Target States & Planetary Goals With a Case Study of Donald Trump
By Glenn Perry
The sign position of a planet not only symbolizes its style of action, but also the nature of its behavioral goal. Donald Trump’s Mars Leo on the Ascendant provides a case in point. Not only does Trump assert in a dramatic, egocentric manner, he asserts his brand – his name, his image, and his pride – over and over again, as if his very life depended on it.
In AstroPsychology, signs and their ruling planets are conceptualized as sign-planet systems wherein sign-feelings trigger planetary actions. It follows that planets are the active agents of the signs they rule. Feelings constitute an affective signal that spurs a planet to action. The action undertaken is contingent upon the nature of the feeling that the situation evokes.
For example, when a woman feels attracted to a man at a social event, her Venus is activated via a Libran feeling of attraction. She may convey her amorous sentiments in any number of ways―by being forward (Aries), sensual (Taurus), knowledgeable (Gemini), caring (Cancer), and so forth. In other words, the quality of her Venusian action is dictated by Venus’ sign position. It’s her Venus style.
Style, however, is only one meaning of a planetary sign position. When people become aware of motives through corollary affects, they establish a behavioral goal that is designed to satisfy the motivating need and achieve a preferred state. Whereas the planet describes the action, such as to socialize (Venus), the sign position suggests not only the style of the action but also its objective—the behavioral goal.
If the woman has Venus in Capricorn, her social style may be serious and calculated; her behavioral goal may be to advance her career by networking with the rich and powerful. The man she is attracted to may be the CEO of a company where she hopes to be hired. If she succeeds in engaging him in conversation and makes a suitably positive impression, she has accomplished two things: (1) satisfied her Libran need for social relatedness by being serious and calculated, and (2) contributed to her Capricorn goal of raising her status. In short, Venus in Capricorn describes not merely the style but the object of her action.
To discern a planet’s style, we have merely to state the planetary action and ask the question how? If Venus socializes, how does Venus socialize? Its sign position answers the question. Venus in Aries socializes eagerly and enthusiastically; in Taurus, slowly and calmly; in Gemini by being chatty and knowledgeable. Conversely, in discerning a planet’s objective (behavioral goal), the sign position answers the question what? If Mar’s asserts, what does Mars assert? If Venus attracts, what does Venus attract? If Mercury learns, what does Mercury learn? The planetary sign position is the direct object of the planetary verb. A direct object receives the action of the verb and answers the question, “What is the [actor’s] objective?”
Sun: I express express what? Moon: I care care about what? Jupiter: I believe believe in what?
Let’s back up a moment. When individuals become aware of sign-motives through experiencing their corollary affects, they are compelled to satisfy the motive. Thus, every sign-motive activates its ruling planet. When feeling socially isolated (Libra), a person may be compelled to seek relatedness (Venus); if feeling curious (Gemini), she is stimulated to learn (Mercury); if ambitious (Capricorn), he is driven to pursue success (Saturn). In short, people establish general behavioral goals they expect will lead to the desired state of satisfaction, which we call the target state. It follows that behavioral goals are in the service of attaining specific emotional states. This motivational sequence can be described in three stages: affect, action, and goal.
Using Venus as an example, it would look like this:
Stage 1: Affect—a feeling of attraction that signals the Libran need for social relatedness.
Stage 2: Action—Venusian behaviors of engaging, considering, and accommodating to satisfy the Libran need.
Stage 3: Goal—establishment of a concrete goal that focuses the Venusian action in pursuit of the target state of fulfillment.
Every planet symbolizes a type of action. The Sun expresses, the Moon listens, Mercury learns, Mars asserts, Venus attracts, Jupiter expands, Saturn orders, Uranus awakens, Neptune dissolves, and Pluto transforms. In fact, each planet symbolizes a class of related actions, all of which are designed to satisfy the motivating need and achieve the target state. For example, Venus not only attracts, it engages, socializes, cooperates, compromises, and mediates.
Basic needs symbolized by signs are intrinsic to human beings. We all have the same twelve core needs. Aries, for example, signifies our need for survival, which motivates the planetary action to assert (Mars). Assertion is the action that is designed to satisfy the intrinsic need for survival. If the person succeeds in attaining his behavioral goal, then confirmation of his right to be is the intrinsic reward. In other words, if Martian action leads to a state of aliveness and a sense that one is a free, autonomous agent capable of effectively acting in one’s own self-interest, then Mars’ target state has been attained.
While a target state is the subjective goal of a planet, there is an implicit behavioral goal as well. A behavioral goal differs from a target state in that it has to do with an extrinsic reward or external outcome, the attainment of which leads to the target state. In the image on the right, the man’s intrinsic goal is survival; his behavioral goal is starting a fire. If he succeeds in starting the fire, he will attain his target state of survival with all its attendant feelings of boldness, strength, and vitality. In a word, he will be encouraged.
Whereas the intrinsic goal (target state) of a planet is symbolized by the sign that planet rules, the specific behavioral goal is symbolized by the sign the planet tenants. For example, an individual may decide to assert in an effort to protect his loved ones (Mars in Cancer), or perhaps in defense of astrology as a belief system (Mars in Sagittarius), or in order to dominate the competition (Mars in Capricorn). In each instance, he asserts his Aries right to be; yet, in each case Mars’ behavioral goal is different—to protect loved ones, defend astrology, or dominate the competition. Such goals are associated with, and linked to, his need for survival as an autonomous being.
Note how the extrinsic reward differs from the intrinsic one. The intrinsic goal (target state) of Mars is always the same: to survive, to feel alive, bold and free, which is symbolized by Aries. However, Mars’ sign position specifies the actual behavioral goal. With Mars in Cancer the extrinsic reward is that loved ones are protected, in Sagittarius that his belief in astrology is successfully defended, and in Capricorn that he dominates his competitors. These different outcomes serve to illustrate how the object of an action is described by the sign the planet occupies, whereas the sign the planet rules describes the motivation behind the goal.
Again, planetary signs constitute the last phase of a three-part motivational sequence. Phase one is awareness of the emotion that conveys a need, which is followed by the impulse to behave in a way that satisfies the need. The third phase is the establishment of a specific goal for the requisite action. This behavioral goal—the extrinsic reward—is qualified by the planetary sign position.
Imagine that an individual feels curious and so becomes aware of a need for information (Gemini). His Mercury function of learning is activated. But what is he curious about? What does he desire to learn? If Mercury is in Scorpio, he might be curious about sex, death, crime, or the machinations of power. He then acts with this object in mind by choosing to read about the life of serial killer Ted Bundy (left), for the topics of sex, death, crime, and power would be strongly in evidence. If reading Bundy’s biography satisfies his desire to learn, then the behavioral sequence will be terminated.
Note that Mercury’s sign position of Scorpio symbolizes the behavioral goal of the sequence: reading the Bundy biography to satisfy his craving for Scorpionic data. If the target state is not satisfied―that is, if he does not feel sufficiently informed, he will establish another behavioral goal for Mercury. There is high likelihood that whatever he chooses to study will accord with Mercury in Scorpio. Perhaps he’ll launch into an investigation of global terrorism or sex trafficking or corporate corruption—all Scorpionic topics.
The goal of a planetary action is not always related to its sign position. A person may have Mars in Gemini and fight to protect his loved ones, which has nothing to do with Gemini. In this case, the sign position merely describes the style of action that characterizes the planet. Mars in Gemini may assert to protect loved ones by giving the offending person a verbal tongue-lashing! While a planet’s behavior is not limited to goals symbolized by its sign position, the sign position will tend to establish a predominant theme or field of interest for that planet.
Trump Rising: Mars Leo on the Ascendant Delineating both style and objective when considering planetary sign position allows for a fuller, more nuanced interpretation. Consider, for example, President Donald Trump’s Mars in Leo, which is especially prominent by virtue of being conjunct his Leo Ascendant. Mars on the Ascendant is like Mars on steroids, regardless of the sign occupied. Mars Leo on the Ascendant is like the Marvel Comics superhero, Iron Man―or, a circus performer shot out of a cannon. Fearless and entertaining, but so over the top it’s slightly ridiculous!
If we deconstruct the configuration, it becomes clear why this combination of factors is so outlandish, even if strangely effective. The Ascendant functions as a Mars point in the chart. It is like a launch pad with a rocket at the ready (the rising sign); so, having Mars actually on the Ascendant is a doubling down of Mars energy, a huge rocket with a large payload.
Donald Trump, June 14, 1946, 10:54 am, Jamaica, New York
As ruler of fire sign Aries, Mars is impulsive, autonomous, and combative. This is readily apparent in Trump’s feisty, dynamic personality. To state the obvious, he is brash, brazen, aggressive, indomitable, and constantly on the move. Trump’s energy is legendary; he requires only four hours sleep per/night. Moreover, he is fiercely independent and has a reputation for micromanaging projects. A classic entrepreneur, Trump is self-reliant, autocratic, and instinctive, trusting his gut over the advice of experts. Ever the happy warrior, Donald pushes so hard he’s embattled on all sides, fighting even members of his own party. All of this is consistent with Mars on the Ascendant regardless of sign.
When we add fire sign Leo to the mix, the Donald comes into sharper focus. Mars in a fire sign on the Ascendant is going to be irrepressible, like a locomotive barreling down the tracks with its furnace burning full blast. Mars symbolizes a set of actions: to initiate, assert, declare, compete, and fight. Again, its sign position answers the question how? Mars Leo asserts confidently, competes dramatically, fights heroically!
It is easy to mistake Trump’s oversized persona as merely conveying Leo attributes, but this misses the point. Mars excites, emboldens, and renders aggressive precisely those Leo qualities that are so prominent in his makeup. Trump is not merely Leo rising, he’s Leo shot out of a cannon rising; he’s in-your-face turbocharged Leo; he’s Iron Man Leo. There’s no censor or forethought: it’s unselfconscious and automatic. When he asserts, and assert he must, it’s going to be flamboyant, entertaining, playful, charismatic, and hyperconfident. In short, Trump can’t help himself. It’s simply who he is.
Related to style, of course, is the objective of Trump’s Mars. What does Trump assert? Once again, Leo answers the question. To appreciate this, we have to grasp that everything Leonian is reducible to the need for validation, consolidation of ego-identity, and building of self-esteem. All Leonian behaviors are subservient to these ends. In effect, what Trump is asserting is his will, pride, and identity. Momentary goals may shift but underlying all is this essential quest: Trump is declaring Trump―that is, his identity as a person of merit. Drive around NY city and you will see Trump’s name emblazoned everywhere: Trump Tower, Trump International Hotel, Trump Plaza, Trump World Tower, the Trump Building, Trump Park Avenue, Trump Soho, Trump Golf Links, the list goes on. And that’s just New York.
The Mars/Ascendant archetype is associated with births, fresh starts and new beginnings. Within this category is the founding of companies, organizations, and other entities. Again, with Mars in Leo, Trump is giving birth to himself―that is, declaring his brand over and over. The number of things launched by Trump that bear his name is almost incalculable―Trump towers, hotels, casinos, resorts, golf courses, plazas, wineries, restaurants, magazines, books, television and radio shows, games, airlines, clothing lines, schools, and more. In most of these categories, it’s not just one but multiple. He has 17 golf courses, 9 Trump Towers, 6 entertainment resorts, 6 international hotels, 4 Trump Plazas, 4 books, and on and on.
If the Aries-Mars archetype is associated with sowing your seed, Trump has spread his seed all over the world, having become the most famous person on the planet and now, as president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world. To call him prolific would be an understatement. Words simply fail.
As the archetype associated with play, games, and sports, Leo is all about winning. To win is to get the girl, profit from the deal, outscore the competition, acquire the trophy, be the star and see your name in lights! There’s nothing wrong with this; in fact, we celebrate it. However, if winning is pursued too ardently, one suspects narcissism, as if the individual is overcompensating for some internal deficit.
Trump’s narcissism is so glaring one expects him to deflate at any moment. In pathological narcissism, confidence is compensatory. The person is puffed up as a defense against an inner emptiness and sense of worthlessness, like a big balloon with a happy face but nothing substantive on the inside. As soon as the false pride is punctured, the ruse falls apart and the narcissist self-destructs. This is how I always saw Trump, thin skinned, a buffoon, a big phony. For years, he was my poster child for narcissistic personality disorder. And then he became president. Ever since, he’s been character assassinated 24/7 in a relentless barrage of attacks by the left-wing media, ceaselessly denigrated and investigated by his political opponents, and according to the Mueller and Horowitz reports, falsely accused and undermined by the justice department in a conspiracy to destroy his presidency.1 And yet, if anything, he’s only grown stronger.
This has forced me to reevaluate my initial assessment. Is it possible that what we’re seeing is not narcissism in the conventional sense, but something narcissistic-like yet distinguishable from its pathological version by virtue of an overabundance of genuine confidence combined with an unbridled instinct to assert his worth? This would be consistent with Mars Leo on the Ascendant. And while his bombastic, self-aggrandizing style might not be pretty, it is not necessarily pathological either. Real narcissism is more than a set of obnoxious traits; it’s a personality organization defined as much by what is lacking on the inside as what is apparent on the outside. Trump is more like the Energizer Bunny that keeps going and going, no matter how many times he gets hit. As president, he has proved extraordinarily resilient. And his lifetime of accomplishment speaks for itself, even if the volume is turned up annoyingly loud.
There’s another thing that makes me question whether Trump is truly narcissistic. He is a contradiction. On the one hand, the Donald seems inordinately concerned about his image and popularity; on the other, he is fiercely independent and uncensored, often saying things that are politically incorrect and sure to offend. In actual narcissism, the ego-identity (Sun) is inflated and overcompensating for an internal deficit that makes the narcissist secretly afraid that he’s insignificant, unimportant, and expendable. Mars Leo on the Ascendant mimics the outward appearance of narcissism by energizing, strengthening, and rendering more aggressive the Leo penchant for self-promotion; yet, the expression is not compensatory. It’s Leo bursting forth like a geyser under pressure, a fount of pure creativity. Internally, the goods are there.
This Trump doesn’t care what anyone thinks; he’s going to be his authentic self and do what he thinks is right no matter how unpopular. And he’s going to keep doing it. When challenged, he’ll launch a spirited defense, counterpunching with a vengeance. But that’s Mars Leo, the indomitable King defending his honor. Trump himself says it best: “The only thing I’m a little bit weak on is my personality but who the hell cares.”2
We need to keep in mind that Mars behavior is always in the service of fulfilling its motivating needs for autonomy, freedom, and survival. The sign position of Mars symbolizes its style of action and behavioral goal, but both are for the sake of affirming one’s right to be. Trump’s Mars provides a case in point. He asserts in a dramatic, egocentric manner, and he continuously asserts his brand – his name, image, and pride – as if his very life depended on it. And for him, perhaps it does. That is the beauty of astrology. It enhances our empathy and allows us to walk in another man’s shoes.
Trump is a loose cannon, to be sure. He declares himself great, over and over, and now has hitched himself to America’s wagon as the hero of his own movement to make America great. However unorthodox, he appears to be succeeding―booming economy, stock market hitting all-time record highs, unemployment at a 50-year low, record job growth, reduced taxes, rising wages and increased savings. But this should not be surprising. That’s what Trump has done his entire life. With Mars Leo sextile his Sun (will) and trine his Moon (homeland), he is compelled to be great and make America great, too, whether we like it or not.
At a campaign rally in Billings Montana in 2016, Trump promised the crowd, “We’re going to win. We’re going to win so much. We’re going to win at trade, we’re going to win at the border. We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go, ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore. It’s too much. It’s not fair to everybody else.’ And I’m going to say, ‘I’m sorry, but we’re going to keep winning, winning, winning. We’re going to make America great again.’”3
This single statement encapsulates the style and objective of Mars Leo on the Ascendant. How does Mars assert? Like a circus showman rallying the crowd. Playful, exuberant. Prepare to be amazed! What does Mars assert? That Trump (and us, too) will win and keep on winning―that is, if we can stand it.
* * * * *
For information about courses at the Academy of AstroPsychology, click here.
Albert Camus & The Myth of Sisyphus Planets as Psychological States
By Glenn Perry
In this essay, we will explore the life and birth chart of Albert Camus, celebrated French novelist, playwright, and philosopher from the mid-20th century who was recipient of the Nobel prize for Literature in 1957. Our purpose is to show how Camus’s predominant preoccupations―the themes, struggles, and convictions that reoccur in his works―express an intrapsychic conflict symbolized by a key planetary configuration. We will set the table by first examining planets as psychological states. Whereas every planet symbolizes a continuum of psychological states, aspects between planets signify core ideas that generate and sustain specific states. Our primary example will be Camus’s Yod from Saturn to Sun-Jupiter. It was this configuration that manifested through Camus’s most famous idea: his notion of the Absurd.
Planets As Psychological States In a previous column, we explored how sign-planet systems refer to affects that are experienced on a range of intensity. Each sign-planet system has a target state, or preferred feeling, deviation from which is experienced as a varying reference signal. When events create a disturbance from the target state, resultant negative feelings signal the need for corrective action. For example, an insult is experienced by the Leo-Sun system as “wounded pride”. This, in turn, stimulates a behavioral sequence that is calculated to restore the desired solar state of self-esteem. A person might leap to defend his honor via a counter-attack, or respectfully confront the offender, or simply avoid the person.
Planets not only symbolize a range of affects that are evoked in response to specific events, they also represent enduring psychological states. States are more stable than momentary feelings (affects) that arise and quickly subside; they can be chronic, for good or ill. A psychological state is characterized by a recurrent pattern of experience as reflected in mood, attitude, internal dialogue, facial expression, posture, voice tone, and what a person says and does.1 In other words, a state is reflected in virtually every aspect of a person’s inner life and observable behavior.
States common to most persons entail emotions such as anxiety, anger, guilt, sadness, shame, sexual excitement, surprise, and joy. However, a state is more complex than its emotional component. It also includes an underlying motive, associated beliefs, and self-talk (internal dialogue), all of which can be summarized by the term ‘attitude’. An attitude is a settled way of thinking, feeling, and acting vis-à-vis a particular topic such as politics, war, or religion. An individual may, for example, hate politicians, glorify war, or distrust religion. A person’s dominant attitudes, which are more-or-less synonymous with states, are manifestations of character structure and reflected in the way corollary planets are constellated in the birth chart.
