Neurodiversity and Astrology
In the past few years, many people have realised, sometimes quite late in life, that they have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or autism — and it’s been a massive relief.
Both autism and ADHD are wide spectrum conditions (not disorders, thank you), of course, and at the soft end of that spectrum, they can go unrecognised. Until quite recently, both were considered to be more “male”. The ratio of diagnosis is thought to be about four boys to every girl in autism, for example, however that is constantly shrinking as psychologists get a better grip on what autism looks like in a girl or woman. The same goes for ADHD. Depending on which expert you read, you are either six to one, or ten to one times more likely to get the official diagnosis if you are a boy. This is another reason so many people I have spoken with have understood their neurodiversity later in life: most are women. Another factor in late diagnosis is having kids. If your kid has ADHD or autism, you might start looking at your own behaviour too, and recognising some similarities.
What’s normal anyway?
Astrologers’ idea of what is “normal” tends to be much wider than psychology’s, which can seem quite reductionist in comparison. Because the possibilities in terms of character offered are so multifarious, astrologers ought to be less likely to pigeonhole people — unless you’re thinking of the Sun sign memes — eg “All Capricorns are boring.” — but I am guessing that if you’re here, you don’t think like that. The possible variations in astrology are huge: 12 signs x 12 houses x multiple planets x multiple relationships between those planets. Indeed, everyone is their own normal to an astrologer.
It’s necessary for the human story to have all the signs, houses and planets contributing. Taking just the Sun signs as an example. What would the world be like if, say, everyone were born in July? We’d have a world full of Cancerians and a few Leos. Now there’s a sci-fi dystopia waiting to be imagined! Instead we need everyone. We need the Virgo Moons for accuracy, and the Scorpio Mercuries for precision; the Pisces Venus for beautiful minds and the Libra Jupiters to administer justice. We need everyone. And we also need those Moon-Pluto people for their emotional insight, and the Sun-Jupiters for exuberance. Everyone and every permutation is necessary to create the web of humanity. We need all the Suns, Moons and planets dancing their cosmic dance in all our charts. People don’t become problematic because of their charts but because of how they respond to their charts.
ADHD and autism aren’t disorders, they are different ways of being human, which add to the great human web. We talk about how it takes a village to raise a child: well, it takes a city to create civilisation. It’s all good, as long as our consciousness is raised to recognise and accept each other. Problems can come when we get to the extreme end of any spectrum — whether that’s deeply depressive, profoundly narcissistic or super duper hyperactive. And frankly the same is true collectively too. They also come when just a few ways of being human are considered normative and everyone else is divergent.
Autistic or ADHD character traits are recognisable as being akin to descriptions of certain signs. Obviously, you can’t diagnose a condition from an astrological chart, because the chart may manifest in multiple ways (another example of astrology’s diversity). In other words, twins may act out their chart in different ways. However, some signs have more ADHD traits than others — Pisces, Sagittarius and Gemini, for example. All mutable signs tend to be scattered, and often hyper-focused when their attention is gripped. Then Aries tends to have trouble completing, a trait of ADHD. And some signs have more autism traits: Aquarius, Taurus, Scorpio and Capricorn: fixed or ruled by Saturn.
An example of a (probably) autistic genius is the philosopher Immanuel Kant, whose work continues to influence philosophers today. The citizens of Konigsberg could set their watches by Kant’s daily routine. It was the same every day. In particular, his one-hour walk became famous. You could see the “Konigsberg Clock” if you chose, wearing the same coat, taking the same route at precisely the same time come rain or shine. Despite the incredible breadth of his ideas, he never left Konigsberg, the city where he was born, in all his 79 years. Father Time, Saturn, powerful in his own sign, Capricorn, is right on Kant’s midheaven, Jupiter is in Aquarius, and his Taurus Sun is directly opposite Uranus.
Uranus is a planet with a difference, of course, and you often see it prominently activated in the charts of people who are eccentric, unusual, exceptional — or like Kant — genius. That would be making contact with the Moon or the Sun or Ascendant, for example, or Mercury, the planet of mind. The actress Daryl Hannah, star of Splash!, Roxanne, Wall Street etc, opened up about her own autism in 2013. She too has a strong Saturn in Capricorn and Jupiter is there too, both in the 9th house of higher mind. She also has Uranus making an exact square to her Mercury, the planet of thinking. Possibly the most famous living person on the autistic spectrum is climate activist Greta Thunberg, a Sun-Moon in Capricorn plus Mercury Retrograde. In fact her Mercury is in mutual reception with Saturn in Gemini, the planet of rules and limits in the sign of learning.
As with all astrology, the whole chart is important. There is never just one factor, so please don’t get boxed in by these examples. Have a look at some more charts for yourself.
The world of astrologers may have more than its fair share of the neurodiverse because of its bias in favour of pattern-finding. That synthesising of information and pattern-recognition necessary for astrologers are traits that both autistic people and people with ADHD share. Indeed, there’s no reason you can’t have both conditions at once, although the contradictions must be tricky.
