TMA This Week


By Samuel F. Reynolds | January 26, 2015

Dr. Martin Luther King, played by David Oyelowo in “Selma,” marches along Selma’s Edmund Pettus bridge for the first march after “Bloody Sunday,” an event that occurred two days earlier and riveted the world’s attention with images of the police brutality against peaceful, unarmed protesters. Now, the marchers, led by Oyelowo’s King, face off against the same state police troopers. Reflecting what did happen in history, the state troopers grandly step aside to let the marchers pass. King kneels in prayer. Everyone alongside and behind him follows suit. Perhaps he kneels, the audience might think, out of gratitude and appreciation, or perhaps to scan the heavens for a sign on whether to move forward. King finishes the prayer, stands up, and moves toward the rear, leading the way back to the church. Most of the crowd seems confused, and the scene in the film that immediately follows is a meeting of mostly younger voices airing their discontent with what looks like King’s utter lack of faith or courage. That day is known by marchers as “Turnaround Tuesday.”

History tells a slightly different story. All of the events of those few days happened as recorded in the movie, except that King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference had planned to go only halfway over the bridge. Going the full distance would have jeopardized a relationship with the only White southern judge who appeared sympathetic to their case. “Selma” dramatically pictures King as a wise general who somehow knows that the state police could be stepping aside as part of a trap — cutting the marchers off from supplies, media, protection, etc. Yet it’s a work of “faction,” a cross between fact and fiction (a term that I mention in the Roots article I penned with Frank Clifford). (1) Although it might have been tempting for King and the marchers to continue on, especially with the state troopers appearing to allow them free passage, King had already determined not to move forward. Lamentably, however, he hadn’t told anyone else beyond SCLC leadership.

This is an important moment because it captures one strand of the film’s DNA about King that is woven through very well. In fact, the film gives a more complex vision of King and the Civil Rights Movement than I’ve seen in most other films.

King, the General and Generous

“Selma” does a remarkable job of highlighting King’s luminaries — his Sun in commanding Capricorn and his Moon in dreamy, sensitive Pisces. The film makes it clear from start to finish that the marches were a strategic part of a Civil Rights Movement, not the furtive, spontaneous pleas of oppressed African Americans for their rights.

Martin Luther King, A data
January 15, 1929
12:00 p.m. CST
Atlanta, Georgia
33° N45’46” 84° W25’21”
Placidus houses, True Node
Martin Luther King, Jr. natal

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was indeed a general in a movement with many officers and soldiers of every stripe who were never officially decorated or even recognized by history as such. There’s been debate about how much of this African American agency was supported or challenged by U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, especially as presented in the film. (2) However, there’s no question that the movement strategized carefully about the most effective ways to solidify voting rights. (On the books, African Americans already had the right to vote in the Deep South. However, the practice was to frustrate that right with unconstitutional regional and municipal requirements, much like what’s being advanced even now.) (3)

As Oyelowo’s Dr. King prepares to receive the Nobel Prize at the start of the film, he and his wife Coretta Scott King (played by Carmen Ejogo) joke about his promise to her that they would have a quiet life: he would be the pastor of a small Southern town’s church with a few speaking engagements away a year. The awkward moment that ensues between the couple is because they both know the truth — King was never going to be that person. His astrological chart corroborates.

King has his charging Capricorn Sun conjoined his Midheaven. He may not have had exorbitant ambitions, but he was never someone who was going to play it small. In fact, his Sun’s out-of-sign and only slightly wide square to Jupiter and trine to his North Node in the 1st house amply indicate that he was marked to stand out…and to lead. He may not have wanted this life, but the opposition between lofty-minded Saturn, his Sun’s dispositor, and on-the-go Mars indicates that he would likely be a man who would have to learn to do much with a little, to churn his Martian zeal to do many things (Mars in Gemini) into a discipline that prompts deep thought and monumental achievement. “Selma” definitely shows us this King.

The King that America knows best is the one favored by his Moon, the Dreamer, based on the “I Have A Dream” speech he gave to cap the “March on Washington” in August 1963. I memorized and delivered that speech for oratorical contests in grade school. It is the speech we hear most often when we celebrate his birthday or when the spirit of King is invoked to soothe and sort out racial tensions bubbling up in America. The speech was delivered when King was 34 years old. “Selma” captures events during the early part of King’s 36th year of life. He was shot dead at 39. In the span of five short years, the King who delivered that famous, impassioned speech at the Lincoln monument transformed into a different King, one who had a laser-like focus on economic equality and racial justice. (4) Although King’s widely conjoined Moon and exalted Venus in Pisces were dreamy, privately and publicly, and evoked paradisiacal visions of racial harmony, there is another side to Pisces that’s often overlooked. King was not so lofty in his visions for America that he lost sight of the people who were around him daily.

King also had a deep sense of compassion for people’s pain, another thing that this film captures beautifully. I had never given as much thought to the pathos and empathy that King’s chart promises, and I’ve read biographies of Dr. King nearly all of my life. However, the film captured King’s compassion and sense of responsibility for the people who marched with him, like Jimmie Lee Jackson’s grandfather who lost his grandson to senseless police violence. He even had that moderate and gentle composure for those who opposed him, like when he encountered the white man who punched him as King extended his hand to shake his. King didn’t lash out or curse the man. He even admitted the “boy could hit.”

Coretta and Martin

Inner wheel: Martin Luther King (data above)
Outer wheel: Coretta Scott King, AA data
April 27, 1927
4:00 p.m. CST
Marion, Alabama
32° N37’56” 87° W19’09”
Placidus houses, True Node
Martin and Coretta, natal

Another important side of Martin shown in “Selma” is his wife, Coretta. There’s no doubt that King was emotional. However, both he and his fellow Moon-in-Pisces wife, Coretta, lived with the emotional gut churning “fog of death” alluded to in the film. Perhaps the square of King’s Moon to his Saturn in the death-aware 8th house prompted him to acknowledge how death ominously clouded everything around him. However, Coretta’s Moon conjoined his own, so she could feel that cloud along with him, as well as what she felt on her own. There was also deep understanding between them. Her Jupiter conjoined Martin’s Moon and his Jupiter conjoined her Sun. They were bound to experience and expand the emotional and spiritual horizons of the other. Martin and Coretta may have indeed had their differences, especially with Martin’s documented infidelities and his absenteeism from home for the movement, but the film does demonstrate what the astrology confirms — that there was a closeness between them.


There’s no doubt that Selma was a defining moment in King’s relatively short career as a civil rights activist. The Selma marches happened in the aftermath of King’s third Jupiter return and within a year or so of his Saturn square. I consider the third Jupiter return as “Crossing the Threshold,” much like what happens in most three-act films when the protagonist passes the point of no return. At a point like that, it’s time to summon your courage, because the world is asking you if you have what it takes to honor your Jupiter mission in life. This certainly was true for King.

Inner wheel: Martin Luther King (data above)
Outer wheel: Turnaround Tuesday Selma march
March 9, 1965
2:00 p.m. CST
Selma, Alabama
32°N24’26” 87°W01’16”
Whole sign houses
Martin and Selma march

Not only did King have a Venus return on “Turnaround Tuesday,” but transiting Saturn was on Venus as well. Likewise, transiting Sun was exactly conjoined King’s natal Moon that day as transiting Mars opposed both. King was definitely in the window of an emotional confrontation with someone or something. Fortunately, transiting Jupiter was in his 1st house while transiting Neptune was in a partile trine to his Moon and the day’s transiting Sun. He had the spiritual foresight to do what, in retrospect, was the wise course of action. Perhaps it wasn’t right for participating marchers to have no clue that he wasn’t going to cross the bridge, though. (This seems to be the foggier side of Neptune’s manifestation.)


Now the story of the march on Selma has been dramatically brought to life, thanks to the pairing of producer Oprah Winfrey and breakout director Ava DuVernay. The film premiered November 11, 2014 at 6 p.m. PST in Hollywood, California for the annual American Film Institute festival. It couldn’t have aired at a more poignant time.

Inner wheel: Turnaround Tuesday Selma march (data above)
Outer wheel: Selma premieres at AFI
November 11, 2014
6:00 p.m. PST
Hollywood, CA
34°N05’54” 118°W19’13”
Whole sign houses
Selma march and film premiere

Recently, the country has been embroiled in civil and racial unrest over a string of deathly encounters between African Americans and law enforcement officers. The most notable was the August 9th, 2014 death of unarmed 18 year-old Michael Brown at the hands of Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson.

The premiere chart for “Selma” and the charts for the historical Selma marches that the film dramatizes have many outstanding parallels. I’d like to focus briefly on two. The film premiere’s Sun is conjoined by partile degree to the Selma marches’ Neptune at 19° Scorpio. Likewise, the conjunction of Mars, Uranus, and Pluto at the Selma marches has bloomed into a square between the same three planets for the premiere. Likewise, there was a triple conjunction of Mars, Uranus, and Pluto at the Selma marches, and Uranus is square to a Mars-Pluto conjunction at the premiere, i.e, the same three planets are connected at both events.

