I cannot tell you when I became aware of the fact that I share the same birthday as Sandra Bullock…same day, same year… July 26, 1964. But I CAN tell you when it began to annoy the crap out of me. Back in December of 2009, CNN (along with a number of other news outlets) declared “Sandra Bullock’s Best Year Ever” in one of their online Entertainment posts. She was receiving Oscar-buzz for her performance in The Blind Side and by all accounts living a dream life. I, on the other hand, was sitting in a decidedly unglamorous warehouse office near the Philadelphia airport, having left my fundraising job in the city to help my husband run his logistics company. When I read the CNN article I was likely eating a Subway sandwich, avoiding my afternoon phone calls in which I would have to explain “no, the check isn’t in the mail today.” My life could not have been any further from hers if I had tried to make it so. And in my stultifyingly dreary existence, I wondered why, when I was “up there” ready to be born, would I have chosen this life. What if I had just waited another 12 hours or so…? (I was born in Los Angeles about 12 hours prior to Sandra who was born in Arlington, VA.) Even so, I wondered about the whole astrology thing. I mean, if we were born under the same relative planet configuration, shouldn’t we be enjoying the same life cycles at least? Isn’t that what daily horoscopes are all about? And here SHE was having the BEST YEAR EVER…and me? I can’t tell you in how many ways my life had gone off the rails that year. I had made the decision two years prior to make a major career change—for the second time in my life. The theory was a “successful family business” was going to free me to spend my future days as a writer. Instead I ended up on a never ending spiral of mind-numbing administrative tasks, while the economy tanked and our customers went belly up leaving behind unpaid invoices. We entered into a painful court battle to save the company (think David & Goliath…and we were David) and racked up crazy lawyer fees. Our entire life was on the line. To say I was pissed at my husband (and myself) would be an understatement. So yeah… hearing that my “astro-twin” was having the BEST YEAR EVER…wasn’t very helpful.
It was Carl Jung who said: “We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything more.”
So what qualities prevail in a 1964 vintage human? This notion has fascinated me for years. The Swinging Sixties were yet to come. The week I was born Barry Goldwater graced the cover of TIME Magazine and the Beatles were just making their presence known with “A Hard Day’s Night.” Suits and ties and close-cropped hair were still the norm and women wore smart shift dresses with matching shoes & handbags. Americans voted in large numbers in support of President Johnson and his vision of a Great Society “where poverty and racial injustice would have no place, where the elderly would be cared for, where education would be placed at a premium, and where the nation’s natural resources would be cherished and protected.” And then suddenly everything changed. Boiling beneath the well-manicured façade was the ever-growing anger over economic disparity, the issues surrounding the Civil Rights Bill, and a developing war in Southeast Asia which presented the possibility of nuclear weapons use. Violence erupted. There was race rioting in the major cities and protests on college campuses. Social mores morphed along with increased availability of birth control and drugs. And by the end of the decade a new social order had taken hold. 1970 “looked” nothing like 1964.
If you talk to an astrologist he or she will point out the exact planetary alignment that helped spur such dramatic changes. (And no, it had nothing at all to do with the Age of Aquarius as that Broadway hit Hair had us believing.) Uranus, the planet of originality of thought, expression, and “radical ideas” was visiting Virgo. It takes Uranus approximately 84 years to transit the 12 astrological signs, staying about 7 years in each. The influence of Uranus in Virgo is said to inspire improvement and the hope to make proper use of what is at hand. (Perfectly illustrated by Johnson’s vision of a Great Society.) At the same time Neptune was in Scorpio. Neptune transits take about 13 years per sign, which means an approximate 164-year cycle. With its long transit time it represent “historical significance” and rules over the oppressed and abandoned of society. It also represents spirituality, mysticism and ideals and is said to rule the sexual codes and counter-culture that eroded traditional family values. (It is apparently a busy planet.) Neptune left Scorpio in 1970. At the same time Uranus was conjuct to Pluto. This phenomenon happens every 171 years and is most noted for its “revolutionary” effect.
