astrocartography astrology horoscope Catherine II Catherine the Great chart symbolism planets Mercury Uranus biography of Catherine the Great astrocartographer
The Role of the Least-aspected Planet in Astrocartography.
New Insights into the Spirit of Place, by Robert Couteau.
All text © Copyright 2003 Robert Couteau
Uranus = 021
Venus = 121
Moon = 122
Sun = 142
Jupiter = 211
Neptune = 230
Mars = 240
Pluto = 240
Saturn = 320
[Least-aspected Mercury / Uranus]
Few historical characters have, in the course of their lives, been so thoroughly observed ... and there are fewer still who have left so much written testimony about themselves. If she had not been an empress, Catherine would surely have been a writer, and she would have occupied an honorable place in literary history (almost certainly in French literary history, since she wrote little in any other language) among the writers of letters and memoirs ... Her character emerges as complex and inconsistent, but then there must be few human beings who would not appear equally complicated if they provided such extensive documentation about themselves.
— Zoé Oldenbourg, Catherine the Great.1
Catherine the Great
Catherine II (née Sophie Friederike Auguste Prinzessin von Anhalt-Zerbst), also known as Catherine the Great, was born in Stettin, Prussia (14E32), just several degrees west of the vertical midnight position of her Secondary Venus line.
Catherine’s equally aspected pair of Primary Transcendentals, Uranus and Mercury, join with Secondary Venus to completely frame Europe and western Russia in two adjacent Transcendental Midpoint-Fields. The first of these fields extends from Primary Uranus, which runs in a vertical Midheaven position over western Europe, where Catherine’s “enlightened” (Uranus) intellectual views originated, to Secondary Venus, which intersects the center of Poland, an area of great political interest and activity during Catherine’s reign. The second Transcendental Midpoint-Field commences from this centrally located Venus line and extends into eastern Europe and western Russia, where Catherine’s Primary Mercury — a planet that played a central role in Catherine’s “intellectual orientation and eclecticism” — curves in a rising pattern directly over Turkey, the Black Sea, and the dual capitals of Moscow and St. Petersburg: the sites of Catherine’s discriminating rise and preservation of power and of the military engagements that she so skillfully directed during her reign.
Related to the dukes of Holstein (through her mother, Princess Johanna Elizabeth of Holstein-Gottorp), Catherine was invited by Empress Elizabeth of Russia to meet the Grand Duke Peter — duke of Holstein-Gottorp and heir to the throne. Arriving in Russia in 1744 at the age of fifteen, Catherine married her immature, temperamentally troubled, and mentally unstable cousin in the following year. Later admitting that she was more interested in Peter’s attainment of the crown than in “the person” of Peter, her marriage was soon tarnished by Peter’s infidelity (behavior that Catherine was quick to imitate) and by eighteen long years of boredom, humiliation, and mutual mistrust.
It was perhaps due to such circumstances (in particular, to Peter’s flagrant infidelity) that Catherine embarked upon what was to become one of the most scandalous amorous reputations in history. Pursuing numerous affairs and liaisons, her “eclectic, / constantly shifting / romantic tastes” (Primary Mercury / Primary Uranus / Secondary Venus) resulted in the birth of three children of uncertain origin, the maintenance of various young male lovers, and culminated in the legendary but none-the-less “inventive, novel, and quirky” (Uranus) “horse story.” Besides the “romantic / experimentation”; “eccentric / sensual tastes”; and “instability and changeability / in intimate liaisons” symbolized by the Primary Uranus / Secondary Venus Transcendental pairing, when these symbols are combined with Catherine’s other Primary Transcendental, Mercury, we have the classic keynotes: “fondness for eclecticism” (Mercury) and “rapidly changing, experimental / amorous encounters” (Uranus / Venus).
