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Project Runway Season 8: Gretchen Jones, Master Manipulator or Misjudged?

Though it is my favorite show on television no matter what the season, season 8 of Project Runway hasn't exactly been the most scintillating of all the seasons (I still miss season 4's Christian Siriano, what can I say!?) but it did get somewhat more interesting when Tim dressed down designer Gretchen Jones for "manipulating, controlling and bullying" her team members in episode 5.

Gretchen said she was hurt by what Tim said. In her after show video blog, she said she was trying to be a cheerleader, not a leader. She said she didn't try to tell people what to make but just went around making sure people finished what they'd committed to.

Gretchen-jonesGretchen has a Capricorn Sun, as well as Mercury in Capricorn conjunct her south node, so she comes with a wealth of instinctual knowledge about how to get things done. She is practical and has a good sense of how to manage time and materials in general, but also an inherent ability to strategize. Not only does Capricorn provide that ability, but Mercury so close to her south node means she inherently comes with a strong and logical mind. When she focuses on a goal, she immediately starts working out the steps to get there.

Capricorn has been called the sign of the 'manager' because of these traits of know-how coupled with an ability to see how the bigger picture needs to shape up. When Gretchen was "making sure people finished what they'd committed to," she was in prime Capricorn form. Capricorn is not known for it's compassion or sensitivity, mostly because of another saying that we find in the astrological literature of Capricorn frequently which is the phrase "ends justify the means." Capricorn is more concerned with getting to the goal than how it gets there. A Capricorn ideally wants to live with integrity and be thought of well, but it's often not about being liked rather than being respected. Getting what they set out to do done and being a person of their word is a Capricorn intention.

However, the excesses of Capricorn's fixation on the end goal can end up manipulative. While Capricorn isn't sneaky in the same way that maybe Scorpio or Gemini might be, they can be quite hungry for accomplishment and prestige. Gretchen seemed to suffer from hubris after her first two wins right out of the gate which probably fueled her solar ego and allowed The Boss to come out, steering others, however indirectly or unintentionally, toward the ends she wanted.

Her seeming backpedaling (according to the judges, not her) on her opinion of Team Luxe's collection (first she seems proud of it, then she's calling it garbage that she had to salvage) can be attributed to her Mars in Libra. For Libra, everything is relative, and her desire for approval (Libra) clashes in her chart with her desire for respect (Capricorn) in sometimes incongruous ways, like it did in this example. We defend ourselves with our Mars too, so her style of defending herself (in Libra) is likely to be in almost siding with the opposing opinion to diffuse the confrontation. Once her Capricorn Sun was sure she wasn't aligned with a success, her Mars in Libra took over to agree and diffuse, hence the backpedaling.

Was she truly hurt by Tim's remarks? Her Pisces moon suggests she was. With Pluto conjunct Saturn in Libra, squaring her nodes, her interactions with other people are probably often the trickiest spot in her life. She probably has difficulty trusting others and sharing space with others, not out of a lack of desire, but with Capricorn being more comfortable for her (south node), the challenge of softening and sharing clashes with her independent and self-sufficient nature, so it's easier to just get things done rather than bringing people's feelings and ideas into the mix and letting it complicate things.

Her Pisces moon, though, suggests she does have a very tender heart and doesn't want to hurt others. But even her Venus in detached Aquarius makes it difficult to see her soft side until you've gained her trust. We can probably expect her to keep trooping on and getting the job done on Project Runway.

Astro Vignette: Who Do You Think You Are, Lisa Kudrow?

Lisa_Kudrow_at_TIFF_2009Lisa Kudrow is the executive producer for the American version of the UK television show Who Do You Think You are? A celebrity stars in each episode, tracing back through their family tree and usually centering on one ancestor as they follow the clues and records to find out who they were. Sarah Jessica Parker starred in the first episode, tracing her ancestor, Esther Elwell, back to the times of the Salem Witch Trials.

In a recent Entertainment Tonight interview, Lisa said:

"The one thing I realize with this show is you see the
person that's gonna be taking this journey and then not long after that it's
really the story of their long-since-dead relative and then you start getting
invested in those people and that story…"

When asked if she sensed a surge of people wanted to go back in time:

"Absolutely… [NBC executives] were logging on to find out about their own family because it's very compelling… you find out even more, that you are actually very connected to some major events in world history that you thought happened to strangers."