So what did that revolution look like to a six year old living near Los Angeles? I remember my parents wearing blue jeans…we bought hand-tooled leather sandals and brightly colored sarape bags in Mexico, decorated our jeans and jackets with happy face patches and flowery embroidery, and wore turquoise rings and puka bead necklaces. The Beatles were now singing “Let it Be” and Edwin Starr made a name with “War” his anti-Vietnam protest song. My family moved to Orange County that year during a housing boom where farm fields became housing developments overnight. Our neighbors were from places like Iowa and Pennsylvania. Once arriving in California, people my parents’ age were turning away from social convention by quitting their jobs and leaving their spouses, especially now that they lived faaarrr away from family pressure. My mother told me that I was the only girl in my Brownie Troop whose parents were not divorced. Perhaps this is one reason I’ve never been scared of change, it has always been a constant. 1964 is considered the final year of the Baby Boomers but somehow I think we were the start of something new and I don’t mean Generation X. Still it is certainly an interesting vintage.
In my quest to learn a bit more about this phenomenon I went to visit a local astrologist named Djuna Wojton to have my natal chart read (Djunaverse.com). Djuna provided me with a chart that illustrates which planets were sitting in which astrological houses at the exact moment I was born. The chart also illustrated where these planets were sitting in the present moment on the day of our scheduled reading. Before our meeting I received a 2-page “introduction to astrology,” a 24-page document outlining my “inner” and “outer” self as it relates to the planets at the moment I was born, a list of Karmic healing affirmations, and a list of “key words” to help me make sense of it all. On the day of our actual reading I was given another 3 typed-pages pertaining to my 2014 forecast detailing what I might expect in the areas of love, money, health, and travel etc. During our session Djuna handed me a pad of paper and instructed me to take notes…which I dutifully did…another 5 pages or so…
Here’s a bit of what I learned:
At its most basic astrology is the study of cycles. The sun, moon, and planets of our solar system all move in their own time and in their own space according to their own individual cycles. Likewise, the earth and all life upon its surface carries forward in complicated—perhaps never-to-be-fully understood—patterns that make up the Grand Design of the cosmos. What I thought of when I read this is what Sir Isaac Newtown pointed out when he discovered the moon’s influence on our ocean tides. And heck, we all know what happens during a full moon, right? Modern astrology is based upon the work of the Greeks who added their understanding of astronomy and mathematics to ancient Egyptian and Babylonian knowledge written at a time when astrology and astronomy were viewed in the same light.
An astrological sign is merely an indication of which sign of the zodiac the sun was in when a person is born. So everyone born between July 23rd and August 22nd is considered to be a “Leo” because that’s the zodiac sign the sun visits each year between those dates. Simple right? (Not really, we are just getting started.) Through the years certain traits have been indicated as belonging to individuals in each of the zodiac signs: for instance Leos are known to enjoy the spotlight and to be a bit flamboyant. This does not mean that a flamboyant spotlight seeker can’t be born in any other time period…they can! But these zodiac-specific traits we hear about are merely the result of hundreds of years of recorded astrological observations—and it turns out certain traits are more prominent in the personality and temperament of those born in one sign than in another. But humans of course are quite complicated and there are additional important means to classify characteristics that show up. Each zodiac sign falls into one of four “Elements”- fire, earth, air, and water. And each of the signs can be described as Cardinal, Fixed, or Mutable. These two classifications account for similarities across the various zodiac signs.
Leos are Fire and Fixed which basically means we’re pretty damn stubborn. We don’t want to accept that there is no virtue in giving away what we want to give (advice, unwarranted help, etc.) or that there is no reward for misguided loyalty to those who were not worthy of it.
Your horoscope is a map of the heavens showing the exact position of the sun, moon, and planets mathematically calculated using the exact date, hour, and location of your birth (your natal chart). No two horoscopes will be the same. (Even twins are born minutes apart.) There are countless permutations of which planet was sitting in which zodiac sign at your time of birth, each influencing a different aspect of your inner and outer self. After the sun sign, the next important factor is the sign in which the moon was located at birth, which has an important bearing on personality and temperament from an emotional point of view—it is basically a reflection of your inner self. The third factor is your ascendant or rising sign. This reflects the zodiac sign that was ascending on the eastern horizon the moment you were born. Until the early 20th century astrologists would actually focus on a person’s ascendant rather than their sun sign to get a feel for their nature. Your ascendant represents the way others see you—the impressions you make and your spontaneous reactions.