Although Catherine’s fondness and even readiness for “multiple / romantic / diversions” (Uranus / Venus / Mercury) is well documented, such matters were clearly secondary to her lively intellectual interests and pursuits. Possessing a “sharp-wit,” “widely read,” “multilingual,” (Primary Mercury), and remembered for a remarkable combination of “charm / and intelligence” (Venus / Mercury), Catherine was regarded as one of the most cultivated and refined persons in Russia. Steadily and deftly preparing herself for the role of empress, she applied her “eclectic intellectual prowess” (Primary Mercury) to studying the Russian language, acquainting herself with the rudiments of the Russian Orthodox faith, and furthering her knowledge of Russian culture. Combining “intelligence and wit” (Primary Mercury) with the “discriminating application / of her charm” (Mercury / Venus), Catherine’s cultural “curiosity / and diplomacy” (Primary Mercury / Secondary Venus) easily won her friends, allies and admirers, and stood in marked contrast to Peter’s public disdain — and even hatred — for Russia.
After assuming the throne as Emperor Peter III upon Elizabeth’s death on January 5, 1762, Peter ended the Seven Years’ War, formed an alliance with Frederick II of Prussia, and expressed his preference for his native Germany over Russia. With his words and actions continuing to antagonize and alienate leading members of every organized level of power — including church, state, military leaders, and members of the aristocracy — Peter’s reign was bound to be a short-lived one. Threatening to divorce Catherine upon his rise to the throne, Catherine was left little choice: now she could either flee or partake in the inevitable coup. With the support of the “common people” (Primary Mercury), the “‘enlightened’ aristocracy” (Primary Uranus), and the military regiments in St. Petersburg, where her “lover” (Secondary Venus), Gregory Orlov, was stationed, Catherine rallied the troops into St. Petersburg and declared herself Empress Catherine II. With this “sudden and unexpected turn of events” (Primary Uranus; even her closest supporters had merely suggested she serve as regent until her son Paul came of age) Catherine had unwittingly personified classic elements of the Uranian complex: the “abrupt, complete reversal of conditions,” the “overturning of an unstable institution or structure,” and the “utilization of novel, innovative, and unexpected methods of reformation.”
Uranus is also notable for producing “widely fluctuating shifts in personal belief-systems,” particularly what might be termed “a change into the opposite” of one’s previously held philosophy, behavior, or viewpoint. Typically, when a point of view has reached an extreme form of intellectual or emotional expression then its unconscious opposite may “unexpectedly and abruptly assert itself” (Uranus). In this topsy-turvy Uranian sense the case of Catherine is an exemplary one. Well educated in French “literature / and culture” (Mercury / Venus), Catherine had eagerly absorbed the “innovative / thinking” (Uranus / Mercury) of the French Enlightenment, a movement traditionally ruled by the planet Uranus. Expressing a lively interest in the leaders of the Enlightenment and in their writings, Catherine even befriended Diderot and carried on a spirited correspondence with Voltaire and many of the other “enlightened” figures of her time (they referred to her as Minerva, the Star of the North). With her Primary Mercury-Uranus Transcendental pairing, Catherine was ideally suited to embrace and to carry on this intellectual and cultural revolution within her own empire. Yet Catherine (like the French Revolution itself) was fated for an intense Uranian “reversal of conditions,” at least as far as her “innovative methodologies,” “attempts at reform” (Uranus), and “forward looking belief in increasing the freedom / of the common people” (Uranus / Mercury) were concerned.
A case in point concerns Catherine’s first major attempt at a “large-scale reformation” (Primary Uranus), which involved Russia’s then hopelessly antiquated legal system. Catherine worked for more than two years on the “draft of a document” (Primary Mercury) which would guide a body of “enlightened” (Primary Uranus) delegates who would, in turn, convene to work on “revising” the laws and constitution under her general guidelines. Inspired by Montesquieu and the Italian jurist Beccaria, Catherine’s “Instruction” (Mercury), as the draft came to be called, was considered so “shockingly liberal” (Uranus) that the “scandalous / document” (Uranus / Mercury) was prohibited from publication in France. Widely read throughout Europe, the Instruction was considered “far ahead of its time” (Uranus), calling for equal protection for all persons under the law and pointedly focusing on the “enlightened” prevention — rather than the brutal punishment — of criminal behavior. Equally “innovative” was the “freedom-loving intention” behind her “novel method of organizing” (Uranus) the Legislative Commission, established by Catherine in June 1767. Comprising delegates from every level of society (with the exception of the serfs) and drawing upon members from every province, Catherine had hoped that this “novel approach” (Uranus) — one completely unheard of in the Russia of that time — might suitably reflect the wishes of “the common people” in the “writing” (Mercury) of a new constitution which would advocate increased “freedom” (Uranus) for the “common man” (Mercury).