Neptune is classically the go-to planet for all things fluid, like film and photography. The “Selma” film’s Sun on the historical Selma marches’ Neptune is pure celestial poetry. Neptune becomes the instrument of illumination (Sun) for a period that has only been partly revealed to the public. However, the public did see quite a bit in Selma in 1965, but only on the bridge on “Bloody Sunday.” Neptune was powerful then because photography and film were strategically used to highlight police violence against the protestors. This is clearly visible in the charts for “Turnaround Tuesday” and “Bloody Sunday.” For those charts, transiting Neptune trines the transiting Sun, sextiles Mars, Uranus, and Pluto, and opposes Jupiter.

Inner wheel: Bloody Sunday event
March 7, 1965
2:00 p.m. CST
Selma, Alabama
32°N24’26” 87°W01’16”
Whole sign houses
Outer wheel: Turnaround Tuesday Selma march (data above)
Bloody Sunday event and Turnaround Tuesday

For the film’s premiere, Mars and Pluto are conjoined in Capricorn — not too far from the salient 9° Capricorn that Frank and I discuss in the Roots article — but square Uranus. The film premiere captures a moment where the cogent intention of the conjunction of these three planets during the 60’s Civil Rights Movement is now at a crisis point. Will the civil rights gains of yesteryear hold? With so much unrest and racial tension in the country, despite electing America’s first Black president, has there been enough progress and change? It seems the stars and “Selma” are asking these questions while pressing us to remember the past. It’s up to us, however, how we’ll shape the future.


(1) See the current issue of TMA (Feb/March 2015): Alex Haley’s Roots: In Black and White and All the Stars Between by Frank C. Clifford and Samuel Reynolds.

(2) Huffington Post

(3) The Daily Beast

(4) For more on how Dr. King’s vision for America evolved, please see his last book, Where do we go from here: chaos or community? King outlines a different program for America that goes beyond racial justice to economic equality and parity. He also touches on the timely topics of the Vietnam War and the “Black Power” movement.


Bio: Samuel F. Reynolds, a former skeptic, had a life-changing visit to an astrologer and has since spent 23 years doing charts and studying astrology. Now Samuel consults, writes and teaches astrology full-time. He currently serves on the boards of directors for the International Society for Astrological Research (ISAR) and the Astrology News Service, and he’s a co-founder of the International Society of Black Astrologers.  He’s also an entrepreneur who helps others build their businesses as mind-body-spirit practitioners. He writes horoscopes for,,  and Pride, a British Black women’s magazine. His home website is

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Saturn’s ingress into Sagittarius….

By Mary Plumb | January 12, 2015

Saturn’s ingress into Sagittarius was on December 23. Except for a three-month dip back into Scorpio (mid June through mid September), we’re in the zone of working with compression and boundaries within mutable fire until December 19, 2017.

When looking at natal charts using whole sign houses, as soon as a planet ingresses into a new sign, it will impact a different house in the horoscope.

I’ve noticed some headlines that speak of the new emphasis on Sagittarius and decided to do a mini-survey of people that I know. (1)

I have three stories of Sagittarius rising birth charts, in which Saturn has moved into their whole sign first house.

I hadn’t talked to one friend in awhile and I asked her if anything in her life circumstances or feelings about her situation had changed recently. She said, with Sag’s typical gusto, that “everything has changed.” She has thought about making a “change in her living arrangements” for years, but in the last week she “feels clear that she needs to do it.” She’s beginning to visualize the move, beginning to set it up and plan it so it will go well. Her Ascendant is 19° Sag, so she has time; she said it will not be “impulsive,” which is her usual style.

Tellingly, she also said that all of her previous moves have been for family or business concerns, but this move is the first time she “is moving for me.” It’s what she feels is right for her being; she is not responding to any external demand. (I know her well and this decisiveness and change in perspective is very noticeable.)

I had a long conversation with another Sagittarius rising friend the other day. I was just listening to her talk about what is going on in her life. (It was this conversation that actually sparked the idea for this blog). She said that “all of a sudden” she was feeling very cramped in her living space, happiness with domestic partner notwithstanding. It’s small, and she actually said that having the fireplace going “all the time” in such a small space is such “dry heat, very uncomfortable.” (Those could be Saturn in Sag’s words: “dry heat, too cramped.”)

Another Sagittarius rising story: This friend is a long-time meditator and healer. He very intimately accompanied a friend through her dying process on December 29 and he told me the story. It was a stormy night. His friend’s breathing was very labored, she was “deeply struggling,” but he was able to sit very close to her head and breathe deeply with her, and she was able to settle into a calm state. My friend invoked his prayers and guides, as he had practiced for years, and was with her for the transition.

He said that he was “ignited” by the experience and it has “changed his life.” He said that “his faith became real; what you work on inside yourself is real,” and that he was a guide for her “without any doubt.” He said that the experience “confirmed to me that the inner worlds are real.”

I’ve had two conversations with Gemini rising individuals, who have had Saturn move into their 7th house. One person (her Ascendant is 1° Gemini) told me that an event in the past week had been quite dramatic — she was able to have a very direct conversation with her partner about something that has been emotionally charged and upsetting for a long time. She relayed that she was able to speak to her partner very clearly, as she said, “just the facts,” without emotion, describing what she observed. She was amazed at how clear she felt and how easily the partner listened. She reported it to me as a very significant breakthrough in their dynamic.

Another (anonymous but dearly loved) person, also with 1° Gemini rising, spoke somewhat similarly. She reported that she felt an “energetic shift” from being in a role of service and necessity in her relationship, to one of wanting a more equal partnership. She also said that a significant conversation occurred with her partner on the very day of Saturn’s ingress. (She is an astrologer, so she may have chosen the time for the conversation a bit more consciously than the first example.)

Here’s another example, perhaps more subtle, as Saturn’s ingress is not connected to an angle: someone with Sag on the 3rd-house cusp told me about going through piles of old files at his desk. In a hidden away file he found a list that he had written “long ago.” It was “five important things to keep in the front of your mind every day.” It sounds like it was Buddhist precepts written in accessible language. He told me how touching it was to find that again and how deeply that guidance was perfect for where he is in life now. He’s placed it right where he can see it easily everyday. (I’m thinking of the 3rd house as information from the immediate environment.)

Someone else has Sag on the 2nd house and within a few days of the ingress, she realized that her income needed boosting and applied for Social Security retirement benefits (a bit early). She took this action decisively, after thinking about it for at least a year. Another person with Sag on the 2nd-house cusp just found out she will be unable to work for quite awhile as she needs a minor surgery; she is going to write a new resume and look for a less physically demanding source of income.

Saturn changing signs is often something we notice. When considering whole sign houses, the focus of our attention changes, from the matters of one house to the next house. It’s in our immediate lives, our connection to time and space, it is tangible and real, or crystallized, as the old books say.

Along with the change in house, we can look at any natal planets in very early Sagittarius as having a current transmission to take us through what might seem to be a melancholy passageway into a teaching that we are ready to hear.

I’d love to hear any of your stories.


(1) I know it’s not a funny subject, but I did think this was a funny headline for Saturn in Sagittarius: “Bad Luck Plays Predominate Role in Cancer.” (The study has been refuted by some since its publication.)
Hopkins Medicine

Also, Pope Francis gave a “withering critique” to Vatican leadership just as Saturn ingressed into Sagittarius. Some of his points (which sound like antidotes for Saturn in Sag):

“Other items on his catalog of 15 illnesses included:
‘Excessive planning,’ not leaving room for spontaneity and surprise.
‘Existential schizophrenia,’ inducing people to ‘hypocrisy’ and a ‘double life.’
‘Excessive ‘melancholy,’ producing a ‘theatrical severity and pessimism’ that the pope said are often ‘symptoms of fear and insecurity.’ Officials should never forget, he said, ‘how much good is done by a healthy sense of humor.’ ”
Boston Globe

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The vigilant present

By Mary Plumb | December 15, 2014

We’re getting ready to call back the Sun at the solstice, which is also the New Moon, right there, at 0°07′ Capricorn. I like the image that the luminaries are in consort, in union, on this auspicious day.

How’s everyone doing?

Last night’s (10:14 p.m. PST) exact square is the sixth in a series of seven passages of the outer-planet aspect that has been keeping us from falling back to sleep.

World events are striking as waves of upheaval and discharge move across the human story. The symbolism of Uranus square Pluto can be seen as pressure on all systems. The current square is the only one in the series to have the Moon on the Aries Point at the time of the partile aspect. The Moon is at 0° Libra, on the ‘World Axis,’ which throws open the door for events to impact the world at large.

