Posted by: Donna Cunningham | July 6, 2011

Ryan and Tatum O’Neal – Stelliums and Symbiosis

©7-5-2011 by Donna Cunningham, MSW

 I’ve been feeling for a couple of weeks that I MUST write about the O’Neal family, but I resist it. I made myself watch their interviews on CNN promoting their new reality show and the first couple of episodes, although it gave me a queasy/uneasy stomachache.

It’s ugly to watch the secrets come out in the open and the shaming and blaming pattern between the two of them.  

And, yeah, it’s a bit like old home week—family trash being aired publicly in humiliating ways, the squirmy feeling of being confided in by warring factions and trapped between them. At home, I wound up feeling emotionally exploited by both my alcoholic parents and wishing I wasn’t related to either of them, and that’s exactly the same effect watching the O’Neals has on me.

 I don’t want to rehash the toxic O’Neal saga, with all the arrests and rehabs and mutual accusations, but you can download the charts and a summary of the most pertinent biographical data from AstroDataBank here: Charts-Ryan and Tatum O’Neal. 

(Incidentally, even if your cable package does not include OWN network but you have the On Demand feature, you can watch past episodes under “Ryan and Tatum O’Neal.”)

Do Stelliums Run in Families?

 Seeing the connections between their charts, I knew I had to write about the case. Chart features—and even specific aspects—do run in families.  

Three of the O’Neals have stelliums—Ryan has 5 planets in Taurus in the 11th house, and Tatum has 4 planets in Scorpio in the 2nd.

Tatum’s mother, actress Joanna Moore, also had a stellium in Scorpio. (According to Joanna MooreWikipedia, the free encyclopedia, she was born on November 10, 1934, no time given, so the house placement is not known.) Joanna, who died in 1997, had very serious drug and alcohol problems that led to Tatum being in Ryan’s sole custody after the couple divorced. 

Okay, by the strictest of rules, Tatum’s and Joanna’s 4-planet pileups in Scorpio aren’t quite legal stelliums, since they include the Sun, Mercury, and Venus with only one other planet. However, as you’ll see in the table below, the way the trio’s planets are all clinging together is like the inside of a wasp nest. Here’s how the pertinent planets line up:

Ryan’s stellium is in the 11th (saying that more than anything, he wanted friends and that he had issues around belonging) while Tatum’s and Joanna’s stelliums fell into his 5th (the house of children and romance). These oppositions emphasize perhaps one of the biggest issues here, confusion between parenthood and friendship.  

He treated Tatum like a pal—or maybe even a girlfriend—rather than his daughter, depriving her of the solid parenting and sense of security she so badly needed, given her mother’s instability. Ryan’s Saturn is exactly opposite Tatum’s Sun-Mercury-Neptune conjunction—showing her confusion over boundaries and whether her dad was a parent or a sibling.  

Disputes over the money for the films they costarred in are one of the causes of their falling out. His Taurus stellium fell into her 8th house, opposite her Scorpio stellium in her 2nd. We’re talking about the two money signs activating the two money houses. 

And money, I suspect, is their main motive for working together on this reality show on cable. Reality shows where the camera follows you around are the last bastion of has been or never was celebs who want to resuscitate their failing careers.

 In watching the series, Tatum seems more motivated to heal the 25-year breech between them. I was moved by her fragility and yet her strength in the determination to recover from her addictions by facing her own flaws honestly. 

Ryan, on the other hand, seems to have little commitment to the truth and zero interest in changing any of his own destructive behaviors like his explosive temper when anyone  mentions something he’s done. He gives occasional lip service to having made mistakes, but immediately turns to rehashing of the same old issues and rushes to blame Tatum and her brothers once again. 

Watching his shame-faced but narcissistic  behavior in the CNN interview with Piers Morgan, I could see why he’s been so convincing in his role as Bone’s estranged con man father on the television series–he’s basically playing himself. 

Understanding Symbiotic Relationships and Why They are Toxic

 The relationship between Ryan and Tatum through her teen years would be classed as a symbiosis—a toxic, codependent merging in which the boundaries are neither clear nor healthy. (A folie a deux, the French would call it.) Throwing Joanna Moore into the mix, I’d infer a similar set of symbioses (that’s the plural, in case you’re a wordie.) Here’s how one internet site defines the term:

“Psychologically, we use the term symbiosis to describe a relationship where two people function as one. However, it refers to a relationship pattern that is not healthy, since a couple is existentially two separate people who need to be separate in order for both of them to be able to express their individuality and different needs.

