The Astrology Of Creativity
What’s the astrological signature of creativity? Easy, look at the 5th house, right?
Well, not exactly. Since I don’t have a strong 5th house in my own chart, I’ve always balked at looking exclusively there for creative concerns. This has led me to explore other areas of the chart for the vein of creativity. And it’s there.
First of all, we should distinguish between two distinct modes of creativity – the receptive and the expressive. And certainly there is a difference. We all know people who are tremendously receptive to creative ideas, but unable to act on them. Conversely, we all know very expressive people who are not necessarily drawing from a deep source. Creativity has both its outbreath and its inbreath phases. Thus, we need to look to separate areas of the birth chart in order to uncover these distinctly different modes of the larger creative process.
Creativity is the heart and soul of our birthright. We are not all meant to be great artists, but we all have a divine right to be creative in our own way. The birth chart contains a wealth of information on how to access personal creativity, but first let’s explore the creative process itself, not just in astrology, but in life as well. Then we’ll investigate the astrological indicators that can help unlock this wealth in our own charts.
Deepak Chopra’s list of seven characteristics of creative people
To help us expand our quest, let’s consider Deepak Chopra‘s list of seven characteristics of creative people, which he presented in his tape series, Magical Mind, Magical Body. After each of the indicators, consider which astrological associations come to mind, and you’ll see why you need to look far beyond the 5th house in search of creative resources.
- Creative people are able to enjoy silence and solitude. (Sounds more like the water houses than the 5th house, doesn’t it?)
- Creative people are able to connect with and enjoy nature. (What signs and houses come to mind?)
- Creative people are able to trust feelings more than intellect; i.e., during a dilemma they examine their feelings more than their logic. They also listen to their intuition, which rises in the silence between thoughts.
- Creative people are able to enjoy themselves within chaos and confusion.
- Creative people are childlike (not childish).
- Creative people are self-referral oriented. This means they have the ability to look within themselves for solutions to problems, and to remain unattached to the outcomes.
- Creative people are not rigidly attached to their point of view; thus, they have dropped their defensiveness.
When we expand beyond our typical view of creativity as limited to art, we see a myriad of other paths for creative expression. It’s true that artistic expressions, such as painting, writing, and performing, are the most revered and accepted creative outlets, but there are many other forms. Body-workers, healers, and energy workers – are they not expressing themselves creatively?
Then there’s the creativity of lifestyle. I know people who say they don’t have a creative bone in their body, yet when I watch the way they live, I see creativity in action. The canvas they paint upon is life itself. Some pour their creative heart and soul into raising children. Others experience this creative vitality through romantic liaisons, or express it through their careers. Are these forms of creativity? Of course they are, and yet people following these paths might not think of themselves as creative. They may not be painting a picture or singing a song, but they’re certainly creative with their life energies. They’re not just accepting things in a practical, rule-oriented way and marching mindlessly through life. Instead, they’ve wandered away from the tried and true, allowing themselves to take the risks and climb out onto that limb of creative expression.
From this discussion, then, the validity of exploring all of the signs and houses for their creative potential becomes obvious. However, since that is beyond the scope of this article, we’ll have to confine ourselves to two areas of the chart – the 12th house and its ruler, describing the qualities of creativity’s receptive mode, and the 5th house and its ruler, describing the qualities of its expressive mode. However, the formulas presented here can be applied to any of the elements or houses as you explore your chart for its creative potential.
The Receptive Mode and the 12th house
When a client asks how to tap into his or her creativity, most astrologers immediately take a look at the 5th house in the chart, but, as mentioned above, this house reveals the path to creative expression. The client wants to know how to make the initial contact with this creativity. That’s why another route is necessary via the water path to receptivity. Picture the 12th house as a deep well connecting our personal consciousness with the collective unconscious. From this immense pool, we can either tap into inspirational realms and a sense of the deeper meaning of life, or we can get lost in a sea of fear, chaos, and confusion.
