BONUS: Björk + astrology with Sachi the Scorpio
Whether you follow it or not, astrology is one of many lenses we can use to better understand Björk and her music. In this episode, I talk with astrologist and Björk fan Sachi the Scorpio to learn how Björk's birth chart informs her music — specifically in the song “Pluto” but also throughout her discography.
Savannah: When I first came up with the idea for Bjork Unravelled I saw it as a limited series. I planned to make my case to Bjork skeptics like my friend Carter, and conclude victoriously. Which, if you listened to my first bonus episode, I did.
But along the way I discovered so much more than I could fit into one season, and I became friends with all of you listening now. I didn’t want to let that go.
So I started researching for season 2. I wasn’t sure what angle to take — until I talked to a listener named Sachi.
Sachi: Hello, I am Sachi the Scorpio. I am a shamonic healer, an astrologist and tarot card reader. And in a past life, I was a neuroscientist and molecular biologist.
Savannah: She discovered Bjork’s music through her uncle, who put a few Bjork tracks on a mix CD for her.
Sachi: And when I first was introduced to Bjork by him, I didn't necessarily resonate with it fully. I was still open to it. I liked it cause like my cool uncle, the one that likes to party, you know, but I didn't necessarily resonate with it until I was in my late teens I want to say.
Savannah: But once it resonated, she became enamored with Bjork’s music.
Sachi reached out because she wanted to talk about the cross-section of her two obsessions: Bjork and astrology.
Now, I live in LA. Astrology is a big deal here. If you’ve ever seen the OverheardLA posts, you know a lot of Angelenos make decisions based on the heavens.
I’m not one of them.
But Sachi made a strong case, and a few weeks later, I realized how useful this way of looking at Bjork’s music was. Not astrology specifically, but looking at her music through a different lens. This one was Bjork + astrology.
I started thinking about how many other combinations we could examine. Bjork + feminism. Bjork + fashion. Bjork + Michel Gondry. I could look at her history with that topic broadly, and then connect it to a specific song or album.
And thus the structure of season 2 was born. I call it, and I know this is cheesy because of all those new streaming services, “Bjork+”. I’m not changing the podcast name or anything. Instead, think of it like a theme or guiding principle.
So in this episode, we’ll examine the cross section of Bjork and astrology. I’ll talk to Sachi about how Bjork’s birth chart informs her music — specifically in the song “Pluto” but also throughout her discography.
Now, before we dive in, I want to assuage any misgivings you might have about this topic. I’m not trying to persuade you to follow astrology but I do want you to have an open mind about how it can enrich our understanding of Bjork’s music.
Astrology is a lot more complicated than just knowing your sun sign. Sachi has a background in neuroscience, so she approaches it much more scientifically.
Sachi: I kind of went in and just started noticing patterns. If someone has a moon in Capricorn, how do they behave with me? How do they emote? What are their emotional needs? So I started just collecting data of people that I knew myself, famous people and trying to understand my own algorithm with it.
And that's what I found is that the solar system, as we hurl through space, our cluster of planets together with our sun as our energy source, the way that the planets dance is an algorithm. And once I understood it as a pattern, there was really no turning back for me because as I started testing over and over again, my hypothesis — or hypotheses — I should say. It was really a tried and true method that never led me astray.
Savannah: Once she “hacked” the algorithm, she found a way of understanding the world that works for her.
Ok, spoiler alert, I still don’t follow astrology. And neither does Bjork. In 1995, she told Interview Magazine, “My mum is heavily into these things, and apparently I’m as much Scorpio as one can be. To me, whether it means something or not – f*** that, I just love the symbolism of it. It’s pretty, like Greek and Nordic mythologies. I’m supposed to be run by Pluto. It’s like a fairy tale, it simplifies things.”
But whether you follow it or not, astrology is one of many lenses we can use to better understand Bjork and her music. Here’s Sachi again.
Sachi: Once I started getting a little bit deeper into her music, I was like, I bet she's a Scorpio, you know, being a Scorpio myself. And then she turned out to be a triple Scorpio and I was like, whoa. Yeah. I can tell because she's so intense.
Savannah: Okay. Yeah. I wanna unpack that triple Scorpio, but first I have to ask the question. When you say she feels like a scorpio, what do you mean? Because I think that's where some people kind of like disconnect from astrology. It's like, how, how do you feel that?
