Janis Joplin Birth Chart Interpretation

by Kerry Shamblin

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Janis Joplin
January 19, 1943
9:45 am
Port Arthur, TX
Rodden Rating: AA

Janis Joplin was a singer well known for her rough, bluesy vocals who rose to prominence in the late 1960's during the heyday of the psychedelic rock movement. Joplin lived a short but eventful life, ending fatefully for her of a drug overdose at age 27, on October 4, 1970, just 16 days after the death of another iconic member of the music scene during that time, Jimi Hendrix, also aged 27. Jimi Hendrix was born less than two months before Joplin.

Janis Joplin's rising sign, ascendant sign or lagna is at 2° Aquarius, ruled by Saturn and located in the nakshatra Dhanistha, ruled by Mars. Dhanistha's power is khyapayitri shakti, which bestows abundance and fame. The symbol for this nakshatra is a musical drum and the deities are the Eight Vasus, bringers of light to the world.

The influence of Saturn through Aquarius and Mars through Dhanistha is an interesting combination for this ascendant. Saturn can cause fear, caution and eccentric behavior when it influences the lagna while Mars can bring courage, power and aggression. An additional Mars influence to Joplin's personality is the fact that she was born on a Tuesday, the day of the week ruled by Mars. The positions of Mars and Saturn in her chart can show how she expressed these energies through her short but dynamic life.

Her ascendant lord, Saturn, also lord of the 12th house of loss and liberation, is located in the 4th house in the sign of Taurus. Saturn, already slow and deliberate in nature, is also retrograde, which could exacerbate the qualities of Saturn such as caution and low self-esteem. The 4th house, sukha bhava, the place of happiness, shows our home, family, mother and general state of mental contentment. The 4th house is an angle house, a foundation for the birth chart, and malefics like Saturn generally mar the indications of angular houses when placed there. Her mother stated in a 1984 interview, "She was unhappy and unsatisfied without [receiving a lot of attention]. The normal rapport wasn't adequate." This placement could indicate the propensity for depression and in addition Saturn aspects the ascendant from this position in the 4th house.

Mars, lord of the lagna nakshatra Dhanistha, rules the 3rd and 10th houses for an Aquarius lagna and is located in Sagittarius in the 11th house, labha bhava, the house of gains and profits from hard work. Mars' rulership of the 3rd house indicates a strong will and the desire to be a leader or pioneer. Mars' rulership of the 10th house shows Mars' influence on the career or life's work. With Mars himself located in Jupiter's fire sign, Sagittarius, this shows a courageous, adventurous approach to life that ultimately pays off for Janis Joplin in bestowing her a intensely successful career as a singer who pushed the boundaries of performance during her short time on stage and in the studio. Janis' first recording was done at a friend's home in December 1962 during her Jupiter/Mars planetary period.

Another notable influence on the lagna is Ketu located in the ascendant and its counterpart, Rahu, located in the 7th house. Aquarius is known as a difficult rising sign because its ruler, Saturn, also rules the 12th house of loss. Aquarius lagna people can often have strong, if not eccentric, personalities. Ketu tends to amplify conditions in general, and when located in the Aquarius ascendant can bestow a mixed effect with its inward turning tendency. Saturn's influence could cause insecurity, Ketu's presence could exacerbate that condition, and cause someone to act as a loner. An article from her college newspaper dated July 27, 1962 started, She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levi's to class because they're more comfortable, and carries herAutoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song it will be handy. Her name is Janis Joplin.”

Ketu in Aquarius puts Rahu in Leo, and with the outgoing, public-reaching nature of Rahu in the Sun's sign of Leo, we see the potential for someone who can very much be in the public eye. While the need for internal reflection and solitude may be called for with Ketu in the lagna, Rahu in the 7th house calls for interaction with people, often as a leader or performer under the influence of Leo.

Rahu can often bring things into our lives or give us strong urges that lead us toward karma that we need to face. Not only did she begin to record her singing during her Jupiter/Rahu period, in January of 1963 she departed for San Francisco, "just to get away from Texas", she said, "because my head was in a much different place." This Jupiter/Rahu period ran from May 1962-October 1964. During this period, she began to record with Jorma Kaukonen as well as to delve into drug use, including amphetamines, psychoactive drugs and occasionally heroin.

Friends encouraged Joplin to return to Texas at the onset of her Saturn major period, due to their concern for her health vis a vis her drug and alcohol abuse. During the year that she stayed in Texas, she avoided substances, enrolled in college and adopted a more conservative approach toward life. This period was short-lived, as she was recruited to be a singer for the band Big Brother and the Holding Company. Janis returned to San Francisco and joined the group June 4, 1966. Her Saturn/Saturn period lasted from October 1964-October 1967. In August of 1966 she relapsed into drinking and shortly after that into drug use. 

