Astrology of Profession or Calling | 2. Trent Reznor


The Astrology of Profession

In the first post of this series, I explained an ancient technique for finding the significator of the profession in the birth chart. I will apply the technique in this series of articles, so please first get acquainted with it by reading the initial article.  Now, let’s explore the astrology of profession in the chart of Trent Reznor, and how it relates to the music of Nine Inch Nails.

Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor is a musician, primarily involved with vocals and electronic composition.  Lately, he has been involved with major film soundtracks, including that for “The Social Network” and the “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”.

A brief biography for Trent Reznor can be found on Wikipedia. His chart is given a Rodden Rating of A on Astro-Databank (note: Astrodatabank’s biography of him has some factual inaccuracies).  His chart is pictured below (CTRL-Click to open an expanded version in a new tab).

Reznor's Natal Chart
Reznor’s Natal Chart

Thinking in Terms of Planets

As an artist, we can expect Venus to play a major role in matters of profession.  Vocals, as well as composition, are areas of music particularly pertinent to Mercury due to Mercury’s associations to verbalizing and intellectualism, respectively. Mercury also pertains to technology which plays a strong role in his music. His particular style is characteristically dark, with strong themes of pain, oppression, death, and control – things typical of the domain of Saturn. The style is also aggressive and industrial, things associated with Mars.

Finding the Professional Indicators

Before analyzing the profesional indicators, let’s briefly review the technique. The technique involves finding planets with more pertinence or “testimony” regarding “actions”, which involves the Mars, Venus, Mercury, the 10th place, and the Lights. We also look at general indications of planetary strength. The factors and basics are from Hellenistic and Persian astrology.

Relevance to Actions

  1. Places:

    No planets in the 10th or its “stakes”.  In terms of the 2nd and 6th, Venus and Jupiter are most pertinent, as they’re in the 6th.  Mercury and the Sun are relevant by this factor because they are in the 5th. Therefore, of the three planets of action, we look to Venus and Mercury.

  2. Rulership:

    The ruler of the 10th place is Venus, which is also a triplicity ruler of the Ascendant. The only planet with a stronger relationship to both the 1st and 10th is Saturn. Jupiter is the bound ruler of the Ascendant (and Mars is the bound ruler of the MC).  Mercury does not have rulership at the Ascendant but is the first triplicity lord of the 10th. Therefore, between Venus and Mercury, Venus has more important forms of rulership at the 10th place and the Ascendant.

  3. Phasis and the Lights:

    No planets are in phasis. Venus is nearly so, as she is moving out from the beams. Mars is the bound ruler of the sect light.

Relevance Conclusion

Venus has the most relevance to actions. Mercury is also significant. Note that Venus is in the place of the Lot of Fortune and Mercury rules the place, providing lesser indications. Jupiter, the Sun, and Saturn may also relate to the profession, though they are not among the three planets of actions.

Trent Reznor Natal Chart
Reznor’s Natal Chart


  1. Advancing/Retreating:

    Mercury is conjunct an angle within 3*, so I consider it advancing in the strongest sense. All of the planets, aside from the Moon, are advancing, but the Sun is the next most advancing behind Mercury.

  2. Relationships to Lights:

    There are no planets in phasis. The Moon is applying to Mercury and had separated from Saturn. Mercury is assembled with the Sun. Saturn and Mars are the only planets regarded by both Lights. Therefore, Mercury has the strongest relationship with the lights.

  3. Stationing:

    There are no stations.

Prominence Conclusion

Mercury is by far the most prominent planet.  The Sun and Saturn also have prominence. Therefore, we expect Mercurial significations to crop up strongly in all areas of life. Mercury signifies rationality, intellect. technology, complexity, vocalization, language, and all forms of exchange.

Synthesizing Venus and Mercury

Venus is the planet with the most testimony regarding this matter but Mercury is the strongest planet of the chart and has some testimony with regards to actions.  Therefore, we take both Mercury and Venus.  Venus is viewed more in terms of the types of actions the native would like to be involved in as a calling due to her greater overall relevance. However, Mercury is the type of skill development that tends to dominate and get the most attention due to his generally powerful and pervasive influence in the life.  We expect a desire for artistic work with a strong intellectual, technological, and/or verbal component (in this case, all three).

That Venus is in a house of Mercury (Gemini) and Mercury in a house of Venus (Taurus) further stresses the mutuality of both, rather than them being totally separate skill sets.  In fact, Mercury is in the term of Venus also, and is in the 5th house, the Joy of Venus. The 5th house pertains to children as well as other forms of creative output (performance, works).  It is as if these planets keep evoking each other and looking for new ways to serve each other.

