The Role of the Least Aspected Planet in Astrocartography.
Planetary Symbolism in Astrocartography and Transcendental Astrology,
by Rob 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.
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 her 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 her “intellectual orientation and eclecticism”–curves in a rising pattern directly over Turkey, the Black Sea, and the dual capitals of Moscow and St. Petersburg: regions that hosted Catherine’s rise and preservation of power and, later, 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 quickly tarnished by Peter’s infidelity (behavior that Catherine was quick to imitate) and by eighteen long years of boredom, humiliation, and mutual mistrust.
Perhaps it was due to such circumstances (in particular, to Peter’s flagrant infidelity) that Catherine embarked on what was to become one of the most scandalous amorous reputations in history. Pursuing numerous affairs and liaisons, her “eclectic / constantly shifting / romantic tastes” (Mercury / Uranus / Venus) led to the birth of three children of uncertain origin, the maintenance of various young male lovers, and the legendary but none-the-less “novel, inventive, 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 and experimental / amorous encounters” (Uranus / Venus).
Although Catherine’s fondness 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 charm” (Mercury / Venus), Catherine’s cultural “curiosity / and diplomacy” (Primary Mercury / Secondary Venus) easily won her friends, allies, and admirers, and contrasted with 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. Peter’s reign was bound to be a short-lived one. His words and actions continued to antagonize and to alienate leading members of every organized level of power, including church, state, military leaders, and members of the aristocracy.
Threatening to divorce Catherine upon his rise to the throne, Catherine was left little choice: 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), Grigorii 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 Uranus complex: an “abrupt and 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 notable for producing “widely fluctuating shifts in personal belief systems”: in particular, a “change into the opposite” of one’s previously held philosophy or viewpoint. Typically, when a dominant view has reached an extreme form of expression, its unconscious opposite will “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 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 Enlightenment leaders 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 Mercury-Uranus Transcendental pairing, Catherine was ideally suited to embrace and carry on this intellectual and cultural revolution within her own empire. Yet Catherine (like the French Revolution itself) was fated for a 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 commoners” (Uranus / Mercury) were concerned.
A case in point concerns Catherine’s first major attempt at a “large-scale reformation” (Primary Uranus) of Russia’s hopelessly antiquated legal system. She worked for more than two years on the “draft of a document” (Primary Mercury) that would guide a body of “enlightened” (Uranus) delegates who, in turn, would convene to work on “revising” the laws and the constitution. Inspired by Montesquieu and by the Italian jurist Beccaria, Catherine’s “Instruction” (Mercury), as the draft came to be called, was considered to be so “shockingly liberal” (Uranus) that the “scandalous / text” (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 her time–might reflect the wishes of the “common people” in the “writing” (Mercury) of a new constitution that would advocate increased “freedom / for the common man” (Uranus / Mercury).
Yet Catherine’s “careful planning, intellectual aspiration, / and innovative attempt to further the freedom / of her subjects” (Mercury / Uranus / Mercury) came to naught. After months of pointless debate that was 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 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 Pugachev. Pretending to be a “still-alive-and-well” Peter III (who had, in fact, been assassinated in prison), Pugachev promised to end the oppression of the serfs, the Cossacks, and the members of other marginalized groups, and he led a popular revolt against the government. Although she had originally intended to “emancipate / the serfs” (Uranus / Mercury), Catherine “suddenly reversed her viewpoint” (Uranus), now regarding 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 Russians. 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). Additional administrative “reforms” (Uranus) further strengthened the power of the nobility over the lower classes.
The geographic position of Catherine’s Primary Mercury / Secondary Venus lines describe the principal areas of political focus during her reign. Secondary Venus is positioned vertically 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 under Catherine’s Mercury line, in its 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, she 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 key 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, Grigorii Potemkin, Catherine annexed the Crimea, and she 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 directly under her 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.
Revised & updated:
5 August 2005
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 | 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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