The water realm is filled with feelings, fears, and images – the non-logical areas of consciousness. This realm is important because intuition is born out of this non-logical experience, but it takes a great deal of faith to hang out here. There has been almost no cultural support for this feeling-oriented aspect of our nature. It also takes faith to overcome the inevitable fear that arises when we attempt to let go of control in order to fully experience this realm. Yet it is precisely this realm that is a gold mine of creative receptivity.
Blocks with the 12th house
The classic problems associated with the 12th house are the very blocks that must be addressed in order to be more receptive: confusion, laziness, distortion, lack of clarity, doubt, addiction, alienation, and chief among them all, fear.
We also receive creative energy through Neptune, but remember that Neptune exists beyond Saturn, beyond logic and reason. How does the ego respond when it finds itself out beyond the orbit of Saturn? Panic. The ego is not supported by any of the activities of the outer planets, and, of course, it feels threatened – it is! We have to be able to accommodate this fear that the ego naturally experiences. So let’s not be too hard on the ego; it’s the voice that’s going to help us get home tonight.
Fear shrouds our creative domain if it prohibits us from hanging out in altered states of consciousness. If we can’t go into the darker realms of consciousness, insisting on an incessantly happy approach to life, we won’t gain access to the deeper regions of the 12th house, Neptune, and Pisces. We might receive periodic insights, but we won’t be able to sustain this level of consciousness. It’s important to see fear for what it is – not as a warning to go no further, but as a message from the ego that we have gone beyond its comfort zone and need to develop some other type of control.
Since Neptune connects us to the heart of the universal mind, the realm where creativity is born, spiritual practices and the development of faith are instrumental to this connection and to the creative process. Spiritual practices of any kind align us with this Neptunian level of consciousness in a healthy and inspiring way. If we are regular in our practice, we’ll notice an increasing ability to surrender to forces beyond our control and to face our fears.
The path to developing one’s faith is a highly individualistic affair and may be especially challenging for those who do not find traditional religions satisfying. The fact remains that faith is something we experience or don’t experience. We can’t fake it and we can’t fool ourselves. Unfortunately, without faith, fear wreaks havoc on consciousness. An important aspect of a healthy 12th house is the personal search and deep questioning that leads to faith. And the reward of faith is the overcoming of paralyzing fear.
These are the generic blocks we all have to face, no matter what combination of astrology we have. How do you hang out with your own insecurity and still take the necessary risks that creativity demands? Can you enter the mystery of your own “unknowing” and “know” your way back? Can you become elastic in consciousness? If you insist on only being happy, you won’t get there, but allow yourself to get just a little bit crazy and you’ll discover the edge of creativity.
- The sign on the 12th-house cusp represents your approach to the spiritual, creative reservoir where individual consciousness merges with collective consciousness. This sign describes your natural attitude toward this deepest kind of receptivity. This is the mystical receptivity that is open to the intuitions, omens, and intimations of the spiritual and creative realms.
- Look to where the ruling planet of your 12th house is, by house and by sign, to provide an area of activities that will create non-logical experiences, forcing you to resolve them creatively. We call this the “ruler,” but it could more accurately be called the “server,” since the ruling planet is serving the needs of the house it rules. It is creating experiences in the house in which it is located that must ultimately be worked out in the house it rules.
- Aspects to the ruling planet of the 12th house are going to tie other planets and houses into your creative web. These aspects can facilitate or interfere with the creative process. Interfering aspects are the squares, quincunxes, and oppositions; they tend to create issues that cause you to go into a reactionary state of mind, which makes it hard to receive intuition. Facilitating aspects are the conjunctions, sextiles, quintiles, and trines: these are going to provide experiences that readily facilitate intuitive awareness because there is a sense of harmony that gets you out of reactionary mode and allows receptivity.
