Celebrity Case Study: Kurt Cobain

If you read my previous post about the astrological marker that Vaporwave has left in the music world, then this post likely comes as no surprise to you. Nonetheless, this post is overdue for me as I’ve been itching to talk about it for a while.

And there’s much I can say about it — about Kurt Cobain — without even touching the natal chart. We are talking about a person whose fame has seemingly transcended time, his memory still a fresh imprint now two generations removed; their most popular song broke one billion views on Youtube — a rarity shared only by 178 other videos since its inception in 2005. The acoustic guitar he played at the now iconic 1993 MTV Unplugged Show has also recently sold for $6 million, making it the most expensive one to ever sell at an auction.

On and on I can go. My own bias aside, there is a clear, measurable impact that Kurt continues to leave decades after he took his exit from Earth. After all, it’s hard not to be inspired by the electric genius that was his music, or by his rage against the bullshit treatment marginalized identities get. “Grunge” may be the genre, but “punk” was his spirit.

A wise man once said that Nirvana cut the popular Hair Metal genre of the 80’s down “like wheat before the sickle.” How else can you describe a song that revolutionized an entire decade of music and pop culture?

Of course, the astrology in this man’s natal chart has also been turned and spun a decent amount of times. I’ve read excellent breakdowns about just how influential the Grand Water Trine in his chart and his ability to make his art flow like water. I’ve also read about the drowning influence of Neptune (due to the fact that five planets were located in watery Pisces) and how it came to create a person whose compassion for the masses’ suffering, and his sensitivity to the constant limelight, made him feel as if he was constantly drowning.

All this is to say I agree with it. None of those feats would be possible without the dream-like dissolution Neptune brings. Or the fact that the concentration of planets in Pisces wouldn’t create anything less of a person who is constantly aching to merge with all of humanity.

I’m writing this, however, because I want to see more love letters to the potency that is his Grand Kite formation.

The natal chart of Kurt Cobain, born February 20th, 1967 with a recorded time of 7:38 P.M. The location is set for Aberdeen, WA. I outlined the pattern in his chart for clarity.

Let’s start with a quick refresher on what a Grand Trine is. If you are still newer to the language of astrology, a Grand Trine is a configuration of 3 (or more) planets that all reside in signs of the same element. In Kurt’s instance, the afromentioned pattern occurs because Neptune in Scorpio chats with Jupiter in Cancer, who then have a three-way conversation with the Mercury-Venus-Saturn configuration going on in Pisces.

“Come, doused in mud, soaked in bleach — ” I’m not even going to add much here. The resonate, watery themes are exactly what you can expect from a Grand Water Trine

As wonderful as this all sounds, no position, aspect, or pattern is without its shadow side. Trines are generally considered positive because the communication between planets simply flows without resistance, which is why the trine aspect requires that planets be in the same element — who else could understand the plight of an element’s fundamental nature better than itself? But the lack of tension present here means sometimes that it’s easy to ignore your hidden potential. Talent may come so naturally that working hard seems pointless. You can just do it.

The difference between a Grand Trine and a Grand Kite is the introduction of at least two sextiles and at an opposition; it’s fun little astrological pattern that shows a burgeoning karmic potential. Consider: before Nevermind, Nirvana was a band that could only afford one $600 session to record their album. The sudden shoot to the top of charts after years of grinding behind the scenes has Jupiter being in the 10th house written all over it, thanks to the expansive nature of the planet in its sign of domicile. And keep in mind that Neptune, Pisces’ modern planetary ruler, is off being the other sextile in this configuration in the chatty 3rd house. This only doubles down on the elusive nature of Kurt’s lyrics, considering the way he chose to express himself and communicate was rarely straightforward.

Now consider the crown of this pattern: the opposition. As Lynn Koiner writes, “the key to understanding the dilemma of the Kite is in understanding the influence of the opposition.” Oppositions in a natal chart indicate a conflict of energies that the individual is constantly battling; this configuration can make one teeter back and forth between two split impulses, their frustrations with integrating these contradictions projected both out and in. Even without considering the planetary bodies spearheading this Grand Kite, oppositions can be the source of great tension.

But consider them we should. Every astrologer who uses the modern system will tell you Pluto is no joke. This is the planet that causes the deepest disruptions in our psyche, both personal and collective. Power is everything to this planet; it is an all-consuming and all-or-nothing energy that leaves no room for moderation. When you pair it off with an eccentric, marches-to-its-own-beat kind energy like Uranus, you’re going to get a revolutionary who craves constant, enduring change.

