By Edith Hathaway © 2022
Jupiter Dasha can vary radically, even for the same Ascendant chart. In this study we compare the charts of two individuals, each with Scorpio Ascendant, focusing in particular on the Jupiter Vimshottari Dasha. Both are famous people who achieved a high degree of accomplishment, celebrity and long-lasting reputation in the field of music: George Gershwin, composer, pianist, orchestrator, conductor; and Maria Callas, opera singer.
Planets and/or Ascendant in a WATER sign are already auspicious for a musically-inclined person. With Jupiter as a great planetary friend of Ascendant lord Mars, we might assume that Jupiter Dasha would be excellent for each of them. But that assumption would be incorrect, as it depends on the condition of Jupiter in each chart: 1) its placement from the birth Ascendant and/or Moon; 2) the condition of its sign lord and nakshatra lord in the birth chart; and 3) its placement in the Navamsha (9th harmonic) chart. 4) We also assess if Jupiter is weakened by combustion (closeness to the Sun in the same sign: orbital range for Jupiter at 11 degrees). The weaker position is behind the Sun in celestial longitude. Weakest of all is a combust planet within 5 degrees behind the Sun.
Next we look to see how Jupiter’s transits during the 16-year Jupiter Dasha are helping or hindering the progress of the dasha for that person. Lastly, we gain in perspective by the power of reading the chart from Dasha Lagna (Dasha lord as an important sub-Ascendant chart). In the case of Callas, Dasha Lagna is a repeat of the natal Ascendant, since Jupiter is situated in the Scorpio Ascendant.
We might think that for both of these individuals Jupiter Dasha should be great – EXCEPT that for Gershwin it was fantastic and for Callas it went rapidly downhill, some of it due to excess. This has to do with the condition of Jupiter in each chart.
Their respective biographies confirm the astrology in each case. They show that just because you are in Jupiter Dasha and Jupiter is a great good planetary friend to your Ascendant lord and placed Digbala (best possible angle of the chart) – good fortune on every level is not guaranteed. However, for George Gershwin, it proved to be an enormous boon.
Birth data: Monday, Sept. 26, 1898, 11:00 AM EST, Brooklyn (King’s county), New York, USA, Long. 73W56, Lat. 40N38, Lahiri ayanamsha -22:27:00. Class A data, from memory. [AstroDatabank currently gives this data as 11:09 am, but formerly listed it as 11:00 am, which is the time preferred by this author.] Marion March quotes the time in a biography as 11:00 AM. ADB has since changed the birth time to 11:09 am (13:38 Scorpio sidereal Ascendant), though the source is not clear and 11:09 am could have been rectified from the original 11:00 am. Ascendant: 11:49 Scorpio.
Brief Biographical Summary
George Gershwin’s intense and prolific career in music – as a musician, composer, pianist, orchestrator, and conductor – ran from 1913 to 1937, when he died suddenly at age 38 from an undiagnosed brain tumor. His career began early when at age 15 he left school to work on Tin Pan Alley in New York City. For several years he was a “piano pounder” selling other people’s songs. The same year (1913) he composed his first song, and over the next 24 years he composed over 500 individual songs, initially for Tin Pan Alley and later for Broadway music theatre productions – 36 of them – and for several Hollywood movies.
From age 20 ½ onward (April 1919) he was the featured composer responsible for entire Broadway musicals. His song “Swanee,” created together with lyricist Irving Caesar, was written in spring 1919, first performed in Oct. 1919, and made famous when Al Jolson recorded it in early Jan. 1920. This song brought Gershwin wealth and celebrity overnight and remained the biggest-selling song over his entire career, even if “Summertime” (from his 1935 opera Porgy and Bess) would become the most recorded of all his songs over the decades. Singers and musicians have performed it in a wide range of styles.
Gershwin’s work in the theatre was constantly interspersed with more classically oriented pieces such as Rhapsody in Blue (Feb. 1924), Concerto in F (Dec. 1925), An American in Paris (Dec. 1928), and later his opera Porgy and Bess (Oct. 1935). These dates all indicate world premiere performances.
