Thursday, September 9, 2010

Famous Sun Sign Series: Ivan the Terrible

"Enjoy yoor oopertunity to paint me. Ven yoo are feenished, I pluck out yoor eyeballs."

Ivan the Terrible is the first in the Famous Sun Sign Series, as the sun is currently in the sign of Virgo.

A little about Virgo: The "virgin" of the Zodiac, Virgo is very practical, detail-oriented and discriminate. Virgos tend to be steadfast in their work and very particular. They have a strong caring side, as well as a very critical side. Virgos can also be self-deprecating in their need for perfection.

Ivan the Terrible was born on August 25th, 1530. He lost both of his parents at a young age, and was abused and humiliated by the Boyars (high members of the Eastern European aristocracy) who raised him until his coronation as Tsar at age 16. When he took power, he ousted the Boyars who had been in control (including having the last of them fed to the dogs...). That same year he married his first wife, Anastasia. A few years later, in 1550, he organized the first Zemsky Sobor- a sort of National Assembly outlying- in typical Virgo detail- his vision for improving the state of Russia. His Virgo energy was apparent in his need for particularity in choosing the men and the methods necessary to build an improved Russian state. This period of his reign was considered more positive and constructive. As a Virgo, Ivan the Terrible worked effortlessly in particular details to serve the greater good of Russia. The first printing press was introduced during his reign. He opened up trade connections with Western Europe, and helped develop new systems of government.

He seems to have broken the Virgo mold somewhat in conquering the Muslim Tatar- populated Kazan Khanate in 1552 and the Astrakhan Khanate in 1556. Virgos, traditionally, are not the most aggressive signs of the Zodiac. But, as I hypothesize is the case with many of the world's leaders, Ivan the Terrible identified as much with his country as with himself. He sought the typical Virgo perfection for Russia, not just himself, and was just as equally critical about any shortcomings in the young country. So, conquering the tattered remnants of the Golden Horde of Genghis Khan from decades earlier seems all too appropriate.

Ivan's unpleasant childhood contributed to something of a repressed insanity that began to show itself as the years went by. Upon the completion of St. Basil's Cathedral (to celebrate the conquest of the Kazan Khanate), Ivan had the architect, Postnik Yakovlev, blinded to prevent him from ever designing another building as wondrous. Virgo caution with a sociopathic twist?

"It vas so byooteeful when I feenished it. I veesh I could remember what color it was."

Ivan's need for control, critical nature and almost neurotic concern and distrust began to take a hold of him during this later part of his reign. Ivan the Terrible worked effortlessly to expand Russia into a true empire- which got him into serious trouble with Sweden, Poland, the Hanseatic league (which ran along the coastal countries of Northern Europe), the Ottoman Empire, the Crimean Khanate, and of course the Boyars at home in Russia. He bit off more than he could chew in the long run, and years of war, plagues and pressure from hostile neighbors devastated Russia. Eventually, Ivan degraded so badly that he killed his son with his walking staff during an argument over his daugher-in-law's choice of clothes, and shortly after died while setting up a chessboard. A few somber, though appropriate, examples of the Virgo concern in down-to-earth, day to day details.

Plus he was completely insane, which crosses all Zodiac boundaries.

Ivan the Terrible's probable drink of choice:
Kvass- a slightly alcoholic beverage made of fermented bread, common throughout Eastern Europe since even before the Middle Ages. A couple hundred years after Ivan's death, Russia would begin to receive British-exported Imperial Stout, a dark and highly-alcoholic (and therefore more stable) beer that could withstand the long sea voyage to the courts of Catherine II without freezing or spoiling.

Ivan doesn't know what he was missing!

General Sources:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Introducing the Famous Sun Sign Series

So I was looking up a few of my favorite historical figures, and I noticed that tons of these famous people were Cancers. We're talking an improportionately large quantity. Well, we'll have to wait until next year to discuss that, because this month I'm starting a year of famous people from the current sun sign. Here's the list I picked out- you may be surprised at who you share your sun sign with.

Virgo (starting this month), 08/23 - 09/23 - Ivan the Terrible and Sean Connery
Libra, 09/23 - 10/23 - Mohandas Gandhi, Vladamir Putin
Scorpio, 10/23 - 11/22 - Kurt Vonnegut, the Baha'u'llah
Sagittarius, 11/22 - 12/22 - Andrew Carnegie, Jimi Hendrix
Capricorn, 12/22 - 01/20 - Martin Luther King Jr, Mao Zedong
Aquarius, 01/20 - 02/18 - Grigori Rasputin, Charles Lindbergh
Pisces, 02/18 - 03/20 - Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Edgar Cayce
Aries, 03/20 - 04/20 - Thomas Jefferson, Harry Houdini
Taurus, 04/20 - 05/21 - Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx
Gemini, 05/21 - 06/21 - Queen Victoria, Marilyn Monroe
Cancer, 06/21 - 07/22 - Alexander the Great, Nikola Tesla
Leo, 07/22 - 08/23 - Carl Jung, Fidel Castro

With each post I'll have a few details about the typical characteristics of each sign, and the ways that they show up in the lives of these people (in sometimes unconventional ways...)

And, of course, to the best of my ability I will hypothesize what their adult beverage of choice may have been (those who drank, anyway. Some on this list did not, some did way to much...)

Look for the next post, on Ivan the Terrible, in a few short days!