“The symbiotic pattern results in the classical set-up of a rescuer or caretaker and a needy and dependent partner in a relationship. It doesn’t allow for flexibility or equality and it limits both partners in their freedom to be themselves. However, both partners may have an investment in keeping the symbiosis going. Symbiotic relationships can be extremely stable and feel like they are very close, because they don’t allow for difference.” (Read more here: symbiosis in relationships.)

Another term that is somewhat like symbiosis is Codependency. You can download one of the chapters of my ebook, Counseling Principles for Astrologers that goes into codependency and its implications for practicing astrologers in depth. Download it here: 2014 Ch7 CPA buy the book at 

Are Stelliums Prone to Symbiotic Relationships?

Thinking about the O’Neals made me wonder whether people with stelliums would be likely to enter into symbiotic relationships. I’d hate to think that, being a stellium type myself, but I had to ponder whether it was possible.

If all the planets in a stellium are in one house, then the matters of that house come close to being EVERYTHING to that person. And that being a primary focus of energy, the people associated with that house would assume a huge importance, more than people encountered in other areas of life. (A Who’s Who of your Horoscope–the Players in all 12 Houses.)

 Losing them could pose a huge threat, so they might well hold onto them for dear life and make any number of sacrifices to keep them. Doesn’t that sound like a setup for symbiotic relationships?  

So, yes, maybe stelliums can be a one place where symbiotic relationships could result. But not the only place—growing up in an alcoholic home can be another. 

Hmm. Looks like something to ponder more and to do a bit of research about here on  Skywriter. Here are some questions that occur to me:

  • Would stelliums in the people houses (4th, 5th, 7th, 11th)   be more prone to symbiotic ties than, say, the vocational houses (2nd, 6th, 10th)? 
  • Would there be signs that were more prone to it, like the Water signs—Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio?
  • Would certain planets predispose the pattern—say Neptune, the Moon, or Pluto as part of the stellium?

handbookcvrsmUPDATE: I have recently published an astrology/self-help book on stelliums. Download a sampler from The Stellium Handbook here:  Stellium Handbook Sampler and a Fact Sheet about the Capricorn Stellium Generation here: Fact Sheet on the Capricorn Stellium-Donna Cunningham .

How about it, Readers who have a stellium or  have loved ones who do? Does the stellium pattern run in the family? Or do birds of a feather—friends who have stelliums—flock together? And would you characterize any of the stellium people you know as having symbiotic relationships? Share your observations in the comment section. 

The Stellium Series:

 Posts Related to Boundaries:

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  1. I have a 4-planet stellium in the 8th house in Sagittarius. I’m not sure about my 8th house needs, but if I found someone who could fulfill my Sag needs (someone with a private jet, for example :D) I would definitely go far to keep them around. I’m not sure if it would turn symbiotic, but it could very easily become unhealthy.

    None of my family or close friends have stelliums.

    • LOL! Under that coircumstance, they wouldn’t need a stellium! Donna

    • Your planets in Sagittarius need freedom to explore and your 8th house wants access to someone else’s private jet, so you can indulge yourself. If you meet a spontaneous pilot, they’d need the jaws-of-life to pry you away. FYI: JFK jr was a Sagittarius who taught us to enjoy life…while taking precautions.

  2. I’m the only “steilliumer” in the family, but there’s a grand trine floating around. My father had one in Fire, my mother in Earth and I’ve got mine in Water. There’s a very strong Scorpio/Virgo thing going on, also most have strong Uranus, and it seems most of my immediate family have unaspected Chirons while mine is the strongest in my chart. Interesting. Don’t know what it all means, but it’s still interesting.

    • My father’s mother died in 1939, age 32 and left behind five children. I was named after her, apparently I look just like her, and I have always been fascinated by her rather sad story. So I checked her chart. Don’t have a birth time, but I do have the planets. Is there a stellium in all this, or are they multiple conjunctions: Sun 12′ Leo, Venus 2′ Leo, Jup 27′ Can, Mercury 26′ Can, NN 23′ Can, Neptune 13′ Can, Moon 12′ Can – and Pluto at 24′ Gem?

      • No stelliumn by sign, but if you had the time, I’d bet there’d a stellium by house, as close as they’re running. Donna

  3. Beautifully done, Donna… I empathize with your “yuck” factor on this subject, but am grateful you took it on… your insight yields benefits to many

  4. re: a family trait of stelliums,

    I have are 6 siblings but know very little about their charts.
    if my memory serves right, I think descending order (age wise) our stelliums run like this: Pisces (2nd born), Virgo (3rd born), Cancer (4th born) & my Leo (6th born), & Gemini (7th born).

