Friday, March 06, 2015

Arty Farty Friday - Michelangelo - A Question

The man considered by many to be the greatest sculptor and artist of all, Michelangelo, was born, according to AstroDatabank, while the Sun rolled through zodiac sign Pisces in the year 1475. Why, I'm wondering, have I never featured Michelangelo in these Arty Farty Friday posts before? Ah yes - the old Julian/Gregorian calendar question - as it relates to astrological calculations. I've questioned this in the past (here), but without finding clarification. I do understand the calendar change-over and reasons for it in general. In astrological matters the accurate translation of dates from one calendar to t'other is going to be of extra importance.

"Moses" by Michelangelo
For Michelangelo, born in Italy, on (Julian style) 6 March 1474 - which becomes 1475 Gregorian Calendar because 1 January, not 25 March was turn of year by Gregorian. Several sources for this date, and a time of birth, are quoted in AstroDatabank's page. The change to Gregorian calendar would also transfer 6 March (Julian) to 15 March 1475.
AstroDatabank confirms this, yet proceeds to calculate the natal chart using 6 March. The sources quoted mention that Michelangelo's birth was on a Monday (6 March was a Monday Julian-style), but that would not be the case using Gregorian calendar when 6 March becomes 15 March. I have to suppose that Gregorian calculations are used by today's astrology software, so to find out where the planets were situated on the zodiac at the time Michelangelo was born, wouldn't we have to look at a chart for 15 March ?
I'm puzzled! AstroDatabank's compilers are experts - I'm not arguing with them, but seeking explanation.

For comparison with the chart at AstroDatabank, and out of curiosity, here's a chart set for 15 March 1475, in Caprese, Italy at 1.45AM (data as at AstroDatabank, apart from the day.)

The charts for 6 March and 15 March 1475, throw up what some would consider a crucial difference - Sun in early Aries on 15th rather than Pisces on 6th. I don't see that as any great problem though - Michelangelo was everything Aries is cracked up to be wasn't he? His natal Moon would have been in Cancer rather than Pisces - I'm sure astrologers could live with that - the emotional sensitivity of Water is still there - and in a Cardinal rather than mutable sign. There are still Grand trines linking personal planets to Neptune and/or Uranus.

His rising sign using 15 March would have been Capricorn rather than Sagittarius. I don't see this as a stumbling block, especially as in this chart Moon was very close to Saturn, Capricorn's ruler. I've always considered Capricorn and Saturn emphasis to be very relevant to artists who are drawn towards sculpture, first and foremost - the solidity, strength and hard work involved - as against simply wielding a brush full of paint. Michelangelo shone brightly in paintbrush wielding mode too, of course (Sistine Chapel ceiling etc), but sculpture does seem to have been his true love, and a far rarer skill - to his high standard anyway.

I'd still be interested to know the thinking behind AstroDatabank's choice of dates from which to calculate position of planets in Michelangelo's natal chart. The celestial bodies would surely have been situated in the positions known to us, in later centuries with Gregorian calendar, as 15 March - aren't those the planetary positions we need to be looking at?

I haven't yet come across any astrology-driven blog or website with interpretation of a Michelangelo's natal chart for 15 March (Gregorian). There's mention of Michelangelo's natal chart in an article in a book I have (Best of National Astrological Journal 1933-35). I've mentioned the article before, in different context (see HERE.) What's stated doesn't tie in completely with AstroDatabank's version, or the 15 March chart.
"Michelangelo had Capricorn on the ascendant with the Moon three degrees away. His heavy stone-work, massive sculpture, his diligence in his work and the great length of life all show the influence of Saturn. It is true that he had the Sun and Mars in Pisces in the second house. Manly Hall says that Pisces rules Catholicism, and the Roman Catholic church was certainly Michelangelo's strong outlet."

For me, the plot thickens!

Wandering through some comments/reviews of a Michelangelo biography by Miles J. Unger, published last year, Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces, I noticed this comment by David Wineberg who had read the biography (I trust he will not mind my using his comment/review here), it might help to throw light on the comparative accuracy of charts for 6 and 15 March...or not.

His life was a constant controversy. He made enemies, he dodged (metaphorical) bullets, and he made art. He was an unpleasant misogynist who ironically adored nothing more than portraying the human body. He was universally recognized as the greatest, within his own lifetime. He lied and embellished, but his art speaks for itself. It all makes for a great read.

