Alan Watts Birth Chart Interpretation

by Kerry Shamblin

Alan Watts
Jan 6, 1915
Time: 06:20AM
Chislehurst, England

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There was no greater interpreter of Eastern Wisdom for the Western mind last century than Alan Watts. Throughout his lifetime of study, service, and "philosophical entertaining," Alan Watts put the mystical, ungraspable wisdom of the Ancients into terms that the modern Western mind could absorb and understand. Alan's Vedic birth chart yields three placements in the sign of Sagittarius, Sun, Mars and Mercury, greatly shaping his development into teacher, philosopher, priest, and performer.

Sagittarius is a fire sign, as is Leo, the sign where Alan's Moon and Ketu are located, giving him a total of five planets in fire signs, three planets in air signs, and one planet plus Ascendant in a water sign. This shows a mixture of strong fire qualities with ample air to fan the flame. Here we have a bright flame that burned clearly and strongly, as Alan Watts truly did, for a short but intense and joyful life. Alan died in his sleep on November 16, 1973 at his home in California during his Jupiter/Mercury dasha. Mercury is the 8th house lord, and the 8th house is occupied by Saturn, a karaka for death. He was 58 years old.

In Alan's chart, the Sun, Mars, and Mercury are in Sagittarius, fiery planetary energy in a fiery sign. Within the greater sign of Sagittarius lies the nakshatra of Purva Ashadha, which runs from 13°20' to 26°40' Sagittarius. This asterism gives the ability to influence and relate with the masses, as well as endowing wisdom, fame, fertility, and wealth. The primary motivation of this lunar mansion is moksha, spiritual liberation. These three planets, which strongly define Alan's personality by their placement, rendered him deeply philosophical, while at the same time giving him the ability to relate his religious and spiritual experiences to the masses in a joyful, clear, and entertaining manner.

These planets in Sagittarius end up in his 2nd house of resources based on his Scorpio Ascendant. This house is also associated with writing and speech, or anything that enters or exits the body through the mouth. Although the planet Jupiter rules Sagittarius, the planet Venus rules Purva Ashadha; therefore, both Jupiter and Venus give not only a joyful spiritual nature but also a love of beauty and the ability to relate to others and become an important influence on the Sun, Mars, and Mercury.

Lagna lord Mars is one of the planets located in the 2nd house, giving further strength to the fiery combination in Sagittarius. The Scorpio lagna puts Jupiter, lord of the 2nd and 5th houses in the 4th house of the mother, home and community, but in the eccentric and humanitarian sign of Aquarius. Jupiter also conjuncts Rahu in this position, which gives Watts both a rooted and expansive personality. Rahu, as a worldly influence, conjunct with expansive Jupiter in the fourth house gave Watts a high-profile life as an unconventional person with unconventional homes. During his later years he lived on a houseboat in Sausalito, CA from which he often gave lectures.

It should be noted that the powerful trio of planets in the 2nd house is also in the 5th house from the Moon, further indicating the fortune bestowed by Mars, Sun and Mercury.

Jupiter as 5th lord located in the 4th house also brought Alan Watts the opportunity to father seven children with two of his three wives during his Moon, Mars and Rahu periods.

With the lord of the 7th house of relationship placed in the 1st house of self, we can surmise that Alan Watts had both a passionate nature due to the combination of Venus and Mars energy and may have been somewhat self-centered, which may account for the fact that Watts married three times during his short life. With the Moon placed in the independent and noble sign of Leo, we can also see a personality who may tend to enjoy the adulation of others and feel comfortable with many people in orbit around them.

The Moon as lord of the 9th house of spiritual expansion and higher learning placed in the 10th house of career or dharma also indicates his work as a dispenser of spiritual wisdom and leader in the western spiritual movement. The writings and lectures he gave throughout his life remain relevant even fifty years later.

Saturn, lord of the 3rd and 4th houses, is retrograde and placed in the 8th house in Gemini. This shows a fierce academic interest in spiritual tradition. Gemini, ruled by Mercury who is placed in the 2nd house of speech and resources, is very much associated with learning. Jupiter's Sagittarius, host to the strong trio in the 2nd house, is associated with higher education and teaching. Watts single handedly communicated the foreign ideas of Zen and other mystic teachings to his Western audiences using a cheerful, matter-of-fact approach. These placements suggest a personality who could relate easily to the masses, communicating obscure, mystical ideas, but who may have been a bit inaccessible on an intimate, one-on-one basis.

