The Secret Life of an Eccentric Genius

Tuesday July 16th 2013
Erik Satie painted by Suzanne Valadon c.1892,
the epitome of the 1890s aesthete

The composer Erik Satie, a well-known figure in Parisian bohemia at the turn of the 20th century, was noted for his elegance. He had seven identical beautifully-tailored grey suits which he wore in rotation. He carried an umbrella to keep off the sun during his long daily walk from the sleepy suburb of Arceuil to his favourite bars and cafes in the centre of Paris. And his collars were always box-fresh.

So his friends were amazed when they finally came to clear his flat after he died of cirrhosis of the liver, to find that he lived in squalor. His tiny, grubby flat was filled with old newspapers, unsent letters. and more than a hundred white collars. Two grand pianos were stacked one on the other. The top one was filled with unsent bills.  For the 27 years that he had lived there, no one was allowed to visit.

I listened to this description of Satie’s living quarters last week on the radio and thought to myself, that man must have Cancer in his chart. Cancer is the sign that builds itself a shell. And indeed, Satie’s chart perfectly describes this secret, eccentric space. His Moon, the planet of home and of what nurtures and sustains us, is in Cancer and conjuncting Uranus, the planet of weird. Both are in the 12th house of the bedroom.

His dapper outer appearance is there with Leo Rising, and his fame as a great pioneering musical genius is Neptune on the MC in Aries and conjuncting Mars. He did things with chords and staves that other composers had not dared to do before. His music has become so much part of the DNA of our culture that we hardly notice how extraordinary it is. (To listen to Trois Gymnopédies, click here.)

Satie’s piano music makes one so aware of the spaces between notes, which seem to bend and extend. His music manipulates and re-imagines time itself. This ability to warp time seems to be a function of Uranus, which is so powerfully placed in Satie’s chart, trining Father Time himself, Saturn, and precisely sextiling Mercury, the keeper of our minutes and our seconds.

Apparently, he only ever had one intimate relationship — with the painter Suzanne Valadon. It lasted 6 months but he stayed obsessed with her for the rest of his life. A cache of love letters written years after the affaire was found in his flat after he died. This may seem sad, but the you could look at it this way. He only needed the one affair, because his imagination was powerful enough to use it as nourishment for his fantasies for the rest of his life. Cancer is a sign that can live richly off memories, and sometimes just a few suffice.

Interesting to note though, that his North Node is in Libra – the sign of relationships. Jupiter on the descendant in Aquarius would suggest he had many friendships which were very important to him — and this does seem to have been the case.

Maybe the most well-known example of a person who created a special private space, and spent years living off his memories, is Satie’s contemporary, the novelist Marcel Proust. He is often rolled out as an example of extreme Cancer — and with good reason. He spent his later years in a cork-lined room, writing In Search of Lost Time, a vast novel recalling his own youth. He created a room that was like being inside his own mind.

And look, you can see it in his chart quite clearly. In some ways, it echoes Satie’s, but Proust stayed at home, the packed fourth house, and Satie kept his home secret.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Sabina says:

    Makes me wonder if the signature of hoarders involves Cancer: I knew a Cancer whose home was so packed with bags and boxes, one could scarcely negotiate passage through it, and there was no clear space on any horizontal surface.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The 12th house is bedroom? I have a Virgo moon in the 12th, so I like my bedroom to be cleaned and organized.

  3. Maija says:

    Thank you! 12th house moon here. But I also have outer planets in the fourth and Cancer rising. A lot to think about!

  4. Anonymous says:

    How extraordinary – Satie has all his planets above the horizon, apart from Saturn/North Node/Lilith in 4th house.

    Proust has all his planets below the horizon apart from Saturn in the 9th (with the exception of Chiron in 12th).

    Cancer Moon and Uranus here, except I have Uranus in my 11th house and the Moon in 12th, of course my bedroom is very cozy !


  5. Gilly says:

    “Cancer is a sign that can live richly off memories, and sometimes just a few suffice.”
    Thank you, that was beautiful.
    I also heard both of Alastair McGowan’s radio pieces about Satie: truly riveting and remarkable radio (both still available on the BBC iplayer) that I highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t heard them yet.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Vesta says:

    I have uranus and pluto conjunct in the 12th. I’m going to look up your article you mention above. I’m still learning about them and the 12th house, seems to be a lot.
    I’ve loved Erik Satie since I was tiny. You’re right, the music is everywhere. When I was small, there was an advert on TV I noticed. Neptune is conjunct my sun-moon midpoint, music is really important to me.
    I can relate to having a rich inner life and being nourished by memories. I have jupiter in cancer conjunct my MC. I’m usually single too! I’d like to change that though. I’m curious to see who I attract now I’ve changed so much.
    His MC/IC are conjunct my AC/DC, 3 degree orb. His saturn is conjunct my sun, few degrees out again. His venus is almost exactly opposite mine. His mars trines mine. Probably loads more aspects. I often find there’s good synastry with artists we love.