He was doubly cursed; he lived in interesting times, and was an interesting character. Michelangelo's greatest achievement was to fuse the artist and his work. That is a huge transition point, centered on Michelangelo in this warts and all biography. Because in addition to taking art in a whole new direction, complementing rather than being subservient to religion, Michelangelo turns out to be arrogant, obnoxious, self-centered, narcissistic, antisocial, overbearing and uncaring about any of it. Despite it all, he was the first superstar of art.

He never married, and there were of course questions about his sexual preferences, what with all those nude males he clearly preferred. He deflected them all by saying his art was all the wife he could handle. Later in life, he risked having close relationships with younger men. He was a drama queen; his favorite tactic was to threaten to quit unless he got everything he wanted. And he quit often anyway. He was a notorious abandoner, starting projects and never completing them. There are far more of them than completed works.

Despite abusing his body with little food, minimal rest, and zero care, he lived into his eighties. He outlived nine popes, and worked with five of them. They were often personal friends of his from childhood, which allowed him to be even more arrogant and petulant than he would otherwise. He seemed to have written it all down in letters and poems, and it is juicily reproduced here. This biography is as flesh and blood as Michelangelo's sculptures and paintings, a fitting framework if ever there was one. (David Wineberg)

I guess it matters not a jot, really, which natal chart is more accurate, as far as Michelangelo's genius is concerned, that's a given. Astrologers (and annoyances like me) are the only set of people who will care about position of the planets as this seminal artistic genius was released into the world.

 Rachel and Leah by Michelangelo


mike said...

A conundrum is what you get for thinking, Twilight...LOL! doesn't specifically state their policy regarding Julian to Gregorian calendar changes, but does:

"The common practice is to use the Julian calendar until 4 October 1582. The day after this date is the day when the Vatican adopted the Gregorian calendar, 15 October 1582. We use the Gregorian calendar on Astrotheme. The chart, which is accurate in all cases, is computed for the actual date, which may not be the date displayed, if the country is not France, for instance." and both display the same natal charts with Sagittarius rising, Moon in Pisces:

So, you are correctly identifying Michelangelo's Gregorian birthday and these two websites calculate his chart with the Gregorian day you state, but identify his birthday with the Julian calendar date.

Vanilla Rose said...

I have never thought of measuring one's lifespan in terms of numbers of Popes outlived ...

mike (again) said...

I think I missed the boat in answering your quest, Twilight. I viewed the ephemeris provided by

And then found this:
"The program usually assumes Gregorian calendar dates. If a Julian calendar date is required, please, enter 'jul' after the year number, e.g. '1066 jul'. For most historical data before the year 1582 you will want to enter 'jul'.

We have decided not to take care of the calendar switch by an automatic feature. Many history books have converted historical dates to the Gregorian system, while other sources have kept the dates in the original Julian system. There is no way for our computer to know what your source of the birth data did in regard to this calendar conversion."

You provide a natal chart for March 15, 1475, which is different. I suspect the issue may be with YOUR software's internal ephemerides and how it converts calendar types. If you have a "Help" menu, look at "Julian date" conversions...I bet it does the same as the Swiss Ephemerides provided by In other words, if you want a natal chart for Michelangelo, you need to provide the Julian date March 6, 1475, as the adjustment has already been made from the Gregorian March 15, 1475 date.

AstroDienst ( is apparently the provider of the digital ephemerides for most software.

mike (again) said...

One last stab! Think of this from a logical astrological viewpoint.

Today's date, March 6th, has the Sun at 15* Pisces...March 15th, has the Sun at 24* Pisces. Your software calculates the date of March 15, 1475, as having the Sun at 3* Aries! So, we know that your software automatically adjusts for Julian DOBs. 3* Aries corresponds to a DOB about March 23, 2015. So, beware of DOBs pre October 5, 1582...they are automatically adjusted.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for the loan of your brain power - mike. On this topic anyway, I had become bewildered, bothered and heading for bewitched!

I'd followed much the same paths as you in your first two suggestions but remained unconvinced I had the answer. There was, always, lurking at the back of my mind, but buried under the rest of the confusion the thought you've brought up in your third software! Is it calculating by different method, or the same as that from the system used by and astrotheme?

I looked in the "Help" section as you suggested, searching all possible combination of words - no info on Julian/Gregorian/calendar conversion.