There is more than just Neptune at play when we take a deeper dive into Nirvana’s music. For example, listen to this guitar solo (time: 2:29) on this cover Kurt did at his Live at Reading performance. The way he pulls off from the established backdrop of the bass and drums in a rancorous wail, then end it with frantic screaming — the sudden change (Uranus) in tempo comes in raw, unfiltered, and disruptive as hell (Pluto).

The Pluto-Uranus conjunction pinned so neatly to Kurt’s ascendant is reflective of the era he was born in. I don’t think we need to take much of a history lesson here; the 1960s stands out in our mind as one of the most iconic eras for the Civil Rights Movement, a time fraught with constant violence and the emergence of radical schools of thought a la Malcom X. There was also manifestation of things like second-wave feminism, the Free Love Movement, and a renown urge to explore radical, out-there drugs like LSD — all expressions of a potent conjunction that wanted to tell the system to fuck off in every way possible. Since planetary configurations like this come only every so often (in this case, anywhere from 111 – 146ish years), having one so powerful sit on the ascendant means his very being felt compelled to push boundaries constantly, and at any cost.

This is why that, despite how “quick” Nirvana’s success seemed, it was anything but. The Grand Kite pattern can supersede a Grand Trine when it can be realized because the opposition often compels the individual to put their potential out in the world. Before and during the band’s “official” inception in 1988, Kurt was filling notebooks with fake interviews that he came up with, constantly thinking about how he wanted to respond to potential questions he might receive about his music. He would also fill his journals with mock-ups for his music videos, and was known to be finicky about who he worked with to make sure the creative direction was honored. It’s on record that when the director for “Heart Shaped Box” declined to do any more music videos in fear that he couldn’t live up to Kurt’s expectations, Kurt said he would never make another music video again (and he didn’t — “You Know You’re Right” is a posthumous release.)

In finances too does this impulse show up: regarding the infamous 1992 dispute over Nevermind’s royalties, Nick Soulsby states that “Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl receive[d] a cut on only eleven Nirvana songs including 12.5% each on Smells Like Teen Spirit, [with] Kurt receiving the remaining 75% on those songs.” Put simply, the control of finances and the conscious manipulation of the band’s image is nothing short of the Plutonian impulse for power (the added layer of a Pluto-Saturn opposition going on his chart would have only stressed his rigid discipline and issues with control).

"I'm Kurt Cobain and I'm in a dress! Fuck You!" Lol
Journal entries like these reveal the amount of thought Kurt put into the artistry behind the band. It was easy to believe the “slacker” image he put on considering both what he said and how he dressed, but I can’t imagine a slacker ending up with being hailed as one of the greatest artists of all time on accident.

None of this is to discredit the power of Uranus here either. To sent trends, thinking outside of the box is crucial; how else to do it than through the flashy, lighting-bolt inspiration that Uranus gifts us? Such futuristic insight often means that the ingenuity isn’t understood until years — sometimes decades — after. However, the beneficial aspects the Pluto-Uranus conjunction was receiving from a happy Jupiter and a content Neptune I believe offset the lag time that sometimes comes with these heavy configurations. Not to mention that there was already momentum from the Seattle sound (“grunge”) pushing Kurt along. It just so happens that in activating this pattern, he was able to articulate most clearly the collective’s trauma by channeling his razor sharp awareness (Uranus) through his Piscean energy, creating a sound that is equal parts harrowed and melodic. Talk about seeing into the year 3000.

This configuration is not without its downsides. The constant tension that demands resolution in the opposition can be stressful. Being that Pluto (who also rules death) and Uranus (which can herald sudden endings) lead the way, we recall all the near-death instances Kurt had towards the later part of his career — he nearly overdosed during promotion of In Utero in July of 1993, and then again in March of 1994. There’s also the matter of his stomach issues, which he has been quoted saying were so bad that it made him consider suicide. Since Uranus is the modern co-ruler of Aquarius, which in turn rules the 6th house cusp, the erratic nature of this planet has caused many fits and starts with the stability of Kurt’s health. The fact that his Sun is tied up here means the chronic illness he experienced often weakened his vitality; the experience was very personal.

