Meira B. Epstein, C.A. NCGR-PAA
Kahlo is a powerful example of the issues of the Cancer sun-sign.
Cancer people are
attached to their families and their roots. They need family life
and desire to create one of their own, and they have a complex emotional
life, in which their past plays a big role. They have a great need
for a nurturing maternal protective figure in their lives.
However, as many astrologers have observed, the qualities of the
sun-sign usually indicate the issues and the challenges that we need to
deal with and the lessons we have to learn in this life, rather than our
comfort zone. Frida Kahlo’s life and art express these issues almost
as a text-book case.
Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, at 8:30 AM in Coyoacán, Mexico.
father was a Hungarian Jew who came to Mexico at age 19 and became a
noted photographer, and her mother was a native Mexican who was
illiterate, yet intelligent and very religious. Frida adored her father
and was very critical of her mother. In the chart, her mother is
represented by Venus and the Moon. The Moon is strong due to
its most elevated placement in the 10th House, in the sign of
Taurus, which indicates money matters as well as art. To quote Frida:
“My mother was hysterical about religion. We had to pray before meals.
She did not know how to read or write. She only knew how to count
Venus in this chart is in a
difficult aspect configuration with Pluto and Saturn - a situation that
always indicates difficulties in receiving love, and which later also
played a big role in her marriage to Diego Rivera. It actually began to
manifest soon after she was born, when, at age 11 months, her mother gave birth
to her sister Christina, and Frida was given to an Indian wet nurse
to suckle. The strong Neptune in the chart also manifested in the fact
that this nurse was later dismissed when she was found out to be
drinking alcohol. All this would have been a most traumatic abandonment
experience to a Cancer baby girl who needed mother desperately. Frida
depicted that in “My Nurse And I”.
The Cancerian soul is most attached to the breasts that provide nurture,
protection from hunger and emotional security. By portraying herself
with the adult face she is indicated how this need persisted in her maturity
attachment to home and family roots
also come through her painting “My
Grandparents, My Parents and I”, where she depicts herself as a
little girl, standing in the middle of the courtyard of her ancestral
home, “The Blue House”, holding a
blood-red colored ribbon, that connects her to the images of her
Her parents figures are behind her, and as if not to
miss on the symbolism, she has a fetus connected with an umbilical cord
to her mother’s belly through her dress. This is also a reminder of
the miscarriages she suffered later in life - yet another devastation to
the Cancer female soul. Her chart has a difficult configuration of Uranus, Mars and
Neptune, all combined with the Sun, which is the ‘ruler’ of her
Rising sign Leo. The Sun-Neptune indication of delicate health, plus the
difficult Saturn-Pluto combination, first manifested
itself at age 6, when she contracted polio. She was confined to her bed
for nine months, suffering excruciating pain. This also left her with a
deformed leg, which she used to cover by wearing long skirts. This
experience began the cycles of physical pain and emotional loneliness
that haunted her all her life. The Sun-Mars-Uranus combination is
often a warning of potential accidents in life, and so, at age 18, it
hit with full force in a tragic accident. On September 17, 1925, the
wooden bus on which she rode home from school was smashed by a street
car. Many bones in her body
were broken, her right foot was crushed, her left shoulder was
dislocated, her spine and pelvis were injured and a steel rod pierced
her body from the hip through the womb. There was little hope that she
would live and her shocked parents could barely bring themselves to see
her in the hospital. After a month she went home, but her life
irrevocably changed. There she was alone and lonely in bed again, coping
with this ever-present pain. She went through many months of intensive
care and rehabilitation, but remained physically handicapped all her
life, undergoing more than 30 operations. Later in life she also
suffered a series of miscarriages and abortions.
She was confined to bed much of the time and constantly fought
her inner crumbling. The injury to her female reproductive organs and
the inability to have children was yet one more blow to her Cancerian
soul who craved family life more than anything else.
this was happening when the planet Pluto was at 14°
Cancer passing over the Sun in her chart.
Pluto has the astrological
‘reputation’ of transforming life, and for Frida this was an
understatement. It was during this long period of immobility and
loneliness that she began to paint, and it was her mother, for whom Frida did not much respect, who was actually instrumental in this. She
fastened a mirror to Frida’s bed and provided her with painting
materials, and the rest, we might say, is history. Astrologically
speaking, this is fascinating, as Frida’s Moon (representing the
mother) is in the sign of Taurus which signifies art, and in the 10th
House which indicates one’s career, goals and place in the world.
