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RIP Joan Quigley

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.


  1. Joan’s 2014 solar return for San Francisco has S.Node, Sun, and Uranus (13 Aries) all in the return 8th house- Pophyry cusp = 16 Aries.

    • Thanks David for adding the additional timely planetary correspondences. It would be fun to do more work on this chart.

  2. The work Joan Quigley did… wow! There’s no way I’d be equipped for this, not even with a retainer from the White House -:) But then, she might not have been able to work with my clientele, which is somewhat different, to understate it!

    I love thinking about all the different ways we astrologers try to contribute to the world, and how can only do what we are suited for. Our own chart, life, background influences, upbringing, training, etc all count towards making us the kind of astrologers we become.

    RIP Joan … wish I’d met you …

  3. Thanks Melanie for commenting on Joan’s work. I think it is widely known in this country that she did have help with the calculations, which she certainly must have needed, as I do not think computers were used in the 60’s-maybe in the 80’s though.

    There was another San Francisco astrologer, whose name I am forgetting (and maybe someone can help me here)who is regarded as the woman behind the woman on the throne, so to speak. Of course this does not take away from Miss Quigley’s importance to us..
    Thanks again

  4. I love this article Kate..thank you for writing..


  5. Joan’s chart if she had not been an astrologer would have been a great therapist. Which is probably one of the reasons why she wa a good astrologer.

    I too have heard that there was another astrologer in the mix for Nancy R.

  6. Thanks, Kate, for acknowledging this unique (so far as we know) astrologer-to-the-POTUS. In glancing at the chart, what pops out to me is her Pluto exact on the US Sun and square its Saturn, which I think speaks volumes for her role. Talk about the “power behind the throne”! Setting timetables, suggesting foreign policy? I suppose there hasn’t been an astrologer as influential in world politics since Catherine de Medici’s day!

    However, considering Ronald Reagan’s enduring legacies to the nation, I do wish she hadn’t been so darn good at her job… :^)

    • Thanks Alex too for your contribution to the discussion on Joan Quigley and her role. Your pointing out the very significant asteroids at work adds icing to the cake..They never seem to disappoint.

      I always tell people who are skeptical of astrology..”If it was good enough for Elizabeth I, J.P.Morgan and Ronald Reagan, it is good enough for me.”
      Thanks again,

  7. One additional note – Joan had asteroid Whitehouse 4036 at 19 Sagittarius, tightly squared natal Jupiter – her source of fame! Also on the IC, in T-Square to the horizontal axis and in a Grand Trine with the Sun and Neptune. Additionally, Whitehouse was just 3 days from its retrograde station at that degree, giving it additional power and force. Asteroid Washingtonia 886 was at 10 Sag, conjoined her Saturn, and showing the apex of her career.

  8. Two other astrologers the Reagan’s used were Carrol Wrighter and Joyce Jillson. Joyce was LA based , not San Francisco. Their involvement with Carroll Wrighter dates back to the 50’s.

    No one seems to have noticed that Eris was conjunct Quigley’s Uranus–seems important to me. I also think its noteworthy that Centaur planet Nessus was conjunct Quigley’s Sun.

  9. After vetting this a bit, it appears Nicki Michaels of San Francisco was the person who helped Joan Quigley with the astrological calculations. This was confirmed in a LA Times article of May 10, 1988 about Joan Quigely. This article says she was Joan’s assistant.

  10. Hi Ken,
    Thanks for confirming about Nicki Michaels. Somewhere in my deep brain memory bank it was stored. I think I might have even had a reading by her in the old days..

    There is a lot to work with here in these charts-why Nancy disavowed Joan’s influence..for one..maybe Quigley’s own need for secrecy-maybe to do with that Chiron in Taurus. In whole signs Chiron is on the 9th cusp exactly trine the 1st cusp at 0 Virgo. But then her Sun and Uranus go to the 8th–plus moon in the 12th can make you afraid of exposure..-or not needing it..She was a Chironic figure nevertheless pioneering alone in a very scary atmosphere..You might fear for your life if you were doing the same thing these days with the 16 spy agencies we have.

    Food for thought..

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