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Michael Stipe, lead singer for R.E.M., has long been a fixture in the music scene. In 1983, R.E.M. came out with their debut album, Murmur, which forever changed the face of music. That album differed from the rest of the mainstream pop music being played at the time. It had a haunting, melodic quality with lyrics that were barely discernable, but somehow carried emotional power and striking beauty. At the core of the album was the voice and imagery of Michael Stipe.

Stipe has always played an illusory role in the world of big budget high profile rock stars. Describing himself as “painfully shy,” Stipe shunned the spotlight and the immense attention heaped on him as his band leapt to fame. Efforts to pin him down proved difficult. He rarely gave interviews, and his lyrics were cryptic. Even his style of singing sounded mumbled, distant and hard to understand. When studying his chart, we see a number of elements that help describe his character.

Everybody Hurts

Stipe’s Sun conjoins Saturn in Capricorn, showing an immense drive, but also intense insecurity that could be crippling at times. Capricorn is the Sun sign most found in presidents. It usually describes someone who can endure hard times to meet goals and eventually rise to the top. Stipe has certainly reached the zenith of artistic and commercial success. Capricorn is the sign of the mountain goat, steadily climbing higher and higher. In the ascent, however, there are often difficult obstacles. Capricorns can often be frustrated and will fall from time to time in their lives. These falls will hopefully teach humility and perseverance, creating a certain wisdom as the Capricorn grows older.

Growing up as the son of a military officer, Stipe moved from place to place when he was young and never stayed in one town too long. Though he usually liked to keep to himself, Stipe developed another side to himself in high school that countered his shyness. He described it as “this real loud, extreme, extroverted personality.” One can see this dichotomy in Stipe’s chart, where his Jupiter, Mars and Venus are all found in Sagittarius. This sign is known for its expressive and dynamic qualities. With both Capricorn and Sagittarius playing a large role in his chart, there is a likelihood of Michael swinging between melancholy (Capricorn) and buoyant enthusiasm (Sagittarius). 

That’s Me in the Spotlight

R.E.M. achieved cult status in the early 80s but it was not until their hit “The One I Love,” off their album Document in 1987, that they achieved huge commercial recognition. From this time on, Stipe was thrown into the spotlight, and intense pressure was placed on him to define himself. Questions arose concerning his sexual identity, which he chose to avoid. When the pressure became too great, Stipe overcame his desire for privacy and began to openly discuss his bisexuality in public.

In his chart, we see his Venus squared to his Pluto, a signature of strong feelings and issues surrounding love and sexuality. People with this aspect often find themselves involved in intense relationships where issues of power, jealousy and equality can arise. For Stipe, it has also shown difficulty in expressing his sexual preferences publicly. Thrust into the role of superstardom, Stipe was challenged to overcome his shyness (Sun conjunct Saturn).

In 1990, R.E.M. wrote a hit song called “Losing My Religion,” a southern slang term for going insane. In the song Stipe sings, “That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion.” The song describes the intense transformation he had to make to come out into the public eye and the pain associated with doing that. Over time, Michael has chosen to use that “spotlight” to promote social and political awareness, coming out in favor of a woman’s right to choose and AIDS prevention. 

The End of the World as We Know It?

In 1997, R.E.M.’s drummer, Bill Berry, decided to leave the band to pursue his own interests. With the band now only a three piece, there was a great deal of talk of breaking up. Instead of this, however, the group decided to go back to the studio and make a new album. In 1998, R.E.M. released Up and Michael Stipe, along with the band, have vowed to continue their musical explorations into the twenty-first century. 



Jonathan Keyes, B.S., is an astrologer, herbalist and plant spirit medicine practitioner. His writing has appeared in The Mountain Astrologer and in numerous Llewellyn almanacs. Jon has written a book entitled 'Guide to Natural Health, The Horoscope as a key to Ancient Healing Practices'. Jon is available for readings and can be contacted at Go to Jon's web site at

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Other StarIQ articles by Jonathan Keyes:

  • Pluto and Your Psyche   10/26/2013
  • Astrology and Stones   2/25/2012
  • Your Health and Saturn   2/4/2012
  • Lunar Health Cycles   3/13/2002
  • Lunar Health Cycles   2/27/2002
  • Lunar Health Cycles   1/26/2002
  • Lunar Health Cycles   11/14/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   10/31/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   10/15/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   10/1/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   9/14/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   8/31/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   8/16/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   8/2/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   7/18/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   7/4/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   6/17/2001
  • Lunar Health Cycles   6/4/2001
  • Pluto, Your Health and Herbs   4/30/2001
  • Your Health and Neptune Part 2   3/12/2001
  • Your Health and Saturn Part 2   11/13/2000
  • Michael J. Fox   8/21/2000
  • Animals and Astrology Part Two   7/3/2000
  • Animals and Astrology   6/12/2000
  • The Astrology of Stones Part 2   5/15/2000

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