If we consider the outer planets in their role as carriers of subtle energy, the current force for shocking upheaval moves through all spheres — subjective and structural, explicit and implicit, well reasoned and deeply unconscious.

How do we respond to pressure?

I heard a local chiropractor/healer give a talk a few days ago on stress. He has a busy practice and lots of patients. He observed that most people have one or two ways of handling stress, like focusing on diet or a particular exercise or a certain friend with whom to talk.

He recommends (I paraphrase) that we go big and go diverse in response to stress; sticking with the familiar will bring some relief, but far better, he said, to have lots of means and methods to stay connected with ourselves and maintain some version of balance. Change it up — take a different route on your walk, go out and be social when you feel like staying in, call someone who is having a harder time than you. This is an interesting idea (from a healer) that, to me, spoke to the energy of Uranus square Pluto. Uranus is in the degree of its station direct on the solstice, so that particularly unnerving planet is very strong at this moment in time.

Like most of us, I find that being in nature is stabilizing. It has been very windy and wet, though not enough to touch the drought conditions here in southern Oregon. I go to a nearby lake for solitary pilgrimages up and down the hills. Someone asked me recently how I could bear to still go out there, it being so barren with hardly any water. He is a climate change activist, and, to him, the nearly empty lake has been a source of anguish and a depressing visual picture of our possible future.

I have had a change of perspective. It is barren and bleak, and, still, I find it beautiful; this is a place where I can be in the sun and wind and air. (Even on the shortest days, the Sun is the source of life; having an even fleeting glimpse of the preciousness of this life is a balm for the soul.)

This simple experience of refining my view, changing perspective, and being with — in this case, the barren and bleak landscape — seemed like a good practice for loosening the sometimes excruciating grip of Uranus square Pluto.

Very early one morning last week, after a long night of howling wind, the power was out. After a moment’s panic at how ill prepared I am for such things — (Where are the candles? How will I stay warm? What will I do without my tea?) — I settled into my chair by the window with my cat and stayed quiet and still in the dark until the Sun came up. It was a beautiful morning after all.

Please have a blessed and inspiring Solstice, and joyous celebrations in whatever faith you hold. We’ll return with a new blog on December 29.

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Travel well, Alice Howell

By Mary Plumb | November 17, 2014

Alice O. Howell was born November 13, 1922 and passed away on October 28, 2014, a few weeks before her 92nd birthday. A pioneer in linking astrology with psychology, Ms. Howell was a writer, poet, astrologer, and Jungian Scholar.

Alice Howell natal chart
November 13, 1922
12:45 p.m.
Cambridge, MA (all charts: Whole sign houses, True node)
Alice Howell, natal

One of her many books, Jungian Symbolism in Astrology (1987), was recently re-published by AFA. In the Introduction she gives details of her biography, some of which she also recounted to Kate Sholly in her extensive interview with Ms. Howell in TMA (12/2009). (1)

Alice Howell traveled extensively with her parents as a child, visiting 37 countries on four continents by the age of 18. During those years, the family never stayed more than three months in one place. She was an avid reader and student of religion and philosophy from childhood. She said: “….from the age of four right up until June 9, 1944, when I was 21, I had been searching and searching for God.” On that day, her father took her to an astrologer to read her horoscope.

She said: “On that day, June 9, 1944, my life totally changed.” The next day she met her spiritual teacher. (And she also began her serious study of astrology in 1944 with Marc Edmund Jones.) (2)

Although her biography has many memorable events, this kind of specific statement about life changing totally in one day — especially with such a long life to contemplate — is rare.

Ms. Howell noted to Kate in the interview that on that day transiting Uranus was square to natal Uranus (she was 21), but I wanted to look more closely.

Bi-wheel: inner: Alice Howell, natal; outer: transits for June 9, 1944
Alice Howell, natal, transits 6.9.44

Indeed, transiting Uranus at 9° Gemini was square to natal Uranus at 9° Pisces. Natal Uranus, however, is part of a mutable t- square with the Moon at 8°53′ Virgo and Venus at 8°10 Sag conjunct the natal Midheaven 8°54′. The Part of Fortune is also there (9°34′ Sag), so the transiting Uranus set off that whole pattern.

Also, on June 9, 1944, transiting Saturn (ruler of an Aquarius ascendant) was at 28° Gemini square the nodal axis at 28° Virgo/Pisces, placing her in the crossroads of her destiny. (3)

In the natal horoscope, Venus at 26S12 declination is out-of-bounds, beyond the path of the Sun, lending it an unbridled and unusual quality. With Taurus on the 4th cusp and Libra on the 9th, the early home life was marked by the exceptional circumstances of extraordinary global travel — seems likely that OOB Venus in Sagittarius had spoken. Placed at the Midheaven, this is also a signature of her reputation, her offering to the world and what was recognized about her.  Venus, the Midheaven, and the Part of Fortune are also on the fixed star Antares, one of the royal stars of Persia. This star is “the heart of the Scorpion” constellation and bodes well for success.

A few of the many highlights in her life were her marvelously accomplished professional life, extensive travels (13 more countries with her husband!), and the births of four children with her first husband. They divorced after a long marriage and she wed her “soulmate” in 1980, with whom she had “18 years of happiness.” (4)

She was widowed in 1998, and although she suffered a stroke in 1999, she kept in contact with her many students until very recently.

The solar return prior to her death has the Ascendant at 27°38′ Pisces, on the natal South Node (28°Pisces). The Moon (ruler of natal 6th house of illness) is also there, at 23° Pisces).
Alice Howell
solar return
November 13, 2013
Monterey, MA

Alice Howell, solar return 2013

The North Node in the solar return was 7°44′ Scorpio conjunct the natal 8th-house ruler, Mercury, at 7°26′ Scorpio.

At her death, transiting Mercury, the natal 8th-house ruler, was at 17° Libra, the midpoint of natal and progressed Saturn (1st-house ruler) at 15°-19° Libra.

Here is a 28-minute video of TMA‘s Ray Grasse interviewing the charming Ms. Howell in 1991 at the Theosophical Society. In this video, “Alice combines her extensive knowledge of astrology with the insights of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, reclaiming its importance as a key toward understanding ourselves and the world.”

Alice authored a very wonderful blog, Credo, starting in 2008, where she wrote regularly on a variety of subjects — Understanding, Injustice, Self-worth, etc. There are at least 150 pearls of her wisdom on this site. Here’s the link.

By all accounts, she was a dearly loved woman. RIP, Alice Howell.


(1) The quotes herein are from Kate’s interview, which also has a synopsis of Alice Howell’s many books. If you don’t have it already, you can order the issue here.

(2) Astrodatabank

(3) Also, on the day that her life “changed completely,” solar arc Saturn (again, ruler of her 1st house, the physical body) had come to 7°13′ Scorpio conjunct natal Mercury at 7°26′ Scorpio. Natal Mercury is dispositor of the Virgo Moon, which rules the 6th house of service. Natal Mercury is conjoined with Jupiter, a signature of an important personal connection to a teacher.

(4) Legacy Obituaries

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RIP Joan Quigley

By Kate Plumb | October 27, 2014

This is the season of Scorpio, and as we all know, Scorpio is known for secrets. The season is also known for acknowledging the departed. Joan Quigley, who died last week at age 87 in her home in San Francisco, is a perfect example of a Scorpio-themed life.

Her obituary in the New York Times on Saturday takes up six columns, one-third of the page. (1) As astrologers we should all be so lucky, when we pass, to have that kind of recognition.  Recognition was denied her throughout her remarkable life. She was the Ronald Reagan administration’s “most closely guarded secret,” according to Donald T. Regan’s 1988 memoir. (2)  (Donald Regan was Reagan’s chief of staff.)

Don Regan wrote that the relationship officially began after the assassination attempt on President Reagan’s life when Mrs. Reagan asked Ms. Quigley if she could have predicted the incident.  Quigley said “yes” and was put on a monthly retainer. After Mr. Regan’s memoir was published and the world knew that an astrologer was helping the Reagan administration, Mrs. Reagan never spoke to Ms. Quigley again.

At the time he wrote the book, even Regan did not know her name. All he knew was that there was a woman in San Francisco who “drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in favorable alignment for the enterprise.” According to Regan, “an astrologer had set the time for summit meetings, presidential debates, Reagan’s 1985 cancer surgery, State of the Union addresses, and much more. Without an okay from the astrologer, he said, Air Force One did not take off.

In 1990 Ms. Quigley wrote her own memoir, What does Joan Say?, a reference to what Quigley said the President continually asked his wife.

