The tragic suicide of New York fashion designer Kate Spade is one of the most stunning examples of the power of asteroids that I have ever seen, and I’ve been doing this work since 2005. Spade was found on June 5 in the closet of her Manhattan apartment, hung by a scarf. Her death shocked the fashion world and raised awareness of the subject of suicide generally.
December 24, 1962
Kansas City, Missouri
(chart displays the planets to make it easier to follow the asteroid patterns)
Born December 24, 1962 (no time available), Spade made a splash in fashion in the mid 1990s, with a line of handbags and other accessories which quickly became “must have” items among New York’s glitterati. (1) Her company was founded in 1993 as Kate Spade New York, and her work was known for its brightness, color, and sophistication, but also its relative affordability, making it a signature look for New Yorkers pre-millennium. In 1999, Spade sold a controlling interest in the company to Neiman Marcus, but continued to design until 2006, when she sold the rest of her shares and took time off to raise her daughter. In 2016, Spade legally changed her name to Kate Valentine Spade and embarked on a new fashion venture, Frances Valentine.
There is so much to say about the birth chart, the date of her suicide, and the comparison between them, that it’s beyond the scope of this article (further details — and I do have them, with my Virgo Moon! — are available at my website). Here, I’d like to focus on a few of the more remarkable connections, and what they have to say about Spade’s death.
Let’s cut right to the chase and deal with the manner, means, and locale of Spade’s sad death. As noted above, she was found hanging by a scarf in the closet of her Manhattan apartment, an apparent suicide. There are a number of asteroids named for mythic, literary, or historic characters who end in suicide — at least ten of them. So, finding one or two of these points active in the birth or death charts is not at all unlikely. But finding all ten active in both charts? Now, that is unusual!
I’m going to pull the most dramatic out of the mix and add additional PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) to flesh out the picture. Natally Spade had asteroid Thisbe at 28° Sagittarius conjunct her 2° Capricorn Sun, which could indicate a predisposition toward self-destruction. Thisbe is named for the female half of Pyramus and Thisbe, a pair of doomed lovers in ancient Greece, whose story forms the basis of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Briefly, the two lovers are kept apart by their families’ mutual animosity, and they attempt to elope. But due to a series of misunderstandings, Pyramus is convinced that Thisbe has been killed, and, disconsolate, kills himself; later, when Thisbe comes across his lifeless body, she uses his sword to join him in death.
In the chart, Pyramus and Thisbe can often work together, and that’s the case here, with Pyramus at 13° Leo, exactly sesquiquadrate his lover (Thisbe at 28° Sagittarius). But what’s so fascinating is the other contacts Pyramus makes: Incredibly, it is precisely square an exact conjunction of asteroids Manhattan and Scarfe, at 13° Scorpio! The mind reels at the thought of this “coincidence” whereby Spade chose to end her own life (Pyramus) by hanging herself with a scarf (phonetic match for “Scarfe”) in her Manhattan apartment! So, in this simple square we have the manner (suicide/Pyramus), means (scarf/Scarfe), and locale (Manhattan/Manhattan) of her death. Right next to this pair is natal Neptune at 14°52’ Scorpio, which not only bumps up the likelihood of their expressing themselves somehow in Spade’s biography, but also resonates with the hopelessness and despair necessary to make the decision to end one’s own life.
But if you want to really have your mind blown, stay with me here. When Spade made her fatal decision, transiting asteroid Scarfe was at 13° Leo, exactly conjunct natal Pyramus and exactly square its natal degree and Manhattan (13° Scorpio)! Not only that, but there was an exact t-square formed with asteroid Ophelia at 13° Aquarius, precisely squaring and opposing the natal square and transiting Scarfe. Ophelia is another suicide asteroid, named for the character in Shakespeare’s Hamlet who goes insane and drowns herself in a stream. And … wait for it … Ophelia is also at station, adding incalculably to its power and force: Ophelia turned retrograde on June 3, two days before Spade’s suicide. In and of itself, the transiting opposition between Ophelia and Scarfe suggests suicide by this means; add in the overlay to the potential of the natal square, and we find a combination that was, apparently, irresistible.
But Ophelia wasn’t alone! Also stationing that week were both Pyramus and Thisbe! Pyramus turned direct at 19° Libra on June 11, almost a week later, but was already at its station degree at the time of Spade’s suicide. Thisbe, which natally conjoins Spade’s Sun, turned retrograde at 3° Aquarius on June 7, two days after her death. The effectiveness of both Ophelia and Thisbe was increased by their concomitant conjunction with transiting Mars, then at 6° Aquarius.
