A Look at Katharine Hepburn's Natal Chart
Looking at Katharine Hepburn’s busy 7th house, we realize that she was not going to be allowed to skip the class on human relationships in this lifetime. Her Sun, Moon and Mercury form a stellium in 7th House Taurus, giving her the drive to find serenity and a peaceful heart through her relationships. Reading her autobiography Me, it becomes clear how vital her relationships were in her life and work. From her husband Luddy, to director George Cukor, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer L. B. Mayer, her beaux Leland Hayward and Howard Hughes, her secretary Phyllis Wilbourn and her long-time significant other Spencer Tracy, relationships with other people form a constant source of growth, learning, opportunity and security for Katharine Hepburn.
With a 7th house Sun in Taurus, Katharine Hepburn centered herself by seeking and navigating the relationships that brought her peace and serenity. She was learning the give and take, mutual respect and commitment required to make healthy relationships work. The Sun likes to be orbited, so with the Sun in the 7th house, she had a tendency to be orbited (“What the hell would I have done without Luddy - my protector? I would have been frightened away from this big city and I would have shriveled up and died. And Luddy - all he wanted was me, and of course all I wanted was to be a great big hit star in the movies.”) or to orbit (“I loved Spencer Tracy. He and his interests and his demands came first. This was not easy for me because I was definitely a me me me person.”), but we see throughout Me that Katharine Hepburn grows and centers through her relationships with others and the learning curve presented by these relationships.
A 7th House moon in Taurus suggests that Katharine Hepburn’s happiness depended on her letting her body and its wisdom lead her to the people who were worthy of her trust and long-term commitment. We see her simple, body-centered approach to happiness and relationships in her description of the first time she has sex: “Luddy and I were alone in the apartment and there was the bed and there didn’t seem to be any reason not to. Well - what I’m trying to say is that - that’s what happened. I mean - we did it. I mean, I guess, that Luddy knew what he was doing - and I didn’t object. So we did it. And that was the end of my virtue. He was my beau from then on. Listen, let me tell you - yes, he was my beau but - and that’s the biggest but you've ever heard: He was my friend!”
The Ascendant is the path to self-actualization. With her Ascendant in Scorpio, Katharine Hepburn self-actualized through honest intensity, especially in the arena of the 8th house (sex and death, psychology and the taboo) and the 3rd house (her voice). As Jodie Forrest writes in The Ascendant, with Scorpio rising, Katharine Hepburn was learning to present herself as someone “who sees deeply into people, who demands frankness and can grasp secrets, and who probably has a few of her own.” Notice the tension that is present between the simple sensuality of her Taurus Sun and Moon and the probing psychological intensity of her Ascendant. Both Taurus and Scorpio are guided by instinct, but Taurus’s instinct is the simple, direct knowing of the body, while Scorpio’s instinct is to see under the surface into the parts of life and the psyche that we typically keep hidden. Mark Nepo in The One Life We’re Given speaks of this difference between the two impulses as the urge to “get over it” vs. the urge to “get under it.”
Her 8th house Pluto and 3rd house Mars (the rulers of her Ascendant) helped Katharine Hepburn self-actualize as the truth-teller.
8th house Pluto in Gemini accentuated Katharine Hepburn’s Plutonic nature. Through Pluto, she tapped into her primal energies by being a truth teller and honest witness to life’s reality, especially in the taboo realm of sexuality and death. We see her growing into a truth-teller through writing her autobiography. In her book, she describes in stark detail the truth of finding her brother hanged when she was 14 years old - something her family didn’t speak of. Although she left school after her brother’s death to avoid the curiosity of her classmates (“I would not, did not, want to talk or to discuss it. “), she’s grown into her Plutonic Truth-teller archetype by the time she writes her autobiography, describing the moment she found his body with direct, simple honesty: “He was dead. Strangled. It made no sense. In a state of numb shock I cut him down and laid him on the bed.”
