Garth Allen wrote one extraordinary article about a single fixed star. While we might wish we had 50-100 more of these, it provides us a possible model for examining others on our own. In particular, it paves the way for a particular kind of mythological analysis that took root 10-20 years later in the work of astrologers like the late Tony Josephs.
The star is ALGOL, often deemed the most evil star in the sky. It's longitude is 1°26' Taurus. This star surely was of great interest to Donald Bradley because his natal Sun was 1°15' Taurus. It has been of interest to me, since my natal Venus (already background and in detriment) is 1°53' Scorpio, squared by Pluto at 2°06' Leo. If fixed star aspects to angles are rightly taken in longitude, it gains further importance to me with my local Midheaven being 1°38' Taurus.
He opined that there is "no doubting that the star's unique influence is real," and said, "Ample evidence of Algol's special significance... can be found in any collection of offbeat horoscopes." He wrote the article to provide "mythic and scientific backgrounds" for studying Algol's influence, and "from the depth approach, indicate the likely true role that this star plays in the human psychological drama."Garth Allen wrote:In the whole of astrological tradition there is no more dreadful word than Algol, the name of a medium-bright star that is far removed from the imaginary belt in the sky ordinarily thought of as the zodiac. In textbooks and articles, both old and new, Algol is apparently never mentioned without some variation of the qualifying phrase: "the most malevolent star in the heavens." A spoken reference to Algol customarily induces gasps or clucks or tsk-tsks among knowing listeners. The Devil Star, the Demon Star, they call it, and as long as most astrological texts continue to be rewrites of what somebody wrote before, centuries from now the profession is apt to be suffering from the same bad case of algolphobia it has been flinching under for hundreds of years already.
(He next gave an astronomical description of the star. I'm not convinced any of this is important, so I'm skipping it.)
"Algol" comes from the Arabic Ra's al Ghul (any Batman or Arrow fans out there?), "head of the demon" (or "ghoul's head"). Numerous other names parallel this, and can be studied at length in Richard H. Allen's Star Names. In all of its names down through history, ideas of "head" and "terror" recur; for, in the constellation where it is found, this star is the detached head of Medusa held upraised in the hand of Perseus. No wonder is most commonly equated, in legend and name, not just to the demonic, but to a demonic woman.
I skip the section on the star's astronomy, other than to say that it is a binary with each of the component stars eclipsed once every (not quite) three days. Normally, Algol is fairly bright at magnitude 2.2, but during this cycle it dips to as low as the very dim 3.5.GA wrote:From the standpoint of depth psychology, the etymology of Algol's names is the secret of its significance in practical individual astrology.
Heirens was born November 15, 1928, 8:30 PM, in Evanston, IL, giving him a Sun of 29°45' Libra. This would require a 2° orb for opposition to Algol, which Bradley seems to be allowing from the date ranges he gave above; it also makes him an exceptional example of the analgesic leanings of Libra. I've often thought of his Sagittarius Moon as the mark of his sadism and murdering (weapons etc.), though one cannot do other than laugh with amazement at a Libra Sun for the man dubbed "the lipstick murderer."GA wrote:We agree with most fixed-star advocates that sextiles and trines to stars are not valid, being physically and geometrically implausible. Squares and oppositions are theoretically sound, however, and are demonstrable in actual studies of individual horoscopes. Because of the nature of house circles of a horoscope, contacts with angular cusps are probably not matter of simple longitude similarity. For example, Algol is bodily on the meridian when the longitude of the Midheaven differs from the star's longitude by almost seven degrees [earlier]...
It may be, too, that galactic coordiates play a big role in any practical approach to the astrology of fixed stars. This would merit looking into by capable students. For their information, then, we estimate the equivalent ecliptic junctures of galactic circles running through Algol on the celestial sphere. The conjunction line falls about the first degree of Tropical Taurus (circa 1900, to be advanced by roughly one degree per seven decades) - which, interestingly, was the exact position of Saturn at the outbreak of World War II, recalling the Chinese name for Algol, Tseih She, the Piled-up Corpses! The opposition on the ecliptic is at the first degree of Scorpio, while the squares fall at 7° of Virgo or Pisces. Notice that the quadrature points are nowhere near being 90° in ecliptic measure, a fact easily understood from the condition that galactic coordinate are wholly unrelated to the plane of the earth's orbit. Galactic squares on the ecliptic are a matter of ninety-degree arcs pivoting on the poles of the galaxy at right angles to the conjunction-opposition circle. So much, now, for an interesting conjecture.
When it comes to Algol in relationship to the Ascendant and Descendant of a chart, one runs into trouble. There is no difficulty, on the other hand, if one wishes to think of all astrological influences in terms of strictly ecliptic coordinates - which is hardly tenable. As long as the literal horizon of a birthplace is considered all-important, and as long as there is absolutely no relationship between zodiacal and "mundane" circles, complications arise. Chief monkey wrench in the machinery is the fact that at geographic latitudes higher than Algol's declination the star is circumpolar and never rises or sets, staying above the horizon all the time. In other words, only people born farther south than the 40th parallel can ever have Algol bodily on the horizon or "conjunct the Ascendant." In terms of practical horoscopy this gives t he lie to the concept of horizon-based charts when it is intended that stars are to be handled mundanely. Yours truly frankly has no opinion on the matter at present. The Axial system of house division solves the problem for some, but there remains the vexing question of whether the standard Ascendant is the eastern horizon plane or the mere point on the ecliptic cut by it.