There’s another oddity involved here, which is asteroid Valentine. This appears at 10° Leo in Spade’s birth chart, conjunct Pyramus. It’s interesting that Spade’s suicide occurred just two years after she legally incorporated this name into her own, considerably increase this asteroid’s importance in her chart, both on a personal and professional level. It’s almost as if this augmentation gave Pyramus permission to express itself and, in reaching out to its chart compatriots, found Manhattan and Scarfe as suitable accomplices in its “goal.”
Asteroid Scarfe gives us the means for the suicide, alludes to the method of hanging, and is also strongly present in the chart in its own right. PNAs that represent the native can be very powerful loci of energies that become critical in the biography, identifying, by their contacts, essential elements of the native’s psyche and how others view them. This is especially true when the PNA is an exact match for the name, and this is the case with asteroid Kate, which appears at 27° Libra in Spade’s birth chart. From there, it is exactly square asteroid Arachne at 27° Capricorn, named for another suicide-related myth. Arachne was a famous weaver of ancient Lydia, who challenged Athena to a contest of skill and, having lost to the goddess, hanged herself. Note that she hanged herself! So, Kate Spade had an exact square from her PNA to a point that represents suicide by hanging, and that is the method she chose for her own end! Also, natal Ophelia, at 29° Capricorn, is with Arachne, which “just happens” to be one of the points stationing that week.
Not only that, but asteroid Kate (27° Libra) is also conjunct one suicide asteroid, Phaedra at 23° Libra (named for a queen of Athens who killed herself after her stepson’s rejection of her affections), and trine to another, asteroid Ajax at 21° Gemini (named for a Greek hero who fell on his own sword after disgracing himself during the Trojan War). Further, the natal Sun (2° Capricorn) does not express suicidal tendencies only through the aforementioned conjunction with asteroid Thisbe, but also reaches out with an exact sextile to Dido at 2° Pisces (named for a queen of Carthage who threw herself on a burning pyre after her lover Aeneas abandoned her); a trine to Antinous, stationing at 0° Taurus (named for a historic personage, a 2nd-century lover of Emperor Hadrian, who threw himself into the Nile in fulfillment of a prophecy, to save his beloved); and an exact quincunx to Centaur Hylonome at 2° Gemini (who impaled herself on her husband’s spear when he was killed in battle). The only remaining suicide asteroid unaccounted for is Sphinx, named for the man-eating creature who killed herself out of frustration when Oedipus correctly answered the riddle she posed to him. At 9° Sagittarius in Spade’s birth chart, Sphinx is exactly sextile natal Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 9° Aquarius.
When Kate Spade died on June 5, transiting (T) Sphinx at 2° Capricorn was exactly conjunct her natal Sun, with T Ajax and Hylonome nearby, both at 10° Capricorn. We’ve already mentioned T Ophelia stationing at 13° Aquarius and setting off the deadly natal square between Pyramus (13° Leo) and Manhattan–Scarfe (13° Scorpio). T Arachne and Dido, both at 15° Pisces, and T Neptune at 16° Pisces opposed natal Pluto, modern lord of death, at 12° Virgo. T Thisbe, stationary at 3° Aquarius, squared natal Antinous, stationary at 0° Taurus, which was also conjoined by T Uranus (sometimes considered to be the planetary ruler of suicide) at 1° Taurus, T Phaedra at 2° Taurus, and T Valentine at 4° Taurus. T Antinous at 24° Gemini opposed natal Thisbe (28° Sagittarius) and trined natal Kate at 27° Libra (also exactly sextile natal Mars at 24° Leo). T Pyramus, stationary at 19° Libra, opposed T Kate at 24° Aries. Finally, T Jupiter (ruling celebrities) at 15° Scorpio highlighted the natal Neptune–Scarfe–Manhattan grouping.
This is truly a remarkable (and tragic) rendering of “as above, so below.”
© 2018 Alex Miller – all rights reserved
Bio: Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, specializing in deep space points and minor bodies of the solar system. A past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society and currently a member of the board for the Philadelphia chapter of NCGR, Alex is the author of The Black Hole Book, detailing the use of black holes in astrological interpretation, and Cat o’ Nine Tales, a memoir of his cat rescue work. He has been chronicling the effects of asteroids and other minor bodies since 2005, much of which can be found at his website: alexasteroidastrology. Alex can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org