Pluto symbolizes death and re-birth, and in Frida’s chart it is
configured with Saturn is in the 8th House, portending
dangers to life; and so she was able to transform her ‘near-death’
experience into great art. As
a matter of fact, the connection between death and childbirth in her
life began even before she was born. Frida’s mother was her father’s
second wife. The first one died at childbirth, and on the night of her
death her father called in an acquaintance who arrived with her
daughter. He fell head-over heels for the daughter and later married
The themes of death, motherhood and childbirth
represented in her painting “My Birth”,
where the mother and the fetus, having Frida’s face, are dead and the
icon above the bed is of The Weeping Virgin of Sorrows. The planet Uranus also indicates rebellion,
adventurous nature, revolutionary ideas, independence and breaking the
rules of conformity. Neptune symbolizes idealism, and when the two are
combined, as in her chart, they produce the idealist, the social
reformer, and the person who will not conform to social norms. That she
did when in high-school and university, and later through her
collaboration with her husband Diego Rivera, who declared himself
communist and got into some artistic trouble in the US because of that,
when he was commissioned to paint a mural at the Rockefeller Center in
New York City.
configured with the Sun also brings a search for self-identity. The
Cancer person is always connected to the family, the clan and the
national patriotic roots, and so Frida combined these two themes into
wearing the ethnic Mexican clothes. Her Leo Rising gave her a high sense
of fashion and drama and her exotic looks always drew attention at home
would not be complete without Diego Rivera.
About their relationship Frida once said:
two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me
down.....The other accident is Diego."
The unfortunate fact of
life for people with a difficult Venus-Pluto-Saturn chart combination is
that they set themselves up to get the relationships that will hurt them
the most, and Frida did just that.
met Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican muralist, when he was commissioned
to paint a mural on the prestigious National Preparatory School where
Frida was a student.
she was already trying to get his attention back then by taunting and
provoking him about his mistress. They met again a few years later, when
she came to him seeking his opinion of her paintings.
They married on August 21, 1929,
to much disapproval from her family. He was twenty-two years her senior,
a well-known womanizer and in the process of a divorce. Their marriage
has been called the union between an elephant and a dove because Diego
was huge and very fat and Frida was small and slender.
Their relationship was
stormy and tumultuous, as he continued to have affairs throughout the
course of their marriage. Her greatest pain and sorrow came when she
found out about an affair between him and her dearest sister.
Frida was no wall-flower herself, and began to have affairs of her own,
partly to get back at Diego and partly to satisfy her adventurous
Uranian nature. One
affairs was with the exiled (and married) Russian leader Leon Trotsky.
With her Neptune-Sun adding mystique, mystery and a quest for
identity, along with her Uranus non-conventionality she was bisexual and had
love affairs with women too. Some photographs show her wearing
man’s clothes. Georgia O'Keeffe was one of the women she is rumored to
have romanced. She explored these other sides of her sexuality and
painted herself dressed in man’s clothes, yet Rivera was the love of
Diego and Frida divorced in 1939 and remarried in 1940, yet lived
in separate houses, with an understanding that each could have romantic
involvement on the side. They remained together until Frida's death in
art flows from her chart in some other ways:
Water Has Given me” comes from the center of her Cancer-Sun
soul. This Water sign is instinctively connected with water in both
symbolic and physical way, and I have the Impression that Frida was
aware of it too.
The Leo Ascendant contributed to the focus
on the ‘self’. About one third of her work was self-portraits, in
her various symbolic and realistic states of being, both physically and
paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the
person I know best." , she said.
The strong instinctive imagination coming from
her Neptune-Sun is expressed in this quote: "I
paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I
need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other
With Saturn in her 8th House in
the chart, death was never too far from her thoughts, and in one of her
pictures she is lying in bed, and the roots of a tree are growing all
over the cover, to symbolize the grave, while Death as a skeleton is
lying on the upper level of the bed. Her personal drama and physical
pain were all-consuming and became the main subject of her art. As her
health was deteriorating rapidly her paintings became profoundly sadder.
The surrealist poet Andre Breton called her art ‘a bomb wrapped in a
Frida only had one exhibition in Mexico in
the spring of 1953. During the same year as her exhibition, her health
drastically deteriorated, which caused her to become deeply depressed.
On July 13, 1954, Frida died. Her last words in her diary read "I
hope the leaving is joyful and I hope never to return".
Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera.
Frida and Diego Rivera by Isabel Alcantara
& Sandra Egnolff
THANKS: To Miriam Spector, my first teacher, who inspired me to
study art in astrology.
© Meira B.