Christmas babies are always special; a true gift from ancient times. Shane MacGowan’s birth time is unknown, but when I saw he had Mercury retrograde conjunct the Sun on that day I thought, why not take the precise conjunction, as he is for me, an alchemical brother. On his death recently, the president of Ireland, Michael Higgins, sainted him by saying he was ‘one of Music’s greatest lyricists’.
Mercury’s current retrograde centering on zero Capricorn mirrors the journey Shane was born into. He knew all about the mighty Archer stars of Sagittarius; their blind spots, black holes, missed marks and sins. He also knew how to use them to take aim and fire.
Shane MacGowan’s Keynote Astrology set to 25DEC57, Tunbridge Wells. UK, 20:23
The Sun-Mercury retrograde conjunction is trine to Pluto in early Virgo, all 3 making sextile to Neptune in Scorpio with the North Node, the only water in this chart.
Mercury-Sun’s Sabian @4CAP is ‘a group of people outfitting a large canoe at the start of a journey by water’. Neptune’s Sabian symbol @5CAP is ‘a massive rocky shore resisting the pounding of the sea’, where the individual who came to the great city soon finds his life set by the rhythm of city living which obliterates vaster inner life processes and the moving tides of evolution.’ (Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala)
The Venus-Chiron conjunction in Aquarius opposes Uranus at the mark of Neptune’s North Node / point of redemption, which squares the nodes indicating that Shane’s genius/Uranus in Leo, is the vocation of this chart, which is then ruled by the alchemical wedding of Sun and Mercury in Capricorn.
I would like to focus on Shane’s Venus-Chiron followed by Mercury-Chiron in the progressed chart. Chiron is anti-hero, wounded-healer, teacher and musician in a chart with heliacal rising star/ daimon star Antares, heart of Scorpio’s deepest truth and heliacal setting star/ guardian angel star El Nath; a weapon / point of attack at the tip of the Sky Bull’s horn.
Morning star Mars in superman square to Pluto in precision Virgo, is in Exploration Phase; seeking many expressions of success, failure and notoriety and challenging all cultural rules and taboos (Adam Gainsburg). Shane’s Exploration Mars is dim and far from Earth and is thus compelled to demonstrate Himself as His brightness grows. Mars entered exaltation in Capricorn in 1997 when Shane was 40 allowing Saturn to take over where the excesses of Jupiter had left off.
Venus in Wholeness Phase wants to actualise fullest, brightest, highest and furthest potential. Yet Chiron in Aquarius is where betrayal by the group is feared and Venus-Chiron is always ‘am I good enough?’ Acknowledging and believing in one’s individuality and difference from others helps to heal this ‘wound’ so that one is freed to share the unique gifts, talents and creativity found within. Shane razor-smart with Chiron connecting head, heart and soul, freed his Irishman-self for the poetry only he could give, a heart-on-the-sleeve light for the world.
Shane’s Venus-conjunct-Chiron by progression at 5 years old, was perhaps when the family realised they would have to leave Tipperary in Ireland and return to England for work. From 11-17 years old, Venus was stuck @16AQUARIUS as Mercury stationed direct @25SAG15’. Shane won a Daily Mirror literary contest and was awarded a scholarship for an elite Westminster school, from which he got expelled, after progressed Venus stationed retrograde and again was conjunct Chiron. This resulted in mental breakdown and a feeling of deep alienation in the racist, classist climate of then London. There were signs at the time saying, ‘no blacks, no irish, no dogs’ remember.
Being diaspora can make your blood thicker when soul is loud. It was so for him. When he was 19/20 he wrote for a punk fanzine as Shane O’Hooligan and played with his first band, the Nipple Erectors / The Nips. As progressed Mercury returned to its birth place for the Rubedo part of Mercury’s alchemy (when the child of the creative union is born), Shane co-founded The Pogues in 1982, a Celtic punk band with rock and folk threaded through. Shane did vocals, guitar, piano and banjo and sang about Irish history, literature, nationalism and the diaspora. He collaborated with Sinead O’Connor, Joe Strummer and Nick Cave amongst many others. He was kicked out in 1991 for being a mess and played as Shane MacGowan and The Popes. The Pogues took him back in 2001 until they dissolved in 2014.
Venus, retrograde since age 16, only stationed by progression in 2013 for 56-year-old Shane @zero Aquarius41’, the same year his progressed Sun completed 30 years of Aquarius and entered Pisces. Mercury had met Chiron the year before @18Aquarius20’ with a new lunar phase beginning in October 2012 @29AQUARIUS29’ describing so brilliantly this man’s body of knowledge and body of work in a shamanic Mercury-Chiron voice. As his friend Will Stenderby wrote, ‘he was a druidic Christ who rode the winds, who howled with the wolves in the wildwood, who spoke with the spirits by secret brooks – and also a Christ of the hearth, the fire, the mug of ale shared between friends. He was a holy trickster, a magician, a storyteller and God.”
Venus during retrograde dies on earth to be reborn in the heavens; an ancient mathmap of infinity or a renewal of Heart’s capacity for cultivating love. And more, Venus-Chiron is the peacemaker who seeks out beauty in places of darkness like the marginalised, dispossessed, disenfranchised, discarded and unseen. Venus-Chiron has to learn that not all things can get fixed as Venus in Wholeness never stops praying for a miracle. Caught in collective crosshairs and crossfires, Shane’s Venus, always in Aquarius, found a unique way to confront systems of inherited indifference and the colonized mind.
What I love most about our Shane is how he acknowledges the irish-encodings and their longing for home. I know we don’t get to go home and there will always be something missing and lost. No longer having the language and gods of your ancestors is something many of us live with, disconnected long ago, but not without heaps of unheard heartstrings. I’ve come to realise my wildness is my irish and inner punk; not something to be ashamed of. It’s the well of my waters. Being ashamed of such mindscapes happens when you internalise your oppressor, easily done in psychologically brutal societies like mine.
Because he is a Christmas babe, I fear ‘Fairytale of New York’ will never not be played at Christmas. From The Pogues 1988 album ‘If I should fall from Grace with God’, the boyos of the NYPD choir are singing Galway Bay, as are Shane MacGowan’s scumbags, maggots, cheap lousy faggots, skankers, punks, ravers, drifters, drinkers, tinkers, thinkers, reckless, shameless, nameless, feckless, dancers, dreamers, chancers, squatters, blotters, sinners, saints, fighters and righters of wrongs and more.
Thanks be for Christmass and the life of Shane MacGowan 25Dec57 – 30Nov23