Truthfully, it just gets more complicated from here, what with the solar houses, trines, conjuncts, and all sorts of other…wait…is Jupiter in Taurus? Neptune in Scorpio? For how long? I won’t go any deeper at this point. But still it’s fun to ponder what characteristics I have in common with those other folks who share my birthday. Of course if I “know” a person shares my birthday chances are they are famous, so it likely skews the perception a bit, but then again us Leos are known to be big personalities. So here you go, a list of some of us born on the 26th of July—in no particular order: Mick Jagger, Helen Mirren, Vivian Vance, Stanley Kubrick, Kevin Spacey, Kate Beckinsale, Dorothy Hamill, Gracie Allan, Jeremy Piven, Blake Edwards, George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, Jason Robards, Jason Stratham, Andrew Goldsworthy, Genevieve Gorder, along with a fair number of athletes (European football stars seem to prevail), and a handful of lesser politicians. And of course my friend Sandy B and another actor as I recently discovered, Danny Woodburn, who coincidently was born in Philadelphia (we have apparently switched places on the LA to Philly continuum). Danny also shares our 1964 birth year as does the brother of a friend of mine. It is easy to recognize the “star quality” that Leos are known for in this list of birthday twins… as well as individuality (ego), tenacity (stubbornness), and a willingness to express our opinions (and yes, we have strong opinions)…and really we are all much more practical than we might appear on the surface. For my fellow Philadelphians reading this you won’t be surprised to learn that local actress Krista Apple-Hodge is another July 26 astro-baby.
Sandy B and I share a moon in Aquarius which is why we are optimistic, friendly, and socially liberal. We are likely to have friends from all walks of life and bring emotional stability to any group. (This is certainly true for me.) We are also extremely tenacious and loyal once we commit to a person or project. Where Sandy B and I differ is in our Ascendant. My Scorpio Rising indicates I am strong-willed, consistent, and persistent (have you picked up on that stubborn thing yet?) And I have a dominant urge to “get to the root” (oh boy does that explain a whole lot of things!) Scorpio Ascendants are also extremely sensitive to the underlying emotional currents surrounding them (yup) and are known to switch off completely once betrayed (oh yes!) Sandy B’s Gemini Rising means she likely approaches life with an inquisitiveness and has a strong curiosity to understand how people and things work. Perhaps she has a sense of restlessness and requires varied experiences and interests to feel alive. Those with Gemini Rising are noted for quick movements, wit, and youthful looks and lithe bodies with gifts of social grace and charm.
When reading a bit about Sandy’s background I was struck by some very interesting similarities between our lives. As young children we both moved around a fair bit, including traveling with our families. At the age of 12 her family moved from Europe (Germany I believe) to Virginia. When I was 12 my family moved from Orange County, Ca to Bucks County, Pa. She changed continents and I only went cross-country, but I have a feeling that my cultural shift was just as significant as hers. We both settled into a conventional “Friday Night Lights” high school existence (East Coast edition). In 1986, she moved to New York City to pursue acting. I moved to New York City in 1987 to pursue a career in fashion. We both have moved many times and settled in a number of cities through the years. She also appears to have a similar propensity for living in or near historic districts. We also seem to enjoy the same strange combination of creativity and business savvy. She owns multiple businesses in addition to her acting career. I am an “MBA” who is working toward becoming a novelist. And of course we all know by now that when I was experiencing that really-shitty-horrible-year-from-hell, so too did Sandy. Her life ended up being tabloid fodder for months on end after she won her Oscar. I had a real “aha” moment when the story of her husband’s infidelity broke. But of course she was dignified throughout and exhibited the strong characteristics of those of us born on July 26th! So no fear Sandy, I really don’t mind sharing my birthday with you. I understand it’s all a matter of cycles. It all comes back around eventually.
And now we’re halfway through 2014. And I can honestly say I am a different person today than I was a mere five years ago. And according to Djuna my natal chart shows that too. Apparently all my personal planets have been retrograde for some time now. There was a reason I felt “stuck” these last number of years. And Saturn was doing something (I can’t tell you what)…but whatever it was, it has turned direct THIS week, ending a two year cycle of “clearing out the clutter.” I found this bit of news fascinating. Two years ago (on July 26, the day I turned 48) I learned I had leukemia. My diagnosis was the gift that allowed me to eliminate a whole mess of crap out of my life, both literally and figuratively. Cancer is one of those things that helps you see life clearer than ever before and it becomes really easy to let go of all the things that aren’t working for you, whether it’s a philosophy, job, person, or piece of furniture. I am telling you, my closets have never been so clean.
And guess what? Jupiter is beginning a new cycle, the last of which started in 2002. Why should I care? Because this means 2015 is MY “year to shine”… so that’s exactly what I plan to do.
So happy birthday Sandy B…we turn 50 on Saturday…and it is going to be fabulous.