Lisa's Chart: Cancer Rising

Lisa-kudrow Lisa's Ascendant is in Cancer, along with her north node and Venus in the first house. This combination produces a desire to know one's self (first house) via an understanding of one's place within the family (Cancer), whether it's the immediate family of one's early childhood upbringing or beyond, such as physical or emotional traits passed down through one's ancestral lineage.

It can be quite eye opening for her to see how her understanding of her origins colors the way she perceives the world (Ascendant). Her south node in Capricorn, although in the 7th house of partnerships, can indicate a tendency toward personal emotional withdrawal even as she takes care of others she feels obligated to. Moving toward her north node in Cancer can mean learning to embrace self-nurture, since Cancer is a sign that's built to nurture
whatever it chooses to give its heart to (in this case, it needs to be the self  due to its placement in her first house). However, how we nurture and how we
have been nurtured create a full circle, so
Lisa is finding out who she is through where she comes from.

Venus plays an interesting role here and speaks the loudest when it comes to understanding Lisa's interest in the show. Venus is about feeling connected by being able to relate to someone, so it's no surprise that the show is not a dry, 'just the facts' kind of show with an impersonal narration, but has a very personal feel and is more
about the story of the ancestor. Lisa reveals it above in her interview when she talks about feeling connected to something that you thought happened to a stranger, implying that once you realize your connection to your ancestor, their humanness and what you share between you (albeit over a distance of time), they are no longer a stranger, but truly family.

And Then There Were Three: the Astrology of the Season 6 Top Chef Finalists; Third, Michael Voltaggio

Those
of you watching Bravo's Season 6 of Top Chef were no doubt holding your
breath like I was when the final three were revealed. Now that we know
one of these chefs will be

crowned the latest 'Top Chef' and we know who we love and who we love
to hate, I'll take a look at the astrology of each. Who will win? Who
should win? You decide; I just work here! Although I have no time of
birth for any of the contestants, a look at their dates of birth still
reveals a great deal astrologically. I'm devoting an entire entry to
each of them since a paragraph never does any chart justice! Third finalist: Michael Voltaggio.

Michael Voltaggio

Top-chef-michael-voltaggioLibra is a sign that is most stereotyped as the 'peacekeeping, nice and tactful one,' so it may be quite surprisingly, initially, to find that Michael's Sun and Mercury are in Libra. But Libra is not strictly about niceness, it's really about balance. Libra is Venus-ruled, which gives it an entire creative component, and a Libra's skill in creating it's own art, whatever medium it chooses to use, will be utilizing it's natural understanding of balance and harmony to put components together in a way that is pleasing. Michael clearly has chosen to express his art with food, which emphasizes balance not only in presentation of the food (color, shape, style) but also tastes. Libra is a sign of partnership, which means that it understands that nothing exists in isolation – everything is relative to each other. A dish paired with wine, a spice paired with the right meat, elements from all the food groups, you name it; Michael innately understands how everything fits together and is deepening that understanding as he works with Libra energy.

Michael also has three planets in Scorpio, a sign that is also about extremes, just as Libra is. But while Libra is a sign of learning how to bring extremes into balance and getting them to cooperative harmoniously or at least agree to co-exist, Scorpio is a sign of extremes in the sense that it takes something down to its core and pushes it even further. Michael's Venus and Uranus are conjunct (in the same place as each other) in Scorpio, which means that Venus, the creative extension of his Libra Sun, and his Uranus, the way he expresses his individuality, function together. In Scorpio, he will always wanting to be pushing that creative envelope past it's edges, not only taking risks but working with intense flavors or innovative combinations.

As a side note about Michael's bedside manner (and it's seeming absence on the show): he may have the Sun and Mercury in Libra, but his Venus and Uranus conjunct in Scorpio shows that his relating style (Venus) is less about going the extra mile to fit in or feel understood and more about asserting his independence and being his authentic self in relationships. His personal authenticity demands that he not compromise his individuality for another, but the side effect of that instinct can often be a tendency to push others away. As we'll see below, other factors in his chart have a tendency to make him very single-minded when working, which means that when he's working, don't get in his way! If we knew his birth time, his rising sign, or Ascendant, would be revealed, giving us more insight into the style of social interface that is most comfortable for him to present to the world.

