TMA This Week

Ready for Your Close-up, Pluto?

By Ray Grasse | April 6, 2015

I’ve written a number of times over the years about the striking synchronicities that have occurred in tandem with our first close-up views of the planets Uranus and Neptune. In much the same way that the discovery of any astronomical body is widely seen as signaling the emergence of a new state of consciousness into the collective, so our first close-up looks at those planets via hi-tech spacecraft seem to bring their energies into even sharper focus than before.

For example, during the period of the Voyager II fly-by past Uranus in January of 1986, there were news stories underscoring the challenges of high-technology and the legacy of the Industrial Revolution, including the tragic explosion of the space shuttle Challenger the same weekend as the fly-by (the tragedy occurred literally within hours of the photos from the fly-by being processed) and the Chernobyl disaster (occurred not long after the fly-by, on April 26th of that year).

And when the Voyager II spacecraft flew past Neptune, media outlets showcased the mounting sense of dread over the escalating drug crisis taking place in both North and South America, as drug lords openly declared war on the Columbian government the very same day as the fly-by, while President George W. Bush asked American TV networks for air time to address the growing crisis. On a more artistic front, that was also the period when James Cameron’s blockbuster film “The Abyss” had just been released, with a storyline set deep in the ocean. (1)

With that in mind, it’s worth taking a moment to speculate on what we can expect this July, perhaps even all summer, when we’ll get our first close-up look at the distant planet Pluto, by means of NASA’s “New Horizon” spacecraft (scheduled for closest approach on July 14th). Can we expect a similar flurry of synchronistic news events in connection with this planet’s presence? Let’s look briefly at a few possibilities.

On the upside, I’d keep an eye out for breaking news about important discoveries by scientists or historians, due to the “uncovering” aspect of Pluto and its tendency to disclose what had previously been hidden. Archeologically, it could usher in important findings concerning our history as a species or a civilization, or scientific breakthroughs in physics and astronomy. It’s possible we could see the discovery of previously unknown species of animals in remote regions of our planet, or the rediscovery of supposedly extinct “living fossils,” like the coelacanth found by fishermen in 1938. Because Pluto is so remote from the Earth, one wonders whether there is even a chance its close-up could symbolize an important breakthrough by scientists of intelligent life far out in space. (Curiously, a press conference has been announced for May 5th to showcase recently uncovered photographic slides from Roswell, New Mexico, allegedly showing a dead alien body. Whether that turns out to be legitimate or not, the symbolism of the event is certainly fitting, considering Pluto’s association with death.) (2)

On the downside, Pluto also awakens turbulent forces deep in the collective psyche, so the days and weeks surrounding the fly-by could well see a dramatic escalation of the violence and terrorism that has been inflaming the world scene in recent years. Whether that involves ISIS soldiers in the Middle East, home-grown terrorists in our own first world nations, or simply criminal acts of an especially dramatic sort (abductions and hostage situations are particular favorites of Pluto), it’s likely we could see some very unpleasant headlines stoking our collective reptile-brains in a big way. And, of course, since Pluto is in Capricorn, don’t be surprised if we see more sex scandals in the news involving prominent celebrities or politicians!

Whatever the outcome, I’d suggest focusing your attention on the July 10th – 20th period in particular. Stay tuned!

(1) I discuss the synchronicities of the Uranus and Neptune fly-bys in considerably more detail in my book, Signs of the Times, Hampton Roads, 2002; pgs. 62-64, 156-165.
(2) UFO International Project
Bio: Ray Grasse is Associate Editor of The Mountain Astrologer magazine, and author of The Waking Dream (Quest, 1996) and Signs of the Times (Hampton Roads, 2002). His websites are Ray Grasse and Ray Grasse Photography

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Aspects in Focus for April 2015

By Kelly Surtees | March 23, 2015

After the dramatic aspects and energising angles formed during March, April appears comparatively, dare I say without jinxing us all, mild. For most of the month there is at least one planet in steady-as-she-goes Taurus, which can inspire a slower pace, or a more measured approach to events. Jupiter, also in a fixed sign (Leo), stations direct, returning to forward movement on April 7. Progress might take extra time, but it looks like stalled plans, especially those for adventure, discovery, and the search for meaning, may be finally implemented.

The first half of April includes the Sun and Mercury in Aries, both of which will make aspects to Uranus and Pluto. This may bring a little chaos or a reminder that a big change you’ve had in mind is still worth pursuing. Later in the month, aspects to Saturn and Neptune are active (discussed below) and triggers to Uranus and Pluto look potentially productive.

