"Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness"
- Yousuf Karsh, Capricorn
Severus Snape has never been Harry Potter's favorite teacher, but after his actions in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince he now rivals Lord Voldemort himself as the young wizard's prime nemesis. But is Harry's hatred of Snape justified or does Severus the spy still store some secrets yet to be revealed? Just who is this mystery-shrouded Half-Blood Prince and how did he become the dungeon-dwelling professor we love to hate? To quote the stargazer Firenze, "Our findings teach us that the future may be glimpsed in the sky above us",1 or as the expression goes, "Coming events cast their shadows backward". Perhaps we can determine a few more details about Snape's mysterious present and cryptic future by looking backward; back to where the planets were positioned in the sky on the day of his birth, January 9th, 1960.2
If we accept the fact that the birth dates of J.K. Rowling's characters are not randomly selected as I propose, that means she deliberately placed both Snape and Voldemort under the sign of Capricorn the goat. A dark and solemn earth sign, Capricorn seems an appropriate choice for an enigmatic villain in raven black robes. However, are we meant to compare these two Capricorn antagonists or contrast them? Does Snape's allegiance lie with his fellow goat, or do the two maleficent men represent opposing embodiments of the same zodiac sign; two sides of the same coin? To properly understand Snape, we must delve more deeply into his astrological roadmap and go beyond the Capricorn Sun sign he shares with Voldemort. When we closely examine the rest of the Half-Blood Prince's birth chart (constructed using an unconfirmed birth time of 7:40 AM), any similarities with the Dark Lord begin to crumble away and a solitary, unique individual starts to emerge.
Just beyond the brightness of the Sun lies the pale Moon, the emotional undercurrent that shapes one's true inner nature. In my interpretation of Tom Riddle's birth chart, I found his poorly aspected Moon in Scorpio to be a major driving force toward his insatiable lust for power at any price.3 At Severus Snape's birth the Moon was in terrestrial Taurus, forming almost a perfect 180 degree opposition to Voldemort's sinister Scorpio Moon. Not only does Snape's Taurus Moon illuminate the striking differences between the professor and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, it sheds a shimmer of light upon the secret chambers of Snape's cloistered, cobwebbed psyche. In the sign of Taurus the bull, the Moon is said to be "exalted", or functioning at a very high level. Ruled by the placid planet Venus, lunar Taureans generally seek comfort and security over power and destruction. However, the sign of Taurus can also be dictatorial, resentful, and unrelentingly stubborn due to a deeply rooted fear of loss or change. With his insecure, control-coveting Capricorn Sun in harmony with the Moon, we can assume that Snape feels a strong need to regulate every aspect of his environment in order to feel stable and secure. The Moon's position in the Fourth House (the Moon's natural home, the house of home and family foundations) compounds this need for stability, giving Severus a yearning to establish firm roots and a comfort zone (like Hogwarts) where he can always feel in control of his surroundings, and in control of other people (like his students). But how, you ask, could such a controlling ego ever tolerate the tenacious tyranny of the Dark Lord? Read on¦
A Foundation for Torture
According to astrology advocate Carl Jung, who”like Severus Snape”had his natal Moon in Taurus,4 "The healthy man does not torture others; generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers".5 In Snape's case, the foundation for torture begins with his exalted Fourth House Moon opposing a Scorpio-ruled Tenth House. From this planetary configuration we can see Snape's early attachment to his mother, the bookish witch Eileen Prince, and a definite animosity toward his father. The Moon represents the mother, and its placement alongside the Part of Fortune (indicating success and happiness) in the Fourth House of motherhood and early childhood influences represents a positive maternal figure in Snape's infancy. Ominous Pluto, the ruling planet of Snape's Tenth House (Tenth House governs fatherhood) suggests distance and fear rather than warmth between father and son. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we are subjected to a glimpse of Snape's childhood when Harry's shield charm suddenly fills his mind with some of Snape's grimmest memories including one in which, "a hook-nosed man was shouting at a cowering woman, while a small dark-haired boy cried in a corner".6
Tobias Snape may have tormented or derided his son as well as his wife, but even tormenting Eileen would have vicariously wounded Severus too. Snape's chart not only shows a strong maternal bond but also a heavy dose of Capricorn planets (Mercury, Saturn, Sun and Ascendant) that often lend an authoritarian facet to one's personality, even in childhood. I believe young Snape was fiercely protective of his mother, resenting his father's mistreatment of her to the point of molding himself into the mature, commanding father figure he felt he and his mother deserved. With Pluto (ruling fatherhood in Snape's chart) retrograde in critical Virgo it's safe to speculate that Severus always felt Tobias was beneath him, probably treating his Muggle father to an early dose of his notoriously scathing disapproval. Although Snape loved his mother, anguished Chiron squaring (90 degrees away from) the maternal Moon at the nadir (very bottom of his chart) hints that she may have been a source of pain and possibly embarrassment to him as well. I believe as he grew he began to view his mother as weak and his father as inferior, initiating a need in Snape to prove himself better that everyone else. Shifting as quickly as possible from child to adult, Severus must have worked hard to develop his magical abilities in order to show the world a thing or two.
