National Geographic magazine published an issue in May 2017 to once again tackle the age-old question of genius. It addressed scans of the brain via MRI while musicians are creating and improvising, reviewed studies of the DNA of famous artists and, of course, reviewed the ubiquitous microscope slides of Einstein’s brain. While these areas of research are interesting, they don’t really break new ground. The intent underlying all of them echoes the same hypothesis that has been proposed for years: genius can be traced to specific physical characteristics. Personally, I have always found it a little strange that science believes that a quality as intangible as genius can be defined and identified according to the observation and study of physical matter.
I’m not alone in this perspective either. Consider some of the following quotes from geniuses on the nature of genius:
- “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- “In so far as the mind sees things in their eternal aspect, it participated in eternity.” – Baruch Spinoza
- “What is genius but the power of expressing a new individuality?” – Elizabeth Barret Browning
- “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” – Arthur Schopenhauer
- “If I just go with what’s in my heart and let it come out, then I’m okay.” – Stevie Ray Vaughan
- “Everybody is a genius. If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life feeling stupid.” – Einstein
These perspectives infer that genius is a highly subjective quality often dependent upon personality and creativity. These theories also align with historical conceptions of this term as well. Originally, genius was thought to represent some type of “guiding spirit” or “deity” who was a patron or protector of an individual. Exceptional instances of achievement were thought to be the result of this guiding spirit (eventually known as inspiration). All of this hints at genius being a reflection of passion, something that is felt and more “instinctual” than just mental processing or capacity for thought. It is an extension or reflection of who we are.
So, when science studies the brain to locate the physical component(s) of genius, it seems that what it is really attempting to do is take something as archetypal and ephemeral as personality, inspiration or passion and reduce it down to a specific composition of components within the physical matter of the body.
When conceptualized within this framework, the entire enterprise appears a bit unlikely.
To be fair, the underlying purpose of this National Geographic article was not to provide a comprehensive explanation of genius, but instead compliment and advertise their new streaming series about this topic on the National Geographic channel. While the publication of the article does not have a specific date, the release for the first episode of the series does. As a result, we have an opportunity to gain some perspective on the topic from a different angle: the astrological chart corresponding to the series.
That said, the series debuted on April 25, 2017. We do not have an exact time of day since it is a show that can be streamed. As a result, the untimed chart #1 is below.
Chart #1: National Geographic (NG) Series
There are three significant sets of correlations between the astrological dynamics within the chart and the content of the NG series:
- A triple conjunction between Moon, Mercury and Uranus all in trine aspect to Saturn. Both Mercury and Saturn are retrograde.
- Two sets of mutual receptions: Mars and Mercury, Venus and Jupiter.
- Heavy Neptune involvement with various midpoints: Neptune = Sun/Pluto & Mars/Saturn, Mercury-Uranus = Mars/Neptune and Saturn = Jupiter/Neptune.
The first set of dynamics are fairly obvious in their representations. Contacts between Mercury and Uranus (especially by conjunction) are often seen as signatures for high intelligence and breakthrough thought processes. Saturn and Uranus also have correlations with physical reality and technology and change, so the relationship of these three bodies would have an association with scientific minds that excel with comprehension and heightened speeds of cognition working towards understanding the world around them. Their retrograde nature reflects science’s singular focus on the dynamics of genius and their desire to understand how they work, even if that means literally putting pieces of a brain under a microscope for inspection. The Moon is more of a timing indicator highlighting the beginning of this series as well as the significance of its inquiry, how to define or locate genius.
The second set of dynamics builds off the first. Mutual receptions reflect a reciprocal relationship between two bodies. Here, thought processes (Mercury) and work (Mars) are dependent upon each other in order to develop theories and discover laws of nature. It reflects minds that are very active. The reception between Venus and Jupiter represents the creativity in the expanding our relationship with existence. It also highlights the necessity of expansion as intimately tied to the fact that everything is elegantly connected.
Venus’ placement in Pisces is dignified and strong, foreshadowing the final set of dynamics, its dispositor’s (Neptune) involvement with four different significant midpoints. While Saturn represents physical reality, Neptune is the complete opposite.
