Salman Rushdie: Rebel, Story-teller, Gemini

Friday August 19th 2022

Midnight’s Children — a tale of twins, mistaken identities, India and Pakistan, doubling and mirroring, knees and nose — catapulted its author, Salman Rushdie, a double Gemini, of course, to international fame in 1981.

He did things with English that no one had read before — daring, acrobatic, excessive, hilarious, inventive, brilliant. Words and ideas bounced off the page with joyous vigour.

“But despite these signs of ill-omen, the city was poised, with a new myth glinting in the corners of its eyes. August in Bombay: a month of festivals, the month of Krishna’s birthday and Coconut Day; and this year – fourteen hours to go, thirteen, twelve – there was an extra festival on the calendar because a nation which had never previously existed was about to win its freedom, catapulting into a world which, although it had five thousand years of history, although it had invented the game of chess and traded with Middle Kingdom Egypt, was nevertheless quite imaginary; into a mythical land, a country which would never exist except by the efforts of phenomenal collective will – except in a dream we all agreed to dream; it was a mass fantasy shared in varying degrees by Bengali and Punjabi, Madrasi and Jat, and would periodically need the satisfaction and renewal which can only be provided by rituals of blood. India, the new myth – a collective fiction in which everything was possible, a fable rivaled only by the two other mighty fantasies: money and God.”
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children brought magic realism into the anglophone world, and it put so-called post-colonial literature, Indian literature, at the top of the literary tree. Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize that year and sold millions of copies. Rushdie’s work opened up a place at the crossroads where cultures and language clash, remake themselves and take off on new adventures.

Rushdie was also totally irreverent, poking fun at the colonisers and the colonised, victims and oppressor, muslims and hindus, rich and poor, dead and living.  So when his fourth book The Satanic Verses was published, it was no surprise that it gleefully mocked the religion of his own family, Islam. Unfortunately for Rushdie, some people didn’t really see the joke, Iran’s then leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him, and Rushdie’s comet-like trajectory through the literary world was seemingly quenched. Three million dollars reward was offered by Iran for his murder.

But Rushdie kept on writing daring, wonder-filled books, fizzing with energy and bursting with trickster prose; stories that bent time and reality, fragmenting points of view and points of history. Books that reshaped the way we saw history, the way language worked and who ought to be at the centre of a narrative.

In recent years, the danger from the fatwa seemed to have died down and Rushdie was back in public. Anyone interested in freedom of speech and expression wanted to hear from the author with a price on his head.

On 12 August, a man tried to kill him on stage just before he was about to talk about freedom, stabbing him repeatedly with a knife. Rushdie, now 75, now an elder, is still in hospital, and according to the latest report may lose an eye.

Rushdie is an extraordinarily gifted writer, and extraordinarily original. You can see he is blessed with both the Sun and Moon in Gemini, the sign of the twins, ruled by Mercury, story-teller, trickster, peddler, traveller. The two “lights” make a conjunction to Uranus, the planet of invention, revolution, freedom and shocks. Another writer with this same conjunction of Sun and Uranus is Hilary Mantel, also a creator of worlds and time-traveller. Uranus bends time like no other planet, moving back and forth through history, leaping across black holes and diving deep into inner space.

That conjunction with Uranus might also account for his extraordinary life. His vilification and his exaltation. He is simultaneously honoured and despised. He was never going to have a conventional life. Uranus is the planet we associate with the words freedom, and Gemini is the sign of speech…

This stellium is in the second house of the talents. And indeed, Rushdie has made a fortune from his writing.

Mercury, the ruler of that stellium, is in the sign of memory, in the place of family and history — and indeed many of his books are either historical fiction or memoirs — of sorts. That sense of history is at the root of his craft.

Salman Rushdie: Aries or Taurus Rising?

The time of birth given for Rushdie is 2.30am, which puts him at 0° Taurus rising. Just three minutes earlier and he would have Aries Rising. Somehow this seems typical of Rushdie’s trickster energy. Looking at him, though, it seems to me that he looks much more Aries, right down to the ram-like V of his brows. Plus he is a pioneer of a certain kind of writing, and his life has turned out to be a battle. Aries Rising is a warrior.

Like his Midnight’s Children, Saleem and Shiva, Salman was born in the same year as India and Pakistan, so he shares the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in Leo with those two countries. This violent, dramatic conjunction is in the fourth house of origins. He also shares Jupiter and Chiron in Scorpio with them. Their presence in the 7th might account for his rather disastrous personal life and the Scorpionic persistence of his enemies.

The Assault

The astrology of his assault is extraordinary. It took place on the day of that brutal Full Moon in Aquarius, which actually sextiled and trined his Gemini stellium — giving someone easy access to him. Of course, the Full Moon-Saturn conjunction also exactly squared his Mars, and at the same time transiting Mars conjoined it. Mars-Saturn is a harsh and potentially violent combination, and it’s triggered by the Full Moon.

When the fatwa was declared on 14 February 1989, transiting Mars was at 15° Taurus in a partile opposition to Pluto in Scorpio. In short, on the same axis as August 2022’s Nodes, which are getting energised by both Mars and unpredictable Uranus.

Then there’s transiting Uranus and the North Node opposite his Jupiter. His luck literally ran out. The South Node being the place of loss.


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  1. . . . at the same time transiting Mars conjoined it. Mars-Saturn is a harsh and potentially violent combination, and it’s triggered by the Full Moon.
    . . . The South Node being the place of loss.

    *** Is a Mars-Saturn aspect in sextile or trine to each other just as harsh as a conjunction would be?
    *** My South Node is conj my Moon by 3 degrees, the only planet(s) below the horizon.
    Where/how do you suggest I learn more about these points in my horoscope as I want to learn more? Like Salman Rushdie I am a Gemini. I have Libra ASC. & Moon in Aquarius. Mars in my 7th house although beautifully aspected, is my cross to bear. People just come at me! I want to learn more by studying, THANK YOU!!