In addition to this self-enforced maturity, young Snape's potential for frivolity was further hampered by his rising planet Saturn weighing so heavily on both his ascendant and Sun. The influence of somber Saturn often robs a childhood of carefree spontaneity, making it likely that Snape felt burdened and wise beyond his years from a very early age. His serious, melancholy nature was spun into an even more tangled web by his opposition of Chiron in Aquarius and Uranus in Leo. When two planets oppose each other, the result is a curious mix of conflict and balance. The opposing planets constantly challenge each other, yet are strengthened by each other's energies. Chiron (associated with emotional wounds that never heal) in the First House (the house of identity) is like having an open wound for the world to see. In Snape's case, his First House Sun and Saturn sitting so close to his ascendant act as a blanket over the emotional wounds of Chiron, obscuring them from public view with a cool Capricorn stoicism. However, the slightest dig beneath the surface will still trigger hostility”especially with a domineering Leo Uranus opposing his house of identity and governing Snape's social relations. This position proves that although Snape promptly adopted a persona of menacing intimidation to compensate for his childhood inadequacies, this strategy only served to make him less likable and confirm his status as a social misfit.
A Dark Character Develops
Channeling his natural human desire to be accepted and liked by his peers into a fear tactic did not make Severus a more popular child, but it did allow him some degree of control over his environment, which is crucial to a Capricorn/Taurus personality. Furthermore, dictatorial Leo governing his rebellious Uranus would not back down or submit easily, leading Snape to continually push the boundaries of his image as a dark force to be reckoned with. Snape's innate need to be the best was not bullied out of him by the likes of James Potter and Sirius Black; if anything their schoolyard torment made him more determined to prove just how dangerous he could be to an enemy. With each social rejection, I imagine Snape withdrew further and further into the role of the intimidator until finally resorting to the ultimate intimidation tool: the Dark Arts. His serious interest in dark magic probably coincided with the angst of his early teenage years. The message was clear: "If I can't make you like me, at least I can make you fear me".
Snape's decision to join forces with the Dark Lord was most likely made around mid-1977 or early 1978 during his final year as a student at Hogwarts and coinciding with the discovery of the planetoid Chiron, named for the wounded centaur in Greek mythology.7 During this time, Snape's ruling planet Saturn was transiting in his Seventh House, in direct opposition to his natal Chiron in Aquarius. Astrologers have described this configuration as, "the maverick (Chiron) versus the establishment (Saturn)",8 and in Snape's case this meant aspiring to escape from the restrictions of his life (Saturn) into the Death Eaters in a desperate attempt to set himself apart and break away from his social inferiority (Chiron in Aquarius, social wounds), and also make a powerful relationship commitment (serious Saturn in the Seventh House of relationships). As isolated and ostracized as Snape was in adolescence, it's important that we not view him simply as a sad and lonely boy desperate to belong to a club; he had long since surpassed loneliness by the time he became a Death Eater. With his Sun conjoining Saturn in the First House he has the self-discipline to develop an almost superhuman strength from being alone, his source of confidence being drawn from a sense of superiority over weaker people who need love and companionship to survive. Still I feel that a part of Snape derived a certain pleasure from being inducted into a secret society and truly being accepted for once. This pleasure must have eventually worn off when Severus realized that to be a follower of Voldemort is to be in a position of the utmost subservience; it is to be controlled rather than to control.
