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Shiva's Tears: Ardra nakshatra

In the latest episode of his podcast Digging Deep, Robert Plant talks about his 1971 song ‘The Battle of Evermore’ and his memories of working with Sandy Denny. Sandy was queen of the British folk-rock movement as lead singer of Fairport Convention, and became the only guest vocalist ever to feature on a Led Zeppelin song. She was known as the ‘English Janis Joplin’, for her distinctive voice and wild lifestyle.

Sandy Denny, centre. 6/1/1947, 16:00pm, London. Robert Plant, outside, 20/8/1948, 14:30, Birmingham

Sandy was a hard-living and ultimately tragic rock and roll figure, with a partile (exact) Sun-Mars conjunction in Sagittarius/ Uttarashadha. Mars is a troublesome planet for Gemini lagna, especially here opposed to the exact degree, and as sixth lord shows a volatile and accident-prone nature. Added to Saturn and Rahu flanking her Full Moon and ascendant in Ardra, these are prominent red-flags. Papakatari Yoga, ‘the scissors’ shows a lack of support and emotional balance, and around the lagna, an individual with a tenuous hold on life. Her synastry with Robert Plant included his Venus in Gemini sitting on her ascendant and in close proximity to her Moon, while her Venus in Scorpio is close to his lagna. This is an excellent mutual combination for basic affection and harmony, despite the jarring 6/8 aspect between Gemini & Scorpio. Both placements are intense and emotional in their own way: Scorpio more obviously, but the Venus-Moon conjunction in Ardra also brings inner turmoil, befitting a nakshatra symbolized by a teardrop and ruled by Rudra - Shiva in his incarnation as the Storm God. Sandy and Robert also share natal Moon-Mercury oppositions, plus her Jupiter is also in an out-of-sign conjunction to his ascendant.

Her Saturn mahadasha from late 1969 coincided with the start of her solo career, which included the official release of ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes’, a song she wrote aged 18 that became a much-covered folk standard. During Saturn dasha (and also peak Sadesati mid-1973-75) she became notorious for her drinking and manic episodes and a propensity for dangerous driving and self-harm. This period culminated in Saturn-Venus in 1978, when she was found at the foot of the staircase in a friend’s house with severe head injuries, and after remaining in hospital in a coma for three days, her life support machine was switched off. Her death was timed at 7:50 pm on 21 April 1978, during Saturn/ Venus/ Rahu. She was 31.

Ardra's tumultuous quality is in sharp contrast to the usual bubbly and superficial Gemini zodiacal sign depiction, and certainly it is one of the difficult nakshatras. Its Shakti, or unique power, for ‘hard work’ brings a reputation for a somewhat mean and unpredictable nature which manages to be both intense and detached, though its position also promises cathartic experience and genuine transformation. The Rudraksha mala worn by yogis is symbolic of 'Shiva's Tears' and has a clear affinity with this asterism.

Other singers with an Ardra Moon include Janis Joplin, Van Morrison, Tom Waits and Kurt Cobain, plus it is both Joni Mitchell’s and Adele’s ascendant, and George Michael’s Sun nakshatra. Nick Drake had a Mercury-Venus conjunction here in his first house, possibly also including his lagna degree. There are others too (the rapper Drake and Taylor 'Teardrops On My Guitar' Swift have Moon in Ardra), who led troubled, and shortened, lives battling emotional storms and crises which they channelled into their art. They all share a particular raw, haunting quality that hits the listener straight in the chest and makes the eyes prickle.

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