By Anne Ortelee

One of the fascinating aspects of Astrology is the concept of resonance, recurrence, repetition and amplification. When aspect configurations in a natal chart are triggered by similar patterns in the sky, the chart seems to vibrate and come alive. Current life events mirror earlier history or themes as the astrologer watches the map of the heavens. The stories repeat themselves in ever widening circles of ripples similar to the shapes made by a pebble thrown into a smooth pond.

RENT, the long running Broadway show is being made into a movie to be released November, 2005. The composer and author, Jonathan Larson , wrote and created RENT as he watched many of his dearest friends learn they were infected, become ill and die of AIDS. Jonathan loosely modeled RENT after La Boheme, an opera about life, death, poverty, creativity and the Tuberculosis Epidemic in Paris’ Latin Quarter during the 1830s. Comparing AIDS and Tuberculosis, Jonathan observed both attacked the respiratory systems and were major, rapid killers of young people, artists, bohemians and “different” people who lived on the “fringes” of society amid hope, despair, poor to no medical options, and love. Both diseases were invariably fatal. However, Mr. Larson offered a significant variation from Giacomo Puccini’s opera ~ his Mimi lives. Mr. Puccini wrote La Boheme while another Tuberculosis Epidemic raged in the 1890s. Jonathan Larson wanted RENT to be a statement about Hope and Love while facing inevitable, undeniable losses, death and disease. He argued and fought with his producers for Mimi’s life. The “happy” ending of RENT remains one of the controversial and discussed parts of the show~ some feel Mimi being in the “tunnel of light” and coming back from near death is unrealistic while others cheer that Mimi lives to love Roger for at least another day. The audience knows Mimi is going to die; she has full-blown AIDS; BUT there is HOPE. There is an ability to celebrate “No Day But Today” for one more blessed day of life, hope, delight and love.

RENT’s story is an exemplary Saturn story. Jonathan Larson was a strong Aquarian with both Mars and Saturn in Capricorn. He saw a puppet show of La Boheme when he was 7. Almost 29 years later, his updated version, RENT, premiered. Serendipitously, RENT opened 100 years from when Puccini’s La Boheme premiered . Mr. Larson labored as a waiter nights and weekends to pay his rent as he worked as a composer and artist during the days for 14 ½ years before his “overnight” success with RENT. Mr. Larson received encouragement, grants and commissions for his growing, promising career as a composer. His friends, lovers and family recognize fragments of each other’s stories and lives in the biographies of the characters of RENT. Mr. Larson died , unexpectedly and shockingly, from an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm due to poor medical treatment. It was the day RENT opened for previews and the night of his first and only New York Times interview. His family, friends, cast and producers were completely devastated by his untimely death. RENT went on to open to acclaim , fueled no doubt in part by the death of Mr. Larson 10 days before his 36th birthday as well as the striking, haunting lyrics and message of his final work. RENT moved to Broadway , won the Pulitzer Prize, OBIES and TONY awards. The Cast Recording went Platinum. RENT played all over the world and is still running on Broadway. RENT’s ensemble cast of unknown actors and young creative team was launched into successful careers in music, theater, television and film. The RENT family has numerous friends and fans, all joined by a love of Jonathan Larson’s music and understanding the loss of a loved one.

Now RENT, the movie is being made. As astrologers, we can expect resonance, recurrence, repetition and amplification as RENT moves from the smaller medium of theater into film’s larger reach and vast audience.

Nine years after RENT’s debut, Christopher Columbus , a powerful, competent, capable Virgo director, enthusiastically signed on to direct the movie version of RENT. Mr. Columbus works with a creative team ~ a family of friends ~ he has assembled over the years of his film career not unlike Jonathan Larson’s family of friends. His creative works include the Harry Potter films, the Home Alone series and Mrs. Doubtfire. The film includes 6 of the 8 original cast members and other creative people involved with the play’s creation. Filming is scheduled to start in March 2005. Mr. Columbus’ Progressed Sun is joining his natal Scorpio Jupiter and Neptune conjunction~ indicating he is creating a musical about Scorpio issues. The Scorpio new moon eclipse in November 2004 triggered Mr. Columbus’ sensitive progressed point of Sun/Jupiter/Neptune. He has fascinating synastry with Jonathan Larson’s chart and RENT’s various charts. Interestingly, Mr. Columbus was created and born a year after the major epidemic of 1957 ~ the Asian flu pandemic that killed 70,000 people in the United States and many more worldwide. As rehearsals begin, various members of the film’s cast and crew dealt with personal life and death matters in their own individual family of friends ~ birth of a child, unexpected fall from a Broadway stage, learning your beloved wife was in an accident, racial death threats, and the death of long time co-worker/partner. The events all echo and resonant with RENT’s lyrics and theme of “No Day But Today”. The movie is scheduled for release, as Saturn trines the Broadway show’s Saturn, ten years after the Broadway debut, promising material success.

