Kristin Hersh: Music, Mania, and Metamorphosis

April 14, 2016

In December 1987, I packed up my car and moved to Boston, mainly because it was the home base for one of my favorite new rock bands, Throwing Muses. That chapter of my life was dark and tumultuous, and the band’s chaotic music resonated with the disjointed angst permeating my own psyche. Flash forward 23 years, and I find myself standing in Powell’s Books in Portland, when I see the lead singer’s name on a new book entitled Rat Girl, a memoir comprised of diary entries written by Kristin Hersh between 1985 and 1986, just before Throwing Muses released their first record. As I began reading the book, I was instantly captivated by nostalgia (but not longing!) for that formative time in both of our lives.

Hersh is a gifted writer, and Rat Girl offers a poetic insider-account of a young woman coming to terms with a self-described “soul sickness.” This was a kind of body–mind–spirit mania that overwhelmed her in the midst of a creative wellspring that included the genesis of one of the most unique and influential independent rock bands of its time and the birth of her first child — all before she had even turned 19.

In more clinical terms, Hersh was facing challenging mental–emotional issues that are hard to pin down with one term because they were given multiple labels by her health care providers over the years: manic depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even schizophrenia. [1] Her symptoms included manic energy, total exhaustion, suicidal ideation, and near-hallucinatory visions.

The difficulties that Hersh reveals in Rat Girl may come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the songs on Throwing Muses’ self-titled debut, with its dark lyrics, chaotic–cathartic vocals, and nervously shifting rhythms. What’s remarkable about her story is that, years later, she found healing, peace, and success in her personal and professional life. By sharing this intimate diary of her inner-life process, written during some of her darkest times, her remarkable transformation serves as a beacon of light for those who might recognize the inner demons gracing its pages.

While reading Rat Girl (released in the U.K. as Paradoxical Undressing), I became fascinated with the astrological underpinnings of her story. At its best, astrology can give us a deeper understanding and acceptance of the complicated and often painful events that transpire in our lives. When seen in this context, Hersh’s journey is a testament to the potential for healing, transformation, and redemption inherent in the birth chart, even in the face of stereotypically challenging astrological configurations.

In Rat Girl, Hersh gives us the opportunity to witness the complexity of archetypal planetary pairings and relationships, captured here in a moment of unfolding toward an ultimately positive resolution. Astrology becomes a profound tool when we use it to move beyond chronicling the events that litter our biography and toward describing our soul’s potential evolution, where a real healing journey can begin.

The Uranus–Pluto Conjunction of the 1960s

Kristin Hersh was born in 1966, during the peak of the Uranus–Pluto conjunction. (See Chart, **wherever.) A dramatic aspect that has received a lot of press in recent years, this configuration can be understood quickly by recalling some of the cathartic and transformative events that color the middle and end of that decade, from the JFK and MLK assassinations to heated civil rights protests.

It’s said that generational outer-planet configurations like this one are more marked in a person’s biography when they aspect the “personal” planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars) — as is the case here: Hersh has Neptune in Scorpio sextiling her 11th-house conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, both of which are sextiling a dramatic conjunction of Venus, Mars, and Jupiter in Cancer. So, we see six planets — inner and outer — relating to each other in a stimulating (sextile) way, sort of egging each other on and creating a complex vector of electric energy that pulses through her life. Some planetary energies seem simpler to work with than others, and the first thing we can say concretely about Hersh’s chart is that, for better or worse, these planets are no easy dance partners.

In the Uranus–Pluto conjunction, we find the energetic potentials of revolution and catharsis, of insight and transformation, of dissociation and karmic wounding, all rolled into one. Those of us born with this conjunction are faced with the opportunity to dramatically free ourselves (and the world) from the bondage of dark unconscious patterns. Sounds easy, right? Metaphorically tasked with walking through the Underworld holding a lightning rod, we’ll get to wrestle some ugly demons face to face, and not all of us will come out unscathed. Hersh has given us a first-hand account of her process, so let’s take a closer look at her chart.

