Master of Masters: Enter Bruce Lee



When Bruce Lee bursts in the room, he lands on his toes, arching like an alley cat, raises his arms but does not stay still. He dances sideways back and forth. If he picks a fight with you, the challenge – and your life lesson- begins and it’s it’ll be over so fast, you’ll never know how you lost.  He is the street fighter, the underdog who takes on the giants and wins. Li Jun-fan (李小龍) otherwise known as Bruce Lee, worked hard to achieve his iconic status as as a martial arts teacher and film actor but he died before his full potential was ever realised. But he was only  for his 5ft 8’ and a lean and shredded body frame weighing only 140lbs yet his massive influence was concentrated into a mere 32 years.


His birth was literally ‘Enter the Dragon’ as he was born in the hour of the Dragon and in the year of the Metal Dragon. Dragons were his signature as the Asian form of the dragon is speedy, fierce, dynamic and dazzling. They are supremely fortunate. The other related synchronicity was that his mother was superstitious and had originally wanted to call him Sai Fon which means ‘little phoenix’ and the phoenix is the ultimate symbol of the fully transmuted and alchemised Scorpio energy and he had a stellium in Scorpio.

He was not just an actor, but a director, choreographer, writer, teacher and dancer that resonated with people all over the world. Yet Lee’s determination was unstoppable.  He identified with the fluid and latent power of water in a famous interview where he said “If you try to remember, you will lose. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, or creep, or drip, or crash… Be water, my friend.”

It sounds easy to say, but this is profound as water is rarely stagnant. It describes his subtle way of thinking, never  easy to pin down. This perfectly expresses that all four angles in his chart are Mutable. He had Sagittarius Ascendant, Pisces on the IC, Gemini on the Descendant, and Virgo on the Midheaven. That’s makes his chart like a Wheel of Fortune showing someone continually challenged by circumstances, being on the move,  yet also always able to adapt. But this Water may have been a spiritual form which is just as well as the angles catch us in the main areas of his life:  the body, the home, relationships and career and these would have been continually activated. But it may also point to a 12th House Sun placement where the ego is dissolved and in retreat even when it shines in the world.

There is a touch of the Mercurial about him too- his slim, boyish look and supreme physical dexterity and speed. When he was  young, he won first prize for the Cha-Cha in dance competitions. Just watch his toes move in fight scenes. So water for him was more like liquid mercury or like electricity-the invisible current that starts modest but has concentrated force and power when it reaches its peak momentum.

Lee in ‘The Big Boss'(1970) Golden Harvest Films

He was eclectic and mixed fighting styles, even promoting having ‘no’ style at all yet he was in fact proficient in many. He was a kind of chameleon but with a turbo-charged ambition. His Saturn and Jupiter were conjoined in Taurus in the 5th House of Leo. He created his own form of martial arts called the Jeet Kune Do school. This was a Herculean effort to bring about as he was opposed by traditional Kung Fu masters who thought it was degrading to reveal martial arts secrets to ordinary Americans – the fear was that it would make the Chinese Masters vulnerable. But he was also one of the few Asian-Americans to be a natural sex symbol with lots of shirt ripping in the films, revealing his bare chest- with the Sun on the Ascendant everyone looks at the native and the self may be fused with the body as the first thing they see- the doorway to the rest of him.


Bruce Lee

His slippery quality was fortunately combined with the ability to do the long hard slog of inner transformation with his stellium of personal planets in Scorpio. He had Venus, Mars, the Moon and Mercury in that most alchemical of signs. Mars is the dirty street fighter that punches eyes out quick as a flash.  But to have his Mars so close to Venus brings grace. It softens the blows and made them elegant. This was the burnished lustre of Venus in Scorpio. He was the first to make everyone fall in love with the fight scenes as he designed them so dexterously. They were as choreographed as any ballet turning warriors into dancers.  But this stellium is intensely emotional, private and protective too. He was sharp with that Mercury in Scorpio, and if he didn’t like something would say so,  but he did it with a smile and laugh as he also had a good sense of humour and was very entertaining on set.


