Salvador Dali is certainly a worthy subject of astrological investigation! Where does all this weirdness come from?
Salvador Dali’s birth time is rated AA on the astro.com astrodatabank- the best possible Rodin rating- and so we can assume it’s fairly accurate. Even so, when converting his chart to the Vedic format using the Lahiri Ayanamsha, we get 29 degrees Gemini rising, so we can’t be sure it isn’t Cancer rising. I suspect people are normally born earlier rather than later than their recorded birth times. Even so, we can’t assume this is the case in any particular instance. We have to consider both possibilities.
The Gemini Ascendant, as far as the Gemini symbolism goes, is fairly easy to believe. Dali was curious, lively, versatile and intelligent. Gemini isn’t by itself eccentric, but Gemini is arguably more experimental and interested in styles of communication and self-expression than Cancer. The Gemini Ascendant conspicuously places the Moon, Jupiter and Ketu in the 10th House in Pisces.
Moon in Pisces in the 10th House can easily translate as a rich and varied artistic career, as well as a great measure of public recognition, and this is certainly further supported by Jupiter in Pisces (very strong in its own sign) also in the 10th. The Cancer Ascendant would place an exalted Aries Sun in the 10th along with Venus. Although Venus in the 10th House can represent an artistic career, and the Sun in the 10th House can indicate general career ambition (all these indications true of Dali), the otherworldly texture of his work fits very well the nature of the sign Pisces, whereas the Sun in Aries in the 10th may very well be drawn into a more formal career involving more formal authority. Ketu in the 10th in Pisces is also very consistent with some sort of mystical quality to a person’s professional life and reputation, along, perhaps, with an element of public controversy.
Also, Gemini rising makes Mercury the lord of the 1st House and we find Mercury located in the 12th House. This describes an intellectual delving into the unconscious and a curiosity about the mystical and paranormal. An online biographical sketch of Dali notes that “Dali’s major contribution to Surrealist Movement was what he called the ‘paranoiac-critical method’, a mental exercise of accessing the subconscious to enhance artistic creativity”. This is very apt for Mercury as Ascendant lord in the 12th House.
The Cancer Ascendant makes the Moon the 1st House ruler and places the Moon in the 9th House. While this may in a general way indicate a fortunate or protected life and a striving for greater understanding, travel, and good relationship with the mother figure, and a host of other possible meanings; it’s not nearly as clear and accurate a description Dali’s personaly preoccupations as Mercury in the 12th.
The fact that the Gemini Lagna places both Uranus and Neptune in angular houses (the 7th and 1st respectively) seems to me to just about settle the question of the correct Ascendant for the Vedic chart.
If we accept that the Ascendant is Gemini it makes Jupiter lord of the 7th House (and 10th House) and powerfully located in one of its own signs. Dali, it seems, had a long and relatively fulfilling marriage to ‘Gala’ (Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova) whom he met in 1929. Now, at that time he was in the Saturn sub-period of the Mercury major period. This would seem to fit neatly into the Cancer Ascendant since Saturn is there the 7th lord in the 7th House. It is true that Gala was married to the surrealist writer Paul Eluard when they met. She subsequently left her husband to be with Dali. One Jyotish aphorism states that one with Sasha Yoga will have ‘intrigues with partners not his own’, and of course the Saturnine influence on relationships is here very direct. The fact that Saturn is in its own sign would then potentially also account for the success of his relationship with Gala who brought much needed Saturnine practicality to his business affairs. “Gala took care of his legal and financial matters, and negotiated contracts with dealers and exhibition promoters…”.
If his exalted Sun was in the 10th House (of a Cancer Ascendant) it could explain his imperious arrogance. He was, for example, expelled from the Academia de San Fernando, where he was studying in his 20’s, for proclaiming that nobody on the faculty was competent enough to examine him. Perhaps the Sun in Aries alone suffices to explain this behaviour? Choosing between two possible Ascendants is not always as straight forwards as it may seem at first glance. The Cancer Ascendant would further more show a Mutual Reception (or Parivartana Yoga in Jyotish lingo) between Venus and Mars and the 10th and 11th Houses. Could this represent the important influence of group associations and affiliations in his career, as with the Surrealist Movement in particular? Mars in the 11th House of the Cancer Ascendant would then also show his conflict and eventual formal expulsion from the group.
However, the conflict with friends or groups is also quite visible in the Gemini Ascendant where Mars is lord of the 11th House and located in the 12th, which can mean a loss of friends (and income). Around the time the Dali museum was opened (September 1974) Dali ended his business relationship that resulted in a significant weakening of Dali’s financial situation. Mars Mahadasha began during latter 1973 and Mars is lord of the 11th and located in the 12th, representing the potential for loss of income. This seems quite a strong validation of the Gemini Ascendant, since the manifestation of the Mars period for the Gemini Ascendant would represent this loss, whereas the Mars period for the Cancer Ascendant (for which Mars is the Raja Yoga Karaka and forming a mutual reception with Venus as noted earlier) would be more likely to indicate significant financial benefits.
All considered I’m inclined to vote for the Gemini Sidereal Ascendant, but it will remain an open question.
The western chart reveals a potent connection between Dali’s Moon and a Uranus/Neptune Opposition. In other words, there’s a T-Square between the Moon, Uranus and Neptune, with the Moon at the apex.
Reinhold Ebertin says the following about Moon on the Uranus/Neptune Midpoint:
“A person who is highly impressionable and sensitive, a very receptive soul. Open to mystical or spiritual influences, tendency to delve into the mysteries of the inner or higher worlds…”
It is easy to see a love of the bizarre and otherworldly in this T-Square. We could also consider Ebertin’s interpretation for the MC on the Uranus/Neptune Midpoint:
“Growth and development of the subconscious forces, inner vision, a peculiar disposition and strange interests…”
Dali’s tense relationship with his father (not to speak of other authority figures) is indicated by the tight Sun/Saturn Square, and it could be argued that this Square (reinforced by the factors that strengthen Neptune) may point to an underlying insecurity in Dali. Sun in Sidereal Aries may have some real confidence, or at least the appearance of it, but it’s somewhat brittle and fragile, the Sun/Saturn Square suggests, and his dramatized expressions of egocentricity may be a type of compensatory behavior. Even so, Sun in Aries (the strongest possible sign placement for the Sun) is bold and pioneering and possesses a deep conviction of it’s potential for greatness, as well as determination to express and manifest this in a visible way, and Dali certainly embodied these themes.
“the only difference between me and the surrealists is that I am a surrealist.” -Dali
An online biography on Dali mentions that “In 1980, Dalí was forced to retire from painting due to a motor disorder that caused permanent trembling and weakness in his hands. He was not able to hold a paint brush, and lost the ability to express himself in the way he knew best.” It is widely believed that Dali was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. It was around this time that, according to Vedic astrology, Dali began the 18 years of Rahu Dasha (the Major Period of the North Node). Rahu in Ayurvedic terms is a Vata planet and tends to produce Vata disturbances. Parkinsons is a Vata illness and in Ayurveda is literally called “Kampavata”.
Dali eventually died on the 23rd of January 1989, at the age of 84. Uranus takes 84 years to complete one round through the zodiac, so Dali died during his Uranus Return. This is intriguing, and quite fitting, since Uranus is the planet of all that is wayward and unconventional; it took almost precisely one Uranus cycle for this ‘mad genius’ to finish his business on this planet.