In addition to developing strength from loneliness, Snape's Venus in Sagittarius in the Eleventh House (companionship) being squared by retrograde Pluto in cool, judgmental Virgo makes him condescending of love in any form, even friendship. According to J.K. Rowling, "He [Snape] has [been loved], which in some ways makes him more culpable even than Voldemort, who never has".9
The primary difference between Snape and Voldemort is that Voldemort has never felt love; he cannot comprehend its power, therefore he has no fear of it. Snape fully comprehends the force of love, so he intentionally goes out of his way to avoid forming a bond of friendship with anyone. He would rather admonish, embarrass, hurt or even torture another human being than deign to accept his or her love. Snape's trademark insults, threats and icy glares are part of a vast arsenal of weapons he continually pelts at others to keep emotion and tenderness away. The dread and disgust he receives from others in return he probably interprets as a sign that he is respected, singled out or held in awe. Hate has no power to hurt him as long as he is not ridiculed”as long as he comes out on top. Love is for weak people like his mother, but hatred he is comfortable with and comfort is the key word for Snape. With his lack of emotion, symbolized by a lack of the Water element in his chart, and his fixed (unchangeable) Taurus Moon, it seems unlikely that Snape will ever be comfortable acknowledging or expressing any real feelings. He functions purely on a dry, cerebral plane and is liable to always do so.
Severus the Spy
It is my belief that Severus Snape lost interest in serving the Dark Lord because his nature was not content to be controlled, but this is not to suggest that he has no talent for the Dark Arts. The former Head of Slytherin House was born with Pluto, the "underworld" of man's psyche, in Virgo in the intuitive Eighth House in perfect harmony with Mercury, giving him a profound comprehension of mysticism and magic, as well a rare gift for combining extrasensory intuition with shrewd Mercurian logic. Pluto's retrograde quality puts a dark twist on his already dark Saturnine intellect, making him an ideal practitioner of black magic. An abundance of planets in the element of Earth also suggests a talent for working with plants and herbs, but if I had to choose the ideal career for Snape based on his birth chart, I would call him a natural born spy.
In Snape's chart, the planet of communication Mercury dwells in reserved Capricorn, hovering just a few degrees behind his ascendant in the Twelfth House, the sector of secrets, self-sacrifice and hidden enemies. This could represent behind-the-scenes communication of all sorts, especially with one's enemies, but most importantly it provides the ability to keep secrets and keep thoughts to one's self. A penetrating mind and an inherent gift for Occlumency is also implied with this position, as the Twelfth House is concerned with the hidden depths of the occult and Mercury rules thoughts. Snape's secluded Mercury is positively linked to his most elevated planet (and only planet in a Water sign), Neptune in Scorpio conjoining the Midheaven (top of the chart). This is a perfect astrological arrangement for a spy because Neptune's acute sensitivity acts as an antenna, allowing reason to be augmented with deadly accurate instincts and cunning Scorpean perception. Combative Mars in reckless Sagittarius in the Twelfth House of secrets (neighboring enthusiastic Jupiter) completes the picture by providing the ex-Potions Master with a willingness to sacrifice his safety, risking bodily harm or even death, for a secret cause.
Snape's birth chart shows that he's stealthy enough to be a successful double agent, but can it tell us whether he is truly loyal to the Order or the Dark Lord? Jupiter (success, benevolence) and Venus (love) in Sagittarius (expansion of knowledge) in Snape's Eleventh House (social ties) signifies a profitable alliance with a benevolent man connected to education or higher learning. Based on this placement, I would interpret Snape as remaining loyal to Albus Dumbledore and the Order, though his well-aimed Avada Kedavra curse in the Hogwarts Astronomy Tower does require some lengthy explanations. It's interesting to note that traditional astrologers often associated Mars in the Twelfth with murderers and violent criminals imprisoned in asylums, as well as those who "maliciously and secretly undermine their neighbours",10 though modern astrologers no longer find this to be true. Snape's chart actually does not indicate a particularly violent nature, but one whose aggression (Mars) is expressed in secret (Twelfth House). A conspicuous”one might even say staged”murder observed by a large audience in broad daylight seems out of character for the Half-Blood Prince, but a planned conspiracy involving Dumbledore's death at the hands of Snape would not be out of the question.
