February 16, 2023

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Planetary Portraits: The Astrology of The Weeknd


Alexander Baker

Planetary Portraits: The Astrology of The Weeknd

The Weeknd is one of the world’s biggest musical stars, an alt R&B sensation at once brooding and electric, a mythic figure both public and reclusive.  His lyrics — dark, personal, sensual, syrupy — mix effortlessly with plateauing pop ballads, a given album often flitting back and forth from love-shackled lamentations to the ecstatic stimulation of starlight.

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, born February 16th, 1990 in Toronto, first began releasing music on YouTube in 2009 under an alias.  He stayed cloaked until founding XO record label two years later, publishing the mixtapes House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence. His earliest lyrics establish ongoing focuses: romance, excess, escape and melancholic isolation, navigating the paradoxes of desire and disassociation.  To be ‘immersed in’, yet checked out, to devour and diverge… these burdens that an Aquarius Sun with a Scorpio Moon might carry and seek to integrate.

The Weeknd’s music continued to soar — while marauding the depths of desire, no doubt.  2015’s The Beauty Behind the Madness saw familiar hits in “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” and “The Hills”, as well as a collaboration with Lana Del Rey on “Prisoner.”  2016’s Starboy saw the title song triumph charts.  Two more full-length fervors in After Hours (2020) and Dawn FM (2022) saw a joint world tour conclude in November.  Just at January’s end, pictures on The Weeknd’s official Instagram account show him with producer and synthesizer mage Mike Dean, ostensibly hashing out ideas in the studio.

I’ve heard a few astrologers remark in passing on how The Weeknd’s music is emblematic of Aquarius as an archetype — cool, aloof, liquid-airy smooth, the renegade outsider, belonging to no one, shocked by the heights his Capricorn placements have deliberately scaled… and delivering precision pop bangers about it, as pristine as they are murky.  And this certainly is most true of his high energy chart-toppers.

The ubiquitous “Starboy” is almost too on the money, its seeming vantage point like that of Aquarius, sign of the Sun’s exile, opposite its home of Leo:

“I’m a motherfuckin’ starboy…
/ look what you’ve done.”

It’s like Abel is observing himself in the third-person, from the boundary-skirting diurnal home of Saturn that Aquarius claims — observing worlds built and destroyed, like he was perched at the edge of a solar system when it all began, unable to quite belong to his own identity even as it sends shock waves in terrestrial civilian life.  “I Was Never There” … (from 2018’s My Dear Melancholy Is… lends a touch of the same absence, albeit in a much more watery tune.)

His stage name, ‘The Weeknd’ even derives from, of course, the two days of the week whose namesakes are Saturn and the Sun.  Fitting for a Saturn-ruled Sun as Aquarius, mm?  And quite a spell it has cast.  Decorated in darkness and shackled to situationships of desire, he has hundreds of millions.  Dollars?  That too, but I meant people’s attention.

Even among those songs that don’t receive quite as much “Blinding Lights” level airplay…

“She like my futuristic sounds in the new spaceship
/ futuristic sex, give her Philip K. Dick”

… might be the most Aquarius lyric of all time.  Courtesy of his song “Snowchild” — which holds the sugar-sweetest vocal delivery one will ever hear serenade of outsider ‘rags-to-riches’ and diamond-laden decadence.

The Weeknd’s birth chart, however, tells a story that puts his Moon in Scorpio placement more centric than his Aquarius Sun might seem in passing by the Billboard.  For as much as Abel Tesfaye sings of soaring heights, independence, alienation, and the bird’s eye view of success that come with such peaks — his 8th House Sun all too familiar with the losses accrued alongside ones victories — these stand in stark contrast to his dirtier, trappier, immersive intrigues when in the throes of love and lust — with competition, and even a love-covetous touch.

(Though it’s true, there are lyrical touches of distance nestled amidst his seductive exploits — there is no cookie-cutter separation between these dimensions I describe. Astrology is relational, and archetypes do not exist in a vacuum.  All the planets and stars shine down upon our births; we are not our charts, but rather our charts suggest imprints of things we will experience.  Thus, no planet-in-sign placement can be extricated from the context of the whole chart.)

