Algol – light in the heart of darkness ++ additional thoughts

 Harnessing destructive powers to do good is one of the redeeming characteristics of Algol. In mythology, the ghoul/gorgon’s head so hideous it would kill all who looked at it, was later used as a protective device on Athena’s shield and by Perseus against the sea monster when rescuing Andromeda.

  Given Algol’s pervasive presence this year, conjunct Jupiter just before the middle of May and conjunct Mars Uranus in mid July, it is worth exploring its deeper meaning.

  The key association of Algol is the sight that is so terrible it is beyond human capacity to experience. Looking at the gorgon’s head turns the onlooker to stone. Yet if a strategy can be found whereby the destructive entity can be utilized it can do good. Perseus decapitated the gorgon by using his shield as a mirror. He struck at the reflection and did not face it directly.

  Algol has produced brutal leaders with few redeeming features such as Stalin with his Pluto conjunct Algol and Mao Tse Tung with his Mars opposition Algol, who seemed to glory in destruction for its own sake.

   The dual nature of Algol is personified in the physicists intimately involved in atomic research which led ultimately to the bomb and later more helpful nuclear advances. Oppenheimer with his Venus opposition Algol –  “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”; and Niels Bohr with his Neptune conjunct Algol.

 At the positive end there are those who have a lesson for ordinary living in embodying the capacity of Algol to face suffering and horror and not brush it aside.  All the more relevant in today’s climate of ignoring inconvenient realities.

  “Is the truth destroyed because it distresses you?” Euripides.

 What is so terrible that it cannot be faced?  Death, war trauma, torture, rape, abuse.  The UK’s first Rape Crisis centre was set up in November 1974 when the Sun Venus were opposition Algol. Esther Rantzen who set up Childline for abuse survivors has her Uranus conjunct Algol.

Medusa, the gorgon, herself a rape victim at the hands of Neptune, was turned petrifyingly ugly by the rage and envy of Athena.

 R.J. Lifton is an American psychiatrist who has studied and written numerous books on war trauma and the worst aspects of the 20th Century: Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima; The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide; Surviving Our Catastrophes: The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation; Resilience and Renewal from Hiroshima to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

  Lifton was born 16 May 1926 and has his Sun conjunct Algol and his Saturn in opposition.  His Algol has given him a strength to lead the way into studying atrocities and not burn out as happens with many trauma researchers. 

   The blurb for his book is worth reading: “Proteanism”,or the protean self, describes a psychological phenomenon integral to our times. We live in a world marked by breathtaking historical change and instantaneous global communication. Our lives seem utterly unpredictable: there are few absolutes. Rather than collapsing under these threats and pulls, Robert Jay Lifton tells us, the self turns out to be remarkably resilient. Like the Greek god Proteaus, who was able to change shape in response to crisis, we create new psychological combinations, immersing ourselves in fresh and surprising endeavours over our lifetimes.”

  Dori Laub, 8 June 1937, another psychiatrist, an American-Israeli, a Holocaust survivor and later expert in the area of testimony methodology, and a trauma researcher, had his Mercury conjunct Algol and his Mars in opposition to Algol. In one of his memorable observations about witnessing trauma and the holocaust he wrote “The fight against the obliteration of the story could only be won at the cost of the obliteration of the audience.”

   The challenge of Algol is to face up to the unbearable and not sidestep. The gift it offers, or more accurately one strategy it suggests as a way of approaching the unbearable is creativity. Art becomes the reflective shield represented by Pegasus, the winged horse, which flies free once Medusa, the gorgon, is decapitated.

Not everyone has the capacity of Lifton or Laub for walking into the heart of darkness and not be destroyed by it. Having Algol emphasised in a chart gives almost superhuman strength – which can be turned to good use.

 Other thoughts:

Algol makes the wearer bold and magnanimous, preserves the body, protects against witchcraft, and turns evil and spells back upon those who work them. Rules diamond, black hellebore.

ADD ON: One stray thought is that astrology itself may be a mirror reflection allowing the ugliness of reality to be faced.

