Aldous Huxley. The Birdman from Beyond.

Post by Wanda Smit

Aldous Huxley is best known for his novel Brave New World, a dark vision of the future, which is regarded as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. He’s also known for his experiments with mescaline and the resulting essays, The Doors of Perception.

Born on 26 July, 1894 at 01:30 am in Godalming, (UK).

The chart resembles a bird, an Indian myna perhaps, like the one that introduces Huxley’s last novel, The Island, screeching: “Attention! Attention!” Its open beak is in a Libran 5th house and gracious Huxley certainly got the attention of guests at Garsington Manor (Bloomsbury), the home of socialite Lady Ottoline Morrell, where he met intellectuals and writers such as Virginia WoolfBertrand RussellT. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence.

The Shield

But the beak of the myna is only one aspect of Huxley. It’s made up of Saturn and Uranus, while the other eight planetary energies in his psyche are on the I-side, with three of them in the 12th house, the most inner-directed of all.

There is also a rare Shield aspect figure, suggesting Huxley was essentially a private person who guarded against intrusion into his inner world. According to the Hubers in Aspect Pattern Astrology, people with this figure “avoid energy loss by using the Shield as a defence to keep others at a distance.” The absorption power of the Shield is very high due to the trine facing the YOU-side. Huxley took in as much as he could from the outside world without it taking him over. In The Doors of Perception, he writes:

We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves.”

He has five planets in the Being quadrant, including his North Node which points him in the direction of the 10th house, of being a force to be reckoned with, like Mars, in his chosen area. He certainly stood out from the crowd, aiming to take his perception of life much further than the mundane. Firstly, by writing satirical and dystopian novels in which he questioned life as it appeared to be, secondly, by getting deeply involved in Eastern mysticism and thirdly, by experimenting with mescaline and the altered states of consciousness it induces. With Saturn as his strongest ego planet, life on earth would be scrutinised with the sharp vision of a bird that can spot food and danger from way up there.

In the House chart, the Shield is replaced by a Small Talent Triangle, two Ambivalence Figures, an Irritation Triangle and a Small Learning Triangle, making his motivation more mutable than in the Radix, more open to relating to others, especially like-minded people.

Shifts in Consciousness

As a child, Huxley’s nickname was “Ogie”, short for “Ogre”.  His brother Julian described him as someone who frequently thought about “the strangeness of things”. Born into a prominent intellectual family, Huxley aspired to be a scientist – several members of his family were biologists. But in 1911, when his age point was travelling through the 3rd house, he suddenly lost his vision and, with it, his dreams of becoming a doctor. His vision did return, but only partially, and he now read with a magnifying glass and eye drops.  

His brother Julian saw his partial blindness as a blessing in disguise, as it meant he couldn’t study medicine “His uniqueness lay in his universalism. He was able to take all knowledge for his province,” he said. Huxley has Jupiter on the Ascendant and, indeed, the Birdman would take ever-widening views on life.

He then pursued a literary career, graduating with honours in English Literature (Balliol College, Oxford) in 1916 and publishing his first collection of poems in the same year. He also wrote articles for periodicals such as The Athenaeum, Vanity Fair and Vogue. It is noteworthy that his age point opposed the North Node at the end of the same year which indicates that articles for the mass market were not the right way for him to go. He subsequently published several more collections of poetry.

In 1919 when Jupiter conjunct Venus was fired up, Huxley married Maria Nys, a Belgian refugee. She gave birth to their son, Matthew, the following year. His age point had encountered Saturn late 1918 and perhaps because he had lost his mother (who was also his teacher) at age 12, Maria might have become the motherly energy in his life. (She would die 36 years later, just after his consciousness was opposed by Saturn.)

While his age point was traversing the 5th house in 1919, his wit and skill as a conversationalist earned him a reputation as one of the most significant minds in England. His surplus of air (-13) was certainly turned into a talent. There is an opposition running through his core on the Relationship axis. Huxley’s higher relationships with the like-minded people of the 11th house would henceforth oppose his lower relationships on the social scene of the 5th house.

In 1921, he produced his first novel Crome Yellow, a parody of the intelligentsia and his experiences at Garsington. It is interesting to note that it happened just before his consciousness was opposed by the Moon and conjoined Uranus, as if the social scene were against his emotional nature – the Moon – and he needed to make an unexpected transformation of his impressions in the 5th house, thanks to Uranus in Scorpio.

Needless to say, the book’s publication angered many of his Garsington acquaintances, but it established him as an important writer and, after the low point of the 5th house which coincided with the C1 in 1922, he wrote three more satirical novels, culminating in Point Counter Point. The title of the latter reflects the two relationship opposites in his chart perfectly, as if he had seen through the veils of illusion, called Maya in Eastern mysticism, long before he developed an interest in Vedanta.

During this literary productive period which coincided with his age point traversing his Sagittarian 6th house of work, Huxley and his family travelled around Europe. Adventurous Jupiter, ruler of Sagittarius, supported him all the way. Huxley bought a villa in the South of France, and in late 1931, when his age point activated the North Node, Huxley began work on Brave New World.

