Follow Your Bliss
Leading comparative mythology expert and philosopher, Joseph Campbell, was born under an Aries stellium. His birth chart is a good example of how his psychological makeup takes shape in his life’s work.
Each planet in this five-fold cluster has a specific significance. Lead by Arian impulse and instinct, Joseph dissected (Mars/Mercury) mythology (Jupiter), and made it his mission, as both Mercury and Jupiter are located within one degree of the exalted Sun. This auspicious cazimi configuration endows both planets with exceptional talents.
“People forget facts, but they remember stories.” - Joseph Campbell
He concluded that all of the great mythological and religious stories are variations on the same story, namely the hero’s journey or the monomyth (exalted Sun, and Jupiter in Aries) that consists of three major chapters. Firstly, the story’s protagonist gets separated from their familiar environment. Mars cuts something off. Mercury, then, takes things apart, often to reassemble them in a different manner. This is when the protagonist has to overcome obstacles and is initiated into a mysterious realm. Finally, the hero returns home as a transformed person. The Sun traditionally symbolizes death and rebirth through the daily motion of setting and rising. The ever-changing, cyclic nature of all reality is deeply embedded in the monomyth.
“Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation.” - Joseph Campbell
When Joseph was seven years old, his father took him to see Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. He became fascinated by a Native American in the show who seemed to have special knowledge. The 7th house is the place in the birth chart where Joseph comes into contact with what is different than him, and since this house is over-emphasized in his chart, this encounter instigated an obsession with the Other.
This mystical 7th house that holds space for two worlds through the horizon line, lets the seen and unseen worlds come together. Aries’ ruler Mars amplifies conflict between differences. Having been raised a Catholic, Joseph found the tension between his culture and the Native American culture extremely interesting. By the age of ten, he had read all of the books on this topic in the children's section of his local library, after which he gained permission to explore the rest of the library. His instinctive hunger for knowledge is indicated by the tight fiery conjunction between Mercury and Jupiter. We could say that Jupiter magnifies the Mercurial qualities while ruler Mars steers the curiosity toward obsession.
Body and Soul
The four-planet assembly in Aries stimulates the body as well as the mind. An accomplished athlete, Joseph received many awards, and, for a time, was among the fastest half-mile runners in the world. He studied biology, mathematics, and literature. He received a fellowship from Columbia University which allowed him to study French and German in Europe. Travel is certainly connected to the plotline of Joseph’s life, by virtue of the double cazimi, and Mercury ruling the 9th house of foreign journeys. Later in life, he spent a lot of time in Honolulu, where he and his wife had an apartment.
“If you see your path laid out in front of you - Step one, Step two, Step three - you only know one thing… It is not your path. Your path is created in the moment of action. If you can see it laid out in front of you, you can be sure it is someone else's path. That is why you see it so clearly.” - Joseph Campbell
The Wings of Art
Ruled by the Sun and in a tight engagement with Jupiter in the place of social interactions, the Moon in the 11th house brings prominent people into Joseph’s community. He becomes good friends with philosopher and spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti, who was still a member of the Theosophical Society at the time. In Europe, he also met Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung, whose art and insights would greatly influence his own work. Both Saturn in his domicile Aquarius in the 5th, and exalted Venus in the 6th place, speak loudly in this chart as they’re both connected to the descendant. Saturn through a sextile, and artistic Venus through a contra-antiscion. The link between the 5th and 7th house works both ways. Joseph’s work also influenced several artists. For example, the Star Wars saga draws heavily from the structure of the archetypal template of the hero's journey.
“Art is the set of wings to carry you out of your own entanglement.” - Joseph Campbell
Joseph thought that artists were mythmakers. He believed that mythologies were creative manifestations of humankind's universal need to explain psychological, social, cosmological, and spiritual realities.
In 1933 he rented a shack and studied independently, intensively, and rigorously. He later said that he "would divide the day into four three-hour periods, of which I would be reading in three of the three-hour periods, and free one of them... I would get nine hours of sheer reading done a day." The Ram’s focus knows no bounds!
“I begin to think that I have a genius for working like an ox over totally irrelevant subjects. …I am filled with an excruciating sense of never having gotten anywhere—but when I sit down and try to discover where it is I want to get, I’m at a loss.” – Joseph Campbell
Out-of-sect Jupiter keeps on seeking something that transcends the ordinary, whereas in-sect Mars is fixated on practicality. Mars wants to solve the perceived problem of not having a clear path in life. With his exalted Sun in the place of other people, and the Moon, assisting in the 11th house of hopes and dreams, Joseph was obsessed with the notion that he had to do something important for humanity. In his journal, he quoted Krishna’s dictum “the best way to help mankind is through the perfection of yourself”. Saturn in an overcoming sextile to the Aries stellium demands perfection from Mars. Additionally, the abundance of Fire in Joseph’s chart is primarily focused on the self and on lofty ideals that burn away all potential distractions.
"Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived. Follow the path that is no path, follow your bliss." – Joseph Campbell
The ultimate compromise of following your bliss appears to correspond nicely to the spiritual ecstasy traditionally associated with the 7th house.
In 1934 he was offered and accepted a position in the literature department at Sarah Lawrence College and this was a post he would retain for 38 years. He became a wonderful public speaker and gifted storyteller which is the mark of Mercury conjunct Jupiter in Mars’s sign. He died unexpectedly in 1987 after a brief struggle with cancer, leaving behind an impressive volume of work greatly appreciated by popular culture.
“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” - Joseph Campbell