Penguins survive the sub-zero temperatures of the Antarctic by huddling together in large groups to create warmth. The penguins circulate so that those on the outside gradually come to the centre, and vice versa. Victims of Stalinist purges – the zeks – tried similar techniques when they were shipped off to Siberia in the 1930’s in the clothes they were standing in, and forced to stay in large tents in the icy Arctic winter. So many people were crammed into tents that they could only stand, and they huddled together for warmth. As the days and weeks past new zeks arrived, and those who could not make it through the night were piled up outside, their frozen bodies functioning at least as a wind break.

The Russian Gulag

It is impossible to exaggerate the deadly suffering of the Russian people in the communist epoch. It cannot be done. From 1917-21, between 6 and 12 million people died in the upheavals between the Red (communist) and White Russians. Subsequent famine from 1922 -23 eliminated another 7.5 to 13 million. The systematic Lenin-inspired destruction of the old social classes, clergy and believers from 1922-28 got rid of another 2-3 million. Then the suffering really started. Stalin’s liquidation of the kulaks (landowners and ordinary farmers) and the resultant famine killed 16 million. From 1934-41 mass execution in prisons, starvation in camps and epidemics killed 7 million. During the war 7.5 million zeks were killed through hunger and overwork. In Stalin’s wartime camps from 1943-45 5 million died, and in those same camps another 6 million died after the war. Who can know or even imagine the suffering of the Russian people? Not just the firmly documented 66 million deaths, but the children, wives, husbands and mothers these deaths touched. How can anyone in the West comprehend what constituted the 20th century Russian soul?

The Man who saved Russia

Into this carnage stepped a man who in this new century will probably be recognised as the greatest writer in Russian history, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Born in Kislovodsk southern Russia on the 11th December 1918, he was a child of the revolution, which took place just 32 days before his birth. The revolution was in his blood, and he was a ardent communist until and beyond his arrest in 1945, whilst he was leading a Russian artillery battalion towards Berlin. His “crime” was that he wrote disparaging remarks about Stalin to a friend. When he received his 8 year sentence for this crime, he entered the world of the camps which he was later to write about with such devastating effect. In these camps the veil of Communism was torn apart, awakening in him an implacable hatred of it, coupled with a deep love for Mother Russia and its people. After he served his eight years, he was sent into exile, and here he dedicated himself to writing, his avowed goal to commemorate his zek brothers and bring about the fall of an inhuman regime.

The Birthchart

See chart for Solzhenitsyn

I have not been able to find a time of birth for Solzhenistyn, which sets certain limits on interpreting his chart. When there is no birth time many people prefer to make a Noon chart, but here I have used the method of solar houses, in which zero degrees of the Sunsign is placed on the Ascendant. At least with this method the solar houses have some kind of effect, because of their relation to the Sun. One of the first things to catch the eye in this chart is the conjunction of the Sun with the North Node in Sagittarius. This shows that he was born around an eclipse, and indeed this eclipse took place on December 3rd at 10.40 Sagittarius. What these horoscopes show is the tremendous power of the Venus/Node conjunction at the time of the eclipse. The eclipse itself is closely trine Neptune, so the main influence – in both charts – is Sun, Moon and Venus trine Neptune. One might imagine then, that this is the chart of a peacemaker and visionary, who preached the message of love. This is not how the man came across in life. He has been fanatical in his battle against the Communist State, and totally uncompromising in his dealings with others, even his friends and loved-ones. There is no hint of softness about him. But the fact that he is born on the eclipse with its Venus/Neptune overtones, means that his mission is at least to propagate the highest ethical values, and perhaps on a larger scale to broadcast to the world a completely new moral way of being. More of this later.

Pisces and Sorrow

The fact that Solzhenitsyn was deeply affected by his years in prison and the suffering of the zeks is illustrated by his Moon in Pisces. Once again Chiron seems to exert its influence: he was both wounded by the experience of the camps, and dedicated his life to healing and honouring those who had either lost their lives in them, or were crippled by the experience. The composer Shostakovitch was one of them. He writes in his book Testimony :
“I was remembering my friends, and all I saw was corpses, mountains of corpses. I’m not exaggerating. I mean mountains… I’m grieving all the time.”
Solzhenitsyn’s father died months before his birth, and he was brought up by a mother who sacrificed everything for him, and was ailing much of the time. Solzhenitsyn had great difficulty freeing himself from his mother, who was something of a martyr. This martyrdom was paralleled later in his life by his first wife, who, when Solzhenitsyn wanted a divorce in the early seventies tried to take her own life. Even after his return from exile in Kazakhstan, he isolated himself in remote dachas and huts, preferring a disciplined solitude. Further understanding of the power of his Pisces Moon is provided by the fact that it almost certainly configures with both Saturn and Pluto in a double septile aspect pattern.

The Workaholic with a Mission

Biographers have pointed out that Solzhenitsyn never got out of the habits ingrained in him by the camps. Every minute of his life, even in freedom, is strictly regimented. He writes with phenomenal concentration during almost all his waking life. Everything takes second place to what he sees as this mission. He was born with Mercury retrograde in Capricorn, which undoubtedly shows his self-discipline and determination to organise his life. Mercury retrogrades to 17 degrees of Sagittarius, going direct by progression at the age of 16, returning to the birth position at the age of 36, which was just after the death of Stalin in 1953. It was at this time that Solzhenitsyn was released from prison, and went into exile to write. For Mercury new territory was opening – literally – as Solzhenitsyn gazed out over the open Russian steppes of Kazakhstan. Prior to this Mercury had then trined Saturn in Leo three times by progression. No wonder he was able to mobilise legendary self-discipline. His writing was minute scribbling on precious paper which was either buried or smuggled out to friends.