The Philosopher-Teacher in Hollywood

But to return to Sagittarius. As an athlete-philosopher he totally represents this archetype- the centaur hybrid with combined physical and metaphysical capabilities.  Jupiter the ruler of the chart. He was never about keeping Kung Fu moves to their surface appearance, just to show off. He had bigger ideas and his head stuck in books when he was not acting. He was not just a fighter but a philosopher on a grand scale. He was creative too with Jupiter in Taurus in the 5th house of Leo but that also made him a loyal friend and father to his children, plus the life and soul at parties. His projection of himself was as a world star- mega- a goal he achieved upon his death.

Sagittarians are also about honesty at any cost, and Bruce Lee said repeatedly that his entire art was just expressing himself honestly. What he meant was that authenticity is what counts without misdirection from any director who held him back. He was usually right.

He had deep commitment to the philosophy of martial arts with its roots in Buddhism and Taoism. He demonstrates this by being in his own divine flow, on his toes literally dodging, and noticing the weakness of the opponent and training hard which set the tone for all actors to follow. Life throws challenges and to catch the knife by the handle, he did without batting an eyelid.  There were few who could outdo him.  If only his opponents had known that his Achilles heel was that he was short sighted, they might have been able to win against him, not through skill as much as through trickery.

Not modest of his abilities, he lived up to all expectations when he became the lead star with ‘The Big Boss’ (1971) which was his first great success. His Neptune is conjunct the Mid-Heaven.  Neptune is associated with the glamour of films, the allure they have over the minds of the viewers – call it ‘pulling’ power. His name pulls audiences in. He was on a film set acting by age six as his father was also an actor and very Neptunian – an opium addict. With Neptune in the 10th and the Sun right on the Ascendant it’s safe to say he would be a world class film star. He could have even become a more regular a TV star as he was seen in the Green Hornet as Cato the kickboxing chauffeur.  But he suffered in this role by having to play second fiddle to the American star, Van Williams. In Hong Kong it was called ‘The Cato Show’ where he was the only star. An added layer to this Neptune in Virgo, I feel is that it is conjunct asteroid Chariklo, the clear light and ground of being and the heart of compassion,  and certainly an industrious placement for working on the meticulous details of filming. But Chariklo would bring the compassion to enhance his role as a teacher.


Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee

The ‘Master of Masters’ energy is emphasised with his Sun conjunct his Ascendant making him a double Sag- the ultimate martial arts teacher, role-model and mentor to many aspirants to achieving his physical poise, grace, speed and deadly power kicks. He was as good at quickly learning from his students as he was at playing the role of great teacher. He spoke like a genuine guru: “All types of knowledge” he said “is ultimately self knowledge.”  He actually majored in Philosophy in Seattle, but brought his own form of philosophy to the art of fighting.

His own teacher Yip Man recognised his talent that quickly exceeded that of the teacher. When he could not find work as an actor, rather than take any old job, his wife said he should teach and he rapidly became the most sought after fight-coach in Hollywood with James Coburn, Roman Polanski and Steve McQueen among his clients.  From McQueen he learned to have effortless cool. He was demanding of his students as he was ultra demanding of himself, but according to his students, every minute spent with him was beneficial. And the quote about expansion and sincere development of potential is pure Jupiter speaking in full guru mode.

Expansion quote

Jupiter is the ruler of his chart and is in the 5th so this may also have expanded his creative drive. He was one of the first ‘Asian-American’ stars to be come a fully, global phenomenon. That he managed to bridge the culture gap is also very Sagittarian. Though born in San Francisco in 1940, making him a war-baby, he cut his teeth in Hong Kong, married an American woman and had two children: Brandon born Feb 1st , 1965 and Shannon Lee, born April 19th, 1969. But his ancestry and heritage was  complex including possible English, German and Dutch blood. That complicates even his Eurasian-ness and makes him even more fascinating cultural figure. He was an enigma: neither Chinese enough for the Chinese, nor American enough for Hollywood.

