The symbol of the sun at 11 degrees Virgo is “A man making a futurist drawing”. The central characteristic of Morrison’s identity and creative motivation is a uniqueness quite unmatched in his field of work. The modernist or futurist artist strives to combine deep insight into the great ancestors with a powerful personal originality to create art of lasting value. In this own very way, Van Morrison has successfully merged some of the most rooty, authentic elements in the history of popular music with contemporary elements of rock and soul. The highly innovative and spiritual result of his search remains arguably beyond comparison. Marc Edmund Jones writes about this Sabian degree: “it may repel rather than attract. Implicit in the symbolism is a challenge to a distinctiveness which will release the creative capacities of others as well as self”. By being true to his vision as an originator, Morrison has inspired uncountable musical followers and cult admiration, but also on occasion repelled the mass-listener and, not least, the media. So is sometimes the outcome of the daring “expansion of the human mind and[…]extension of its powers” (Marc Jones).
Morrison’s moon in the second degree of Cancer is on the symbol of “A man suspended over a vast level place”. This is an image of reflection and overview and of the illimitable variations of experience available to man through memory or perhaps the collective unconscious. The music of Van Morrison, as has been pointed out, seems intensely personal and at the same time completely timeless and universal. Through the placement of the instinctive, relating moon at this Sabian degree, it is easier to understand his ability to convey vast spheres of universal emotion and experience through the constant experimenting with words and sound, bending syllables and imagery in enthralling ways.
The persona of Van Morrison as presented by the Ascendant, given accuracy of the birth time, continues the excellent show of Sabian symbols reflecting deep features of his character. The symbol is “A large diamond not completely cut”. It might be argued that diamonds are things whose beauty and value are dependent on the world of men, since man remains the yardstick of value within his world. The not completely cut diamond seems to represent something of great potential value not yet realized, or something of great but partly hidden beauty – both applicable on the artistic persona of Van Morrison, considering the roughness of his media image and his firmly established hard-to-handle reputation. It also hints something about the limited recognition of Van the man, at least in proportion to his talents. It takes skill and patience to cut and polish a diamond to perfection, just as it takes patience and engagement to really reach and appreciate the music of Morrison.
The point of initiative – the planet Mars – is placed on the Gemini degree of “Winter frost in the woods”. The degree is concerned with “the supremacy of the needs and powers of nature over the aspirations and conveniences of man”, according to Marc Edmund Jones, its keyword being “splendor”. Van Morrison’s actions and decisions have constantly aimed to be in accordance only with what is worthwhile and has integrity. Ever since his attempts at breaking free from the constraints of commerciality early in his career, and through the creation of the monumental album “Astral Weeks”, that marked the beginning of his private odyssey into the mystical realms of music and spiritual transformation, Van has chosen the magical and splendid over the shallow, hollow and futile. Marc Jones again writes: “When positive, the degree is the creative transformation by which older cycles give way to newer ones”. At the same time as being an innovator, Morrison’s songwriting has been consistent in quality and quantity over the years, just like the cycles of the seasons bring back the beautiful winter frost every year.
The most immediately striking image comes to us through the placement of the Midheaven, the indicator of professional life, career and also self-conception. At Pisces’ second degree, it reads: “A squirrel hiding from hunters”. This is an exact and tangible picture of the professional behaviour of Van Morrison, trying to prevent the exploitation of his private life, shying away from fame and literally fleeing out into the street away from interviewers. His refusal to be a part of the normal artist/celebrity-cycle doesn't stop at indignation upon any snooping around - he's even written a bunch of songs whining about the burdens of fame and the hopeless rottenness of the music industry. The symbol is also one of “loyalty to one’s self interest”, and it is clearly possible to imagine the attitude of Van to have reasons of this very kind.
In his limited number of interviews Van Morrison has very rarely indulged in truly personal confessions, and he has constantly stressed, to the surprise and perhaps distrust of everybody, that to him, making his music “is only a job”. The Sabian symbol of his Mercury at Leo 23 is “A bareback rider” signifying at least the awareness of the impact of artistry upon spectators and listeners. Mercury symbolizes everyday communication and contact, as well as mentality. Van Morrison may indeed be truthful when claiming that writing his profoundly inspirational music and practising his special artistry is only a job. But then it’s an occupation that defines and dominates his whole being. Here is obviously a capacity and mental desire to immerse into some special dimension of artistry and self-dramatization. We are also once again concerned with purity, with the bareback rider demonstrating his riding skills (or singing skills) without the aid of any tool created by man, or studio finesse – Van Morrison is obsessed with spontaneity and authenticity, wanting to cut songs as fast and natural as possible.
The degree picturing “An epidemic of mumps” at Leo 2 is one of “personal capacities wholly out of hand, and the momentary appeal of escapist ideas”. Morrison’s Venus at this degree will inform us about his values, creativity and inclinations at giving. The keyword of “infection” here is very telling of the complete sensitivity and susceptibility of the man as well as of the similar effect of his music. As well as his history of emotional outbursts and defensiveness, at times reverting to alcohol and seclusion, Morrison’s music shows the same ability to open up and find its way through every last vein and bodily cell of the listener, revealing an organic timelessness and quickly reproducing the intangible dream of the forgotten and sacred spirit of nature and universe and the oneness of all.
Finally, at the degree of “The light of the sixth race transmuted to the seventh” at Libra 2, we find Jupiter, or the general sense of higher relations and expansion of everything at hand. The degree is one of borderline perspective and is connected to occultism in its perception of modern society as a “sixth root manifestation”. By the transmutation of one ideal to another we find ourselves at a threshold, (which is the keyword given by Marc Jones) looking out at a new and unknown space. Similarly, as Van sings in “Dweller on the threshold”, man is from birth given a hunch of the future world, or perhaps of eternity: “I’m a dweller on the threshold / and I’m waiting at the door / and I’m standing in the darkness / I don’t want to wait no more”. In the actual new world beyond, there are no trifles nor futility: “Let me pierce the realm of glamour / so I know just what I am”.