Newsweek magazine called her “a perfect storm of sex kitten, raw talent and poor impulse control.” Born September 14, 1983, to British working class parents, Amy Winehouse entered the music world with a powerful one-two punch, and until her death on July 23, 2011, never stopped swinging.
Her 2003 debut album Frank received critical acclaim, and her 2006 follow-up album Back to Black scored a knockout punch at the Grammys, where she won five awards.
Both her talent and her style were over the top. Discovered at age 19 by a management agency, she was developed secretly by her record label until the release of her first album. With an unerring talent for self-promotion, she adopted Cleopatra-style makeup, an instantly recognizable beehive hairstyle and an attitude that threw discretion to the winds.
Writing most of her own songs for Back to Black, she was instantly recognized as an original musician and lyricist. “It’s impossible not to be seduced by her originality,” said one writer. Another quipped, however, that she was one of those “irresistible man traps who always seem to come to the same unfortunate end.”
Despite her incredible talent as a musician, Winehouse was clearly a troubled soul and quickly developed a reputation for substance abuse and violence that ran the gamut from throwing punches in public to beating up her own spouse.
Three major themes thus compete for attention in Winehouse’s all-too-brief biography – originality, violence and self-destructiveness. All can be seen in her chart.
Winehouse was born September 14, 1983 at 10:25pm BST in Enfield, England. (Note all planetary and cuspal positions are sidereal, not tropical.)
Taurus is rising with debilitated Rahu close to the ascendant. Rahu is a chaya graha – a shadow planet – associated with sudden rises and falls in life. It signifies the rebel, innovator and outsider. An afflicted Rahu can bequeath a magnetic quality but, just as likely, an addictive nature regarding substance abuse, thrill-seeking relationships or outright defiance of societal values.
“I march to the beat of my own drum,” the rebel yells. Indeed, in the last year of her life, Amy was learning to play the drums!
Ascendant lord Venus is in the third house, associated with a debilitated Mars, aspected by Jupiter and Saturn. The third house often looms large in the charts of performers, whether artistic or athletic. It’s a house of desire, not necessarily for sex alone, but for adventure of all kinds.
Lagnesh Venus is in a mixed state – strong because retrograde, but weak in sandhi (last degree of a sign), furthermore gandanta, last degree of a water sign and a fire-earth-air-water cycle. (The cusp of a sign is like a fence the wandering planet must briefly straddle and, in that transition, is both unstable and vulnerable.)
The ascendant and its lord are all associated with planets in a state of exaggeration. Rahu in the lagna is debilitated. Lagnesh Venus is retrograde and gandanta. Venus is furthermore associated with a debilitated Mars, and aspected by an exalted Saturn.
Lagnesh Venus with debilitated Mars in the third house invokes courage, fighting spirit, reckless prowess, lots of attitude and a mean right hook. Saturn’s aspect on Venus adds more nastiness to the notion. Exalted Saturn in the sixth house is a mixed proposition – potential mastery over the competition, but also a callous disregard for one’s own health.
A heavy smoker of both cigarettes and recreational drugs, Winehouse enjoyed only 70% of her lung capacity, despite warnings from her doctors she was on the road to bronchial disaster. Overheated Mars as lord of the twelfth house (self-undoing) is associated with addictions, and occupies the third house (lungs).
“They want to make me go to rehab, but I said no, no, no…”
The dispositor of lagnesh Venus is Moon in the eighth house. It is relatively bright and waxing, but aspected by Saturn in the sixth house. If we combine the notion of misadventure (third lord gone to the eighth house) and chronic competitiveness (Saturn in sixth house), we get a sense of Winehouse’s gung-ho throw-down attitude to life.
Her ego was self-evident, both in the way she dressed and the wanton manner in which she attacked critics and fans alike. Sun in its own sign in the fourth house with Mercury forms one of the few yogas (Budhaditya) in this chart. She probably enjoyed a sense of comfort with herself, but felt a need everywhere she turned to push the envelope, or throw a punch at whoever annoyed her, as evidenced by her many arrests and lawsuits for assault.
Winehouse catapulted into fame during the last two bhuktis (Mercury and Ketu) of her Venus dasa. Mercury as ruler of the second and fifth houses is strong (retrograde) in the fourth house. Ketu is exalted in the seventh and associated with Jupiter.
Once her Sun dasa kicked in, however, her personal life eclipsed her career. Her violence and her substance abuse became fodder for the tabloids. She died in Sun dasa, Mercury bhukti. Both Sun and Mercury are in Sun’s nakshatra, so deliver fourth house results, one of them being moksha or end-of-life.
In this case, perhaps, transits were more potent than planetary periods. The moon’s nodes were exactly halfway through a cycle, the reverse of their natal positions, but aligned again on her ascendant. Transiting Sun was in a Saturn nakshatra while transiting Moon was in a Ketu nakshatra, which proxies for Mars in her natal chart. Both Saturn and Mars are exaggerated planets in dusthana (3-6-8-12) houses of her natal chart, both afflicting her lagnesh Venus.
The official autopsy could not determine the cause of her death, and judgment was deferred pending further toxicology tests and an inquest scheduled for October 26. In the end, however, we can already anticipate hearing what coroners have always said in such murky cases: Death by misadventure.