Saturn as an Enduring State In AstroPsychology, each sign-planet system is associated with a range of states. Remember, a state is characterized by a recurrent belief, mood, internal dialogue, and behavioral pattern. Of these, belief is primary, for it underlies and generates all the rest. Consider that wherever Saturn is in the chart, we find a drive to achieve an unrelenting high standard, which we might call perfection―Capricorn’s core motivation. Deriving from this are additional Capricornian needs for structure, order, and success. Depending upon how Saturn is constellated, as well as its degree of integration, the native will have some belief about his or her ability to fulfill Capricorn needs. And this belief will produce corresponding Saturnian states.
If Saturn is in the 3rd and under pressure from difficult aspects, a reporter may suffer writer’s block due to a belief that his writing skills are inferior. This, in turn, can generate a depressed mood and self-talk that is persistently negative, “I’m failing to meet journalistic standards”. Believing he lacks the necessary ability, he procrastinates in doing the requisite work. Note how his mood (depressed), internal dialogue (negative), and subsequent behavior (procrastination) all flow from a single underlying belief.
Saturnian perfectionism can manifest along a continuum of states from suicidally depressed to supremely successful. Moving from positive to negative, Saturn’s continuum of states includes: Successful, organized, focused, ambitious, determined, serious, grave, stressed, anxious, inferior, craving, inadequate, pessimistic, failure, gloomy, isolated, guilty, despairing. Since perfection represents an absolute that can never be attained, it can result in perpetual guilt if carried to an extreme. While there are two general types of guilt, Saturnian and Neptunian, the Saturnian variety results from the perception that one is failing to fulfill duties and meet obligations―in short, that one is inadequate to the task at hand. The resultant saturnine mood is gloomy, pessimistic, and despairing.
Sun-Saturn States A negative Saturnian attitude is usually generated by a fear (belief) that one will never be good enough. Good enough for what, we ask? For anything with which Saturn happens to be involved. To determine the specifics, we would have to look at Saturn’s sign, house, and aspects. If it is connected to the Sun by aspect, then personal identity will be bound up with Saturn; thus, Saturnian states will strongly impact one’s capacity for intentionality, self-expression, play, creativity, performance, romance, and self-esteem. For these are the Sun’s primary functions.
Of course, the Sun has its own (Leo) needs to fulfill, among them validation, approval, and self-esteem. To the extent the Sun is functional, resultant states are positive; if the Sun is dysfunctional, states are negative. Just as with other planets, Solar states fall on a continuum: Proud, confident, self-assured, certain, happy, playful, worthy, romantic, willful, stubborn, defensive, disdainful, uncertain, unworthy, embarrassed, humiliated.
When Sun and Saturn are in aspect, they will combine in ways that reflect the nature of the angle and its degree of integration. One possibility with hard Sun-Saturn aspects (square, opposition, quincunx) is an inferiority complex, fears of inadequacy, expectations of failure, depressive tendencies, and the like – all related to core solar issues of personal identity and creative self-expression. I’m reminded of a famous quote by Camus, who had the quincunx, “Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee”? Camus struggled with the question of whether life was worth living if human beings are doomed to perpetual despair in a meaningless universe.
With hard aspects, the internal dialogue tends to be self-deprecating and predictive of failure. “I don’t have what it takes. It’s too hard, I’m going to embarrass myself,” and so on. To the extent the person defends his solar identity against Saturn, there is apt to be a fear of authority, which might originate with a parent (usually father) and subsequently extend to fear of any Saturnian figure – bosses, superiors, the government, and so on. This might emerge as a cynical, hostile, or defeatist attitude: “They’re holding me down. What’s the point of trying?” The negative attitude underlies and reinforces the depressive mood.
Of course, this is but one way, albeit a common one, in which Sun-Saturn expresses itself. Just as often, the native goes to the other extreme by identifying with Saturn at the expense of the Sun, thus producing the chronic achiever. Through a combination of discipline, perseverance and hard work, the Saturn-dominated individual pushes himself to the top of his field. No matter how much status and honor is conferred, however, he will not be satisfied. Since perfection can never be attained, he can never stop striving to excel, to surpass himself, to be perfect. This Saturn mood is tense, stressed, driven; the attitude is ambitious and determined, “I must be the best.” Self-talk focuses on setting the next goal, formulating plans, and pressuring the self to improve: “You should have gotten the promotion; you can do better.”
While one can identify with Sun at the expense of Saturn, or vice versa, conflicting tendencies co-exist and vacillate within the same person. First one dominates, then the other. In both instances, Saturn is over-functioning and unintegrated. In the first scenario, a fear of failure produces a defeatist attitude; in the second, it produces a compensatory, driven attitude.
Although astrologers cannot be certain how an aspect will be expressed, the nature of the underlying belief will determine whether the corollary attitude is predominantly negative or positive. In both examples above, the underlying belief was the same: a sense of personal inadequacy and anticipation of imminent failure. Although the subjective mood and outward behavior differs, neither state – defeatist or driven – is conducive of enduring satisfaction.
Integration of Sun-Saturn When Sun-Saturn is operating in a balanced, harmonious manner, the individual is more relaxed, patient, and flexible in pursuing aims. He or she respects limits, honors authority, is less driven, and more capable of achieving and enjoying success. Each planet enhances the other’s functionality. Work and play become coordinated; responsibility and creativity fuse. Underlying beliefs tend to be more positive, and the respective planetary functions are effectively utilized to achieve goal states of Saturnian mastery and Solarian self-esteem. All of this will be reflected in a person’s mood (serious but playful), attitude (confident and authoritative), internal dialogue (“I enjoy planning for and pursuing success”), facial expression (content/focused), and voice tone (coolly self-assured). Outward behavior is apt to be characterized by disciplined creativity applied to the achievement of long-term goals.
Such a state will be constant to the extent the person has integrated his or her Sun-Saturn aspect. Again, integration is not something that can be determined merely by looking at the chart, although soft aspects are suggestive of a relaxed, harmonious flow between the two faculties. While integration of hard aspects requires sustained effort, rewards tend to exceed those that accrue from soft aspects. Multi-billionaire Oprah Winfrey, who has Sun in exact square to Saturn, is a good example. Actress, director, producer, entertainer, media mogul, talk-show host, and philanthropist, Winfrey’s list of accomplishments is so long it would take several pages to list them all. Suffice to say she is one of the most successful, influential woman in the world.
Oprah Winfrey: January 29, 1954, 4:30 am, Kosciusko, MS
As befits an exact Sun-Saturn square, however, Oprah’s rise to the top was not without struggle. Born to an unwed teenage mother mired in poverty in the Deep South, she was raped at nine and suffered continuous sexual abuse from multiple relatives for the next five years. At age 14, she became pregnant and was shipped off to live with her estranged father. Her baby died two weeks after delivery from complications of being born premature. Oprah’s remaining teen years were characterized by constant humiliation and defiant rebellion. Unwanted, she was shuffled back and forth between her grandmother, mother, and father. Despite these hardships, Oprah Winfrey went on to achieve extraordinary success and is often praised for overcoming adversity to become a model and benefactor to others.
The Saturn Complex of Albert Camus A more typical case involves the previously cited Albert Camus, who embodies both the depressive and success themes of Saturn. Living in war-torn France during the 1940’s and 50’s, Camus emerged as an internationally recognized novelist, dramatist, political journalist, philosophical essayist, and champion of freedom. His extensive writings provide a unique glimpse into Saturn as enduring state and psychological complex.
In the chart below, note that Camus has Saturn Gemini in the 9th forming an opening quincunx to Sun Scorpio in the 2nd. It also forms a closing quincunx to Jupiter Capricorn in the 4th. Since Sun and Jupiter are sextile, this makes Saturn the focal point of a Yod with Sun-Jupiter. It is especially significant that Jupiter in Capricorn forms a hard aspect to its own dispositor, Saturn, which occupies Jupiter’s house (9th).2Jupiter and Saturn are thus thrice entangled – by sign, house, and aspect – which underscores the importance of the contact as well as their difficulty in working together.
I will have more to say about Jupiter-Saturn momentarily. Suffice to say that Camus’s Sun-Jupiter sextile comprises a two-pronged attack against Saturn, which is their common nemesis. His Sun attacks through creative works (fictional novels and plays) that seek to resolve problems wrought by Saturn, whereas Jupiter attacks through non-fiction books, political journalism, and philosophical essays that expose the dark side of Saturnian abuses. We will first examine Jupiter’s relationship with Saturn.
Albert Camus: November 7, 1913, 2am, Mondovi Algeria
While often characterized as a philosopher in the existentialist tradition, Camus described himself as merely “a writer”. Given that Mercury signifies his 10th house of career and tenants his 3rd house of communications, it is noteworthy that David Simpson writing on Camus for the Encyclopedia of Philosophy suggests, “it may be best simply to take him at his own word and characterize him first and foremost as a writer—advisedly attaching the epithet ‘philosophical’ for sharper accuracy and definition.”3 Of course, this perfectly accords with Camus’s birth chart. Mercury not only signifies his career as a writer, its position in Sagittarius further qualifies the nature of his writing as philosophical.
But, we might ask, what kind of philosophy? As Mercury’s dispositor, Jupiter provides information as to the nature of Camus’s philosophical, political, and religious convictions. Camus was never comfortable identifying himself as a philosopher. He was not inclined to abstract theorizing, nor did he develop a coherent, carefully defined doctrine. According to Simpson, Camus’s thought was focused on current events and was “consistently grounded in down-to-earth moral and political reality”.4This certainly fits Jupiter in earthy Capricorn, which suggests a morality focused on practical concerns rather than intangible, metaphysical speculation. Moreover, its placement in the 4th inclined Camus to seek political and economic justice for the nations to which he belonged―his country of birth, Algeria, and his adoptive homeland, France.
As mentioned, Jupiter in Capricorn forms a closing quincunx to its own dispositor, Saturn. This means Jupiter must depend on Saturn to further its aims; yet, the closing quincunx suggests such dependency is likely to backfire. In AstroPsychology, we would say Jupiter is “ill-disposed”. For rather than support Jupiter’s aims, Saturn actively resists them and even poses a danger. The nature of the danger is apt to derive from an extreme, destructive expression of Saturn, at least from Jupiter’s perspective. Objectively, this took the form of Camus’s preoccupation with totalitarian political ideologies like Fascism and Communism that he regarded as a threat to truth, justice, and morality.
Subjectively and thus behaviorally, Saturnian states of pessimism and despair impinged on Jupiter’s core values of hope and faith, which made Camus’s writings a threat to prevailing views―religious, philosophical, and ideological. An unremitting tension between Saturn and Jupiter is abundantly evident in all of Camus’s work, examples of which I will provide momentarily.
Since an aspect derives its meaning from the zodiacal sign that comprises that angle, a closing quincunx is Scorpionic; the two planets―Jupiter and Saturn―regard each other with mutual distrust and animosity, even while engaged in mutual influence. One or the other is likely to be projected and cast into shadow, and thus the entire aspect will erupt in ways consistent with Scorpio―passionate, extreme, and potentially destructive until and unless the crisis is resolved. In effect, a closing quincunx is a kind of wound that requires healing. And because the wound is projected, it manifests as an alarming situation or predicament.
Of additional significance is Saturn’s placement in the 9th house, which Jupiter naturally rules. Again, this underscores how tightly Saturn and Jupiter are bound together despite the unease of their relationship. Saturn not only symbolizes Camus’s approach to the affairs of the 9th, but also manifests as the concrete outcomes―things, people, and events―Camus experienced in that locale. The 9th house pertains to the search for truth (philosophy, ideology, religion) and the pursuit of justice (law, ethics, morality).
Saturn in Gemini in the 9th suggests that Camus would like to achieve perfect, factual knowledge of the metaphysical realm. Yet, the very nature of the realm is abstract, concerned with speculative ideas and inferences. Accordingly, Saturn in Gemini is likely to conclude in frustration that certain, indubitable truths are nowhere to be found. Simpson writes that Camus’s mature philosophy was not merely a naïve atheism,
but a very reflective and critical brand of unbelief. It is proudly and inconsolably pessimistic, but not in a polemical or overbearing way. It is unbending, hardheaded, determinedly skeptical. It is tolerant and respectful of world religious creeds, but at the same time wholly unsympathetic to them. In the end, it is an affirmative philosophy that accepts and approves, and in its own way blesses, our dreadful mortality and our fundamental isolation in the world.5
No astrologer could write a better summary of Saturn Gemini in the 9th, at least as Camus experienced it. It cannot be overstated that an aspect can be expressed in multiple ways. At higher levels of integration, no matter how difficult the aspect, it will be expressed in a manner that allows for satisfaction of the respective needs the planets are obligated to fulfill. It is clear from the foregoing, however, that Camus was unable to fulfill Sagittarian-Jupiter needs for faith, hope, and meaning during the course of his short life. In fact, he went in the opposite direction.
In lieu of any genuine religious faith, and given that Saturn rules government, Camus’s focus on political ideology was virtually certain. Again, he was preoccupied with the obstruction of justice (Jupiter) by oppressive government control (Saturn). When the Nazi’s conquered France in WWII, he was morally outraged by their imposition of a brutal, harsh system of laws. Yet, it is equally true that Camus’s own Saturnian skepticism dampened his capacity for faith and, as I will argue, limited his ability to see broader, more encompassing truths. Shortly, we will examine how Camus’s gloomy atheism was charged with having exactly that effect.
When two planets conflict by hard aspect, generally the slower predominates. Renown for its hard-core realism and persistent doubt, Saturn is likely to frustrate Jupiter’s quest for truth, meaning, and justice―or, at least make Jupiter work assiduously for even a scrap of satisfaction. This was most immediately apparent in Camus’s political convictions. Distrustful of Saturnian authority and potential abuses of power, Camus joined the French anarchist movement in his 30’s, wrote for their publications, and remained supportive of anarchist movements throughout his life. As a political ideology, anarchism is the antithesis of Saturn, for it advocates self-governed, hierarchically-free, stateless societies, and regards external, hierarchical forms of government to be largely undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful.
Camus’s cynical distrust of bureaucracy is consistent with Jupiter being ill-disposed, for he feared that the collective impulse for government, however high-minded and well-intentioned, would likely backfire and turn against the people. This was exemplified in Camus’s direct experience with Nazis while living in occupied France. In addition to his anarchist views, he became active in the Resistance and from 1944-47 served as editor-in-chief of the newspaper, Combat. His yod to Saturn was never more evident than when he wrote: “We are suffering a reign of terror because human values have been replaced by contempt for others and the worship of efficiency, the desire for freedom by the desire for domination. It is no longer being just and generous that makes us right; it is being successful.”6
In 1947, at age 34, he published an allegorical novel, The Plague, which depicted Fascism as converting formerly free, independent-minded human beings into soulless, oppressive bureaucrats who, like rats, afflict humankind with death and contagion. In fact, Fascism did turn against its own people as well as the inhabitants of conquered nations via its evil racial policies, death camps, cruel eugenics, forced sterilization, and involuntary euthanasia.
Again, consistent with the Scorpionic/closing quincunx between Jupiter-Saturn, one of his plays, State of Siege, depicts the officious, clip-board wielding Secretary of a fascist dictator as a modern, bureaucratic incarnation of the medieval figure Death. As if giving a nod to Saturn’s sign position of Gemini, a prominent concern of the play is the appropriation of language (Gemini) in the service of totalitarian ends, with words twisted and redefined to serve the machinations of power, or silenced altogether through state control of the press.
Although Camus had a brief flirtation with communism in his early 20’s, he was quickly disenchanted. Living in his native Algeria at the time, he initially saw communism as a means to combat inequalities between European and Algerian natives, but he was soon denounced as a Trotskyite-traitor and expelled from the party by age 24. He wrote, “We might see communism as a springboard and asceticism that prepares the ground for more spiritual activities.”7 Given that Camus was an avowed atheist, it is noteworthy that he saw communism as a spiritual springboard. Again, in the absence of an authentic faith, his religious impulse was sublimated into politics-as-religion. This is certainly consistent with Saturn in the 9th.
However, Saturn’s quincunx to Jupiter assured disillusionment with even this compromise. In his 1951 non-fiction book, The Rebel, Camus (now 38) condemned totalitarian ideologies like Marxism-Leninism for their system of pervasive control, micro-management, violent coercive methods, and suppression of human freedom. If Camus was looking for an exemplar upon which he could hang his fear of Saturnian authority, Fascism and Communism provided ready and easy targets.
Sun-Saturn and the Absurd Camus’s Sun Scorpio in the 2nd house, which forms an opening quincunx to Saturn, provided a second front in his life-long war with the grim reaper. An opening quincunx has a Virgonian connotation, for the respective planets have a problem with one another to which they are compelled to seek a solution. With Sun sextile Jupiter, Camus was personally identified with the pursuit of truth, justice, and meaning. No problem there; yet, as the other leg in the Yod to Saturn, the Sun was destined to perpetual battle with Saturn in the 9th.
It should be noted that the only aspects Camus’s Sun and Jupiter make are to Saturn (quincunx) and each other (sextile). While the Jupiter-Saturn quincunx reflects Camus’s general philosophy, the solar quincunx pertains more to his identity and creative works, especially his freedom (free-will) to make something of himself. The Sun-Jupiter sextile confirms that Camus saw himself as an individual capable of creating a bountiful life, but the two quincunxes to Saturn in the 9th suggest that perception of meaning in a larger, philosophical sense would remain extremely difficult.
This difficulty manifested most notably in his landmark 1942 book, The Myth of Sisyphus, an extended contemplation on the search for meaning in a meaningless world. That he wrote and published his signature work precisely on his Saturn return at age 29, highlights its significance as an attempt to resolve his own fated struggle. With Myth of Sisyphus, Camus formally introduced and fully articulated his most famous idea―the concept of the Absurd. The ‘absurd’ results from the fatal collision of two realities: man’s desire for meaning and clarity on the one hand, and the silent, cold universe on the other. In other words, the absurd entails a futile search for meaning in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Man’s very capacity for reason leaves him feeling estranged and alone in the blank, indifferent “silence of the universe”.
Camus offered three responses to the absurd: suicide, religion, or acceptance. He begins his treatise with a provocative sentence: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.” To give this much weight to the impulse for self-annihilation suggests that either people in war-torn France were desperately unhappy, or Camus himself was depressed. Since he was having his Saturn return when he wrote the book, I’m guessing the latter, though perhaps it was both. Camus reasoned that if we decide that life without inherent purpose or meaning is not worth living, then we can simply kill ourselves. He dryly observes, “I see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living.” In the end, he rejects suicide as a viable solution to the problem, calling it a cowardly evasion of life and itself absurd. Surely this was a relief to his readers for it virtually guaranteed they would get to read the full four chapters. However, that he advised readers not to kill themselves suggests he himself took the option serious enough to warrant an argument against it.