   Other non-astro background.

 Two things are true:

“Man lives by lying to himself about himself and about his world. * The individual  has to protect himself against the world, and he can do this only as any other animal would; by narrowing down the world, shutting off experience, developing an obliviousness to the terrors of the world and to his own anxieties…..* Ernest Becker.


“All truths that are kept silent become poisonous”.  Nietzsche.

Elie Wiesel: “Without memory there is no ethics.”

  In the field of trauma which came together in the 1990s in response to the backlash against child abuse being acknowledged, there was knowledge-sharing between professionals who worked with war-induced PTSD; with Holocaust survivors and their children blighted by intergenerational trauma; and with child abuse survivors. Two notable facts emerged.

  Firstly in the immediate aftermath of conflict, war trauma is studied. But as time goes on, it fades into the background and the research disappears into the archives, to be forgotten until the next outbreak of hostilities. And it is not because former soldiers get cured. More the thought that extreme experiences can drive people mad appears to be too toxic to handle.

In related vein, one of the principal problems in the field of child abuse is the unwillingness/inability of the great mass of the general public to face head on the fact that children can be sexually or physically abused. Hence the scramble for denial scenarios – they lied, invented it, were brainwashed etc.  

“Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” T.S. Elliot.

  Yet all the indications are that those who can face what actually happened/happens are much less likely to repeat old destructive patterns. Those who insist on erecting a Pollyannish smokescreen over the way things never were will do more damage in the long run.

  Not everyone has Algol’s strength and even those who do are aware there are limits. Burnout in the trauma field is an accepted fact – too much darkness can eat you.

  I never quite got to grips with Freud’s death instinct and life instinct theory – but he may have had a point.

 Years ago I spoke to a women who had worked for years with Rape Crisis in one of London’s tougher districts and she surprised me by saying she was giving up, clearly worn out. She said “All I want to do is go off and grow roses.”  No one seemed less likely to be a gardener than her and yet her instincts had it right. She need new life, regeneration, healthy growth not sucked into the black whirlpool.

  There are risks in facing the starker faces of reality but equally great risks in avoidance. We should be grateful to the Algolites who have the constitution to cope with what many can’t.

39 thoughts on “Algol – light in the heart of darkness ++ additional thoughts

  1. Thank you, Marjorie!

    This post has produced so many revelations…

    Jupiter 23* Taurus… I “see” people for who they are, both good and evil; my voice has been stifled… and yet I continue to write, to public entities, about the wrongs…

    The impact of physical violence to which I have been subjected in my life, has been profound… yet, survived…

    I work through the trauma in hope of being able to help others in their healing ❤️‍

    Blessings to everyone who contributes here, your explanations and meaning jumps out with clarity.


  2. Does the dune quote fit here too? For me it stands in extremity

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
    ― Frank Herbert, Dune

    • Thank you for the Frank Herbert quote… actually asked someone, a few days ago, about whether he had read Dune… he actually mentioned “fear”… and was slightly shocked when…

      My response was F*** Fear.

      • Dunno if Marjorie covered Herbert or Villeneuve. But then, there were other directors too who attempted to create a screen version of the novel series.

    • I think it applies. You are not your trauma. You are not what happens to you. You see it. It passes you buy. You are still there. You are more.

  3. Nancy Pelosi has Mars at 26 Taurus at her Midheaven, so conjunct Algol. Formidable woman.

    I’m aware of her Mars there because my Mars is at 27 Taurus in my 10th, but not I’m not so formidable! I’m really not sure how it’s played out for me (and I’m 65 and still have my head so far!) but I have lots of other challenging sets of planets (all mainly 1st quadrant) that have kept me busy. I’m not particularly looking forward to those Uranus and Mars transits in July though…

  4. There are at least two other ways of looking at the fixed stars: Bernadette Brady’s parans and the Adtrodienst fixed stars map.

    With taking a look.

