Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Astrology of Gary Gygax (Part 1)

What does it say about me that I have no problem at all launching into a conversation on astrology with just about anyone, but have a damnable time working up the gumption to talk about my gaming…even in a game shop with other gamers? I haven’t even told my mother I’ve written a FRICKIN’ BOOK, and I see her on a weekly basis (literally…we work in the same building) AND she knows about my gaming hobby.

Pretty weird, huh? I don’t really know what it says…except that I guess there’s some trauma there. I’ll have to poke at that one later.

[I will say the blogging has definitely been therapeutic in this regard, helping me to open up and embrace my gamer geekiness…hard as it’s been, I HAVE been talking more about gaming, and to more people…people I know and respect and love. I’ll probably show my mom the book after I’ve sold a copy or two…]

I’m not sure what sign or planet “rules” role-playing games…it’s not a traditional area of interpretation for astrology (most things that are “traditional” have been around for thousands of years). Both war and sport are associated with Mars (and Aries by correlation), but sporting events and gambling are associated with the 5th House (Leo), whereas books and writing are associated with the 3rd House and Mercury and publishing and codified laws (i.e. “rules”) are 9th House and Sagittarius. On the other hand, a good case could be made for Uranus which is associated with a lot of modern and innovative arts and sciences (including television, electricity, and astrology) and gamer “alienation” would definitely throw it in the realm of Uranian Aquarius.

Mainly though, I’d consider Pisces and the planet Neptune to be the significator of role-playing games. Neptune (and Pisces) rule dreams and imagination…and hasn’t RPGs (REAL RPGs, not some medieval fantasy simulation on a computer) long been associated with imagination? Well…long associated till recently (it doesn’t take much imagination to move pieces around a board WotC). Neptune and Pisces are also associated with escapism, addiction, fantasy, and delusion. And with the “cosmic” concept of God (as opposed to the “organized religion” aspect which is 9th House). Jesus was a Pisces (no, he was not born on December 25th).

Pisces, Neptune, and the 12th House (the traditional House of Pisces) are all fairly significant in my own chart…and their placement would actually explain quite a bit of the weirdness about my gaming habits.

This is the usefulness of astrology. It helps one to “know thyself.” Sure, you can use it (I suppose) to pick stock market trends, but you could use tarot cards and stock brokers to do THAT. Astrology is a tool, wonderfully designed (over many, many centuries), for self-discovery and self-knowledge…and I’ve found it can provide a lot of useful insight.

Why does it work? Short answer: no one knows. There are a few theories, and I ascribe to one or two of them, but most astrologers don’t worry too much about the why. I can drive my car without knowing what magic makes the ignition start and the clutch change gears. Astrology as a tool is similar…I know the theories, but the focus is on getting the vehicle moving so as to reach your destination.

So let’s talk about the astrology of Gary Gygax.

To understand a person through astrology, one needs to take a look at a person’s natal (birth) chart. This is a symbolic “map” of the sky at the moment you were born. I say symbolic because chart interpretation uses traditional placement of planets in constellations, rather than actual placement (the galactic wheel continues to spin a little off track every year).

Even the astrologically ignorant out there have probably heard a few pieces of the lingo. Most people living in the U.S. for example could answer the question, “what’s your sign?” The “sign” people are referring to is their Sun sign…the astrological constellation the Sun was in at the time of your birth. There are 12 signs. The Sun travels through each one once per year (one of the reasons we have 12 months in a year). If I say, “I’m a Scorpio,” it means that’s the sign the Sun was in when I was born. Gary Gygax was a Leo (or as I like to say, a Big Fat Leo). Here is my best guesstimate of his birth chart:

I say, “best guess,” because my data is incomplete for the man. You need three pieces of information to calculate a birth chart (well, if you don’t have a computer program you also need a lot of almanacs…). Those three things are: birth date, birth place, and time of birth. Wikipedia gives me Mr. Gygax’s birth date as July 27th, 1938 (yes, I forgot to give him a shout out on his birthday…that’s why I’m doing this post, folks) and his birth place of Chicago, IL (so was he a Bears fan or a Packers fan?). But I don’t have his time of birth.

It is possible to rectify charts based on either a) actual life events, or b) perceived life purpose. As I’m more interested in soul evolution, I use the latter. It is, of course, much easier to do with public (celebrity) figures, especially ones who are deceased, as their life work is generally known…I was able to rectify Gandhi’s time of birth to within 10-15 minutes of absolute accuracy, for example. But unless you have the actual birth time, you’ll never know for sure. And the older the date of birth, the harder to locate any such records.