Rat Girl begins in the spring of 1985, with Hersh hanging out in a dirty vacant apartment that served as a kind of limbo-space for her and some other ragtag characters from the local music and art scenes. Previously occupied by a man named Napoleon who had recently passed away, the grungy apartment sets the stage for the Plutonian Underworld landscape of this story. And the book’s opening lines lead us right in: “The handmade Jesus on Napolean’s living room wall has no face, just a gasping, caved-in head with blood dripping down its chest.” [2]

Along any Plutonian journey, symbolized in a chart by important natal planet pairings or transiting aspects with Pluto, we often have to look at things we’d rather turn away from. Hersh embodies her Uranus–Pluto configuration, which carries the potential for emotional detachment coupled with obsessive fascination with the shadow, by staring dead-ahead into life’s dark side. After a friend shows her a book of disturbing photographs of “Roadkill, body parts and lab specimens,” she writes, “I stared at a picture of a severed hand for a long time. It was hard to turn the page — horror is hard to look at but harder to turn away from.” We all have Pluto somewhere in our charts. But by itself, Pluto in the natal chart doesn’t necessarily come with the built-in ability to face its challenges, especially in the unflinching way that Hersh does.

Kristin Hersh

At the end of this passage she adds, “And it was just so damn beautiful.” With her natal Venus sextiling her Uranus-Pluto conjunction, she is able to see beauty in the profane. She often describes her band’s music this way, using the phrase “ugly beauty” to refer to the ordered noise created in a live performance and her experience of the band and the audience “happily freaking out together.”

At the low end of the spectrum, Uranus can refer to emotional fracturing and dissociation — a kind of shutdown or cold “blacking out” that, at the time, serves to block traumatic experience from haunting us. This kind of dissociation is often spoken of negatively, but it needn’t be when seen as an innate, lifesaving response to trauma. Dissociation can save us from events we can’t process when they’re happening. Only after we’re safe is there time to unlock and heal what was shut down or locked away.

Uranus and Pluto are conjunct in the sign of Virgo in Hersh’s chart, which tells us something more about what’s motivating these planetary energies. At the high end, Virgo is aimed at purifying and improving. Virgo relates to the edgy feeling inside us that pushes us to change for the better. Those of us with a strong Virgo archetype might resist those changes, but true to form, events, situations, and people will serve as the pea under the mattress that irritates us until we take action (or forcefully resist).

Opposite Virgo lies Pisces, where Kristin has Saturn and Chiron retrograde in the 5th house. In this polarity, the symbols of Christianity, especially the Crucifixion, lead us into an understanding of both archetypes — with Virgo as humble service and the desire to improve, and with Pisces as the letting-go, the sacrifice in the face of something bigger than us. Considering the planets on this axis, Uranus relates to trauma, Pluto to karmic wounds, and Saturn to difficulties, so we’re more likely to see a problem in these areas than a feeling of ease. Thus, in the crucifix from the opening lines of the book (which is later referred to by Hersh as “Fish Jesus” because its discolored surface looks like fish scales), we see disintegration and breakdown. In this image, the grotesque is more heightened than the beautiful. We find a holy image made profane. We find the dirt and grime of human existence exposed. Hersh later wrote the song Fish about this crucifix, which begins: “I have a fish nailed / To a cross / On my apartment wall / It sings to me with glassy eyes / And quotes from Kafka.”

Since Virgo comes pre-programmed with the awareness that “this is what I could be, but this is what I am,” many in the Pluto in Virgo generation are facing feelings of crushing inadequacy welling up from their unconscious during Plutonian triggers. When these feelings are combined with some consciously (or unconsciously) held unattainable standard of excellence, the constant reminder of not making the grade can be stifling and humiliating on a daily basis. Folks in this generation are working toward healing this pattern, both in themselves and for the collective. In one of her darker entries, Hersh writes, “The only thing left in this body is shame. And the only shred of self-preservation I have left is this thought: ‘Please, no more shame.’”
The first step to healing this lies in understanding that such Virgoan mental torment is largely driven by the self, even if causal events litter one’s past. And the antidote lies in the high expression of the Pisces polarity to Virgo: the awareness that “I am worthy of love and acceptance simply because I exist.” Unconditional love and acceptance can heal shame and self-denigration. Fellow Pluto in Virgo Brené Brown (born November 18, 1965) has done a great service to this generation by making her life’s work the study of shame, and her books, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, are wonderful healing tools on the subject for anyone with a difficult Virgo chart dynamic.

