7th February 2012 marks the bicentenary of British author Charles Dickens, who was born on 7.2.1812 at 19.50 in Portsmouth, UK. Various celebratory events will take place throughout the year to mark his bicentennial anniversary so it's appropriate to look at the chart of the man who was a journalist, author and social reformer. His writing is known throughout the world, and even if you've never read a Dickens novel it's more than likely you'll know of at least two of his works - for example A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist.
Dickens chart shows an adaptable, fluid inner motivation, with triangular and linear aspect patterns. The aspect structure is focussed, via the pinning planets, on the lower hemisphere of the chart, the area of the collective. This is the field of life that Dickens was inspired by and involved in, as a writer and social reformer. His works were a commentary on the Victorian times he was living in, and he criticised the social division between those who had more than they needed and those who were living in poverty. Were Dickens to revisit Britain now, would he find that much has changed?
The chart has three Learning triangles, all with red/green/blue aspects which offer a wide range of learning potential. Moon/Neptune, right on the IC of the chart, connects into two of the three triangles, and suggests the ability to empathise on a collective level with his fellow humans.
Dickens was first a freelance journalist, becoming a parliamentary commentator in 1833. He wrote serialised sketches in periodicals which were published under the title Sketches by Boz in 1836. The year 1836 was a significant one for Dickens. He married Caroline, daughter of George Hogarth, editor of the Evening Chronicle, and publisher of Sketches by Boz, and his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, was published. In this same year he also became editor of another periodical. How does this flurry of literary activity and recognition show up in his chart?
For a start, Dickens' Age Point was conjunct Mercury in 1836, when his career as a writer took off with the publication of The Pickwick Papers. In addition to this, Mercury, the planet associated with the drive to communicate - in Dickens through his writing - is very strongly placed in his chart. Just past the 5th cusp, it's in an excellent position to be heard, recognised and to have its say in the area of life associated with creativity, recreation and social awareness. In Victorian times, reading novels, periodicals and serialised stories (the "penny dreadfuls") was something of a leisure activity.
Mercury is part of the linear zig-zagging aspect configuration in the chart - this planet connects by sextile to Uranus (inventive, creative, forward-looking), which squares Dickens' Sun (use of the will, mind, creative thought/ideas), itself part of the small Learning triangle pinned by strongly placed Venus/Pluto and Moon/Neptune. Quite a powerful combination. And if this were not enough, Uranus is quincunx Jupiter, this aspect reaching right to the top of the chart with Jupiter looking like a hand held up high for all to see. Here in this configuration, and without too much stretching of the imagination, it's possible to see Dickens' skill as a writer about social inequality alongside with his work as a campaigner against the slave trade, which took him to America and Canada.
He was also a philanthropist, raising funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital and setting up a home for "fallen" women, backed by money from Angela Coutts, heiress of the Coutts banking fortune. Dickens, perhaps with some astrological knowledge, named this house "Urania Cottage". The women who lived there learned how to read and write and were rehabilitated into society. But they had to emigrate, making a fresh start in life when they graduated from the programme at Urania House.
Although Dickens may have named the house Urania after the muse for astronomy rather than astrology, it's a very appropriate name for a place where lives were changed and turned around, and a graphic expression and manifestation of Mercury, Uranus and Jupiter in Dickens' chart.