  5. Wonderful Majorie! I love that Euripides quote. As an Aries sun with an exact (<1degree) Mars conjunct Algol trining Pluto, I'm a bit apprehensive about the explosive combination of T Jupiter and Uranus in singular-exact and joint-wide orb conjunction, particularly when you apply the modern translation of losing your head in situations (contra beheading). Always a challenge for martial folk. Sometimes the popular focus on Jupiter as a benefic downplays the inherent expansive/augmentation function it has in conjunction, for good or bad. Coupled with Uranus, it feels unbridled. Thinking of ways to transmute that energy at exactitude … For now, I am embracing the crone, dancing to the beat of the dark heart. Appreciate your insights, thank you again.

    • In my case, I got a Fixed Stars report and looked at all of them. I also understood the deeper myths – which helped. I also looked at people who shared my birthday.

  6. Around 1.25am, a Singapore container ship struck the Baltimore Bridge with the eclipse moon in Libra conjunct the South Node and the midheaven at the apex of a yod ith Jupiter conjunct Uranus sextileVenus conjunct Saturn. The trigger point on the IC is Chiron conjunct North Node. One of Chirons main symbolism is the bridge between Saturn and Uranus. And there it is sitting between them at the foundation of the chart, 4th, in Aires, literally symbolising the Bridge struck at the foundation and causing an explosion.
    And on the other side of the IC in the 3rd is the Sun in Aires conjunct Neptune conjunct venus and Saturn all in Pisces and square the Sagittarius Ascendant, the big container ship. And that Uranus in Taurus is also making an inconjunct to the ascendant.
    Its an enormous bridge and most of it collapsed in seconds!

  7. Adding on to my previous post about my person Algol.

    I taught at inner city schools for 30 years. There were many students who shared their horrible situations with me—that’s why I say my own situation was banal. Not only did I work with kids who were dealing with violence & murder, but I also taught kids escaping wars.

    We humans have so many ideas about how to live & so many hopes for peace & love—very lofty goals

    (I was born May 10 & mom was May 16) I would say that both of us used music & Art to relieve our stress. (She also had a difficult childhood—as Kurt Vonnegut said: and so it goes…

    Thank you, Marjo, for this interesting post

  8. I also have my natal Sun conjunct Algol (May 15, Taurus 24’20”). I often feel that I’m either inadvertently leading the way (think of the cartoon or movie joke where they ask volunteers to take a step forward and all but one take a step backward–I’m that one) or trying to get out of my own way. There are also times where I’m just doing whatever makes sense to me and someone points out that what I’m doing is so far ahead of the curve that there’s no current application or use for it (in capitalist terms, at least).

    I recognize the light and the dark in others because I recognize it well in myself. Some have commented that I should have become a diplomat.

  9. Hi, i have Mercury conjunct Algol, square Mars and Saturn. As far as i studied it it gives drive for battle with the evil. The problem is to justify what is evil.
    All my life i have battles. With ideas, people which are liers, proper relatives, people who are corrupted or even just psychopatic. Once i joined a battle over a project for law in my country. Many people war opposite, but only several dared to resist openly. I won. I gradueded clynical psychology. Always have been keen on politics. Interested in wars, human rights and democracy.
    I am very good in sarcasm and really good in discussions & rethoric.
    Thats what i have found for my NC. Now i am waiting for my direct Moon to conjunct Algol&Mercury.

  10. I have Algol conjunct my Taurus sun in the 3rd. Sun is 18 Taurus, Algol is 25 Taurus.

    In terms of the idea of ” a terrible sight”–and I realize how banal this is BUT one of my eyes has weak muscles–a “lazy eye.” I wore glasses starting very young and had to learn eye exercises–and two surgeries!

    It surprises me that it has not been until now that it consciously occurred to me that that physical condition may have repulsed my parents. (I’m going to be 65! -actually that will be on May 10!) I had a rough childhood, but I’m quite aware that many, many of us had difficult childhoods, that we carry all sorts of trauma from our ancestors. I’m grateful that my childhood wasn’t affected by extreme natural disasters or war in my vicinity. That said, it was really hard growing up in my family.