For the astrologer familiar with his catalogue, Abel Tesfaye’s Scorpio Moon bears a valence one might hear a lot more of.  After all, as a Cancer Rising, the Moon rules his Ascendant, and his exalted Jupiter in Cancer, rising on his birth by way of Whole Sign house system.  Some would even say the Moon rules his chart.

“You don’t know what’s in store / but you know what you’re here for.”

—The Weeknd, “High for This” (c. 2011)

Beyond Tesfaye's reclusiveness and stated distaste for lengthy interviews, black-and-red aesthetics befitting of a Mars-ruled moon, his visage seems to hint at skirting the spotlight a bit.  As I’ve heard astro-mage Kaitlin Coppock remark, water risings tend to dodge the camera.

And the Moon in Scorpio is a moon traditionally fallen.  Not less than any other moon sign, but one that might encounter difficulties around lunar topics.  Gravitation, vulnerability, unmitigated connection.  It at least adds all the more subterranean a quality to the soul, the lyric, the delivery.  One’s sense of intimacy and enmeshment might feature affliction, whether within or guesting from another.  Perhaps all the more complicated by Venus conjunct Saturn in Capricorn on the Descendent, as cold and negating as his evasive love is covertly capturing.

A Moon-ruled chart, and a ravenous Mars-ruled moon… with Mars-Neptune exactly conjunct in the 7th House of Relationship, just past the Descendent, that moment of love-drug, ecstasy, merging.  The voice is larger-than-life, like an exalted Jupiter rising, carried with such elegance, darkness and dramatic vibrato as it all moves down, down descending in primary motion with the rest of the chart.  Most is visible above the horizon, but nearly all of it setting and headed one place.  A third decan Aquarius Sun in the 8th House — of others’ resources, debts and death — all too keenly aware of endings and dissolution.

While still passionate, magnetic in its own way, ardent even, there is a devouring quality about the Scorpio Moon that might delight in contorting people into obsession, or sequestering their love into a private dungeon, completely unto oneself, here with the squaring aquarian temptation to disassociate or change tune at will.  With Pluto, square to the nodes?  With seven Saturn-ruled planets prominent, and an Aquarius Sun most visible?  To dominate in the day of a dark season, still shrouded in umbers, as much as to captivate with the hidden light of a hungry moon.

Don't be mad, let her get hers
Don't be mad, let her get hers
She make her own luck
She don't give a fuck
She trying to have fun
Take a break from the love
Man, your girl so bad, let me get her
Your girl so bad, let me get her
I make my own luck, I make that pussy talk
On call to the fall, you can like it or not
N****, back the fuck up
If you ain't with me, motherfucker, you against me
If you ain't complimenting, n****, you offending
I been out here last year wasting hella time
XO is the only time investment
Them fall shows every year like a birthday
And I'mma do it every year in my birthplace
And I ain't been this gone since Thursday
I never said that I'd be sober in the first place

—The Weeknd, “King of the Fall” (c. 2014)

The lyrics to “King of the Fall” refer to his apparent affinity for the season, which the standalone single’s re-release was tucked amidst, pandemic-deep in late September of 2020.  This song’s initial release date of July 20th, 2014, just after Tesfaye’s second Jupiter return, bears a number of configurations to his chart.

A lovely symbolic ‘frothing to the top’ as I like to call it, which happens with art most visible on the world stage (especially tv and film casting), that the song would display so deeply the archetypal dimensions of the Moon’s fall in Scorpio.  He refers of course to autumn, and the Moon’s fall happens to be the sign that sits in the center of autumn’s exhalation, appetite trained on ‘the Other.’

Conjunct Pluto in the 5th House, this is a fallen Luna in the Joy of Venus, a house of sex, children, creative works and risks taken.  “Tryin’ to get this money like I got a couple kids who rely” … this lyric from the title track “Kiss Land” (c. 2013), exemplary of Moon in the 5th House as chart ruler, and Venus-Saturn in the 7th House.