The resonances, recurrences, repetitions and amplification of the messages of RENT will be moving out into the still pond of the world when the movie appears. Epidemics are the stories underlying both La Boheme and RENT. Epidemics occurred during both of their creations. The question of whether an epidemic will occur while the movie RENT is being filmed is one that astrology might be able to answer or at least shed light on. I think there are two possible types of epidemics to examine.

First, on February 12, 2005 a new mutation of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was announced. The deadly change reduced the incubation period between HIV infection and developing full-blown AIDS from approximately 10 years to between 3 and 4 months. The new version of the virus appears to be drug resistant to 3 of the 4 tradition AIDS treatments. Interestingly, Chiron in the USA chart has solar arced to 7 Sagittarius, the same degree Uranus held in November 1983 when the first worldwide AIDS conference, attended by 38 researchers, was held. That evolving solar arc suggests over the next year as Chiron arcs to 8 Sagittarius and squares the natal USA Uranus at 8 Gemini that a new generation of young, dual (Gemini) unusual (Uranus) people will be “suddenly affected” (square) by the mutated HIV virus. If the new drug resistant virus takes off, it would cause another AIDS epidemic, faster acting and deadly, during the filming of RENT. That would echo the experience of Larson creating RENT and Puccini creating La Boheme about the 1830’s Tuberculosis Epidemic while another Tuberculosis Epidemic occurred in the 1890s. Unfortunately, movies didn’t exist in Puccini’s time to know if the repetition only applies to original creation or subsequent “permanent” versions.

Second, if we look back at history, in 1918-1919, there was a major pandemic, called the Spanish Flu, a bird flu, which attacked the respiratory system. It killed between 20 and 50 million people worldwide and some 500,000 in the United States. People would wake up in the morning healthy and be dead by nightfall with acute respiratory symptoms. Coffins lined the streets. It killed young, healthy people. It is the Uranus return of the Spanish flu epidemic. In Spring 2005, when RENT begins filming, Uranus again travels through the bird constellation that described the 1918 epidemic’s source, positioned in the USA chart’s third house of lungs, and square the USA Uranus in Gemini. The symbols could be translated into Uranus in sudden oceans of fluid fighting with Uranus in air of lungs. Transiting Pluto in Sagittarius passes back and forth opposite the USA Mars in Gemini suggesting the vulnerability of soldiers in close proximity to each other. In 1918, at a single Army base, in six days, the hospital census went from 610 to more than 4,000 soldiers with pneumonia. Instead of being in foxholes in WW1, our military is deployed in Iraq. Transiting Saturn in Cancer opposes the USA Pluto in Capricorn as the Nodes form a Grand Cross in Aries and Libra highlighting the possibility of an epidemic or major change. Those who watch for epidemic patterns such as WHO and CDC epidemiologists, have noted and are tracking the growing cases of a new, quite deadly chicken flu, H5N1, in Eastern Asia, particularly in Thailand and Vietnam. The millions of missing flu shots and the new strain of flu were featured extensively in the USA press around the time of the November 2004 New Moon eclipse in Scorpio on the South Node in Scorpio. With the demise and/or stress placed upon already fragile public health systems due to the recent Tsunami, the chances of a global epidemic increase exponentially. The people who would do something about an epidemic are paying attention and ready to spring into action like they did during the very first, brief H5N1 outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997 while the theatrical version of RENT was crisscrossing the world. Since SARS , the world is sensitized in a way it wasn’t before with health professionals prepared to quickly quarantine cities. Today, we have antibiotics, not yet invented in 1918, to treat the bacterial pneumonia that killed so fast.

So, just in case there is a repetition of an epidemic while the movie RENT is being filmed, work to get your lungs in shape, have safe sex, go to the doctor right away with any symptoms, build up your immune system and love the family of friends in your life. We never know how long we have. As both La Boheme and RENT‘s beautiful, poignant lyrics remind us, there is no day but today.

Copyright © 2006 Anne C. Ortelee