Venus in Depth

Further delineation of Venus finds that she is in the domicile of Mercury.  She is naturally fortunate as she’s a benefic and she’s in sect. Her fortune is enhanced by her assembly with Jupiter, location in Jupiter’s term, and the regard of the sect light, the Moon.  However, she is also in the 6th, dominated by Saturn and square to Mars, so she is strongly connected with malefic themes.

The themes which Venus connects with are the most prominent themes of Nine Inch Nail’s music. The strong associations of Venus with Mercury pertain to lyrics, vocals, programming, and a rational orientation. Venus is in an air and human sign, Gemini, so music (air art) and technology are fitting. The duality of the sign indicates an orientation toward playing two roles (singer, programmer/instrumentalist). The themes of the music relate strongly to her place and aspects, from her location in the 6th place, a bad place associated with slaves, accidents, and disease, to her associations with dark Saturn and violent Mars.

Saturn and the Self

Venus is colored by Saturn, lord of death, darkness, loss, and oppression, and Saturn has a strong association with the character and identity of Reznor. Saturn rules Capricorn, the 1st place of the self, so the planet of doubt, dread, death, and darkness makes its mark on Trent’s appearance and self-identification. An out of sect Saturn is particularly malefic. Venus is dominated by Saturn (right-side square) so themes of constriction, abuse, and bondage connected with sex and beauty are symbolized.

While an aside, it is interesting that Saturn is in the third place of siblings. When Reznor’s parents divorced he went to live with his grandparents and was separated from his sister who lived with their mother. The Moon (mother) in the 12th house of oppression dominates Saturn and the third house of siblings. Much more could be said about Saturn and the self but the focus of this article is on professional matters.

Mars in the House of God

Saturn, the ruler of the self, is strongly opposed by Mars in the 9th house of God, and both are in the stakes of Venus. The symbolism is of a violent God (Mars in the 9th) oppressing one who is despairing, doubtful, and downtrodden (Saturn as lord of the 1st). However, there is also a strong identification with Mars, as Mars is the exalted ruler of Capricorn and a triplicity ruler. The Saturn-Mars configuration connects strongly with the self and with Venus, so we see its autobiographical role in the art. The struggle with truth, doubt, and the trespasses of religion are frequent themes in the music of Nine Inch Nails.

Trent Reznor Natal Chart

Mercury in Depth

Mercury is in the domicile, term, triplicity, and Joy of Venus. Therefore, Mercury (communication, intellect, reason) is strongly directed to the arts (Venus). Matters associated with a Mercury have a strong and pervasive effect on the life. Mercury is determined most directly to creative works (5th place, Joy of Venus). Saturn overcomes Mercury by sextile and is assembled with the Sun, so there is both a sense of strong duty and discipline associated with Mercury and of publicity and achievement. The 9th place of God is ruled by Mercury, so there is a rational and utilitarian outlook on higher truth.

Birth of Nine Inch Nails

Pretty Hate Machine was released in October 1989 and was Reznor’s first album as Nine Inch Nails. Reznor was 24 years old. Therefore, in terms of annual profections, the album was released during a 1st house year, with Capricorn, and its ruler Saturn active. It was a pivotal year in terms of defining his identity as Nine Inch Nails.

As the cycle of Jupiter is 12 years and that of Venus is 8 years, both Jupiter and Venus are activated at 24 years (see planetary years). Additionally, both were undergoing their returns at his solar return for the year. In fact, the solar return for 1989 had Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury all together in Gemini. This highlighted the year as one in which their combined significations would come together. Additionally, Saturn was transiting through Capricorn, the first house, further highlighting the year as key to the Saturnine aspect of the identity. There was even a Mars-Saturn opposition at the time, mirroring that theme in his chart.

Reznor 1989 Solar Return transits
1989 Solar Return Transits (outer) to Birth Chart (inner)

1987-1992: Nine Inch Nails is Born

The primary directions of the Ascendant are very interesting for the period. We see his musical path become more defined in later 1987 and early 1988 when Venus aspects the directed Ascendant. The first Nine Inch Nails album is recorded in 1988, and re-recorded in 1989, and released in 1989. Broken is also recorded in early 1992. For the recording of both of these pivotal albums, the directed Ascendant was in the bound of Venus in Aquarius. In other words, the distributor, the planet that is most strongly activated in terms of life events, is Venus, his primary lord of actions.

Reznor Primary Directions Ascendant
Reznor Primary Directions of the Ascendant 1987-1997

Late 1992-1997: Peak Success

Interestingly, the peak success in his career came from late 1992 to 1997, with release of Broken (1992) and the Downward Spiral (1994). This was a period in which Jupiter was the distributor. Jupiter is conjunct Venus in his natal chart signifying fortunate circumstances related to Venus.