    BUT… I’d only considered recently how that lazy eye might have upset my parents. I was their first child. Other than that wandering eye, I was very cute–but if all a woman is worth is how she looks (I’m a boomer–that has been the case for a long, long time), then that eye must have really upset them.

    Also–I’ve been told that when I’m angry it’s quite scary! (Fortunately that doesn’t happen too often!)

  11. I have a natal Pluto-Moon conjunction square Algol. At a recent family gathering, my adult son asked me: ”Why is it every tome we meet we end up talking about the Holocaust?” We are not even Jewish. I also have a lifelong fascination for the Japanese victimes of the atom bombs as well as for WWII. Reading or watching films about them is so compelling they feel personal. I rationalized it by saying I expected to live through such times myself. It now appears that foreboding, which seemed strange to me in the past, was justified.

  12. Thank you Marjorie. So much to think about! The 10th May 2024 chart caught my attention, as did your mention of Stalin and his Pluto/Algol conjunction. What’s spooky is how that might link to 10th May 1941, with it’s massive line-up in Taurus – Sun, Mercury,Venus, Jupiter, Uranus, and it’s Jupiter/Uranus/Algol conjunction, square Mars in Aquarius.

    Stalin’s first government dates from 7th May, 1941. Hitler’s ‘Operation Barbarossa’ began on 22 June, 1941.

    “It has long been known that Stalin received warnings of an impending attack, prompting one of the great questions of military history: why were Soviet forces, despite their impressive numbers, so ill-prepared to withstand the Nazi blitzkrieg?” BBC website, June 2011.

    Hugh will definitely know more details. But Uranus/Algol, and Jupiter/Algol, feature strongly in the Second World War. With Uranus aligning with Algol in 1940, and turning Rx there on 1st September, 1940. Uranus was conjunct Algol in January 1942 at the time of the Wannsee ‘Final Solution’ Nazi conference, when the extermination of the Jews was decided upon. I have no adjectives for this evil horror.

    Diana K. Rosenberg mentions what she calls ‘a sort of “via combusta” of heavy star influences that starts around 21 Taurus… then Algol…Pleiades at 29 Taurus and Hyades 5-6 Gemini, Bull’s North Eye 8 Gemini, South Eye (Aldebaran) 9 Gemini’

    On a more uplifting notes, she quotes Nicholas Culpeper(1616-1654) , herbalist and astrologer, on Algol:
    “The Grecian astrologers call him the Devil’s Head; and yet all the astrologers hold Jupiter and Venus to have a share in his nature” (Decumbitures of the Sick)

    We are in this “via combusta” of fixed stars again now. Clearly, Algol has an intense energy, which can be highly creative and found in the charts of remarkable individuals, as well as the dark, destructive ones. It is an eclipsing binary star, which appears to “blink” every couple of days when obscured by the star being eclipsed by another, dimmer star. I suspect this may be important for its symbolism. Medusa herself was once very beautiful, and the mortal one of the three Gorgon sisters. She’s then turned into the terrifying hybrid with snakes for hair – more duality. So buried in the mythology and the astronomy I glimpse the dual nature of this fixed star – beauty and horror, creativity and destruction side by side in some way?

    Even the word Algology has two meanings:
    Algology (medicine), the study of pain. Phycology, also known as algology, the study of algae.

      • Thanks JB. My modern history is somewhat shaky! These degrees of Taurus, close to Algol, are certainly meaningful to us now. Can we learn anything from the lessons of history for once?

    • Thanks Jane. Wannasse is marked The UK fought and won the Battle of Britain under the auspices of that Jupiter/Uranus conjunction in Taurus on Algol. It was the first battle to be fought entirely in the air. It would be interesting to see how Algol aligns with the UK’s various charts, as to why the star was favourable at that particular time.

      As you point out, Wannsee occured under an Algol/Uranus conjunction, but Saturn was also conjunct Uranus and both planets in square to Mercury in Aquarius. Mars was also in Taurus in square to Pluto in Leo and the Aquarian Sun forming a fixed T-Square on Mars. A brutish combination with all of the darker side of Aquarius which with its detachment can be cruel and tyrannical.