Jupiter in the 11th house
With Jupiter in the 11th house of elder siblings (and financial gains) in both the birth chart and the Navamsha chart, this confirms the power of a classic and temporal benefic planet to deliver in matters concerning the 11th house. As lord of two financial houses (Houses 2 and 5) situated in another financial house (House 11), this Jupiter creates a Dhana yoga of wealth. Further, there are yet more Dhana yogas in the Navamsha chart: 5th and 9th lords (Saturn and Mercury, respectively) are in the 2nd house of the Navamsha chart. Also, Navamsha Ascendant lord Venus is in the 9th house, bestowing a Raja yoga. Meanwhile, a good reputation personally and career-wise is shown by classic benefic Mercury in the 10th house of the birth chart – an Amala yoga. This saved him from any scandals that beset other musicians and/or celebrities of the era, and Ira Gershwin played an important role in that outcome.
George Gershwin was the second among four siblings. He collaborated closely with his older brother Ira (b. 1896, d.1983), who was far more introverted and bookish than George. Ira would have probably become an accountant if George had not drawn him into his professional sphere in the late 1910s and early 1920s, where his gifts as a lyricist became a pivotal part of this legendary creative partnership between two siblings. Ira also looked out for his brother throughout his life and attended to the business side of their creative partnership. He also established their joint music publishing enterprise in 1927, thereby providing copyright protection for all Gershwin music.
Ira married in Sept. 1926, while George remained single – with many, many romantic connections and entanglements – the longest relationship being with Kay Swift, 1925-35. George and Ira lived in the same house with their parents and two other Gershwin siblings up to Oct. 1929. From then on they lived in either adjoining apartments or within a short walking distance of each other in Manhattan, NY and later for 10 months in Hollywood, CA up to George’s death.
Though initially considered the “black sheep” in the family, George Gershwin clearly had a destiny to attain considerable financial wealth. In fact he lost his “black sheep” status almost overnight with the success of “Swanee.” His chart also confirms that Ira would play a significant role in his life. George’s natal Jupiter in Virgo is just beyond the combustion range (11°), being 13°20’ ahead of the Sun, aspecting the Moon in Capricorn in the 3rd house of music as well as the 7th house of partnerships (marital or business), and the 5th house of creative endeavors and financial speculation. Over his lifetime George also acquired valuable real estate and a large art collection.
Jupiter Dasha – Centerpiece of the Lifetime
George Gershwin’s 16-year Jupiter Dasha began March 30, 1921, at age 22 ½. Just 9 days earlier, on March 21, 1921, was the opening of George and Ira’s first-ever collaboration on a full musical (A Dangerous Maid) with Ira as lyricist, though still using a pseudonym up to Sept. 1924. They would go on to do so many collaborations together that their music catalog is still considered rare in terms of the sheer volume of creative output by two siblings. This also consolidated the family wealth, bringing considerable affluence to George, his family and his heirs.
Just 9 days after the start of George’s Jupiter Dasha – on April 8, 1921 – there was a Solar eclipse at 25:13 Pisces which highlighted George’s natal Jupiter at 24:27 Virgo. A Total Solar eclipse on Oct. 1, 1921 occurred at 15:00 Virgo, within 4 degrees of George’s natal Sun at 11:07 Virgo. Prior to that, on Sept. 9, 1921, the 20-year JU-SA conjunction occurred at 3:49 Virgo in his 11th house. All these astronomical events augured well for Gershwin’s Jupiter Dasha.
