I can’t tell you how many times, after revealing that I’m a Gemini, I’ve been met with a response like this: “Ew… you guys are evil!” I think Gemini is one of the two most reviled signs of the zodiac, the other being Scorpio. The only difference is that Scorpios seem to like that people are afraid of them…
But all signs have positive and negative traits. The life and character of Gustav Mahler is a vivid example. His chart is dominated by two signs in particular, his Sun in Cancer, and four planets in Leo.
The Leo cluster is what ruled Mahler’s day-to-day work. Leo is ruled by the sun, our source of life and centre of our solar system — what better symbol for the orchestral conductor, source and centre of the musical action. Mahler made his primary living as a conductor, rising through the ranks of Europe’s opera houses, eventually reaching Central Europe’s highest post, as director of the Vienna Court Opera, and later led New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Like the Sun, Leo can be nourishing. Mahler raised the musical standards in Vienna, and was acclaimed in America. At the same time, the Sun can be scorching: Mahler’s overbearing and dictatorial leadership style fostered resentment among orchestra, singers and stagehands alike. It also made him a tyrant at home. His wife, Alma, was herself a brilliant composer. But Mahler, ever the centre of the universe, needed his household to revolve around his own creative activities, and insisted she give up her work. There was no room for two suns in Mahler’s personal solar system.
To be fair to Leo, his Cancer Sun also contributed to his childish, needy attitudes. Cancer, in deep need of security, can be clinging and possessive, and is capable of stifling others. This is because, ruled by the Moon and symbolized by the Crab, Cancer’s orientation is toward deep feeling, which requires the crab’s protective shell to be explored safely. The best source of protection for a Cancer is a sense of home and belonging, which, as a Jew in an anti-semitic environment, always eluded Mahler, and yet access to his well of feeling is clearly audible in his music. It is the Cancer in Mahler’s chart that governed his life as a composer, and which gave us some of the most stirring works in music history. One need only listen to the Adagietto from his Fifth Symphony — a love song to Alma — to recognize how deeply Mahler’s emotional current ran, and also how successfully he channeled it. The ambitious side of Cancer also served him well. Despite his very busy conducting schedule, Mahler carved out time to fulfill his lofty aims to write monumental works of enduring value. This led to ten symphonies of breathtaking scope, as well as his Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) for alto voice and orchestra — a stunning expression of Mahler’s perpetual sense of exile.
So you see, there are two sides to everything. Next time you encounter someone born under a sign you don’t like, stop for a moment, and suppose that maybe there’s a positive side to their nature that you just haven’t seen yet…
By Kathleen Kajioka
Host of “In The Still Of The Night,” Saturdays & Sundays, 1 am-5 am
Musician-at-Large and Resident Astrologer