According to astrologer Kevin Burk:
“Neptune represents the ultimate creative force; the unlimited and unimaginable possibilities of the universe. Neptune tells us that not only do all these different realities exist, they all exist simultaneously.”[i]
Astrologer Rob Hand also notes the following:
“Along with Venus, Neptune signifies artistic creativity. Whereas Venus represents the physical aspect of creation, Neptune is the inspiration that must take place before a thing can be brought into the physical world.”[ii]
From these perspectives, we can conclude that Neptune represents our connection to other non-physical or non-visible realities which can include a correlation with our capacity of imagination. Neptune blurs the boundaries of division, instead strongly inferring the connection of all things. This may extend to shared archetypal myths we have passed down over the generations. It represents that which is hidden or not easily seen (Schopenhauer’s above quote echoes this).
The delineation of Neptune’s placement within all of these midpoints reflects its impact on intelligence and thought processes, the work we invest in understanding the structure of reality and how the power to transform the world is ultimately a reflection of transcendent energies within self. Ultimately, structure of reality is dependent upon our ability to expand and transcend it, so Neptune’s heavy involvement in the overall dynamics inherently debunks any notions that these correlations can be strictly tied or reduced to characteristics within physical matter. Essentially, it represents an overlooked component of genius that is elusive to define and analyze. Einstein suspected as much when he said the following:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
What he was inferring is the ineffability of inspiration and creativity. He was making a distinction between that which exists in this physical reality (the here and now) and that which exists somewhere else. Without realizing it, he was comparing the difference between Saturn and Neptune. Again, Saturn is the hard reality we can touch and see and easily measure. It is science. Neptune is our connection to an eternal realm of forms, concepts, images and ideas that we manifest into this reality. Trying to apply Saturn’s approach to Neptune’s universe can be as a futile as trying to look in the brain for physical correlations of Van Gogh’s paintings or Walt Disney’s cartoons. Einstein’s perspectives are probably the most insightful because he was the most responsible for changing our perspective of reality. With that said, it would make sense that we analyze his astrological energies as well.
Chart #2: Einstein’s Natal Chart
The dynamics of Einstein’s natal chart correlate well to his achievements while also hinting at this critically overlooked factor:
- Pisces Sun and Sagittarius Moon ruled by Neptune and Jupiter.
- Mercury-Saturn conjunction.
- Sun sextile both Mars and Pluto.
- Mutual reception between Mars and Saturn. Uranus = Mars/Saturn.
- Uranus trine Neptune and opposite Jupiter. All three planets are also parallel.
- Jupiter and Neptune connected to five significant midpoints: Mercury-Saturn = Jupiter/Neptune, Jupiter = Moon/Neptune, Jupiter = Sun/North Node (exact), Venus = Sun/Neptune.
The first dynamic isn’t very unique as there are many individuals with a Sun-Moon blend in Pisces-Sagittarius. But at a high level, it does highlight Einstein’s core energies as generally imaginative with an expansive feel or need to broaden the horizons.
The second dynamic offers a bit of contrast in that his thought processes were fairly structured or very focused on structures of reality, in general. It speaks to an organized, disciplined approach to problem solving as well as a passion or talent for mathematics.[iii]
The third dynamic reflects how his imaginative sense of self was connected to a powerful drive to transform things or a motivation to understand energies at a core level. This drive probably provided him with a tireless (possibly obsessive) source of energy in considering and envisioning possibilities.
The fourth dynamic is a reflection of Einstein’s strong work ethic, but also connects the motivation of this drive and effort to radical and revolutionary breakthroughs.
The fifth dynamic explicitly connects the planets representing breakthroughs, inspiration and expansion. The fact that these planets were connected by standard aspect and declination is significant because it strengthens their combined energies working through him. It should also be noted that two of these bodies (Neptune and Jupiter) were the dispositors for his Sun and Moon. Together, they represented a certain talent for envisioning and imagining possibilities. This talent was indistinguishable from his core personality so their operation was fairly involuntary.
The sixth dynamic is the most powerful because it highlights Jupiter and Neptune in connection via midpoint to many of the energies in the other dynamics. These connections strengthened and exacerbated their archetypal urges, elevating their priority. For example, the alignment of Mercury-Saturn (2nd dynamic) with the Jupiter-Neptune midpoint shows how Einstein combined his disciplined thought processes towards thinking through the confirmation and proofs of the possibilities and visions that his massive imagination could brainstorm. This “double” midpoint alone was a powerhouse. The rest of the midpoints in this dynamic echo some of Jupiter and Neptune’s influence, but also explicitly strengthened dynamics #5 and #1 as well.
Obviously, this entire picture is required to comprehensively evaluate the actualization of Einstein’s genius, but Neptune was essential because of how its functions manifested in his life echoing many of the above quotes as well as the priority Einstein himself intentionally placed on it through his now ubiquitous maxim on the importance of imagination.