The last few years of his 18-year Rahu Dasha were starting to build towards the explosive good fortune of the Jupiter Dasha, though a breakthrough success with “Swanee” had already arrived late in Rahu Dasha. Note how from Dasha Lagna (Rahu in Sagittarius), Sun and Jupiter are in the 10th house of career and visibility: a Raja yoga combining lords of House 1 (Jupiter) and House 9 (Sun) in the 10th house. From Dasha Lagna there is also a mutual exchange between 9th and 10th lords Mercury and Sun. This is both a powerful Raja yoga as well as a Parivartana yoga. Dasha lord Rahu was ending its 18 month transit through Libra before entering Virgo for 18 months from July 13, 1921. So in the early years of the Jupiter Dasha, tr. Rahu in the 11th and 10th houses was an excellent indicator.
Well placed transits of Jupiter and Saturn added further advantage. From July 1919 to July 1920 tr. Jupiter was exalted in Cancer in his 9th house aspecting his Scorpio Ascendant. Tr. Saturn was in his 10th house, its premiere placement career-wise from Sept. 18, 1918 to Aug. 8, 1921. Though “Swanee” was written in spring 1919 and first performed in Oct. 1919, it was the Al Jolson recording in Jan. 1920 that pushed Gershwin’s fortunes sky-high. “Swanee” was also a song that announced the start of the Roaring 1920s probably more than any other single piece of music.
When Gershwin’s Jupiter Dasha began, tr. Jupiter and Saturn were conjoined in Leo in his 10th house, preparing to form their 20-year conjunction in early Virgo Sept. 9, 1921 (also the start of the EARTH period, i.e. JU-SA conjunctions predominating in sidereal EARTH signs).
Tr. Jupiter moved to its return position in Virgo from Aug. 23, 1921 through Sept. 23, 1922. This would repeat the many benefits of Gershwin’s natal Jupiter in Virgo in the 11th house. While Jupiter is Dasha lord, the transits of Jupiter are especially important. Transiting Jupiter in Scorpio in Gershwin’s Ascendant also brought many multiplying benefits. In its average 12-year orbit around the Sun, Jupiter transited through Scorpio from Oct. 22, 1923 to Nov. 15, 1924.
During that time Gershwin impressed the influential big band leader Paul Whiteman with work they first did together in 1922 on a Broadway revue. On Nov. 1, 1923 Whiteman heard Gershwin perform at the piano on the concert stage at Aeolian Hall in NYC and was excited about the innovation of conjoining classical music with jazz. Whiteman then promptly booked a concert at this same concert hall on Feb. 12, 1924, and invited Gershwin and others to compose and perform a concert work for the occasion.
Among the 26 mostly new and commissioned pieces was the world premiere of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, for piano and orchestra. Gershwin was at the piano, performing the piece he wrote in 3 weeks in Jan. 1924. He was in the midst of a very busy period when he was also composing the complete musical score for a Broadway musical, Sweet Little Devil. While this musical may be long forgotten, the debut concert of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue was a major event in the history of American art and culture. It shattered the established boundaries of what was considered culturally acceptable, and merged the language of jazz with that of the classical piano concerto.
Birth data: Monday, Dec. 3, 1923, 6:00 am EST, Manhattan, New York, USA, Long. 74W00 23, Lat. 40N42 51, Lahiri ayanamsha -22:47:00. Class A, from memory. AstroDatabank previously gave this data and then later shifted to Class DD (Dirty Data). Many different birth times have been used, and three successive days of birth: Dec. 2, 3 or 4. Birth data is used here that Callas shared via her personal contact with reputed Paris astrologers, also corresponding to the data in the collections of André Barbault, Michel Gauquelin, and Didier Geslain. In each case the source is Maria Callas herself. Ascendant: 4:02 Scorpio.
Brief Biographical Summary
One of the greatest opera singers of the 20th century, Maria Callas is known for the power of her singing voice as well as her musicality and the total emotional engagement in her roles. Her live performances were something of a sensation and brought her instant celebrity status. After making her professional debut in 1941, her opera career was considered the strongest between 1947 and 1957.