Camus’s second response to the absurd is religion, which he called “a leap of faith”. A leap of faith entails blind belief in intangibles, such as God, transcendence, redemption, and immortality. But this, too, he rejected, for a leap of faith goes beyond the evidence of life and favors abstraction (Jupiter) over concrete, personal experience (Saturn Gemini). As the principle of reality, Saturn trumps Camus’s Jupiterian capacity to believe in the supernatural. Using a phrase in keeping with the closing/Scorpionic quincunx, he regards religious faith as “philosophical suicide” in that it evades the problem of the absurd by substituting fantasy for grim reality. Doing so, thought Camus, constitutes the annihilation of reason―hence, philosophical suicide.
Over and again Camus cautions the reader to eschew hope, as if hope can only lead away from the cold, somber truth of existence. His utter negation of faith is like a defiant scream into a void that refuses to accede to his demand for definitive answers. He judges other philosophers as having failed to achieve truth by their very willingness to hope―that God exists, that the supernatural is real―as if Camus’s personal negation of faith is the final and ultimate standard by which other philosophers are to be judged.
Camus’s atheism reflects his belief there can be no meaning or purpose in the universe beyond what he can rationally understand on the basis of evidence, and that for him to believe otherwise would be tantamount to self-annihilation. It also exposes the extent to which his Sun-Jupiter sextile is dead set against granting any validity to Saturn’s formulations in the 9th; hence, those formulations remained profoundly negative, lopsided, and out-of-balance, as exemplified in totalitarian ideologies like communism and Fascism, and the more rigid, dogmatic, and irrational excesses of formal religions like Christianity and Islam.
Planets in quincunx occupy signs that share nothing in common―neither polarity, modality, element, nor perspective. Their fundamental incongruity is precisely why they pose a problem/crisis for one another, the solution to which often involves paradoxical logic. In a celebrated display of circular reasoning that is testament to Saturn’s quincunxes to Sun and Jupiter, Camus asserted his third choice and what he believed was the only valid solution to the problem of the absurd: full, unflinching, courageous acceptance. Paradoxically, “life can be lived all the better if it has no meaning,” for then mankind is truly free, liberated from imprisonment to religious decrees and their strict, moral codes. “He enjoys a freedom with regard to common rules”. By living without hope, man is no longer in anxious pursuit of eternal life. By accepting there is no purpose to life, he can embrace all that life has to offer. And since life has no meaning, there is no scale of values, no intrinsic morality. “What counts is not the best living but the most living.”
In short, Camus’s solution to the meaningless of life is a passionate, amoral hedonism (Sun Scorpio 2nd). The self is free to do whatever it wants, can passionately pursue earthly pleasures, and can rebel against the rules of morality constructed by traditional faith. Camus’s primary exemplar in this regard was Don Juan, the serial seducer who lives through his sexual conquests and who recognizes, “There is no noble love but that which recognizes itself to be both short-lived and exceptional.”
In effect, Camus’s final solution to the problem of the Absurd entails Sun and Jupiter teaming up in common revolt against Saturnian restraint, as might befit an unintegrated Yod. Camus made much of the concept of revolt. The contradiction of man’s search for meaning in a meaningless world requires constant confrontation, constant revolt, said Camus. Individuals should embrace the absurd condition of human existence by defiantly continuing to explore and search for meaning even while accepting there is no inherent meaning to life. Camus asserted that he believed not in God, but in Man; that Man can create his own meaning. And if this is all starting to sound confusing and logically inconsistent, welcome to the world of the quincunx.
Rather than find a way to embrace Saturn in the 9th, which might ultimately have yielded a solid, sensible philosophy that did not exclude hope and meaning, Camus chose instead to rebel and to live without “false hope”. He advised others do the same. For then humankind would be free to pursue earthly pleasures and revel in a kind of orgiastic primitivism, to worship only what is immediately real to the senses. As the 2nd house is the sensory realm of the body, of tangible, physical comforts (possessions, resources), as well as the natural domain of the earth itself (agriculture, gardens), it is not surprising that Camus overvalued this realm as an escape from Saturnian despair. One imagines Sun Scorpio pushing Saturn away in dread and by doing so rebounding into the 2nd with a voracious intensity.
Echoing this view, Simpson writes that Camus was a natural-born pagan, more of a sun-worshipper and nature lover than one notable for his piety or religious faith. “There is no salvation, [Camus] argues, no transcendence; there is only the enjoyment of consciousness and natural being. One life, this life, is enough. Sky and sea, mountain and desert, have their own beauty and magnificence and constitute a sufficient heaven.”8 Clearly, Camus’s God (if one could call it that) lived not in the 9th, but in the 2nd and 4th houses wherein Sun and Jupiter happily and passionately resided, mutually rejecting any requirement to believe in a higher Saturnian power. The “best” living may be Saturn in the 9th, but the “most” living was Jupiter augmenting Sun Scorpio in the 2nd.
Lest one think that Saturn in the 9th under hard aspect virtually assures an atheistic worldview, we have only to examine other philosophers and religious leaders who had the same position. Hard aspects to Saturn in the 9th may suggest struggles in relation to faith, but do not automatically result in rejection of religion. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who had Saturn in the 9th square to Sun Leo, is a good example. Despite early doubts, he ultimately professed a sincere and devoted relationship with Christianity. Likewise, John Muir, the American naturalist and philosopher, had a 9th house Saturn in quincunx to the Sun, but unlike Camus saw in Nature the handiwork of God. The list goes on – the Dali Lama (Buddhism), Jerry Falwell (Christianity), and Martin Heidegger (Taoist leanings) all had Saturn in the 9th under stress from hard aspects, yet all professed faith in a divine reality.
We must conclude, therefore, that Camus’s solution to what he called the Absurd was not much of a solution at all. Rather, it was what psychologists call a compromise formation―an attempt to ward off dreaded states by maintaining a compromised level of experience and style of behavior. A conflict between competing needs tends to produce fear that any attempt to fulfill one need could have negative repercussions for the other. If Camus pursues his Capricorn-Saturn needs for perfect factual knowledge (Gemini) of metaphysical truths (9th), his conclusion – life is meaningless – virtually assures a state of solar despair. However, if he pursues his Leo-Sun needs for passionate enjoyment (Scorpio) of momentary pleasures (2nd), he forfeits his Saturnian duty to achieve clarity as to the higher meaning and purpose of life. His compromise, therefore, is to concoct a philosophy that states there is no inherent meaning and purpose to life, but that humans are free to revolt against the absurdity of their own condition; they can construct their own, private meanings and pursue happiness and live passionately in open defiance of the Absurd. It is a brilliant rationalization, but one suspects any happiness it affords is limited at best.
Camus himself said as much. “There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night.”9 He continually stresses that joy is necessarily intertwined with despair, and that the inevitability of death confers a premium on intense experience and the ecstatic celebration of the pleasures this one life can give.
His ultimate absurd hero was Sisyphus, the king of Corinth and a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again before reaching the summit. Sisyphus’s eternal punishment was due to having disrespected and defied the gods, specifically Thanatos, the god of Death. For when Death came for him, the king tricked him and put him in shackles so that he, Sisyphus, need never die. Of course, with Death in chains languishing in Sisyphus’s closet, this meant that no one else could die, too. Pluto took offense at this, as it knocked Nature seriously out of whack, and so dispatched the god of war to liberate Death from the chains of Sisyphus.
That Sisyphus was a king establishes him as a solar (egoic) figure. The king’s crime speaks volumes, for it establishes from the outset that he denied any purpose, meaning, or value to death, and favored his carnal desires over and above all other considerations, both spiritual and moral. Homer tells us that Sisyphus had a reputation for being a swindler, liar and fraud, willing even to cheat Death and betray the gods. Notorious as the most cunning knave on earth, Sisyphus lived a dissolute life in endless pursuit of whatever pleasures the moment provided. In effect, the king was corrupt. Eventually his indiscretions caught up with him, and he was hauled down to Hades to face his punishment.
But Camus sees Sisyphus as the ultimate absurd hero. “His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth.”10 Just as humans are condemned to the meaningless task of living, so Camus saw in Sisyphus the essence of the human condition. But Camus went further, attributing to Sisyphus a heroic quality.
He sees Sisyphus as heroic in the sense that he performs his task in full, conscious awareness of his eternal torment, or at least Camus assumes he does. Sisyphus has no illusions. He is lucid. But! says Camus, “The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.”11 This reference to “scorn” is telling, for it reveals an underlying bitterness, not in Sisyphus, but in Camus for whom Sisyphus is merely a convenient screen on whom to project. Clearly, Camus’s scorn of the gods reflects his solar fear of Saturnian authority, and more specifically religious (9th house) authority. What better image of Sun Scorpio quincunx Saturn in the 9th than a dead king condemned by the gods to the interminable task of pushing a boulder up a mountain and never successfully achieving his goal?
Camus imagines Sisyphus capable of returning to his rock not merely in sorrow, but in joy, a joy that can come to him when he fully accepts the meaninglessness of his plight. For Camus, this is to scorn the gods, for “it drives out of this world a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile sufferings.”12 Camus is saying that there is no reason or purpose to suffering―at least none with a divine origin. For all that we experience is of wholly human origin with no transcendent meaning. But if we bear our suffering heroically, if we revolt against the despair of life, if we eschew hope that by our efforts we may someday be redeemed, then and only then we may have some small chance at moderate happiness. Imagining Sisyphus once more at the foot of the mountain in Tartarus, Camus concludes his work by saying, “The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”13
But this conclusion rings hollow. Camus makes clear that happiness for him is a solar act of revolt against what would otherwise be interminable despair―a despair that ironically is a consequence of Camus’s own failure to integrate Saturn. In other words, such happiness is compensatory, a reaction formation that serves as a defense against a dysphoric state of mind that is the unavoidable concomitant of his own worldview. Recall that ill-disposed Jupiter seeks meaning from Saturn in the 9th, but Saturn is in a sign (Gemini) opposed to meaning and quincunx the sign in which Jupiter resides (Capricorn). Hence, Saturn deprives Jupiter of the meaning it seeks. It says, “All your striving for meaning leads to the conclusion that human existence is meaningless.” Knowing this, one can have sympathy for Camus’s predicament, but it does not change the fact that his philosophy is less a statement about the human condition than it is a statement about him.
When Camus describes Sisyphus’s return down the slope, he admires the stony, saturnine attitude he imagines Sisyphus to have. Stony, without self-pity, hardened to the grim realities of meaningless, pointless exertion. “At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.”14]This is Camus’s formula for happiness: a heroic choice (Sun) to revolt. But it strikes me as a denial of legitimate suffering, like someone who laughs hysterically to ward off unbearable pain. It defies common sense to imagine Sisyphus as anything but unhappy, miserable in recognition of the hopelessness of his plight. That is the whole point of the myth.
Camus writes beautifully, but we should not conflate the elegance of his prose with the quality of his thought. His interpretation of the myth of Sisyphus is not a “manual of happiness”, as he tries to suggest. Rather, Sisyphus’s story is a morality tale whose lesson is simple: violate the laws of nature at your own peril. What could be clearer? Sisyphus locks Death in a closet; that is, avoids the transformation that death inevitably requires of us all. It is a profound dishonoring of Pluto for whom Death is an ally and servant. Death, the grim reaper, is a stand-in for Saturn who reminds us that our time is limited and that we should strive to live responsibly within the rule of law, exercising appropriate self-restraint and recognizing that when our time comes we will be judged by a higher power and appropriate consequences follow.
Our modern sensibility may scoff at such a notion; it is not scientific, it cannot be empirically proven. Camus, of course, would agree. Yet, the intuition that earthly sins generate celestial consequences is archetypal, showing up in virtually all faiths in one form or another. It is implicit in the meaning of Saturn. Since Camus did not believe in God (or gods), he saw no significance in Sisyphus’s crime beyond it mirroring his own religious scorn. But I see Sisyphus’s rock as symbolic of Saturn itself, of the responsible and patient toil toward perfection of heart and mind that Sisyphus avoided in life. And so he was bound to Saturn in death.
The question naturally arises as to whether Camus saw something of himself in Sisyphus’s profligate crimes. One might assume he did. On the one hand, Camus was inordinately responsible and morally serious, so much so that he was awarded the Nobel prize in literature for his persistent efforts to “illuminate the problem of the human conscience in our time.” He was honored for exemplifying in both his personal and creative life “an attitude of heroic defiance or resistance to whatever oppresses human beings.”15 While battles with Saturn surely inspired his greatest accomplishments, they had other consequences, too.
For example, Camus was renowned for his dalliances with women. His first marriage ended as a consequence of infidelities on both sides, and his second marriage was likewise marred by public scandal and affairs. Although Camus insisted he loved his wife, he also argued passionately against the institution of marriage, dismissing it as unnatural, “a constrictive and outmoded institution.”16Saturn again. Even after his wife gave birth to twins, Camus continued to joke to friends that he was not cut out for marriage.17 He persisted with his numerous affairs, including a public affair with the Spanish-born actress Maria Casares.
Given the customs of the French, perhaps we should not make too much of this. Camus enjoyed life in the fast lane with the Parisian elite, so what? In 1960, he was killed when his friend and publisher, Michel Gallimard, lost control of his fast, expensive sports car and crashed it into a tree. It was a horrendous crash. Photos show the car devoured right up to its rear axle. Camus was accelerated through the window, breaking his neck and killing him instantly. He was forty-six years old. In his pocket was a train ticket. After their Christmas holiday, Camus had planned to take the train back to Paris with his wife and kids, but at the last moment decided to travel instead with Gallimard. No one knows exactly why.
Can such a death have any meaning? Camus would say no, neither life nor death has any meaning. But as astrologers, we are not so quick to dismiss. We know that Camus rejected suicide as a solution to the despair of life. He believed that man must stay alive for no better reason than to rebel against the absurd. Live life to the fullest and hate death! And yet, his life was stolen from him at the peak of his powers. Death came for him sooner than expected. Saturn rules control, and we know that Camus resisted Saturnian control, seeing it as oppressive and constrictive. Saturn also rules obstacles. Gallimard lost control and crashed his car into an obstacle. Of course, Camus was not the driver so it may seem unkind to suggest he was in any way responsible for his own death. But in the archetypal world, responsibility does not have such limited meaning. Parts of ourselves we avoid can boomerang in infinitely creative ways. It is tempting to surmise, as Sisyphus found his rock, so Camus found his tree. Saturn and Camus, together at last in deathly embrace.
Summary & Conclusion We have seen that enduring psychological states are manifestations of character, which is symbolized by the birth chart and the degree to which it is integrated. Chronic states emerge from deep, core beliefs represented by dominant planetary configurations. Unresolved psychic conflict tends to produce pathogenic beliefs and accompanying dysphoric states; conversely, to the extent planetary aspects are integrated, constructive beliefs result. These, in turn, produce positive states that will be evidenced in virtually every aspect of the person’s life: mood, attitude, self-talk, body language, facial expression, outward behavior and life experiences.
An example was provided of Albert Camus’s Yod, which entails a sextile between Sun and Jupiter with both planets quincunxing Saturn. While Camus’s extraordinary accomplishments suggest a high degree of integration of the Yod, it is also likely they were, at least in part, a product of his unresolved struggle with Saturn. A sense of meaninglessness and depression plagued Camus. His atheism was the equivalent to his anarchism, for both entailed a revolt against Saturnian authority in the 9th; both entailed scornful disbelief, the one in religion, the other in government―or, at least in conventional forms of hierarchical government. And both were responses to despair.
Perhaps the most significant lesson we can take from analysis of Camus’s life and birthchart is this: His ideas about the human condition, his philosophy and its influence on the world, teaches us less about the meaning of life than it does about one man’s attempt to exorcise his demons. Camus’s atheistic worldview as articulated in The Myth of Sisyphus was a self-portrait of his psychic structure and its level of integration.
This, no doubt, is true for all of us who endeavor to say something about the world. Each of us views life through a personal lens, as symbolized by the birth chart, and like Camus we see but through a glass darkly. If astrology has value, it’s that it enables us to become conscious of the stories we construct and gain insight into their underlying psychic matrix. Astrology is the light that illumines our darkness. And from that, if he were still alive, I suspect even Camus could draw hope
* * * * *
1Horowitz, M.J. (1987). States of mind: Configurational analysis of individual psychology. New York: Plenum Medical Book Company.
2A dispositor is a planet that rules the sign that another planet occupies. Since Jupiter is in Capricorn, Saturn disposes Jupiter. A dispositor is thought to carry forward the actions of the planet(s) it disposes. However, if the disposed planet is in hard aspect to its dispositor, then it is “ill-disposed,” for the dispositor is against the objectives of the planet it disposes. See: Perry, Glenn (2012) Introduction to AstroPsychology. East Hampton, CT: APA Press, pp. 349-358
A Tale of Two Hermes Mercury in the Charts of Trump and Hillary
By Glenn Perry
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…
The opening lines of Dicken’s immortal A Tale of Two Cities remind me of the “messaging and spin” received from the two candidates for the upcoming presidential election. As we all know, Hermes was the messenger God of Greek mythology, later renamed Mercury by the Romans. Adaptive and cunning, Hermes moved swiftly between the world of man and the world of gods, acting as a messenger and link between mortals and Olympians. If we substitute “Washington politics” for “the world of gods”, then Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s Mercury may well be serving the same function―delivering messages from on high to mortals (voters) below.
But what a difference in the messengers! The contrast between the two Mercurys could not be starker, the one being as loose as a leaf in the wind, the other buttoned up tighter than Fort Knox. In the remainder of this essay, we will explore the Mercury function in Trump and Clinton’s birth charts. Each Mercury plays the role of messenger, explaining to the American populace the values and intentions of the candidate it represents.
Mercury’s sign position answers two fundamental questions: how and what. It tell us how the message will be delivered, and it discloses something of what the message will be. The house position of Mercury reveals where the message originates and the circumstances toward which it is predominantly directed, and its aspects suggest the influences to which Mercury will be subjected via its relations with other planetary functions.
Donald Trump Trump’s Mercury resides in Cancer in the 11th squaring Neptune in Libra in the 2nd. To understand the Donald’s Mercury, we have to take into account other chart factors, especially planets Mercury disposes. With his Sun and Uranus in Gemini, there is an enormous amount of mental energy channeled to Mercury. Picture a gas powered pressure washer funneling information down a tube with tremendous intensity to Mercury. But Mercury’s nozzle is in Cancer, which restricts and spreads the outflow, rendering it more like a high pressured spray than a sharp, incisive stream.
