Thursday February 8th 2018
Self-portrait as Tehuana

Self-portrait as Tehuana

(Victor Oliver, editor of the Astrological Journal, has very kindly asked me to write a column loosely about “fashion”. I’ll be publishing them here too.)

A squiggle of monobrow, two beady black eyes — it’s a shorthand for Frida Kahlo, the long-dead Mexican artist that just about everyone can recognise instantly.

If the mood took you, you could kit out your house with Frida Kahlo magnets, coasters, posters, mirrors, matchboxes, tea-trays, lampshades, curtains, and maybe even an old-fashioned Frida phone. You could have that inimical gaze staring at you from every corner and surface of your home. If you really wanted to, you could wear a different Kahlo T-shirt every day for the next six months, and maybe make yourself a lovely pair of knickerbockers from some Frida fabric available on Etsy.

Or, like Theresa May, you could content yourself with a bangle.

Theresa May wearing the Kahlo bracelet

Theresa May wears the Kahlo bracelet

If you wanted to be a little more subtle, making an homage rather than wearing her image, you might purchase a wildly ruffled skirt from Gucci’s Winter 2017 collection, or one of those fabulous suits from Isabel Marant — both inspired by Kahlo. This year’s ubiquitous cactus and watermelon motifs at the stationery shop and the haberdashery counter, on your children’s T-shirts,  echo Kahlo. Her face and her influence, loud or soft, is everywhere.

There’s even a name for this collective obsession: Fridamania.

Since her “re-discovery” in the late 1970s, a quarter of a century after her early death, Kahlo’s fame has ballooned steadily.

She’s inspired designers from the late Alexander McQueen, Jean-Paul Gaultier to the very current D&G; popstars such as Bjork and Rihanna, a biopic, biographies, documentaries, innumerable style features and academic papers. Today you can get the app, wear the Converse Kahlos on your feet and drink a shot of Frida Tequila.

Raised from the dead

Frida Kahlo died on July 13,  1954, by her own hand. Pluto was exactly — almost to the minute — crossing her Ascendant. As we know, the Lord of the Underworld transforms, and he can even resurrect.

Frida Kahlo in the land of the dead in Disney’s latest offering Coco.

Frida Kahlo in the land of the dead in Disney’s latest offering Coco.

Kahlo’s posthumous ascent to international superstardom began with an exhbition that opened in May 1982 at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. She shared the space with the photographer Tina Modotti, but the latter was soon left in the dust. Pluto was precisely trining the conjunction of Venus — the planet of art — and Pluto in her natal chart. And it was her art, at this point, which was finally being recognised as powerful, emotional, extraordinary. Pluto was also squaring her North Node in Cancer.

Since that moment of rebirth, the power of Kahlo’s influence has strengthened. She has become a cult. Her house — the Casa Azul in Mexico City — has become a shrine and place of pilgrimage. Her image has become an icon. This year, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s major fashion exhbition will be of Frida Kahlo’s clothes (starting June 2018). This wardrobe has toured the world’s museums like the relics of saints used to.

The room where she kept her clothes was sealed in 1954 after her death by her husband, the artist Diego Rivera, and not re-opened until 2004, the year that transiting Pluto finally opposed her natal Pluto-Venus conjunction.

In 2015, the New York Times wrote that Frida Kahlo was “having a moment” as Pluto opposed her Sun-Neptune conjunction and conjoined her Mars. This year, 2018, Pluto will oppose that Jupiter in Cancer. Kahlo is going to be big again, no doubt.


Which brings us to the interesting question: why? Undoubtedly, Kahlo is a wonderful artist. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing her paintings in the real, you’ll know their emotional impact. Her biography is fascinating — a life of passion and pain — Venus and Pluto. She was crippled by a terrible accident as a young woman and had to wear a full-torso brace for much of the time. She had numerous affairs with men and women, including the exiled Leon Trotsky. Her stormy, passionate marriage to Diego Rivera was the stuff of legend… and it goes on. Her house is wonderful. She was incredibly photogenic. She painted a hammer and sickle on her bodycast.

But you want to know about the astrology.