In 1989, after Reagan left office, Miss Quigley (she never married) gave an interview with CBS Evening News. She said that “after reading the horoscope of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, she concluded that he was intelligent and open to new ideas, and persuaded Mrs. Reagan to press her husband to abandon his view of the Soviet Union as an ‘evil empire.'” As the Times obituary continues, “Arms control treaties followed.”

It is well known that Mrs. Reagan herself played down Ms. Quigley’s influence in her subsequent memoir, My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan (1989). Humorist Molly Ivins wrote: “There the poor woman was, sitting in San Francisco with full accountability for world peace, and none of us even knew her name.”

Joan Quigley grew up as a socialite in San Francisco and graduated from Vassar with a degree in art history. Like her mother, she was curious about astrology, but prepared her charts in secret, as her father disapproved.

A Republican, she had worked on Reagan’s campaign for governor of California in 1966. Reagan delayed his inauguration as governor for nine minutes as a result of Ms. Quigley’s astrological advice. (Where are these politicians and political operatives today when we need them?)  She volunteered to work on Reagan’s presidential campaign in 1980 because “she was dazzled by his stars.” She told the Washington Post in 1988, “He had the most brilliant horoscope I’d seen in this country in this century.”

The obituary in the Times has a birth time (which I have never seen before), acknowledging, “exact birth times [are] critical to accurate astrological readings.” Her natal chart in whole sign houses is below, followed by the natal chart in Porphyry houses.  (It would be interesting to compare her chart with Reagan’s.)

Joan Quigley
April 10, 1927
4:17 p.m.
Kansas City, MO
39°N06′ 94°W34′

Joan Quigley, whole sign houses, natal

Joan Quigley, Porphyry houses, natal

When looking at her chart, what is most striking is Uranus at 0°Aries — on the Aries point, or World Axis — square the nodal axis at 0° Cancer/Capricorn. No wonder her astrological life was there for the entire world to see (especially if all those who knew about her work admitted it). Using whole sign houses, her Moon in Leo is in the 12th — she was a famous secret. Her Sun, at 20°02′ Aries, is in the 8th house, very close to the Sun’s exaltation degree (19°), which stands as a testimony to her pioneering status. Also of interest: In an informal study, my sister and I have observed that in the Porphyry house system, the natal 8th-house cusp is frequently triggered at the time of death. In this case, the Porphyry 8th-house cusp is 19°43′ Aries. Ms. Quigley’s progressed Moon at her death (October 21st) is 18°59′ Libra, fast approaching her natal Sun conjunct the Porphyry cusp, bringing her fame and recognition after death.


(1) All quotes are from the NY Times obituary.

(2) Donald Regan, For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington, Harcourt Trade Publishers, 1988.

Bio: Kate Plumb, “cycles scientist,” is a certified NCGR counseling astrologer who teaches monthly at Joshua’s Place in Southampton and sees clients in her home office. She is also certified in Astro*Carto*Graphy. Website: Kate can be reached at or (631) 725-9133.

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Nelson Mandela – Voice of Africa

By Milos Tomic | October 6, 2014

Nelson Mandela Rolihlala (July 18, 1918 — May 12, 2013) is the South African politician, revolutionary leader, and statesman whose efforts ended the regime of apartheid in South Africa.

The son of a Xhosa chief and a student, he joined the 1942 African National Congress (ANC), an organization that fights for the rights of the majority black population in South Africa. He later became one of the main organizers of the initially non-violent struggle against apartheid. Once these measures had not yielded results, Mandela became convinced that only armed struggle would bring down apartheid. He organized the military wing of the ANC and began a campaign of sabotage. But before long Mandela and his comrades were arrested and later sentenced to life in prison.

While he was isolated and marginalized with a long prison sentence, he became a symbol of the struggle against apartheid, and the South African government was under pressure to release him. In 1990, he was released and, with South African President F.W. De Klerk, began negotiations toward a peaceful termination of apartheid and the transfer of power to the black majority. For these efforts, Mandela and De Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

In 1994, the ANC won the elections and Mandela was named the first black president of South Africa; he remained president until 1999. Although his term was marked by a dramatic increase in the crime rate and the HIV epidemic, many praised his policy of national reconciliation and fidelity to democratic institutions.

After leaving government he was dedicated to humanitarian work and became one of the most popular and most recognizable icons of the modern world. Many regarded Mandela as one of the few universal moral authorities in the world.

Nelson Mandela was born in the sign of Cancer with the Ascendant in Sagittarius and Moon in Scorpio. (1) His Ascendant falls at 23°40′ Sagittarius; at the time of his birth the Galactic center was at 25° Sagittarius. (The Galactic center is now at approximately 26°30′ as it moves as the fixed stars, 1° every 72 years.) The Ascendant at the GC suggests a spiritual and socially conscious person, a scholar, someone who became famous for his knowledge, work, and dedication.

His Ascendant ruler is Jupiter in Cancer, the sign of its exaltation, in the 7th house, which represents the public, crowds, and public speeches. Mandela’s life was indeed very significant — the whole world was interested in following his case and his struggle. The 7th house also rules the field of law and justice. Mandela  finished law school and spent his entire life fighting for the rights of  the black people in Africa — Pluto (black) conjuncts Jupiter.

We can find something about his origins if we take a closer look at the position of the Moon in his natal chart. The Moon is in detriment — Scorpio in the 12th house. His ancestors were tortured, oppressed, and imprisoned by the white minority. This difficult Moon in Scorpio in the 12th house also shows Mandela’s detention, mental anguish, and constant struggle.

The Moon has a mutual reception by sign with the ruler of the 12th house, Pluto in Cancer, which conjuncts the ruler of the Ascendant, Jupiter, and “points at” the Sun in the 8th house (also the 8th sign from the Ascendant). (2)

We clearly see the captivity (12th house represents prisons) and the torture (Pluto) of Mandela’s soul (Moon) and body (Jupiter).

We can examine one’s origins by considering the 4th house, i.e., the motherland, family, the people one comes from. The 4th-house cusp in Mandela’s chart falls in the sign of Pisces. The 1st-house ruler, as mentioned, is Jupiter conjoining Pluto, and the co-ruler is Neptune, pointing at Saturn (confinement) in Leo (by the government). Neptune in Leo as the ruler of the 4th house indicates its royal roots (his father was a chief), but Neptune points at Saturn, which limits the power of his family.

After the long imprisonment, Mandela was set free on November 2, 1990, in his 72nd year. Transiting Jupiter was conjunct Mandela’s natal Jupiter and transiting Pluto was 3° away from his natal Moon position. The exact conjunction of Pluto and Moon brought a new massacre of the Negro people, prompting Mandela to toughen the fight and bring people to the streets.

Moving Mandela’s natal Mars 1° for each year of life, Mars conjoined his Ascendant in his 72nd year. This undoubtedly gave Mandela a good pat on the back, liberation, and increased desire to fight without surrender, until achieving the final goal — the downfall of apartheid.

During his lifetime, Mandela became very popular, and that popularity remains today, even after his death. He has won many prestigious awards and honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize. Glory and honor and the high point of one’s life will be presented by the 10th house, the 10th sign from the Ascendant, and their rulers.

Mandela’s Mercury is in Leo (the natural symbol of glory) in conjunction with Saturn in the 9th house. He was the first (Leo in its leadership function) black (Saturn) President (Mercury ruler of 10th house — Head of State).He was also a great orator (Mercury) and an ascetic and martyr (Saturn in exile). He is someone I will remember (Saturn) because of his profound statements (Mercury). The previously mentioned mutual reception between Pluto and Moon explains his enormous influence (Pluto) on the masses (Moon).

The conjunction of Mercury and Saturn also speaks about the prohibition (Saturn) of distant (9th house) travel (Mercury). The state limited his freedom of movement and confiscated his passport. We can see this picture through the almost exact quincunx between Sun, the ruler of the 9th house, and retrograde Uranus (the restriction of freedom), ruler of the 3rd house (travel).

The 3rd house is also related to a person’s way of thinking, and Uranus in Aquarius in the 3rd house speaks of a humanitarian and human rights supporter. When we think of his long fight for freedom, we must take into consideration the influence of Mars as well. Mars is in Libra, a sign that doesn’t throw away energy and does not fight physically; this Mars takes legal actions against the enemies. It is in the 11th house, which describes Mandela’s fight for human rights through organizing a revolution.

Mandela passed away in his 95th year. Indicators of long life include the trine between Sun and Moon, and a strong sign and position of the ruler of the Ascendant, Jupiter, which is exalted in Cancer and conjuncts the Descendant. The first planet after the Sun goes down on the day of birth is called Auriga, or “companion of life,” and it is always somehow related to the moment of death. In this case, Auriga is Saturn. (In this method, we don’t count planets beyond Saturn because they are not visible to the naked eye in the night sky, so they do not have the same impact.)