Donald Trump: Jun 14, 1946, 10:54 am, Jamaica, New York
Trump’s Mercury in Cancer speaks in a way that is more impressionistic than factual. An impressionistic style is based on subjective reactions presented unsystematically, and may entail memories, moods, and images that spontaneously come to mind. This is certainly characteristic of Cancer, which perceives emotionally through sympathetic rapport rather than intellectually through words that correspond to concrete data.
Imagine yourself observing a carnival from its center. There are sounds and smells, screams and laughter, a rush of movement with dazzling lights and people of all ages mingling together in a festive, joyous swirl. So many senses are involved, so many impressions formed simultaneously, that the final mix is more of a gut sense than an empirical analysis. If asked to describe the carnival, you might say: “Wow, it was an amazing experience. This is a great, great carnival, with rides and lots of other things, too. Really, incredible. Maybe the best carnival ever. And I mean that, folks. Believe me.” That’s Cancer. If it feels good, it is good.
If Mercury were in Gemini, all those impressions would be sorted out and classified into a clear description. The view is more objective, preferably from the periphery of the carnival. The carnival now becomes an assortment of several different types of rides, some favored more than others, with a strong smell of cotton candy in the air, and one girl in particular who is throwing up after being on the roller coaster, which looks rather old. “This is a medium sized carnival that originated in Chicago,” you might observe, “with 7 different rides featuring an excellent carousel, 22 booths including a Balloon and Darts game, five proprietors that offer junk food, and the people seem moderately happy. As a carnival, it’s fairly average.” Factual, specific, clear; that’s Gemini.
As mentioned, Trump’s Sun-Uranus in Gemini gets funneled to Mercury in Cancer. Cancer is the mouthpiece that filters his words and gives them an emotional tone. When Trump speaks, it’s more suggestive of information than clearly articulated facts and data. There’s a wink and nod, a shrugging of shoulders, a sudden gesticulation with hands and a torrent of folksy words conveying feelings and impressions. For most people, there’s enough information to follow, but you get a feel for the man’s attitude more than a clear understanding of a plan he’s going to implement.
That’s ultimately what Trump is communicating―an attitude, a state of mind that says, “I can return this country to the glory of yesteryear.” Trump loves to speak in superlatives. “We’re going to build a great, great wall…I’ll be the best job’s president God ever created…the people of Arizona are fantastic people…our politicians are completely incompetent…Hillary is the worst Secretary of State this country ever had.” Superlatives are an evaluative response―great, best, fantastic, completely, worst―that communicate whether something (or someone) feels good or bad. Again, these are not facts, they are feelings.
It is worth noting that Trump also has Saturn conjunct Venus in Cancer. His over the top Mars in Leo Ascendant bombast, and his garrulous gaffe-a-minute Gemini-Sagittarius opposition get most of the attention. So it’s easy to miss the importance of Cancer. Yet, with three planets in Cancer in the 11th this is the main theme of the Trump revolution. The 11th house is where we join with others of like mind for a common cause. The pro-Trump movement is decidedly Cancerian. It’s about wanting to reverse America’s decline, tighten our borders, and restore our national identity as one big family―a family that transcends the racial divisiveness that accentuates differences rather than reconciling them.
With Mercury Cancer in the 11th, his thinking is tied in to the collective, sensing their feelings, needs, and wants. In his acceptance speech for the republican nomination, Trump trumpeted, “I am your voice!” He declares that he’s a messenger of the people, a spokesperson for a movement to “take our country back and make American great again.” Note the Cancerian emphasis on precedents, foundations, roots. We’re going back to what works so we can be great again. Cancer is populist, patriotic fervor and longing for a past where people felt connected in a country with clear borders and strong family ties. That’s what Trump is talking about.
Mercury Cancer in the 11th answers the question of what he thinks and where it originates. He talks about the homeland (Cancer) because he intuits that taking American back is the people’s cause (11th). Whereas Cancer honors the past, the 11th house concerns the future and what we are evolving toward. “We need to put America first and get back to the future,” says Mercury Cancer in the 11th.
The final piece of the puzzle is Mercury’s closing square to Neptune. Whereas Cancer is an impressionistic, subtle, suggestive, indirect, and emotionally evocative style of speech, its square to Neptune gives it a wobbly, fuzzy quality, as if he is just making things up as he goes along, playing fast and loose with the facts. This is due to the nature of Neptune, which symbolizes the collective unconscious. Neptune is the repository of dreams, fantasies, and ideals that have no boundary precisely because they reside in an intangible, transcendent sphere accessible only by the imagination. When Trump makes a policy statement, he is not making a promise, but conveying an aspiration. The danger with Mercury-Neptune is that facts and imaginings get mixed up together, resulting in a tendency toward wishful thinking―or, if one is not careful, outright denial of what is factually true.
A closing square is a Capricorn angle that requires the planets work together for the sake of a joint goal, but the challenge is always control. Given that Neptune’s nature is to surrender, let go, and give in, control is especially difficult. Neptune is the antithesis of control; it is a dissolving of boundaries, a melting into a liquid state of flow. If Mercury is unable to control Neptune’s input, Trump’s thinking is apt to be flooded with images, intuitions, and extraneous information that has no obvious relationship to the topic at hand. Imagine trying to sort mail into proper trays in an anti-gravity chamber; everything is floating about and nothing stays put. Trump’s speech is sometimes like that. He has a tendency to go off on tangents with loosely associated thoughts pulling him in different directions.
A funny example of Trump’s tangential thinking is his comments on the Iran nuclear deal during a campaign rally in South Carolina on July 21, 2015.
Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart—you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you’re a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it’s four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.
A simple translation would be: “I believe the Iran Deal is bad for the United States,” but the structure of his thought falls apart because he cannot control the inflow of memories and associations that overwhelm his syntax. The result is a muddled word salad, a stream of consciousness, unedited, digressive, fragmented, like a dream that unfolds chaotically; yet, the meaning embedded within the tangle of words, innuendos and reminiscences somehow seeps through. While this is clearly an extreme example of Trump’s speaking style, it illustrates the challenge of Mercury square Neptune.
It is also worth considering that when he is speaking at a political rally it is off the cuff and not necessarily the way he thinks through problems that require clear analysis and practical solutions. In a business environment, his thinking might still be largely intuitive (Neptune), but he obviously gets the job done. His success in construction and real estate is clear testimony to that. Perhaps when speaking extemporaneously in front of large crowds he is more anxious than we realize. I suspect Trump prefers dialogue with another person because the other serves as an anchor. If you observe Trump being interviewed, he’s focused and coherent, even charming. But left to his own devices, he goes off the rails pretty quickly.
To whatever extent Trump’s Mercury-Neptune square can be utilized effectively, it is likely to have positive effects in the 2nd house. This is where we accumulate and secure holdings, as in wealth creation. Neptune here suggests his sense of possibility vis-à-vis prosperity is as infinite as his imagination allows. “I like thinking big,” Trump says, “If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.”Neptune symbolizes the infinite and eternal, the One, the Absolute; it’s hard to think bigger than that. Trump reminds me of the Kevin Costner character in the 1989 film Field of Dreams. Costner hears a voice in his head, “If you build it, they will come.” Trump did build it, 17 Trump Towers spread all over the world, and they did come: more than $74 million in real estate licensing deals and $823.3 million worth of real estate in joint ventures.
To some degree at least, that speaks for itself.
Neptune’s location also symbolizes where a person is likely to feel a sense of compassion and a desire to relieve suffering. When Trump talks about the poor, about people who lost their jobs because their companies relocated outside the U.S. to employ cheap labor, about the lack of jobs in inner cities for economically impoverished black Americans, this is Mercury square Neptune in the 2nd talking. However much one might disagree with his tone or strategy, Trump says he wants to save jobs, renegotiate better trade deals, get the economy moving again, lift people out of poverty, and elevate prosperity for everyone. In the most positive sense, this reflects the aspect at hand.
There is little reason to doubt his sincerity. Given Trump’s extraordinary wealth and extensive business holdings, it is certainly not in his economic self-interest to spend the next four to eight years helping other people become wealthy. Yet, questions remain as to whether he has the competence and experience to do what he says.
Hillary Clinton In every conceivable way except, perhaps, her tendency toward prevarication, Hillary Clinton’s Mercury is different than Donald Trumps. Whereas Trump puts his foot in his mouth on an almost daily basis, Hillary is so tightlipped it’s questionable she can get a straw in there. Infamous for not liking questions she cannot prepare for in advance, Clinton has avoided doing any press conferences for nine months, unprecedented during a presidential campaign.
Hillary Clinton: Oct 26, 1947, 8:02 am, Chicago, IL
Hillary’s reticence is not surprising in light of her Mercury in Scorpio conjunct the Ascendant, just outside the 1st house. While its closeness to the Ascendant might suggest spontaneity in her willingness to speak her mind, its tenancy of Scorpio and exact square to Saturn (within 5’ of arc) indicates otherwise. This is a Mercury with all the spontaneity and transparency of a bomb shelter. Keenly aware of the human propensity for evil, Scorpio is notorious for its vigilance, guardedness, and general suspicion. Hillary has her Sun, Venus, and Ascendant in Scorpio as well. That’s a lot of backup for any inclination Mercury might have to anticipate that others will be less than trustworthy.
Mercury in Scorpio tends to think in ways that are penetrating. It probes beneath the surface for information that is hidden. Concealed Information is concealed because it is associated with power and vulnerability. For example, if a foreign national wanted an illicit favor from Hillary as Secretary of State, she might subtly suggest he make a financial contribution to her private Foundation via a Canadian front group set up to shield the donors’ identity, as was reported in the New York Times. The ultimate goal of Scorpio is to facilitate transformation by integrating disparate elements into a functional whole. In the helping professions this constitutes healing, but in the political-financial world it entails making connections and putting together deals that are mutually empowering. Often, however, there is substantial risk involved. Given the stakes, secrecy is warranted.
What we do to survive is one of the meanings associated with 1st house factors. With Mercury in Scorpio on the Ascendant, Hillary may instinctively feel that knowledge is power and must be zealously guarded for the sake of her own survival. The square to Saturn seems to underscore a need for information control. If integrated, Mercury square Saturn would correlate to a serious, disciplined approach to learning, combining knowledge with authority so that over time the person rises to a position of distinction in a particular field of knowledge.
Saturn’s placement in the 9th suggests mastery of the legal justice system. As a graduate of Yale Law School, this is precisely what Hillary achieved. And given that Scorpio pertains to the world of corporate finance, she was appointed the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978, and has subsequently served on multiple corporate boards, the most recent being the Clinton Foundation―a philanthropic organization dedicated to various causes throughout the world.
If there is a message to the populace in all this, it’s that Hillary signifies the status quo, and that she will use her power and connections to assure that the downtrodden, persecuted, and disempowered are protected by the legal justice system. Of course, this means appointing liberal Judges to the Supreme Court that further assure Obama’s plan to “fundamentally transform America” will continue unabated. The show must go on.
But there’s a dark side to Hillary’s Mercury that suggests the country will be subject to endless intrigues and allegations of corruption if she is elected, for such has followed Hillary for virtually her entire professional career. This seems to reflect, at least in part, an ongoing struggle between Mercury and its exact square to Saturn.
If I were to offer a generic interpretation of an unintegrated Mercury square Saturn, I would say the native is apt to feel that her knowledge is insufficient to achieve professional goals. She might overcompensate for perceived deficiencies, while struggling to keep at bay expected criticism from superiors. Mercury’s sign position of Scorpio adds a furtive, sneaky dimension to the mix. Imagine a 5th grader with a cheat sheet as she enters the classroom for an important test. She is anxious to succeed, but worried she’ll fail. She eyes the teacher warily, anticipating she could be under suspicion.
Saturn corresponds to delays, obstructions, and barriers. In hard aspect to Mercury this can indicate not only frustration in obtaining required knowledge, but also stonewalling, as in delaying tactics and other attempts to stall or refuse to release information. The opening square is a Cancer aspect requiring containment; that is, holding in awareness contradictory planetary impulses so that their expression is sensitively attuned to the situation. Given that Hillary’s Mercury Scorpio makes an opening square to Saturn, there is no better expression of the configuration than Hillary’s private server in the basement of her own home―a black box containing top secret information over which she endeavors to maintain complete control.
Hillary’s private server in her basement is an apt metaphor not only for her style of communication―guarded, cautious, opaque―but on a deeper level for the scheming and machinations to which she is allegedly prone. A campaign is a specifically 9th house activity that involves a selling of the candidate herself; that is, her ideas, beliefs, and sense of right and wrong. Republican strategist Karl Rove writes,
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is in many respects a machine. It relentlessly raises money, methodically runs the ground game and ceaselessly moves her from venue to venue, each event indistinguishable from the next…when it comes to messaging, the campaign and its principal operate with crafty prevarication.
This is an excellent description of Mercury Scorpio on the Ascendant square Saturn Leo in the 9th. Rove employs two metaphors, like a machine (Saturn-like machinations), and runs the ground game, a football reference conveying a grinding, relentless, no frills attack, which is consistent with Mercury on the Ascendant (assert, compete) square Saturn (grinding, relentless). And when Rove says her messaging operates with “crafty prevarication,” we know he’s seeing Scorpio.
Any astrologer familiar with Mrs. Clinton can see her Mercury Scorpio square Saturn―the cagey, controlled style, the practiced delivery, the memorized speech, the disciplined stay-on-message professional politician. Hillary is often criticized as “inauthentic” because there’s such a glaring absence of spontaneity (precisely the opposite of Trump). When Clinton answers questions during interviews, her speech is measured and cautious, as if engaged in a chess match with a formidable opponent.
She will smile and deploy colloquial speech patterns every few sentences to make it seem that she’s just regular folk who drops a “g” like the rest of us. “Well let me say this, Chuck, I’m just doin’ my best to get the word out.” But if asked a question that is too pointed, she is apt to throw her head back in a sudden spastic eruption of bone-chilling cackle, as if the question is just too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Of course, the subtext of her laughter is that she knows the question is incriminating and could expose something she does not want the questioner (or the people) to know. Her laughter is a reaction formation, compensating for the anger she harbors toward her interrogator. Pure Scorpio.
The joke going around D.C. is that Hillary personifies the old Washington adage: “I prefer to tell the truth, it’s easier to memorize.” Her 11 hour testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi was textbook: evasive, mendacious, grinding, but highly effective in reciting the information she wished to convey. With Mercury conjunct Venus in Scorpio, she’s taken her natural diplomatic skills and turned mendacity into an art form. No one does it better. A recent CNN poll found that 68% of respondents said Clinton is not honest or trustworthy. Yet, she’s ahead of Trump in all the polls. This alone is testament to her mastery (Saturn) of messaging (Mercury).
The 9th house pertains to travel and foreign affairs in general. Saturn in the 9th would certainly be consistent with Hillary’s position as a former Secretary of State. She engaged in constant communications (Mercury) with foreign governments, heads of state, diplomats, dignitaries, and ambassadors, often around Scorpio matters pertaining to crises like Benghazi, as well as complex financial entanglements that governments have with one another.
Another meaning of the 9th is philanthropy. A charitable organization like the Clinton Foundation depends on funds raised from donors, which implicates Scorpio (finance) again, as well as Mercury’s dispositor, Pluto, which along with Mars is conjunct Saturn. With all three 9th house planets squaring Mercury in Scorpio, the entire configuration looks like an aggressive fund raising machine that entails a plethora of politically sensitive communications with foreign donors. It also looks like an array of powerful adversaries bearing down on what she knows with the intent to expose her secrets and lies, or so they charge. In this latter regard, her Mercury looks like a castle under siege.
For example, there is growing controversy over Hillary’s ties to the Clinton Foundation during her tenure within the Obama administration from 2009-2013. Evidence suggests that foreign and domestic corporations “sought to influence her decisions as secretary of state by making donations to the Clinton Foundation.” Recent email disclosures make clear that Clinton’s aides granted certain individuals special access to Hillary because they were Clinton Foundation donors.
Suspicions intensified in March of 2015 when it was discovered that while Secretary of State Clinton used a private email server for official communications rather than federal servers that are secure. Asked why she would take the highly unusual step of having her own private server, since it contained top secret information that could be hacked by malicious actors, Clinton said it was “for convenience” and that she never received nor sent information that was classified. It was subsequently determined by the FBI that 113 of her emails contained information that was classified at the time it was sent to her, 65 of which were deemed “Secret” and 22 classified as “Top Secret.”
More ominously, Clinton deleted over 30,000 emails from her private server after being informed that her records had been subpoenaed by Congress. Under penalty of perjury on August 8, 2015, Clinton swore before a U.S. District Court that the deleted emails merely pertained to family and friends, and that she had turned over all work-related emails to the State Department. Yet, last week the FBI recovered nearly 15,000 additional emails from her private server, “thousands” of which, according to FBI director James Comey, were work related and include evidence of coordination between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.
It now appears that her true reason for having a private server was to conceal such coordination. Suspicions are swirling about that Hillary was selling her influence as Secretary of State. Further, “It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons,” said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group.
With regard to the thousands of emails that were not recoverable, Clinton’s “lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery,” said FBI Director Comey. Apparently, Hillary’s team utilized a highly expensive technology called “BleachBit” that, according to the BleachBit website, “allows users to shred files to hide their contents and prevent data recovery.” This goes far beyond merely deleting emails. Yet, Comey later said at a press conference, “We found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.” Of course, if Clinton was intent to conceal them, it follows she would leave no evidence by which she could be indicted. Lack of evidence that a crime was committed is not evidence that a crime was not committed.
In a subsequent interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace in late July 2016, Wallace confronted Hillary with a video of her saying:
I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified materials. I am confident that I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time. I had not sent classified material nor received anything marked classified.
Wallace pointed out that FBI Director Comey testified before Congress that none of those things she told the American public were true, even if there was not sufficient evidence to charge that she intentionally committed a crime.
Recently released transcripts of her FBI interview, during which she was accompanied by four of her lawyers, reveal that she used the standard non-self-incriminating “I don’t recall” 40 times in response to even the most simple questions, such as “did you receive training for how to identify classified information?” Every lawyer knows that “I don’t recall” is code for signaling to the interviewer that no information will be forthcoming on that topic. Moreover, when asked to produce the 8 blackberries and 5 iPads on which she conducted government business, Clinton’s lawyers admitted they were either lost or had been destroyed with a hammer.