A major turning point for her success was her debut at La Scala (Milan, Italy) on April 12, 1950, singing the title role in Verdi’s Aida. Subsequently, she opened their 1951-52 season on Dec. 7, 1951 and completed several more engagements there in 1952. Prior to that, she started to build her opera career in Greece, from April 1938 to Sept. 1945, and in Italy from summer 1947 through fall 1956, with appearances in Mexico City starting in May 1950, followed by tours to Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo in 1951. Her opera appearances in other European cities and U.S. cities started to increase from 1951 onward, though the majority of her engagements continued in Italy through 1956. Italy was also where she resided with her Italian husband (Giovanni Battista Meneghini) from 1949 to 1959, and as a couple before that from summer 1947 until their marriage April 21, 1949. Their union lasted a full Jupiter cycle, with tr. Jupiter in Libra.
Callas’s singing voice was notable from early childhood. Her ambitious mother pushed for her professional music and vocal training, most of which occurred in Greece and Italy in the four years after she graduated from 8th grade at age 13 in New York City. She departed Feb. 1, 1937 to live in Greece with her mother and older sister, leaving her father behind. Her parents had emigrated to the U.S. from Greece, arriving in NYC Aug. 2, 1923. Their separation in Feb. 1937 also coincided with the end of Maria’s formal academic education.
Callas’s range of opera repertoire was extraordinary, from Italian Bel Canto operas back to back with Wagnerian operas. Perhaps partly because of this, along with her intense work ethic, her enormously busy performance schedule from 1948 onward and also her major weight loss in 1953-54, her voice began to show more and more deterioration. This was increasingly noticeable as of 1958 (or even in 1956, according to some), and she began to delay many contracts due to her fast-fading vocal powers and the contraction of her formerly immense three octave vocal range. The irony is that she was reaching superstardom just as her voice was fading. Her marriage to Meneghini was also coming to an abrupt end.
Callas became romantically involved with the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis in the summer of 1959. Her opera career started to turn downward at that time, but in truth her voice had already become less reliable. She gave birth to their child at the end of March 30, 1960, though he only lived two hours and was kept secret from the public for decades. Her operatic engagements decreased from 1959 onward, in part due to the deterioration of her voice as well as the many distractions of her private life, played out on the world stage.
The Prologue to Jupiter Dasha
As we saw with Gershwin, the 18-year Rahu Dasha directly preceding Jupiter Dasha was increasingly productive. But with Callas, Rahu Dasha was even more favorable, since Rahu participates in a Kala Sarpa yoga (all classic Vedic planets between Rahu and Ketu), with Rahu in the 10th house of career and maximum visibility. This Rahu is strong – Vargottama in Leo (repeating in the Navamsha in Leo) and augurs well for Rahu Dasha career-wise. In fact 99% of her professional opera training was in this dasha, and according to the most discerning biographers and musicologists, the best portion of her performing and recording career as well. Her Rahu Dasha ran from May 6, 1938 to May 5, 1956.
During Jupiter-Jupiter period she first met Onassis at a ball in Sept. 1957 and again later at a second ball in spring 1959 during Jupiter-Saturn period. Their affair began during a 3-week long cruise (July 22 to Aug. 13, 1959) in the Mediterranean on his yacht, The Christina. The effect on both marriages was immediate. Callas made a public announcement on Sept. 8, 1959 that her marriage was over. Meneghini was stunned but agreed to a separation. Callas was unable to obtain a divorce due to Italian law, while Onassis’s wife Tina divorced him in 1960. The Callas-Onassis affair endured up to his death March 15, 1975, with a brief hiatus when he went off to marry Jacqueline Kennedy in Oct. 1968 without informing Maria of his plans to do so. However, he soon regretted that decision and the liaison with Maria continued until his death. She died at age 53 on Sept. 16, 1977 at her home in Paris, having become overly dependent on barbiturates in her final years. The cause of death was probably heart failure, but an autopsy was never done to confirm it.