      • Thankyou VF. I don’t know how to work out Algol’s degrees in the past, it will have been earlier in Taurus centuries ago. However, placing it at our own familiar 25-6 Taurus it’s interesting to see:

        May 11th, 973 (Edgar) Sun 25 Taurus, Mars 25 Taurus, Mercury 26 Taurus, Pluto 27 Leo, Jupiter 23 Virgo, Neptune 26 Libra, MC 26 Taurus. Algol wouldn’t have been exactly there in 973, however, the alignments work for both WW2 and now.

        There’s also:

        UK, 25 December 1066: Neptune 22 Taurus
        Battle of Hastings, October 1066: Neptune 24 Taurus

        House of Commons 1265: Saturn 21 Taurus, Mars 23 Taurus

        May 12th, 1707 (Act of Union): Sun 20 Taurus square Jupiter 21 Leo, Pluto 20 Leo

        UK reorganisation, December 7 1922: Venus 25 Scorpio, Mars 27 Aquarius

        Rishi Sunak’s birthday, 12th May, 1980. No exact alignment with Algol, but connects with these old charts with his Sun 21 Taurus, Mercury 20 Taurus, Uranus 23 Scorpio.

  13. I do think most living creatures have to evolve traits of resilience. Humans have been facing the full horrors of starvation, climate stress, disease, violence, natural disaster, competition for resources for hundreds of thousands of years, and that’s well before you get to sexual and physical violence for gratification. There never was a golden age of living in harmony with nature (although many cultures evolved structures to cope with the aftermath of natural and self inflicted disaster). Every age yearns to be different and unique, and in today’s world it is the ability to communicate on a global scale at speed. Are we more traumatised by far off events than if our village is burned down and butchered? Not really. I do think the notion of Algol meaning an unflinching look at difficult things is very interesting, and our self protective instincts kick in, until they don’t whether by choice or force of circumstance.

  14. Interesting that Scorpio is usually associated with the taboos and yet Algol is in Taurus. I suppose that’s the point. Taurus being earthy just wants to live on the surface and enjoy material pleasure. When it is faced with deeper things that may cause upset, it has the choice whether to engage with it or just move onto the next bunch of grapes. If you don’t engage with it then it’s festering beneath, coming out in opportune moments and killing friendships etc, just like the stare from a gorgon.

    Talking of Medusa and turning things to stone, I’m reminded of the myth of King Midas and how everything he touched turn to gold. Richard Idemon associates it with Taurus. Midas initially enjoys the power but then finds himself unable to eat food or drink without it turning to gold, he then touched his daughter and she became a gold statue. This is the Taurus symbolism of not only greed, but also with Taurus desire to keep everything the same, it kills the life force and makes everything inedible and tasteless.

  15. Third question.

    3. What is this star known as in other cultures that observed the skies and what was its significance, say, in the Arab or Chinese world? Also Indian.

  16. Two questions.

    1. Doesn’t Prince William have Venus conjunct Algol? How does that affect him?

    2. Do you believe in witchcraft, evil eye, magic and spells? That’s a whole different topic, but I am generally intrigued, waiting, possibly, for a deepening of this theme.

  17. Merci beaucoup , Marjorie. Chaque médaille a deux faces. Our free will pushes us to choose the path which seems most promising.

  18. This is so very interesting. My daughter born 14 May 2000 has Sun conj. Algol in 5th house. She was just 16 when she was doing a French language course in Nice. The students were encouraged to stand on the Promenade des Anglais to watch the fireworks on 14 July, Bastille Day. From close quarters she witnessed the terrorist attack in which a truck drove at speed into the crowds of people standing there, she even pulled people out of its path but she saw things that a 16 year old should not have to see (“I think I saw someone’s head come off, mum”). I arranged all sorts of mental health support for her but she wouldn’t take it. “I don’t want to talk about it to strangers,” she said. However for her school final art exam almost a year later she put together an incredible video made up of her own footage filmed on the scene, with images of the fireworks, the large white van coming towards them, contrasting the panic of the moment with the tranquil sea of flowers left on the scene in the days thereafter and concluding with the words Pray for Nice. The art teacher said to me, “she was in Nice, she never told us”! The film was on YouTube for a while but I think she has taken it down now. But it does seem that the process of creating that artwork was cathartic for her. She is indeed highly creative and very resilient and certainly bold and magnanimous. Reading this analysis Marjorie makes me feel less anxious for her future! Thank you so much!