One thing to keep in mind this month is that Mars, traditionally considered a malefic or difficult planet, is in a classically weak condition. Mars in Taurus is the sign of Mars’ detriment. This combination can indicate some challenges, especially with Mars things like action, progress, or wanting to move quickly. A cautious or considered approach can help minimise any difficulties that might arise from a reactive or impulsive decision.

Venus and the Sun will both be in comfortable signs for part of the month. Venus is in Taurus, one of her rulership signs, until April 11. The Sun is in Aries, its exaltation sign, until April 20. This can add strength or vitality to both planets and the things they represent. Each can offer support or access to a particular kind of resource.

Venus in Taurus may symbolise women, little luxuries, pleasure and enjoyment. Your ability to fully indulge any goodness this placement might offer could be limited by the presence of Mars, also in Taurus.

The Sun in Aries can highlight leadership, as well as the passionate or inspired desire to boldly follow a dream or push ahead on something you want. If you want to create progress with the Sun in Aries, it may be best to go solo, rather than wait on others.

Early April: Opportunity + Drama

In the first half of the month, there are two aspect patterns that stand out.

April 2: Sun trine Jupiter, 12°–13° Aries/Leo
This classically lucky aspect can lead to opportunity and growth, or invite you to try an experience outside your comfort zone.

April 5 – 8: Uranus and Pluto, 15° – 16° Aries/Capricorn
During this period both Sun and Mercury will conjunct Uranus and square Pluto, one after the other, like a series of dominos. This occurs just after the Libra Full Moon Lunar eclipse and is likely to be the most dramatic period of the month.

There are two ways people typically respond to this type of celestial drama. If you are someone who normally takes your time with any decision, this may inspire you to make an impulsive or unexpected yet totally right-for-you choice. If you are someone who is often quick on your feet, you might be over-the-top responsive or reactive. Adjust your normal way of operating accordingly!

April: Variety is the spice of life

The second half of April is more varied. I have highlighted seven different aspects that will form, involving the Sun, Venus, and Mars at various times. Mercury is moving quickly through April (almost 2° a day at the start of the month and around 1°30′ by the end of the month), and moves through two entire signs (Aries and Taurus), so discussing his aspects would require a separate post in itself! I have chosen to focus on the other (relatively) slower-moving planets.

Mars in Motion

Aspects from Mars occur the least frequently of those on this list, as Mars moves more slowly than Venus or the Sun. Mars spends approximately six weeks in a sign when moving at average speed, typically visiting each zodiac sign just once every two years. Even though I mentioned that the Mars-in-Taurus combination has a detriment quality about it, we mustn’t be too picky. The house in your chart ruled by Taurus can receive the energy or drive of Mars through this combination, so there is still progress or activation likely around topics associated with your Taurus house in the month ahead.

Mars aspects can be active for one-to-two days before and after the exact date listed. Three aspects that Mars will make this April include:
·       April 12:  Mars sextile Neptune, 8°–9° Taurus/Pisces
·       April 17: Mars square Jupiter, 12°–13° Taurus/Leo
·       April 21:  Mars trine Pluto, 15°–16° Taurus/Capricorn

Creative projects or holiday plans might be highlighted when Mars aspects Neptune. This can be a day of low or reduced energy. It might bring the desire to escape, especially from any situation that causes stress or tension.

When Mars aspects Jupiter, a stretching energy, like that of a tightly pulled elastic band, is activated. This can encourage moving beyond familiar territory or getting out of your comfort zone. Of course, it also includes a caution against excess, since the elastic, if pulled too tightly, will snap back or break. Try to go a little further than normal, perhaps to a point where you feel a little uncomfortable, but not so far from what’s familiar that you feel unsafe.

Mars trine Pluto may be the most productive of all the Mars aspects this April. This might reveal a hidden obsession, but it also highlights the progress that’s possible when you focus exclusively on one goal or outcome at a time. Together Mars and Pluto represent pure force or directed will, and a narrow focus can help you move through a previous barrier.

Venus Delights

Venus spends time in two signs this April — the latter part of Taurus and the first two-thirds of Gemini. Venus moves close to her fastest speed, though by month’s end it begins to slow down in anticipation of her upcoming retrograde, which will occur mostly in Leo starting in July.