Pluto and Chiron: Uneasy bedfellows

Chiron Etching
Chiron. Etching. Wellcome Library

People said he was ‘intense’ and when on screen people could not take their eyes off of him for a second (Sun on the Ascendant). To do that for opponents could have been fatal. But the intensity is there not just in the stellium in Scorpio, which spells inner turbulence, intense and unruly emotions. It is also highlighted by the T-square which activates Venus/Mars in Scorpio and Saturn/Jupiter in Taurus both very fixed in their ways, with Pluto/Chiron at the apex of the square in Leo. It’s Pluto in retrograde too so in the tensed back phase before the release arrives. He was said to have a violent temper but aligned to very high work standards. The Pluto clearly was ultra powerful on that pivot point.

Pluto combined with Chiron is doubly charged with significance: It marks a grand trine in fire linked to a south node in Aries. It also at the apex of the T-square with Venus/Mars and Jupiter/Saturn. It is therefore beyond intense like a lethal trip wire triggered each time it is aspected. Mars opposite Saturn alone is deadly enough.  But the micro contained in the macro- the tiny in the humungous- is a signature Pluto phenomenon expressed in one of his most loved statements  “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” The laser-like concentration was there in the speed of his kicks. He mastered the display of the karate style One-Inch punch which was lethal enough to knock people over so fast they barely noticed it happen. He also mastered the fingertip push up.

Pluto would have added to his penetrating insight bestowed by the Scorpio planets too. No doubt there were power struggles aplenty in his relationships. That he relished dangerous escapades in street fights is mentioned by all his friends- they could not stop him. He rarely backed down from a challenge. But it could also have led to a taste for danger for its own sake- fights just to prove that he could have the upper hand. He rallied the stunt men around him as he has to be in control.

Lee is on record as lamenting about fame- calling it a cage. He never knew who to trust, especially close friends. His fame brought increased doubt to intimate relationships. It is hard to say whether this complicated need for intensity really did avert boredom or create more trouble. It may have been instrumental in the murky circumstances of his death but even Pluto/Chiron could not control death and it is poignant that one of his favourite poems was Christina Rosetti’s ‘When I am Dead.’ It is poignant too that lines from this poem were meant to be included in his last film ‘Game of Death’ – it suggested a premonition of death perhaps?

Chiron is at the first degree in Leo so its toe is still testing the waters of that regal sign. Chiron speaks for the disenfranchised underdog and this contributed to his star appeal in his character in the ‘Big Boss’ where he takes on the crime lords. He had played orphans and street urchins in his career as a child star. But Chiron wearing a crown would have to pay a price, he was restricted and controlled by his father.  While not known as a healer, he was a poet too and wrote poetry so he could be regarded as a more complete artist. As a kid he was in the war time cholera outbreak so was punier than his brothers. This is the kind of setback that makes someone massively overcompensate. The story of his spinal injury in 1970 shows he had phenomenal recuperative powers- another Chiron trait. His doctor told him he would never walk or practice Kung Fu again but Lee being indomitable, recovered miraculously three months and proved the doctor wrong. He overcame his debility by hard training exercises – and sheer force of will-very Chiron/Pluto.

Exit the Dragon

His death is very Chironic too, with a flavour of Pluto in Leo too with all the drama. The locational map for Hong Kong is where Lee’s Mercury, Uranus and Chiron lines more or less cross- so that is interesting if  you think that Uranus is anything sudden, Mercury is the nervous system and Chiron is our vulnerable point. This man who was super powerful and athletically fit beyond what most men can imagine was killed by an everyday medication. How, people asked, could a mere aspirin kill the Mr. Bruce Lee- Master of Masters? Surely there was foul play?  No one believed it was possible. It was too ironic. The  Sun/Mercury opposed Neptune that day – and, sad to say, more commonly than not- there is a story behind the story. But it is only murky because people had a hard time facing the truth. The layering of lies then creates a web which makes it difficult to penetrate.

A week before the film ‘Enter the Dragon’ was officially released, Lee died suddenly on July 20th 1973. He was 32. I would rather not judge but can’t help but be curious like anyone as to why his body was found in his co-star’s bed, not in his wife’s. This was Taiwanese actress Betty Ting Pei . Linda Lee Cadwell – Mrs Lee- was also in Hong Kong at the time and the two women were aware of each other.