Where Do Songs Come From?

As Rat Girl unfolds, we find Kristin Hersh recounting a serious bike accident that occurred in June 1983. [3] This life-threatening accident included a bloody head trauma and a hospital stay. But more important is what happened to Hersh after the accident. Because it’s then that she began “hearing songs” in her head.

For most of her life following the accident, Hersh experienced her songwriting as a process that she wasn’t in control of. She describes it as an uncomfortable process in which she hears songs in her head, which she then has to give birth to in the real world just to gain a few moments of peace before the next song arrives. She writes, “As soon as I give the song a body in the real world, it stops playing and I breathe a sigh of relief, in precious silence.“

Neptune relates to “divine” or muse-like inspiration and carries the symbols of the spirit medium, channel, and/or daimon. [4] We can sense Neptune’s influence combining with Hersh’s Uranus–Pluto conjunction in her descriptions of this experience. She writes, “There’s an electrical component, for example — the lightning rod thing. I get all flitchy and my hair stands on end, like a seizure.” We can see Uranus, the planet of lightning bolts and electricity, combining with the Neptune muse here. And Pluto and Mars join in as she writes, “Songs no longer tapped me on the shoulder; they slugged me in the jaw. Instead of singing to me, they screamed, burrowing into my brain as electricity.”

Since Hersh’s accident was the traumatic catalyst for this experience, it’s interesting that she later refers to the driver who ran her over as a “witch.” Neptune has an association with masks and enchantments, and given Hersh’s Neptune in Scorpio, her image of the witch is fitting. The gateway is shocking and electric (Uranus), the songs that come out are “evil” and dark (Pluto), and the experience is anything but pleasant: “That goddam witch. I was a kid on a bike; music only played when I wanted it to. Then she took her Chevy and jammed this lightning rod into my head and I can’t get it out. Now music plays whenever it wants to.”

Hersh’s songwriting experience points to a dark Neptunian muse experience that sheds light on her own unique conflux of planetary archetypes:

I wrote songs before the witch ran me over, but they were ideas, making stuff up. Now, “writing a song” means listening, buzzing an energy, my skin dancing with sparks. It really does feel like religion. Or a disease. Like a religious disease.

Evil Songs
Hersh uses the word “evil” to describe her early songs — especially those chosen for the debut album. These songs were written in the autumn of 1984 in the “Doghouse,” an apartment that she describes as possessed with a dark “evil” energy that influenced the songs:

I got zapped so bad in that apartment, I don’t think I’ll ever rest again. In the Doghouse, sleep stopped coming, days stopped ending — now sleep doesn’t come and days don’t end. Sleeping pills slow my thinking, but they can’t shut down my red-hot brain. If I do manage to drop off, wild dreams wake me up. So I’m different now; my thinking is liquid and quick, I can function at all hours. My songs are different, too, and when I play them, I become them: evil, charged.

During that time, there were a number of pivotal planetary triggers for her: Uranus in Sagittarius was moving toward a trine to her natal Sun, which would be exact for the first time in December. Pluto had just finished a station on and conjunction with her late Libra Ascendant in August and, by September, had just crossed into 0° Scorpio. In September, when she moved in, transiting Mars in Sagittarius was squaring her natal Uranus–Pluto conjunction, and transiting Saturn in Scorpio was squaring her Sun. [5] Scorpio, Pluto, and Mars can all be associated with dogs for different reasons, thus the name she chose for the apartment was fitting. And Mars, Saturn, and Pluto could all conjure the word “evil” in different contexts.
Also, Neptune in late Sagittarius was squaring natal Saturn, the traditional ruler of her 4th house (the home environment), adding confusing and ethereal “dark energies” to the mix. Here, the channeled songs (Neptune) arise out of what is perceived as a negative psychic energy associated with her new home (4th-house ruler), in a way that is jarring and feels like an assault (Mars), is difficult (Saturn), and leads to a lack of sleep (Saturn plus Neptune).

