Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath of the Renaissance, a highly-skilled architect, draughtsman, engineer, painter, scientist, sculptor, and theorist. Although he initially acquired fame as a painter, he later became known for his notebooks, in which he made drawings and notes on a wide range of topics, including anatomy, astronomy, botany, cartography, painting, and paleontology. Leonardo’s genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal, and his collective works provided an inspiration to later generations of artists matched only by that of his younger contemporary, Michelangelo.
Like many a self-taught person, da Vinci was long on curiosity but short on discipline. He had remarkable powers of observation, an extraordinary talent for seeing connections between different areas of knowledge, a readiness to challenge contemporary beliefs, and an uncanny ability to anticipate future discoveries. And yet his life yielded an endless succession of untested contraptions, unpublished studies and unfinished artworks.
As a consequence, his legacy outside the field of painting was modest, and yet his genius in so many other areas is virtually unparalleled. Modern historians have opined that the breadth of his interests and extent of his researches were the equivalent of 13 different specialists. He had brilliant intuitions in fields as diverse as anatomy and hydraulics, but because he failed to publish his theories and findings, hundreds of years would pass before his discoveries were “discovered” by someone else.
Born out of wedlock, the son of a notary and a peasant woman, da Vinci had a lonely childhood and grew up as something of a misfit, probably left-handed and almost certainly gay. Although born in Florence, he spent most of his life in Milan, Rome, and finally France.
The jewel of his horoscope is the swa-rashi Venus in his 7th bhava where it forms one of the esteemed Pancha Mahapurusha yogas. In fact, Malavya yoga is formed not only from the lagna, but also the Moon. This alone is one of the astrological signatures of an artist, especially as it’s unafflicted by any malefic. In terms of career bias, note as well that Jupiter and Venus, the two grahas associated with the Brahmin caste (arts-and-culture intelligentsia) are both in kendras from the lagna and Moon. Three benefics in the kendras, none afflicted, are further evidence of a career oriented largely in the realm of the arts and humanities.
Da Vinci’s lagnesh is Mars, exalted in the 3rd bhava, often indicative of great dexterity or handiwork, as evidenced by the world’s most famous painting, the “Mona Lisa” and the world’s most famous drawing, “Vitruvian Man” which appears in the leading graphic of this article. A powerful Mars bequeaths engineering and mechanical skills, while the 3rd bhava is associated, among other things, with physics — thus via graha and bhava invoking two of the classic sciences in which da Vinci was a technical master.
And yet, despite its exaltation, Mars is sandhi in the last degree of the Capricorn, where its borderline instability suggests something of his restlessness and inability to finish a fraction of what he started. Such is the nature of a rampant Mars, a veritable dynamo with an ever-widening campaign of artistic, intellectual and scientific pursuits. Despite his fame as a painter, less than 20 finished works are attributed to him.
His horoscope is a study in disconnectedness. Despite the strength of four grahas — his exalted Sun, exalted Mars, swa-rashi Venus, and retrograde Saturn — only the Moon and Jupiter join forces to form yogas. In association, they form a Kesari yoga; as lords of the 2nd and 9th houses, they form a Dhana yoga. Although the Moon has digbala, it is also dark, and Jupiter is plainly ordinary, so both yogas are of modest strength. And yet patronage was da Vinci’s security blanket, such that his being sponsored and supported by both Italian nobility and French royalty bought him time to ponder philosophy and tinker with technology.
Da Vinci’s parents never married. 4th lord Saturn and 9th lord Moon have no rapport. His father went on to be married four times, each wife bearing children, such that da Vinci ended up having 12 half-siblings over a span of 40 years. His 3rd lord is Saturn in a dual rashi, while Saturn’s dispositor Mercury is also in a dual rashi, furthermore in a keeta rashi (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces), which implies multiplicity.