We see more of that truth-teller focus with Mars in Capricorn in the 3rd house bringing the archetype of the warrior to the activities of the messenger, speaker, teacher, communicator, listener, learner. Here we see her dogged perseverance in the great work of finding her voice - sometimes quite literally as she gets voice training from various teachers and experts throughout her life to combat the negative effect stress and anxiety had on her ability to project her voice effectively. She was learning to courageously speak out, to defend her right to learn, to express her passion, and to trust her own perceptions. The Warrior archetype - that ability to meet fear with courage - galvanized her as she struggled with her voice during the disastrous run of The Lake. Working daily with singer Susan Steele on her voice, “bit by bit by bit, I pulled myself back from that cliff-hang of terror. And began to be able to take myself in hand. Regain my sense of being an actor. Not a terror-stricken mole. I began to enjoy it… I worked on nothing else. Just be as good as you can be in that part. At it. Susan sat out there every night and every matinée. Then we went home and discussed where I held and where I didn’t. We worked on voice. And relaxation. And it did improve.” That’s the fighting spirit of Mars conditioned by Capricorn’s discipline and perseverance in the arena of voice.
7th house Mercury in Taurus: Mercury - the messenger God - completes the stellium in Taurus in the 7th house and offers additional insight into Hepburn’s 3rd house work of finding her voice. That task is furthered as she learns to navigate relationships with down-to-earth, verbal, curiosity-driven people. The Messenger of the Gods in the 7th house also gifts Hepburn with a keen ear for conversation and dialogue (note the 33-page script describing her experience with Willie Rose and his Maserati in Me:). It also suggests that her best teachers are friends, intimate partners and business partners through whom she learns the art of friendship and relationship and the art of calming down, finding peace of mind.
“You can’t develop a mind full of beauty or tender imagination and independence of spirit tearing along in a box without a bit of space and air.” Me, Katharine Hepburn
With all of the focus on Taurus and the 7th house, Venus - the dispositor of Taurus and the planet that corresponds to the 7th house - is significant in Katharine Hepburn’s chart.Venus is in Aries in the 6th house: the goddess of love and beauty conditioned by the God of War isn’t a comfortable placement. But it’s a placement that does stretch Katharine Hepburn, challenging her to learn the skills of courage, boldness and argument in balancing her drive to build rapport with others (Venus) and satisfy her individual needs (Aries). She’s also developing the courage required to develop genuine intimacy and to resist becoming a drudge within a relationship. Did Katharine Hepburn become a drudge or lose her autonomy in her relationship with Spencer Tracy or did she she satisfy her need to learn to give selflessly to someone else? In Me, she writes, “He didn’t like this or that. I changed this and that. They might be qualities which I personally valued. It did not matter. I changed them. Food - we ate what he liked. We did what he liked. We lived a life which he liked. This gave me great pleasure.” It’s difficult and probably wrong-headed to judge someone’s relationships from the outside looking in or from what the person is willing to reveal to the public. Venus is in detriment in Aries, which means it’s a stretch for the Goddess of Love and Beauty to thrive when being conditioned by Aries’ martial drive, will, courage and boldness, but when these two energies are in sync there’s a fiery consummation of beauty, joy, passion. Maybe this is the feeling that prompted Katharine Hepburn to write of her relationship with Spencer Tracy, “We just passed twenty-seven years together in what was to me absolute bliss.”
3rd house Uranus in Capricorn: Here we see further emphasis on voice/message/communication. Uranus, the drive to individuate, urged Katharine Hepburn to cultivate the absolute freedom to determine which mountain to climb, which great work (Capricorn) to pursue - work that resonates with her soul’s need to speak her truth and find her voice. We see her 3rd house Uranus in Capricorn in action when she pursues acting despite her father’s feelings about it: “My father had been disgusted and heartsick over the fact that I wanted to act. Thought it a silly profession closely allied to streetwalking.”