But something even more unusual was happening.

Out of Bounds

With her “Doghouse” songs, Hersh brought something totally new to the rock genre. There was a darkness and raw intensity to them, both in the quality of the lyrics and in Hersh’s cathartic, raspy vocal style, which was unparalleled. It’s not that dark or unusual music hadn’t been written before. But there was a truly original quality to these “Doghouse” songs that would stand out even later, in the context of her larger body of work.

            I could be a smack freak
            And hate society
            I could hate God
            And blame Dad
            I might be in a Holocaust
            Hate Hitler
            Might not have a child
            And hate school
            I could be a sad lover
            And hate death
            I could be a neuro
            And hate sweat
            I hate my way.
(from “Hate My Way”) [6]

From September 1982 to May 1987, Hersh was experiencing a progressed Moon out-of-bounds phase. [7] By January 1985, she’d be at the peak of that phase. So, while she was living at the Doghouse, she was at the height of that energy. When the Moon progresses out of bounds, people can behave in uncharacteristic or unusual ways and often contribute something unique to the world. They color outside the lines. The terms “outside the box” and “unbounded” are appropriate descriptors, and events that occur during these times can seem larger than life. In Hersh’s life, the out-of-bounds signature here left its mark via a body of creative work that is often referred to as “one of the most influential and individual albums of late-‘80s alternative rock.” [8]

Luckily, her time in the Doghouse was short, but the songs left their mark, ultimately jump-starting her career (progressed Mars was conjunct her natal Mercury, which sits on her Midheaven). And in true Saturn fashion (transiting Saturn square the natal Sun in the fall of 1984), the hard work spent giving birth to the songs paid off in the end. She even came to like them: “I’m actually head over heels in love with these evil songs, in spite of myself. It’s hard not to be. They’re … arresting.”

Mars Out of Bounds

In many indie-music blogs and magazines, Hersh is cited as an influential trailblazer for women in modern rock. Peter Vincent claims, “She was a key link between 1970s idols such as Patti Smith and Debbie Harry and the indie rock chicks to emerge in the late 1980s — Kim Deal, Kim Gordon, and P. J. Harvey. Without Hersh and her contemporaries, we might not have Cat Power, Shirley Manson, St Vincent, or even Grimes.” [9] What is especially revealing about this list is that the author “unknowingly” selected a group of female artists in which nearly every one has an out-of-bounds planet. [10] The out-of-bounds signature is often found among artists who leave their mark in some way, usually through some original creative contribution that breaks new ground. [11] Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the Moon out of bounds are common among such innovators. Interestingly, many iconic female rockers have natal Mars out of bounds, especially those who innovate, challenge, or provoke. [12]

Although Hersh’s natal Mars isn’t technically out of bounds (at 23° North it is just 28 minutes of arc short of meeting the exact criterion), its declination is extremely high. Steven Forrest has shown that, when the Moon is at a declination nearing the precise out-of-bounds marker (23°27’ North or South declination), it still seems to bear the mark of the out-of-bounds signature. [13] So, we can hypothesize that Hersh’s Mars — already important because of its position in her pivotal triple conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Venus — is also carrying the enhanced potential to break new ground, boldly forging ahead into new musical territory. And that’s just what she did.

Hersh positively actualized her out-of-bounds Mars (and her natal Uranus–Pluto conjunction) by dynamically fronting an indie-rock band in a male-dominated field. Although she didn’t embark on her career path with a gender-based agenda, the end result of her actions is that she unintentionally challenged gender stereotypes and helped to open doors for other women in music.

