Sherlock Holmes and the Strange Case of the Pluto Transits

There are some fictional characters that have such a lasting hold on the public imagination that many people believe them to be actual historical figures. One of the most famous examples is of the London-based “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes.

Astrological charts are not limited by having to belong to actual people. A chart can be drawn for a country, an enterprise or even an idea and it will reveal an abundance of appropriate information about each of them. So the fact that Sherlock Holmes didn’t actually exist is not a problem, although the fact that no specific time is available for his non existence does create some difficulties.

The information required would be the beginning of the idea of Holmes. Some fans of the detective have attempted to work out a birthdate based on observations made in the books but with no clear result. The publication of the first story would provide a useful chart but those details are unavailable as is the time when Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the stories, first got the idea to write about him.

The only actual time and date that we have is the birth of Conan Doyle himself but fortunately this is all that we need.

It does appear to be the case that any writer, artist or actor that is strongly linked with one particular piece of work or part will often contain a description of that work in their own chart. Its as if a creator becomes symbolically linked with his main character.

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote many books and was also a medical practitioner with a deep interest in the occult and paranormal, but the reason that we know of him at all is for the character of Sherlock Holmes. So his chart would contain a description of the detective.

Arthur Conan Doyle

In fact this description is so accurate that it appears to be the chart of Sherlock Holmes himself. If we ask the simple question of what type of chart to expect, it has to be the element of Air.

Air is the element of rational thought, of logic and the processing and communication of information. Sherlock Holmes would undoubtedly have a predominance of planets in Air signs and a distinct shortage in the feeling element, Water.

As it turns out Conan Doyle / Holmes has the Sun and Ascendant together with Mars, Jupiter and Uranus in Gemini and the Moon in Aquarius, both are Air signs. The only planet in Water is Neptune and as it remains in a sign for up to 15 years, that doesn’t count.

The chart also has both the Sun and Moon in the first degree of those signs which suggests an unclouded purity of rational thought. There is something about the beginning of a sign which points to a clarity and simplicity of the energy of the sign.

Of the 3 Air signs, the one missing is Libra, but the gregarious nature of this sign would not fit with the sociopath that we know as Sherlock Holmes.

The really strong influence is Gemini. Holmes’ capacity for processing information is extraordinary. His deductions consist  of drawing inferences based on either straightforward practical principles—which are the result of careful observation.

Holmes’s analysis of physical evidence is both scientific and precise. His methods include the use of footprints, hoof prints and bicycle tracks to identify actions at a crime scene, the use of tobacco ashes and cigarette butts to identify criminals,  the comparison of typewritten letters to expose a fraud, the use of gunpowder residue to expose two murderers , bullet comparison from two crime scenes, analysis of small pieces of human remains to expose two murders and an early use of fingerprints.

In “A Scandal in Bohemia” Holmes deduces that his friend and accomplice, Dr. Watson had got very wet lately and that he had “a most clumsy and careless servant girl”. When Watson, in amazement, asks how Holmes knows this, Holmes answers:

” It is simplicity itself … My eyes tell me that on the inside of your left shoe, just where the firelight strikes it, the leather is scored by six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they have been caused by someone who has very carelessly scraped round the edges of the sole in order to remove crusted mud from it. Hence, you see, my double deduction that you had been out in vile weather, and that you had a particularly malignant boot-slitting specimen of the London slavey. ”

Holmes is also a competent cryptanalyst. He relates to Watson, “I am fairly familiar with all forms of secret writing, and am myself the author of a trifling monograph upon the subject, in which I analyse one hundred and sixty separate ciphers”.

This is the mind of a Gemini, but no ordinary one. The Sun’s close conjunction with Uranus lifts him to the level of intuitive genius.

Holmes also demonstrates a knowledge of psychology where he lures Irene Adler into betraying where she had hidden a photograph based on the “premise” that an unmarried woman will seek her most valuable possession in case of fire, whereas a married woman will grab her baby instead. Another example is where Holmes is able to obtain information from a salesman by a wager rather than by interrogation or bribery, remarking, “When you see a man with whiskers of that cut and the ‘Pink ’un’ protruding out of his pocket, you can always draw him by a bet … I daresay that if I had put 100 pounds down in front of him, that man would not have given me such complete information as was drawn from him by the idea that he was doing me on a wager.”

The Sun is also exactly trine the Moon in Aquarius, an aspect that gives him true originality of thought with an exceptional understanding of the motives and behaviour of people, particularly criminals.

Holmes displays a strong aptitude for acting and disguise. In several stories, he adopts disguises to gather evidence while ‘under cover’ so convincing that even Watson fails to penetrate them. Gemini is a master of mimicry.