The logical way out is to adhere to the zodiacal-circle concept, which is not too unfeasible in the light of what the statistics of criminal charts have disclosed, viz., the abnormal incidence of Sun-Algol conjunctions and oppositions. The legitimacy of such "aspects" has been contested by England's Tucker in an international spat with Germany's Troinski and, if recollection serves properly, an astrologer in India. In any event, the novel personalities and lives of many people born May 14th to 18th, and November 13th to 17th, require an explanation rooted in something more special than decanate or face theories. One case alone, that of mass-murdered William Heirens, whose entire body is analgesic (insensitive to pain), is too much a materialization of the Algol legend to be dismissed as a mere coincidence.
Algol in Depth
GA wrote:What Algol means in astrology is actually quite simple, for the psychoanalytic interpretation of the Perseus-Medusa myth is easy to grasp. Easy for the psychologist, anthropologist, and "depth astrologer," that is. There are no doubt many to whom the following commentary will seem more than a little enigmatic. This is aimed, then, at the already-knowers in our audience.
Perseus is one of the greatest of the great heroes in legend. He shares the same basic biographical outline followed by the other heroes and saviors of mankind, starting with the usual immaculate conception. Indeed, the very fact that Perseus' mother became just that because Jupiter sprinkled golden raindrops on her through a hole in her dungeon roof, and nobody believed her story, is act one, scene one of the exciting drama of Perseus the Hero. Heroes in depth psychology represent the kind of person we all secretly wish we could be, completely triumphant over evil, the personification of all that is valorous, just and healthy.
Every detail... of the Perseus story is rich in meaning. As with most complex myths, every phase of life and living, the whole gamut of history and psychology and politics, is touched upon. Approached with a knowledge of Freud, the saga of the Hero is a real shocker. Mentally armed with Jung, the tale becomes a revelation in self-discovery. In either case, in Perseus we face the classical Oedipal situation - the conquest of the incest problem and how the conqueror uses his victory to help rid the world of those who are petrified by fear of the truth.
It is all there in the myth, of which the severed head of Medusa is the key. Medusa was one of the three sister Gorgons, with such horrible visages no living thing could behold them without turning into stone. Framing their ugliness was hair made of hissing snakes. The horrible Gorgon countenance plainly represents that complex in the human psyche that the average person "cannot stand to face," which of course is the very thing that Freud labelled the Oedipus complex. Equipped with the winged helmet and sandals of Mercury (unfettered thought) and the shield of Minerva (common sense), Perseus was able to slay Medusa by approaching her with his back turned (spurning the Oedipal dread most men fear) and looking through the burnished-mirror shield (introspection).
Minerva was to mount the serpent-entwined head on her shield, to forever remind the world of the fact that the ugly truth prevents a human being from seeing himself as he really is. But before Medusa is handed over to the goddess of reason, Perseus has many adventures in which the horrid head figures beneficially. Most famous of these stories is transparently connected with the theme of triumph over the Oedipus complex - the rescue of Andromeda who became the Hero's bride. The fair maiden Andromeda was being sacrificed to a sea-monster by her cowardly parents who chose between losing their worldly property and losing their daughter. The girl is saved in the nick of time by Perseus who petrified the monster with Medusa's head. On other occasions Perseus used the head to dispatch his enemies into stony oblivion. The moral of each incident is clear: the individual who solves the greatest single problem confronting the human subconscious does not have to fear anything or anybody, for the mere fact of his victory becomes his protection and salvation.
Algol, the Eye of Medusa, astrologically earmarks those born with the star pre-eminent in their horoscopes as souls with an acute Oedipal problem, symbolically if not literally. This explains, then, most of the best known instances spoken of in the texts where this star has played a leading role in the case history. It is not so much a matter of being a victim of Algol's influence as of being singled out to do battle with the Gorgon in the subconscious mind. This is why people born with the star outstanding in some way are compelled to fight evil all their lives, whereas average people spend most of their mortal spans ignoring or enjoying it. Sometime during their lifetimes they succeed in the battle, if only at the moment before death.
Algol is not something to fear. Medusa is meaningless without Perseus. The blinking star in the northern skies is astrologically significant only in terms of its starfield, the constellation of the Hero who slew the hideous creature. Keep in mind that Medusa is not constellated as the Gorgon in her lair but as subdued and slain and easily outwitted by moral courage and intellectual honesty. The celestial message is, therefore, that we should spiritually emulate Perseus rather than fear Medusa. Viewed in this constructive way, Algol is something beautiful to contemplate.