In true Mars fashion, she has faced conflict when it arises and has defensively deflected negative attention aimed at her gender. She recalls an argument with a “sexist journalist” to whom she responds, “We aren’t girls on purpose; we’re girls by accident! We’re musicians on purpose. I mean, do you treat men and women differently?” [14]

Kristin Hersh

And showing another face of Mars, she has creatively channeled her anger into her music. Her vocals, especially in the Throwing Muses body of work, often have an angry backbone, her scowling face mirroring her husky growl in her live performances with the band.

Demonstrating another high potential of Mars, Hersh instigated and won a battle with the music industry itself. In the 1990s, she regained control of the rights to her own music and established a successful and groundbreaking new technological platform (high Uranus) on which to engage with and receive support from her fans. Modeled after the open-source software movement, CASH music is a “free collection of tools for artists and labels to sell, share, and promote music directly to their fans.” [15] She used this platform to create a subscription-based income stream in which fans get to participate in her songwriting process and in return she shares unreleased material with them. This allowed her to unplug from the studio system and create a sustainable income stream that would allow her to make a living while maintaining total creative control of her music. You can hear Mars, the War God, in her lines about this process, from Vincent’s interview: “As much as we wanted to dance on [the music industry’s] grave, we were going to be the first foot-soldiers to fall and I watched some of the best musicians in the world starve and die. It’s an ugly war, like all wars.”

Because Hersh’s Mars is out of bounds, she may have had greater access to the inner resources needed to come up with creative new solutions to conflicts and fight her adversaries by innovating. With Jupiter and Venus in this mix, she did so with supportive allies at her side and ultimately emerged victorious.

The Trappings of the Lead Singer

With a Leo Sun ruling her Midheaven (MC) and with a powerful Mars conjunct Jupiter and Venus, the ruler of her Libra Ascendant, it’s not surprising to see Hersh at the helm of an influential rock band. For Hersh, mission (MC) has always been a strong drive and, at times, an anchor to sanity. [16]

Reluctant to fully accept and claim her right to stand in the spotlight, Hersh is a great example of a Leo dynamic that doesn’t get talked about enough. Leo has an evolutionary need to be seen and appreciated. This leads to Sun-sign descriptions that make a caricature out of people who “take up too much space” — attention addicts who don’t know when enough is enough. I’ve personally met few Leos who fit into that small descriptive box. But I’ve met many more who are carrying wounds related to their need to shine and be seen. As Hersh says:

I know that when my band plays these ugly tattoos, people can see them all over me, but I don’t care too much. I mean, shy people are generally not show-offs, but the burning that the songs do, the fact that I’m compelled to play them, makes me think they … matter? Maybe that’s not the right word. That they’re vital. And I respect that. I can feel sorry for myself without judging the music.

Some Leos get hurt when they try to share their gifts and are rejected. Others witness what happens when overly expressive people “take up too much space” and vow never to do the same. Still others are just afraid of putting themselves out there and are crippled with stage fright. So, in reality, you’ll meet many Leos you might describe as shy or introverted, defying the Sun-sign stereotype. But when they walk into a room, they do take up space, even if they don’t make a sound, by carrying a kind of natural quiet dignity. If you bring up these issues with them, you’re likely to find a good story.

Hersh reveals this issue in several rants about the showy side of the music business, critical of rock stars who “buy their own hype” and are overly dramatic: “Cool bands are different from us — they have an eye to the outside, an impression of the impression they make. It’s the opposite of being lost in your own world the way we are.”
Interestingly, by claiming no creative authorship of her own songs, she’s intentionally deflecting attention away from herself, and yet, while fronting a rock band, she’s simultaneously commanding our attention. Her interviewer, Peter Vincent, writes:

Letting fans in is not easy for Hersh; she has long been torn between the desire to reach people and the problem of appealing to them.

She firmly believes that when you try to appeal to people, you dilute the clarity of your vision: “It waters down output to have an ear to the marketability of your product. Even if it’s just in production or publicity, some cancerous element is going to creep in and ruin what you do.