  5. In the pursuit of science, re: the stellium as an inherited trait…

    If I understand correctly, my maternal grandmother had a stellium in her 9th house: Pluto, Mercury, Venus, Neptune. Pluto was in Gemini, the rest were in Cancer. My maternal grandfather didn’t have a stellium.

    My paternal grandmother had Mars, Uranus and Saturn in the 10th house; she also had the Sun, Mercury, Venus (and Chiron) in the 9th house. Her ninth and tenth houses are rather small, so the grouping is tight Those houses taken together are about the same size as her first house. My paternal grandfather didn’t have a stellium.

    In my natal family only one of my brothers has a stellium and neither parent does. That brother is adopted. The other is not.

    I am a Cancer. I have a stellium in the 11th house: Mars, Venus, Uranus, Pluto. All in Leo. Mercury is also in Leo, but in house 10, so I don’t know whether or not that counts as part of the stellium. The Mercury may not be near enough to the other planets in any case.

    The closest to a stellium my Gemini ex-husband has are Uranus, Pluto, and the Moon in the 4th house. His Pluto is in Virgo while the Moon and Uranus are in Leo. So no dice, right?

    If three planets work, my Leo daughter *might* have two stelliums. She has the Sun, Mercury, and Mars in the 12th house. The Sun and Mercury are in Leo, Mars in Virgo. She also has Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus in the 4th house. Saturn and Neptune are in Capricorn, and Uranus is in Sagittarius..

    My Sagittarius son has five planets grouped closely together. They may or may not form a stellium because they bridge two houses: Mercury and Saturn in the 4th house; Uranus, Sun, and Neptune in the 5th house. Mercury, Saturn, Uranus and the Sun are in Sagittarius. Neptune is in Capricorn.

    • It sounds like a family pattern of at least triple conjunctions, which can be as powerful as stelliums at times. Thanks. Donna

  6. No strict stelliums here but tight conjunctions involving the 8th and 12th houses (subconscious merging), rampant in my family, which I think result in a similar symbiotic relationship pattern as the one you described here for Ryan and Tatum.

    Paper Moon is one of my fav films. I find their relationship fascinating. Will be checking out their show.

  7. Yes I always thought it some kind of serendipity or coincidence of sorts that my oldest son and I have an exactly shaped pattern in exactly the same houses ; only he is dominantly Earth and Water while I am Fire and Air. All our planets stretch from the 9th 10, 11th 12th and 1st houses while our opposition planet is opposite our Suns in the 11th house from the 5th house. His opposition planet in the 5th is Saturn conjunct Chiron in Pisces while mine is Urania conjunct the moon in Aquarius. Hes a Virgo Sun with a Virgo Stellium ; Sun , Uranus, Pluto Vesta and Venus in the 11th. I have the Sun conjunct Regulus to the minute, mercury in the 11th ,but my Pluto and Niberu conjunct Toro are in the 10th but they are all in Leo. I do not use the asteroids unless they make exact hard aspects..
    He follows in my footsteps more closely than he knows and would be hard pressed to admit . We are birds of a feather but our style approach is different.
    He keeps our relationship Mother and son and will not tolerate that we have mutual friends….it doesn’t bother me but he is upset by it. I assume he needs to be his own man and I understand that. Other than that he is a loving son and has never been a worry because I have always had full confidence that he would always do the right thing. We are both Artists and both spiritually, politically minded but he will work through more conservative channels than I do. He has a Grand Water Trine with Neptune conjunct the moon and south node in Scorpio in the 1st house while my Jupiter Chiron Amour Neptune conjunction in the 12th is close to the Ascendant and equal distance from the ascendant in the 1st house is Lilith ( moons companion) and conjunct Pallas. Pallas forms part of the Grand Air Trine.
    I thought it interesting that our opposition planets were polar opposite rulers of Cancer / Capricorn. His being Saturn and mine the Moon.

    I also notice that my younger son and his oldest daughter have a similar shaped chart but different houses. He is Fire and Earth whilst she is Water and Air.Even tho at a glance the pattern looks similar; like a teeter totter , his is tighter made out of overlapping Yods while hers is made from sextiles , without the yod effect and she also has a Grand Air Trine. He has a Grand Fire Trine.

  8. Is this considered a stellium? I have a full 9th if you add asteroids….Mercury, Uranus, Juno, Ceres, Pluto and the part of fortune. I do not recall any family stellium patterns. I know my progressed chart is mostly all scrunched up in the 8th-9th.

    Yet, I couldn’t help noticing years ago that my daughter has Mars conjunct Sun in the 5th while I have Mars conjunct Moon in the 5th. In addition, she has an intercepted Moon in the 8th while I have an intercepted Sun in the 8th. Always wondered how to interpret that, as a family pattern.

