Some lines of poetry sink deep into the collective and remain there. It as if Shelley was right that his understanding of the the role of a poet in the world is a potent force as it can go straight to the soul of humankind. The poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke is of this type. There are distinct echoes of Rumi and of Rimbaud. The words push at the edges of the divine where the personal and impersonal tend to overlap. His poems have connected to millions way beyond his birth town of Prague. His style is lyrical and take us beyond the daily routines to the essence of love, death and he especially extolled the virtues of solitude, of walking the way alone in contemplation. He has been described as a ‘balm for exasperated souls’. There is something monkish about him with Pluto in the 9th house which is ruled by Venus. So his love of philosophical ideas was more than evident- he devoted his whole life to the pursuit of inner knowledge and bursts of elegant expression.
He has become associated with creativity itself, of the ideal that any artist should make sacrifices and be true to their art. Born with the sun in Sagittarius in 1875 on Dec 4th, according to the Britannica, but since he was born at 11. 59 pm on the 3rd, so take your pick but he was a midnight baby. With a powerful Grand Cross in the chart, there is major struggle here throughout his life. The Cross includes the Moon conjunct Saturn in Aquarius in the 5th. This opposes Uranus in Leo in the 11th. Then there is Pluto in Taurus in the 9th House which opposes Jupiter in Scorpio in the 3rd These are all the big guns in the chart and they are all connected by a chain of squares. This would make his struggle to maintain internal balance a lot harder than others, but the potential is there to attain an equilibrium in this otherwise cross-wires energy. His mother wanted him to be a girl and dressed him so. He was restless and flitted across cities in Europe, calling Paris the city of death and poverty. He used metaphors and contradiction to go beyond polarities. He was also friends with fellow Sagittarian writer and iconoclast, Andre Gide and benefited from mentor- protege kind of relationship with sculptor, Auguste Rodin (Scorpio) which ended badly.
He talked of loving the ‘distance’ between people for love to blossom, and respect for the other’s individuality being important. Observers called his work ‘inherently mystical’ and that may be the best way to understand it. He had a direct link to Nietzsche as his love affair was with Lou Andreas-Salomé (Aquarius) 14 years his elder. She had the gift of being a great muse to many of the most intellectually developed men in Europe, including Freud and C.G. Jung. She had a fully developed inner life of her own, but at one time he had managed to inspire the adoration of Friedrich Nietzsche. So there are existential and modernist elements woven in to Rilke’s work which sparkles with the insight of the recluse.
There is no Cardinal energy in Rilke’s chart and this is very striking. It is reflected in his life as he appeared to be without initiative. He tended to drift from place to place with no clear plan about what he wanted to do. He followed the advice of Rodin, but then went against it. There is a predominance of planets in Air and he was certainly a man of ideas, even lofty ideals. The angles, the Ascendant, the IC, Descendant and MC are all in mutable signs and he lived a transitional life. He was more or less in a state of flux, being open to many influences, and some said he was marked by a permanent ‘anxiety.’ The Grand Cross probably underscored this oscillation as it is often compared to four table legs that only are at rest when stable, but if one of those legs is hit by a transit, the reverberations are felt by the other planets as a chain reaction in square and opposition relationship. He hated the military where his family wanted him to be, but could not hold down a regular civilian job either, despite trying, and so depended on his benefactors. One of his statements was ” There are no classes in life for beginners; right away you are always asked to deal with what is most difficult.” But he did not need a set of life goals associated with traditional success. He achieved more than most just by writing a few lines of poetry.
When he did marry, he spent a lot of time apart and said he wanted more than anything to give his wife, Clara Westoff, the time and space to grow. His belief went thus: “Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls,” so he was for being independent, respecting the other’s solitude and their freedom was important- all very Moon in Aquarius along with the added zest of a journeying, jockeying Venus at 29 degrees of Sagittarius. The quote mentioned here sums this up neatly: “The only journey is the one within,” words which echo C.G. Jung’s statement that those who look without for the answers are lost and the answers come from knowing oneself.
‘Falling Stars’ is an exemplary poem of Rilke’s, high-flown and using a pan-psychic perspective that Rumi was fond of, using the word ‘beloved’ both in its sacred and earthly physical sense, looking to the stars as if they were part of the inner life. This has an astrological flavor after talking about ‘swift horses’ rushing across the heavens- which could be planets in forward motion-but which then ends with the words, “knowing somehow we had survived their fall.’ He was not known to have studied astrology, but spiritual and esoteric ideas were in the air with the playwright Maeterlinck having some influence. This emphasis on the word ‘fall’ could be just the intuition of the translator, but could point to understanding the meaning of opposite to exaltation and learning the benefit of the so called negative positions of stars and planets, of overcoming what appears to be fated.
This leads us to Mercury which is strongly placed here, always good for a writer. Mercury is the ruler of the Ascendant and exalted in Virgo the sign of the Ascendant. It resides in the 3rd house -the house of communications and learning emphasizing the Gemini flavor, as it is also ruled by Mercury. His Mercury is at 29 degrees of Scorpio, so his words have lasting impact and have seared deep into the minds of readers. With the Moon in the fifth it gave him a fertile imagination. He is known as the ‘teacher of creativity’ and there is the Saturn-Moon conjunction there in the fifth giving him that masterly touch. One of the reasons he is held in esteem especially in the US where he is often lauded for his ‘Letters to a Young Poet’ where he gave profound advice about leading the artistic life and living for art, just as he had received from Auguste Rodin. It is a boon to teachers of Creative Writing and Saturn-Moon in the fifth expresses that. On top of all that, his Neptune has just nudged itself into Taurus, a planet of creativity in a sign of the arts, must have given him more than a sea-breeze in his poetic sails. I can’t help but notice the position of his Muse asteroids. Among other aspects, the most obvious is that he has the Sun conjunct Thalia, and while Thalia was known as the muse of comedy, she also was the muse of Idylls, and Rilke’s work is infused with natural settings – he hated cities- and his words took a simple form, with strong emotional appeal.
He died almost as if he lived in a fairy tale of his own creation. He was fond of placing rose petals on his eyelids, but a rose thorn pricked his finger and he was blood poisoned. The bleeding couldn’t be stopped due to what was later diagnosed as Leukemia. He passed away in the arms of a doctor on the 29th December 1926. This was his Sun/Saturn Firdaria period. It is difficult not to see the synastry aspects with this event as pointing to something fatal on this day, but he had natal Mars in the 6th house which is about health opposite to transiting Neptune in the 12th house- he was holed up in a sanatorium- the Valmont! Added to that he had the Moon and Saturn conjunct that Mars natally, so they were both in opposition to this transiting Neptune. He had written his own epitaph lamenting the power of the rose thorn, and eventually hybrid rose was actually named after him.
He was an original mind, and unlike many others did not think the creator was some great being on high, but deep and dark so it may be worth ending on these lines:
“Yet, no matter how deeply I go down into myself,
my God is dark, and like a webbing
made of a hundred roots that drink in silence.
I know that my trunk rose from his warmth,
but that’s all, because my branches
hardly move at all near the ground,
and just wave a little in the wind.”
© Proteus Astrology, December 3rd, 2019
Kieron is a London-based and trained astrologer at Proteus Astrology on Facebook:
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He writes for Celestial Vibes Magazine edited by Aswin Balaj.