The band's debut album was released in August 1967, toward the end of Saturn/Saturn and she remained with Big Brother and the Holding Company, who became a popular band in the San Francisco scene, until the end of 1968. Her final performance with the band was December 1, 1968, in the middle of her Saturn/Mercury period.

Mercury is retrograde in Joplin's chart, ruler of the 5th and 8th houses and located in the 12th house with Sun and Venus. Mercury is lord of Joplin's Jupiter and Moon combination, which aspected by her strong Mars, helped to create her success. Mercury and Venus together form a raja yoga as rulers of a trine and an angle conjunct. Venus on its own is a raja yoga planet for Aquarius lagna, as ruler of the 4th and 9th houses. Another raja yoga is formed with the combination of Mercury and Sun, as rulers of a trine and an angle. So we see a stellium of raja yogas in Joplin's 12th house, the vyaya bhava, house of expenses, loss and liberation. While these are very powerful combinations, located in the 12th house, we literally see them drain from Joplin's life as she tragically perished at such a young age. Not only is the Venus/Mercury/Sun combination located in the difficult 12th house, it is also hemmed by malefics, Mars in the 11th house and Ketu in the 1st.

Joplin's nickname, Pearl, points to the prominent Moon in Janis' chart, as pearl is the main gem for remedial measures for the Moon. Her Moon is located at 15˜º Gemini, ruled by Mercury, in the 5th house of grace and fortune. This puts the Moon in the nakshatra Ardra, ruled by the planet Rahu and Rudra, lord of storms. Ardra can be a turbulent nakshatra that symbolized by a human head (Rahu, a head without a body), a teardrop or a raindrop. The symbolism of a water drop implies the promise of growth that comes after a storm or after difficulty. Those with the Moon in Ardra can often experience a life of turmoil but with the ability to see the good and growth that comes from difficulty.

The Moon finds strength in its waxing state during the time of her birth. There is also a conjunction of Moon and Jupiter in her 5th house, which results in Gajakesari yoga, when Jupiter is located in an angle from the Moon. This helps bestow Joplin with her success, but not without difficulty, as Moon is lord of the 6th house of health/disease. Jupiter is lord of two houses of resource and income, the 2nd and 11th and located in the fortunate 5th house. Indeed, Jupiter was a helpful influence for Joplin and from the 5th house was in a position to aspect the 11th and Mars, located in the 11th.

The Jupiter-Moon combination could also be behind her overindulgent tendency toward partying with drugs and alcohol. Because the Moon rules the mind and emotions and is the ruler of the 6th house, which shows enemies, we could deduce that her abuse of substances was a reaction to depression or unpleasant emotional states. Jupiter, while a positive planet, can sometimes go too far with its expansive nature.

During the two years of her solo career, 1969-1970, Janis Joplin was both wildly successful and at the same time riding a fast train to destruction through her drug and alcohol use. In June 1970, Janis Joplin entered her Saturn/Ketu period, which would prove to be her last. On October 4, 1970, Joplin was found dead in her hotel room, having overdosed on heroin. It is thought that the heroin she had purchased from her dealer was stronger than usual and several other customers of this drug seller overdosed during the same week.

Her overdose and death occurred during Saturn/Ketu/Sun. Saturn is lord of the 12th house and Sun is located in the 12th. The 12th house can be associated with loss, including loss of life. Additionally at the time, the Rahu-Ketu axis was transiting her 1st-7th house axis, opposite from her natal positions. Rahu was transiting her natal Ketu and Ketu her natal Rahu. This shows the possibility for fateful actions to occur.

Saturn, her lagna lord, which in her chart was located in Taurus and contributed greatly to the great and original blues singing voice for which she became famous, and also the mahadasha lord at the time of her passing, was retrograde and debilitated in Aries at the time of her death. From this position, transiting Saturn cast a malefic aspect on her Jupiter/Moon combination in the 5th house as well as on her Venus/Sun/Mercury combination in the 12th house.

Mercury, lord of the 8th house of death and located in the 12th house of loss in her chart, was transiting Virgo, Joplin's 8th house when she died. The Moon, lord of the 6th house of inimical influences in her chart, was debilitated in Scorpio, her 10th house of career on the morning of her overdose. As we can see, fate, choice and circumstance conspired to put an end to a great artist of the 20th century who remains an influence on popular music and culture to this day.