At the age of 95, Mandela’s natal Saturn came to his Moon in Scorpio (by solar arc, moving 1° for one year of life). The Moon rules his 8th house (death) and has rulership over Jupiter, the dispositor of the Ascendant and 4th-house cusp (the grave, the beginning and end of all things). Transiting Jupiter and Saturn support this story — Saturn was transiting in the sign of Scorpio and Jupiter was near the 8th-house cusp. 

Mandela was divorced twice, but his third wife stayed with him until his death. We see that his 7th-house cusp is Gemini, which suggests the possibility of multiple marriages. The ruler, Mercury, points at Mars in Libra (the sign of marriage), which is in the sign of its detriment.

He was the father of five children; the ruler of his 5th-house cusp is Mars in Libra and it points at Moon in Scorpio. Despite the poor dignities of both planets, Scorpio is a prolific sign and his Moon was in good mutual reception with Pluto in Cancer. 

Although he had a large family, it is certain that the many timeless statements of Nelson Mandela will be remembered and quoted not only by them, but by many others in the upcoming decades. His character and work will not be forgotten.

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.”


(1) Nelson Mandela; July 18, 1918; 2:54 p.m. EET; Mvezo, South Africa (31°S35′ 28°E47′). DD data.
Editor’s note: The data for Nelson Mandela is rated DD: “Two or more conflicting quotes that are unqualified.”
Source notes from astro-databank: “Frances McEvoy reported that her son and daughter-in-law spent a summer in South Africa with the Kennedy Foundation as lawyers. During an afternoon in the entourage of Mandela, they asked his birth time and were told ‘afternoon.’ Noel Tyl wrote in May/1994 that he rectified the afternoon time with extremely taxing detail to 2:54 PM, then shared his documentation with Rod Suskin, a well-known South African astrologer who responded with “a veritable catalogue of reinforcement for the time.”

(2) This is a technique used in the ‘JovanaL27’ Belgrade school of astrology. For additional information about one of the houses, we examine that house’s ruler, and the next planet in anticlockwise direction, i.e., the planet being “pointed at.”

Miloš Tomic is a young (age 20), aspiring astrologer from the small town of Gradiška in Bosnia & Herzegovina. He’s been practicing astrology for five years. He did his first paid consultation at the age of 15 and he holds a Diploma from the Belgrade school of astrology, ‘JovanaL27’, where he works as a teaching assistant. Miloš is especially interested in horary astrology and astro-profiling, and he researches the influence of fixed stars in natal and horary charts. His articles have been featured in several astrology magazines and websites in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Croatia. You can reach Miloš at, or you can check out his blog, Wisdom Of Stars. (The blog texts are written in English and Serbian.)

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Mars square Neptune

By Mary Plumb | September 22, 2014

Mars has been applying to square Neptune for the past few weeks. The aspect was partile last night, September 21, at 8:38 pm PT, with Mars at 5° Sag, Neptune at 5° Pisces, (and the Moon at 5° Virgo).

I’m sure there will be some wonderful commentators on the massive turnout for the People’s Climate March — 300,000+ in N.Y. alone, and around the world. Thank you to everyone who joined the global effort. (1)

I’ve been looking at another story that is unfolding before our eyes: the U.S. entering into (yet) another war. The U.S. Sibly chart has Mars square Neptune.

To recap a bit: Neptune is in the 9th house of the Sibly chart at 22° Virgo. In a national horoscope, the 9th is the domain relating to treaties, international affairs, the legal system, and those who practice the law. The 9th also describes one’s ethical or moral stance.

The U.S. inherently may have confused ideas or unclear objectives about its moral and ethical stance.

The obfuscating Neptune is made more sensitive, agitated, and volatile by a square from Mars at 21° Gemini. I once wrote that this aspect might show the “possible co-option or corruption of religious beliefs or a principled ethical stance (Neptune in the 9th) for aggressive aims (Mars).”

Neptune is also connected to media and photography, and the 9th house is publishing and far-reaching ideas. We have had many examples of the potent impact of imagery (remember the photos from Abu Ghraib of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners?), and the horrific recent videos of U.S. and British citizens being decapitated by ISIS have been powerfully influential in swaying public opinion towards bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (Another Mars-Neptune headline today read: “Americans Support Bombing ISIS Although They Don’t Think It Will Work.”)

I listened to some media coverage on Saturday and the sound of Mars-Neptune was everywhere — i.e., the president is “haphazardly seeking legal justification and legal loopholes;” trying to “slip through the existing legal definitions” to justify bombing ISIS in Syria; he is seeking authorization from Congress “who themselves do not understand the situation.”

There seems to be agreement, as of now, that there is no international legal justification for bombing ISIS in Syria. (2) The president’s natal Mars is at 22° Virgo, precisely on the U.S. Neptune.

Speaking of Neptune’s potential for obscuration: It was in George W. Bush’s (first) post-911 State of the Union address — given on January 29, 2002 — that we first heard the indelible phrase “the axis of evil.” At that time, the Sun and Neptune were conjunct at 9° Aquarius; the essence of the day was marked by Neptune’s many possibilities, e.g., delusion, projection, naiveté, idealism, denial, deception, etc.

There was a mighty worldwide effort by peacemakers to stop the war on February 15, 2003 (with transiting Jupiter at 11° Leo opposite Neptune at 11° Aquarius). (3)

Bush gave a speech alerting Americans to the impending invasion on March 17, 2003 (with the transiting Saturn/Mars midpoint on 0° Aries).

A few days later, on March 20, 2003 at 5:35 a.m., the U.S. began bombing Baghdad. The Sun was at 29° Pisces, a poor omen for a successful outcome. Transiting Saturn was at 22° Gemini, conjunct the Sibly Mars and square to Neptune.

Patrick Cockburn writes: “For America, Britain, and the Western powers, the rise of Isis and the Caliphate is the ultimate disaster. Whatever they intended by their invasion of Iraq in 2003 and their efforts to get rid of Assad in Syria since 2011, it was not to see the creation of a jihadi state spanning northern Iraq and Syria run by a movement a hundred times bigger and much better organised than the al-Qaida of Osama bin Laden. The war on terror for which civil liberties have been curtailed and hundreds of billions of dollars spent has failed miserably.” (4)

Okay, on to some other ideas for activating Mars-Neptune. (Easy for me to say, I guess, as I have them conjunct in the natal 12th house.) I did yoga today; took a walk by the (very dry) lake, and maybe will have a glass of good wine with dinner. And, I remember the words of someone very important in my life (who has Sun, Mars, Neptune conjunct in the natal) who sincerely — and often — said: “Heaven help us all.”

(1) A thought on the huge turnout: Mars signifies action, with Neptune — individual action for a unifying cause.

(2) The Daily Beast
(3) The Day the world Said no to war YouTube
Protests against the Iraq War Wikipedia
(4) ISIS consolidates London Review of Books
We anti-war protesters were right:the Iraq invasion has lead to bloody chaos The Guardian

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 The Fallen Madonna: Story of Zosma