”As a shy person I’d like to think that I could sit on the roof and play to the stars and that it would count,” she says. “But I haven’t found that to be true.”

Style versus substance is a thorn in her side, most likely because it brings up wounds from situations in which she found herself pitted against or blocked by someone who was at the style end of the polarity. So she formed a negative projection about musicians who she perceives to be all style and marketing and no substance, and that continues to vex her.

To beat this projection, Hersh needs to integrate the highest expression of 10th-house Leo in this life in order to fully engage the promise in her chart. She could aim at becoming someone who is highly visible and influential in the lives of others by sharing her authentic creativity. And by fronting a rock band, she is in the perfect position to do so. Accepting and celebrating herself, developing a healthy ego, sharing her creativity with the world (and claiming credit for it), and basking in applause from fans who love her work — all of these are powerful gateways to healing negative patterns.

The Lunar Nodes

Hersh’s “lead singer” conundrum is seeking resolution and integration in her life. And there is a bigger story here, since Hersh’s Sun squares her lunar nodes. As part of that signature, Neptune is conjunct the South Node of the Moon. We won’t cover the nodes in detail here. But in short, coming out of Steven Forrest’s school of evolutionary astrology, I view the lunar nodes as an axis that relates to our limiting habits and unconscious negative patterning.

The South Node describes a kind of trap we can fall into if we’re not using our free will — and considerable effort — to stay out of it. The North Node gives us some clues about the energy that will bring us back into balance. And though the South Node can definitely be turned into an asset and often points to gifts or talents, it is also a place where we seem to easily get stuck or make mistakes. In this context, Hersh’s Sun and Neptune take on increased prominence as planets that will require extra work and perseverance to turn into strengths.

PTSD and Healing

A strong Neptune in the chart can point to a challenging sensitivity and the subsequent desire for some experience that will remove the pain of that sensitivity. Think of Professor Charles Xavier from the X-Men series, who suffers in his early life due to having an unusually open psychic channel to the din of human suffering in the world. Wherever Neptune lies, we must learn to work with our sensitivity. Until we do, life will present us with reminders that we can’t just shut it out. Numbing doesn’t work in the long term, though we can’t beat ourselves up for trying. Each of us has to learn tools for controlling the flow of input from the energetic field and our emotional response to life’s more challenging people and events. High-functioning Neptune tools look like those that start with awareness of our feelings and then accepting whatever arises with compassion.

Early on, before Hersh’s caregivers used medication to try to control her sensitivity, she used to take late-night swims in cold water to try to numb her manic feelings. But at the height of her difficulty, this stopped working. She writes, “Cold water is a punishment now … I cut furiously through the water for hours, grimly aware that burning energy will still keep me awake into the night.”

After years of receiving various inaccurate diagnoses from mental health professionals, Hersh found relief by treating her symptoms with acupuncture. [17] But shortly thereafter, she found more permanent healing when her diagnosis shifted to PTSD, and she was treated with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). [18] These “energetic” healing modalities fall under Neptune’s domain showing us that sometimes a Neptunian ailment requires a Neptunian cure.

Hersh’s PTSD complex (and also the tools for healing it) can be described by adding her nodal complex to the Uranus–Pluto conflux we’ve been looking at. Her South Node in Scorpio in the 1st house points to a potential weakness around stress-related issues, underscored by adding in the evolutionary motivations of South Node’s traditional ruler Mars, which often seeks resolution through conflict. Cloudy Neptune conjoins the South Node (potential negative habitual patterning), and psychologically complex Pluto sextiles Neptune, adrenaline-junkie Mars, and (widely) sextiles the South Node itself. When we combine these archetypal modifiers we have a recipe for the specific form of posttraumatic stress that has taken Hersh half of her life to resolve. Luckily (and importantly) with the help of others, she’s now finding some peace.

Happy Endings

Hersh’s healing journey is a story with a rare and welcome happy ending. Though she still has plenty of work to do, she’s made great progress in facing some of the more difficult challenges signified in her birth chart. A natural fighter, Hersh persevered in seeking resolution to her mental issues, which she found after years of struggle.