The One Who Made the Difference
Capricorns are always striving for acclaim. Whether they aim for Employee of the Month or Ruler of the Galaxy depends on the Capricorn, but those born under the sign of the goat tend to toil for glory above all else. They want to make a difference in the world that will be recorded in the history books. Severus Snape's chart contains no aspects symbolic of predestined greatness; no planetary marks of exceptional prestige, yet he has always longed for recognition. I have analyzed Harry Potter and Tom Riddle's birth charts and found both to bear astrological indications of fame, whereas Snape's chart lacks a definite augury of widespread acclaim. He appears destined to work covertly in the background without reaping any public praise for his efforts. If Snape really has been risking his life working on secret missions for the Order while pretending to serve Voldemort, never able to breathe a word about his accomplishments, his Capricorn craving for fame must have suffered.
As a youth, Severus probably dreamed of being the most powerful wizard of the age, hoping to outshine his classmates and escape his "Snivellus" identity. When Voldemort rose to power, joining forces with him looked like Snape's best shot at fame, so it must have stung to always remain overshadowed by the Dark Lord. Voldemort's reign of terror being halted by the baby of Snape's former childhood bully was an even bigger blow. To find his dreams of glory further eclipsed by an adolescent Harry Potter's fame has been too much for Snape. He despises Harry not because he is the son of James Potter, but because Harry will go down in history as the one who made the difference, a distinction Snape has been striving toward his whole life.11 He bullies Harry's friends because they are reminders of Harry's popularity, and he abuses Neville Longbottom in particular because Neville is sensitive and sincere, which Snape equates with a lack of self-discipline. Displaying emotional sensitivity in public is anathema to someone with a rising planet (also called a personality planet) of Saturn in its dignity in Capricorn. Professor Snape would rather die than display any understanding of Neville's emotions. His need to always be the best is all encompassing, and does not exclude humiliating children if need be.
A Future Glimpse
The most astonishing aspect in Snape's chart shows that he may actually end up working in league with Harry Potter, whether he likes it or not. Uranus (the unexpected) in Leo (Harry's Sun sign, also associated with children and fame) trining Jupiter in the Eleventh House (friendship) indicates an unexpected and sudden kinship between Snape and Harry, as unlikely as this seems. Strange as it sounds, there is a possibility that Severus Snape and Harry Potter will end up working together in the Order, possibly even destroying Voldemort as a team.
At the end of Harry Potter's last year at Hogwarts (in June of 1998), Saturn (in Taurus) and Neptune (in Aquarius) will square each other in an intense confrontation only seen every 17 to 18 years. The last time these two planets challenged each other in this way was in the summer of 1980 when Harry was born.12 The last time Saturn and Neptune conjoined was in 1989 on the day the Berlin wall fell.13 The planet Saturn represents the established order, while Neptune symbolizes idealism and the blurring of boundaries, so when they clash dramatic shifts in power are likely to take place. In this case both planets will also be in one degree of Taurus (resistance to change) and Aquarius (social rebellion) respectively, so this could signal the end for Voldemort and his followers. After spending fourteen years shackled in old-fashioned Capricorn, Neptune's movement into free thinking Aquarius may lead the Death-Eaters to question Voldemort's authority, initiating tiny tremors in his structure of terror.14
During this time, Chiron will be transiting at the very top of Snape's birth chart, leading him to reexamine his old goals (constructed from the ashes of past hurts, symbolized by Chiron's opposition to Snape's Moon) and question whether his dreams and ambitions have fulfilled him; whether he has become the man he once hoped to be. I believe that his true motives will be conveyed to the world at this time, old wounds will be brought to the surface (Midheaven, that which is not hidden), and his weaknesses may be exposed to the benefit of others (Chiron is a teacher and healer). This means that he might finally be able to teach a real lesson for a change, and I predict he will make a better teacher as a fugitive than as a professor. Pluto enters Snape's Eleventh House (governing hopes and wishes) and squares his natal Pluto around this time as well, which could initiate a day of reckoning for Severus Snape. Pluto transits "force an intense pressure on the soul to recognize and integrate what are often karmic obsessions and compulsions",15 resulting in deep transformations of self. In this time, all those wishes a younger Snape made for power and fame could echo back in a life-transforming way, for better or for worse. Social associations (also ruled by the Eleventh House) formed in the past might also come back to haunt Snape, manifesting in a crisis of revolutionary proportions. Afterward, nothing will ever be the same again.
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