Holmes is an expert shot and fencer and also adept with a stick or a cane. He trained as a boxer, and is described as a formidable bare-knuckle fighter who engages in hand-to-hand combat with his adversaries on many occasions. Holmes also recounts to Watson how he used martial arts to overcome his arch enemy, Professor Moriarty and fling his adversary to his death down the Reichenbach Falls. He states, “I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling, which has more than once been very useful to me”

This comes from Mars’ close conjunction with the Ascendant, showing a him as a man of action as well as a thinker.

Holmes’s demeanour is presented as a dispassionate and cold loner who does not strive to make friends, who attributes his solitary ways to his particular interests and his melancholic disposition. The quality of emotional cool and detachment comes from the Moon in Aquarius, and his solitary ways from the fact that he has 6 planets in the 12th house.

The Moon is opposite Saturn which adds to the emotional restraint and the sense that Holmes is extremely uncomfortable dealing with feelings. It also describes his suspicion of women in general and his aversion to emotional relationships of any kind.

This opposition is part of a T Square that focuses onto an apex conjunction of Mercury and Pluto. Mercury rules thought and Pluto is penetration into the deepest darkest realms, so this placing would make for the perfect consulting detective.

It is also worth remembering that this is the chart of Arthur Conan Doyle, particularly when it comes to transits but it seems that even here the main transits to his chart are still tied up with his greatest fictional hero.

As readers of these articles will know the most profound turning point in anyone’s life is when Pluto comes to conjunct the Sun by transit. Of course this happened to Conan Doyle in 1886 when the first Sherlock Holmes story, ” A Study in Scarlet ” was published.

Conan Doyle wrote the first set of stories over the next few years, however wanting to devote more time to his historical novels, he killed off Holmes in “The Final Problem”, which appeared in print in 1893. Holmes and the arch villain Moriarty fell to their doom over the Reichenbach Falls whilst fighting each other.

But the pressure from the public was so great that in 1903, Conan Doyle wrote “The Adventure of the Empty House”,  in which Holmes reappears and explains to a shocked Watson that he had only faked his own death. It was explained that only Moriarty had fallen, but since Holmes had other dangerous enemies, especially Colonel Sebastian Moran he had arranged to also be perceived as dead. In 1903 Pluto was conjunct Conan Doyle’s Mars and Ascendant an extremely suitable transit for a resurrection and rebirth.

Everything comes to an end eventually and quite often its Saturn that calls time. Conan Doyle wrote the last story ” The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes in 1927 as Saturn was opposite his Sun.

Most appropriately for someone who had spent the last decade of his life immersed in spiritualism, Arthur Conan Doyle passed on to another realm with Neptune square his Sun in 1930.

This would be the end of the story but we are not dealing with the life of Conan Doyle but of the life of his creation which continued in several guises over the years. Many films and TV series have been made about Sherlock Holmes and everyone would have their favourite but most people old enough to have seen them would agree that the classic one which probably was the reason for all the others was the series of 14 films in which Basil Rathbone played Holmes during the 2nd World War.

Basil Rathbone

That Rathbone was destined to play Holmes is clear from the fact that he also has 4 planets in Gemini and also in that signs own house, the third. He also has the Mercury / Pluto conjunction that was such a major player in the Conan Doyle / Holmes chart.

Rathbone’s Sun is conjunct Conan Doyle / Holmes Ascendant / Mars / Jupiter conjunction and his Pluto is conjunct the CD / Holmes Sun.

But the most staggering thing is the timing of it, Rathbone played the role from the first film ” The Hound of the Baskervilles ” in 1939 to 1946 exactly coinciding with Pluto’s transit through the CD /Holmes T Square. Pluto was opposite the Moon in 1939 and conjunct Saturn square Pluto in 1946.

Possibly the most famous actor to play Holmes was Peter Cushing in ” The Hound of the Baskervilles” in 1959.

Peter Cushing

And of course Cushing has the Sun in Gemini as well, but staggeringly he also has the Moon in Aquarius. Cushing’s Sun is conjunct the CD / Holmes Sun.

Just in case anyone was wondering, the chances of that happening is more than 500 to 1 against.

Even more bizarrely, Pluto was square to Cushing’s Sun in 1959, so playing this role marked a watershed in his own career. Since Cushing’s Sun is conjunct the CD / Holmes Sun, this meant that this version of the Hound was also marked by a major Pluto aspect to the Sherlock Holmes chart, a square to his Sun / Uranus conjunction.

So the two turning points marked by the only major transits the Pluto made to the Holmes chart since the death of Conan Doyle both resulted in The Hound beginning a series of Sherlock films.