Venus makes two aspects in April:
·       April 14: Venus opposite Saturn, 4 –5° Gemini/Sagittarius
·       April 26: Venus sextile Uranus, 17°–18° Gemini/Aries

Venus opposite Saturn can highlight challenges and choices, especially within relationships. (If you’re familiar with your chart, check the houses that hold 4°–5° Gemini and Sagittarius to further personalise the topics that might be highlighted for you.) This is like a see-saw energy, under which your focus can shift. You might need to decide between honouring a commitment and looking after yourself. The idea of an opposition is that you change perspective or see things from another’s point of view. Don’t be shy about adapting as circumstances change.

Venus sextile Uranus can bring excitement and energy, especially in a dating or relationship situation. This is an aspect of activation, where things that have been stuck can start moving. Thus, it’s likely to bring progress or highlight new areas of opportunity. Again, check the houses in your own chart for the degrees noted above. As an example, if either Venus or Uranus is in your 2nd house of money, this might bring welcome progress regarding a financial matter rather than mean something about love.

Last But Not Least — the Sun

The month closes with one final aspect from the Sun, a supportive, flowing sextile to Neptune on April 29, at 9°–10° Taurus/Pisces. This aspect combines planets in signs that are compatible by element, that of earth and water. Together earth and water create mud, which is like comfort. It may inspire you to reach for something that fills your spirit or adds ease to your daily life.

April offers plenty of variety. Many different signs, elements, and modalities are triggered, so there will be an aspect for almost everyone. You can simply enjoy the astro weather as it rolls in and out, or take the time to see how your personal chart may be triggered. Either way, you’ll be better able to make the most of each day with your planet tips in hand.

Kelly is a consulting astrologer, teacher, writer, and editor who works with clients and students around the world. With more than 12 years in private practice, Kelly is experienced, warm, and insightful. She loves exploring astrology’s history as well as escaping into the ocean. Kelly’s passion for astrology is infectious, and her specialty areas include Moon Phases, timing techniques like progressions, and incorporating traditional concepts. She can be found lecturing at conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Kelly holds the Australian FAA Practitioner’s Diploma and is an expat Aussie who lives in Canada most of the year. Website:

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Russia and 19º Libra

By Smiljana Gavrancic | March 9, 2015

Russia, the largest country in the world when measured by territory, is traditionally linked to the sign of Aquarius, where the Sun (i.e., life, the king) is in detriment. Russia is a country where human heads (Sun) have fallen frequently, as with the last Russian royal family, the Romanov dynasty. (1) In this article, I will begin to trace the importance of 19º Libra, the degree of the Sun’s fall, to events in Russia’s history. (2)

The fixed star Algol is also prominent in Russian charts. In Moscow, the capital city, the first Russian emperor, Ivan the Terrible, placed a guillotine in front of the Kremlin, where heads were cut off, a theme similar to the imagery of the Sun’s fall at 19º Libra. (I mention Stalin’s “purges” (1936–1940) to also demonstrate this symbolism.) (3)


Looking at the chart of the founding of the USSR, we find Saturn, ruler of the 10th house Capricorn, in the sign of its exaltation at 19° Libra, the degree of the Sun’s fall. This is a symbol of Soviet leaders who don’t have strong self-awareness, and see danger in everybody  in front of them. This is an image of the very authoritarian Soviet leaders. When the Sun is strong, it works on the principle, “All for one and one for all”; this is a Sun that cannot be defeated, which is how it acts in the degree of its exaltation at 19° Aries. In this chart, we also see that the Moon, representing the people, is located at 23°44′ Taurus, very close to fixed star Algol in the constellation Perseus.

Formation of the USSR
December 30, 1922
12:00 standard time Placidus
Moscow, Russia 55N45 37E35
USSR natal

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
Another example of the importance of 19º Libra for Russia is with Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, a leader of the Bolshevik Revolution who founded the communist party in Russia. Lenin was born on April 22, 1870. (4) On November 7th, 1917, when the Bolsheviks seized power, Lenin’s secondary progressed Moon (herein symbolizing the Russian people) was at 19° Libra, the degree of the Sun’s fall. This is an image of the Russian people and their not-so-easy destiny within their country. (Lenin’s secondary progressed Moon was also conjunct Saturn at 19° Libra in the USSR’s founding chart.) (5) As mentioned above, the royal family paid with their lives at the founding of Bolshevik Russia.