Bruce and Betty
Bruce and Betty Ding Pei

It appeared that Lee and his co-star Betty were discussing the script of ‘Game of Death’ at her flat when he said he felt sick. Raymond Chao the producer was expecting Lee for dinner that evening and Ting Pei maintains she just did as she was told when Chao returned. He called the doctor but only called an ambulance as a last resort. She was only 26 and did not have any say in events as they happened at top speed. Ting Pei is an Aquarian, born in 1947, a stylish and independent woman for her time. Lee trusted her to be his personal stylist on set. But she was caught in the tumult of circumstance that ran out of control as she was overawed by Lee.

It was Chao who took charge of the PR. He maintained to news journalists that he died with this wife. Within a few days rumours it was a lie proliferated and the China Star ran a malicious headline: ‘Betty Ting Pei’s perfumed chamber killed the dragon’. What outraged Lee’s fans was that he had been given that pill that allegedly killed him by Ting Pei. She was loathed and received death threats herself so fled into hiding. But she still remembers her love ‘bond’ with Lee fondly and the very first impression he made on her. She said he was irresistible and charismatic- as anyone with Mars, Venus, Moon and Mercury in Scorpio would be. Ting Pei invested money in the tribute statue to Bruce Lee in Victoria Harbour in HK.

Nora Miao, the other co star rumoured to have had an affair with Lee was Lee’s brother Robert’s girlfriend. Robert Lee was 8 years younger than Bruce. He was born December 16th, 1948, so another Sagittarian. He adored his older brother and wrote a song ‘The Ballad of Bruce Lee’, and even made a film about the mystery surrounding the death. He hired a private investigator to assess what actually happened.

It is speculation but the astrology of their charts points to an intense encounter with Betty’s Nodal axis falling directly across Bruce’s Ascendant- Descendant. There are plenty of squares from his personal planets to hers. Lee’s Mercury and Moon in Scorpio are sextile Ting Pei’s Venus in Capricorn. His Pluto/Chiron opposite her Moon, and she did say she saw him as a teacher and guide as well as a handsome man with a cheeky funny face.  But also significant I feel is that asteroid Eros which is love that is expressed sexually. Her Eros is conjunct Lee’s sun in Scorpio. So there is a spark  which could remove any remaining doubt as to the nature of the relationship.  And his asteroid Psyche is at 10° of Gemini exactly on Ting Pei’s North Node at 11° of Gemini – giving the Psyche and Eros dynamic. The composite chart shows the north node connection strongly one degree from Pluto in Leo.

Lind Lee Cadwell
Linda Lee Cadwell by Steve Durgin

The synastry alone that Lee has with the people in his life is fascinating and tangential.  But it should be said that Linda Lee Cadwell played a powerful role in his life too. She bore his children and was his good friend and continually championed her husband’s reputation after his death. While they had a Venus-Venus opposition which is not necessarily a bad thing, her Uranus was on his Descendant so she was an electrifying presence for him. There was an instant attraction. But also she was the balm to his turbulent emotions. She acted as guide and counsellor not just on set – she  knew how to talk to him when others did not have a clue. There’s a beautiful placement of Chariklo on his Venus/Mars. Very soothing for Bruce. Her own Sun on the zero degree point of Aries makes her powerful in her own right. It is conjunct the asteroid Psyche so we get another  Eros and Psyche connection. Psyche represented that journey of tribulations in the face of love that is hard won- and Linda certainly faced that challenge. The composite chart also contains a Venus/Pluto opposite the Sun/Mercury.

Back to the death drama, others pointed the finger to unsettled feuds with the gangs of Hong Kong as the possible motive for removing Lee from the scene- and cynics said it was just to promote ‘Enter the Dragon’ and make money. The HK mobsters could have wished to retaliate as Lee had refused to submit to their demands. He had a knack of making powerful enemies by his confidence and unapologetic swagger. To this day there is doubt about the verdict of cerebral oedema.

Others said he died of heat exhaustion that triggered his death as that day was one of the hottest on record at 90° Farenheit and 84% humidity.  Matthew Polly believes it was because  he had had his sweat glands removed. According to his co star Chuck Norris it was no mere aspirin but anti biotics that Ting Pei gave Lee that day and these conflicted with the pain killers Lee had secretly been taking since 1968. But even this conflicts with other reports of how Lee was injured so we may never know. The pill was Equagesic which is a mix of Meprobromate and Aspirin, a standard remedy with minor contraindications.