Interestingly the man who played Sir Henry Baskerville in the 1959 Cushing film also played Holmes himself in 1962’s “Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace “.

Christopher Lee

Inevitably Christopher Lee has the Sun in Gemini, also conjunct the CD / Holmes Sun. Lee actually has the Moon in Gemini as well.

Like Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee went on to play some seriously defining roles in horror film but this period between 1959 – 62 marked his great breakthrough. Needless to say Pluto was square to his Sun throughout this time.

At this point its important to note that the chances of all these people having these contacts by chance have become infinitesimally small, certainly way beyond Capricorn Research’s capacity to make statistical calculations.

One of the most notable recent characterisations of Holmes came from Jeremy Brett who played him in a TV series for 10 years, between 1984 and 94.

Jeremy Brett

Surprisingly Brett has no Gemini planets, although as we don’t have a birth time we don’t know his Ascendant. We do know that the series was the by far the most significant turning point of Brett’s life as Pluto was conjunct his Sun between 1987 and 88 when the show was at its peak and also opposite his Moon between 1992 and 94.

Even more remarkably Pluto was square the Conan Doyle / Holmes Moon when the series began in 1984 and opposite the CD / H Sun when it ended in 1994.

Even some of the less well known versions screened abroad had a strong Pluto presence. In 1954 an American TV series ran for 39 episodes with Ronald Howard in the role of Sherlock.

Ronald Howard

 

Again we have no birth time and Howard has no Gemini but he does have the Moon in Aquarius closely conjunct Uranus. This particular placing is important as shown by the fact that Pluto was opposite Howard’s Moon in 1954.

Rather bizarrely an extremely popular Russian version featured in many films of Sherlock Holmes stories between 1979 and 86. Our hero was played by Vasily Livanov. Again no birth time so another noon chart.

Vasily Livanov

No Gemini Sun or Aquarius Moon here but Livanov has an exact Sun / Pluto conjunction. This aspect nataly always gives even more power to Pluto’s transits and indicates that when Pluto comes to the Sun by square would mark the most important period of the person’s life by far.

Pluto was square Livanov’s Sun between 1981 and 3 right in the middle of the series of films.

The current favourite is with Benedict Cumberbatch as a modern day Sherlock.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Again no birth time is available so we don’t know his Ascendant. Cumberbatch does not have Gemini or Aquarius strong but he does have a T Square that involves the Moon with an apex Mercury, just like the CD / Holmes chart.

This is the first one that has come up without a major Pluto transit. Perhaps the planet doesn’t like the modern day interpretation with constant use of texting and blogging.

Or perhaps it means that Cumberbatch will continue playing Holmes for another 10 years until Pluto is opposite his Sun and square his Moon. We shall see, Capricorn Research is glued to every episode so certainly hopes for another decade.

What about Holmes’ friend and sidekick, Dr Watson ? What would his chart look like ? We need look no further than the chart of the first proper role, Basil Rathbone’s partner, Nigel Bruce.

Nigel Bruce

 

So what kind of chart for the good doctor. The sign that rules health is Virgo, but Pisces has a secondary rulership because of its connection with hospitals. So naturally Nigel Bruce / Dr Watson has the Sun in Virgo opposite the Moon in Pisces.

The Sun is also in the 7th house of partnerships. With the Sun here, the individual is best suited to working in a cooperative way with a partner and would be able to subvert his own ego to enable him to get along with Holmes. As the Sun is in Virgo, he would tend to take a back seat as this sign does not like being centre stage and is generally happy to let the credit go to others. So the Sun in Virgo in the 7th shows Watson’s role in the stories.

The Moon in Pisces indicates someone who is much more emotional and feeling based than Holmes. Its also a placing that can appear rather vague and many have commented that Bruce’s way of portraying Watson was rather bumbling and even a bit absent minded, a decent hearted character but nothing like as sharp as his partner.

The Sun and Moon are in opposition and this creates a T Square to an apex Pluto / Neptune conjunction in Gemini. Pluto and Neptune are conjunct the Ascendant in the Conan Doyle / Holmes chart so therefore they symbolise Holmes to Watson. Pluto and Neptune are in the 4th house of home so Watson is driven to work and live with Holmes.

Watson being a different character to Holmes, he is likely to be more responsive to Neptune transits and so it proves as Neptune is opposite Bruce / Watson’s Moon in 1939 when the first film was made. Pluto did turn up though, opposite his Ascendant in 1946 as the series ended.

Its all so beautifully laid out as usual, we just need to take the time and trouble to see it.