But we can take this evaluation one step further by reviewing how these archetypes came into function during the year where he became famous.
Chart #3: Einstein’s “Miracle” Year
1905 was the year when Einstein burst into prominence with the publishing of four papers that helped to prove the existence of atoms and molecules, the quantum theory of light, the relativity of time and motion and the relationship between mass and energy. These milestones in scientific thought were breakthroughs that completely revolutionized our perspectives of the universe and existence while expanding explorations into countless new frontiers. Many people often refer to this year as a “miracle” in regards to how quickly and surprisingly Einstein emerged and changed everything.
Interestingly enough, the first of these papers was received by the scientific journal on March 18, 1905, just four days after his birthday. This means that the manifestations of this powerful year started immediately after the arrival of his solar return for 1905-1906.
Given what we know of the Neptunian dynamics within Einstein’s natal chart, we should expect to see an equivalent level of prominence within the solar return chart as well. The comparison of solar return (inner wheel) to natal (outer wheel) within the bi-wheel chart (chart #3) does exactly that. The interactions between these two charts created a configuration known as a kite. For this major configuration, the unique combination of harmonious (grand trine, sextiles) and challenging (opposition) aspects makes this one of the more productive combinations of energies. It should also be noted that the composition of this kite was inundated with influences from Uranus and Neptune. These dynamics were:
- Solar return (sr) Neptune at the kite apex, in conjunction with sr.MC (10th house cusp) and natal Ascendant.
- Grand trine between sr.Uranus, sr.Jupiter-Venus, n.Neptune-Chiron and n.Uranus.
The first dynamic shows how Einstein’s general identity suddenly received a tremendous amount of recognition and success as a result of his imagination and vision. His identity became synonymous with wildly creative conceptions of the structure of reality.
The second dynamic represented the groundbreaking, revolutionary nature these developments posed to our understanding of the base of all existence as well as his awareness and motivation to reveal them to the rest of the world.
While there were other major alignments and configurations within this bi-wheel, the compounding influence of both Uranus and Neptune was otherworldly. In regards to their archetypal natures, this chart provides a quite literal astrological picture of genius coming to fruition.
Despite Einstein’s specific status as a figurehead for genius creativity, his Neptunian dynamics are also more holistically symbolic of this new universe of relativity and uncertainty (ripple effects on the discovery of quantum mechanics) that he discovered and introduced. In other words, his astrological dynamics may confirm creativity and inspiration as an unmeasurable facet of genius, but they also reflect that his achievements were very much a reflection of all of his energies in general. This infers that genius is not just creativity and inspiration, but also a reflection of the unique energies we contain within each of us. What we manifest into reality through our creativity is through the lens and filter of our unique characteristics.[iv] In other words, it is a reflection of us. In this way, all of us contain the capacity for genius. We just need to recognize our energies and then work to develop them so that we have the opportunity to create something that is an extension of self.
What all of this means is that genius is the creative expression of a unique blend of archetypal essences. Its resonance and appreciation are mirrors by which “good” and “true” and “divine” are realized. Pure archetypal recognition is the instinctual reclamation of eternity. All of which are intangible and unmeasurable through the lens of a microscope…
…but not through the lens of an astrological chart.
[i] Kevin Burk, Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart, Llewellyn Publications, 2006, p.41.
[ii] Robert Hand, Horoscope Symbols, Whitford Press, 1981, p.78.
[iii] Einstein did have a reputation for being notoriously absent minded and disorganized in his personal life. This is a bit of a contradiction given the organization and discipline required of anyone seeking confirmation and achievement within the scientific and mathematical communities. I believe that Neptune’s reputation for causing confusion and imagination both applied equally, but he tended to “compartmentalize” how it manifested in his life.
[iv] Interestingly enough, Isaac Newton was a Capricorn Sun who received his inspiration (according to some sources) in the late summer of 1666 with the legendary falling apple. Despite various challenges to this story, the astrological transits and solar arcs from that time frame appears to support it. At that point, his Sun was receiving a conjunction from solar arc Mercury and transiting retrograde Saturn as well as a square from solar arc Saturn, his Saturn was receiving a transiting sextile from retrograde Neptune while his Mercury-Saturn square was receiving hard aspects from both transit and solar arc Venus. Saturn represents the concept of gravity, so transiting Neptune’s archetypal function blended with Saturn to manifest as the inspiration to formulate the laws (Saturn again) of gravity. Saturn also disposits Capricorn so his identity became synonymous with these discoveries.