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The Degas Touch

 Terpsichore Quintile Saturn


Alastair Macaulay’s Workers Wearing Toeshoes  in today’s New York Times, gives adept insight on Edgar Degas’ s creative fascination with Ballet. Degas did have a very special way of seeing dance that’s clearly reflected in his horoscope. When I looked up his chart, I could see this through a quintile between Terpsichore and Saturn. The quintile aspect is the infamous creative aspect in astrology, representing a 72 degree relationship between two planets, which represents the most creative relationship, the 5th harmonic. Creative genius is displayed through a quintile with elegance, and many artists have quintiles that are directly connected with their  unique artistic talents. One could say the 5th harmonic is an aspect of creative freedom, and it always carries with it a very individual touch.

 In Degas’s chart, the dancing asteroid, Terpsichore, Apollo’s fifth of the nine Muses in Greek Mythology, is creatively synched with Saturn, the planet that rules the sign of hardworking, practical Capricorn.Terpsichore resides in spirited Sagittarius while Saturn sits exalted (its highest expression), in aesthetic, socially aware Libra. Astrologically, I see this as a talent for expressing the experience of religious faith through artistic commitment.

 Christ was supposedly a Sag, although he’s quite often associated with the fish symbol of Pisces. To me, what this suggests is there is a virtue of optimism, an inspiring belief, that comes from ritual. Working in the studio at the bar is incredibly ritualistic…not much different from a prayer. Sagittarius honors a higher belief while Pisces surrenders. One can see in Degas’s paintings and sculpture the sense of joy, aliveness, and inspiration…the “spirit of Christ”, if you will…

 Then there’s the other view of the real picture. Although ballet is loved for its ethereal quality on stage, the dancer’s world in the studio is Saturnian. Dancers age. Joints weaken. Injuries accumulate. The work is incredibly mentally and physically demanding. Rewards are often painfully delayed and limited. Complete commitment is required, with no guarantee of public recognition or accomplishment. Degas’s work captured the essence of this and gave life to it with sincere, gentle beauty.

 Dane Rudhyar, French composer and humanistic astrologer, calls the quintile “….the genius which transforms a routine action into an inspiring, significance-releasing performance.” Workers Wearing Toeshoes is a wonderful exploration of the genius of Degas. It celebrates his unique, inspiring vision of the Dancer’s real world, a world where the ideal and real do coexist.