Death of Lee
Death of Lee, July 20th, 1973, 10pm, Hong Kong

The first thing the detective noticed in Robert Lee’s film was that the death was surrounded by lies. That Neptune was on the MC is very telling of the fogginess of deceits in the name of protecting his reputation and career. It is still  suspicious. The chart of that evening has the Moon in Pisces opposing Pluto which is off-sign in early Libra. The time of death was about 10pm or thereabouts, as when he arrived at hospital half an hour later, he was already dead. That would also add to all the mystery with a Pisces Ascendant. Saturn in is the mix joining the Moon and Pluto at the apex of a T-square. Mars is conjunct Chiron in its own sign opposing Uranus.  Mercury was combust the Sun.  None of these things in themselves indicate a death but certainly this would be a challenging day for anyone and they might be advised to take things very easily, not to push or overstrain in case of accidents.

Father and Son

Bruce and Brandon Lee gravestones

Bruce Lee’s son Brandon Lee’s death is a whole other topic.  He was also an actor and trained in Kung Fu. But he was ‘accidentally’ shot dead on set during the filming of ‘The Crow’ in 1993. This incident was disturbing as live ammunition should never be anywhere on a film set. So was it planted there for a reason? That is a moot question. His death deserves more attention but just to say it is odd again how it happened and only feeds the myth that Lee was placed under a curse. Dragons may not be so fortunate after all. When father and son die in a similar way, you have to suspect something extraordinary is happening- a pattern emerging, as to believe it was mere ‘coincidence’ as Linda Lee Cadwell says means either she is incredibly stoical losing both a husband and a son to the film industry, or she is in need of an astrologer.

Lee is Dead: Long Live Lee

Bruce Lee

To capitalise on the fame that came with his death there was a spate of copycats- the Bruceploitation films – none ever as good as the ones with Bruce himself. None had his electrifying presence let alone his speed.  When it comes to muse asteroids I looked for Terpsichore, muse of dance, but it had no particular alignment other than being in the first house of the body. But we do find that Klio the muse of history and of teachers is conjunct his Moon and he made a memorable teacher with his 2,500 item library of books.

Finally, the Neptune in the 10th might have lead to his martyring himself as he would have had increased sensitivity about how he was perceived. If he did have any hang ups about his mother, or a chip on his shoulder about his origins, having to prove himself so often in an all American world – it might also explain the phenomenal drive towards success and the price he paid for it. He took on mighty opponents and had almost super-human skills to defeat them. But it took his life too soon.

Lee SignatureWe have not had enough Bruce Lee yet and each generation that discovers him in his films can see for themselves what the fuss was about. That 11th house emphasis in Scorpio may have meant he had his finger on the pulse of the collective zeitgeist and represents this cultural drive towards personal fitness very well. He embodies that. Now every martial arts school in the world has a Bruce Lee poster on the wall. He is a much more influential and important cultural figure than people realise. Actors in action films now have to do Kung Fu kicks as the norm but Bruce was there first. There has not been another Bruce Lee in the martial arts field since his death so his legacy is secure.

One of his early girlfriends said he was a ‘kinetic genius’ and most would agree- that’s what set him apart. He was doing something he was born to do that only he could do as both an actor and martial artist. He was a way shower and we need figures like him to help celebrate the sun’s move into Sagittarius. Perhaps now we can see the big picture of all that has happened to us in 2021. He reminds us to keep us ever on our toes and to see what the crime lords are up to and anticipate their next move.

But if there is one personal message direct from Lee to people today, it is this- Don’t quit on your goals, no matter how hard or impossible they seem:  ‘Be Like Bruce Lee’.


© Kieron Devlin, Proteus Astrology, November 23rd, 2021.

All rights reserved.   

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Image credits in the Public Domain via WC 


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

Growing, guiding, nurturing, cultivating, encouraging, accepting kindness and truly understanding your place in life and the planetary archetypes and cycles of change.

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