    • Thank you. Your poor daughter. But what an illuminating example of it at work. I do hope she manages to process it over time. It will help that she has such a strong Algol.

    • A-mazing, SuHu.
      I have goosebumps and a deep place opened up in my body. Your daughter found the perfect (for her) way through her traumatic experience.

      I do think that we jump in too quick to process the big stuff…. before it even has a chance to land inside more deeply, to feel it in our molecules and, yes, to open to the opportunity to go THROUGH and not skip over in a superficial, quick way.

      Possibly, with the kind of care you gave your daughter… just “holding space” for her to find her way, is what is needed… is what she needed. Holding space for this deep work is so important…. you did that!!

      However, with our quick sound bite, euphemism laden, “let’s move on” culture… it’s nigh impossible to do!
      And certainly doesn’t make one popular! 🙂

      Thank-you so much Marjorie… for regularly delving into this realm with your posts. As you know by now, this interests me deeply. Algol is only square my Chiron (in the 2nd) and sits in my natal 5th. My 2nd prog. Mars has just inched by it. My sister, however, has Mars (conj Sun) in Scorpio opp Algol. There is a certain “feeling”, I find… with a strong Algol…. and she has it. And she is avoiding it!

      It’s Plutonian but also different… not sure of the words yet!
      Maybe, as SuHu said near the end of the post…. it is “cathartic”…. one way or the other!

  19. Great Post Marjorie. Thank you. I do not care if my response to Robin which went into Moderation ever sees the light of day- it is ok with me if you delete it – as I did not know that this article was coming.

    I share a birthday – May 16th. There are a lot of creative people born on that day.

    For some reason I think Israel has Algol involved. I was an exchange student as a teenager in Venezuela with a family that had survived the Holocaust that were Jewish living in Venezuela, how returned to Israel. We are in touch until this day, and I was left wondering how a people as kind as this to me could have ever been the target for destruction in WW2. They were from Bulgaria – and further reading showed that the leaders of Bulgaria would not hand over their Jews. So they lived.

    From Liz under previous Greg Wise post;
    In reply to Robin.
    It has a bad reputation doesn’t it. Go check out that Kelly Surtees article or ask Marjorie to do an in depth analysis. Pierce Brosnan lost his first wife to Cancer. My dad was in the military and Hydrogen Bombs as well as the Military Mission and WW2 have always been a part of my life, so I have read on it extensively and continue to read. Including what happened to Ukraine in the Holomodor and the tortured history with Russia – that is the part where you don’t look away. It is connected to the Myth of Medusa – and poor Medusa – she was raped in the temple of Athena by Jupiter and Athena was so offended she went after Medusa (blaming her) and transformed her into the gorgon. Versace uses the Medusa as their symbol – so deep deep myths. Her story is connected to Pegasus.

    I got so fed up with the whole beheading thing on the internet that I started researching it – as I have an exact conjunction to my Sun. I don’t think it means you are going to be beheaded or anything bad will happen – I do think you need to look into it. I think you also need to look at your chart ruler if it is conjunct your ascendant.

    A quick search on Medusa yielded a great article from Vanderbilt University (the Harvard of the American South) which is worth a read,representing%20the%20birth%20of%20beauty

    It can be a tough energy – and I Knew about tough things as a very young child. It happens. My parents protected me – but we were in an environment that was dealing with difficult things.

    The only comment I have left to make is Versace uses the Gorgon Head as their logo. I love that brand.

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