For another aspect of the way Alan may have related to others, a look at the placement of his Moon is crucial. His Moon is in the sign of Leo in the 10th house of career and dharma, and in the nakshatra of Purva Phalguni, the asterism which runs from 13°20' to 26°40' Leo. Leo is ruled by the Sun, one of the planets in Alan's 2nd house.

The Moon is the 9th house lord, the house of philosophy, religion, grace, wisdom, and gurus, but placed in the 10th house. Leo gives the quality of royal magnanimity, and an air of independence and honor. The Moon here suggests commerce in the realm of philosophy and religion. During the major period of the Moon, which began when he was sixteen years old, Alan was in training to become an Anglican priest while at the same time discovering the philosophy of the East. He became editor of the Buddhist Lodge Quarterly and made the acquaintance of D.T. Suzuki, a great translator of Zen and other Buddhist texts. The Moon is joined by the shadowy planet Ketu in Leo, which perhaps lent Alan the ability to relate his direct, inner spiritual adventure to the rest of us.

The Moon in Purva Phalguni, which is ruled by Venus, gave Alan a youthful, exuberant, and carefree approach to life, as well as a good measure of charisma. This asterism gives a zest for life that surely was manifested by Alan. He got involved at an early age writing and teaching about philosophy and comparative religions, during the major planetary period of the Moon. Purva Phalguni grants the initiative to directly experience life and to plunge in headlong, while also bestowing a love of music, dance, and drama, owed to Venus' influence.

Watts first married during the Moon/Saturn period in April 1938, the same year that he moved to the United States. Saturn is located the 8th house in Alan's chart, which indicates deep research, tantric study, and long journeys. Certainly, New York is far away from his birthplace. Watts stayed with his first wife through the remainder of the Moon period and through the Mars mahadasha, divorcing her in his Rahu/Rahu period, which also saw him re-marrying and moving to San Francisco.

The mahadasha of Mars ran between August 1942 and August of 1949. As already discussed, Mars is conjoined with two other planets in Sagittarius, the sign of religion, philosophy, and higher learning. Mars is placed in the 2nd and is the ruler of the 1st and 6th houses. During this time, Watts was immersed in studies, writing and ordination as an Episcopalian priest.

Alan's next two major planetary periods were those of Rahu and then Jupiter. These two planets are conjoined in Aquarius in the 4th house. We see Watts moving to California in 1950 during Rahu/Rahu to accept a teaching position at the Academy of Asian Studies in San Francisco. He also began a relationship with his second wife at this time and remained in California through the end of his life, in a sense finding an unconventional place for new roots.

These two planets also aspect Retrograde Saturn, further bringing joy and optimism to the Saturn side of spiritual life. He could explain the Saturnine Buddhist concept of suffering in such a way that one could simultaneously feel joyful and free in the face of Saturn's sometimes harsh lessons. Jupiter also projects his beneficent gaze onto the Moon, further strengthening his compassion and ability to relate as a teacher.

Rahu and Jupiter are located in the nakshatra of Dhanishtha, which can indicate things such as talent in singing or reciting chants, great wealth, and difficult marital karma. Other qualities of this lunar mansion are spiritual depth and an ability to unify people by showing sympathy and compassion. It shows courage, fame, recognition, and a fortune made far away from the home. During this time Alan began his radio career and completed the Pacifica Radio Series, as well as continuing to write books about spirituality, religion, and philosophy. He wrote his most well known book, The Way of Zen, during the Rahu Major period. Rahu strongly placed with Jupiter here could certainly account for Alan's rise to fame at this time. Rahu is a significator of fame. He became one of the main gurus of the San Francisco spiritual scene, insisting that he was an entertainer all the way along.

Jupiter's major period began in August of 1967. This was the icing on the cake. The Jupiter major period of this chart shows a person fully growing into their true being and manifestation. Alan reached the furthest reaches of his human blossoming, much like the fullest expansion of a firework. He continued to produce brilliant work through speaking and writing, entertaining, appealing to a wide audience, right until the end of his life. He wrote such books as The Tao of Philosophy, Cloud Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown, and Tao, the Watercourse Way during the years of his Jupiter major period.

Alan Watts' birth chart very accurately reveals his karma as a teacher of spiritual wisdom. He was a prolific writer, speaker, and teacher whose influence on the modern spiritual wisdom scene continues today. The establishment of The Electronic University by his oldest son has served to further the teaching and entertainment of Alan Watts for almost forty years after his passing. My prediction is that spiritual seekers will continue to be entertained into enlightenment by the passionate work of Alan Watts.