Michael's chart also shows an interesting relationship between Mars in Scorpio, Saturn in Virgo, and Jupiter in Leo, all in a sextile relationship with each other, with Mars and Jupiter on the edges forming a trine to each other. Both sextiles and trines between planets help those components of him to work well with each other. Mars in Scorpio shows his strong desire to take something to its edges. Jupiter in Leo, and its connection to Mars, reveals an innate belief and confidence in himself. Not that he won't ever have a down day, but there is something inside of him that knows if he just pushes it all the way and is willing to go after what he wants (Mars in Scorpio), success is all the more likely (Jupiter in Leo). Confidence, when turned on its side, can look a lot like arrogance, which may be the astrological fingerprint of Michael's cockiness (as some would say he has), but it's likely that a birth time would reveal more fingerprints that add to that story.

Finally, Saturn in Virgo between the two (Mars and Jupiter) is really where he can take anything he does to the next level. If it were just Mars and Jupiter, he may have all the confidence in the world, and a lot of competitiveness, but perhaps no commitment to see things through. Working successfully with Saturn in Virgo means that if he doesn't skip the details, if he follows through with painstaking care, and will accept nothing less than himself than excellence (and take care not to berate himself too much when he doesn't achieve it), then that Mars and Jupiter can take anything he does all the way to the top.

Good luck, Michael!

………………

If you are an astrologer and would like to work with these charts and make your own observations (please share!), the available birth data of all three contestants is as follows (no birth times available, which is why no houses or rising signs are revealed):

Michael Voltaggio: Sept 29 1978

Bryan Voltaggio: April 15 1976

Kevin Gillespie: Sept 30 1982

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Want to find your inner gifts and learn how to maximize them? Contact me for a personal reading at heavenlytruth.com!

And Then There Were Three: the Astrology of the Season 6 Top Chef Finalists; Second, Bryan Voltaggio

Those
of you watching Bravo's Season 6 of Top Chef were no doubt holding your
breath like I was when the final three were revealed. Now that we know
one of these chefs will be

crowned the latest 'Top Chef' and we know who we love and who we love
to hate, I'll take a look at the astrology of each. Who will win? Who
should win? You decide; I just work here! Although I have no time of
birth for any of the contestants, a look at their dates of birth still
reveals a great deal astrologically. I'm devoting an entire entry to
each of them since a paragraph never does any chart justice! Next up, Bryan.

Bryan Voltaggio

Top-chef-bryan-voltaggioIn Bryan's video biography on the Top Chef website, he speaks about some of his earliest memories of his grandfather tugging at his apron and helping him at the stove, real family dinners and "not picking from a refrigerator," and the family's  garden which were worked into the family meals. He started as a busboy in a restaurant in his teens and essentially worked his way up at a steady pace, getting training and experience. He now owns his own restaurant, Volt, in which he is committed to using "ingredients that are local, stable, and organic."

In Bryan's chart, we're limited without a birth time to fill in some of the information a chart can give, just as in Kevin's and Michael's, which will follow shortly. But right away I'm drawn to his Mars and Saturn in the sign of Cancer as well as his south node in Taurus. Cancer and Taurus are the two primary signs that are often linked with a love of food – Taurus because it classically loves to feed it's senses, and Cancer because it loves to nurture (or shall we say nourish, in this case?). Bryan's upbringing, with that sense of stability and nurturing which took on the form of food and family meals, gave him a foundation, but his desire (Mars) to nourish (Cancer) as well as build and continue traditions (Saturn) around that Cancer principle is a continuing motivator in his adult life. I wouldn't be surprised if the full birth chart revealed planets in his 4th house, which would amplify the sense of tradition from his childhood.

His Sun in Aries is squaring Saturn in Cancer pretty tightly however, as well as Mars widely squaring Uranus, which may be a perfect reflection of the way he defines his food, which is "modern American," combining classical techniques with modern ones, which seems like a great way, at least professionally and creatively, to take the tradition one's grown up with (Cancer) and make it their own (Uranus, Sun). Along those same lines, Bryan has this to say (from his bio at his restaurant's website):

"Driven by the love and support of his family, wife Jennifer and son
Thacher, Chef Voltaggio seeks to bring historic Frederick a piece of
his culinary upbringing to a place that built his foundation."

His restaurant is in his home town and he wants to contribute back to that town, carrying on the traditions forward from his rich past.

But what about his Aries Sun and Scorpio Moon, two very important components of any chart? Leadership and a willingness to take risks are key elements of his personality that he will benefit from developing. The south node reveals an underlying foundation to one's personality, the energy, attitude, and expectations we entered this life with and what we need to take the best from and move forward with, as well as what habits and 'comfort zones' we need to grow beyond to have a satisfying life. The vulnerabilities of a Taurus south node lie in trying to keep things from changing, the love of something timeless becoming simply stagnant and dead, like an anchor around one's neck. His Aries Sun gives him a hunger to identify with someone who is forward thinking, who doesn't rest on his successes and is not afraid to stretch to one's edges. While his brother, Michael, seems to be the competitive one, Bryan's definitely got the streak as well.