- Look to Neptune in your chart – by sign, house, and aspect – to discover how your imagination most naturally functions. This is where you may have a strong urge for transcendent experience. At best, this links all of us to the spiritual and creative realms through inspiration. We all have Neptune, and we all have fairly active imaginations – the fuel for the creative process. Of course, Neptune is also the blind spot, creating as many problems as opportunities, through escapism, drugs, alcohol, and illusions, if it is not harnessed and directed toward inspirational activities.
- Look to the house in your chart where the sign Pisces resides. This is an area where you must proceed with faith in a greater wisdom if you want to understand the experiences you encounter here. Logic will not work.
- Planets in the 12th house and the houses they rule add to the creative puzzle. Normal methods of expression just don’t work with planets here. Planets in this house don’t seem to be connected to our everyday lives, and we need to approach them through meditation, prayer, dreamwork, and other inner-directed activities. These planets cause disruptions in our lives, forcing us to contemplate the deeper issues at work.
Ranking the elements in terms of their natural affinity with the 12th house makes water the most receptive, followed by earth and air, with fire having the least affinity. If you have a water sign on the cusp of the 12th, you practically fall into this 12th-house approach to life. Earth signs are also receptive, although they can have difficulty surrendering to information beyond the logical and tend to be too practical for their own good. Air signs are very open to mental inspiration, but find it hard to allow for the deeper emotional qualities that arise in the 12th house. Fire signs have a propensity for idealistic and positive action, and, therefore, tend to outrun the 12th-house need for isolation and alone time.
If you have fire or air signs on your 12th-house cusp, don’t despair, but do compensate for your natural tendencies toward action, action, and more action. You will have to tame this tendency if you want to be receptive to the inner voice of the 12th house. You can also seek out other sources of water in your chart – water houses and planets in water signs – to see where you are more naturally receptive.
Expressive Mode and the 5th house
The expressive mode is most readily activated by the fire principle, as it is the very nature of fire to express itself. Whatever fire touches, it activates. It is the animating spark that expresses itself into the world in a myriad of different ways and forms. Fire is also the element through which we express our ego identities – the ego’s playground, if you will. We know from our spiritual work that we are not our egos, but we all have egos, and it takes a strong ego to give ourselves permission to express ourselves in an uninhibited way.
The 5th house follows the 4th house, and, ideally, our creativity springs from this wholely personal and deeply unconscious source of being. The more we become conscious of and accept this 4th-house self, the greater depth we can project into our 5th-house expression. We all need to give birth to something, and the 5th-house describes our most natural approach to the expression of our unique creativity.
This is the house of fun, play, pleasure, children, romance, and creativity. This is not a bad homework assignment. Be sure not to minimize or trivialize the fun and play needed to activate the expressive mode. To approach the 5th house, we have to lighten up. We have to court the muse with humor and amour.
When we follow this path of living from the heart, projecting our joy in all that we do, it awakens our personal magnetism. Our lights come on, and people are drawn to us and want to spend time with us. All of this attention can be a distraction, and, in some cases, can be downright destructive. When our magnetic energy is running strong, we attract all types of situations – some favorable, some not so favorable. It’s important to develop the discrimination to distinguish what is in our best interests and what is not, or it’s easy to be led astray.
Blocks of the 5th house
One of the principle blocks of the 5th house is excessive inhibition. If inhibitions are present, the dynamic energy is stifled and cannot fully radiate the creative joy that is possible with an activated 5th house. Inhibitions result when we are overly attached to outcomes. If your creative expression is inhibited, keep on pushing. Decondition yourself to the feedback of others as best you can. And don’t worry about results – see them as secondary issues, not your primary concern.
Conversely, blocks to creative expression can arise if no inhibitions are present. The 5th-house approach can easily lead to a hedonistic search for pleasure and a tendency to over-indulge in those pleasures. How many artists have lost their edge to drugs and alcohol? The ideal here is balance: enough fun and play to get the energy moving, and enough self-control to avoid getting lost in the process.