Sachi: So Scorpio typically has a presence that you feel. Just period. Point blank. There's a certain magnetism to them. I mean, they're like a magnet, so either you're pulled close or you're extremely repelled.
Scorpios are intense. That's what they embody is the intensity. And the most intense experiences in life are scorpionic, which are death and rebirth and alchemy. Some of the qualities of life that people don't really want to acknowledge.
Savannah: Yeah. When you describe her as a magnet where you're either really attracted or you'er repelled, I feel like that is pretty emblematic of the way people react to her music.
She has these really devoted followers and fans who are like, yes, I love this. And they obsess over it and that's like, you and me and then there are people who hear it and they're like, nah, I'm good. Like, this is too weird.
Sachi: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Savannah: But something that you said, so she's a triple Scorpio. Can you explain that to someone like me who doesn't really know much about astrology beyond like kind of the silliness you see in the newspaper?
Sachi: Mm-hmm absolutely. So Bjork is a triple Scorpio and Scorpio is the shaman of the Zodiac. So they're able to transmute one form of energy into another, which I would say that Bjork does with, you know, her pain, her joy, her sadness. You can feel that in her music, how she's taken her emotion and put it into something tangible through sound waves.
So this alchemical process of transformation is through death and rebirth, which Scorpio rules, which Pluto also rules. Scorpio and Pluto are synonymous. So Pluto's the ruling planet of Scorpio. Scorpio is the constellation.
So she is a sun moon and rising. So that's what it means to be a triple Scorpio. It's called your big three, which is your sun, the core of who you are, your moon, which is your emotional world, your emotional needs, and your rising sign, which is your ascension point, essentially on your chart.
So your sun would be what you would typically like read your horoscope as, so most people know what their sun sign is. That's like your Zodiac sign. So that indicates what constellation the sun was in when you were born. So if you're born during Aries season, which is what we're in now, babies being born right now are Aries, but today the moon is in Taurus, so they would have a Taurus moon.
So your moon sign is what constellation the moon is when you were born. And your ascension point basically shows the time of day that it is. The ascension point is, it's not an actual planetary position or object. It's a calculation that changes every single minute, actually. That's why it's so important to know your exact time of birth to see a full chart.
Savannah: Okay. And so that's why, like people who are born in the same month, they don't all just have the same personality, which is, a misconception of astrology. It really depends on the exact moment of your birth.
Sachi: Yeah, exactly. We are very complex individuals. And again, it's a very complex code. Your natal chart is a snapshot of the entire solar system when you are born. So it takes into consideration all of the planets and how they interact with each other. That forms your personality and also shows you a map of how the world interacts with your energy.
So her being a triple Scorpio means that her sun, her moon and her rising are all Scorpio. And actually she's a quadruple Scorpio. She has Neptune, a fourth planet, in the first house as Scorpio. So she has four placements in Scorpio. But Neptune is a very far away planet, so it indicates like the subtler realms of emotions, as well as other dimensions, unseen forces, illusions, dreams. Which I think she, you know, kind of embodies that as well because the first house is also associated with your rising sign. It sets your first house.
Savannah: And so you mentioned that Scorpio and Pluto are pretty much synonymous. Especially with Bjork being a quadruple Scorpio, I'm curious how... we know that one of her songs is called Pluto and how can understanding astrology help us better understand that song?
Sachi: Mm-hmm. So, as I mentioned that Scorpio is the shaman and rules death and rebirth. So, you know, Scorpio goes through a process of death and rebirth throughout their life. So to simplify, Scorpio is born as a scorpion, which has like jealous and obsessive traits. It's the un-evolved aspect of Scorpio.
And then Scorpio dies and is born as the Eagle, which is when Scorpio learns discernment and has that Eagle eye, that investigative quality, can sniff out lies and things like that. I mean, people always say don't lie to a Scorpio and that's why. If they're an Eagle, they'll know.