By Milos Tomic | September 15, 2014

{Editor’s note:Transiting Venus is now at 12° Virgo and has just crossed the fixed star Zosma. Serbian astrologer Miloš Tomic sent this article with his research into the influence of Zosma in the natal chart. The birth data for all the people mentioned in the article can be found in the footnotes.}
Zosma, also known as Dhur (“the Lion’s back”), Wadha (“the wise”), or its astronomical name, Delta Leonis, is a star of the constellation Leo. (1) As the fixed stars move at the speed of 1° every 72 years, Zosma currently is at 11°20’ Virgo.
Vivian E. Robson wrote that this star has an impact similar to the combined influences of Venus and Saturn, bringing shame and public lynching followed by some gain or benefit. As this star is located on the back of the constellation Leo, it is connected with the mythical Heracles because, according to Greek mythology, he jumped on the Nemean lion from the back and killed him by breaking its neck. (2) Hera, who had given Heracles twelve almost impossible tasks, was chagrined at this act and placed the Nemean lion in Heaven to spite Heracles. In addition, Zosma is associated with those who willingly enter into a dangerous situation; they are willing to make sacrifices or to be a victim. It is often emphasized in charts of people who are seriously concerned with faith, which leads to Zosma’s connection with the Virgin Mary (Madonna).
However, just as every coin has two sides, a Madonna may fall and become a sinner. In the horoscope, if Zosma is conjunct a malefic planet or with a severely afflicted planet, the person may be self-centered, spiteful, immoral and deviant, or rude and full of hatred for him/herself and others. Mile Dupor, a Yugoslavian astrologer from the mid 20th century, states in his book, Influence of the Fixed Stars, that if an afflicted light (i.e., the Sun or Moon in a bad position) conjuncts Zosma, those individuals are unfortunate, both within themselves and for others. (3) Zosma can give a melancholic nature, a depressive state of mind, fear of life, and fear of death, particularly from poisoning. A planet without dignity on Zosma can bring isolation and/or mental illness.
We can say that Zosma carries a whiff of Uranus, because of its prominence in the charts of people who destroy the established systems and taboos, who question religious systems, or who openly show their eccentricity. Their work or personality may shock the world.
The queen of pop music, the legendary Madonna, has the Ascendant and the Moon conjunct Zosma. (4) Her artistic name, her eccentric performances (which often include religious motives), her open practice of Kabbalah, all point to the strong influence of Zosma in her natal chart.
John Travolta also has a Moon conjunct Zosma, and Tom Cruise has Zosma conjunct the Sun/Neptune midpoint; both are well known as major supporters of the Church of Scientology. (5) (6)
Zosma is associated with homosexuality. Freddie Mercury had Zosma conjunct his Sun and George Michael has Mars and Pluto conjunct Zosma. (7) (8) Elton John has Zosma conjunct the Neptune/Pluto midpoint, as well as on the more significant midpoint of the Ascendant and the North Node (Asc/NN). John Travolta reportedly had an affair with his masseur, which caused a scandal (another sign of the impact of Zosma in his chart).
The star Zosma, as well as the sign of Virgo, causes problems with the digestive system, especially the small intestine. American singer Cass Elliot had Zosma conjunct her Moon; she suffered from a stomach ulcer and her weight often fluctuated. (9)
Austrian Archduke Maximilian I of Habsburg had Saturn conjunct Zosma. (10) He renounced his Austrian crown and sailed off to Mexico, where he was invited to become the emperor. This hints at the Uranian influence of Zosma, i.e., demolition of established systems of governance, such as the law of succession. Eventually Maximilian I lost power in Mexico and was executed. After the execution, his wife, Charlotte, suffered a nervous breakdown and spent the rest of her life in isolation at the court of her brother, Leopold II. (11) In Maximilian’s chart, Saturn is the ruler of the Descendant, which represents spouses, as well as other significant people in one’s life. Saturn conjunct Zosma manifested as his wife having a nervous breakdown. Charlotte also had the Moon in Virgo; her birth time is unknown, so we cannot be certain that the Moon was conjunct Zosma in her nativity.
For contemporary examples, we can look at the natal charts of Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, whose roles in the movie “The Reader” correspond to the symbolism of Zosma. The character played by Winslet is the former head of a women’s concentration camp during World War II, who is brought to trial after the war. (12) She allows the court to blame her, convicting her for the deaths of 300 Jewish women in the camp. By doing so, she hides her greatest flaw — the fact that she is illiterate. The natal chart of Kate Winslet shows Zosma conjunct the Mercury/Saturn midpoint — Mercury (writing, reading) and Saturn (restriction, illiteracy). The character played by Ralph Fiennes selflessly records audiobooks that he regularly sends to jail, and Winslet’s character eventually learns to read and write. In Fiennes’ natal chart, Zosma is surrounded by Uranus (5° Virgo) and Pluto  (12° Virgo), which are both generational markers, but Zosma becomes more important in his chart because Pluto in Virgo disposes Venus and Neptune in Scorpio. (13) Another consideration is that as the time of birth is unknown, Zosma might have been triggered by the Ascendant, MC, or some other significant point.
These are just a few examples of Zosma’s influence. Basically, it symbolizes a victim, and in order to judge if one will achieve the redemption of sins, or will become a victim of one’s own actions, we must look to an overall impression of the chart and the interaction of Zosma with other elements of one’s horoscope.
 Footnotes and References:
(1) For more on the star Zosma.

(2) Heracles is the Greek name for the divine hero who became Hercules to the Romans. Wikipedia.

(3) Mile Dupor wrote 20 astrology books, none of which have been translated into English.

(4) Madonna: August 16, 1958; 7:05 a.m.; Bay City, Michigan, Rodden DD

(5) John Travolta: February 18, 1954; 2:53 p.m.; Englewood, NJ, Rodden AA

(6) Tom Cruise: July 3, 1962; 3:06 p.m.; Syracuse, NY, Rodden X

(7) Freddie Mercury: September 5, 1946; 5:10 a.m.; Zanzibar, Tanzania, Rodden X

(8) George Michael: June 25, 1963; 6:00 a.m.; Finchley, UK, Rodden A

(9) Cass Elliot: September 19, 1941; 9:00 p.m.; Baltimore, Maryland, Rodden A

(10) Austrian Archduke Maximilian I of Habsburg: July 6, 1832; 4:00 a.m.; Vienna, Austria, Rodden AA

(11) Charlotte of Belgium: June 7, 1840; birth time unknown, Brussels, Belgium (Wikipedia)

(12) Kate Winslet: October 5, 1975; 7:15 a.m.; Reading, UK (data from AstroTheme)

(13) Ralph Fiennes: December 22, 1962: birth time unknown, Suffolk, UK (Wikipedia)
Miloš Tomic is a young (age 20), aspiring astrologer from the small town of Gradiška in Bosnia & Herzegovina. He’s been practicing astrology for five years. He did his first paid consultation at the age of 15 and he holds a Diploma from the Belgrade school of astrology, ‘JovanaL27’, where he works as a teaching assistant. Miloš is especially interested in horary astrology and astro-profiling, and he researches the influence of fixed stars in natal and horary charts. His articles have been featured in several astrology magazines and websites in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Croatia. You can reach Miloš at, or you can check out his blog, Wisdom Of Stars. (The blog texts are written in English and Serbian.)

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Robin WiIliams: Laughter Through Tears

By Alex Miller | August 18, 2014

On Monday August 11, 2014, the world was shocked and sorrowed to hear of the death of legendary comedian and actor Robin Williams. Williams’ personal assistant found him hanging from his bedroom closet door shortly before noon.

The breadth of Williams’ talent is hard to describe. A frenetic, super-charged, stand-up performer, his ability to ad-lib was unequaled. In 1992 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ nomination committee refused to submit Disney’s animated film Aladdin for an Oscar (best-adapted screenplay) on the grounds that Williams, who voiced the genie, had ad-libbed so much that a large portion of the movie was essentially unscripted. In one brief extemporaneous speech, analysts chronicled more than 50 distinct characters, accents, and impressions in under two minutes, all done off the cuff. Williams’ comedy styling also graced such live action hits as Hook (1991), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), and The Birdcage (1996).  

But it wasn’t just his comedic performances that drew audiences. The poignancy of his dramatic roles in such films as Dead Poets Society (1989), The Fisher King (1991), and Good Will Hunting (1997), for which he won a best supporting actor Oscar, established Williams as a serious actor. In total, the global box office take from his 80 films is in excess of $6 billion.

But, as is often the case with genius, there was a downside as well. Williams struggled with addiction all his life, and like any good artist, he used this pain in his work, regularly riffing on the life-altering effects of his substance abuse in stand-up routines. Depression was another frequently encountered demon, and in the end, it claimed his life. Some days after his death, his wife Susan Schneider revealed that Williams had recently received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, which he was grappling with but had not yet made public.

Born at 1:34 p.m. CST on July 21, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois, Robin Williams’ birth chart reflects a life torn between comedy and tragedy. (1) His 28° Cancer Sun exactly conjoins a black hole, the source of the seemingly boundless energy animating his performances on stage and screen, but exacting the price of a private life saddled with addiction and two failed marriages. The black hole granted that chameleon-like ability to slip into any guise or character at whim, effortlessly and convincingly, but it also denoted a self-absorption that was crippling to the interpersonal relationships so critical to recovery from habitual substance abuse.

Mercury is the star of the chart; at 22° Leo it exactly conjoins the Midheaven, the point of highest elevation and the focus of all eyes. And indeed, it was Williams’ matchless vocal skills that drove his career (with Mercury just minutes into the 10th house). Slipping seamlessly from one persona to the next, Williams riffed off the male and female characters that seemed to explode from his mind with Gatling gun swiftness and force. A master of accents, he could be an old Yiddish grandpa one moment and an LA Valley Girl the next, with Russian, Indian, Brazilian, and Chinese characters in between. Mercury conjoins Pluto at 18° Leo, allowing Williams to manipulate the rich verbal skills he inherited, and empowering his career path in the process. But Mercury-Pluto carries its own demons, and can open the native to a dark and threatening underworld, depressing and bleak.

Williams’ big break came in a guest appearance as Mork the alien in a Happy Days episode in February 1978. The character was so wildly popular with fans that ABC added a spin-off, Mork and Mindy, to its fall line-up. The show ran four seasons, at the end of which Williams was an established film star.