I hope you enjoyed this brief look at the professional indicators in the chart of Trent Reznor. In future articles in this series, we will continue to explore matters of profession in the astrological chart.

Note: This article was significantly expanded and revised in April 2018.

Image Attribution

Featured image of Trent Reznor (cropped) by Rob Sheridan (Trent Reznor, February, 2008 (Press Photo)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons



Blogger interested in all things astrological, especially Hellenistic, medieval, Uranian, and asteroid astrology.

8 thoughts on “Astrology of Profession or Calling | 2. Trent Reznor

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  • October 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Dear Anthony,

    When you begin the synthesis, and say about Venus and Mercury, when you tell that “Venus is viewed more in terms of types of actions”, it is due the fact that she is the planet with more testimony regarding this matter, and “Mercury as the type of skill development that tends to dominate and get the most attention”, because he is the strongest planet of the chart and has some testimony with regards to actions, right?

    Best wishes!


    • November 4, 2012 at 11:22 am

      In terms of your questions, yes, I put the emphasis on Venus as characterizing the action due to her testimony with regard to actions itself, from superior trinal regard to the 10th, rulership of the 10th, rulership of the Sun, and even her closeness with Fortune and her triplicity testimony at the Ascendant. Mercury on the other hand is extremely pervasive in the life as a whole as it is conjunct an angle.

  • December 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Holy crapballs, Mr. Reznor and I have the same Sun/Moon and square Ascendants! Yes! I really dig your interpretations using ancient techniques, very fascinating. Where/how/with who did you train?

    • December 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm

      I’m glad you like it. I was very into modern stuff about 15 years ago, such as Noel Tyl’s work, Rob Hand, the psychological stuff. Then I got very into Cosmobiology and Uranian astrology, and eventually into asteroid astrology using Uranian methods (i.e. Martha Lang-Wescott). One day I stumbled upon a work by Morin at a used book shop and that began my studies of more traditional methodology, about 6-8 years ago. A few years ago I took things further and took Robert Zoller’s course. From there I moved on to the amazingly brilliant and breakthrough translations of Persian material that Ben Dykes has been pumping out in recent years. It was at that point that I really felt I had found the high point of astrological accuracy.

      The Persians were building upon the Hellenistic tradition, while I came to regard the later European tradition that picked up in the High Middle Ages as full of errors and overly homogenized in technique and worldview, leading right on through the Renaissance and still dominating astrological work in traditional circles today (which tend to draw strongly on 17th century astrologers like Lilly and/or Morin, while supplementing with people like Bonatti). I credit Ben Dykes as a major teacher because of the lucidity of his translations and notes, and the strong effect the Persian material has had on me. All of the Persian stuff is rooted in the Hellenistic tradition, and that tradition is even more diverse and full of gems, so I constantly study that. Besides direct study, the Hellenistic astrology course by Chris Brennan has provided the best guidance. For those seeking a course to get started with traditional astrology, I highly recommend that course. I also highly recommend the book Introductions to Traditional Astrology by Ben Dykes, which is mostly translations of introductory material by al-Qabisi and Abu Ma’shar and is a must have reference work.

  • November 25, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Wow, that covered what I was interested in knowing and a whole lot more! There’s enough material for a blog post in itself. Thank you!

  • November 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Hi Mister Meister, thank you again for your writings. I was wondering if you are fielding technical questions? I am rather enamoured with this Advancing and Retreating technique of assessing planetary strength. I am a little unclear about a specificity, though; you say that planet strength is quickly attenuated after passing the angle, but at what point does strongly advancing become retreating? I notice that in this example you consider Mercury to be Strongly Advancing at 3 degrees beyond the angle.

    I’m also curious to know the origin of this technique, as it’s not one I’ve encountered before (though I am only just beginning a study of traditional astrology)

    • November 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      Hi Moog!

      Technical questions are always welcome, and no astrology has yet been perfected, even mine. I would like to promote skepticism, questioning, critical thinking, and all that. I am wrong sometimes (often), and my astrology evolves.

      As mentioned in the post, the technique is discussed in post 1 of the series, in which I also discuss that I consider planets conjunct an angle to be equivalent to Strongly Advancing. It is best if within 3 degrees. An aspect by degree within 3 degrees is called “scrutinizing” in the Hellenistic aspect doctrine. That aspect doctrine is said to have been fully fleshed out in Antiochus of Athens. However, the work by Antiochus didn’t survive, so we find the aspect doctrine in Porphyry (Introduction to the Tetrabiblos) and Rhetorius (Compendium). They were two of the many Hellenistic authors that acknowledged reading Antiochus, and were the ones that explicitly tried to write down or paraphrase the definitions of Antiochus in the “basics” sections of their works.

