Friday, March 09, 2012

Arty Farty Friday ~ Fixed Star Arcturus

In The Best of the Illustrated National Astrological Journal 1933-1935, a used book I bought on one of our trips, there's an article by Stuart Holmes titled Arcturus and Artists, sub-heading: Golden Star Found Consistently Recurrent in the Horoscopes of the World's Greatest Artists.

I wasn't familiar with the name Stuart Holmes as an astrologer, but Astrodatabank notes that:
He was a German-American actor (my note: Wikipedia has him born in Poland) who was "one of the silent screen's busiest actors from 1911. He was married to astrologer Blanca Holmes for many years".
Stuart Holmes' Sun was in Pisces - born on 10 March 1884, he died in 1971. His wife, the astrologer, was born 3 February 1892, Sun in Aquarius, died in 1965.

I can't be 100% certain that the author of the piece is the same Stuart Holmes, but it seems likely.

The article states that the author's research (or perhaps that of his wife?) has shown that aspects to Fixed Star Arcturus feature strongly in the natal charts of many artists. He names Michelangelo, Dore, Lord Leighton, Millet, Rops, Burne-Jones, Watts, Winslow Homer, Durer, Holbein, Ingres, Delacroix, Bouguereau, Blake, Boucher, Gauguin and Cezanne as all having strong aspects to Arcturus "but principally the ruler conjoined with it".

He goes on in more detail about various painters and sculptors and how configurations in their natal charts match their chosen styles. He ends the piece: "One of the strangest factors in these charts of great artists is the fact that Venus, the ruler of art and all beauty, is always square to some zodiacal body".

At the time the article was published, in the early 1930s, and as stated therein, Arcturus was at 23 Libra. By 2010 the Fixed Star had moved, very, very slowly to 24.22 Libra. A piece online, by Rob Tillett: Fixed Stars, allocates Arcturus the keywords:
Inspiration, riches, fame, honour, popularity, benefits through travel, success through work
Effect: Very Fortunate. Character: Jupiter/ Mars.
It's hardly surprising that Venus-ruled sign Libra should feature strongly in the charts of artists. Venus connects to all the arts: painting/drawing, sculpture, design, music, poetry. Mr Holmes stated in the article that the aspects he (or his wife?) had noted to Arcturus were made "allowing an orb of 8 degrees". Most of today's astrologers allow an orb of not much more than one degree when considering aspects to Fixed Stars. Bearing that in mind, what Holmes discovered was most likely simply underlining that Libra commonly features in the charts of painters and sculptors. Even so, in future when looking at natal charts I shall keep an eye on Arcturus, and degrees of Libra around the 23/24

An event in the 1930s, the time this article was published, had put Arcturus in the spotlight. So Stuart Holmes was picking up and highlighting a current public focus. Not that Arcturus needs any highlighting. It's the fourth brightest star in the sky - and the brightest in the northern hemisphere. Arcturus is bright because it is relatively close to the Solar System, being a mere 36.7 light years from Earth, and also because of its size.

The diameter of Arcturus is about 25 times that of our Sun, being about 22 million miles across, 25.7 times that of the Sun and two-thirds the radius of the orbit of Mercury.

To further blow our minds, and make us feel insignificant here on Earth, there are much larger stars than Arcturus. Largest known star is Pistol which puts out 10 million times the light of the Sun - it's 25,000 light years away though so appears very dim to us in its cloud of nebula dust. If our Sun were at that distance from us it'd be invisible - but then we'd not be here to look for it, because life wouldn't have emerged!

Anyway - back to The Event which might have sparked an astrology article about Arcturus. An exhibition in Chicago, Century of Progress, opened on May 27, 1933. The event was opened when the lights were automatically activated as light from the rays of the star Arcturus was detected. The star was chosen as it was thought that the light had started its journey at about the time of the previous Chicago world's fair—the World's Columbian Exposition—in 1893. The rays were focused on photo-electric cells in a series of astronomical observatories and then transformed into electrical energy which was transmitted to Chicago.

From Eyes Full of Stars:
Arcturus is alternately known as the ‘bear driver’ or ‘bear guardian’ star. Its path in the northern sky follows Ursa Major, the Great Bear, as it wheels around the polar axis. To locate this star, follow the curve of the Big Dipper’s handle and “arc to Arcturus”. If you find a dazzling yellow-white or topaz colored star – you got it!

(Illustration from


jude cowell said...

Well, I love this post, very interesting! Your blend of stars, astrology, and history (and 1933, a key year in politics) is just my cuppa tea--thanks!

Warm Regards, Jude

Gian Paul said...

GP: French astrologer Gouchon also gives Mars/Jupiter "coloration" for Arcturus, confirms 23 degrees Libra, now 24 degrees.

It's actually not Arcturus who moves, but our Ecliptic (to be precise).

Agree that since that big star (compared to our Sun) appears in "our Libra", ruled by Venus, he must have a say in matters artistic.

He also opposes my Sun. I do paint sometimes, but besides my (sincere?)friends, nobody likes my paintings. Myself the least. But I still hang them up, hoping to get better with time...

Twilight said...

Jude Cowell ~~
Thank you kindly, Jude.
The post just growed and growed as I followed a line of cyber- breadcrumbs.

Warm wishes back atcha!

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~

Oh yes, thanks GP for that correction/clarification of what's moving and what isn't. :-)

I don't have any planet in Libra. but Arcturus at around 23/24 Libra will oppose my natal Aries Moon. I don't think that signfies anything astrologically though, as astrologers mainly say conjunction within around 1 degree is the only astro significance of Fixed Stars.
Still, it's one of those "grey areas" of which astrology has many.

What style of painting do you favour, GP?

Anonymous said...

GP: As you say, grey area with the fixed stars. However, all being conneted, you (and I) may have to consider some Mars/Jupiter energy opposing our Moon (Sun) respectively.

As for painters, I like Matisse, Césanne, Chagall, some Tapies. Have not been able to develop my own stile, always experimenting, lately with a drill and plaster (messy). But got some effect, at least that.

Wisewebwoman said...

Mahvellous melange, T- I enjoyed learning so much on this post.

Anonymous said...

And, as the lovely and brainy Willow of Willow's Web Astrology reminds us, 'The Via Combusta is the degrees of the zodiac from 15 Libra to 15 Scorpio, except for 23 through 24 degrees Libra, which are considered safe degrees due to the fixed stars Spica and Arcturus residing there.'
(My Neptune is at 24 Libra 36.)

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~
Glad you found it intersting WWW.

Twilight said...

Anonymous #2

Thanks for the reminder that the degrees are thought to be protected. I'd forgotten that little piece of info!

Via Combusta is an area to which I often think we should pay much more attention.

Juno said...

Sorry to hear your computer got a bad virus - if the re-boot does not work, consider getting a Mac.