    My siblings and I (all three of us) each have Venus opposite Saturn.

    • I think most people don’t include the asteroids–so many of them that most people would wind up having a stellium. Donna

  9. I have a Lib/Sco multiple conjunction involving Merc/Sat/Plu/Venus/Sun across 4th/5th. Mother has a Virgo stellium involving Ven/Plu/Sun/Merc/Mars across 10th/11th. The Ven/Plu conjunction seems to be the heavy aspect in both situations. Sister does not have a stellium, nor the Ven/Plu signature.

    I feel like I’m cheating to say that stelliums flock together. Many of my closest friends are those born in autumn of my same year, thus they show the very similar Lib/Sco stelliums and multiple conjunctions as I do, just shifted for houses.

    My main squeeze has a Moon/Sat/Ura/Mar/Nep stellium in Sagittarius. It straddles the 8th/9th.

    • Ah, of course that would be true–at least until after college, people would be with their own age group. Donnn

  10. Can you shed astrological transit light on why this particular period in time is so dominated by this phenomena of media following people like this around with cameras and watching them squabble a la Real Housewives?

    None of it really feels transformative, but rather gladiatorial. No one on these Real anything shows seems to grow. They just fight a lot and express a lot of annoyance.

    • I’m with you there, Jenny–so boring!! The only reality shows I like are ones where you do see people growing and gaining strength by meeting challenges. (Survivor, Amazing Race, and the new one–Expedition Impossible.)

      Uranus and Aquarius rule glitz and pop trends, so I’d attribute it to the long years Uranus and Neptune spent in Aquarius. Neptune gives the illusion but not the substance, and these programs are a sort of drug to deaden the mind. Donna

      • That makes sense. Thanks!

  11. Oh, wow, what a subject! My husband has a stellium in Cancer in the 11th (uranus 0 cancer, sun 4 cancer, moon 6 cancer and venus 23 cancer); with sun and moon squared by neptune. His favorite expression? “One big happy family!” (According to his sis, it most definitely was not!) His mom has 6 planets in Aquarius, with sun and mars falling on hubby’s descendant, and a Scorpio moon. (She has her saturn in Cancer.) (Father’s planets, including sun, venus and neptune were in Leo, opposite his mom’s Aquarius stellium.)His ex-wife has a very similar stellium to his mom’s in Aquarius, also with saturn in Cancer and a Scorpio moon. (Ex-wife could not live up to mom!) His son has 8 planets in Aquarius, with a Cancer ascendant and Saturn in Leo on his ascendant. Talk about an enmeshed family!
    Question: do stelliums running in families sometimes indicate mental illness as much as genius?

    • Hi, Arlene, what a perfect catch phrase (desideratum) for a stellium in Cancer. His score on the Moon test must be through the roof.

      No, I would definitely not equate a stellium with mental illness. That’s generally a product of outer planets like Neptune or Pluto, and even then not predictable–there are thousands born the same day with the same placements who aren’t mentally ill. Donna

  12. My parents were born only 14 days apart–I just checked and they’ve both got a Pluto/Saturn/Mars stellium in Leo (well, that certainly explains a lot!). I have the Sun/Pluto/Saturn/Mercury in Scorpio, as well as Uranus/Jupiter/Neptune in Sagittarius.

    My brother doesn’t have any stelliums–his chart has only three empty houses. He is kind of the odd one out in the family in other ways, too.

    • Your parents must have been born around the same time as Hillary Clinton and Al Gore–both with the Pluto-Mars Saturn triple conjunction. (A stellium would be four planets. Donna

  13. What if there is a Pluto-Saturn-Jupiter-Mercury stellium in Libra in the first house with no aspects to other planets? (Ascendant is Virgo, with Virgo sun opposite Moon in Pisces.) Should I consider the Libra influence to overpower the Sun/Moon opposition?

  14. What a superb analysis, Donna. I remember seeing Paper Moon as a child and identifying with it very strongly. My Dad was also very pretty and very drunk.

    I have the stellium you describe – five planets in Pisces in the 7th. Sun, saturn, mars, chiron, mercury – not to mention a bunch of the major asteroids. I have had many symbiotic relationships in the past but I think the Saturn has often saved me from being completely swallowed up.