And then they are born again as the Phoenix, which is the final stage of scorpio. And that is when you reach that shamanic stage and the Phoenix of course is destined -- or doomed, however you wanna put it -- to constantly die and be reborn again as the Phoenix. Which we, I mean, I'm sure everyone listening here would agree that Bjork is the most advanced type of Scorpio that there is, that she is a Phoenix. She has died and reborn so many times, from Debut, which you know, is fun, you know, sexy, playful,
(clip of "Big Time Sensuality" plays)
Sachi: And now to Utopia, which is like her calling to the divine feminine to rise, to form a matriarchal dome in our society. There's a big, big difference
(clip from "Future Forever" plays)
Sachi: And even all of her songs kind of showed that difference. And I feel like the genre bending that you really hit on in that one episode, I think that's why she defies genres is because literally every single song is like a small death and rebirth.
But yeah, so the, the song "Pluto."
(clip form "Pluto" plays)
Sachi: I mean, Pluto is a pretty disharmonious song, if I may say. I'm a fan of it, but there's a lot of yelling and jarring sounds and you're like, you're almost being jerked around. And it literally is an embodiment of what Pluto signifies as the planet of death and rebirth. I mean, she says, you know. And they're very, very simple lyrics as well, right? She says, excuse me,
(clip from "Pluto" plays: "Excuse me, but I just have to explode")
Sachi: So Scorpios, as intense as they are, they're a fixed water sign. So their emotional world is what it is. You know, as water, it can be likened to ice, right? Solid water, fixed water. So you can't really change the mind of a Scorpio, but they're also the most private of the signs as well.
So it feels like she's excusing herself from it because Scorpios don't like to explode around other people. They will take themselves away from a situation because they see an emotional reaction to where they would explode as a moment of weakness. They, they really like to have emotional control over themselves.
So, you know, she says, excuse me. I just, I have to explode, explode this body off me.
That is literally the Phoenix. I mean it's through the whole alchemical process of Scorpio dying and being reborn as the scorpion then the Eagle and the Phoenix. But she's literally describing what Pluto and Scorpio represent, which is the shamonic death of exploding the body off of you and being reborn again.
(clip from "Pluto" plays)
Sachi: You know, she goes on to say that she'll be brand new. That's the rebirth, you know. And "brand new tomorrow," which is such a fast time to be like, yeah, just excuse me. I'll be new tomorrow. And that's how Scorpios can be sometimes with their intensity where they will literally explode themselves. And a Scorpio one day might not be the Scorpio the next day, if they've undergone a death and rebirth. And it seems like she's going through them very, very quickly.
(clip from "Pluto" plays)
Sachi: You know, she talks about being a little bit tired but brand new. And I think that really captures what Scorpio is like. It is exhausting to die. But the rebirth is worth it. It is worth it to be brand new.
And it still feels like she's kind of like, yeah, like I'll be fine, right? Like I'm gonna die, but you know, I'll be brand new tomorrow. I'm good. So it's still showing a little bit of some underdeveloped Scorpio qualities because it really isn't until Vulnicura where she truly expresses her pain o real death and rebirth.
(clip from "Black Lake" plays)
Savannah: I think that is probably like, yeah, the most poignant record shift that you can point to is Vulnicura and then Utopia, cause she even describes it that way herself. Where she described Vulnicura as being at the bottom of a lake and then Utopia is rising to the surface.
It's really interesting to notice those patterns and she even commented it on how astrology influenced the lyrics of this song. She said, "I've got Pluto in a very important place, and that's what I'm about. I have to recreate the universe every morning when I wake up and kill it in the evening, which is a bit outrageous. But there you go."
Sachi: Yeah, I mean, we know from some interviews that she knows her chart and she talked about it as if she is aware of how astrology has impacted her, how she is able to transform things. And she even talks about knowing about her own Pluto, which is in Virgo, which has to do with service to others and daily habits and health.
And it's interesting to note that her Pluto, so where Pluto was when she was born, is in Virgo, as I mentioned. And it's one degree away from her Midheaven and your Midheaven in your natal chart is basically a door where you can learn how to take the spiritual, the mental, the emotional, and bring it into the physical world. It's like a little manifestation door. So it's very interesting how close they are, because when that's happening in a natal chart, like the ability to bring something from intangible to tangible, is incredible.
And the fact that she knows how to use, you know, her Midheaven with her Pluto, right there really does show that she is just a, a transmutation machine basically.
Savannah: Okay. Let's recap what we've learned so far. One, Bjork's mother was into astrology and so Bjork is at least aware of her birth chart and its significance. Two, the lyrics of the song "Pluto" are basically about what it's like being a triple Scorpio, where everything is about death and rebirth. And three, we see that cycle of death and rebirth, not only in this song, but also in other parts of Bjork's discography, like the shift from Vulnicura to Utopia.