At age 17, da Vinci was apprenticed to the famous painter and sculptor Verocchio, in whose atelier he remained for seven years. Da Vinci was exposed to both theoretical training and technical skills, not only drawing, modelling, painting, and sculpting, but also chemistry, drafting, leather working, mechanics, metal working, metallurgy, plaster casting, and woodwork.
This apprenticeship began in his Jupiter dasha, Mars bhukti. As lord of both the 2nd and the 5th, Jupiter represents the period of Brahmacharya, or student life. As noted above, Mars in the 3rd is symbolic of craft, while its ownership of the 6th (which Mars also aspects) is symbolic of apprenticeship itself. This era of his life encompassed Jupiter-Rahu (Rahu in the 2nd house of knowledge), Saturn-Saturn (powerful 3rd lord in the 11th), and Saturn-Mercury (Mercury in the 5th of creative power).
Historians have speculated extensively over da Vinci’s sexual orientation. Certainly, he never married, nor did he leave any personal correspondence or diaries to provide any clues. Some aesthetic aspects of his paintings, and a number of drawings, appear to suggest a homo-erotic bias. Meanwhile, court records of 1476, when he was 24 (Saturn-Mercury), indicate that he and three other young men were charged with sodomy in an incident involving a well-known male prostitute. The charges were dismissed for lack of evidence, but historians speculate that since one of the accused was related to the renowned Medici family, someone with influence secured a dismissal.
At age 25, da Vinci received his first independent commission to paint a chapel altarpiece. He spent time with the Medici and fraternized with many artists, poets and philosophers that were part of Florentine society, until other lucrative commissions drew him away from Florence. From age 30 to 47, spanning the second half of his Saturn dasha and the first half of his Mercury dasha, da Vinci was employed by the Duke of Milan, painting religious art work, designing sculptures and undertaking major architectural decorations.
For the next seven years or so, the latter half of his Mercury dasha, da Vinci returned to Florence, where he was employed by the House of Borgia and, aside from working on diverse large-scale art works, also lent his engineering skills to military architecture and war machines. From age 54 to 61, almost the whole of his Ketu dasha, da Vinci was back in Milan, employed by the French governor of the city, one of the consequences of the many back-and-forth battles between French and Italian city states of the era. Aside from his continued art work, da Vinci also found time to engage himself in scientific research, reflected in Ketu’s 8th house placement. His father died during the same period (Ketu is 12th away from the 9th bhava of the father) and da Vinci had to get involved in settling a dispute among his brothers regarding his father’s legal estate.
At the very outset of his Venus dasha, Milan was captured by the French army and da Vinci was invited by King Francis I to be his “artist-in-residence” whose benefits, aside from a handsome pension, included the use of a large manor house near the king’s residence at the royal Chateau d’Amboise. Da Vinci thereafter engaged himself in major architectural works, the design of animated mechanical sculptures, and painting until his death by stroke at age 67 during Venus-Sun.
Venus is a powerful maraka, being both lord and occupant of the 7th bhava. The Sun occupies a dusthana and, being in the nakshatra of Venus, also gives results of a maraka. As an aside, note that the Sun is the graha of royalty, and as da Vinci’s 10th lord, also a symbol of the boss, the employer, the patron. According to some stories, da Vinci and the King had become close friends during their association, and as he lay dying, the King held da Vinci’s head in his arms.
Alan Annand studied with Hart de Fouw. He’s a graduate of the American College of Vedic Astrology and a former tutor for the British Faculty of Astrological Studies.
He’s also the author of several books. Kala Sarpa is a first-of-its-kind reference text on a unique pattern in jyotisha that is not discussed in shastra yet is part of India’s rich oral tradition. Stellar Astrology, Volumes 1-3 offer a wealth of time-tested techniques via biographical profiles, analyses of world events, and technical essays. Parivartana Yoga is a reference text for one of the most common yet powerful planetary combinations in jyotisha.
Aside from his Montreal-based crime novels, his New Age Noir crime series (Scorpio Rising, Felonious Monk, Soma County) feature astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”
Websites: www.navamsa.com, www.sextile.com