But his early film roles garnered little critical acclaim, causing Williams to doubt his talent, and his retreat into drug and alcohol use began, reflected by the 12th-house placement of Neptune at 16° Libra. His cocaine addiction went largely undetected by him until the overdose death of friend and party companion John Belushi, in 1982. Williams described this event as “a wake-up call,” prompting his first visit to rehab. Neptunian overindulgence is foreshadowed by its opposition to expansive Jupiter at 13° Aries, which magnifies whatever it touches. The Jupiter-Neptune opposition becomes a t-square when we factor in a Mars-Uranus conjunction at 11° and 10° Cancer, making this a formative agent of his character. With his fame (Jupiter) based in an energetic, almost violent (Mars) quirkiness (Uranus), Williams was thrown back on his heels by a lack of faith (Neptune) and the need to escape when reality became too real (Neptune).  

A variety of mythic and personal-named asteroids flesh out the portrait. The pull toward intoxicants is shown clearly with two conjunctions to the 10° Virgo Venus, the thing we are attracted to, from Panacea (named for the Greek goddess of medicines and thus ruling all types of pharmaceuticals, legal or otherwise) at 3° Virgo, and Bacchus (named for the Roman god of wine and revels) at 13° Virgo. Additionally, the pairing of Dionysus (Greek god of wine and ecstatic trance) and Nemesis (undoing) at 29° and 24° Leo in the 10th house shows clearly the weak spot in his work life and the ding to his reputation from substance abuse.

Robin Williams is the first celebrity I have profiled who has an asteroid actually named for him — asteroid Robinwilliams (#12820). Astoundingly, although not discovered until 1996, when Williams was 45, this teeny bit of space debris falls at 11° Scorpio, just one degree from his natal 12° Scorpio Ascendant, the point where we present ourselves to the world. This example alone should be sufficient to testify to the power and impact these points have in our lives when they strongly resonate with us.

But the personal-named asteroids (PNA) story doesn’t end there. An asteroid named Robyn and another named Williams appear together, at 9° and 6° Leo, in the company of two mythic-named asteroids very key to his life path — Thalia and Melpomene, at 13° and 10° Leo, respectively. Individuals having both first and last name PNA referents conjunct in the birth chart tend toward very focused, directed, and driven lives, for good or ill; it represents an augmentation of energies where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Thalia is named for the muse of comedy and is itself exactly conjunct asteroid Circe, the enchantress. Williams certainly bewitched us all with his comedic turns, but Melpomene (named for the muse of tragedy) reflects his dramatic abilities, the darker path taken in his private life, and his tragic end.

Speaking of which, self-destruction is hinted at in several “suicide” asteroid placements in this birth chart: Ajax, Antigone, Arachne, and Phaedra, all classic Greek characters who killed themselves, and Ophelia, from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who drowned herself in an excess of despair and insanity. Ajax at 10° Cancer falls exactly on the Mars-Uranus conjunction, further activating the Neptune-based t-square, while Ophelia at 15° Capricorn opposes Ajax, filling in the empty leg of that grand cross.  

Arachne at 26° Gemini is sextile the Sun and forms a t-square with the Saturn bundle and natal Chiron at 27° Sagittarius, a point which represents deep wounds that may never heal. This grouping also involves the Galactic Center at 26° Sagittarius, which grants global attention or notice. In this case, the contact proved powerful for Williams’ career (Saturn), but also for his death (Atropos), with his suicide (Antigone/Arachne) garnering immediate international attention. Phaedra conjoins Arachne from 21° Gemini, feeding into the same pattern and drawing the Antigone/Atropos element more strongly into it. Perhaps significantly, the method of suicide chosen by each of these Greek heroines was hanging.

Williams’ PNA contacts follow him throughout his life and career. His breakout performance in the Happy Days episode, “My Favorite Orkan,” aired on February 28, 1978, with the Sun at 9° Pisces exactly on his natal Moon — Williams was ready to shine (Sun) and the public (Moon) took notice and embraced him. Jupiter at 26° Gemini trined transit asteroid Robyn at 23° Aquarius and squared natal Saturn at 27° Virgo, providing a personal link (Robyn) to the expansion (Jupiter) of career (Saturn) the role would provide him. Transit asteroid Williams at 17° Libra was traveling with Pluto at 16° Libra, showcasing the huge transformation and empowerment that was to ensue (these conjoin natal Neptune, ruling TV). The Pluto conjunction is exact, showing the transformative agent the small screen would be for him. Transit Robinwilliams at 21° Pisces paired with Venus at 18°, indicating his immense popular appeal.

That strong Venus and Pluto emphasis holds for Mork and Mindy’s premiere on September 14, 1978, with asteroid Williams now in Venus’ tight embrace, from 5° and 6° Scorpio, aligning with Williams’ natal Ascendant. Transit asteroid Robyn at 19° Aries had recently conjoined his natal Jupiter at 13° Aries and opposed transit Pluto at 15° Libra, repeating the theme of transformation and empowerment. Transit Robinwilliams at 26° Taurus was trine the 21° Virgo Sun.

The winner of two Emmys, five Grammys, four Golden Globes, and two SAG awards, Williams was nominated for an Academy Award four times, winning Best Supporting Actor in 1998 for Good Will Hunting. When the awards were presented on March 23rd, transit Robinwilliams at 28° Pisces aligned with the 2° Aries Sun, marking him as central to the proceedings, and fell in an exact trine to his natal Sun, a karmic benefit long overdue. 

Married three times, all his wives appear in PNA form at appropriate points. First wife Valerie Velardi, whom he met while working as a bartender before finding fame, is represented by asteroid Valeria, which at 4° Capricorn opposes Mars at 10° Capricorn, suggesting a strong sexual attraction but some friction in the relationship as well; they have one son, Zachary, and divorced in 1988 after ten years of marriage. Within the year he had married Marsha Garces, his son’s nanny, already pregnant. Asteroid Marcia (phonetic match for Marsha) appears at 11° Scorpio, exactly conjunct natal Robinwilliams and on the Ascendant, suggesting a match of propinquity (the exact PNA conjunction), and a need to regularize their relationship in front of others (the Ascendant contact). They had two children, Zelda and Cody, and divorced in 2008 (the longevity of this match also reflects the Ascendant conjunction — she was the “public face” of his private life for two decades). Williams married graphic designer Susan Schneider in 2011; represented by asteroid Susanna, this point’s 6° Virgo conjunction with Venus at 10° Virgo suggests a love match at last.

When Williams died on August 11th, the transit Sun at 18° Leo had come to exactly conjoin natal Pluto.   Mercury at 21° Leo had crested his natal Midheaven and was about to return to its natal degree, culminating its final cycle for the man whose voice captivated millions across the globe. A combination of Jupiter, Requiem (named for the funeral mass for the dead), and Panacea at 5°, 6°, and 7° Leo straddles the natal Robyn/Williams conjunction and tells the guts of the story — a celebrity (Jupiter) death (Requiem) with drug use implications (Panacea — Williams had entered rehab again just weeks before his death, to “focus” on sobriety).

Transit Pluto, ruling suicide, at 11° Capricorn had been stressing the Mars-Uranus-Ajax combination all year, and now exactly opposed Mars. Transit Ajax at 23° Virgo was conjoined natal Antigone-Atropos and approaching Saturn, following close behind transit Atropos at 29° Virgo, which had recently made its natal return and passed over the triple conjunction. Transit Antigone at 15° Virgo was also nearing her return to her natal degree, while transit Ophelia at 15° Taurus conjoined the Descendant and opposed natal Robinwilliams.

A sad end to one of the most unique and irreplaceable performers the world has ever seen.  

(1) Birth data obtained from Lois Rodden’s AstroDataBank, rated AA.

Bio: Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of “The Galactic Calendar,” and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society. His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. His work with deep space points and asteroids appears monthly at DayKeeper Journal. Alex can be reached for comment or services at

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Some thoughts on the Jupiter Cycle

By Anne Whitaker | August 11, 2014

Optimistic, expansive, and meaning-seeking Jupiter is now in the sign of Leo, where it will remain until August 11, 2015. Excitement is already high; try googling “Jupiter’s shift into Leo” and you’ll see what I mean. My impression from talking to people, and dipping into social media, is that we are all looking for a bit of light relief from what has been a pretty bad news year thus far.

So what is this shift likely to mean for you and me? In this article, I will introduce the Jupiter cycle.

What is the Jupiter Cycle?

As ever, it is important at the outset of a general article to stress that one can only really judge in detail what the essence of any planetary shift is likely to be from consideration of the whole horoscope or birth chart. However, it is certainly possible to sketch out a broad picture that can offer some perspective: both to readers with some astrological knowledge and to those of you with none who are curious to know more.

