Thursday, February 05, 2015

Born 5 Feb: Adlai Stevenson & William S Burroughs ~ Similarly Different

Two men born on this day, 5 February, early in the 20th century:
Adlai Stevenson (1900) and William S. Burroughs (1914). So different were this pair of Sun Aquarius-types, yet with a few similarities which must be acknowledged.

I'm not going to dive into full bios or extensive chart interpretation, just a few lines on each and my view on the astrology which painted these two men in such different shades of the same colour.

Adlai Ewing Stevenson, born 5 February, 1900 in Los Angeles, California. He was a member of a famous Illinois political family, became a political leader and diplomat who helped found the United Nations, where he served as chief U.S. delegate (1961–65); mainly remembered as the eloquent, witty, stylish but unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the presidency in 1952 and 1956. Noted for his intellectual demeanor, and promotion of liberal causes in the Democratic Party. Republicans and some working-class Democrats ridiculed what they perceived as his indecisive, aristocratic air. He died July 14, 1965.

Quotes of Adlai Stevenson
My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.

All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.

William Seward Burroughs born on February 5, 1914 in St Louis, Missouri into a prominent and wealthy family. Burroughs was a novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and counterculture. He is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century". After being turned down by the Office of Strategic Services and U.S. Navy in 1942 to serve in World War II, he picked up the drug addiction that affected him for the rest of his life.

Much of Burroughs' work is semi-autobiographical, drawn from his experiences as a heroin addict. Drugs, homosexuality and death are common ingredients in his novels and stories. Due to the repressive context where he grew up, and from which he fled, he kept his sexual orientation concealed well into adulthood. His novel Naked Lunch, published in 1959, brought him international notoriety. The novel was prosecuted as obscene in some American states.

Burroughs died on August 2, 1997.

A quote of W.S. Burroughs
I am not one of those weak-spirited, sappy Americans who want to be liked by all the people around them. I don’t care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do. The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it. My affections, being concentrated over a few people, are not spread all over Hell in a vile attempt to placate sulky, worthless shits.

Adlai Stevenson born on 5 February 1900 in Los Angeles, California at 11.55 AM (

William S. Burroughs born on February 5, 1914 in St Louis, Missouri at 7.40 AM (

Even standing far back, a passing glance at the shapes made by planetary positions in the two natal charts indicates that Burroughs will be a wee bit more...strange, a more out of the ordinary character than Stevenson. Inching a little closer, using astrological Elements (my favourite reliable "go -to") we see that while Stevenson has a nice mix: planets and ascendant spreading through Air, Earth, Water and Fire, Burroughs has planets and ascendant in Air and Water only - not "grounded" and tending towards a certain coldness of attitude.

Taking a few more steps forward, and there's no getting away from the fact that these two men were both seriously intellectually gifted - Aquarius Sun and planets working well! Both also had Gemini input. The owners of these charts would be highly likely to turn out as communicators, of one sort or another!

Look to their natal Sun's rulers, modern and traditional: Uranus and Saturn - Stevenson's Uranus sextiles his Aquarius stellium (cluster) from warm, philosophical Sagittarius; Saturn lay in its other sign of rulership, Capricorn, in trine to Stevenson's natal Taurus Moon - his Earthy grounding. In Burroughs' chart Uranus is hooked up within that Aquarius multi-cluster of personal planets, while Saturn conjoins his natal Moon in Gemini - Air and even more Air ...and yet more Air comes via his Aquarius ascendant!

Their similarities come from a common ability to communicate, albeit in wildly different flavours to a largely different audience. Both men, from their words quoted above, had similar feelings about being different and not universally popular - not one of the crowd.

Putting the charts under closer scrutiny, several other significant differences and similarities would become apparent.

There's a rather odd commonality too that's worth a mention, but it's of no astrological significance that I can see. I noticed this from their Wikipedia biographies: both men accidentally killed another person:

Stevenson, on December 30, 1912, at the age of twelve, accidentally killed Ruth Merwin, a 16-year-old friend, while demonstrating drill technique with a rifle, inadvertently left loaded, during a party at the Stevenson home. Stevenson was devastated by the accident and rarely referred to it as an adult.

Burroughs accidentally killed his second wife, Joan Vollmer, in 1951 in Mexico City, and was consequently convicted of manslaughter. In the introduction to Queer, a novel written in 1952 but not published until 1985, Burroughs states, "I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would have never become a writer but for Joan's death ... [S]o the death of Joan brought me into contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a lifelong struggle, in which I had no choice except to write my way out".


mike said...

Re Burroughs - Difficult to separate Brion Gysin and Burroughs...obviously they were separate beings, but each had tremendous influence upon the other, as you indicated in your post:

Stevenson has either a final dispositor of Jupiter (by assigning Saturn co-ruler of Aquarius) or two final dispositors: Saturn (ruler of Capricorn) and Jupiter (ruler of Sagittarius). Either way, Saturn and Jupiter would give him a very sharp focus on his objectives. These two planets in the 7th and 8th houses would make him acutely aware of partnerships and resources from those partnerships. An excellent placement for a diplomat or politician. Add Venus in Pisces in the 11th, and he would have been very sensitive to the needs of others in a higher, more evolved humanitarian construct. His first house placements of Neptune-Pluto would have made his public persona nebulous and distorted. He left behind a legacy that is reflective of an individual expressing the more dynamic and positive attributes of his natal chart.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Hmm yes - I thought I'd linked to the post you've linked Gysin/Burroughs - I had - but in a post I've just been preparing for the weekend, for another reason. :-)

Thanks for the extra pointers on Adlai Stevenson's chart. It's sad he didn't succeed in his bids for the presidency - I think he'd have made a good one. The American public didn't "get" him though - more's the pity.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Meant to say, too, that Gysin and Burroughs were of the same generation, while Stevenson and Burroughs, while born same day of the month, were half a generation apart.
Uranus in Aquarius for Burroughs/Gysin made a huge difference.