I’m scanning birthdays again, looking for juicy karmic stories. It’s McKellen’s birthday tomorrow and I’ve always liked his work, so here we go.
May 25 1939, 9:30 PM, Burnley, England. (rated A)
When it comes to karma, evolutionary astrologers look at the nodes of the Moon and Pluto first. McKellen has his South Node (SN) in Taurus in the 5th house, conjunct Venus and Pallas Athene. Whatever is conjunct the SN saturates our many lives. Venus is of course creativity and sensuality, and Pallas Athene also has much to do with creativity. Yet when Pallas goes wrong it is usually that we are trying to distance ourselves from a natural part of ourselves, fearing that we will not be able to do what we want if we reveal who we really are (See my book Living Myth for an exploration of this side of Pallas Athene).
Squaring the nodal axis are Pluto in the last degree of Cancer in the 8th house and Mars in the first degree of Aquarius and Lilith in late Capricorn in the 2nd house.
The conjunctions and squares to the nodes on one level speak to a need of McKellen’s soul to confront his inner truth and be committed to bring it out. Mars-Pluto opposing each other in the 8th and 2nd will have to do with the perception or question that he can be free to express his sexuality openly, as one example. Venus-Pallas conjunct the SN says that something about Venus in Taurus/5th expression needs in his various lives to be shelved in order to be successful in his home environment and early life.
You cannot see sexual orientation in a birth chart, no matter what you might have heard. But we can see markers of a soul’s need to explore expressing a unique value system, need to explore alternative or non-mainstream expressions of sexuality, and feelings of being different physically and sexually. Perhaps more importantly we can see markers of when the soul seeks to learn about the true nature of love and how that might fall outside the norm of the culture in which one lives.
McKellen came out of the closet officially in 1988, though he had told others in his life prior to this. In some of his soul’s lives the story is that it’s not okay to talk about who he really is. In those lives he suspects (and is probably right) that he will be met with persecution and/or violence, or a lack of acceptance at minimum. For him to come out of the closet indicates growth in his soul’s journey.
His Pluto in the 8th in Cancer says that his soul is learning to be empowered by revealing himself within intimate relationships. The 8th house is not always about sex, for the record. It relates to parts of life in which we show our true selves to others. Our deepest selves. It is where we take our deepest truth and share it with another. Mars opposing Pluto says that karmically (in his soul’s other lives), there is conflict with Mars sources about his need to reveal who he really is. Trust is a major issue for those with Pluto in the 8th yet with Mars opposing it there is an added layer perhaps of receiving abuse in some lives for revealing who he really is.
For this Plutonian journey, confiding in his friends and colleagues (and his stepmother long before 1988, too) would be very healing. Yet also to do it publicly goes a step further. No one need announce such a thing publicly if he doesn’t want to, yet I think it was healing for him. By doing so McKellen left behind some of the less desirable imprinting from his SN with Venus-Pallas Athene conjunct it in the 5th house, namely that something about sexuality needs to be hidden to remain acceptable. He made a public announcement of his recognition of his wholeness and then became committed to LGBT activism. With this nodal structure, that is a powerful act of self-love that allowed him also to get in touch with his North Node, in Scorpio in the 11th house. It asks him to stretch into new territory by being honest and direct (Scorpio) about what kind of world he wants to live in and finding the right kinds of others to create that world with (11th house).
If this style of analysis speaks to you, check out my brand new book The Soul’s Journey I: Astrology, Reincarnation, and Karma with a Medium and Channel. With a foreword by Steven Forrest, it takes evolutionary astrology to the next level and speaks the symbolic language of the stars in ways that directly supports the soul’s journey through its many lives.
Tom Jacobs is an evolutionary astrologer, medium, channel, and author. His books include Living Myth: Exploring Archetypal Journeys, Seeing Through Spiritual Eyes: A Memoir of Intuitive Awakening, and The Soul’s Journey I. All are available here, and you can read more about his work and book a consultation at his site.