Visionary, mystical, philosophical are words that describe William Blake perhaps born when the sun was in Sagittarius. But they are just as appropriate 200 years later for science or speculative fiction writer Philip. K. Dick who born on December 16th, 1928. They say that Sagittarius has the gift of prophecy- Nostradamus was also a Sagittarian- but this ability to see what is coming is never more true than in the case of Philip K Dick. He is now recognized as the man who could see round the corner into the future. His work from the 50s, 60s and 70s has a distinctly contemporary flavor for us now in the Black Mirror of the 21st century. What Dick envisaged is now almost the norm. He was post modernist long before the post modernists realised the world was ‘post’ anything. That he was a man who could see the future has become ever more evident in hindsight. The fantastic fiction of that era is gradually becoming disturbingly true and we in the 21st century talk and act just like the ordinary characters in his novels who have to face mind-bending situations.The K in his name stands for Kindred and we are all his kindred now.
Science fiction was often dismissed as pulp genre, not worthy of attention, but Dick’s work spoke of intrusive government surveillance, commodification of desires, robotization of human beings, the workings of memory on identity, of ‘PreCogs,’ people gifted with precognition, of fate, the questioning of what is real, of the simulacra – counterfeit and alternate realities, of how technology affects the common person. His style is better described as speculative history rather than science fiction. The fiction is now fact so the genre has raised the stakes. If you feel the world is bent out of shape you will be at home in the mind-warp world of Philip K. Dick. He could have written the Matrix, but he bequeathed to us stories brimming with ideas that Hollywood laps up: ‘Blade Runner,’ (1982) ‘Total Recall’ (1990) and ‘Minority Report’ (2002) ‘A Scanner Darkly’ (2006) and ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ (2011).
He wrote books that were the equivalent of drug trips, not about scuzzy, raggedy junkies painted with gritty realism, but books in which both the junky or non-drug user could open and read and think ‘hey what’s happening to my mind?’ He was a Sagittarius with the sun at 24 degrees, so the owl seen on the shoulder of the goddess Minerva, is an apt symbol for the natives of this sign who spend their entire lives vacuuming up all the knowledge and experience that exists. His last unpublished novel was called ‘The Owl in Daylight’ (1982). Sagittarians are natural metaphysicians. Try asking any Sagittarian any question on any topic and you’ll see they are the nearest thing to walking encyclopaedias. Dick even had a vision in his sleep that gifted him the diagnosis of the exact type of hernia his infant son that the doctor’s had overlooked. This knowledge actually saved his son’s life. There is an even weirder suggestion that Dick had a vision of his own death. But Sagittarians also have faith and are optimistic, they tend to be the type that flourishes where everyone else sees only ruins. He once said: ‘”I have faith that even in this lousy situation, we can make it.”
The trine of Jupiter the Sun/Mercury and Neptune stands out especially because this triple conjunction Sun/Mercury/Saturn is in Sag in the ninth, the house of Sagittarius. He was the ultimate questioner of reality and a mind bender extraordinaire. And he was an incredibly prolific writer: 44 novels many of which have stood the test of time and 121 short stories which are being plundered for future science fiction films. His Moon in Aquarius allowed him to be the objective observer of many turbulent shifts of the landscape of his fiction-writer’s mind in which there were periods of mental instability. Remarkably he could actually write about that in a detached ironic way. He was paranoid, possibly autistic, and was agoraphobic and sometimes never even left his bedroom for weeks. He was searching for a lost sister- he was born a twin, but his sister died. He said ‘I have her in me, but I have lost her.’ There is a polarised archetypal resonance from the Sagittarius to Gemini axis here, a profound loss that needed serious healing.
He had been brought up as a Quaker and was open minded in this sense free to question. He looked for the holes punctured in the reality as it is presented to us, as if there was another reality underneath. Then the reality underneath that layer, and so on that it becomes a mind-melt. Religion appears in comedic form ‘God in a spray can’ as if ‘god’ which he called ‘Ubik’ as in ubiquitous, was a human invention turned into a commodity. He writes satirically about the smorgasbord of religions that are dial-up, stir-fried instant wisdom using a credit card which can easily expire. So with Mercury in Sagittarius punching holes in the fixed religious mind-sets came as naturally as breathing to him- all very 9th house stuff. Added to this was a streak of tragedy as Muse asteroid Melpomene, the muse of tragic poetry, is conjunct his Sun and Mercury. The stellium in the 9th has Saturn, Mercury, and the Sun leading up to the MC- so that he would be visibly known for stirring up the deep pot of religious beliefs back to Gnosticism. But a good dose of maverick energy with Uranus in Aries in his first house would achieve that too.
