On 26 September 2009, internationally known director Roman Polanski was arrested upon arrival at Switzerland’s Zurich Airport, and detained as a fugitive from a 1977 sexual molestation and rape conviction in the US.
Polanski, director of such Hollywood classics as “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown,” and Best Director Oscar winner for 2002’s “The Pianist,” had been technically on the run for over 30 years, living predominantly in France, the country of his birth, which does not extradite its citizens. But Polanski was a frequent global traveler, and maintained a residence in Switzerland, which he had visited many times before, prompting speculation about why action was taken at this juncture, after so many prior opportunities which were bypassed.
Born 18 August 1933 in Paris, son of Polish immigrants Bula and Ryszard Polanski, Roman and his family returned to Krakow when he was three, just before the outbreak of World War II. As Polish Jews, the family was incarcerated at concentration camps after the Nazis overran Poland; Polanksi’s father survived Mauthausen-Gusen, but his mother died in Auschwitz. Roman evaded imprisonment with the help of Polish Catholic families (his mother had been born to a half-Jewish, half-Catholic family in Russian-controlled Poland) and remained in hiding until reunited with his father in Krakow after the war.
In the early ‘50s Polanski embarked on an acting career, and made his directorial debut in 1955 with the short film “Rower,” now lost, a semi-autobiographical work set in the underground community of war-torn Krakow, in which he also starred. He received international notice with 1962’s “Knife in the Water,” his first feature-length film, which received a “Best Foreign Language Film” Oscar nomination. Following this success, Polanski returned to his native France, and then England, attempting to expand his career, which he felt was stifled by communism in Poland. His most notable product from this period was 1967’s “The Fearless Vampire Killers,” a send-up of the genre which has since become a cult classic and been adapted into both a stage play and a musical.
Polanski co-starred with his future wife Sharon Tate, who was murdered two years later, when eight and a half months pregnant, by members of the Manson Family. The murder was devastating to Polanski, filming in London at the time; he has described his marriage to Tate as the happiest period of his life, and stated that her murder destroyed any residual sense of religious faith he may have harbored (Polanski’s parents were agnostics but he converted to Catholicism during his years in hiding from the Nazis), reinforcing his sense of what he describes as “faith in the absurd.”
In 1968 Polanski achieved major Hollywood and commercial success with “Rosemary’s Baby,” another cult classic starring Mia Farrow, and followed this with the most successful film of his career, 1974’s “Chinatown,” starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. The film garnered 11 Academy Award nominations including a Best Director nod for Polanski, and won the award for Best Original Screenplay. The future seemed limitless for the young director, now barely 40, but events were about to take a major turn.
On March 10, 1977, Polanski seduced 13-year-old aspiring model Samantha Geimer during a photo shoot for French Vogue at actor Jack Nicholson’s Los Angeles home (Polanski had been asked to guest-edit the magazine).
Polanski plied the girl with champagne and Quaaludes, and coerced her into sexual acts. Originally charged with rape, Polanski pled guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, and was sentenced to 90 days in state prison for a psychiatric evaluation. Released after 42 days with a promise of probation, Polanski panicked at the rumor he would face imprisonment or deportation, and fled the country. After a brief stop in London, he returned to France, where he has lived most of the ensuing 32 years, avoiding extradition to the US. There is no statute of limitations on the crime because Polanski had already been charged and pled guilty, and the case has remained open, with Polanski a fugitive from justice for almost half his life.
Severe limitations on his movements have hampered the remainder of Polanski’s career. Since the rape he has worked mainly in France, the Czech Republic, and Poland. In 1979 he released “Tess,” a lush romantic epic based on Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the d’Urbervilles,” a property recommended to him by Sharon Tate in the last few weeks of her life. The most expensive film produced in France to that date, “Tess” was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, winning three Oscars, for cinematography, art direction, and costume design. Polanski went on to direct movies with Hollywood legends, such as Walter Matthau in “Pirates” (1986), Harrison Ford in “Frantic” (1988), Ben Kingsley and Sigourney Weaver in “Death and the Maiden” (1994), and Johnny Depp in “The Ninth Gate” (1999). In 1998 he was elected a member of the French Academie des Beauz-Arts. Polanski garnered a Best Director Oscar, his fifth nomination, for “The Pianist” in 2002. He accepted the award in absentia, unable to appear in person due to his legal difficulties.
His arrest at Zurich Airport on 26 September 2009 came as something of a shock, as the director owns a vacation home in Gstaad which he frequently visits, and the arrest could have occurred on any number of prior occasions. Polanski remains in custody fighting extradition to the US.