Love and romance are also 5th-house activities, and it’s interesting to explore the Hindu model of the chakras in this regard. There is thought to be a secret connection between the second chakra of sexuality and the fifth chakra of creativity. This connection is supported in astrology in that both are related to the 5th house. Romantic and sexual energy can be either a stimulus or a block to the creative flow. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, one of our modern myth-makers, discusses sexual dysfunction in this way: “It’s unfortunate that for so many people, any time they feel arousal, the only thing they turn to is the sexual side of their character.”¦ She points to poor parenting and laments that these souls were never taught that passion experienced through creativity is a release of the same energy as sexual passion.
- The sign on the 5th-house cusp describes your most natural approach to creative expression. What is the element of the sign there? This will give you clues as to what types of activities will engage your creativity.
- Look to the ruling planet of your 5th house, by house and sign, to be a release point of the creative energy stored in the 5th. The ruling planet will generate experiences in its house and sign that will function as grist for the creative mill back in the 5th house. It will also provide information about where and how you can put your creativity on the line and offer it to the world.
- Aspects to the ruling planet of the 5th house are going to tie other planets and houses into your web of creative expression. Do these aspects facilitate or interfere? What planets and themes are drawn into your field of expression by these aspects?
- The Sun’s sign and house are other indicators in the chart that will provide a wealth of opportunities for self-expression. Ideally, this is where the ego will shine its brightest and be its most expressive. Aspects from other planets will either support or hinder this.
- Look to the house in your chart where the sign Leo resides. This is an area you need to approach with pride and dramatic personal expression. You don’t want to be timid here. Pour the full force of your personality into this house, kick up your heels, and have some fun!
- Planets in the 5th house need to be expressed in a highly personal manner. One has to be bold, even daring, to activate these planets. Obviously, they will facilitate expression – they require it. The houses these planets rule and the aspects they make to other planets will give more details regarding the nature of your creative expression.
Ranking the elements in terms of their natural affinity with the 5th house reveals fire to be the most compatible, followed by air and earth, with water having the least affinity. If you have a fire sign on the 5th-house cusp, it is natural for you to generate the enthusiasm necessary to animate expression. Air signs also have an easy time of projecting the mind into creative expression. Earth signs have a strong desire for tangible results, and they stick with a creative project to completion. Sometimes this leads to the “frustrated artist syndrome” – highly creative, yet believing it impractical to pursue artistic expression. Water signs on the 5th cusp can be very creative, but may have a difficult time adequately projecting the ego. If you have water or earth signs on your 5th-house cusp, it is particularly important to access the fire in your chart – fire houses and fire planets – to find the areas where you are more naturally expressive.
Bob Dylan’s Chart (see below for chart data)
Using the above formulas, let’s explore Bob Dylan’s chart to see where he draws his inspiration from and how he is most likely to express it.
First we look to his 12th house to see how he does the receptive mode. Scorpio is on the cusp. A water sign on the 12th-house cusp has a much easier time aligning with the receptivity this house requires. Scorpio loves the depths, so we know Dylan can plunge into the deeper regions of his consciousness with great abandon. Scorpio is not afraid to look at the darker side of life, which would naturally facilitate the deep introspection for which this brooding bard is known.
The ruling planet of the 12th is Pluto, which is in Leo in the 8th house. This carries a compelling urge to go to the depths of issues and, again, to face the shadow side of life. His lyrics often expose the corruption going on in the world, just as we would expect with the volcanic action of Pluto bringing to the surface what wasn’t seen before. Leo adds the creative spunk. It puts the ego behind the need to express these deep perspectives. The aspects to Pluto are exclusively harmonious, with sextiles to the Sun and Jupiter and quintiles to the Moon and Saturn. This definitely facilitates the creative expression of the incredible depth of his chart.