    Interestingly (FYI) I have found that love relationships have been healing and healthy for me on the whole, but i have had more than the usual number of toxic friendships

  15. Awesome post Donna! Of my six siblings, only the oldest doesn’t have a triple conjunction or stellium. All of the rest of have at least one triple conj and two have bona fide stelliums. Have you ever read Judith Viorst’s novel ‘Necessary Losses?’ It is an excellent psychological tome that I read during my first Saturn return (of course). In it she talks about the “Hansel & Gretel effect” when young children are taught to take care of each other because for either emotional or physical reasons the parents can’t or don’t. I’ve always thought of my siblings like this since reading it. I believe astrological patterns run in families; don’t have my dad’s time of birth and have recently asked my mother to recheck hers because her chart doesn’t look right. Given my childhood, yes, I can see how stellium or TC people can foster symbiotic relationships. Here’s a link to Judith’s book:

  16. Thank you for posting this Donna. I am fascinated with how astrology plays out in family dynamics, and I really enjoyed reading this.

    My daughters and I both have triple conjunctions involving outer planets (mine is in Cancer and theirs is in Capricorn), so the relationship I have with them can be difficult at times, since we have planets in opposition.

  17. Thank you for the article, Donna.

    I have a tight stellium of 3 inner planets and 1 outer planet (or maybe that counts more as a multiple conjunction) in the 11th house and yes I would say that I am prone to relationships where the boundaries are very unclear… Plus, and I think this also has something to do with it, I tend to make my friends (11th house) a surrogate for someone else, like a father, a brother, a teacher and sometimes a lover. Also, I only have these type of relationship with men I consider close friends. And just to be clear, when I say a surrogate lover, I mean a close male friend who acts, behaves and takes care of me like a boyfriend without any of us being interested in each other in that way and without the intimacy of a sexual relationship. Simply put, I sometimes make my male friends surrogate boyfriends, and they of course see me as a surrogate girlfriend. Very strange when you think about it.

    I any case, I expect my surrogates to shoulder the roles I thrust upon them and, god bless them, all of them do; in return I shower them with love and appreciation and admire them unconditionally (venus in leo is a part of that stellium). But naturally, whenever they can’t be that person for me, it breaks my heart. Overall, I have a tremendous fear of my friends leaving me or hurting me, and all my friendships are important. And even though not all of my friendships are co-dependent, the ones that are with men and for some reason touch me deeply, are – no matter what role I want them to play.

    I haven’t even analyzed this until now, so this article has really been a eye-opener… I simply haven’t thought of it as unhealthy, but yes I suppose it is. I’m kind of confused right now, not really sure what to make of this new discovery.

    Though Donna, I’m not certain whether this intensity in my friendships – and this transcends to my love relationships because in true venus in 11th house fashion, my lovers always start out as friends – comes from the stellium/multiple conjunction, or if it comes from the fact that Pluto loosely squares all my 11th house planets? What would you say is the main reason my relationships are so intense? Maybe the both contribute to that, I’m not sure.

    And to answer the question of stelliums running in the family: I’m the only one of 6 siblings with a stellium, but a niece of mine has one as well. None of her parents or her brothers have stelliums, so she’s very special and I have no idea why she has it and who she inherited it from. I on the other hand got it from my father; he has a “real” stellium of 5 planets in scorpio, 5th house. A very charismatic, easygoing, confident, kind and active man. I have no idea whether he has co-dependent relationships or if he has in the past, but considering his venus conjunct neptune and it’s placement in romantic 5th house, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit!

    Sorry for the long entry, but this has really made me think… I feel a bit disoriented which usually means I’m learning something big here, so thank you!

    • Ivannia, I can relate to much of what you say, since I also have four planets in the 11th, including Venus. You didn’t say which of the outer planets is in that group, but the square to Pluto, in any case, would make the relationships intense and powerful. For mn, I think the Venus in the 11th is a mixed blessing. surely, there’s much love with friends, and yet I think I want and need so much more from friendship than they do (yes, they replace committed relationshps in my mind), and so it’s painful when I have to face the fact that friends are not family, not a replacement for a mate.

      I’d call a 4-planet multiple conjunction also a stelloum–very potent combination. Donna

  18. Thankyou for an insightful article. I have a scorpio stellium my two sons respectively fire and air stelliums. We are all ‘arrogant’though hopefully functioning.(lol) With little research so far, would agree with Kingsley and the vesta asc/dec mh/4th house aspects. Seems moon venus aspects with pluto and i reakon fixed positive signs and planets.
    Perhaps saturn would be the planet able to anchor reality? Or contacting nubulous nept without out the drugs or alcohol and use sound? Am absolutely facinated…but then would one realize we were ndp? The asexual part of narcissus is intreging as is his parents history which seems all water.
    Mayb the fops had the best way of dealing with
    This focus now on material substanciation is like a social narcissim without substance. Interesting times with neptune going into pisces and pluto/uranus.
    Thanks again

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