by Boots Hart, CAP

Monday, July 5, 2010

P.T. Barnum: The Greatest Show(man) on Earth

Most of us think of PT Barnum as a showman. And in that, we would all of us be so very  correct. What he may also be is the grandfather of all advertising, great uncle of  propaganda and great grandfather of spin.

PT's first big act of promotion was to buy a disabled and blind African-American slave in 1835, claiming she was nurse to none other than George Washington, a claim which would have made her about 160 years old.

But apparently a lot of people were interested enough that he made back his money with a 50% profit in something just under a week, proving that old adage about 'a sucker being born every day' which there's some question about Barnum actually having said.

On the other hand, apparently he didn't argue with it, either. 

Other Barnum-isms: 'Money is a terrible master but a wonderful servant'.....'Without promotion, something terrible happens - Nothing!' and that saying we all know so very exotically well, 'every cloud has a silver lining.'

One supposes in PT's case, that silver was coinage.

Interesting in a man who founded his fortune on being able to buy another human being, Barnum spoke eloquently and publicly about the evils of slavery in a day when not everyone was willing to do so. But then, the modern-day quip 'any PR is good PR' would pretty much fit under PT Barnum's big top, so having people talk nasty about him might have well suited him just fine.

Some of his 'exhibitions' were pure hoaxes like the 'Fejee Mermaid,' the body of a dead monkey with a fish tail sewn on. Others, like Siamese twins, were indeed oddities which fascinated people then and which still fascinate us today.

So why do we care about PT just now? First of all because July 5th is his birthday. And I'm sure PT would be happy to know he's 200 years old today!

Maybe he can be his own exhibition?

Actually, that's very much part of my point - but first a few PT pointers, so we get just a taste of why he is who he is to us, even two centuries later.

With Scheherazade the tale-spinner and 'ease of access' Betelgeuse just at Barnum's critical degree Ascendant, we know he was fast on his feet and more than swiftly quick of tongue. And that he needed to be; any time we see any axis at 29 anything circumstances will change and we must change with them. (The same goes for planets and other symbols at 29 degrees but less globally.)

At the other end of the horizontal axis we have MakeMake just above (and thus in Capricorn) with Typhon positioned below at the tail end of Sagittarius in prime position to make a statement, as all objects placed just before an angle will. Typhon being our 'primal urge' and MakeMake a fertile creator of mankind, this pictures Barnum as a guy who put himself out there as the one who 'knew more' and 'knew better' - who could invent a world and life for people they could feel enhanced by.

Or to put it another way...he had the ability to in many ways make us what we, and he not only knew it, he took pleasure in learning how to do it better as he went along.

With Virgo at the foundational IC point of his chart, Barnum was both crafty and willing to work at his craft. Sphinx there spoke of his patience and Thuban his belief in and his possession of a treasure which was his to exploit. With fixed star Fomalhaut joined by Huya and Bali at his Midheaven he had dreams, and wonders he did sell.

Not that all was so pleasant. Even without the history books the presence of ingratitude, distrust and betrayal (Ixion) vie with issues of passion (Eros), morality (Deucalion), not being believed (Kassandra), having to placate (Panacea), disapproval and rejection (Scheat), immaturity/entitlement (Sedna) and karmic transformation (Pluto) in his public 10th house. 

But in the end, none of that really counted. And that we see because Typhon is at his Descendant, position of legacy. He got us where we live - in our desire to experience the unknown (part of Sagittarius' legendary potency), servicing our need to dream which in turn served his (Huya/Fomalhaut/Bali). 

He really showed us how its done - how it's the harnessing of our whole selves which sells us, and which rewards us in kind.

So above is PT's natal chart. And here below is his solar return (birthday chart) for 2010:

See those zeros on all four axis points? Zero being the first degree of a sign, they always signal beginnings. So whether we see them on a cusp or with regards to a planetary position, we say that's the sign of 'something new,' a 'new start' or the point when something comes into focus...or gets noticed.

The axis points being what we are all best 'seen as,' to have zeros on all four structural points of one's solar return is rather a public thing. So don't be surprised if you hear ol' PT (or his activities) getting talked about this year. It would be a good year for a movie, or a book about his life.

Yes, charts live on when we're long idea which I'm sure Barnum himself would approve of.

One thing he apparently didn't approve of (or wouldn't admit to publicly) was a publicity photo apparently taken of him which he later disavowed. Considering the time and how hard it would have been to fake such a thing in PT's day, it seems more likely that the image is real...which would make PT Barnum also the great-great granddaddy of those photos which just somehow go viral.

He's so still a modern guy.

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