From astrodatabank

From astrodatabank

First of all, Kahlo is the full Crab. This is a sign of great allure anyway, but just look at what she has on either side of the Sun — Jupiter and Neptune, magnification and glamour. Magnificence and stardom. A huge ego, but one on to which we can all project an image of ourselves, thanks to the mirroring nature of Neptune. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that Kahlo is a hero for all kinds of people. She lived life exactly how she chose, despite constant physical pain, an unfaithful husband, disapproving society, her gender. Kahlo adhered to no stereotypes; she was self-invented.

Like another super-Cancerian, Marcel Proust, Kahlo draws us into her mind and her memories, shows us the world through her magical kaleidoscope. That’s the Neptune again, too, but it’s also something else.

The wizard Uranus sits opposite to Kahlo’s Cancer Sun-Neptune. She is the Queen of Unconvention in the heart of Capricorn. But maybe that Uranus in Capricorn gives her uniqueness longevity. Furthermore, Uranus to the Sun can have a peculiar (special) effect. Both Hillary Mantel and Meryl Streep have Uranus-Sun conjunctions in Cancer — one an author who takes us in a time-machine through history, the other an uncanny actress. Perhaps Kahlo’s Uranus-Sun opposition also performs a strange time-shift for her admirers.

Her posthumous Uranus Return took place in 1991 — in conjunction with Neptune. That was the year of the first Frida opera.

I am sure, looking at this chart, you will come up with some of your own theories about the icon with the mesmerising gaze (Venus-Pluto in Gemini) and the crown of flowers (Leo Rising). Because she is fascinating.


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  1. Vesta says:

    I am so surprised there’s nothing in Scorpio. Some of her work is disturbing in its frankness.
    I did art history at uni, Frida Kahlo is one of the few who stayed with me. Not just because she was a woman and we studied so precious few, but because of the depth of feeling she expressed. She painted pain. She was also able to paint the entire spectrum of feeling, the colours she chose are exquisitely joyful. She’s become a meme to me too, she’s been reduced somewhat as the same images are reproduced over and over. Meanings can be lost like that.
    There’s not many aspects to my chart, that I can see at a glance anyway, except that her Lilith is exactly conjuct my MC. Maybe that’s me empathising with her pain perfectly. Her mercury in Leo is square my Scorpio sun. She speaks to me. She is a Khaleesi among women to me. Her sun is close to my sun/moon midpoint, about 6 degrees away. She’s always been important to me, ever since I first learnt about her.
    She kept her unibrow and facial hair. Today, women are rebelling against modern standards of beauty and keeping body hair, but no one is going as far as this yet. Just this is enough for her to be removed from the rest of us, and revered in awe of her bravery.
    Great artice, thank you! 🙂

    • Pluto conjunct Venus and both sextile the Leo Ascendant gives a whole lotta Scorpio even if Saturn is blanketing it. Being with older lovers can offset the otherwise cooling effect of Saturn 😉

  2. Pilar says:

    I love that her Mars is conjunct Uranus in H5! May I use this to explain her bisexuality? Or is that too simplistic? Her Jupiter is exactly conjunct my Moon. And her Pluto exactly trines my Pluto. I really enjoy the thought that she might have liked me if we had met. I am a Sagittarius, surely she would’ve fallen in love with me! Wonderful post. Now I will search your site to find any articles on queerness explained.

  3. I love how astrology clearly indicates post-death activations of the energy/consciousness of a person. Clearly the time frame of one life does not deliver enough chapters to allow for the sagas we are all busily spinning.
    Frida has a busy Saturn – even capturing Mars-Uranus using the 75 degree angle -and these being in Capricorn really speak of the encasing of her spinal structure in a variety of casts due to lifelong spinal problems after the severe accident at age 18 . The Sept 18 1925 accident triggered everything at/around 23 degrees -Venus, Pluto, nodes, ASC -due to 23-25 degrees being so prominent at that time period -setting in place the transformational physical effects & her art career. Natal Saturn’s potentials soon kicked in with the 25 degree new moon conjunct Mars, all opposite Uranus on the18th all within range of natal Saturn – Sun reaching opposition to natal Saturn on the 21st Sept, then Mars opposition natal Saturn on the 25th Sept. Transiting Saturn was effectively at 135 degrees from natal Saturn during this time period. The transit Saturn in 3 [loss of mobility] sextile to transit Jupiter in 5 may signify the creative pay-off for her restrictions. I increasingly find the 15 degree so-called minor angles to be very significant.