Jim Eshelman and Zip Dobyns
Answers to Virgo Challenge
A correspondent, irked at what she calls the “behaviorist approach to astrology” inherent in the most recent challenge, writes, “I take issue with you on just whether or not an astrologer can actually determine the sexual preference of an individual based on chart analysis.... As astrologers, we can see that there is a problem—we can possibly decipher ways of integrating the problem—but the individual owns the choice of rising above the chart, or reaching the potential shown in the chart, or of falling far below it.”
Sidestepping the implication that transsexuality, transvestism and homosexuality are “problems” (which I don’t believe to be the case at all), I strongly agree with this woman’s thoughts. This column has never even claimed that all of the challenges could be solved, since one of its first purposes is to help us find exactly how much we do know, how far our skill extends, and how reliable our diagnostic tools can be when applied to a blind test. “Challenge Corner” is a learning experience, not a competition; and we can often learn more by our failures than by our successes.
The Virgo challenge, by that standard, was a highly educational experience. We received several right answers, and several more wrong ones. It seems the biggest source of error was in disregarding the behavior profiles provided with the challenge. Sexuality by its nature is an area laden with strong, sometimes raging, feelings which apparently affected some of the guesses. This was another reason for presenting this particular challenge: As astrologers are called upon to respond to sexual issues with clients, it is essential that we thoroughly explore our own individual attitudes, taboos and personal histories on the matter, to give us a more rational perspective from which to counsel.
Every one of these four charts had a prominent Neptune. Two were conjunct the Ascendant from the 12th house, one from the 1st house, and the final had a Sun-Neptune conjunction. All indicate a strong identification with the Neptune principle, and a desire to assertively express it. All have the need to mold reality to their own wills. The two with Neptune in the 12th house (#1, 3) could be expected to keep this to more of an internal, fantasy level. Charts #2 and 4 could be expected to portray it more directly, to in effect act out their fantasies. With chart #2 we have the further considerations of Sun conjunct Neptune which, though much like Neptune rising, seems to give an exaggerated or distorted concept of selfhood which swings either toward delusions of grandeur or toward the opposite extreme, the belief that something is inherently wrong with oneself.
Of all the asteroids, Pallas was the most consistently prominent in these charts. Pallas is one of the two asteroids most associated with the feminist movement, perhaps signifying some essence of “femaleness” in itself. Unlike Juno, though, Pallas often responds vigorously to causes and issues. To the extent that it is Libran or Aquarian in nature, it may have a tendency to “play both sides,” even in gender issues. All of these themes neatly converge in the personality profiles of these four men who rejected society’s pre-structured concept of “maleness” as their total way of being.
Chart 1 has the ascending Neptune in the 12th, and would therefore most likely express that planet on a mental or fantasy level. Saturn is a major feature, being opposite the 10th house Sun and Mercury, while also aspecting several other planets. Add Sun semisquare Pluto, and we have a major control pattern, abetted by Saturn’s south node conjunct the Moon, and Pluto’s south node opposite Mars. This is undoubtedly the most controlling chart in the batch, and is that of the tardy ejaculator.
Chart 3 is the homosexual’s. Curiously, those who guessed this one correctly (including myself, originally) did it more often than not by process of elimination. So much for all the alleged “homosexuality equations” that have been floating around in recent years.
The only factor present here that I find characteristic of gay charts is the prominent Mars, something I’ve not seen mentioned elsewhere. Members of the male gay community can be characterized by a strong attraction to, even worship of, anything stereotypically male. It could almost be called a phallic fetish, though I don’t want to imply anything pathological by this. In chart 3, Mars is not only conjunct the MC, but closely square Neptune and conjunct a 9th house Jupiter, more than adequate indication of “phallic worship.”
Chart 2, with Uranus conjunct the Midheaven, belongs to the transsexual. With a packed 1st house there is an inducement to take action, especially since Mercury, Mars and the Sun are the planets. In TS charts I have seen, a Sun-Pluto aspect (such as the semisquare here) and strongly placed Uranus are the most common factors. It is a little difficult to differentiate between the TS chart and that of the transvestite (chart 4). However, the former nativity is much more prone to take strong action. Also, the drive toward change of a culminating Uranus is fed by a close square between Uranus’ north node and the Sun. No such pattern is present in chart 4.
What has seemed characteristic of transvestites’ horoscopes is a pronounced Pluto. This is purely observation, verified from several independent sources, and I don’t fully understand the theoretical basis. Probably the prime ingredient here is Pluto’s abject refusal to be placed into neat, easily-definable categories of someone else’s creation. All four of the charts presented have Sun-Pluto aspects, but chart 4 is clearly the most Plutonian of the lot. The Venus-Neptune square on the angles adds a sense of fashion. This man, when dressed as his female alter ego, can put most women to shame with his glamour!
Ken Irving of Tucson only attempted to identify the transsexual, since, he explained, that’s the only category of charts where he’d had any experience. He cited the Pluto prominence and the Venus-Neptune semisquare.
Charalee Sedgwick of Athens, Ga., correctly guessed the transsexual in an analysis that reveals much sensitivity to this personality type. She pointed to the Sun-Moon opposition square Vesta as emphasizing the tense separateness between the male and female principles. She interpreted the Sun-Neptune conjunction as “soul-level confusion.” With Uranus on the Midheaven square the Ascendant and a 7th house Jupiter, she writes, “He changes in the eyes of the world, and this change is going to greatly affect his dealings with his more intimate relations ...as well as his more spontaneous self.”