Vladimir Lenin natal
April 22, 1870 DD data
21:42 LMT  Placidus
Simbirsk Ujanov Russia 54N20 48E24

Vladimir Lenin natal

Vladimir Lenin, progressed to Bolshevik Revolution, November 7, 1917 Placidus

Lenin, progressed

Saturn return of the USSR chart (2011)

The Saturn return (19° Libra) of the USSR founding chart (1922) was on October 6th, 2011, one day before the birthday of the current Russian president, Vladimir Putin. (5) The Sun in the USSR Saturn return chart is at 13° Libra, the degree of Putin’s natal Sun. This shows the crucial role this man has in the country’s destiny.

Saturn Return for USSR (2011)
October 6, 2011
6:09:01 pm DST
Moscow, Russia 55N45 37E35
Equal houses

 Saturn return Russia 1922 chart

Eclipses are always important,  both in mundane work and at the personal level. I will mention three eclipses in recent history that impact the 19° Aries–Libra axis.

The first was a solar eclipse on October 12th, 1958 at 19° Libra.  This was the period of Nikita Khrushchev, who had an important role during the Cold War.  But a most important event for Russia happened a few years after this eclipse on April 12th, 1961 — astronaut Yuri Gagarin’s journey to space. He was the first man to fly into outer space, fitting the symbolism of a solar eclipse (a new beginning). After a successful flight, Gagarin was promoted and received many awards and titles. However, with the eclipse on the degree of the Sun’s fall, 19° Libra, life is in danger. Yuri Gagarin lost his life a few years later (March 27th, 1968), during a routine flight with another pilot

There was another solar eclipse at 19° Libra on October 12th, 1977. As mentioned above, two years later, the Soviets started the war in Afghanistan, and Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet leader, died after this eclipse in 1982. Both events fulfilled the symbolism of the degree of the Sun’s fall (i.e., reputation, leader, president): The Soviets lost their reputation in the war in Afghanistan, and their leader died.

A third solar eclipse occurred on April 9th, 1986 at 19° Aries. Four years after the eclipse, the USSR came to an end. This activated the axis of exaltation and fall of the Sun (19° Aries/19° Libra), which led to a realignment of power with the last president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev.

All of these eclipses activated 19° Libra, the degree I am linking to Russia.

My concluding thoughts: The Sun (e.g., president, king, leader) is weakened at 19° Libra; it is necessary, therefore, to work on improving one’s self-awareness. Symbolically, when we purify our Sun (identity), all fears cease to exist, the need for conflict or defense (Mars) perishes, and we then embody harmony and beauty (Venus) and feel secure (Saturn).

Mundane chart data from: The Book of World Horoscopes, by Nicholas Campion, Wessex Astrologer, revised 1999.

(1) “In Yekaterinburg, Russia, Czar Nicholas II and his family are executed by the Bolsheviks, bringing an end to the three-century-old Romanov dynasty.”  (July 16, 1918)
This Day in History

(2) Editors note: A greatly expanded version of this article appears on the author’s web site.

(3) The Great Purge

(4) Although this birth data for Lenin is widely used, it has been given a DD Rodden rating.

(5) The author is demonstrating how different charts in a country’s history can “work.” She writes: “The founding of Bolshevik Russia is a chart that still ‘works’ very well due to the fact that the awareness of  the Russian people still vibrates on that level.”

(6) Vladimir Putin, October 7, 1952. Wikipedia

Bio: Smiljana Gavrancic obtained her astrological education at the Institute for Astrological Research and Education “Johannes Kepler” in Belgrade, where she graduated in October 2010, defending her thesis in Mundane Astrology, “European Union – In Varietate Concordia” (united in diversity) and obtained the status of a graduated Astrologer Researcher. In February 2011, she met requirements to work as an Astrological Consultant and in March of the same year, she became an International Certified Professional Astrologer (ISAR C.A.P.).

Smiljana is a member of ISAR (International Society for Astrological Research) and of the Astrological Association of Great Britain.

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Aspects in Focus for March 2015

By Kelly Surtees | February 23, 2015

March is a dramatic month, with plenty of high energy astro activity to keep you hopping. Fire is the dominant element in the first half of March, with a series of supportive trines to encourage progress. This promises action, fast paced evolution and a twist or two to keep life interesting.

In the later part of the month, Venus in Taurus brings a gentle, softer influence. Combined with Mercury at his poetic best in Pisces, both of which link to Neptune and Pluto, the astrological ambiance is more intuitive, romantic, and artistic towards the end of the month.

Jupiter, Uranus, and Excitement
March begins with lucky Jupiter forming an exciting trine with electric Uranus, from 14° Aries to 14° Leo, until March 10. This repeats the trine that first formed between Jupiter and Uranus in late September 2014. It will re-form for the third and final time in June 2015.