So I’ve put Gary’s time of birth around the time of 9:20pm. I’m basing this on the placement of Pluto in the 5th House, and this quote:

“I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else.”

We’ll get to that in a second.

As with EVERYONE’S astrological birth chart, Gary’s chart has all twelve signs of the Zodiac present. We all do. The signs are representative of archetypes of human personality, and we all have every archetype present in our “personality matrix.” However, while everyone has every sign, different signs are emphasized for different people.

We can tell where this emphasis is based on the placement of several planets. The ancients recognized only 7 planets in Astrology (they couldn’t see Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto) including the two luminaries: the Sun and the Moon. Of these, the Sun was the most important (just as it was the most important of the celestial bodies for the people) and it colored everything about a person. Some people have planetary placement that bolsters this; for example, Gary has his Sun, Moon, and Mars all in Leo…he would appear to be a VERY Leo-type Leo. Other people have many planets in signs that don’t mesh well with their Sun sign: my brother for example is a Virgo but has no other Earth-sign planets…he comes off as very fiery and radical compared to your normal, composed Virgo (though he is still intensely analytical and has his periods of withdrawal from the world).

However, Gary doesn’t have any “identity issues” regarding HIS Sun sign…he’s got a whole lot o’ Leo going on. I refer to Leos as “Big Fat Leos” (or perhaps Big Phat Leo would be more appropriate) because when it comes to astrology, Leos are The Big Show. They consider themselves royalty (Leo rules kingship after all) in the sense of having Divine Right. It’s hard to say who’s the bigger Drama Queens between Leos and Scorpios (why are Scorpios drama queens? ‘Cause they make everything “life or death.” Let’s face it, most things are NOT “life or death,” especially for a Scorpio living in 21st century America. And yet they go all crazy about stupid shit…like, say, 4th edition D&D or something. Who cares?).
; )

However, in the Drama department it’s hard not to give the trophy to the Leo (and they do SO love trophies and accolades). After all, Scorpios make everything into a drama…but Leos make the drama about themselves.

Yes, center of attention. That’s what I’m talking about. It’s one of the reasons you’ll find so many Leos in the performing arts…and why they always have a need to be in the limelight.

Now, now, now…I understand this all sounds pretty negative (as a Scorpio, I tend to go straight to the dark side first - sorry), Let’s talk about WHY the Leos are the way they are…why do they feel so privileged? Well, mainly it's 'cause they are the natural channels of creativity, what might be called Divine Inspiration.

The sign of Leo is ruled by the Sun. The Sun is the creative life force…in astrology it is our ego and our conscious identity (as opposed to the Moon, which is our subconscious identity and our emotions). Having one’s Sun in the sign of the Sun (Leo) makes for a very creative person…one that everyone likes being around. Like planets revolving around the Sun, the Leo person inspires us to gravitate to them…we stand up straighter in their presence we pay them deference, and we bask in the light of their warmth and charm. The pitfall for Leos is that sometimes they think the light they shine is actually coming from them…that they themselves are the source of the light that everyone wants.

That ain’t the case. They are the CHANNEL through which the light flows. The source of the light is God or the Divine or that Universal Thing That Underlies Everything Else.

Gary has his Sun, Moon, and Mars in Leo…he is a channel for creative force in his very identity, his energy and ego, and his emotional matrix/subconscious. That’s a powerful natural combination for any artist. Of course, you can’t rest on talent alone…you’ve got to train it, apply discipline, nurture it. Then it can serve as inspiration for others.

I think most would agree Gary was able to do this.

Now while I could say this or that about other planets in their signs (knowing his date of birth I know that those are correct), I’m going to instead go into the theoretical interpretation based on my guesstimate of his birth time. Here’s the issue with not knowing the time of birth: it throws off the calculation of the Houses. A House in astrology is kind of like a man-made sign…there’s no actual division of the heavens except what humans choose to impose over their “map of the sky.” The 12 Houses, being man-made divisions, provide human arenas in which signs and planets may manifest…they are of vital importance to understanding how we DO what it is our tendencies are pushing us to do.

For example, a person with Sun sign Leo in the 3rd House (traditionally representing communication and writing) may inspire people through their own communication…they might be a fantastic blogger or best-selling novelist or (in a small town perhaps) the local gossip that everyone knows and comes to for information on the doings of the village. This is different from a person with a Sun sign Leo in the 6th House (traditionally work, service, and medicine) who might find some way to manifest their creativity working as a Florence Nightingale or some type of Butler’s Butler.

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