As the leader of an influential rock band, she’s left her mark on the world stage and continues to inspire fans with her prolific creative output, even if she’s reluctant to take any credit or bask in the limelight. And in writing and sharing her story in Rat Girl, she’s been an inspiration to countless people. Not surprisingly, Rat Girl struck another chord in the underground collective, and in 2014, it was turned into a play. [19]

Hersh’s story is a reminder of the very real potential for positive transformation that lies inside all of us, just waiting for us to make the effort.

            “None of this is special; it’s merely extraordinary. It’s falling in love — with this moment, with all moments.” — Kristin Hersh

Chart Data and Source

Kristin Hersh, August 7, 1966; 11:56 a.m. EST; Atlanta, GA, USA (33°N45^, 84°W23^); AA: from birth certificate, via her husband.

© 2015 Tony Howard – all rights reserved

References and Notes

(All URLs were accessed in December 2014.)

[2] All quotations of Kristin Hersh are taken from Rat Girl, Penguin Group, 2010, unless otherwise noted.

[3] The date of the accident, estimated by Hersh’s mother and given to this author by Hersh’s husband, is the week of June 20, 1983. At the time, Mars was transiting Hersh’s 8th house, applying to a square to Saturn; Pluto and Saturn in late Libra were in the cycle of conjunction with the Ascendant; and Solar Arc Mars was conjunct the Midheaven.

[4]  I’m using daimon here to refer to a benevolent, seemingly divine guiding force or inspiration. See James Hillman’s The Soul’s Code for a rich exploration of the concept.

[5] Note that in February of 2014, with Saturn again transiting Scorpio and the Moon near the end of its roughly 5-year-long progressed out of bounds phase (see Note 6) that Hersh re-formed Throwing Muses with its original members for a world tour with a new album, the first in a decade. The progressed moon out of bounds phase was in its Southern declination, the exact same cycle active during 1984 and 1985 when Throwing Muses released its first album and Hersh wrote the diary entries that later became Rat Girl.“

[6] “Hate My Way” from Throwing Muses, 1987.

[7] The term “out of bounds” refers to a planet’s declination. The Sun reaches a maximum declination of approximately 23°27’ N or S and thus sets the boundary beyond which is “out of bounds.” Thus, a planet is out of bounds if it reaches a declination greater than 23°27’ N or S. In addition to being out of bounds in the natal chart, a planet may progress out of bounds. Here we refer to Hersh’s Moon’s progressed out-of-bounds phase. Her first happened between the ages of 4 and 8 at North declination. To calculate a planet’s out-of-bounds phase by progression, you can find instructions here:

[10] Kim Deal (Mercury), Patti Smith (Mars), Debbie Harry (birth year in question), P. J. Harvey (Mars), Cat Power (Mercury), Shirley Manson (Moon), St. Vincent (Anne Clark – no planets out of bounds, but Mars is at a high declination of 22°37’S), Grimes (Claire Elise Boucher – Mars at 23°00’S declination). The birth dates of these musicians are all available via Astrodatabank and/or Wikipedia.

[11] The “out-of-bounds signature” refers to those with natal Moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars out of bounds (declination near or above 23°27’ N or S) and also to the progressed Moon out-of-bounds phase.

[12] Other female rockers with Mars out of bounds include Janis Joplin, Siouxsie Sioux, and Patti Smith.

[13] Steven Forrest, The Book of the Moon, Seven Paws Press, 2010, p. 63.

[14] From Rat Girl, op. cit.

[15] CASH Music Wikipedia entry:>

[16] She writes, “There’re probably a lot of okay ways to survive. You may need a passion, though. Or else you don’t have any reason to stay here.”

[17] From “Kristin Hersh: ‘I let bipolar disorder colour my early songs’,” Gareth Grundy,

[18] From an e-mail to the author, Hersh writes: “I used acupuncture to treat my symptoms before I discovered that I was dissociative, which EMDR has helped resolve.”

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