Together Jupiter and Uranus have a visionary quality. They can help us see beyond known realities and to imagine results or possibilities that might be out of this world, innovative, or experimental. Rather than following the safe, familiar path, this aspect can be a call to explore, to adventure, and to try something different.

On March 4 and 5 Venus in Aries joins Uranus and also trines Jupiter. Venus’ magnetic quality can add a sweetener to current events, perhaps pointing the way to a solution or compromise. With Jupiter and Uranus working together to shake up things as they stand, by opening minds and dangling a sense of what’s possible, Venus may act as an intermediary to help smooth things over, or highlight the value of holding on to what’s right for you, regardless of the opinion of others.

Just as Jupiter begins to move away from the exact trine to Uranus, Mars will show up. From March 9 – 13 Mars will join Uranus and trigger this potentially positive trine, but will also clash with Pluto, via a fractious square aspect. This period looks to be the most volatile or dramatic of the month. It can stir things up, which, depending on your circumstances, might bring welcome progress or can incite an already hot situation. It’s a little like the match meeting dry kindling. A little nudge and things can take off or blow up. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Uranus square Pluto: For the Last Time
March also brings the final exact square between Uranus and Pluto, at 15° of Aries and Capricorn. This aspect has taken up a lot of ink in the past few years and, while going forward, much will still be said of Uranus and Pluto before this particular configuration, the dynamic opening or waxing square, is done. 

Whether you have a large-scale revolution in mind, inspired by the dramatic upheavals of the 60s, when these planets were conjunct, or whether there’s just one area of your life that needs to be reworked, March 2015 is like the last call at a closing bar.

If you ache for freedom but haven’t yet dared to throw things in the air to make it happen, seize your chance this month. Uranus and Pluto make their final exact square from March 11 – 29. If you have personal planets or natal chart points (like the Ascendant or Midheaven) at 15° of any cardinal sign, this will be the last exact hit of the Uranus transit, though Pluto will continue to energise 15° Capricorn until November 2016. For all of us the winds of change blow strongly through March, and, if there’s restlessness in your spirit, this might be the month you take charge, dive in, and make a bold choice that is totally right for you.

Venus in Taurus and Mercury in Pisces
And after all the fire, which can mean drama, action, and outbursts, Venus lands in lush Taurus. After March 18 things might stabilise, or a bright spot might appear amidst any chaos that has occurred. Venus in one of her ruling signs creates a beneficial or protective energy that can reveal softness, support, or the potential for security.

Venus ultimately wants to unite and to enhance companionship. Finding new ways to connect, or common ground on which to bond, will be possible. Mercury is also in Pisces, a fellow yin sign, from March 13 — 31.

Both Mercury and Venus will aspect Neptune and Pluto, which can provide opportunities for creative or artistic expression, random acts of kindness and compassion, or the possibility of shifting a stuck situation or relationship into something more functional.

Dealing with details might be tricky around March 18 – 19, as Mercury and Neptune join at 8° Pisces. However, this is a lovely aspect for anything soulful, spiritual, creative, or about rest and retreat. Mercury then sextiles Pluto March 22 – 23, at 15° Pisces and 15° Capricorn, which can reveal hidden information or make it easier to talk about typically taboo topics. Heartfelt conversation or creative out-pourings that touch on deep or secret subjects are likely.

If you have a dream to make things, either in a crafty kind of way or simply wanting to make your home or work space more beautiful, the sextile between Venus and Neptune from 8° Taurus to 8° Pisces on March 24 will be ideal for letting your muse out. The boundless touch of Neptune can help release the beauty locked inside Venus, so go with your feelings then. See where the wings of your imagination might take you.

Practical, financial, or relationship changes will be possible when Venus forms a trine to Pluto, at 15° Taurus and 15° Capricorn on March 30. A little push can lead to a profound or lasting change. Since Venus has her full array of talents and resources available, from her position in one of her ruling signs, this may spotlight women, art, beauty, or generally anything to do with being able to provide comfort or small luxuries.
Bio: Kelly Surtees is a consulting astrologer, teacher, writer, and editor who works with clients and students around the world. With more than 12 years in private practice, Kelly is experienced, warm, and insightful. She loves exploring astrology’s history as well as escaping into the ocean. Kelly’s passion for astrology is infectious, and her specialty areas include Moon Phases, timing techniques like progressions, and incorporating traditional concepts. She can be found lecturing at conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Kelly holds the Australian FAA Practitioner’s Diploma and is an expat Aussie who lives in Canada most of the year. Website:

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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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