On September 6 (today), based on new details revealed by the FBI this past Friday, there has been a request for an investigation into whether Mrs. Clinton is guilty of obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence pertinent to a congressional investigation. New information is being released on an almost daily basis and no one knows where it will lead. This has got to feel like a nightmare without end for Hillary.
It has been said that the truth fears no questions. Hillary’s FBI stonewalling and avoidance of the media (nine months since her last press conference) may not be attributable merely to Mercury in Scorpio. If Saturn signifies obstructions, its placement in the 9th and exact square to Mercury perfectly reflects the “obstruction of justice” of which Hillary is being accused. And “destroyed evidence” is an eerily fitting meaning of Mercury in Scorpio.
A fascinating thing about birthcharts is that the same configuration that describes a psychological conflict also signifies an external predicament. In this regard, it would appear that Hillary’s Mercury not only anticipates that her survival depends on her capacity to conceal what she knows, it likewise describes the actual situation in which she finds herself: the subject of State Department investigations and FBI probes into her private server wherein all her communications are stored that pertain to her tenure as Secretary of State. Saturn-Pluto-Mars is an array of powerful others from the 9th house legal justice system intent on uncovering what she knows. Her Mercury in Scorpio is, in fact, under siege.
Hillary’s backers are hoping she can survive until November 8. But if she does, it is questionable whether it will be to the country’s benefit. If there is a voice in Hillary’s head, it’s not likely one of divine inspiration (as in Field of Dreams), but merely the faint and distant echo of a guilty conscience.
That’s life, that’s what people say. You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.1
On March 24th, 2015, the world shuddered upon hearing that Germanwings Flight 9525 inexplicably crashed into a mountainside in the French Alps, killing all six crew members and 144 passengers from 18 countries. In the days following, it was determined that co-pilot, 27-year old Andreas Lubitz, was alone at the helm when the plane began its rapid descent. The flight recorder, which was recovered amidst debris that covered 500 acres, revealed that Lubitz locked pilot Patrick Sondenheimer out of the cockpit after Sondenheimer went to the restroom. During the next 10 minutes, Sondenheimer could be heard pleading with Lubitz to let him in, passenger screams grew increasingly frantic, a pick ax repeatedly tore into the door, but inside the cockpit, the only sound was the steady, easy breathing of Lubitz. Then, a horrific crash. Followed by deathly silence.
The next day, discussions erupted on Facebook pertaining to the birthchart of Andreas Lubitz. As a participant in some of these discussions, I noted that there were two distinct tendencies in his chart: 1) a manic-like stellium in Sagittarius that trines its dispositor, Jupiter in Aries, all of which is decidedly upbeat and elevated; and 2) the dispositor of Jupiter―Mars in Scorpio―conjunct its own dispositor, Pluto, with Moon in Scorpio as well. This side is extremely dark, intense, and looks like a black hole of rage with no access to his bright, positive, Sagittarian side. Offering a tentative conclusion, I wrote:
It should not be surprising if it turns out he had manic-depressive (bi-polar) disorder. I suspect that when his dark side took over, it was total. And the event that will define him forever―the murder-suicide of 150 people―is itself a metaphor of his psyche: head in the pink clouds of expansive sky one moment, and sudden descent of soul into a black crevice of death the next.
As I had little information on Lubitz at the time, this was a speculative hypothesis to be sure, almost entirely based on the aforementioned dichotomy of his birthchart: a bi-polar split between light, buoyant Sagittarius and dark, brooding Scorpio. Before analyzing his chart in greater detail, it will be useful to review what we now know about Andreas Lubitz.
Some Background Facts Although Germany is notorious for not disclosing medical records, it was almost immediately revealed that Lubitz had an episode of severe depression in 2009 that necessitated taking several months off from Lufthansa’s demanding flight school. However, the airline said he passed all medical and suitability tests “with flying colors” upon resuming training. Germanwings likewise reported Lubitz was qualified, trusted, and showed no signs of physical or psychological distress before the crash. No mention was ever made of manic-depression or bi-polar disorder.
Within a week, confirmation of my hypothesis surfaced. Law enforcement officials searching his apartment obtained a tablet computer containing most of the pilot’s browsing history. Under the name “Skydevil”, Lubitz repeatedly searched for “bipolarity” and “manic depression” throughout the week leading up to the disaster. He also searched terms related to headaches and impaired vision, afflictions for which he was seeking treatment. Other searches were for “suicide” and for information on cockpit doors.2
Investigators found torn up notes from doctors who had placed Lubitz on medical leave as a consequence of suicidal ideation. One letter in his waste bin stated flatly that Lubitz was not fit to do his job. Ominously, the letter had been slashed.3 German officials said these notes were related to a psychiatric illness that was a “long lasting condition.”4 According to medical records since released, Lubitz was taking medication to treat depression and anxiety disorder with panic attacks.5
While searches for “bi-polarity” and “manic-depression” are not proof that Lubitz suffered from the disorder, it increases the probability that he did. In retrospect, it’s clear that Lubitz hid his mental illness from Germanwings―a task made easy by Germany’s strict medical privacy laws―and concealed from his doctors that he was continuing to work despite their assessment that he was “unfit to fly”.6
Andreas Lubitz Birth Chart: December 18, 1987, 10:31 am MET, Neuburg an der Donau, Germany7
There is no single factor in Lubitz’s chart that can account for such a massive and sustained deception on two fronts. Certainly Sagittarian enthusiasm combined with Scorpionic secrecy might be effectively utilized to present a false picture that all was well when, in fact, he was slowly ascending into madness. I say “ascending” because it is a peculiarity of manic states to use positivity as a defense against a dreaded descent into darkness.
Mania generally presents as elevated mood, delusions of grandeur, and, ironically, what sometimes is referred to as “flight of ideas” (rapid speech and jumps from topic to topic). If sufficiently tempered with depressive tendencies, however, the resultant mix can be difficult to diagnose, especially if masked with medication. Lubitz was reportedly taking medication (an antidepressant with the anti-anxiety drug, Lorazepam) in doses so strong that patients are advised to not drive cars let alone pilot commercial aircraft. Lorazepam (Ativan) is commonly prescribed for bi-polar anxiety, further confirming that he had the disorder. Potential side effects include:
confusion, depressed mood
thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself
hyperactivity, agitation, hostility
Some of these side effects constitute the very symptoms for which Lubitz was seeking help―depression, suicidal ideation, agitation, hostility, and impaired vision. Even so, the real point is this: unless Lubitz openly and willingly revealed his inner demons, he might merely have appeared a bit hazy, but not crazy. But crazy Lubitz was. Whether from unresolved psychological issues, side effects induced by medication, or a combination of the two, Lubitz clearly was in an unbalanced state when he decided to commit mass murder-suicide.
Why would anyone, regardless of their state of mind, commit such a horrific act? It is one thing to kill yourself; another to take 149 innocent souls with you. To go deeper into this question, we need to revisit our provisional diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, and more specifically a subtype called “dysphoric mania”. We will then examine Lubitz’s chart for additional insight.
Bi-Polar Disorder Bi-polar disorder, or manic-depression, is characterized by periods of elevated mood followed by depression. Manic episodes entail a week to six months of abnormal cheerfulness, boundless energy, and reduced need for sleep. During this time, the person is prone to racing thoughts and foolish decisions based on unrealistic ideas about the future, followed by irritability or rage if intentions are thwarted. In extreme cases, impaired judgement morphs into a psychotic delusion. The individual may fervently believe he has a special “divine” mission, has been “chosen” for some extraordinary destiny, or other grandiose notions.
Depressive periods, conversely, are marked by crying, emotional withdrawal, despair, pessimism, and in severe cases, a wish to die. The latter could be externalized as a paranoid delusion that others wish one dead. Like mania, depressive episodes can last anywhere from a week to six months or more.
Individuals with bi-polar disorder experience on average one episode every two years, with the manic and depressive phases lasting three to six months. There can be a remission of several months or more between phases, or simply an abrupt switch in mood polarity, followed by a period of remission before the next episode occurs. In some cases, however, there can be a faster cycling between the two phases, often four or more episodes in a single year. And at the far end of the spectrum in what’s called “ultradian” cycling (“within a day”), the pendulum is moving so fast it becomes blurred and the individual experiences depressive and manic states simultaneously.
This is what I suspect was happening with Lubitz. Dysphoric mania (or agitated depression), occurs when mania and depression overlap and begin to fuse. Symptoms include agitation, anxiety, guilt, impulsiveness, irritability, morbid and suicidal ideation, panic, paranoia, and rage. It is not a pretty picture. Mixed states are extremely dangerous because despair can combine with anger, impulsivity and sometimes grandiosity to produce a potentially lethal, suicidal-homicidal state.
In December 2014 Lubitz was in a car crash that caused subsequent migraines and impaired vision. This might have triggered a cascade of additional worries, for any impairment in his physical or psychological functioning jeopardized his career as a pilot. Numerous reports state that flying was a passion for Lubitz. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a professional flyer and entered training immediately upon graduating high school. Working for Germanwings was the fulfillment of a life-long ambition.
In the wake of his accident, however, Lubitz was in a double-bind. If he ignored his problems, they could get worse and destroy his career; yet, in seeking help, he ran the risk of being found out by his superiors, which again would end his career. He needed a cure but needing a cure might prove fatal to his identity as a pilot. This sort of double-bind constitutes a pressure cooker dilemma. Caught between Scylla and Charybdis, there is equal danger no matter which way one turns. No-exit predicaments like this can quickly escalate into high anxiety and paranoia―or, dysphoric mania.
Lubitz’s former girlfriend, a flight attendant known only as Maria W., told a German newspaper how Andreas worried that “health problems” would dash his dreams. When Lubitz discussed work, he would become agitated, complaining bitterly about his superiors and the pressure of the job. “At night he woke up and screamed, ‘We’re going down!'” she recalled. Lubitz also told her: “One day I’m going to do something that will change the whole system, and everyone will know my name and remember.” The flight attendant eventually broke off with him because it became “increasingly clear that he had problems.”8
Maria W.’s testimony is significant on several fronts. First, his nightmare of “going down” can be taken as a metaphor, symbolizing his fear of losing control and failing at his job. Termination of employment or “going down” might figuratively have been associated with death. Second, his vow to one day do something to “change the whole system and everyone will know my name” evidences delusions of grandeur. I suspect his fantasy of fame was compensatory to a fear of obscurity coupled with anxiety that his employment (and thus career-identity) might soon be terminated. Unable to accept that his dreams could be dashed by his own health problems, Lubitz appears to have externalized blame onto “the whole system”, by which I assume he means the airlines industry and more specifically, his employer, Germanwings.
Delusions of grandeur can be a reaction formation to delusions of persecution. The latter occur when the person attributes responsibility for unwanted experiences to the malevolent intentions of others. If Lubitz feared being terminated from his job due to “health problems,” and if he could not accept that sometimes bad things happen to good people, then he might have wrongly and spitefully imagined that “they” (Germanwings) were the cause of his problems, or even that they wanted to destroy his career. Such irrational thinking, in turn, can fuel a defense―delusions of grandeur―that compensates for what is feared: he becomes an all-good, omnipotent super-hero that can right all wrongs and, if necessary, even destroy the wrongdoers.
Andreas Lubitz Birth Chart As mentioned, there are two distinct tendencies in the birth chart of Andreas Lubitz. The first is a massive stellium of planets in Sagittarius in the 11th house, at the center of which is his Sun. The second tendency is an almost equally powerful three planet viper’s nest in Scorpio, which includes the Moon, Mars, and Pluto. Of course, Scorpio-Pluto is not innately evil; rather, it symbolizes a process of transformation that is inherently difficult and usually painful. It is precisely one’s efforts to avoid such a process that results in what we generally call evil―vindictiveness, coercion, violation, betrayal, and murder.
As the dispositor of his Sagittarian planets and also trine them, Jupiter is happily aligned with the first cluster. Yet, it’s also uncomfortably shackled to the second by virtue of being disposed by Mars in Scorpio while also being quincunx Mars and Moon. And at 19 degrees 56 minutes, Jupiter is exactly quincunx the mid-point of Moon and Mars, which makes this 3-planet configuration inextricably, painfully entangled.
Trines, of course, connote easy, open and encouraging relationships, whereas the closing quincunx denotes a crisis, threat, or wound. It seems that Jupiter’s position in the chart is at the crossroads of two, seemingly incompatible paths. An apt metaphor for Jupiter (at least for Lubitz) is Istanbul in Turkey, long regarded as a gateway city that bridges two distinct cultures, Christian and Islamic. Like the trine, the high road points north toward Europe with its refined sensibilities, rule of law, and hopeful horizons. The quincunxial low road points south toward ISIS and the rest of the Middle East, currently embroiled in horrific wars, evil, and death. We will return to this point shortly. But first, the stellium in Sagittarius warrants further comment.
Sagittarius symbolizes the search for truth and the need for expansion, which is frequently fulfilled through long distance travel, as befits someone who flies for an international airline and aspires to be a long-haul pilot. The ninth sign is associated with hope, faith, and trust in a just and benevolent Universe. Naturally elevated and enthusiastic, problems can arise if Sagittarian energy is over-represented. Too many Sag planets may lead to an overfunctioning of that part of the psyche as evidenced by lack of adequate restraint, blind optimism, excessive faith, missionary zeal, and unrealistic expectations. While impulsivity is inherent to any stellium, it is even more so when the stellium is in a fire sign. Add to this that his stellium’s only outlet is a trine to Jupiter, and we’re off the rails―like an engineer addicted to amphetamines driving a runaway train with no brake heading downhill into a steep curve.
Every sign-planet system can be correlated to a particular mental disorder if that sign-planet system is functioning in an extreme, unbalanced way. As I have described elsewhere, the specific pathology associated with Sagittarius-Jupiter is mania.9 This alone might be worrying when looking at Lubitz’s chart. However, there are other troubling signs as well.
Lubitz’s Sun in Sagittarius is conjunct Saturn. this would seem to correlate with an unrelenting pressure to succeed as well as a tendency to identify (Sun) with career (Saturn). As stated, Lubitz had the lofty ambition of becoming a captain, the ultimate job position for a professional pilot. Not surprisingly, the pathology associated with Saturn is depression, which can be triggered when individuals perceive themselves as inadequate or inferior. Saturn demands perfection, which is an unattainable absolute; thus, Sun conjunct Saturn suggests a vulnerability to depression if the person feels they have failed to realize their ambitions as a consequence of some personal deficiency. “If he did deliberately crash the plane,” said his ex-girlfriend Maria, “it was because he understood that because of his health problems, his big dream of a job at Lufthansa, of a job as captain and as a long-haul pilot was practically impossible.”10
A further complicating factor is Sun conjunct Uranus within one degree of arc. With the Sun in Uranus’ house―the 11th―and conjunct Uranus, this constitutes a repeating theme and doubling down of the Sun-Uranus dynamic. As ruler of Leo, the Sun’s primary role is to differentiate a separate identity from the collective; that is, to be a distinct individual of some worth and importance. Conversely, the function of Uranus is to recognize one’s embeddedness in the collective, as well as the inevitability of change and progress. The Uranian imperative is liberation from fixed definitions of self by opening to the cosmic will and allowing for the emergence of a transpersonal identity that evolves over time.
Ruling opposite signs and thus naturally antithetical, the challenge with Sun-Uranus aspects is to maintain a stable sense of self in the midst of evolving circumstances that require resilience, recognition of impermanence, and emancipation from the dictates of pride. If unintegrated, a Sun-Uranus conjunction can indicate a relatively weak, unstable self-image, perverse rebelliousness, resistance to change, sense of personal insignificance, and compensatory egotism.11
With regard to the latter―compensatory egotism―the fear of being eclipsed by the collective may drive the person to identify with a radical cause, some grand revolutionary aim such as wanting to “change the whole system…” In turn, this can result in a certain impersonal coldness or detachment, as evidenced, for instance, by a willingness to sacrifice individual human beings for the future enhancement of the race.12 Of course, this enhancement may turn out to be merely the ego in disguise wanting its own enhancement, as when Lubitz unwittingly reveals that his true motivation for changing the system is “so that everyone will know my name.”
Tracing the Flow of Dispositors An extremely useful tool for uncovering the plot structure of the personal narrative is to trace the flow of dispositors. A dispositor is a planet that rules the sign that another planet is in. The disposed planet passes the baton to its dispositor, which is then required to carry forward the agenda that the disposed planet has set in motion. The dispositor, in turn, relies upon its dispositor, and so on, until the chain ends with a planet occupying its own sign or looping back to an earlier planet in the sequence. A planet in its own sign is called the “final dispositor”, so named because, being in its own sign, it cannot be disposed. As such, a final dispositor has major significance, for it’s the final cause of the entire chain; that for the sake of which every other planetary action contributes.
In Lubitz chart, the chain starts with his Ascendant and the two Capricorn planets, Venus and Neptune. Note that Venus and Neptune do not themselves dispose of any planets since there are no planets in Taurus, Libra, or Pisces. The Ascendant is signified by Uranus, whereas Venus and Neptune are disposed by Saturn. Both Uranus and Saturn are in Sagittarius along with the Sun and Mercury. All four Sagittarian planets are disposed by Jupiter, which proceeds to Mars, and then Mars (with the Moon) is disposed by Pluto, the final dispositor. As a flow chart, it can be depicted thusly:
Andreas Lubitz Flow Chart of Dispositors
When a planet is the dispositor of multiple other planets, that planet is itself a powerful agent, for its actions are in the service of extensive psychological real estate. The four planets in Sagittarius are all funneling energy to Jupiter, each output modified by the nature of the planetary sender and all relying upon Jupiter to further their aims. Because Jupiter trines each of the four planets it disposes, it amplifies their Sagittarian quality, like an afterburner injecting additional Jupiterian fuel into planets already occupying the sign it rules. Their enhanced thrust, in turn, gives an additional boost to Jupiter, which is yet further strengthened by being in Aries. Like the stellium, which is an Aries aspect, Aries has no off button. Always on, it operates like a constant accelerant for any planet that occupies it―go, go, go! Taken all together, if ever there was a formula for mania, this is it.