      As I mention in post 1 of the series, even within about 5* is still pretty strong. In fact, with the Lights, I actually go to about 10*. This is part personal experience and part Ptolemy’s rule about planet 5* past the angle still being considered in the angle (from his longevity material).

      Advancing and Retreating is explicitly laid out by al-Qabisi and by Abu Ma’shar in their respective introductory material. See Introductions to Traditional Astrology by Ben Dykes. That text is one of my most highly recommended texts for beginners, as it clearly lays out so much of the language of astrology. It’s a compilation of two works by Abu Ma’shar and one by al-Qabisi, of introductory material, supplemented with tons of notes and excepts from other authors Hellenistic and Medieval, to complement the selections.

      Origins and Logic Behind My Use of Advancement/Retreat
      The origins of the idea of Advancement and Retreat go back to one, of two different, Hellenistic schemes for advantageous places which was attributed to Nechepso and endorsed by Serapio, in which the angular and succedent places are advantageous and the cadent places are not, as opposed to the more common scheme used by Dorotheus, Porphyry, Rhetorius, Sahl, and others in which 7 of the 8 places that regard the 1st Place (all but the 3rd, because it’s cadent and under the earth) are advantageous (Dykes, 2010, p. 120-121). The original meaning was likely tied to the places (whole sign houses) themselves, as in the “stakes” and the signs after the stakes being advancing. However, by the late Persian period, al-Qabisi and Abu Ma’shar appeared to be employing quadrant house systems on a regular basis, creating ambiguity about the meanings of “angular”, “advancing”, “strong”, and issues of house topics, as an “angle” could already denote, for instance, the rising sign, or the actual Ascendant degree, or a region of increased strength following the degree (c.f. Dykes, 2010, Introduction, Section 6, p. 11-20).

      I lean most heavily on Hellenistic basics, and I use the more common advantageous places of that period. In my experience they are more relevant for beneficence/maleficence. However, the strength of the region following an angle does show up in Hellenistic astrology as well. For instance, in Ptolemy’s longevity techniques, and in Dorotheus who has a 15* rule about a planet after an angle. As Dykes (2010) noted, “Evidence that some astrologers used signs for topics but quadrant divisions for power, comes from Dorotheus and a parallel text in Antiochus and Porphyry. The text from the Arabic Dorotheus is also evidence for how some astrologers may have been encouraged to adopt quadrant-based houses straightforwardly for both power and topics. […] Dorotheus considers the regions of greatest power (or perhaps, busyness or advantageousness) to extend up to 15* from the axes” (p. 17).

      In essence, I (drawing strongly upon al-Qabisi, Abu Ma’shar, and especially Ben Dykes) am combining and keeping distinct numerous concepts from Hellenistic astrology. There is a sense in much Hellenistic astrology of regions of power following angular degrees. There is also the sense that the signs themselves, Houses of the planets, in their positions as the Places, signified topics, with certain topics pertaining more to advantageousness (the 7 places) and some (the “stakes”) to greater strength relative to the particular person. I tie this together with the notion that a planet 15* after the angle is particularly powerful, and that a little ways past the angle, like under 5*, should still be considered in the angle.

      It’s the resolution to the whole sign vs. quadrant houses debate which I feel makes the most sense relative to the history of Hellenistic and Pesian astrology. The general points of the approach are explicitly proposed and recommended by Ben Dykes (2010) in his Introduction to the “Introductions” text, and he also explicitly tied the quadrant houses used by al-Qabisi and Abu Ma’shar into the notion of advancement and retreat. Dykes (2010) made this explicit as follows, “apply Nechepso’s eight-place scheme to quadrant-based dynamical divisions, to assess planets’ overall activeness and engagement in the chart (which I associate with advancement and retreat in III.3-4)” (p. 20).

      Intuitively this is right in line with the concepts of advancing towards prominence and retreating away from it, and you’ll find that retreating planets tend to be quieter in terms of general impact on the life, in that their natural significations do less intruding upon all the other topics of life and they tend to be more private, while advancing planets are like cranking the volume slowly up and they are more public, and particularly pervasive in effect. I view it as more of a continuum rather than a strict dichotomy, and I don’t feel the need to use a quadrant house system to judge it. For the beginner, a Porphyry house system or some quadrant house system may help you more easily get the sense of how much a planet is advancing or retreating. I don’t use such on my site, because I find that it distracts from the true houses, which are the signs, the houses of the planets, and leads the reader to think I might be using quadrant houses.


      Ma’shar, A., & Al-Qabisi. (2010). Introductions to Traditional Astrology. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.


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