A galactic dissection of Polanski’s natal chart speaks to both his talent and his failings. Born 18 August 1933, the Sun at 25 Leo opposes a Quasar at 24 Aquarius, a sure sign of success and achievement, as Quasars shine a bright spotlight upon whatever they touch, bringing easy recognition and reward for one’s efforts. This is certainly the case for Polanski, who received his first Oscar nomination at the age of 29, for his first feature-length film, and whose five career nominations place him in a select club of most-honored directors.
But the Sun also squares the Black Hole at 24 Taurus and the Maser at 27 Taurus, and this combination provides extremes of circumstance, sudden reversals of status and reality-altering conditions (Black Hole) as well as provoking intense controversy and volatile events (Maser). Both these are also clearly in evidence in the dramatic and grotesque murder of his wife, the underage sex scandal, and his status as perhaps the most highly honored international fugitive of his time. Asteroid Lust is exactly conjunct the 27 Taurus Maser, an indication of what area in particular would provoke controversy for Polanski, and Lust is itself conjoined asteroid Roman (#2516) at 22 Taurus, revealing the potential for an inherent character flaw exacerbated by his parents’ choice of first name for him.
Mercury at 6 Leo exactly squares the Black Hole at 6 Scorpio, and Neptune at 9 Virgo is exactly conjunct another, which gives him the ability to craft a compelling story (Mercury) and create a fantasy world (Neptune) which is both believable yet wholly alien, such as is portrayed in “Rosemary’s Baby,” sucking others into his reality, which is often dark and obsessive (both Black Hole). Mercury squared the Black Hole also suggests unorthodox, compulsive relations with children or minors, a tendency heightened by the exact sextile to asteroid Child at 6 Libra, itself conjunct a spotlighting Quasar at 5 Libra, making it difficult to hide any improprieties. Mercury’s conjunction with asteroid Icarus at 9 Leo, also on a Black Hole, promotes rash, reckless action involving young persons.
Venus at 26 Virgo is exactly squared the Galactic Center, implying global notoriety (GC) for both creative expression and romantic involvements (both Venus), which Polanski evinced in both his marriage which ended in such high profile tragedy and the sexual scandal which derailed a more than promising career. Venus is also conjoined Jupiter at 25 Virgo, another significator of public prominence or notoriety via intimate partners, and Trans-Neptunian Object (TNO) Ixion at 28 Virgo. Ixion is named for the first murderer in Greek mythology. Its conjunction with Venus indicates the manner of his wife’s death, while its exact opposition to the Black Hole at 28 Pisces evokes an unusually bizarre circumstance—no “ordinary” murder, Sharon Tate’s death was major news due to the Manson connection and the images of societal breakdown which it evoked in a very tense, febrile time. In the natal chart, asteroid Sharon (#3694) falls at 4 Scorpio, exactly conjoined another high profile Quasar, and squared Mercury.
Mars at 25 Libra exactly opposes centaur Nessus at 25 Aries, and also opposes Uranus at 27 Aries retrograde and the Black Hole at 24 Aries, while conjunct asteroids Nymphe at 22 Libra and Juno at 29 Libra. Nessus is noted in mythology for his attempted rape of Heracles’ wife, and appears commonly in charts connected with coerced or inappropriate sexual expression. Mars/Juno is a secondary indicator of the death of a spouse, and Nymphe with Mars suggests an uncontrollable sexual instinct, something Mars/Uranus also supports, adding a flavor of the unorthodox or alien to sexual expression, with Mars/Black Hole indicative of extreme circumstances surrounding sexual matters, and the probability of obsessive-compulsive behaviors as well as an attraction for the forbidden or taboo. Natal Pluto at 23 Cancer transforms this opposition into a T-Square, and further indicates the compulsive, self-destructive nature of the energy.
Saturn at 12 Aquarius retrograde is also exactly conjunct a Black Hole, exemplifying the dramatic swings in career experienced by Polanski. Its conjunction with asteroids Photographica at 16 Aquarius and Damocles at 20 Aquarius well portrays the doom hanging over Polanski’s head (Damocles), wrought during a photography session (Photographica) with an underage model which would negatively impact his career (Saturn), turning it on its head in a stunning reversal (Black Hole).