The entire configuration is like winning the lottery, an embarrassment of riches. Imagine investing in four different tech companies during the dotcom boom, which combine to produce a profit so immense that you never have to work again―you are free, free, free at last! Buoyed by all this support, Jupiter in Aries is saying “Oh yes! The future is yours! Go forth and conquer!” But wait, not so fast. Jupiter is quincunx its own dispositor, Mars, as well as quincunx Moon in Scorpio. So, what do you do? Giddy with success, you take all that money and invest it in your own start-up company, French Alp Airlines, which goes bust within two years and plummets you into bankruptcy.
This is just a metaphor, of course, but it captures Lubitz’s story in microcosm. Bankruptcy is just another name for disaster, as in “airlines disaster.” As astrologers, we know disaster actually means “against the stars”. In resisting Scorpio’s imperative for psychological transformation, Lubitz quite literally went against his own stars.
Let us consider exactly how.
Ascent into Madness Jupiter is the beneficiary of the four planets in Sagittarius, but also sits at a crossroads: Sagittarian planets behind it, Scorpio in front. In other words, Jupiter is the fulcrum that pivots the story in an entirely new direction, and one not so fortunate. Lubitz’s Sagittarius stellium and its trine to Jupiter suggests a super-abundance of faith in his capacity to just go for it; yet, this leads to a painful crisis related to Jupiter being disposed by and quincunx Mars.
An aspect derives its meaning from the nature of the sign that corresponds to that angle in the natural zodiac. A closing quincunx is a Scorpionic angle; thus, not only is Mars in Scorpio, it forms a Scorpionic aspect to Jupiter. This would seem to constitute a reversal of fortune for Jupiter. As a Scorpio angle, a closing quincunx correlates to a wound, injury, or crisis that involves the nature of the planets that comprise the aspect.
The challenge is compounded by Jupiter being quincunx its own dispositor. This can result in blowback. The dispositor (Mars) is not inclined to help the planet it disposes (Jupiter); rather, Jupiter’s actions backfire, having the opposite effect of what was intended. We can understand this as Mars feeling threatened by and hostile to Jupiter’s ethical imperative, as if its needs―for freedom and survival―are jeopardized by Jupiter’s prime directive. The more Jupiter presses for truth, justice, and morality, the more Mars is inclined to attack all that Jupiter signifies. In other words, Jupiter’s actions backfire in relation to Mars.
While we can talk about planetary functions as if they were separate entities, they actually denote an intrapsychic conflict: two functions feeling equally threatened by the other. If fully integrated, Jupiter with Mars connotes the Holy Warrior, someone willing to fight the good fight, to stand up for the truth. If unintegrated, however, one’s own moral standards (Jupiter) seem to pose a threat to personal survival, freedom, and self-interest. As a consequence, compromise formations develop that involve irrational ideas, projection, and misdirected anger.
Recall that Lubitz graduated from Lufthansa Flight Training School “with flying colors” in 2010. He put in the necessary hours as a flight attendant during an 11-month waiting period, and continued his training by clocking over 600 hours in the air. Then in September 2013 he was hired as first officer for Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa. Only 25 years old, Lubitz was on the fast track to realizing his dream of becoming a captain and long-distance pilot. One might imagine he was flying high when the crisis struck a year later―an accident that sent his life into a tailspin.
In medical astrology, Mars rules the head, brain, and eyes. It also rules cars and accidents. Following the car crash of December 2014, Lubitz sought help from neurologists and psychiatrists for trauma and impaired vision. According to one report, “He stated during medical treatment that, among other things, it often appeared dark around him…some sources suggested he was suffering from a detached retina.” Apparently, Lubitz believed he was losing his sight. This was not an unrealistic fear. Vision loss from retinal detachment can progress from minor to severe and even to blindness. Was this a factor in his decision to commit murder-suicide? German officials suspected that Lubitz “deliberately crashed the plane because he was deeply depressed and was being treated for vision problems that could have ended his flying career.”14
So far, all of this is consistent with Jupiter Aries quincunx Mars Scorpio. But surely there is more to the story. If Jupiter Aries is a runaway train on a steep slope, its quincunx to Mars Scorpio is like plunging into a mining shaft wherein hope for survival becomes vanishingly small. Like the Frank Sinatra song, That’s Life, “You’re riding high in April, shot down in May”. After the accident, Lubitz must have felt that his career hit a wall. He tried to ward off the threat by lying to his doctors and employers. But in doing so he put personal wishes and self-preservation (Mars) ahead of what was right, honest, and true (Jupiter).
Recall Lubitz was in a double-bind. Unless he could cure his afflictions, they would destroy his career; yet, being treated for health issues could destroy his career as well, since a pilot with impaired vision―let alone suicidal ideation―would be immediately grounded. Lubitz knew that eventually he would have to submit to an annual health screening by Germanwings to test his suitability to fly.
When I say that Lubitz went against his own stars by resisting Scorpio’s imperative for transformation, I mean exactly that. The right thing to do would have been to face his fears, disclose to Germanwings the nature of the issues he was battling, and bravely accept any consequences that followed. Take the hit. If he could no longer be a pilot, that in itself would be a death of sorts, a transformation of his status and identity, but one he could endure with sufficient faith that everything happens for a reason. Such an attitude would constitute a healthy, integrated expression of Jupiter quincunx Mars. Instead, Lubitz rejected Jupiter’s moral imperative―that is, his own conscience―by acting in ways that we’re solely in his own self-interest (Mars) and regardless of the risk it posed to the airline and its passengers.
This was a fateful decision, for it virtually guaranteed he would be internally tormented by a guilty conscience. Fear of losing his career was now compounded by the additional fear that his deceit would be uncovered. Even if one’s moral sensibilities cannot for the moment be embraced, they do not go away; rather, they fester in the unconscious, looking for a way out. Often they will show up in dreams. “We’re going down!” he screamed in his sleep. Surely this symbolized a fear that he was about to go down―terminated―for reasons that pertained to his health and character.
Jupiter rules the need for justice, which in Lubitz case must have been extremely strong given the plethora of planets in Sagittarius and their trines to Jupiter. “Justice will prevail” is a phrase that comes to mind. How then did Lubitz feel when, despite his best efforts, life threw him a curve that smashed through his windshield straight into his eyes, brain, and future? My guess is he was enraged by the apparent injustice of it all. I say “apparent injustice” because unless one adopts the long view, which sometimes requires a Herculean leap of faith, life’s exigencies can seem decidedly unjust.
The challenge of Jupiter-quincunx-Mars was compounded by virtue of Moon Scorpio also forming a closing quincunx to Jupiter. The Moon strives to fulfill needs for belonging. Perhaps Moon Scorpio in the 9th was his sense of comradery and closeness with fellow pilots, his airline crew, all together risking the Scorpionic dangers of flight over long distances. Moon is a container, as is the plane itself, which carries passengers and provides caring, food and drink in a cozy, family-like intimacy. Scorpio is the risk that flight entails, with its seatbelts, floatation devices, and drop down oxygen masks. Death is never too far away, as passengers are reminded at the inception of every flight. With Moon quincunx Jupiter, we can surmise that Lubitz was unwilling to give up his airline family in order to comply with the legal injunctions of Germanwings. By hiding health issues from them, he could momentarily preserve his emotional connections, but at the cost of his integrity.
Having aligned with Mars and Moon at the expense of Jupiter, the die was cast. The only outlet for his distressed conscience was to project wrongdoing onto the entity that was his most immediate threat: Germanwings. Through some twisted solipsistic logic, Lubitz must have convinced himself that he was the victim of Germanwings, not vice versa. They were out to destroy his career, steal his life, and dash his dreams. All this when, in fact, he was actually lying to them and, in so doing, endangering their identity/brand as a reputable and safe airline. Such internal contradictions will leak out in the form of anxiety, panic attacks, and morbid feelings of guilt, as if unconsciously the person knows he is behaving badly and will soon be caught.
Again, we can understand this in the context of Jupiter’s quincunx to Mars. Given that Jupiter is quincunx its own dispositor, its natural outlet to Mars is blocked. Jupiter flows to Mars, but Mars rejects the input because Jupiter’s prime directive creates a crisis for Mars; honesty threatens freedom/survival. Left to its own devices, Mars says, “I want to do what I want to do, and I want to fly!” Thus, Mars gives Jupiter the stiff arm. When an archetypal process is blocked, it tends to back up, like gas under pressure. Without an outlet to Mars, yet still inflamed by the red planet (by virtue of the aspect), Jupiter in Aries will intensify into an extreme version of itself. Imagine a natural gas pipeline that hits a sharp curve in which debris has accumulated, thus blocking the flow. Pressure intensifies until there’s a leak, or an explosion―blowback.
Mars and the Moon, in turn, are insufficiently informed by Jupiter precisely because their interests are threatened by Jupiter’s moral imperative. The consequence is a reaction formation: Scorpionic paranoia rooted in the irrational conviction that representatives of Jupiter―for example, legal officials or superiors―are acting in a persecutory way. In other words, the entire conflict is externalized and projected. Lubitz might have concluded that Germanwings’ policies are overly narrow, hurtful and unjust, especially to him; Germanwings is out to get him. Yet, it’s actually his own guilty conscience coming back like a boomerang.
If unintegrated, planets in aspect are still subject to mutual influence, but of a sort that operates in an uncoordinated way. Jupiter, for instance, is still moral but in a manner that has an angry, selfish, sociopathic (Mars) quality―as with a pilot on a mission to punish Germanwings for its persecution of him personally. Likewise, Mars will be assertive but also morally outraged by what appears to be an illegitimate, unwarranted threat to one’s self-interest. In short, Mars quincunx Jupiter entails a mutual exchange of energies that operate in an irrational, unbalanced, dysfunctional manner. So, when Lubitz complained bitterly to his ex-girlfriend about his superiors and the pressures of the job, and when he vowed “One day I’m going to do something that will change the whole system…,” he was externalizing an unresolved, intrapsychic Jupiter-Mars conflict onto Germanwings.
The result of such machinations of soul is what we generally call psychopathology, meaning ‘sickness of soul’. As with virtually all people who suffer from mental illness, there is no one diagnosis or astrological factor that can explain the complexity of Lubitz’s pathology. I have already mentioned that Sun conjunct Saturn can indicate a vulnerability to depression, whereas Sun conjunct Uranus can correlate to a relatively weak, unstable self-image, resistance to change, and compensatory egotism (as when a person identifies with a grand cause for the sake of the self-importance it confers). The extreme, unbalanced expression of Sagittarius-Jupiter is consistent with mania. Sociopathy reflects Aries-Mars, and a destructive variant of Scorpio-Pluto is paranoia.
When all these factors are mixed together in a lethal pressure-cooker of archetypal anguish, you get one Andreas Lubitz. We cannot simply say, therefore, that he was depressed and that’s why he committed murder-suicide. For depressed people, if they kill themselves at all, do not generally take another 149 innocent souls with them. No, it’s much more likely that Lubitz was in a state of dysphoric mania, as evidenced by his internet search for “bi-polar” only days before he flew the Germanwings Airbus A320 into a mountainside.
Given the intrapsychic split symbolized by quincunxes from gloomy Moon-Mars in Scorpio to a hyped-up Jupiter, mania was a likely consequence. Not having an outlet, his Sagittarius-Jupiter energies boiled over into an irrational condemnation of his Germanwings employers. This was likely fueled by the delusion of being an avenging angel, a righteous punisher of wrongdoers. Lubitz was Justice run amok. Simultaneously his Moon-Mars in Scorpio, unable to benefit from Jupiter’s long range, philosophical view, plummeted into a brooding, morbid preoccupation with death and destruction. And this, in turn, led to the final act, the final dispositor, Pluto in Scorpio.
The Jungian analyst, James Hillman, referred to suicide as an “urge for hasty transformation,” by which meant the impulse to resolve an existential crisis through a single, irreversible act of self-annihilation.15 Rather than working through difficulties in the slow, painstaking way that psychological transformation requires, the individual uses death as a way of forcing a premature resolution to a painful impasse.
If ever there was a signature aspect for “hasty transformation” it would be Mars conjunct Pluto in Scorpio. Mars is a psychological accelerant, tending to quicken, embolden, and render more impulsive any planet it aspects. This is especially true with the conjunction. Deriving its meaning from Aries, the conjunction itself is a Mars aspect, thus exacerbating the inflammatory tendencies of Mars with regard to the Plutonic imperative for transformation. Suicide, in effect, is an impulse to transform quickly and decisively. Ideally, however, transformation should be done slowly and mindfully in the context of a deep, trusting relationship.
If integrated, Mars conjunct Pluto in Scorpio confers tremendous courage to face darkness, pain, and fear, strengthening one’s capacity for healing and renewal. If unintegrated, however, the configuration is apt to be repressed and projected, manifesting outwardly as an aggressive, dangerous adversary intent on doing one harm. I suspect that is ultimately how Lubitz saw Germanwings. Believing that death―termination of his identity as a pilot―was imminent by their hand, he could beat fate to the punch by taking matters into his own hands. Passengers and crew were merely collateral damage. Perhaps he rationalized (or fantasized) that the passengers and crew he intended to kill were accessories to a criminal enterprise, and that by destroying the plane he would do to Germanwings what he was convinced they were about to do to him.
It is a basic psychological principle that the thing we most fear compels us to bring it about, in one form or another, for in the doing of that thing we conquer the fear. This is the basis of repetition compulsion, the urge to repeat past traumatic experiences in an effort to gain mastery over them. However, if this is done entirely unconsciously, there is no assurance that the lesson will be learned, nor the benefits reaped. Whatever was in his twisted mind at the moment of impact, one thing is clear: Lubitz was in control. Terrified of termination, he terminated himself, and took Germanwings with him.
Summary and Conclusion We may never know the complete truth of Andreas Lubitz, for he left no suicide note. And even if he did, it would unlikely reveal the deeper, unconscious motivation for his murder-suicide. The best we can do is use his chart to piece together a series of clues. Clearly he was vulnerable to despair, as revealed by the 2009 record of his depression. However, depression is often a half-truth (or diagnosis), the other side of which is mania. This is consonant with his astrological chart, which shows a preponderance of the Sagittarius-Jupiter archetype, while the depressive side is consistent with the Sun-Saturn conjunction combined with the gloom & doom of his Scorpio planets. Given the nature of his final act, we can presume he was in a state of dysphoric mania, a lethal concoction of rage and despair injected into a grandiose delusion that he had a special mission to punish Germanwings.
What is most striking is how the entire episode of crashing the plane into a mountainside synchronistically reflected Lubitz internal world, as illumined by his birthchart. Manic Sagittarius took him way up to a cruise altitude of 38,000 feet, a soaring state of compensatory happiness that could not be indefinitely sustained. The captain went to the bathroom to eliminate, a Scorpionic act that has a psychological corollary: one must eliminate toxic attitudes or they will poison the mind. He went, Lubitz did not. Upon returning, the captain next became the urgent voice of conscience pleading to be let in. “For God’s sake,” he screamed, “open the door!” But Lubitz successfully shut out his Jupiterian voice of conscience, and was no longer able to do the right thing. Passenger screams reflected the resultant panic attacks that afflicted him, unheeded warnings he was on the wrong track. Like Moon in Scorpio, the plane was a container, now converted by unprocessed pain into a death trap. Usurping the controls was Mars-Pluto. Impatient for transformation―that is, for attaining the power of captainship―young Andreas simply took it. In so doing, however, his fate was sealed. Down he went into the black pit of despair, a mountain crevice that devoured him in a final, deafening crash.
On my kitchen wall is a sign: “Soar. One’s Attitude Determines One’s Altitude.” While it appears to exhort one to stay positive, I also take it to mean that we should flow with life’s ups and downs. For otherwise the downs can be very down, and much longer than is necessary―or, as in Lubitz case, permanent. The Buddha taught that a major part of life is suffering, and once that is fully and deeply accepted, things get easier from there. It is eerily fitting that Lubitz’s final dispositor was Pluto. Being the final dispositor, all roads (or flight plans) lead to Pluto: the transformational imperative. For Lubitz, the path to transformation was a mountainside. But it did not have to be. I do not believe that Lubitz was fated to kill himself, though certainly there were incalculable choices along the way that culminated in the mindless compulsion to destroy 150 lives and shatter the reputation of Germanwings into a million pieces. But that is the key: choices along the way.
Lubitz was mentally ill, to be sure. Was it merely a chemical imbalance, a side effect of medication, the tragic consequence of some unfortunate event for which Lubitz was not responsible? Or were there unintended, long-term consequences to choices he was making along the way? It is not difficult to understand Lubitz’s choice to lie to his doctors and employers in order to protect the life he wanted for himself―to be a pilot. Yet, in doing so, he had to split himself into competing parts. That simple choice to avoid the truth might have led to a cascade of additional problems, such as sleep disturbance, anxiety and panic attacks, unconscious guilt, and the whole host of symptoms for which Lubitz ultimately sought treatment. But the cure he sought was not in a pill, it was in facing and accepting the truth of his situation.
At the risk of oversimplifying, I suspect that if a person keeps making bad choices he eventually reaches a point where he loses his capacity for choice altogether. Then, something else takes over: mindless compulsion. His choices now make him; he no longer makes them. If Lubitz’s story can teach us anything, it’s that Plutonic transformation can take many forms. Had he stayed the course, braving whatever torturous twists and turns his path required; were he able to endure the slings and arrows of life’s outrageous fortune; had he been willing to suffer the death of his career-identity and, instead, make integrity his goal, there is no telling what extraordinary feats Andreas Lubitz might ultimately have accomplished. This is transformation of another sort. As it was, he chose the quick and easy way, a hasty transformation.
* * * * *
For information about upcoming AAP courses, click here.
 From the song, “That’s Life,” by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon, on the album That’s Life by Frank Sinatra, 1966
 Another mass murderer with Sun conjunct Saturn and Uranus (in Gemini) was the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, who used the mail system (Gemini) to send bombs to various people for the sake of halting the spread of technology, which, in his mind, was a threat to the future of the human race.
It seems the impossible is unfolding before our eyes. Donald Trump has risen to the top of the polls amongst Republican candidates for the presidency. While this is disturbing to many, we should not be entirely surprised. Winning is nothing new to Trump. He’s been doing it consistently for five decades. His father once commented that “everything he seems to touch turns to gold.” However, a good chart analysis can provide a more nuanced, three dimensional understanding of the two-dimensional caricature typically presented in the daily news. Before examining Donald Trump’s birthchart for insight into the psychological underpinnings of his Midas touch―and the brazen confidence and self-promotion for which he’s famous―let’s review some facts about the Donald.