His Scorpio Moon reveals a need to nurture himself by learning how to trust and develop his intensity, calling forward the phoenix's strength to recognize cycles – to let go of what's ready to fade and step into what's ready to be born, whether it's in himself or in his life situations. Again, this emphasizes the bridge he must build between the warmth of past traditions and the foundation they provide for him, while stretching beyond it into his own territory.

Good luck, Bryan!

And Then There Were Three: the Astrology of the Season 6 Top Chef Finalists; First, Kevin Gillespie

Those of you watching Bravo's Season 6 of Top Chef were no doubt holding your breath like I was when the final three were revealed. Now that we know one of these chefs will be crowned the latest 'Top Chef' and we know who we love and who we love to hate, I'll take a look at the astrology of each. Who will win? Who should win? You decide; I just work here! Although I have no time of birth for any of the contestants, a look at their dates of birth still reveals a great deal astrologically. I'm devoting an entire entry to each of them since a paragraph never does any chart justice! First up, Kevin.

Kevin Gillespie

Top-chef-kevin-gillespie Kevin seems to be the sweetest and mildest one of the bunch, and that almost made him seem to come out of nowhere when he started climbing up the ranks of Top Chef's best quickly and steadily. His Jupiter/Moon trine and Mars in Sagittarius emphasizes the easy going quality of his Libra Sun, but there are underlying strengths that show Kevin's definitely a competitor. His Mars in Sagittarius is conjunct Uranus, which reveals a desire to stand apart. Mars in anyone's chart shows how and why we handle our natural competitive natures (even if it's to roll over peacefully), but this configuration is less about a competitive urge to beat out others and more an urge to feel that he has got something special, that he can surprise others as well as himself by utilizing qualities that are uniquely his.

Another way he shows he's not only a big teddy bear is his Capricorn South Node. The South Node reveals an underlying foundation, the energy, attitude, and expectations we entered this life with. It represents what we're trying to take the best from and move forward with as we have the new experiences and develop the new tools the chart reveals for us, while leaving behind some of the growth-stunting patterns that each sign contains. The South Node often reveals itself more strongly in early life, as we reenact our karmic habits and before we've been around the edges of ourselves and life enough to realize we don't want the same old, same old anymore.

Kevin's South Node lies in Capricorn, a sign that emphasizes hard work, integrity, duty, diligence, strategy, tenacity, and ambition. The pitfalls of a Capricorn South Node can make one vulnerable to focusing too much only on what makes logical sense, what is most profitable, and what must be done, sometimes going so overboard on a sense of duty and restraint that the heart is constricted because desire can be seen as irrelevant to what IS and what MUST BE. Listen to what Kevin had to say in his video bio on the Top Chef website: 

"And then as I got older, in school I did really well and so people assumed that I would go to an Ivy League school and in fact that was sort of my route, I was supposed to be an engineer, and at the very end of my high school career I just decided that wasn't where my heart lies."

Kudos to Kevin for recognizing that the best strategy isn't always in alignment with who you are. Kevin's Sun is squaring his nodes, which means embracing the lesson that his Sun reflects in his chart is an important stepping stone in getting from the karmic habit (South Node) to the present and future purpose (North Node). To embrace our Sun means to develop our sense of identity, to take it seriously, to not only have an ego but celebrate it – not to outshine others, but not to hide ourselves out of some pious, misguided attempt to be nice. Simply knowing and accepting who you are and then not being afraid to let it shine out is what Sun work is all about, and Kevin's recognition of who he was no doubt helped him move toward the goal he truly desired. He takes the best of his Capricorn qualities of ambition and hard work, and devotes it to a goal that he loves, which nourishes him (Cancer). Well done! And when he is in alignment with what his heart wants (Moon), that trine from Jupiter (success, luck) can sure have him creating opportunities for himself left and right.

He also revealed that his family was very big on the large family
gathering with cooking and sharing, which is such a blessed example for
him to learn some of the fundamentals of a Cancer North Node, that which is he is moving toward in this life: love, shelter, and nourishment, both figuratively and literally! He also speaks about using local and seasonal foods which speaks to the integrity of the best of Capricorn as well as the urge to shelter and protect the best sources of nourishment and one's local 'family' that Cancer stands for.