Financially, Callas did increasingly well from her opera career, helped initially by her mother (Moon in the 11th house) and later by her husband Meneghini, who also became her manager. But with Onassis in the picture from summer 1959, she never lacked for financial resources. He bought her many luxuries, including an apartment in Paris where she lived for many years up to her death in 1977.
As we saw with George Gershwin, artists and especially musicians thrive in the WATER elements (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces). When the Ascendant and/or key planets are in WATER signs or classic WATER houses (Houses 4, 8, 12), the artist often uses the artistic medium to project their inner life and creative wellsprings.
Conversely, if they are not projecting themselves through music, as with Callas, while simultaneously not receiving the accustomed attention, admiration, and often adoration from their public, there can be a sense of loss or emptiness. Especially with music, it can become the ONE language they need to use to communicate with the world.
Gershwin was more skilled at conveying his thoughts verbally and more skillful in his public communications due to a much stronger Mercury (in Leo in the 10th house). It also protected him from scandals, whereas Callas’s life was weakened by scandals. Her Mercury at 27:06 Scorpio, though Digbala in the Ascendant, was problematic in the Gandanta degree of Scorpio, and Neecha Bhanga in Pisces in the Navamsha 8th house. This to some extent describes the raw emotional power of her singing voice, along with its downfall if she abuses it in any way or fails to keep up the necessary discipline of an opera singer.
Jupiter Dasha – the Downfall of a Brilliant Career
Sun, Moon, and Jupiter are Nadi yogakarakas for Scorpio Ascendant, and thus the best planets for this birth chart. For George Gershwin, Sun and Jupiter are closely interacting with Ascendant lord Mars in a fortuitous way, and Mars and Jupiter form a Nadi yoga (an exchange of nakshatra lords). But for Callas, natal Sun is in the fatal Mrityu Bhaga degree. Further, her Sun and Jupiter are both ruled sign-wise by Mars. Jupiter is ruled nakshatra-wise by Saturn, and both Mars and Saturn are located in the 12th house of loss, or of foreign residence. Her Jupiter is combust the Sun, and behind it by 8°21’ orb. Sun is in Jyestha nakshatra, ruled by a problematic Mercury. Mercury is Gandanta at 27:06 Scorpio, though Digbala, best possible angle of the chart, as is Jupiter. So we see that these Digbala positions are not advantageous here, especially in Jupiter Dasha – where they were featured. They contributed to a life of greater excess and loss of discipline for the career she had been building since 1937 at age 13 with high enthusiasm, physical vitality and a prodigious output of musical creativity and hard work. These qualities were also true of Gershwin throughout his life and of Callas up until a few years into her Jupiter Dasha. For Gershwin, even the effect of tr. Jupiter in Scorpio was generally far better than for Callas. Jupiter transited Scorpio Dec. 19, 1958 to June 23, 1959; Aug. 18, 1959 to Jan. 23, 1960. This transit encircled the events of the cruise on Onassis’ yacht in summer Aug. 1959 and the blossoming of the Onassis-Callas romance as well as her pregnancy.
Especially during Jupiter Dasha, tr. Jupiter in the 10th and 11th houses up to July 22, 1958 would serve to stave off major career setbacks. Severe vocal problems began to affect Callas even in 1956 during her first season at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC. Her recordings and the number of her opera engagements reveal the story: From 1951 to 1955 she made from 41 to 55 operatic appearances per year. In 1956 the total was 49, and from there it declined sharply: in 1957: 30; in 1958: 28; and in 1959 (at age 35): only 5. In the 1960s she performed less and less, avoiding full operatic performances in favor of less taxing recitals or a series of public master classes for young opera singers (1971-72). It is not just Onassis who caused this, but the deterioration of her voice, already apparent by 1956.