Pisces is intercepted in the 3rd house, which gives us an opportunity to discuss intercepted signs. The sign still functions in the house it is in, but since it is not on the cusp of any house, it doesn’t connect as easily with the outer world. It is as if this quality is somehow invisible to the outer world. This interception influences Dylan’s everyday mind, but, according to the sign on the cusp of the 3rd, the world interacts with Aquarius. Aquarius is the awakener, and can deliver important messages tailored to help people wake up. In other words, he doesn’t mind stirring the pot. Pisces in the 3rd is the poetic mind that thinks in images, feelings, and sometimes through music. As the 3rd house is associated with writing, again we see this connection of the receptive and expressive, allowing for the endless fountain of creative expression that has come from this man.
Neptune is in the 9th house, intercepted in Virgo. Politics, religion, and philosophy have always been key sources of inspiration for his music. Always the dreamer, the visionary, seeking the ideal, his music has certainly awakened these issues in us. Neptune’s trines to Taurus planets in the 5th house have led to tangible, successful expression, but its square to Mercury in Gemini has most likely thrown him into many battles with confusion. And if you have ever seen one of his interviews, you know this aspect interferes with normal communication!
As we look to Dylan’s expressive mode, we first see Venus-ruled Taurus on the 5th-house cusp. This tells us that he has a deep appreciation for the arts and seeks tangible results from his efforts. There is a productive quality to this earth sign on the 5th that drives him to bring his creative inspirations into manifest form.
Venus in Gemini in the 6th house, with a wide-orb conjunction to the Sun, shows that he seeks to express his creativity within his daily routines, and needs time for his creative outlets everyday. Gemini gives him the ability to be clever in his use of language, and we can recognize this as his song-writing ability. Venus conjunct the Sun implies that artistic expression is directly connected to his sense of self.
The Sun in Gemini reiterates the identity of the writer. The Sun conjunct Jupiter expands this drive, because he is constantly aware of opportunities. This conjunction also substantiates and fortifies the ego, giving him added courage to offer his talents to the world. Mars square Sun is an agitation aspect, leading to frustration with petty annoyances and petty tyrants. You can hear some of this anger and resentment in his lyrics. However, the square motivates activity, so even though it stems from a negative source (anger and frustration), it still facilitates expression, albeit often with an edge.
To complete the web of his expressive energies, we see that he has Saturn, the Moon, and Uranus conjunct in Taurus in the 5th house. The pressure on his Moon from Saturn on the one side and Uranus on the other demands that he manifest his creative expression in a way that absolutely demonstrates his individuality in a non-compromising manner. The harmony aspects from both Neptune and Pluto assure that he will be fueled by constant creative inspiration and an equally strong drive to manifest this in a tangible form.
We don’t all have Bob Dylan’s chart, but we all have access to creativity in our lives. As I was contemplating the conclusion of this article, the following phrase came through a song on the radio – “This is the way God made me.” It struck me that this is what the chart represents, what God, or the Source of all life, has made us, each chart being appropriate for the person living that life. Life always works best when we align with the natural energies of the birth chart, and so it is with creativity. We each have our unique form and style as revealed through the chart. So drop the role models of what works for others and align with your own natural expression as revealed by your birth chart.
Data for Bob Dylan’s chart from American Book of Charts, 1976 by Lois Rodden: May 24, 1941; 9:05 PM CST; Duluth, MN 46N47 92W06
1. Deepak Chopra, Magical Mind, Magical Body, Nightengale Conant, audio series.
2. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “Wild Women Archetypes: Myths and Stories about the Instinctual Nature of Women,” Jungian Storyteller Series, Sounds True Audio Series.
About the Author
David Pond has been a practicing professional astrologer for over 35 years and has continually seen its tremendous value for helping people find their way in life. He has maintained a life long interest in metaphysical topics and went on to get a Master of Science Degree in “Experimental Metaphysics” from Central Wahington University in their Individualized Studies program. He has written many books on metaphysical topics and you can find them in his Web Store.