Continuing the theme of Katharine Hepburn’s Great Work, Saturn is in Pisces in the 5th house. It’s easy to see how her acting in 40+ movies and countless plays was her Great Work (Saturn) in the arena of creative self-expression (5th house). The spiritual conditioning lent by Pisces to her Great Work is more subtle and difficult to see from the outside looking in, but there is a way that she was learning to transcend her ego needs through her efforts in creative, playful self-expression. For example, playing in the movie Stage Door, when her “career was at a low ebb,” she’s grasping to understand her part and what she should do with it - that grasping is the ego. But the director gives no direction other than the cryptic, “You’re the human question mark.” Her response: “I said, ‘Thank you.’ And I departed. I gave up. And I shut up. I knew that it would be hopeless to say anything more to anyone. I knew that there was nothing as boring as an actor on the skids who is sorry for herself. Shutting up and being jolly was the cleverest thing I ever did.” Shutting up and being jolly was also a way to let things be, to get perspective, to let go of grasping. This growth in perspective was a path to spiritual elderhood - she became an icon whose meaning for other people transcends her own personal Small-Self actions. (“I’m like the Statue of Liberty to a lot of people. When you’ve been around so long, people identify their whole lives with you. They identify particularly their moments of hope and confidence.”) There’s also a way that creative work connects someone to flow, so perhaps for Katharine Hepburn, disciplined work in creative expression was a spiritual path, a way to experience what Mark Nepo calls “sky consciousness.”
That spiritual theme continues with Neptune in Cancer in the 9th house which gave her an instinctive sense of life as a spiritual quest to open her heart to other human beings despite the frightening vulnerability it entails. Her spiritual path involved self-healing through adventures that expanded her horizons and took her beyond her comfort zone. The 9th house is about expansion and questing but Cancer tends to prefer the comfort zone of home, so there is tension here - we notice Katharine Hepburn tended to travel with her home - like a snail or turtle - in the way she often traveled with her trusted secretary and/or friends, creating a home base away from home. Neptune asks the question how does God talk to you or how do you connect to the divine? For Katharine Hepburn, life-expanding experiences that allow her to grow in compassion and forgiveness are paths to the Mystery. I think that’s what she means when she says “If you don’t dream up your parents, your brothers and sisters, your friends, and the person that you love - if you can’t dream them up, if you just see them in total four-letter-word reality, then God help you.” She has found a way to think generously of people in her life.
And finally, where is Katharine Hepburn learning to walk like a queen? With Jupiter in Cancer in the 9th house, she could be optimistic about the healing power of following an adventurous path in companionship with a few close friends and members of her soul-family. There is again that tension between the pull outward toward an ever widening world and the tug of home, family and familiarity. But it’s a tension that seemed to allow her to stretch and expand - going out into the world to work and then coming home to special places like Fenwick, her family’s vacation home. Jupiter’s jolliness and good humor help sustain her as she navigates this tension and I think we hear Jupiter’s wisdom when Katharine Hepburn writes “I am happy. I have a happy nature - I like the rain - I like the sun - the heat - the cold - the mountains, the sea - the flowers, the - Well, I like life and I’ve been so lucky. Why shouldn’t I be happy?” And we may also see here some of her Taurean serenity. She chose to have a simple attitude of happiness.
The Nodal story tells us why Katharine Hepburn had the chart she had. What soul wounds was she here to heal in this lifetime? With a South Node in Capricorn in the 3rd house, Katherine Hepburn was here to heal the karmic wounds of lifetimes spent resigned to busy, time-serving work, perhaps in the arena of communication, language, teaching. I get an image of a very buttoned-up, diligent, nose-to-the-grindstone type of person. She may have salved her resigned, unfulfilled soul through escapism, numbing, drunkenness or other hedonistic pleasures, but part of the affliction she’s here to heal in this lifetime is that, in keeping herself confined to duty, she missed out on loving relationships and the opportunity to satisfy her own longing for artistic fulfillment and creative self-expression.
Her path of healing is marked by her North Node in Cancer in the 9th house. She’s learning to expand her horizons beyond resigned busyness and in doing so she’s taking care of herself. Her soul’s healing involves finding the horizon- or mind-expanding experiences, including travel, that give her the space and tenderness to soften, relax into the luxury of actually tending to the vulnerable parts of her psyche. Her stepping stone on this path was finding the concrete comfort of successful intimate relationships. She was learning to claim her creative voice and to grow into the fine art of human interdependence, perhaps with the person she pined for in a past life. She was also learning to be curious enough to open to a searing, intense intimacy with another human being and to her own power to see into another soul, something she seemed to experience in her relationships with Spencer Tracy: “... the door between us was always open. There were no reservations of any kind.”
Katharine Hepburn’s autobiography, like her life, is a rich example of experience, adventure and zest for life. As Mark Nepo writes in The One Life We’re Given, “We have to love the carnival of being here. For it’s only through entering the many games and rides that we fulfill our potential.”