Yet Catherine’s “careful planning, intellectual aspirations / and innovative attempt to further the freedom / of her subjects” (Mercury / Uranus / Mercury) came to naught. After months of pointless debate bogged down by the demands of local interest groups, who seemed incapable of comprehending the significance of the larger task at hand, the Commission accomplished nothing. After a fruitless year of indecisive meetings, Catherine finally decided to suspend the Commission.
Disappointment over the fate of her Instruction may have sown the initial seeds of Catherine’s “reversal” (Uranus) of her own “enlightened” position into one that was far less progressive, but the final impetus came as a result of an uprising engineered by the Cossack Yemelyan Pugachov. Pretending to be a “still alive-and-well” Peter III (who had, in fact, been assassinated in prison), Pugachov led a popular revolt against the government, promising to end the oppression of the serfs, Cossacks, and members of other marginalized groups. Although she had originally intended to “emancipate / the serfs” (Uranus / Mercury), Catherine “suddenly reversed her point of view,” now viewing their freedom as a threat. Abruptly “reforming” her own position, she instituted a “reorganization of the entire system” (Uranus) of serfdom in Russia, one that resulted in worsening conditions for most of the Russian people. Now guaranteeing “greater freedom” (Uranus) only for herself, Catherine even extended serfdom into the Ukraine (an area directly under her Primary Mercury), which until then had been free. Her actions resulted in an “unexpected and extreme reversal of existential conditions / for the commoner” (Uranus / Mercury). The additional and extensive administrative “reforms” (Uranus) for which Catherine is remembered further strengthened the power of the nobility over the lower classes.
The geographic position of Catherine’s Primary Mercury and Secondary Venus lines precisely describe the principal areas of political focus during Catherine’s reign. Secondary Venus is vertically positioned over the center of Poland, where Catherine installed her puppet king, Stanislaw Poniatowski, in 1764. In 1768 Polish nationalists appealed to Turkey for assistance, resulting in Turkey’s declaration of war against Russia. (Eastern Turkey lies directly under Catherine’s Primary Mercury line in its curving rising position.) After the war, which resulted in Turkey’s defeat, Russia annexed parts of Polish territory in the First Annexation of Poland (1772). Responding to Polish demands for greater freedom Catherine sent in troops in 1792 and shortly afterward annexed the western Ukraine: an area under her Secondary Venus / Primary Mercury Transcendental Midpoint-Field. In the Third Partition of 1795, dividing Poland between Russia, Prussia, and Austria, Catherine removed Poland from the map of Europe.
Under Catherine’s Primary Mercury line (at the eastern end of this Transcendental Midpoint-Field) we find the other principal geopolitical preoccupation of her reign: Turkey. The Turkish sultan declared war against Russia in 1768, and the war lingered on for six years, until the Turks were defeated in 1774. Largely through the assistance of her minister and lover, Grigory Potemkin, Catherine annexed the Crimea and acquired lands southwest of Russia, including large areas along the northern shore of the Black Sea. By the end of her reign Russia’s southwest frontier — located precisely under Catherine’s Primary Mercury / Secondary Venus Transcendental Midpoint-Field — was increased by more than 200,000 square miles.
1. Zoé Oldenbourg, Catherine the Great, pp. vii-viii.
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Role of the Least-aspected Planet in Astrocartography
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II. Transcendental Biographies | III. Transcendental Events
IV. Psychic inflation - Summary of Planetary Symbolism - Transcendental Planets
V. Nodes / the Triple-zero Transcendental | Appendices: Orbs / References / Data
Additional Maps | Notes | Bibliography | FAQ
I. Interview in Astrolore | II. Transcendental Nations | III. American Presidents & LAP Saturn
IV. World Events | V. Numinous Consciousness
VI. The LAP as a metaphor of the soul | VII. Zones of Intensity |
VIII. Complete Index of Names and Events
All text © Copyright 2003 Robert Couteau and cannot be used without the written and expressed consent of the author.
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