Saturn/Photographica is also an apt signature for professional film maker. Asteroid Samantha (#3147), for Samantha Geimer, appears at 14 Aries retrograde, from where she is sextile Saturn, squared asteroid Aristaeus at 12 Capricorn retrograde, and opposed both a Black Hole and a Quasar, at 13 and 14 Libra. Aristaeus is named for a son of Apollo who attempted to rape Eurydice (Orpheus’ wife, who in fleeing trod upon a poisonous serpent, was bitten, and expired), and the T-square formed by its inclusion in the Samantha/Black Hole/Quasar opposition ably depicts the intense publicity (Quasar) surrounding the Samantha Geimer rape (Aristaeus) and its resulting radical alteration of Polanski’s reality (Black Hole).
Many of these points collude for the date of the rape as well. Incredibly, asteroid Samantha on March 10, 1977 was exactly conjoined rape centaur Nessus at 2 Cancer, these points squared Polanski’s natal asteroid Pecker (a common euphemism for penis) at 3 Aries. Asteroid Pecker is prominent in many charts of sex scandals or offenders. Asteroids Roman and Child are conjoined at 17 and 22 Capricorn, and are squared to an exact conjunction of rape asteroid Aristaeus and Photographica at 18 Aries, which falls on Polanski’s natal Samantha at 14 Aries, describing the photo shoot (Photographica) with Geimer (Samantha) gone out of control (Aristaeus). Mercury/Icarus, within orb in the nativity and suggestive of reckless acts involving minors, are now exactly conjoined at 15 Pisces, the pair opposed to asteroid Nemesis, representing karmic self-undoing, at 17 Virgo in Polanski’s birth chart.
When Polanski was arrested on 26 September 2009, he was in the throes of a Damocles return, that point of impending doom having already crossed its natal placement the previous March, and set to return again in the spring and summer of 2010. Damocles lies in an irregular orbit extending between Mars and Uranus, its orbital period roughly forty years, and ironically, Polanski had experienced the prior Damocles return just months before the rape of Samantha Geimer. He is now likely to finally face the full repercussions of that act as Damocles returns once more to this region. On the date of the arrest, Damocles at 16 Aquarius was exactly conjoined asteroid Samantha, and tied in a bundle with centaur Nessus (rape) at 14 Aquarius, Jupiter (justice) at 17 Aquarius, Chiron (old wounds) at 21 Aquarius and Neptune (deception, the alcohol and drugs used to seduce Geimer, as well as the photography and film industries, and Polanski’s flight and avoidance of the consequences of his actions) at 24 Aquarius. All these points are retrograde, implying going back into the matter, with Neptune opposed Polanski’s natal Sun and trine his Mars, and the rest strung along his natal Saturn/Photographica/Damocles conjunction.
The Sun at 3 Libra for the arrest exactly opposed Polanski’s natal Pecker at 3 Aries, and is conjunct his natal asteroid Child at 6 Libra, with transit Child at 5 Leo conjoined natal Mercury at 6 Leo. The Mercury/Icarus conjunction from the natal chart once again repeats at 21 and 22 Virgo, conjoined transit Saturn (career, the authorities which arrested him), itself exactly atop natal Venus (romantic relations) at 26 Virgo, also squaring the Galactic Center and its opposed Quasar at 26 Gemini, thus ensuring the global (GC) recognition (Quasar) of the event. Transit Aristaeus is exactly conjunct natal Mars at 25 Libra, bringing out the natal opposition to Nessus and linking both rape energies with Polanski’s sexual expression. Asteroid Karma , which opposes Aristaeus in the natal chart from 11 Cancer, is now conjunct it, and Mars, from 1 Scorpio, with transit Pecker close by at 4 Scorpio, an apt image of Polanski’s past sexual actions finally catching up with him. Transit asteroid Roman and transit Mars conjoin at 16 and 19 Cancer, opposed a Black Hole at 19 Capricorn, identifying the sexual (Mars) basis of the arrest and personalizing the action to Polanski (Roman), while inaugurating yet another sudden, unexpected change of fortune (Black Hole).
The impetus for the arrest may be seen in the eclipses of summer 2009, with July’s 15 Capricorn Lunar Eclipse highlighting the natal Aristaeus/Samantha square (the rape of Geimer), the Solar Eclipse at 29 Cancer just beginning to focus on the square to natal Mars (sexual acts), and the “extra” Lunar Eclipse in August at 13 Aquarius hitting Polanski’s natal Saturn (career and police). This December sees another Lunar Eclipse which at 10 Cancer creates a Grand Cross of Samantha/Aristaeus/13 Libra Black Hole, followed by a solar eclipse in January which at 25 Capricorn is exactly squared Polanski’s natal Mars. Combined with the Damocles return still in progress, it seems that slender thread preventing Polanski’s long-deferred doom is about to be severed.