Peter Cushing’s Watson was Nigel Stock. Noon chart only.

Nigel Stock

 

Two Virgoan Nigels, what would be the chances of that ? This Watson has 4 planets in the sign.

Edward Hardwicke was Watson to Jeremy Brett’s Holmes. Another noon chart.

Edward Hardwicke

Like his partner, Hardwicke does not follow suit in terms of the Sun or Moon. Mercury, the thinking planet is in Virgo however, conjunct Neptune, the ruler of Pisces so we do have a little of the same theme going on.

Another similarity to Brett is that Pluto is in aspect to his Sun during the peak of the TV series in 1989 – 90. Neptune is square his Moon when it ends in 1994.

Howard Marion Crawford was Ronald Howard’s Watson, noon chart.

Howard Crawford

 

No sign links but both the Sun and Mercury are in opposition to Neptune.

Neptune is square his Sun for the Tv series in 1954

Vitaly Solomon was the Russian Watson to Livanov, noon chart

Vitaly Solomon

 

The Moon is in Virgo here conjunct Neptune.

Neptune is square Solomon’s Sun in 1979 when his role in the Russian films began.

And the most recent one, Benedict Cumberbatch’s partner, Martin Freeman, noon chart

Martin Freeman

Freeman has the Sun, Venus and Pluto in Virgo.

There are no transits for Freeman but oddly enough Neptune is opposite his Sun from 2017 – 19, so this might be another indication of a long running series.

This is all a bit mind blowing but we seem to have caught the nature of Doctor Watson as a Virgo with a strong element of Neptune particularly in aspect to Mercury. Most of Watson’s incarnations seem to be particularly responsive to Neptune’s transits.

Sherlock Holmes of course is Gemini with Aquarius and a Mercury / Pluto connection.

But of all these extraordinary connections the most incredible is the strange case of the recurring Pluto transits in the charts of the Arthur Conan Doyle and the many people who have played Sherlock Holmes.

The chances of all this occurring by chance are so infinitesimally remote that we surely must accept that there is an astrological signature to the story of Sherlock Holmes.

There are some people that might dismiss all this as coincidence but they are like the many policeman under the leadership of Inspector Lestrade in the Holmes stories, who stumble around and basically always miss the point. When Sherlock Holmes explained his uncannily accurate deductions, Lestrade’s reaction was ” I don’t see ” and Holmes would always reply ” You see, but you don’t observe ”

Astrology is very powerful but also very simple. All we have to do is put aside our preconceptions and observe.

As Holmes himself said many times – “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.

It is ” Elementary my dear Watson “.

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4 thoughts on “Sherlock Holmes and the Strange Case of the Pluto Transits

  1. Pingback: Screening Sherlock | wendycartwrightblog

  2. Thanks very much for the Pingback. I’m very interested in this topic, Sherlock Holmes stories were among the first to capture my imagination in childhood. I don’t know how accurate this is but I recently came across a reference to a possible birth-time for Jeremy Brett which mentions an interview in a book, ‘the Television Holmes’ by a Peter Haining – ‘author says Brett had “Leo in the Ascendancy.” I think it was called ‘the Jeremy Brett Discussion Forum.’I always thought Brett was very good in the role – but Basil Rathbone takes the accolade in my book!

    • That’s brilliant thanks. Leo rising makes sense. Only problem is it occurs around midnight. With much delicate rectification squeezing I’ve come up with a proposed time of 11.59 pm. This gives him 26 degrees Leo rising. Also the Sun in Scorpio in the 3rd which has to be one of the best houses for it. But the best thing is it brings that Taurus Moon to 29.59, so honorary Gemini opposite Mercury in early Sag. And therefore his Moon is closely conjunct Conan Doyle’s Sun.

      What do you think ? My only issue in the Pluto transits article is that Brett’s chart didn’t seem to fit with the others, which was a shame because I thought he was very good in the role. This birth time brings him more into the Sherlock zone.

      Even if its, early hours of morning, still good chance of a 3rd house Sun.

      Regards

      CC

      • Spot on – that’s what I think, I’m not well up on Rectification (not great at Maths!) but your analysis makes a lot of sense, especially his Moon conjunct Doyle’s sun. I’m sure I read a quote somewhere in which he likened playing Holmes to a marriage. (Will look it up) and a third house Sun would be a good fit – Sun in penetrating Scorpio square Saturn in ‘detached’ Aquarius seems to encapsulate something essential about Holmes, for me. Don’t want to upset any fans, but Benedict Cumberbatch, though a good actor, doesn’t ‘do it’ for me as Holmes. Will give it a bit more thought and get back to you. Thanks again.

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