You may have heard the story of the blind men and the elephant. It’s a parable that has been around for quite some time, and then turned into a poem by John Godfrey Saxe in the early 19th century.
A group of blind men encounter an elephant, each feeling only one part, and then attempt to make sense of the whole. The man who feels the side thinks the elephant is like a wall. The man who holds the trunk thinks the elephant is like a snake. The one who grabs the tail insists the elephant is like a rope. Their individual observations are valid, but their conclusions are wrong because they missed the big picture.
Every time I encounter astrologers asking big questions, such as who will be the next President of the United States, I think of the blind men and the elephant. Each astrologer insists that his or her predictions are accurate, but no one sees the big picture.
The big picture is that astrology has limits.
Astrology can answer a lot of questions, but astrology can’t answer every question. Astrology can only answer questions that are specific, precise, and have a limited set of possible answers. At the moment, the question “Who will be the next President of the United States?” fails on all counts.
Astrologers started asking this question more than a year before any candidates had officially entered the race. I’m writing this in June 2016, and it’s still not a specific enough question because there are not yet definitive candidates for the general election. Astrology doesn’t work with hypotheticals or presumptions. Until the candidates are official, the question is not valid.
But there’s a bigger problem than the fact that the question is not yet valid. Every attempt I’ve seen to answer the question uses triggers to the natal charts of the candidates.
You can’t use natal charts to answer the question of who will be elected president.
The question itself is not contained in the natal chart. The question is objective, about mundane events, and the natal chart only contains answers to subjective questions — experiences that directly affect the individual.
Astrology can answer specific questions about the future, but only if those questions can be contained within a single chart. Attempting to use astrology to forecast the next president by looking at the natal charts of the potential candidates is pointless. There’s no objective standard you can use to evaluate the data and therefore no way to get a clear answer.
This hasn’t stopped many astrologers from predicting winners and losers based on how “good” or “bad” the transits, progressions, or directions are to the charts of the potential candidates. Their observations may be valid, but their conclusions aren’t. They’re describing the elephant’s tusk, not the whole elephant.
“Good” and “bad” triggers to a natal chart are subjective.
When you work with predictive natal astrology and look at triggers or derivatives of a person’s birth chart, you can forecast upcoming events for that individual. You can identify the timing of events, and often the nature and quality of those events. But you can’t identify the specifics of the event.
If you’re looking at triggers to a candidate’s natal chart around the time of the November election, all you can tell is whether that person is going to be privately and subjectively happy with the outcome. That’s not the same thing as knowing what the outcome will be.
An objective win for Trump would be a subjective loss.
In the June/July 2016 issue of The Mountain Astrologer, I explored the predictive natal astrology for Donald Trump covering the entire election cycle. From the beginning, I suggest that Donald Trump has never wanted to be elected president; he only wanted to run for president.
Running a country is an incredibly difficult job. The stress is unimaginable. Trump has no interest in taking on those responsibilities. Whatever he may say in public, in private, he’s terrified. Yes, a loss would be a blow to his ego, but in the long run, subjectively, Trump will profit the most from not winning the election. An objective loss will be a subjective win for him.
You can’t answer these kinds of objective questions by looking at natal charts. The presidential election is an event, so you need to consider an event chart. Of course, it’s still not that simple. The election is actually a series of events.
The first event is the moment a candidate declares his or her candidacy.
As J. Lee Lehman explored in her blog, the declaration charts, the charts of the moment each candidate entered the race, have a lot of practical value. (1) The charts describe the path to the convention and how the campaign will play out during the primaries. The declaration charts provide insight into the campaign and the candidates, but they can’t tell you the outcome of the general election. They can’t even tell you the outcome of the primary elections.
The problem is that you’re evaluating multiple charts. Each chart gives you a different perspective on the same event, that is, becoming the party’s nominee in the general election. Even when considering only two charts, you may not be able to draw any conclusions. It’s possible that one chart shows triumph and the other shows disaster, but you can’t count on that. For example, the declaration charts for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are inconclusive. (2) Neither one suggests a clear winner or a clear path to the nomination.
The next event is the moment a candidate accepts the party’s nomination.
The campaign towards the general election is not a continuation of the primary campaign. It’s an entirely different event, and it has its own chart. These charts would represent the campaign of each candidate heading towards the general election. But even these charts can’t reveal the outcome of the election. We’re faced with the same problem we had with the declaration charts: two different perspectives on the same event and no clear, objective path to a definitive answer.
This brings us to the general election, which is an event. In fact, it’s a competition with a winner and a loser. And that’s the kind of question astrology can answer.
Theoretically, the chart for the general election should show which of the two parties will win.
J. Lee Lehman and Bernadette Brady developed a model for predicting the winners of major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl. At the start of the season, it can’t tell you which specific team will win because there are too many options. But it can tell you which conference will win.
You consider the chart for the start of the game. The challenger is the 1st house, and the defender is either the 7th house (for open warfare) or, if they have a home field advantage, the 4th house (for castle besiegement). You then evaluate the dignity and debility of the planets that rule the houses, using a specific point system, and determine the winner.
In theory, this could work for the presidential election. The chart would be for the moment the polls open in Washington D.C., the capital of the country. Because the Republicans do not currently hold the presidency, they’re the challengers, and the Republican candidate is the 1st house. The Democrats are defending, but because there’s no incumbent, there’s no home field advantage. It’s a 1st-7th open warfare model, rather than a 1st-4th castle besiegement model.
It’s an interesting idea. But it still won’t work.
There’s more than one race and more than one winner.
If there were only one choice on the ballot, it might be valid to look at the chart of the election to determine the winner. But we’re not just electing a new president in November. We’re electing congress and voting on various state and local initiatives. And every one of these issues is tied to the event chart of when the polls open.
Yes, you could argue that the most important election is the presidential election, and that’s why most people come out to vote, but that doesn’t matter. The chart isn’t even specific enough to answer the question of which party will win the presidential election.
So let’s review, because these points are important:
• Astrology can’t answer every question. The question has to be specific and there must be a finite choice of outcomes.
• Predictive natal astrology that uses triggers to the natal chart to answer questions can only provide answers to subjective questions. It does not answer questions about objective events.
• You can see the outcome of an event by interpreting the chart of the event. However, the event must have a clear beginning, and the chart is only good for the life of the event. If there’s a significant change in context, the original chart will no longer be valid.
• The event must be discrete for the chart to be valid. You could interpret the event chart of an election with only one race, but not the event chart of an election with multiple races and multiple winners.
The big picture matters.
Some very talented astrologers have weighed in on this election and provided accurate reporting on different parts of the elephant. But the elephant — and the question, “Who will be the next President of the United States?” — is just too big to know.
(1) The Declaration Chart, by J. Lee Lehman, PhD.
(2) Data for their declarations in in Lee’s blog.
Bio: Kevin B. Burk is the Headmaster of The Real Astrology Academy, which provides astrological information, education, and training to astrologers and astrology students around the world. He’s the author of eleven books, including Principles of Practical Natal Astrology: Talented Astrologer Training Book 1. Read more of his articles in the Talented Astrologer Blog.