A modern MJ with dirtier, trappier roots, and seduction sung oh so clean.  Those both astrologically inclined and familiar with the Pluto in Scorpio generation will know how may Moon/Pluto conjunctions therein struggle with addiction.  Throw in Moon-ruler Mars with Neptune in an insatiable conjunction, and a late Aquarius Sun overseeing it all?  Hear a 24 year-old Abel go off about it across “King of the Fall” and its remaining tangential verse:

I just passed that liquor, fell off stage
I just sold out the 02 at my own pace
I can say that I'm attached to nobody
I been getting paper while these n***** tryin' a stop me
Shout my n**** Doc, that's a mentor
Had some bad business, nothing personal
But now the word out that we back on
Some young Quincy Jones, dark skin Michael Jackson
And these the motherfuckers that they packaged
Their new shit all be sounding like my past shit
Bring your girl to my show, give her floor seats
Then she go downtown like she owe me
XO, XO, XO, mix it up, pour it up, take it down slow
This is my sound, n****, fuck your sound
Did it from the ground, ask around, bitch
When I touch down, I'ma shake shit up
Fuck your new man, I'ma break it up
He can come back when I go on the road
But that pussy mine for the next three months
'Cause the kid back, kid back, kid back
Cop ten whips for my n***** when we land
Queen Street, n****, making money overseas
Had a few more debts, I'ma pay it all in cash
Shout out XO, shout out to "The Boy" broke bread on tour
Man, it's all love now
Shout out my n**** Stix, doing good in these streets
Man he popping more bottles then us right now
Reason why they stressing, city never sunny
When the kid come through with more n***** than Apollo
But ain't shit funny, can't nobody stop me
All my hoes are trained, I make all of them swallow
All of them swallow
All of them swallow
All of them swallow
I make all of them swallow

—The Weeknd, “King of the Fall” (c. 2014)

The barrage of sexual conquest, neptunian escape, and ‘hard work’ in his Capricorn stellium is so pronouncedly on display.  Reveling in love and lust, excursion and safety from love-steeped intimacy, never a guaranteed sidestep as we all fall… a bacchanalian excess, but not feeling like you belong (Aquarius) or are quite satisfied (Mars-ruled Moon, Mars conj. Neptune) remain big lyrical themes for The Weeknd to this day.

The Sun in its exile, in the third decan of Aquarius — one known for disentangling in relation. “I believe I’m attached to nobody”…  the Moon in its lustful fall, but ruling the bounty of Jupiter rising… and a Mars-ruled Moon, blooding dripping from his nose and a gleaming grin.  The Mars-Neptune conjunction that The Weeknd so often channels, ‘built it from the ground up,’ but never failed to drain the cup.

Venus conjunct Saturn on the descendent, the deepening towards yet blockage surrounding harmony or wholeness with ‘the Other’, the ravenous appetite of a Scorpio Moon, “your girl’s so bad let me get her.”  The discretion of yin placements might at times pause before promiscuity, but the aquarian novelty kink en-masse mixed with ‘rival lover’ Scorpio Moon vibes draws the object of desire into its jaws as much as Abel likes to play a party of one.

His barely pre-pandemic album ‘After Hours’ broke all manner of records thanks to singles “Blinding Lights” and “Save Your Tears”, and probably holds some kind of unofficial record for most bangers fit inside an hour.  ‘Dawn FM’ followed in early 2022, touted as The Weeknd’s most “thoughtful” album, and one that sees producer Max Martin’s touch finish another ‘Saturn zaddy’ anthem hinting at a kink for Lord Time. (“Hit me baby…”)

That is “Out of Time” — the first song from Dawn FM that really sent me, summoning attention back to a discography I hadn’t visited in a while. Dawn FM, “conceptualized around listening to a retro-pop radio station in purgatory,” shows The Weeknd’s maturation as an electric songwriter and brooding pop idol, both existing inside of and orbiting Hollywood as ‘modern day cult of Dionysus’, yet pondering endings and mortality more and more, fighting to integrate what of his well-earned dream he thinks is real, meaningful, built to last, even as he simultaneously feels it’s all just beginning.  Narrated by fellow Saturn-ruled Sun native Jim Carrey, the darkest of worries easily translate to a dry, humorous touch about the light at the end of this ephemeral tunnel.

My lips curled for a minute when I realized how Saturn in Capricorn the title After Hours is, and how Saturn in Aquarius the light-bringing introspection of Dawn FM.  Following the arc of Saturn’s secondary motion across most of his chart the past four years, and we’re looking at someone who seems to have passed Kronos’ first major tests.

Well, we get to look at him when he emerges from below the horizon.


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