His consciousness was now in the Thinking quadrant, and Huxley would look at society from a more critical, dark rather than light, perspective. Published in 1932, Brave New World marks the peak of Huxley’s abilities as a satirist. The world he presents to the reader is full of his own growing anxieties about the direction of political, social and scientific progress.

The novel is also astonishingly prescient, as if the Birdman had flown so high on the wings of his formidable mind, that he could see into a future fifty years away – a time of genetically engineered babies produced on assembly lines, of a growing divide between the haves and the have nots, of the illusory balm of advertising, medication, sex and entertainment. (Now, eighty years later, many of Huxley’s prophecies have become reality.)

Brave New World made him one of the most important writers of the 20th Century and its commercial success could now indulge the Jupiter in him, travelling and exploring new ways of being. With all the planetary energies in the Being quadrant, Huxley was beginning to move towards what he would later – in The Doors of Perception – define as “Enlightenment, The Beatific Vision.”

The publication of his next novel, Eyeless in Gaza, coincided with the activated opposition running through his core, between Mars and Saturn, between the society of the Collective and that of the Individual. His growing interest in Eastern philosophy and mysticism could now clearly see through the veils of Maya, through the illusion of the glamour of the 5th house (much like that of today’s celebrity cult.) He would spend the rest of his writing life trying to get to a more real perception and experience of being.

His age point was now on the cusp of the 8th house and he paid his dues to society with more non-fiction works on pacifist themes, including An Encyclopaedia of Pacifism. He was also an active member of the Peace Pledge Union.

After the Mars/Saturn opposition which underlies most of his thinking, Huxley became interested in the Upanishad-centred philosophy, Vedanta and soon became a Vedantist. He then wrote The Perennial Philosophy, which discusses the teachings of renowned mystics. Huxley’s book insists there are realities beyond the generally accepted “five senses” (the 5th house) and that there is genuine meaning for humans beyond both sensual (the element of earth) satisfactions and sentimentalities (the element of water). Both these elements are low in Huxley’s nature (9 and 0, respectively.) Fortunately, all the air in him could whisk him off to this Beyond.

In 1937 he left Europe and settled in America where he completed a work on pacifism (Ends and Means). His Mercury is in Cancer in the 2nd house and Huxley had a large amount of compassion. The money he now made as screenwriter (of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and Madame Curie, amongst others) enabled him to transport Jewish and left-wing writers and artists away from Hitler’s Germany to the USA.

In October 1949, when his age point made him aware (semi-sextile to North Node) of the honours of the 10th house, Huxley honoured another great thinker, George Orwell (whom he had taught in his twenties), on his dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. He agreed with Orwell: “Within the next generation I believe that the world’s leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience.”

Huxley wrote prolifically, particularly for the Vedanta Society, while his age point was moving through the 9th house from where he got the bigger picture of life. When he published The Devils of London in 1952, his age point conjoined his North Node in the 10th house – he had reached the signpost for his soul’s journey, indicating that he had done what he was supposed to do in his life.

His interest in mysticism also led him to experiment with the hallucinogen mescaline. This was when his age point had entered the 11th house and would soon conjoin Mars, the man in him who opposed the illusions of the 5th house. His collection of essays, The Doors of Perception, would later inspire Jim Morrison and his legendary rock group, the Doors.

In a 1958 television interview, when his age point was on the low point of the 11th house, as well as on the C2, Huxley outlined several major concerns: overpopulation, hierarchical social organisation, the use of technology to persuade the masses and the marketing of politicians to a naive public. His consciousness was in the 11th house, looking down at the 5th house from his well-deserved high position – as if the C2 showed him clearly what he had first spotted at the C1.

After the loss of Maria (1955), he married his second wife, Laura, just before his age point conjoined the Moon, suggesting that he experienced the love of his life. (Her biography of their life together This Timeless Moment says as much.) His age point was on the IP in the 11th house, indicating he had reached an inner balance in relationships with his like-minded soul mate.

As his age point was on the 12th house cusp (1960), the final house in the Being quadrant where he has three planets, Huxley was diagnosed with pharyngeal cancer, as if the Indian myna had spoken enough. He persevered – thanks to his high cardinal motivation – and published his final novel, The Island, in 1962. That same year his consciousness was filled with Pluto, and this novel transformed the lead of a dystopia to the gold of a utopia. He died late 1963, just after his consciousness had experienced the creativity and Divine Love of Neptune to the full. The overdose of mescaline his wife administered at his request – also the dissolution of Neptune – finally took him to the Great Beyond.

Afterword

It is ironic that Huxley’s immense literary stature went largely unnoticed at the time as it coincided with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Would Huxley have been bothered, I wonder. He had, after all, declined the offer of a Knighthood by the Macmillan government in 1959, the year after the C2. The Birdman was beyond earthly honours, years before his death.