At the start of Callas’s Jupiter Dasha on May 5, 1956, her severe vocal problems were not yet apparent to all. Far from looking like the end of a brilliant career, she exuded more glamour than ever. In addition to her personal magnetism and the greatness of her operatic performances, Callas’s major weight loss (1953-54) was a significant factor. The focus was still on her music up through summer 1959, but her newly svelte physical beauty and attention to fashion chic was something she had not possessed for most of her life thus far. She had been a voracious eater and overweight since adolescence. Eating was often a substitute for the emotional/mental peace she could not find elsewhere for many years. Ascendant lord Mars in the 12th house of loss did not help self-confidence, but it did make her more visible residing outside her country of origin. It was in a European setting that her career first took off, and it was there she established her reputation.
Jupiter in a WATER sign, especially in the Ascendant can bring weight gain. But Callas lost a total of ca. 65 to 70 lbs over 1 ½ years, starting in Dec. 1952. This coincided with tr. Saturn’s first return to Libra in her 12th house from Nov. 26, 1952. From the 12th house Saturn aspects the 2nd house of eating, but also of the voice. She had been very disciplined in her voice training, and now the discipline went also to weight loss – probably detrimental to sustaining her magnificent operatic voice. In Feb. 1953 tr. Saturn turned Stationary Retrograde at 4:04 Libra very close to her natal Saturn and Mars. Tr. Saturn remained in Libra through Nov. 13, 1955 (excluding April 25 to Aug. 22, 1953).
In her 2nd house of eating, Callas has Venus in the birth chart and Jupiter in the Navamsha chart, both of them classic benefic planets. This contributed to her vocal gifts as well as to her unbridled appetite and tendency for weight gain, especially with Jupiter in the Ascendant in a WATER sign. Given her penchant for inventing stories – reflecting her Gandanta Mercury in Scorpio – Callas gave various versions of how she finally achieved her spectacular weight loss. One version was that she took in a tapeworm, whether accidental or intentional.
During the major weight loss she was in Rahu-Sun and Rahu-Moon periods, respectively. Remember that her natal Sun is in the fatal Mrityu Bhaga degree, perhaps contributing to any detrimental effects of the 11 month Rahu-Sun period, in combination with tr. Saturn in Libra thru Nov. 13, 1955 and subsequently in Scorpio (Nov. 13, 1955 to Nov. 8, 1958). This sequence of tr. Saturn in Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius would finally bring the sought-after weight loss and newfound glamour, but also contributed greatly to the loss of the operatic voice that had brought Callas to prominence. Opera was her most ardent life’s work up to the time she became involved with Aristotle Onassis. The fierce and passionate love she experienced for him, also a fellow Greek, was the first in her lifetime; and its volcanic force was akin to the volcanic force she was famous for unleashing on the opera stage. Ironically, Onassis cared little for opera, though he understood its social significance.
- https://edithhathaway.com/product/the-power-of-the-ascendant-chart/ Oct. 2021 (Features Scorpio Ascendant.)
- https://edithhathaway.com/rhapsody-in-blue-breakthrough-moment-in-american-art-culture-feb-12-1924/ Jan. 2017
- [Hathaway, Edith, In Search of Destiny, Vol. 2, a work-in-progress.]
Books on Maria Callas
- Gage, Nicholas, Greek Fire: The Story of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis, 2000.
- Meneghini, Giovanni Battista, My Wife Maria Callas, 1982.
- Scott, Michael, Maria Meneghini Callas, 1991.
- Stassinopolis, Ariana, Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend, 1981.
Books on George Gershwin
- Jablonski, Edward, Gershwin: A Biography, 1987.
- Jablonski, Edward and Lawrence D. Stuart, The Gershwin Years, 2nd edition, 1973.
- Kimball, Robert and Albert Simon, The Gershwins, 1973.
- Peyser, Joan, The Memory of All That: The Life of George Gershwin, 1993.
- Pollack, Howard, George Gershwin: His Life and Work, 2006.
[This article first appeared in Timeline Astrology 2023, Issue 5, print version Nov. 15, 2022; online version Dec. 29, 2022. The article above is slightly enlarged by about 200 words from the original Timeline Astrology magazine version.]
Copyright ©2022 by Edith Hathaway. All rights reserved.