Trump grew up in Queens, New York, the privileged son of a self-made millionaire. As a child he was naturally combative (he once punched a teacher), and at age 13 was expelled for misbehavior from the prestigious prep school he attended. His parents subsequently sent him to the New York Military Academy in hopes he would develop discipline and channel his innate aggressiveness in a positive direction. It seems to have worked. Trump was elected Captain of both the student regiment and baseball team. He went on to Wharton School of Finance where he graduated first in his class with a B.A. in economics. Donald subsequently decided to build a career on his father’s foundation. Frederick Christ Trump was a successful real estate developer in New York City.
The Donald’s pattern of success has been based on a proven strategy: purchase run down, dilapidated properties on the verge of collapse and then restore them to their former glory. Examples include the old Penn Central, the bankrupt Commodore Hotel, the decrepit Wollman Rink in Central Park, the unfinished Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, and most recently the decaying Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami. Once acquired, Trump dispatches an army of architects, designers, and artists to renovate, refurbish, and dramatically improve the property. He then slaps his name on it and declares it the greatest. His guiding principle: “If it’s not the best, it’s not Trump…We represent the gold standard, and so that’s what we deliver. It’s a simple formula―and it works.”1
It is noteworthy that Trump’s run for the presidency is following the same general pattern. In this case, however, the degraded real estate he’s seeking to restore is America itself. Trump is capitalizing on the widespread perception that America is in decline, a once bountiful country now essentially bankrupt with an 18 trillion dollar debt, its elite AAA credit rating downgraded, its military status alarmingly weakened, porous borders overrun with illegal immigrants, industries decimated from bad trade deals, educational ranking plummeting to 17th on a global scale, and an explosion of race related violence in cities like Chicago, Ferguson, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and New York.
Trump declares: “Let’s face it, America is in deep trouble. Our economy is a disaster. Thanks to Obama, the American dream is dead. But I can bring it back―bigger and better and stronger than ever before.”2 Classic Trump. His entire campaign is built on the promise: “I can make America great again.” But can he?
Donald Trump’s Birthchart The first thing that jumps out in Trump’s chart is the strong Gemini-Sagittarius dialectic. With Sun conjunct Uranus in Gemini in the 10th, Trump is a fast talking, maverick businessman who made a career out of his ability to reform existing structures, as in renovating and remodeling old buildings. Sun-Uranus especially correlates with Trump’s outsider status as a political candidate, the rabble-rousing revolutionary leading a movement to overthrow politics-as-usual. This same configuration also enables him to see the global picture―the political and economic milieu―in ways that allow him to orchestrate complex projects and, if necessary, align himself with the forces of change.
Donald Trump Birthchart: June 14, 1946, 10:54am, Jamaica, NY
Like a blazing fast computer, Sun conjunct Uranus in Gemini digests and creates massive amounts of information. In Trump’s first of ten books, The Art of the Deal, he describes how he wakes up at 6am, reads the entire morning paper, arrives at work by 9am, makes 50 to 100 phone calls and holds a dozen or so 15-minute impromptu meetings throughout the day with city planners, mayors, bank managers, lawyers, architects, construction bosses, and so on. “Watch, listen, learn,” he writes. “You can’t know it all yourself…No matter how smart you are, no matter how comprehensive your education, no matter how wide ranging your experience, there is simply no way to acquire all the wisdom you need to make your business thrive.”3 Former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani notes that despite Trump’s penchant for outrageous statements, he learns very quickly. “The reality is he’s gotten better as a candidate,” says Giuliani. “This man learns like that. It’s unbelievable.”4
With Moon Sagittarius opposing his Sun-Uranus conjunction, Trump has a talent for understanding current trends, such as which way the market is moving in real estate. The Moon, of course, rules real estate, and Sagittarius is about connecting the dots and drawing a conclusion. Sagittarius anticipates the future while conferring an expansive sense of possibility. As Trump put it, “I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.”5 As the Moon symbolizes our capacity to care as well as our need for belonging (patriotism being one variant), it might be more accurate to say that Trump’s patriotic feelings run large, spilling over into a Sagittarian megaphone and proclaimed in a hyperbolic statement of opinion. It follows that Moon Sagittarius correlates to Trump’s penchant for exaggeration. In his announcement for the presidency, he trumpeted: “I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created!” That, of course, remains to be seen, though no one can doubt Trump’s patriotic fervor and ardent faith in his ability to move the country forward.
The opposition is a Libra aspect that requires the respective planets find a point of balance and cooperation, as in negotiating a deal. Ever since Trump wrote The Art of the Deal it could be argued that he is the world’s most famous negotiator. Not surprisingly, his strategy reflects the nature of the planets and signs that comprise his opposition―Sun-Uranus in Gemini opposed Moon Sagittarius. First, says Trump, establish rapport with the other side by building friendship and trust. Let them know you care, listen closely, and strive to understand what they want. In part, this reflects the Moon (caring, listening, understanding), but also the Sun (friendship, good will, liking the other person). In addition, he says, do your homework by uncovering relevant information; become the expert on the topic you’re negotiating. Clearly, this reflects the Gemini dimension of acquiring data. Next, convince the other side that they’re getting more than they expected; that is, sell them―an obvious Sagittarian tactic.
Trump also emphasizes the importance of remaining flexible and considering multiple solutions to every impasse. Adaptability is inherent in the nature of mutable signs Gemini and Sagittarius, whereas thinking outside the box is Uranian. The very title of his book emphasizes that negotiation is an art, which again reflects the opposition as a Libra angle. Art is inherent in the striving for harmony; that is, play fair, compromise when necessary, and place the other’s needs on a par with one’s own. Finally, the Sun correlates to strong, clear intentions―make the deal, get things done; yet, its conjunction with Uranus symbolizes his capacity to detach and walk away if the numbers don’t comport with his formula for success: buy low, sell high―in short, win.
Mars in Leo Conjunct the Ascendant An especially important component of Trump’s birthchart is his Ascendant in Leo. In the chart shown here, it’s at 29 degrees Leo, but an alternative time of 9:51am places his Ascendant at 17 Leo. Either way, the Ascendant constitutes an instinctive way of being, that which we do spontaneously and automatically in the service of asserting our right to be. It correlates to the native’s first step forward and thus the first impression others have of who the person is―in other words, his or her appearance and, superficially speaking, personality (at least its outer surface). By definition, the terms person and personality differentiate self from others. Both derive from the Latin term persona, or mask, meaning a character one plays that does not encompass the true (whole) self.
The Ascendant or “rising” sign is like that: a character one plays, the wrapping on the package, an instinctive way of being that hopefully gets the person moving forward. I say “hopefully” because some signs comport with the Ascendant more readily than others. As Aries is associated with the 1st house, any sign that trines Aries is a good fit for the Ascendant. Other than Aries, probably no sign works better on the Ascendant than Leo. Naturally warm and outgoing, the individual is apt to instinctively garner attention and court approval. As a social sign, Leo does this by making others feel special, which, in turn, inspires them to like you―the Leo rising person. It is a win-win strategy. Naturally affable and magnanimous, I marvel at how quick Trump is to heap praise on people he’s seeking to win over. The voters in Iowa, for example, are described as “wonderful” and “very smart” and “fantastic people” all because, apparently, they’ve moved Trump to the top of the polls in the upcoming caucus.
Leo is the popular sign. Its very nature is designed to arouse support and admiration. In politics this is known as “populism” because it constitutes an appeal to the common hopes and fears of the general population against the privileged, political elite or ruling class. Often it does this by inflammatory rhetoric and unrealistic promises in order to maximize appeal across the political spectrum. Again, this is precisely where Trump excels, not because it is a calculated strategy, but because Leo rising is naturally oriented this way.
Of course, the Ascendant and Ascendant sign are two different things. The former will influence the way the latter is expressed. This is due to the Ascendant being an instinctive point of assertion; thus, like Mars, it has a quality of assertion built into it. The rising sign, therefore, receives this thrust and tends to manifest more ardently that it would, for instance, if it were the Moon sign. It also describes how one asserts as well as what is being asserted. With Leo on the Ascendant, the native will be instinctively confident, flamboyant, and proud. Moreover, they will assert their specialness at every opportunity, declaring their latest triumph, calling attention to their worth, and so on. All of this is done automatically and seemingly unconsciously―that is, without guile or forethought.
This is why Trump is often described as “authentic” and “a straight shooter”. Unlike typical politicians who calculate their strategy of the basis of poll surveys and campaign advisers, Trump simply lets it fly. Asked if he’s preparing for the upcoming debates by hiring coaches and experts, Trump responds: “Not really, I’m just going to be myself. I am who I am.”
While Leo is itself a strong Ascendant, Mars in Leo conjunct the Ascendant is like Leo rising on steroids. This is because specific planets, signs, houses, and aspects share an archetypal kinship. Marking the cusp of the 1st house, the Ascendant corresponds to the 1st sign, Aries, its ruler, Mars, and the angle of the conjunction, or 0 degrees. All four variables share a similarity of meaning, albeit in different forms. With Mars conjunct the Ascendant there is a compounding of this archetypal energy since Mars, the conjunction, and the Ascendant are all variants on the same theme. And when placed together, there is an intensification of that theme, a doubling (or tripling) down. Because it is so strong and unusual, when I see this type of repeating theme in a birthchart it takes my breath away.
The intensification of Aries energy by virtue of Mars being conjunct the Ascendant will burst forth in a Leonian manner like a dramatic fireworks display, since colorful Leo is the sign through which the super bold, instinctive nature of Mars conjunct the Ascendant is expressed. With Aries-ruled Mars in a sign to which it naturally trines―Leo―the Donald is like confidence shot out of a cannon, an unstoppable force of nature, a wrecking ball with a smirk. He is the happy warrior, the glitzy gladiator, a charismatic presence so over-the-top in his self-aggrandizement that he comes off as a flaming narcissist. And yet, you can’t take your eyes off him any more than you can ignore an unscripted flasher prancing nude across the stage at the Academy Awards.
Speaking of upstaging, Donald epitomizes it. An often repeated metaphor in reference to Trump is that he sucks all the oxygen out of the room. So much media attention is focused on him that it is difficult for other candidates to gain traction. Deprived of airtime, their campaigns are suffocating, gasping for whatever oxygen can be siphoned away from the Trump express.
Mars is the archetype of the warrior. If sufficiently provoked, it can express as anger, or outrage, a readiness to fight against anything that threatens one’s right to be. Focused on the here and now, its notorious “Just do it!” attitude doesn’t suffer fools gladly nor tolerate indecisiveness, weakness, or delay. With Mars in Leo, Trump is tapping into our collective outrage with inept leaders and the do-nothing miasma of politics as usual. In effect, he’s validating that outrage; he’s the wild-eyed cheerleader shouting, “You should be angry!” while simultaneously presenting himself as an action hero who can lead the country out the doldrums and back to the promise of the American dream―a revitalized economy, strong national defense, and get-tough attitude on crime. In a recent speech in Vegas, his blood-flushed face blown up on a background screen, Trump’s performance was so frenzied and incoherent that Reason’s Matt Welch quipped, “This isn’t a speech, it’s a seizure.”
Mars Leo on the Ascendant is like the Howard Beale character in the film Network who, during an inspired breakdown on his own news broadcast, rants about the depression, inflation, gang violence, escalating murder rate, and finally ends up exhorting his viewers to stick their heads out of their windows and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ In effect, this is Trump. He’s the politically incorrect madman stoking the fires of civil discontent; the perfect lightening rod for public outrage because he himself is outrageous―raw, fierce, brash, defiant, unapologetic, leveling everyone in his path with a shotgun blast of righteous indignation. Pollster Patrick Murray says that Trump’s attack list of complaints is “resonating with angry voters who are just really frustrated and feel that there’s nobody there who’s voicing that frustration on behalf of them.”6
Hot Air, Scorched Earth As if Mars conjunct a Leo Ascendant were not enough, Mars also sextiles his Sun and trines his Moon. The lights are beneficiaries of Jupiter as well, which sextiles his Moon and trines his Sun. This is an embarrassment of riches, an extraordinary infusion of positive energy to the Sun-Moon opposition from the two fire planets, Mars and Jupiter. It certainly explains the seemingly limitless faith Trump has in his own abilities, the Midas touch, the larger-than-life persona and extravagant lifestyle.
But it’s not all roses and lollipops. Trump is unbalanced. He has seven planets in yang signs (air and fire), only three in water, and no planets at all in earth. This combination of elements is associated with hot air, the fast talking shyster who can sell ice to Eskimos. Upbeat, engaging, and extroverted, fire-air tends to be impatient with feelings, negativity, or limitation of any sort. Trump boasts that he will get the job done, for he’s a doer. Conversely, “politicians are just talkers,” he sneers. This is interesting in light of Trump’s own tendencies as reflected in his elemental imbalance. Anyone with a nose can smell the projection. Fuel injected by Mars-Jupiter, his Gemini-Sagittarius dialectic jumps into hyperdrive at the slightest provocation: racing thoughts, inflated rhetoric, rapid talking that is difficult to interrupt, and flight of ideas in a nearly continuous flow of bellicose speech. That pretty much sums up Trump’s announcement of his candidacy in a lengthy, impassioned, stream-of-consciousness discourse that had more twists and turns than a corkscrew. It’s also characteristic of Trump’s way of responding to questions during interviews.
Donald may be as full of himself as a bloviating contestant at a hotdog-eating contest, but it seems he does get the job done. At least he says he does. Trump asserts that he’s a Washington outsider who cannot be influenced by lobbyists or special interest groups because he’s funding his campaign mostly with his own money. The Donald never misses an opportunity to remind voters that he’s rich. How rich? “Very rich,” he says, endlessly. “I mean my net worth is many, many times Mitt Romney,” as he put it some time back. “Much, much richer.”7 He boasts that his assets total 9 billion, 240 million dollars with liabilities of only $500 million, which is mostly long-term debt with very low interest rates. But Allan Sloan, a Washington Post columnist and seven-time winner of the Loeb Award (business journalism’s highest honor), claims that Trump’s figures are more inflated than a hot air balloon.
Sloan lists six key reasons why Trump’s claims are not even remotely credible. As he put it: “Trump’s balance sheet is certainly over-inflated and doesn’t seem to be tethered to financial reality.”8 After a thorough and critical analysis of Trump’s assets, Sloan concludes: “There is no way on earth to tell what Trump is actually worth, because the numbers [he provides] aren’t supported by anything. If he had presented this balance sheet to me in a personal finance class, I’d have given him a short message: “You’re fired.”
All of this smacks of overcompensation for no earth. If fire-air is like an untethered hot air balloon, no-earth dispenses with gravity altogether while, at the same time, being obsessed with earth-like things and activities, as if seeking an external ground that is not felt internally. This is probably nowhere better illustrated than in his series of Trump Towers, ten or more skyscrapers all over the world that stretch the limits in an effort to get the most height from the least foundation. They are earthy, solid things to be sure―testaments to Trump’s success―yet, their relationship to the ground is ambivalent at best. It’s telling when Sloan says, “…the numbers aren’t supported by anything.” In other words, there’s no concrete substance or reality to what Trump claims is true. For a man who aspires to be president, this is concerning, especially in light of our federal juggernaut that is currently cranking out two billion dollars of debt per/day.
It is well known that Trump has had his own problems with debt, having been through a series of high-profile bankruptcies in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009. Each bankruptcy required compliance with a court-approved reorganization plan that even put Trump on a monthly budget for a while. Of course, Trump puts his own spin on this, bragging that he’s used federal laws to pare debt and make “a fantastic deal.” Trump deals exclusively in superlatives―the biggest, the best, the most fantastic―which reflects his Mars Leo Rising and fire-air nature, but also renders questionable the majority of his claims. Trump crows that his Art of the Deal is the best-selling business book of all time; his Macy’s line of clothing is the classiest; his Trump-branded casinos and hotels are the most luxurious; his Trump-branded golf courses are the greatest in the world; The Apprentice is the top-rated reality-television show, and on and on. But as Kevin Williamson of National Review put it, “None of that is ever true, of course.”9
In the public lexicon, the name “Trump” is almost synonymous with excess, overdoing, and going too far. This itself should give one pause. When the machinery of government is struggling to right itself and not spend more tax revenue than it takes in―an almost impossible task in today’s era of entitlement―is it realistic to believe that Trump is the man to turn this around? To be frugal in the budgets he submits to Congress? To reign in our 18 trillion dollar national debt? Putting Trump in charge of the federal budget may be like giving an amphetamine-addled adolescent responsibility for managing the family trust fund.
Summary and Conclusion By any standard, Trump has led a remarkable life. That he should be 10 points ahead of his nearest Republican rival is even more astonishing. So far as I know, it is unprecedented that a non-politician could be leading the polls by such a wide margin in a presidential primary. Clearly, Trump’s style if not his message is resonating with an angry populace. His Sun-Moon opposition in Gemini-Sagittarius is consistent with his mercurial, expansive personality, quick mind, and capacity to persuade. Add Mars to a Leo Ascendant and the resultant combination is a combustible mix of brazen confidence, mental toughness, and moral outrage. Given the low approval rating of both Congress and Obama, a significant percentage of the country would like to fire the lot of them. And who better to do the firing than the Donald whose signature line is, “You’re fired!”
Yet, the same parts of Trump’s chart that make him extraordinary as a businessman/entertainer make him vulnerable as a politician. His preponderance of air-fire signs and the Mars-Jupiter infusion into his Sun-Mon opposition contribute to the widespread impression that Trump is over-the-top, more of a spectacle than someone to be taken seriously as a presidential contender. If he were a building, most assuredly he would be a skyscraper, but is there an adequate foundation to sustain the structural integrity of that skyscraper during a hurricane? A sitting president will face several during his tenure. And why does a very rich man need to remind us constantly of how “very rich” he is? In his self-comparison to Mitt Romney, we catch a glimpse of a deep insecurity and tendency toward envy. These are not good signs for a prospective president, for they suggest that his brash self-confidence is compensatory for an unconscious fear that may lead to self-undoing, which America can ill-afford.
Trump’s presidential run reminds me of Aesop’s fable The Turtle and the Hare. As the story goes, the Hare ridicules the slow-moving Tortoise. Tired of the Hare’s incessant boasting, the Tortoise challenges the Hare to a race. Being an extremely fast runner, the Hare quickly leaves the Tortoise in his wake and, confident of winning, decides to take a nap halfway through the race. When the Hare awakens, however, he is startled to discover that the Tortoise, crawling slowly but steadily, has already crossed the finish line. The moral of the story is self-evident. Foolish over-confidence can lead to poor decisions that, in turn, result in defeat. Will Trump’s compensatory over-confidence inevitably result in a poor decision that collapses his candidacy like a crumbling tower and causes him to lose the race? Many pundits are expecting just that.