Pulled out the manual which came with the full software I used to use (and on which my present very basic software is based/extracted) - no mention of anything about their ephemeris there.

So I Googled Matrix astrology software ephemeris used (or words to that effect) and came up with their most recent ad. for their product -Version 4 Winstar. My software is version 2 or 2.5.

Version 4 advert has this in its blurb

Swiss Ephemeris — Now you can choose between Swiss Ephemeris or Matrix Ephemeris calculations.

It's not clear whether earlier versions used Matrix Ephemeris or if the Matrix ephemeris did calendar conversions automatically or not.

Googled around a while, couldn't find more about Matrix Ephemeris, but I'm going to assume that this has to be the answer to my conundrum, mike.

So, if I input birth data for births earlier than 1582 what will emerge has already been adjusted for calendar changes.

But but but...I still have to change the year (+1) if the birth was before 25 March (depending on country of birth)- apparently that isn't converted automatically.

Oh joy! Many thanks for helping my mists to least I think they have cleared. :-)

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose - Me neither, and I'm glad that no other Pope since Gregory has decided to change the calendar yet again!

mike (again) said...

Earlier, I searched "Michelangelo birthday" and many sites, including Wiki, provided March 6, 1475, as his birth date, but there is no mention of this being a Julian calendar date. As you pieced together, his true Gregorian calendar anniversary is March 15th.

This is similar to my beginning days of astrology. In the old days, prior to computer software, knowing the time zone of any given city in the USA was difficult and many cities changed zones periodically. "Time Changes in the USA" (American Federation of Astrologers, rev 1973) was indispensable.

And don't forget that we have a change this Sunday morning at 2 AM...set the clocks ahead one hour. Why can't congress just leave it be?! I do like the "extra hour" of evening daylight in the summer months, but not enough to endorse the notion. Time is synthetic enough without messing with it...LOL.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I could never have delved into astrology before computers - I used to search and grasp anything I could get my hands on, pounced on bits of ephemeris detail sometimes included at the back of books on astrology; but as for being able to calculate a natal chart taking into consideration all factors necessary for an accurate result - no way, no how!

Your mention of time zones and time changes, for whatever reason, might be the reason that the article from which I quoted in the post (from 1933-35) differs from's chart in the ascendant sign and house positions...maybe, but maybe not. I have brain cramp on this topic now so will not pursue it further. :-)

Ah yes - "spring forward" is on Sunday. I think our latest snows (around 2 to 3 inches this week + ice and low temps) will have melted by then. It has been a long winter - started in November, lasted until early March. I'm heading for a dose of cabin fever, partly due to my own foot-related problems in the Fall we haven't been very far from home since last June when we visited Kansas. I wanna go somewhere! The Grand Canyon is the last famous US place(within our range that we haven't yet visited).
Have you seen it - is it worth the effort?

Sonny G said...

just popping in to say Hello.. enjoyed reading the post and comments.

taking my supplements and hoping for the best...

have a great weekend

DC said...

All things concerning dates aside....I find it interesting that he doesn't have any earth planets other than Pluto....I was just of the mind that someone who sculpted so divinely would maybe have a planet in an earth sign other than Pluto in Virgo since marble is of course an Earthly material...literally....and the many unfinished works do point to Aries as well....the mystery is interesting.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Thank you. Hope your weekend is peaceful and pleasant too, Sonny.
Thinkin' of ya!

Twilight said...

DC ~ Hi there! I agree that lack of Earth in his chart is odd. I wonder if, perhaps he did have Capricorn rising, and the birth time arrived by biographers and used by was a bit off - for some reason. That would tie in better with the 1933/5 quote I mentioned. Sadly no source was given for that data.

This could be an example of finding a good reading from the wrong chart (either way) - astrology's stretch marks... as a previous post here


DC said...

you might be onto something with the Capricorn here is a link albeit cafeastrology which I seldom put much credence, although it seems to apply here....especially with the latter phrase..."Esoterically, mastery of the world of form and the ability to physically manifest and embody spirit is a key to your soul function."

DC said...

and Saturn in Aquarius...maybe a "teacher" ahead of their time?

Twilight said...

DC ~ Thanks for the link - yes, that does fit.

I suspect you meant to say Jupiter in Aquarius? Or in's chart there's Mercury in Aquarius also.

DC said...

sorry...I always get the 2 symbols seems his chart is a slippery worm for me as well :)