But there's one other death and rebirth pattern that Sachi brought up. It has to do with the album Pluto is on. Homogenic.
Sachi: I thought it was significant where Pluto is placed in the album. So you know on Homogenic right before, we have "Five Years" and "Immature," which are her kind of like, Oh, we're broken up. Like, see, you'll miss me. You know, you're not gonna have love in five years.
(clip from "Five Years" plays)
Sachi: Then "Immature," which is like, how could I expect someone to complete me?
(clip from "Immature")
Sachi: Kind of like disgusted with herself a little bit. Like, you know, I have to find the missing pieces of me, not through a relationship. So it feels like she's getting over this heartbreak, but still kind of placing the blame on somebody else in a way.
And then we go to "Alarm Call," which is all about, you know, again, she's like, yeah, yeah. I can like people, you know, I feel good about it.
(clip from "Alarm Call")
Sachi: She talks about hitting enlightenment, which is. Scorpios can get certain, I guess you would say downloads about what needs to change, how to change, and things like that. So we go from "Alarm Call," which is pretty, you know, upbeat. Like beep beep beep you know? And "Alarm Call" is like a testament to say, Hey, wake up, wake up, you know, something needs to change here.
And then we go to Pluto,
(clip from "Pluto")
Sachi: which is just this jarring soundscape. And, you know, it's a testament of death and rebirth, which is also part of nature, which I think most people kind of don't wanna acknowledge that it's a part of the natural world. Which Bjork like bases most for music on. So yeah, we go to "Pluto," which is just this explosive song.
And then we go to "All is Full of Love."
(clip of "All is Full of Love" plays)
Sachi: So it seems like she went through some sort of heartbreak. She's kind of like, You'll miss me and how could I be immature to think that he would complete me. And then, you know, we have this moment of enlightenment and then "Pluto," which is kind of the integration of the knowledge as she allows that person who is in that relationship to die.
And then she is reborn as a new person. And then she understands, You know, what? All still is full of love. Like I'm not missing any love, neither is that person. It feels like an angelic testament of actual love, of understanding the whole universe is just a manifestation of love anyway. And not always where you pour it in is where you will receive it.
(clip of "All is Full of Love" plays)
Sachi: All the songs compared to "All is Full of Love" are so different. It's just a real juxtaposition. When I found out that it was on Homogenic, I was surprised. Honestly. Because I listened mostly, you know, not like the albums all the way through. I just had bits and pieces from CDs that my uncle would burn me.
So when I found out it was on Homogenic, it really didn't feel like it fit until I figured out that "Pluto" was the song right before it. So it feels like she is finally rebirthing in that "All is Full of Love" and really starting to understand the deeper implications of what love entails.
Savannah: Yeah, I'm glad you brought that up because it does feel like a very jarring and unexpected ending. Well, I mean, there is like a lot of buildup like you just laid out for us. And you get to "Pluto" and you're like, Okay, this feels like the climax, but then there is that one song after, and you're like, Oh, okay. This is suggesting something different.
And of course we know that Vespertine would come later and have that kind of angelic gentleness that we get a glimpse of there. Yeah, that's cool to notice that pattern in micro. Like we showed it with albums, you know, but this is just within one album.
Sachi: Mm-hmm, we could say this is her Pluto placement. Of where she really transformed from just like, Hey, I'm out here to have a good time. And oh, you know, getting in another codependent relationship or whatever it may be, to when she starts really understanding the deeper nature of love. And then we go on to Vulnicura, heartbreak, and Utopia, the biggest rebirth yet.
So yeah. There's always subtle patterns in the chaos. And I think that's what I love about astrology too, is it looks just like a chaotic circle with a bunch of lines everywhere. But if you can understand what it means, it really paints a beautiful picture and map of who we are, of what the world is, of who Bjork is and how she really has been manifesting the best life for herself as a triple Scorpio, continuing to rise.
Savannah: Yeah. Yeah. It's just gonna keep going, huh? There's no apex. That's what's cool about it is it's cyclical.
Sachi: I don't think we'll ever know the final version of Bjork. She will keep rebirthing and surprising us. And I think that's what I love about her music so much. Every song, every album's always something new.