There was also the on-again, off-again nature of his heroin addiction. The Pluto-Uranus conjunction is on his ascendant, yes, but hiding just behind it, which puts it in the 12th house of subconscious matters. It seems he would have these Uranian flashes of insight now and again that made him aware of his self-destruction, but Pluto here can make it hard to access (and heal) up the traumas that compel one into addictive behaviors. It felt like a black hole in his life that he could not fix; being that the conjunction opposes Venus in the 7th, it could have been that, when he felt he was not receiving the assurance and love he so deeply craved, he would turn back to his old tricks in an effort to salve the wound (and this is only emphasized by the fact that the conjunction is also opposing his Chiron, which is the asteroid that symbolizes the ‘wound we cannot heal’). Such wounds are left to fester when they cannot be dredged up into the light.

Here’s an example of this illustrious configuration being triggered by transiting aspects that were expressed negatively. On October 22nd, 1992, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love made a series of threatening phone calls to journalist Victoria Clarke. Transiting Mars is conjunct both his natal Moon and Jupiter, indicating emotional unrest (Moon) that kept growing (Jupiter). The transiting Sun is also conjunct his Natal Mars in Scorpio. In domicile, Mars’ fiery temper flowed freely; because Kurt felt his home life was under attack, he went on the offensive, encouraged by the transiting Sun to take matters into his own hands (“If anything comes out that hurts my wife, I’ll f*cking hurt you.”)

I’m not going to re-hash the events of his death because I feel that is territory too well tread, and I want this to be more of a love letter than I do an eulogy. With that being said, I will briefly point out that Pluto, being in the lower degree of the conjunction, is firmly in control of the chart, to the point that I would argue it is 2nd only to Neptune. Think about it: we’ve discussed how Pluto oversees death and wealth. How is it that the Cobain estate was able to balloon from a modest $50 million at the time of his death to the $450 million empire it is today? We are still talking about the man whose guitar was the most expensive to ever be sold off at an auction, after all. It helps that his North Node is off in 8H Taurus (which if you recall from my previous article on Surviving an 8th House transit, is the house that pertains to, you guessed it, death and other’s resources). Taurus is not a fan of being in the 8th because it wants to hold on to what it possesses, but the karmic trigger to share his material abundance is already set. Not to mention it can overlook “letting go” in this instance because Taurus here is providing for those it loves. Think about it: he has been able to ensure that both his wife and his daughter, Frances, can live comfortably for the rest of their lives should they choose to never work again.

Here’s an example of astrology in action even long after the chart bearer has passed. Using progressions as my method of analysis, we can see that his progressed moon at the time of the guitar being sold (June 20th, 2020) is in conjunction with his Gemini MC. Clearly, he continues to evoke resonant emotions in the public eye. Then there is also the matter of his progressed Mercury passing over the Venus-Saturn conjunction. The auction is just one more way Cobain lives on; I have reason to believe that the new owner of his guitar has nothing but serious (Saturn) love (Venus) for the late frontman, which he spoke about quite candidly (Mercury) in the interviews I skimmed.

Revisiting what Lynn Koiner has wrote about the Grand Kite formation and how the opposition is the crux that makes the wheels turn, “the opposition requires much self-examination to utilize effectively, to resolve the conflict and harness its power. ” Compromise was necessary to utilize the natural talents inherit in his Grand Water Trine, but the compromise was that he had to trade his comfort for anonymity by accepting his status as a superstar. It may seem that he couldn’t do it (considering he’s no longer walks with us on this plane), but I would argue that he has fulfilled his destiny by living on decades after the fact. Not to say that we don’t want him here with us (I would always want that!); but rather, that we should do well to appreciate his transformative insights on what it is to hurt, to love, to rebel, and to live through the power of his music.

Pin oleh Inoue Chika di Nirvana | Kurt cobain, Tokoh sejarah, Musisi
If you don’t think “kill a politician and wear his clothes” is the most metal ass thing a Pluto-Uranus person could say, then I don’t know what to tell you.


31 Years Ago: Nirvana Release Their Debut Album
Cobain’s ‘Unplugged’ Guitar Sells for Record $6 Million
Ownership of Nirvana, Part One
Victoria Clarke, “My Adventures with Kurt and Courtney”
Suffering and Success: The Astrology of Kurt Cobain
Tom Petty on Nirvana’s Success

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