Conquering Cancer

Release was not an easy time, as a cancerous tumour which had been operated on in the camps reappeared. At this time his Sun progressed also conjoined Mars, whilst the Moon progressed activated his Jupiter/Pluto conjunction (which progressed Mercury was now moving to oppose… progressed Jupiter actually conjoins his natal Pluto in the late eighties). He was cured, partly by an old folk remedy of the poisonous mandrake root, partly by heavy radiation treatment, and partly by the sheer will power of the Sun/Mars influence. The only other time Solzhenitsyn suffered from a life-threatening illness was when he contracted what he though was severe sunstroke on a journey to southern Russia in August 1971. With his body covered all over with boils, his life was in the balance for three months, and he took even longer to fully recover. The KGB under the Brezhnev regime had a whole department whose only function was to shadow Solzhenitsyn. In 1971 the KGB head Andropov – who later became President – had the bright idea of poisoning Solzhenitsyn, and it was only years later that the author learned that his brush with death was the result of a poison being shot into his body in a crowded shop on this fateful journey. It’s fascinating to see that his progressed Mars at 4 Pisces trined progressed Pluto at 4 Cancer at this time… showing both the poison and his survival.

The Birthchart

1970 was a time of enormous change for Solzhenitsyn. Now in his early fifties, his long-standing marriage to his first wife Natasha was all but over. Solzhenitsyn had during his whole life surrounded himself with women who faithfully served his mission, translating his work, typing new copies, smuggling forbidden literature etc. This is also the meaning of being born with the Sun in conjunction with Venus. He had fallen in love with one of these helpers… Alya . This is clearly shown by the New Moon in at 11 Aquarius in 1970, which took place at the same time as progressed Venus conjoined Uranus in Aquarius… Alya was 20 years younger than him. In 1970 he was also to receive the Nobel prize for literature, and Alya bore him the first of three sons. By this time, Solzhenitsyn had been expelled from the Writer’s Union, after a brief period of warmth when Khrushchev came to power.

Literature and Exile

On November 17, 1962 permission had been given for the publishing of Ivan Denisovich , with progressed Mercury exactly opposing Jupiter. At this time progressed Uranus and progressed Saturn were in close opposition, both in Solzhenitsyn’s chart and in the chart for the revolution. There were enormous power struggles between the old and new guard, and Ivan Denisovich , which described a day in the life of a humble zek, was like a bombshell. By the early seventies Solzhenitsyn had written the masterpiece The Gulag Archipelago , which was a total exposé of the tragedy of Russian communism, describing as it did a parallel existence of millions of prisoners utterly concealed from both the world and the Russian people. The Politburo was in panic and had no idea what to do when they found the manuscript in 1973. Solzhenitsyn was expelled from Russia in 1974 but copies of the Gulag had already found their way to the West. Thus began a new life for Solzhenitsyn in the West, together with his young wife and three sons. Progressed Mercury had now just moved out of Capricorn and entered Aquarius… freedom? Venus has left Aquarius and entered Pisces… suggesting a long period of isolation. Progressed Mars in Pisces trined progressed Jupiter.

The Blessing and Curse of America

After some time he settled in Vermont in the USA, whilst the Gulag Archipelago became a vast success. It is at this point that it dawned upon the West, just how uncompromising and difficult Solzhenitsyn was. He had no time for capitalism at all, and despised political correctness and do-good socialists. His view of those Americans who were against the Vietnam War was that they were cowards and miscreants, who failed to support their country in their hour of need. Solzhenitsyn was disappointed that the Americans were driven out of Vietnam, failing to stem the tide of communism. It was the right-wing senator Jesse Helms who finally got him a resident permit for the States. He loathed the press and gave very rare interviews. Journalists and newspapers in the West had very few kind words for him… but he struck a chord with the people. When he gave an interview for the BBC, 5 million people watched. When it was re-broadcast 15 million watched. He lambasted the socialist politicians of the time for having no moral principles. He hated the world of advertising, lager, perfume, and the lack of moral fibre of the West.

The Legacy

He did not even approve of democracy, and wrote about re-introducing pre-Renaissance values, with a benevolent yet autocratic regime, and a devoted religious atmosphere. In actual fact his creed was similar to the ecological movement today, and his writings of this period have great significance for 21st century ecological values. This was how his Sun/Node/Venus trine Neptune really manifested itself. After Boris Jeltsin came to power, and banned Communism, Solzhenitsyn felt he could return to Russia, and did so in 1994, his progressed Mercury having recently entered Pisces, and now exactly conjoining the progressed Sun at 4 Pisces trine Pluto and Jupiter at 4 and 5 Cancer … a return to his roots. Here in 2001 he is 83 years old, and at his Uranus return next year he will experience a nodal return as Pluto conjoins his Sun and Saturn opposes it. Perhaps at this time his legacy will be revealed for all to see… a man who valued principle above life itself, and who, more than any other individual, was responsible for the soul change in Russia which made the transition from Russian communism possible.


Adrian Ross Duncan