If you can harness that wild, scattered mind, ADHD, it can be enormously imaginative and productive. And once you know what to look for, you’ll recognise ADHD across the creative industries. One of the makers of the Oscar-winner Everything Everywhere All At Once, Daniel Kwan, understood that he had ADHD while he was making the movie that’s something of an homage to, or even an explanation of, the condition. Musicians need the same facility with pattern-making and synthesising as astrologers, and many appear to have ADHD. Famous examples are Elliot Smith, Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain, Solange Knowles, Britney Spears, Adam Levine, Justin Timberlake — and those are just the ones known to have a diagnosis. Take another look at Amadeus and ask yourself if Mozart isn’t acting like someone with ADHD. Being a rockstar is rather a good career for a person with attention deficit — gigging, song-writing, hyper-focus, obsession: that’s ADHD. will.i.am has spoken about how useful the condition has been for songwriting. All his angles are in mutable signs, he has a Sun-Jupiter conjunction in Pisces and Moon-Venus in Aries, Uranus in Scorpio is in an out-of-sign trine with Mercury in Aquarius. Neptune, diffusion and fog, can be important for ADHDers too. One trait of ADHD is losing the house keys repeatedly, but being able to create magical and imaginative mind maps linking thoughts across multiverses. will.i.am has Neptune directly on his Ascendant.
I write about ADHD from personal experience, of course. Being an astrologer is an excellent line of work for this particular condition. It’s an endlessly moving kaleidoscope of human stories and ideas, no day is the same, its essentially nonconformist (at least the way I practice); and the ADHD ability to find pattern, think divergently, hyperfocus and “overcome knowledge constraints” makes chart analysis a joy. Like playing the piano, it happens all at once. I also have a classic ADHD chart — with a massive stellium in Pisces including a cazimi Pallas, Moon-Jupiter in Gemini and everything aspected by Neptune.
Now where are my glasss….?
Oh Christina I absolutely loved reading this, thanks so much for posting. I was diagnosed ADHD almost 2 years ago, at 46 and it shed so much light on me who I am. Astrologically, I’m working with a fantastic counsellor who uses astrology in her practice and together we are unravelling my birth chart. I have Neptune opposite my 5th house Mercury in Gemini. Saturn is prominent in my chart as it not only squares my Mars, Jupiter and Chiron in my Aries 4H it sits directly on my Descendant, and also squares Uranus. I have Aquarius moon which I am sure factors in somewhere!
I agree about the Aquarius Moon.
Splendid, I read this with much joy, thank you Christina. I’m one of the many woman confirmed late in life to be autistic. Now off to look at Saturn in my chart through this new lens…
I am really working on my understanding of autism at the moment, especially autistic women. I get it so much more now.
As you write, it’s a lot more complex when looking at the specifics of something like autism. There’s a saying banded about, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” I think we can say the same about anything when looking at the astrology chart.
One thing I did want to point out which you hadn’t is the role of the North Node (Rahu). I’ve written a whole book on Rahu and posted a video recently on autism, as I’m an astrologer who also identifies as autistic:
Would love to hear your thoughts if you have time to watch it. I don’t know why astrologers are not picking up on the Rahu connection with neurodivergence.
Thanks for this Gary. I just haven’t looked at the Rahu in this connection at all!
Fantastic info, thank you! My chart fits almost every one of the points you highlight (I think Pallas is my fave body), and I am ADHD and exhibit a bit of the spectrum, although undiagnosed. My pediatrician in the 50s, before there were words for it, gave my mother some tips for how to manage me. My mother gave me my 1st astrology book when I was 14. So I thank you for bringing me full circle with your words.
I think it would be interesting just to look at Pallas in this regard.
N Pallas is conjunct my N Pluto by 1°27′, and is always doing something interesting by transit or progression in my chart. It often gives me gobsmacked powers of insight – when I can so often feel otherwise dumbfounded by my lack of comprehension, compounded by my Moon-Mercury conjunction in Pisces. Where are my glasses…?
BRILLIANT ARTICLE THANK YOU!
What a lovely article! An absolute joy. <3
Loved the diversity and the heart with which you wrote.
Thank you. I’ve been brooding on this for a while.
If only this was understood by everyone
I never thought of a town a country a world having a mood
I think so. Or at least moods. Or even breakdowns.
Oh this is brilliant, Christina. It all connects so beautifully with the way astrology works and sees the world.
I’m on that boat with those diagnosed with ADHD later in life. It all started to make sense -sort of triggered to a point I realized I was overwhelmed with everyday life- while Neptune was transiting my 6th H and squaring my natal 3rd H Neptune.
Mercury in Aquarius conjunct Jupiter in Pisces. Both rulers of the mutable nodal axis. It sure can feel like everything, everywhere all at once.
Now that Saturn is visiting the 6th H, I’m curious about how it will tidy up, simplify things there. Then natal mercury is 3’ of arc short of going into Taurus. I’m looking forward to that.
Saturn already seems to be having a steadying effect on the good ship Pisces.
I just got diagnosed with ADHD at age 63. I knew already of course and my chart is crazy mutable. Wondered if you have done any research on transits exacerbating it? I currently have Neptune square my ascendant and my Uranus square and it’s off the charts now to the point I am going to have to take meds
I suspect Neptune or Uranus transits would exacerbate it, but I have not done the comparative research.
This was a great read. I’m also an astrologer by profession & my brother has ADD & it’s been suggested to me that I have ADHD. Your article takes the shame out of this diagnosis. I’m wildly creative but not very good at staying organized. I look forward to reading more of your posts.
There is a lot of shame involved, I think. And, of course, astrology teaches us that diversity is key to the human endeavour. We need everyone.