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COLUMN: IU is a 199-year-old cranky, conservative Capricorn



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IU's birth chart is dominated by Saturn, the planet that brings structure and discipline into our lives. Saturn also rules Capricorn, the sign the Sun and Mercury were in when IU was chartered. Kathryn de la Rosa

If you ever search for online chart generators such as Astrodienst or Cafe Astrology, they draw your chart and spit out interpretations of your placements. But these paragraph-length definitions of Venus in Leo are a far cry from a reading done by a human astrologer.

Individual placements can seem contradictory. How can someone with Mercury in Aquarius — which is said to make someone a sociable and unconventional communicator — also be timid in relationships due to their Venus in Pisces?

An astrologer synthesizes all these different parts to create a holistic reading.

As promised, I’m finishing this column by looking at IU’s birth chart.

I picked Jan. 20, 1820, as the university’s birth date in Corydon, Indiana, the state capital before Indianapolis. Since I can’t nail down a birth time, my reading is missing a huge component, like a pig with three legs and a wheel.

Think of a planet as what you do, its sign as how you do it and its house as where you do it. Without a birth time, I don’t have IU’s houses, so whatever I interpret in its chart isn’t as specific as it could be.

IU’s Sun and Mercury are both in Capricorn. The charter to create IU was approved when the Sun was in the 29th degree of Capricorn — the last day of Capricorn season.

Sun sign cusps aren’t a thing, so it’d be inaccurate to say that IU is a Capricorn-Aquarius cusp baby. The 29th degree is considered a critical degree, which astrologers give a lot of meaning to. In IU’s case, I interpret this to mean the qualities of Capricorn are expressed with a sense of urgency, like the adrenaline rush of finishing an essay within 10 minutes of your deadline.

Capricorn often gets a bad rap, depending on your point of view. It’s an earth sign interpreted as conservative, grounded in tradition and authority.

To me, it speaks to IU’s conception. A state university was promised in the Indiana Constitution, and the assembly followed through. You don’t get that dependability from a Gemini. On the flip side, Capricorn can be uptight and overly concerned with appearances and respectability. IU’s Mercury shares that rigidity.

The same could be said of any other 200-year-old institution, but in the spirit of pseudoscience, I wager it’s no coincidence legislative terms start in January. It’s a time to get things done, and founding public schools is urgent business that would be at the top of many brand-new governments’ to-do lists.

I don’t have time to hit all the other individual planets, but I think it’s noteworthy that many of us in the class of 2019 share Jupiter in Aquarius with both IU and Herman B Wells. Jupiter wants to expand outward, and Aquarius does so by questioning the status quo, which cuts through some of Capricorn’s stodgier qualities.

IU has some very busy outer planets. Looking at aspects, or the relationships among planets, IU’s Saturn is busy.

Saturn is Jupiter’s opposite. If Jupiter is expansive, Saturn is limiting. It disciplines itself and creates structure, so it’s no wonder it rules Capricorn.

IU’s Saturn is square to Uranus. A square is considered a difficult aspect. It’s when two planets sit at a 90-degree angle from one another. Uranus is a revolutionary planet. This aspect creates an individual or institution that’s so set in its ways that change can feel like a major upset.

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