Face Value: Astrology's Second House
The Second house represents money, particularly family assets, capital and luxuries, and in Jyotish it also rules the face, appearance and beauty. With Venus also the general karaka for both beauty and luxury, astrology gives us a clear link between looks and money. One look at any photo website list of 'Celebrity Bankruptcies' bears this theory out, with a surprising number of people who have a history of fluctuating finances also sporting some florid plastic surgery. The condition of the second house, for better and worse, shows a propensity for this kind of transformation.
For many people, coming into money is a way to create a more glamorous look. Professional photographers also tell us we are all body dysmorphic to some degree, but astrology suggests that people who are content with their money are also comfortable in their skin. This is not necessarily about having scars or birthmarks removed, or like the case of Angelina Jolie's recent pre-emptive mastectomy, but rather the excessive 'work' that people undergo in an attempt to improve on nature. Like tattoos also, the desire for cosmetic improvement appears to be cumulative, if not addictive.
An obvious starting point is Michael Jackson. Dubious birthtimes for him go around like urban myths, with at least three totally different charts in circulation, but I have gone with his supposed birth certificate time of 19:30 provided by his brother. This has been rectified by his personal Jyotishi to 19:33, and makes a plausible and powerful horoscope.
Second house lord Jupiter associates closely with Rahu in the 9th house. Rahu rules the foreign and exotic, the tortured and radical. Its influence can be dark, contrary, inspired, obsessive or downright weird, and reveals the element of fantasy in many surgical makeovers. Jupiter is in mutual aspect with a powerful, impulsive Mars, karaka of surgery, with Mars also aspecting Lagna ruler Saturn in the 10th house of public image. Jackson's appearance changed most dramatically somewhere in the mid-80s, and by the time of his 'Bad' album in 1988 (Saturn-Rahu period) he looked like a completely different person.
Michael Jackson: 29th August 1958, 19:30, Gary, Indiana, USA
Jupiter ruling both his second and eleventh houses from the lucky ninth is also a dhan yoga, or combination for wealth. Association with Rahu amplifies this signature, giving the potential for stratospheric gains, and similar losses. Jackson's artistic superstardom encompassed his Saturn Mahadasha 1972-1991, a period where he also showed sharp business instincts - grabbing ownership of The Beatles' song-publishing empire, for one.
His Midas touch held through the 1980s, yet Mercury's period beginning September 1991 saw a progressive decline, with unsavoury rumours circulating and his spendaholic habits spinning out of control. Mercury in the seventh house of doctors and advisors aspects his first house, and he became identified with his little-boy Peter Pan fantasies and infamous Neverland ranch. By the end of his life in 2009, Jackson was supposedly servicing a billionaire's lifestyle on a millionaire's income, a situation reflected in his increasingly bizzare appearance.
Joan Rivers is another name synonymous with cosmetic work. Her second-house ruler Mars (surgery) is also with the Nodes, this time with Ketu in the sixth house of debts. There is also a strong wealth signature in her chart, but after her husband's suicide, in 1987, Rivers was left with enormous bills - though she significantly refused to take the bankruptcy option. Instead, she clawed her way back into the black by marketing a range of skincare products with home shopping channel QVC. Mars is with Jupiter, which also aspects the second house from the sixth house of doctors.
Ms Rivers eventually ended up with the characteristic cosmetic mask, but in Jupiterian style, she was completely open about her surgery to the point it became a staple of her comedy. Some people also felt she had struck a blow for older people to feel good about their appearance.
Joan Rivers: June 8th 1933, 2:00am, New York, New York.
Macho-sweary British chef Gordon Ramsay seems among the least-likely suspects for cosmetic surgery, but in 2010 he admitted to having his craggy face surgically filled. Ramsay has exalted Jupiter in his second house, and no coincidence that in Jupiter's Mahadasha, the same year, 2010, his restaurant empire faced liquidity problems. His grandiose expansion of the previous years hit the economic crash and on into his stressful Jupiter-Mercury period (2011-13), where he was also locked in a business dispute with his father-in-law (Mars in the 3rd house).
Gordon Ramsay: November 8th, 1966, 18:05, St Johnstone, UK.
Environment has big influence, clearly, and exposure to the looks-obsessed Californian culture, where Ramsay filmed for TV, runs deep. Other unlikely candidates for surgical makeovers include actors Burt Reynolds and Mickey Rourke, who both look quite 'Sci-Fi' these days and have both had their run-ins with the accounts department. Former boxing champ Mike Tyson had his face tattooed in the course of running through his $300m fortune. [There are too many disputed birthtimes among these charts to analyze them all.]
David Bowie made a brand out of reinventing himself, but did it differently. Second lord Saturn is in the seventh, aspecting his ascendant, showing his changing faces - and mismatched eyes - are a basic part of his persona. He created the characters Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke during his otherworldly Ketu dasha 1972-79, a period that was also apparently one of financial instability, despite his great success - Ketu with Venus in the eleventh house of gains and revenue.
Yet despite his chameleon-like tendency, he resisted wholesale surgery and into his late 60s aged with grace. The ever-changing Moon aspecting his ascendant shows his constant image revamps, but the crucial difference is the changes have remained skin-deep. Jupiter aspects Bowie's second house, and the second-house lord (Saturn) aspecting the ascendant with benefics also creates Sumunkha Yoga, giving an 'attractive and smiling face'.
David Bowie: 8th January 1947, 9:15am, London.
Saturn is also Bowie's Lagna ruler and placed, with dig bala, in the seventh house of counselors. This tells the story of why he essentially managed himself since 1975, and became something of a financial guru, dispensing advice to other artists and musicians. Sixth and Eighth lords Sun and Mercury join in the twelfth house of expenditure, making a Vipareeta Raja Yoga, indirect benefit from another's loss. In 1997 Bowie used his song catalog as stock in exchange for a lump sum of around $50m, just as the Internet started killing record sales. Prescient. Good for him, if not so much for investors in 'Bowie Bonds' who were eventually left with a virtually worthless asset.
There are many complexities in the relationship between people's looks and their security, but astrologically, the factors may be:
The second house ruler with the Nodes and/or aspected by Mars (I have used this signature in rectification).
Since motivation seems to come for a desire for perpetual youth, analysis of Mercury, and particularly Saturn (ageing and bone structure) may be instructive.
The Arudha Lagna, governing public appearance, is more of an unconscious reflection of the individual, but may also be a factor.
Cosmetic surgery is expensive, and 'Lost in Showbiz' stories one reads about image makeovers gone wrong naturally involve people of a certain income bracket. Many successful people have ups and downs in business yet have no temptation to go under the knife, while others have the Nose-Job from Hell and remain wealthy and secure. Yet anytime someone appears with an obvious surgically-assisted look, particularly of the less-than-successful type, it may be as well to wonder about their finances.