Fernando Pessoa - poet and astrologer

Fernando Pessoa was a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, publisher and philosopher, described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language.

It is less known that Pessoa also had developed a strong interest in astrology. Plagued by self-doubt it helped him in his lifelong search for identity. From 1910 on he became a passionate practitioner and this interest stayed with him for the rest of his life. Planets and zodiac were for him celestial figurations to be interpreted. “What operates in us is a destiny”, he wrote, “which exists as a spiritual force on a higher plane and is cosmologically represented in the stars.”  

Over his lifetime Pessoa drew up more than 1,500 astrological charts and worked on a "System of Astrology" to be published under the heteronym Raphael Baldaya. Pessoa established the pricing of his astrological services from 500 to 5,000 reis and mused at times to become a professional astrologer should all else fail (just as the poet Ted Hughes would do later, pondering to practice astrology professionally to make ends meet).

Pessoa’s interlinking of his literary and symbolist life are still met with embarrassment by the the academe who also has difficulty to account for the fact that the two greatest Irish poets of the 20th century – Yeats and MacNeice – wrote serious astrology books. For the poets, the astrological charts respond to the poetry, and visa-versa, in a multifaceted and creative interchange.

Fernando Pessoa ( 1888 – 1935)

Fernando Pessoa ( 1888 – 1935)