in the 5th house of creativity. While some might see mitigating factors here, I see this as a struggle which had fertile outcomes such as this book which just kept on giving and giving.

 

Ram Das

His sexuality was exploratory, or even abstract, a kind of universal love of everyone but he was basically gay, unable to reveal that in full until the 90s. He even discovered late in life that he had fathered a son. This Sun-Uranus combo is also conjunct the North Node so he was never short of fiery inspiration and held his own in open discussions with distinguished intellects, often bringing new perspectives, humour and heart to any debate. When he was asked to give advice about sustaining a same-sex relationship, he said “Be soul friends… All your differences happen at the level of ego.”  This is Venus in Pisces in the 9th talking again. Since there is no clear cut indicator of homosexuality in any chart, it is just part of being, there is no point looking for it. The Sun-Uranus could point to it, but it could just as easily describe a revolutionary restless soul, perhaps one that finds his spirit being trapped in a body an itchy experience.

Love for the guru is this pure love but to be unconditional is almost inhuman as it does not recognise foibles and failures that we all have. The ego according to Ram Das asks Do you love me? Love wants to be special, so here we are again in Aries territory. He spoke about the ego all the time, even to rattle its cage just a bit, knowing it will never leave fully. Ram Das’s guru was Neem Karoli Baba who taught him the hardest task of all, to love and be truthful at the same time. This lesson may have been the origin of the lines Ram Das later uttered, ‘Treat everyone as if they were God in drag’.

Aliver Milio
Art by Alivermilio (2021)

On February 19th 1997 Ram Das suffered a stroke paralysing his left side and what’s curious about rectangles is, at least in my research, how they align to life-changing moments in the lives of mystics like Krishnamurti and Chögyam Trungpa. There is a rectangle in this event chart in which Saturn and the South Node is opposite Mars and the North Node, and Jupiter conjunct Uranus in Aquarius are opposite the Moon.  That might represent a powerful closed circuit of energies that locked in that day.  He said that it may have happened while sleeping and Taurus rules the cusp of the 12th House.  But that it ‘just happened’ points to the Uranus/Jupiter effect in Aquarius which rules the nervous system.  He called it a ‘stroke of luck’. Ram Das continued his life, training himself to overcome the disabilities of a partially paralysed body as best he could until his death in 2019.

 

Ram Das with guru
Ram Das (2000)

Ram Das explored theme of unconditional love inn a lecture he gave in 1992. He tells the story about monk whose monastery is being annexed by marauding soldiers sent by the government. The soldier is angry beyond belief that the monk is not scared. Everyone else has fled. The monk remains seated calmly and does not move. The soldier says “Do you know who I am?” drawing up his sword.  “I could plunge this sword in your belly without the blink of eye.” The monk waited and then replied  “Do you know who I am also? I am the man who I could receive that sword without the blink of an eye.”

Both Ram Das and Wilhelm Reich were unique, each in their own right; whether you agree with their achievements or not, you cannot take that away from an Aries. They both had Moon in Sagittarius that sense that each moment in life is a daily adventure, a rollicking quest firing off in different directions. And another  common trait is their lust for life, pure sun in Aries where it has great strength. They plunged right in to whatever came their way and lived to the full whatever the consequences. Fearlessness in the face of adversity is by no means easy, even for Aries natives, but learning even a little about these two, their lives and their charts,  can be a reminder to call on deep reserves of courage when needed along with plenty of resilience.

 

© Kieron Devlin, Proteus Astrology, April 1st, 2021.

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Kieron is a London-based and trained astrologer at Proteus Astrology on Facebook and my home page:

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Published by Kieron Devlin

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