Carol Tebbs correctly identified half of the charts. She marked the tardy ejaculator as chart 1. After naming several factors in this chart which throw an emphasis on reputation and outer world expression, Carol added, “The fixed quality of the strongly aspected Ascendant as well as the Sun and 6th cusp along with the Capricorn sign of the Moon would add a reluctance to the outward emotional expression most likely to manifest in a physical sense.” She also correctly identified the transvestite by noting “the feminine nature of Virgo ascending with Neptune conjunct” as suggesting “concern with beauty.”
Anna-Kria King of Los Angeles disqualified herself on the transvestite, since the chart had originally come from her files. However, she correctly identified all three of the others. She pointed to the Taurus-Capricorn (“heavy-weighty”) luminaries in chart 1, and the Saturn aspects, as pointing to the highly controlling tardy ejaculator. The transsexual she picked from the culminating Uranus, as well as the setting Jupiter, which she interpreted as a strong need for acceptance, a dominant personality trait in those transsexuals she has known. The prominent Mars was her way of identifying the homosexual as chart 3, though she mostly used the process of elimination. Anna-Kria uses the sidereal zodiac, and she added that a scan of the rulers of the Moon-signs, sidereally, was quite revealing in itself, since the controlling tardy ejaculator had a Saturn-ruled (Capricorn) Moon and the transsexual had a Uranus-ruled (Aquarian) Moon.
For the record, let it be known that the champion challenger herself, Zip Dobyns, got two of the four correct, but didn’t get her reasons to me in time for inclusion. You see, folks, none of us think we know all the answers, but most of us will keep on plugging away, trying to get there.
Note from Zip
I picked the tardy ejaculator with most confidence, from the basic psychological insecurity in the chart, especially in the sexual area with the Moon’s south node (considered a “lesson”) and Moon in Capricorn in the 5th house. The Leo Ascendant and ruler Sun on the MC were also noted as need to control and danger of over-control.
I guessed wrong on the homosexual, picking #2 because I have often noted “male” planets or signs in the 5th and 7th houses, especially Mars or Jupiter or their signs, in homosexual charts, and because the Sun opposite Moon seemed appropriate for a separation from females and the Uranus-South Node on the MC for someone not bound by cultural conventions. Also, Jim mentioned that the homosexual was happy with his sex life, and #2 looked most appropriate for that. I’m afraid I am not prepared to believe that #3 is all that happy about his sex, with Vesta on the 5th cusp square Sun (natural ruler of the 5th) in the 8th, in a T-square to Pluto (natural ruler of the 8th) in the Sun sign. Since I take the three fixed signs, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio as all part of the attitudes towards sensuality including capacity to share it with others, I feel highly doubtful about the claimed adjustment of #3. The fact that Venus (natural ruler of Taurus) is octile and tri-octile the T-square just adds to the conflict in the fixed areas of life. Of course, one can deal with sexual-sensual-emotional conflict by never getting close or making a real commitment to another person. The Virgo Ascendant would further encourage this; so maybe temporary homosexual contacts are a relatively good way to handle the situation, to have sex without emotional closeness and without risking losing personal power to others. I do not wish to imply that homosexuals in general have more problems than heterosexuals do in this area of emotional vulnerability and commitment, but this particular chart suggests problems in this area.
When there are four charts, once you miss one, you have to miss another, and I was pretty unsure of the others anyway. I picked #4 as the transvestite because of the strong dramatic potential of all the Leo in the 11th house and Neptune rising in the first. Both #3 and #4 had strong Taurus for identification with femaleness, whether carried out surgically or just by wearing female clothing. Our culture does give women a break when it comes to the Taurus delight in pretty clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, etc. Chart #2 does suggest some danger of self-criticism and/or self-doubt (Mars in Virgo, Virgo in the 1st house, Saturn in Aries and tri-octile Mars) and some danger of over valuing other people (Jupiter and Pisces in the 7th house) and these facets of the nature are in potential conflict with the Mars in the first which insists on the right to be oneself, no matter what, and with the Uranus-south node-MC which often fights tradition or the establishment in some way. Such a combination would not be enough to consider a drastic action such as change of sex, but perhaps the scale was tipped by the water-earth emphasis. The fire signs are mostly in water houses; Mars and Sun, as fire planets are in an earth sign with Sun conjunct a water planet. Jupiter is retrograde and potentially projected in the 7th house. The Aries planet is a retrograde Saturn, moving into a water house and again alerting to possible projection in the 8th house. But I would still not have chosen this chart as the transsexual because of the 1st house Mars. In spite of all the earth and water, I would have expected a person with that placement of Mars to be reluctant to accept the less free, culturally weaker role of a woman. A prominent Mars is needed for major surgery, but I would only expect it in the first house in a woman changing to become a man. So, as Jim said, this is a learning experience.
The new challenge is a pair of twins; both male; one living a normal life and the other mysteriously dead. It is still not certain whether the death was from an accidental fall or whether he was murdered. He was last seen alive on August 6, 1973, in Denver, Colorado. The body was found on November 6, 1978 under brush and a rock in the mountains near Denver. His head has been bruised, and his thigh pierced. The parents were divorced and the father had remarried. The twin who died had been visiting his father and had been involved in friction with two step-sisters. The other twin was in Hawaii at the time.