‘I was born within a few minutes of one a.m. – of the clock striking one in the morning’
Hughes described how on 17th August 1930, ‘a Sunday’, his father had gone on his bike to fetch the midwife, returning just as the ‘Wesleyan clock’ had struck one and Hughes popped out. At the time of his birth his mother had been watching a bright star through the window which Hughes identified as the planet ‘Jupiter rising in 11 Cancer…and that she could not see Saturn sitting opposite in the West’. Sylvia Plath famously described her husband Hughes to her mother as wearing the same jacket, its pockets ‘full of poems, fresh trout and horoscopes’. Hughes took astrology seriously, regarding it as a valuable tool, and used to to elect auspicious days for the publishing of his works.
Due to his astrological knowledge, he must have been aware that the synastry between him and Plath was not very harmonious and unlikely to end well. However they did share some interesting aspects. He talks about their first meeting in his poem ‘St Botolph’s’, which is loaded with astrological imagery, impenetrable to anyone unfamiliar in reading a chart. As Hughes put it, it was the solar system that had married them that fateful night.
I had predicted
Disastrous expense: a planetary
Certainty, according to Prospero’s book.
Jupiter and the full Moon conjunct
Opposed Venus. Disastrous expense
According to that book. Especially for me.
The conjunction combust my natal Sun.
Venus pinned exact on my mid-heaven.
It goes on; it is a full chart and goes through each placement in detail “That conjunction, conjunct my Sun, conjunct / Opposite my Neptune and fixed / In my tenth House of good and evil fame.” He imagines Chaucer worrying over their planets; Chaucer, in their shoes, he suggests, “would have stayed at home with his Dante.”
On the day they met in February 25th 1956, all the astrological events Hughes described in the poem were indeed happening apart ‘Venus pinned exactly on my midheaven’ Transiting Venus didn’t fit to that. Though his Uranus did, so perhaps Venus went better in the verse. In his line about ‘Disastrous expense’ Ted is most likely referring to Jupiter being in extravagant Leo and Venus residing in its fall position in Aries, intimating this aspect could lead to overspending, however, it is the trine that indicates this, not the opposition. The opposition here is actually very positive, Jupiter opposing Venus means warm hearted generosity.
Though the synastry that brought them together was intense, their day to day synastry had a lot of problems. They did however have one nice aspect. Ted’s natal Venus almost conjuncts Sylvia’s Moon, this is undoubtedly the one that brought and held them together for some time. Moon/Venus aspects add tenderness and sentimentality and as it fell in Sylvia’s 7th house which is the house of marriage, things didn’t look so bad. However Ted had a strong Venus/Saturn square in his own chart. This placement frequently causes many misunderstandings in relation to Venusian themes (love and money) and also indicates a tendency towards selfishness and excessive egotism in love. This square of his also squared their favourable Moon/Venus conjunction which spoiled the promised compatibility to some extent. While Saturn is needed in relationships for any type of longevity, this particular Saturn square was not conducive to it.
Another bad omen was when they married on June 16 1956, Slyvia’s progressed Midehaven was conjunct Ted’s natal Saturn and squaring his natal Venus, activating his natal Venus/Saturn square again bringing up this energy of misunderstandings, which seemed to be the ongoing theme of their relationship.