Good luck, Kevin!

Stay tuned all week to my blog; before the Top Chef Season 6 finale, I'll take a look at the Voltaggio brothers' charts as well.

Irina Shabayeva: the Astrology of the Winner of Project Runway

Irina Shabayeva won season 6 of Project Runway with her intense and intricately crafted collection.

Irina

Irina is an Aquarius Sun with Mercury not too far behind, so it's important for her to build her identity around a sense of her own individuality, that she's not who she is because she's trying to please someone or trying to imitate someone. All through season 6 it was clear that the thing that frustrated her the most was feeling like she was being imitated by Althea, which to an Aquarius can feel like what makes you you is being stolen and cheapened when copied. Whether or not Althea had any intention to copy her, she was clearly very protective of what makes her unique, something Aquarius values greatly. With Mercury close to her Sun in Aquarius it's especially her opinions and ideas that she is likely to be the most protective about.

Among a few other things, Venus says a lot about a person's aesthetic style, what one finds beautiful and how we translate what inspires us into our creative efforts. Irina's Venus lies in Capricorn, in a tight and tense relationship (square) to Pluto and Saturn in Libra. Capricorn reflects a creative style that's refined, elegant, tailored, and in many ways understated, without so many extras and flash that it takes away from the sophistication of something. Tim always admonishes the designers to bring an editing eye to things and Irina is likely to have the least issue with overdoing it.

Venus in Capricorn with Saturn squaring it might lead to a tendency to hold back too much, to take that understated sophistication and take it to far into simply flat and boring. However, with Pluto in a very tight square to Venus, the darker undercurrents rise to the surface, creating that sort of sophisticated, gothic, almost dominatrix style.

Because I do not know her time of birth, I'm unable to determine Irina's moon sign. It will either be Pisces or Aries, but if I had to guess, I would choose Aries.  Her competitive nature would make a lot of sense for an Aries moon, who simply needs to push through to be the best and doesn't tend to reveal a lot of softness (although every sign has some, especially when we're talking about the moon which is your emotional nature, in a nutshell). The
moon represents our most private self and so is not likely to be
revealed on television or in a room full of competitors, but it can be revealed when we are stressed and our defenses are low, something I think all the designers went through as the competition got stiffer and they became more tired and their sense of security more challenged. When stress peaked, some of the designers let it show through tears, but when Irina let her stress out it usually more closely resembled anger rather than tears and she stepped more into The Boss role, especially in the finale where she was putting Gordana through her paces with the orders. If her designs are where her heart is, though, her very telling phrase "shielding yourself and just going at it" as the inspiration for her final collection is very Arien.

Irina appeared to be the one who grew to be the 'odd man out', not appearing as friendly with everyone as some were. With her Aquarius Sun and Mars trine to it, and then her Saturn and Pluto square her Venus, these combinations reflect someone who is more used to taking care of themselves and not having a lot of trust for others. To allow someone to support you, you have to allow them to see what might be perceived as weakness. Even if you are not weak, to accept help can make one feel vulnerable, something Irina is not likely to relish. Aquarians are known for their detachment, but it's not out of cruelty or disinterest in others as much as it is a useful defense mechanism to be able to pull away from the kind of obligations that can form when we get enmeshed in relationship with others and forget ourselves. Aquarius is about the pursuit of individuality, so detachment can come in very handy.

With Venus in Capricorn, squaring Pluto and Saturn, she may struggle with letting her defenses down enough to reveal her softness to another even though it's there. Venus is, besides our creativity and sense of beauty, also how we relate to others and reach out to others. Capricorn is often more reserved when it comes to connecting with others and can be much more comfortable running on its own self-sufficiency (they don't call it the sign of the hermit for nothing!) Capricorn also has a vulnerability to looking at any situation as a means to and end rather than seeing the emotional component, so Irina may possibly defend herself from feeling vulnerable to another by relating to others in a 'strictly business' kind of tone, which is not a bad thing, but she can be her own worst enemy if that gets too extreme and she doesn't allow herself to be supported or loved or give that in return. Capricorn gets the undeserved reputation of being cold, however, and it's not. It just knows that sometimes you have to get the job done and you don't have time to whine! It's probably a contributor to her win on Project Runway.

Congrats, Irina!

………………….

I look for the evolutionary potential in an astrology chart, not the empty keywords. For more of my work, visit me at heavenlytruth.com or on Facebook at Heavenly.Truth.

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