Astro Riff: Nikola Tesla

A photograph image of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) at age 34

A photograph image of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) at age 34

Before Tesla was a car company, the name belonged to electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla. Even if you've never heard his name before, you are likely already familiar with his work. If you've ever gone to a science museum and seen electricity fly out of the coils of what looks like a giant milk frother, you've seen one of his inventions, the Tesla coil. You may have seen Tesla coil music [video] on YouTube or at Burning Man. Even if you've never encountered any of these things, if you have ever woken up from a nightmare and felt relief when you switched on the lamp, you are already a Tesla fan: Most of the things we use that are powered by electricity rely on at least one of Tesla's inventions (AC current). 

The first thing I noticed about Tesla's chart was his first house Pluto and Uranus. Pluto stood out especially being only two degrees from his ascendant.

Pluto is often associated with darkness. While it's true that Tesla had dark hair and was often pictured wearing dark clothes, I think it's more appropriate to see Pluto in Tesla's chart in terms of power, especially since Pluto is in Taurus, and Tesla is known for his work with physical power.

Tesla had a powerful image. He was a performer as well as an inventor and got up on stage and wowed audiences by sending power to lightbulbs across the room, making phosphorescent tubes glow, and sending electricity through his body. 

It wasn't just about putting on a good show, though. "Power" was central to Tesla's worldview. He once said, "If you wish to understand the universe, think of energy, frequency, and vibration." 

In a time when those who wanted electricity in their homes had to buy noisy, expensive generators, he was obsessed with wireless power transmission and dreamed of beaming enough electricity and information from giant Tesla coils to power the world. He believed deeply in his vision, a faith that was powered, perhaps, by Jupiter in Aries in the 12th house (faith in the unseen with a pioneering spirit). When faced with the choice between becoming rich on his patents for AC and seeing his invention become widely adopted, he sold his patent to Westinghouse. There are rumors that I was unable to (quickly) substantiate that his answer when asked to surrender his right to royalties was that seeing the widespread adoption of AC power would be its own reward. 

Tesla is something of a geek hero, but the stories of how gentle and caring he was are what endear him to me personally. He had a special relationship with New York pigeons. Every day, he walked down to the park to feed the pigeons, even after he was hit by a car and found it difficult to walk. He refused to seek medical care for himself, but he often brought injured pigeons back to his room and nursed them back to health.

I'm not a Tesla expert, but from everything I've read, this kindness was not limited to pigeons. By all accounts, everyone (except his famous archenemy Thomas Edison) found him equally endearing. When I think of simple kindness like that, I always think of Cancer. Sure enough, Tesla has three planets (Sun, Venus, and Saturn) around his nadir in Cancer. With all of those planets in the third house except the Sun, it is easy to see how he came to have such a reputation for communicating kindness and sensitivity. 

Since there is an asteroid named in his honor, I had to check to see if it had any significance in his chart. Lo and behold, Asteroid 2244 Nikola Tesla was directly opposite Pluto on Tesla's descendant the moment he was born.