This Uranus almost exactly conjunct the Ascendant not only startles but has such a voltage it is as though designed to wake up anyone who came into contact with him. Many reported such an impact either through meeting him or coming into contact with his work. He used drugs – mainly amphetamines- Uranus is in Aries- to keep awake during the writing of his novels which he wrote at night until he had a wife who was bourgeois and wanted him to have a day job so he switched to the day- just like that, like he had his finger on the switch.
This is a predominantly Cardinal modality and Fire element ruled chart. There were few who could stop him. According to Sect theory in traditional astrology, the chart is split into day and night. Dick definitely had the masters on his team – the Sun and Saturn both above the horizon and the Sun in a fire sign nodding towards a fiery Aries Ascendant. While Mars is below the horizon and aligned to its nocturnal powers, it is placed in Cancer in the 4th, which is its fall, so it tends to burn only to produce steam, but Cancer is a fertile sign, so they energy was funnelled into his work each of his works being his babies. It also may account for his hypersensitivity. He has Venus and the Moon in the day hemisphere, so they could have been weakened outside of their nocturnal home and placed in the ideological Air sign of Aquarius perhaps lacking in warmth more than usual in the and his mother was indeed neglectful and a hypochondriac.
He wanted to update the concept of divinity- VALIS (1981) stands for Vast-Active-Living-Intelligence-System and he even flooded Gnosticism into the novel, just as a great download of information flooded into his mind distorting all the usual lockholds that glued him into the 3D reality. Even David Bowie appears as the character of Mother Goose or Eric Lampton. Dick said this book was his response to Nicholas Roeg’s ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ (1976), and one of the reasons Bowie’s son Duncan now directs Science Fiction films is that Bowie ensured his son read books by Philip K. Dick.
In VALIS, Dick called himself Horselover Fat. Phil from the Greek means Lover of horses and Dick from the German means ‘fat’. He and the protagonist are flooded with knowledge from Gnosticism and that disrupts the regular functioning of his life which can never be the same again. This was drawn from what he called his ‘2-3-74’ experience and the chart for that day shows a powerful Grand Trine in Air, where one of the points of the trine is a triple conjunction of the South Node the Moon and Saturn which is also square to Pluto. So whatever it was that downloaded into his body-mind in the early 70s – his Gnostic revelations- confused him with multiple esoteric theories and theurgies, but they pointed to accurate interpretations of the world we are now more aligned with. The experience was not just borderline psychosis but a pure kind of mysticism. There is a free-floating completely unaspected Neptune in the chart that day perhaps acting as a wildcard to flood his mind.
He was non-conformist on the one hand – Uranus conjunct the MC in Aries that might have made him also a good astrologer should he have chosen -but he had a Calvinist streak on the other- Saturn in Sagittarius in the 6th House. He was quite stern in his beliefs and therefore possibly more than just split but a splintered personality. He was multi-faceted being a different man to each of his wives – he had five- and this could have been exacerbated by having both Venus and the Moon in the 8th house so more than his fair share of hidden rumbling emotions in the potent mix of issues around sexuality and power. Each partner inherited the story of the previous woman in his life but she encountered a different Philip K. Dick.
He died on the 2nd March 1982 after a stroke- lying between a sofa and a coffee table just as his vision had foretold. Perhaps the drink of the waters of the River Lethe had been diluted as he was somehow able to foresee this? The legend of the River Lethe is where between lives we are supposed to drink in order to return to life having our memories wiped out. Anthony Peake suggests in his book ‘The Man Who Remembered The Future’ (2013) that this phenomenon is anamnesis- a form of remembering what has been forgotten or of a previous existence but that can also be in reverse- the idea being at least one layer of time sits outside the linear construct. His remembering was more powerful than his forgetting and that these time loops had allowed him access across windows in time- to jump forwards and see his own death.
This has monumental implications for the study of astrology where fate and free will are often posed as a false dichotomy. Astrologers seek to see outside of time and make useful predictions but they often fall short and settle for understanding cycles of time. Yet the mysterious workings of astrology point to an intricate web of connectivity between the personal unfolding of life and the impersonal energies that seem to operate like a gigantic clock. Dick was at home in this understanding of a purely non-linear world. He was philosophical and could tolerate multiple ambiguities.
There were numerous of torn up people at Dick’s funeral as he had that rare ability to make acquaintances feel they were his close friends. These were all bank tellers, supermarket cashiers and street dwellers- very Jupiter in the 11th– his range was wide and Jupiter is well known as a multi-faceted polymorphous creature getting anywhere and everywhere. One thing I note in his work is comedic streak. He could perhaps without meaning to be hilariously funny, even just by piling up the contradictions for the bemused characters in his stories. This last quote is an example of that twisted humour ” Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it doesn’t go away.”
© Proteus Astrology, December 16th, 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.