Each of the planets, travelling through the twelve signs of the zodiac as viewed from Earth, has a cycle of differing length. Pluto, currently in Capricorn, will take 248 years to traverse the 360 zodiacal degrees, returning to that sign long after we are all dead and gone! Saturn’s cycle, on the other hand, is a much shorter 29/30 years. Currently in Scorpio, dredging up all kinds of sexual scandal from its previous traverse of that sign in the 1980s, it is offering the collective the famous Saturn Return experience, when Saturn returns to the place it occupied at our birth when we are 29/30 years of age and again at 59/60, inviting us all to grow up.

Jupiter and Saturn together form a symbolic, complementary whole: as its cycle unfolds, Saturn helps us to be realistic and to set limits without which no maturation or growth can take place. Jupiter creates contrast and balance to this. It energises that optimistic, expansive part of us that reaches out to the pleasure of new experience, new learning and understanding. Its natural exuberance can make life a fun, joyful experience.

It can also cause us to over-reach our limits and expect more than life can realistically deliver. That facet needs to be watched carefully when Jupiter is very active in our lives.
Jupiter’s cycle is 11-12 years: 11.6 years to be exact. It’s an easy one to track, being accessible both to those of you who know some astrology and those of you who don’t. Everyone can track through their lives, measuring the Jupiter cycles: Jupiter returns to its location in your birth horoscope at 11/12 years of age, 23/24, 35/36, 47/48, 59/60, 71/72, 83/84 in a currently average lifetime.
What do we look for in the Jupiter cycle? In essence, the start of each cycle represents the opening out of a whole new learning period, whose archetypal purpose is to expose us to new experience and new learning, and to all kinds of travelling within both inner and outer life.

Real life flesh on symbolic bones….

These experiences vary hugely from one person to another, taking their flavour from the zodiacal sign and house in which Jupiter was located at birth.

At 23/24 (Jupiter in Sagittarius in the 9th house), you might take off to Australia to do a postgraduate Diploma in Adult Education. Your friend (Jupiter in Capricorn in the 6th house) might not travel anywhere, but concentrate on mastering a new skill like carpentry, which enables him, after a few years’ apprenticeship, to set up his own business. In the meantime, my neighbour down the street (Jupiter in Cancer in the 5th house) might marry at 23/24 and have three children in rapid succession before the age of 30. In a real-life example, Alexa said: “My second Jupiter return, at age 24. coincided with me buying a house. Natal Jupiter was in Cancer, which is appropriate, of course, and the house was bigger (Jupiter) than we needed for just the two of us, so we could have space for lodgers.”

These are very different branches of experience based on Jupiter being in different signs and houses of the zodiac at birth, but they have the same underlying principle of expansion, and the growth of experience, understanding, and (hopefully!) some wisdom shines through them all.

You can also detect the archetypal lifelong themes provided via Jupiter’s placement by sign and house in your personal horoscope, as you follow the Jupiter cycle unfolding throughout your lifetime. For example, I have natal Jupiter in Scorpio in the 3rd house. It’s not hard to work out from this (and Jupiter’s strong links to most of the planets in that horoscope!) that an intense preoccupation with gathering and sharing all kinds of information, while placing it in contexts that expand one’s understanding of life’s deeper meanings, might be rather important to me.

The Jupiter cycle: unfolding in one lifetime

At 11-12, I passed the “Quali” (the long defunct Scottish entrance exam to determine one’s level of entry to secondary education). At 23-24, I completed a post-graduate Diploma in Education, having already been an adult education teacher for two years. At 35-36, I studied for and passed my first astrology qualification, the Certificate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (UK), prior to beginning a career as an astrologer.

At 47-48, I began the Diploma in Psychological Astrology, studying with Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London. In completing this course, I commuted by plane for three years, earning myself the nickname of “The Flying Scot.” The year after the 59-60 Jupiter Return, I stepped into cyberspace via my main blog, “Writing from the Twelfth House.” My first book, a research study called “Jupiter Meets Uranus,” was published the following year.

Perhaps this personal account will encourage you to track through your Jupiter cycles and see that there is indeed a thematic unfolding of a specific kind of experience.

Fate, free will……or what?

The question of what the balance is between fate and free will has preoccupied humans for millennia and remains unresolved. However, as an astrologer, it is important to have a viewpoint regarding this ageless question. Decades of astrological practice, combined with much reading that has included what I can grasp of probability theory and chaos theory, and my own efforts to become a more conscious person have led me to the view (not original at all — many astrologers take this standpoint!) that there are certain givens in this life, as shown by the characters standing on a person’s life stage when the horoscope is drawn up. Those characters i.e, the planets, shown in the horoscope’s symbolic, archetypal patterns, are ours for life.

However, the evidence of observation and experience appears to suggest this vital point: the more conscious we become of our motivations and drives, and how they impact our inner and external life, the wider becomes the range of possible avenues of expression to which we can have access while choosing how to make our particular life’s drama as positive and creative as possible.

Bearing this in mind, let’s return to the Jupiter cycle and see how we might work creatively and consciously with its 11-12 year periods.

Working with cycles

All life cycles, whether we are looking at a gnat, a human, or a galaxy, go through the same process: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, and dying back in preparation for the new. So it is with the planetary cycles.

Think of the tiny monthly cycle of the Sun and Moon. The New Moon takes place in darkness. Only when that first magical waxing crescent appears after 2-3 days does the energy of the cycle begin to build. After a week, at the First Quarter Moon, things are taking shape. At the Full Moon, the cycle’s energy is in full light, at its most obvious. A week later, on the waning square, the Moon is shrinking, the month’s energy on the wane. Then the last, waning crescent precedes Moondark (i.e. balsamic), those 2-3 days in which the energy of the completed cycle sinks back into the Void, waiting for the energy of the next New Moon to arise.

Applying the same template to the 11-12 year cycle of Jupiter, it takes about a year or more for the initial upsurge of desire for new expansive challenges to stabilise and take definite form.

Jupiter in action: a real-life example

Let’s use the person with Jupiter in Sagittarius in the 9th House as our example. At the age of 23, off she goes to Australia, completes her Diploma, and obtains a good teaching job in Melbourne. She works there for a couple of years, then relocates to Sydney (first quarter phase, Jupiter now in Pisces), since she wants to take up sailing and she has a friend there who runs a sailing school.

Three years later (full moon phase, Jupiter in Gemini) she agrees to take on a teaching job at the sailing school where she has been a student. Another three years go by and she begins to feel dissatisfied and critical (last quarter phase, Jupiter now in Virgo). She has become bogged down in admin and paperwork. Not her style!

She puts less and less commitment into her job, and after over ten years in Australia, she has itchy feet again (Moondark). Nearly twelve years after arriving, full of enthusiasm, she is off to work in the Greek Islands. She has fallen in love with a Greek Australian and decides to return with him to his home island of Rhodes. She is nearly thirty-six years old. A new Jupiter cycle is about to begin.

Working with our Jupiter cycles

I’ve always found that astrology students and clients are fascinated when I unfold their major cycles with them; they find it so helpful in understanding the unfolding pattern of their lives. The Jupiter cycle is a particularly easy one to which to connect. The rhythm of the cycle, looking back, can usually be tracked. In the last year or two before a new 11-12 year period begins, one can generally perceive a certain dissatisfaction, boredom, loss of any great interest, and desire for a new challenge in the sphere of life indicated by the sign and house placement of natal Jupiter. (If Jupiter is a very strongly placed and emphasised “character on the stage,” the overall effect is, of course, amplified.) With Jupiter in Scorpio in the 3rd house, I clearly recall my boredom, restlessness, and desire for a new educational project towards the end of my fourth Jupiter cycle when I was 46 or 47. Alexa, with her Jupiter in Cancer, bought a house at the start of the second Jupiter cycle when she was twenty-four, “…. bigger (Jupiter) than we needed for just the two of us, so we could have space for lodgers.”

Are you a year or two into a new Jupiter cycle? Or three years into it? After five or six years, the cycle is at its Full Moon phase, its peak of energy. By nine years, impetus generally is on the wane, and restlessness is setting in. By the Moondark phase of the cycle, it really feels like time for a new project, a new venture. But you know — if you become familiar with this cycle’s rhythm — that it will probably be another couple of years before the new idea has taken shape and translated itself into a fresh, exciting direction.

One of the great gifts of astrological knowledge is the help it offers in setting our sails, metaphorically speaking, to the prevailing winds of our lives. It is useful to get to know your Jupiter cycle, in planning those times in life when your Spirit is calling you to open up your life to new experience. I do hope this introductory article has given you some useful food for reflection and an impetus to action!

It would be helpful if readers feel like sharing their experiences of Jupiter cycles. In this way, we all expand our understanding. Thanks!

Bio: Anne Whitaker is a writer and astrologer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She holds the Diploma from the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, UK. Anne blogs at Writing from the Twelfth House at Anne-Whitaker and Astrology Questions and Answers. Her ebook, “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness” — an open-minded take on paranormal experience — is available from her blog, price $10.

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