In other ways, Trump also reminds me of George Armstrong Custer, the red-haired, flamboyant, narcissistic general of the 7th Calvary who, in pursuit of personal glory, led his troops to massacre at Little Bighorn in 1876 by grossly underestimating the magnitude of the challenge he was facing. At the time of this writing, Trump is way out in front, as befits someone with Mars Leo on the Ascendant. If nothing else, Trump is a front runner, a sprinter by nature. And though he’s injected incalculable excitement into the Republican primaries, it remains to be seen how he will fare in the long run. One suspects his supporters may soon discover they’ve invited the bull into the proverbial china shop, a creature of instinct entirely unsuited to the intricate civilities of Washington politics. It has often been said that politics is a blood sport. If so, then perhaps it best requires the grace and courage of a bull fighter, not a bull.
* * * * *
For information about upcoming AAP courses, click here.
1 Newsmax, “Trump Does It Again,” July, 2015, p. 75-76
2 Newsmax.com email, special sponsored Message to Newsmax Readers, 8/1/2015
By now, everyone surely knows that Robin Williams hung himself on Monday, August 11th, 2014 at his home in Tiburon, California. Apparently, he had been battling depression over the last year, and perhaps his whole life. It is true that his progressed Sun conjuncted natal Saturn in June 2013, and that transiting Neptune was approaching an exact conjunction with his Moon. And certainly there are other relevant transits and progressions to Robin Williams birthchart that we might surmise contributed to his untimely end. But these cannot explain the lifelong vulnerability to mental illness that haunted him.
If I did not already know Robin Williams, my initial impression of his chart would be that he’s an extraordinarily sensitive, somewhat maudlin individual with a bit of a dark side (Scorpio Rising). Years ago when I first saw Williams’ horoscope, I was surprised. I was expecting some kind of zany Aquarian type energy that would be a fitting signature for his unorthodox, wacky, frenetic humor. I did not expect to see Sun Cancer with Moon in Pisces. A chart with both lights plus the Ascendant in water is too sedate and inhibited to fit the irrepressible Robin Williams. But now I know better.
As is true with any chart, the key lies in seeing how all the parts fit together. One crucial factor in understanding Williams’ manic performances is the emphasis on his 9th house (Mercury, Pluto, Sun), and the centrality of Jupiter as the planet with the most aspects (5). The closing trine from Moon to Mars-Uranus in the 8th may be particularly telling. As a Sagittarian angle to planets that also receive the square from Jupiter, there’s quite a bit of Sag-like energy in that configuration. All of this would be consistent with mania. For mania is the pathology that best reflects the extreme, unbalanced expression of Sag-Jupiter type energy, which helps us understand Williams, too.1
Robin Williams: July 21, 1951, 1:34 pm CST, Chicago, IL
A strong emphasis on the archetype of Sagittarius (by house, aspect, and Jupiter) may be a contributory or even necessary factor in Williams’ mania, but it is not sufficient. The other important factor is the signs in which the relevant planets reside. Note that the closing trine from Moon to Mars-Uranus occurs in two water signs, Cancer and Pisces. Underneath all that manic-Sag energy is an extraordinary sensitivity, a bottomless well of feeling that extends to unfathomable depths. As a metaphor, I’m picturing a hot air balloon rocketing into the skies with its furnace going full blast. But below there is a yawning, cavernous lake at the bottom of which resides the dead family of the native. The hot air balloon signifies his escape route, a desperate, feverish attempt to fly above and away from a tragedy too horrible to face, a grave situation that threatens to pull him down into a morass of guilt and grief that will extinguish all happiness forever. This is just a metaphor, of course. Yet, the real story is not entirely dissimilar.
Overcompensation In the vast majority of cases, mania alternates with depression. This is what is meant by bi-polar disorder—two diametrically opposed states that vacillate back and forth. What goes up, must come down. Writer Greg Gutfield noted that comics are like construction workers dangling from the girders, inevitably one will fall down. It is an apt metaphor, as comedy can be understood as compensatory to the demons that lurk below. Comics are notorious for being quiet and reflective in their personal lives, and often tortured in their private thoughts. In a 2006 NPR radio interview with “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross, Williams said that mania was something he imitated for various characters he performed, but he was not always manic. “Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes,” Williams said. “Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”2
Seeing Williams perform his frenzied comedy routines, I always had the impression that he was struggling to stay away from something—to rise above it, but not necessarily in a good way. This is typical of humor, of course. As a defense, it allows us to bind and release feelings that are too painful to face directly. It is almost cliché to say that comedy is born out of suffering. Like his idol Jonathan Winters (who was also bipolar), Robin’s comedy style seemed more self-generated than interactional. He was like a self-sustaining, perpetual motion machine that only minimally required interaction with other people on stage. Once he went on a riff, he could sustain it under his own steam with little input from anyone else. For him to actually stop, listen, and connect with others would merely interrupt the self-stimulating flow of his non-stop free-associations. Exciting, crazy, brilliant, it was breathtaking to watch him. It was as if he were channeling some comedy sprite. But such a pattern of behavior is more than simply a talent. It reflects something deeper. When the ‘on’ switch is always on, one suspects the off switch is dreaded.
In the interview with Terry Gross, Williams was asked if he had ever been diagnosed with clinical depression. Williams answered: “No clinical depression, no. No. I get bummed, like I think a lot of us do at certain times. You look at the world and go, Whoa.” This is interesting, for it suggests Williams’ sadness was more in response to collective suffering than to events in his personal life. In a 2010 interview for The Guardian, Decca Aitkenhead observed that Williams seemed to be two different people. On camera he’s “hyperactive to the point of deranged, ricocheting between voices, riffing off his internal dialogues.” Off-camera, however, she notes he is a different kettle of fish. “His bearing is intensely Zen and almost mournful, and when he’s not putting on voices he speaks in a low, tremulous baritone – as if on the verge of tears – that would work very well if he were delivering a funeral eulogy. He seems gentle and kind – even tender – but the overwhelming impression is one of sadness.”3
Too Much Water, Too Little Air Aitkenhead provides as good a description of Sun Cancer/Moon Pisces as you’ll read in any astrology text. Her experience of Williams is consistent with what one might expect with someone whose dominant function is water. As astrologers, we know water is the most vulnerable of elements. Each water sign in its own way signifies a need to love and be loved—Cancer, to love those who depend on us for care; Scorpio, to love another with a depth of passion that transforms both lover and beloved; and Pisces, to love humanity with an indiscriminate, all-inclusive compassion that transcends the petty differences that separate us. But water-needs come with a price, for almost invariably our actual experience of love will fall short of the ideal. And it is precisely the failure to realize that ideal—failure to love enough and frustration of our need to be loved—that makes water so susceptible to emotional pain.
All of this is especially true of Moon Pisces, for it combines two watery elements—the Moon, which rules the personal sign of Cancer, and Pisces, the transpersonal water sign. Moon Pisces thus signifies an instinct to love collective humanity in a personal way, as if every human being were one’s own child, especially those victimized by an absence of love. At the time of this writing, I know little of William’s family background, children, divorces or anything of the sort, but Moon Pisces suggests he is no stranger to loss and tragedy, even if it is not his own. Moon Pisces feels everyone’s loss as if it were their own. As the poet John Donne wrote, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.” Pisces is existential guilt, the guilt we feel merely for being human; the sort of guilt that reminds us we are our brother’s keeper and that tugs at our conscience whenever we see another person suffering. This condition is exacerbated when the Moon disposes three planets in Cancer, one of which is the Sun. By way of dispositorship, all that Cancer energy leads to the Moon, which, in turn, injects even more feeling into the Cancer clad planets it trines. That’s a whole lot of unrestrained Cancer-Pisces energy. In fact, it’s non-stop, just like Robin’s comedy style.
Speaking of comedy, a word about Scorpio is in order. While astrologers seldom speak of Scorpio as a sign of humor, its relevance to comedy is self-evident. The vast majority of humor reveals a grievance of one sort or another; it addresses those things about which we experience the most discomfort—processes of elimination (bathroom humor), fear, pain, shame, sex, power, and at the top of the list, death—all of which are ruled by Scorpio. A primary function of humor is to release feelings that accumulate around such topics. Such catharsis is orgasmic and healing, which we experience as laughter. With Scorpio ascending, this was Williams’ prime directive, his most basic instinct. Scorpio rising assured he would seek an outlet for the fear, pain, and shame that we all experience as human beings. And with the focal planets of his T-Square (Mars conjunct Uranus) in the 8th house, this only underscores the centrality of the Scorpio archetype in Robin’s chart.
Even with such an outlet, however, we must assume it was insufficient to process the sheer depth of pain that Williams experienced, all of which seemed to be funneled into his Moon Pisces. Just consider the chain of dispositors. His Scorpio Ascendant is ruled by Pluto, which (with Mercury) is disposed by the Sun, which (with Mars and Uranus) is disposed by the Moon. The Moon is disposed by Neptune and Neptune by Venus (with Saturn), which leads back to Mercury-Pluto, and so the cycle repeats. At the bottom of his chart, however, is the basin into which all his water flows: Moon Pisces. This is the cavernous lake of infinite depth that I suspect he sought to avoid, but in the end claimed him.
Whether by synchronicity or merely a casting director’s intuition, actors have a tendency to be cast in roles that reflect their core issues and character structure. To cite but one of innumerable examples involving Williams, he was cast early in his career as the irreverent DJ, Adrian Cronauer, in the 1987 film Good Morning Vietnam. Initially he manages to stay above the pain of war by spoofing the military in his usual manic way, but his humor is like a tourniquet on a bleeding wound. Soon he is drawn down into the underbelly of Saigon and comes face to face with the horrors that afflict both Americans and Vietnamese alike. His anguish is palpable. He wants to save everyone. He fails.
We might say it is the story of his life.
When you consider Williams’ life as a whole—beautiful wife, beloved by millions, a home in Tiburon, millions of dollars in assets, and an ongoing fun career that seemed to have no limits—one is compelled to ask, what’s wrong with this picture? If a person cannot be happy with all that, what hope is there for the rest of us? But Moon Pisces is not merely a container of personal happiness; it’s also an open vessel for all the suffering in the world. Its emotional antennae is attuned to the millions of victims one cannot save, the stark tragedies of life, the sickness and despair, the excruciating losses and ineluctable grief that sweeps across the oceans like a tsunami into one’s own consciousness.
What effective response can there be to such suffering? My answer is rationality—the state of being reasonable. That’s what air is about. It confers the ability to step above the immediate situation and view issues from a detached perspective regardless of how upsetting they might be emotionally. Air is the witness, the spectator, the objective function that serves as a mediator between the ideal and the real. This provides the individual with a logical, rational faculty that enables him to learn the underlying causes and reasons for what ails us, and to propose sensible solutions.
Given the sheer amount of suffering in the world, this might seem cold, unfeeling, even indifferent. But that’s precisely the point: the element of air allows us to recognize the sheer unreasonableness of assuming responsibility for the world’s ills. As an individual, you do what you can—contribute to charities, support worthy causes—and turn the rest over to God and the slow, patient unfolding of time. After all, you’re just one person, here for only a brief moment in the vast expanse of human history. You have to keep things in perspective. Left unchallenged, however, the existential guilt of Pisces can metastasize into excessive, unwarranted, irrational guilt—the kind of guilt that robs you of personal happiness and sabotages your health and well-being in the misguided notion that you should atone for the imaginary crime of not helping enough. Guilt of this sort leads to the classic Piscean act of self-undoing. When mired in irrational guilt, a martini beckons like a seductive temptress and a line of cocaine says, “Take me in; oh yeah, I’ll fix your problem alright.” And very soon one is a victim oneself, of addiction, a condition that Williams battled for much of his adult life.
In Williams chart, air is his inferior element, which should come as no surprise. Its only inhabitant is Neptune in Libra in the 11th house, which forms the third leg of the T-Square to Mars-Uranus and Jupiter. One suspects Neptune in Libra was a co-conspirator in that manic T-Square that Williams utilized to avoid grief, for Libra is antithetical to feeling. It seeks a way out by playing fair and being nice. I am reminded of the scene in The Abyss in which the couple played by Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio argue over who should put on the only diving suit as their damaged midget submarine slowly filled with—you guessed it, water. Each kindly offered to let the other live, but whatever rationality remained between them was soon overcome by the sheer, overpowering amount of water that submerged them.
If Neptune in Libra is your only planet in air and you’ve four planets in water, it can be like getting a note from the hospital that says, “The good news is that we’ve learned a lot about the virus that originated in you, killed your family, and subsequently wiped out your home state of Illinois. But gosh isn’t it wonderful that you survived!” A polite communication utterly dwarfed by the tragedy of its contents. My point is simply this: too little air in the face of too much water cannot mitigate with rationality the guilt that one is required to endure. So, into the depths you go, flailing and gasping. How ironic that Williams died of asphyxiation, literally a condition of severely deficient oxygen to the body—or, too little air.
Further testament to Williams’ lack of air is his 2010 interview for The Guardian. Aitkenhead notes that Williams only became coherent when talking about his travails with alcohol and subsequent guilt. Otherwise,
He is vague, tangential and at times more or less incomprehensible.…the freakish articulacy showcased in Good Morning Vietnam was gone. Quite often when he opens his mouth a slur of unrelated words come out, like a dozen different false starts tangled together, from which an actual sentence eventually finds its way out….It’s like trying to tune into a long-wave radio station.4
Certainly, this can typify a lack of air. What Williams really wanted to talk about, it turns out, is his relapse into alcoholism—in other words, water topics, at which point Aktkenhead says he suddenly becomes lucid and forthcoming. Robin admits he resumed drinking in 2006 to deal with a general all-round “fearfulness and anxiety,” and he laments how his second marriage ended in 2008 largely because of his drinking, even though by then he was sober. “You know, I was shameful” he confesses, “and you do stuff that causes disgust, and that’s hard to recover from.”5
Clearly, Williams feels guilty about his drinking and the destruction of his marriage. However, I suspect this merely encapsulates a deeper, more irrational guilt that drove him to drink in the first place. The consequences of his drinking is not the true source of his grief and guilt, merely the visible tip of the proverbial iceberg, a focal point into which he can pour his feelings. The ultimate wellspring of his suffering is more diffuse, ineffable, and without bounds, like Pisces itself.
Conclusion According to all reports, Robin Williams did not leave a suicide note. And so we may never know the real reason that compelled him to take his own life. My best guess is that he simply did not know how to make sense of his feelings. His capacity for a rational and objective response to the world’s ills, which he experienced as his own, was simply inadequate to the extraordinary depth of compassion he felt in the face of human suffering. Sometimes one can be too good a person, which is its own kind of illness. Robin’s stopgap remedy was humor, and when that failed, drugs and alcohol; and when that failed, suicide by hanging, as if he truly were a criminal. In the end, his escape into the giddy heights of manic humor failed him. Perhaps he simply ran out of gas. The gravity of his situation finally proved too much, pulling him down into that deep dark lake and extinguishing forever the last flicker of brilliance in a tortured soul.
* * * * *
1 Perry, G. Depth Analysis of the Natal Chart. Haddam Neck, CT: AAP Press. See in particular Chapter 6, “Psychopathology of the Zodiac”.
Father In the Horoscope Understanding Barack Obama
By Glenn Perry
Students frequently ask what planet signifies the father in the horoscope, Sun or Saturn? Also, what is the relationship between father and other characters symbolized by these planets?
It is important to distinguish Sun and Saturn as representatives of father, for they signify different principles yet both are father-like in their own way. When identifying characters assigned to a planet it is useful to consider the underlying logic involved. Just as a planet signifies a set of functions that are designed to meet certain sign-needs, so the external characters that represent that planet are likewise in the service of fulfilling needs associated with that sign-planet system. The Sun, for example, is dedicated to meeting Leo needs for self-esteem, identity, and creative self-expression. Any characters that are instrumental in meeting these needs can be solar figures.
Sun as Father Regardless of whether the chart is of a woman or a man, the Sun signifies father as your first best friend, playmate, and greatest fan. These roles are central to the development of self-esteem, which is the primary need of the Leo-Sun system. Ideally, the child sees herself reflected back as the gleam in her father’s eye. And just as the 5th house is associated with a number of different characters—romantic interests, bosom buddies, playmates, teammates, fans and admirers—so the Sun can signify these characters as well. In short, anyone who is a source of admiration, approval, and validation for one’s self-expression (choices, play, performance, creativity) can be a solar figure in the native’s life.
These characters are superimposed over the characters normally associated with the house that the Sun tenants. If the Sun is in the 6th house, for instance, then one’s servants, co-workers, employees, and workers in general can be solar figures—that is, sources of approval and validation. With his Sun in Leo in the 6th, U.S. President Barack Obama is frequently criticized for surrounding himself with sycophants on his white house staff. Views that express disagreement with Obama are notoriously unwelcome. In this regard, Obama is said to live in a bubble that insulates him from potential challenge. If one does a Google search for “Obama lives in a bubble” there are dozens of articles titled along those lines.
The problem with Sun Leo in the 6th is the sheer strength of the Sun in an environment that requires diligence, caution, and critical thinking. Having the Sun in its own sign in the 6th is like throwing a birthday party for yourself in the middle of a shift at a General Motors automotive plant. The workers may cheer and love you, but not much gets done. The assembly line comes grinding to a halt. One suspects that Obama’s approach to work is more about creativity and performance than solving problems with cool efficiency. In short, charisma may substitute for competence.
Barack Obama: August 4, 1961, 7:24 pm, Honolulu, Hawaii
It is not just Obama’s Sun Leo in the 6th that accounts for his living in a bubble at work, but the fact that his primary solar aspect is a square to Neptune. As a psychological function, Neptune signifies our capacity for idealism, imagination, and fantasy. When square the Sun, this can translate as a penchant for living in a dream world wherein the self is perceived as extraordinary. Thus, one article is titled “Obama in Wonderland”, which captures the self-aggrandizing, solipsistic nature of his Sun-Leo square Neptune quality.
It follows that Obama is likely to surround himself with people who similarly distort reality in the service of an ideal. And since his solar square is to Neptune in Scorpio in the 9th house of law, it is not surprising that one of his best friends and staunchest allies, Attorney General Eric Holder, has been accused of fostering cover-ups out of loyalty to the president. Holder was cited for contempt of Congress when he refused to turn over documents related to a federal gun operation that led to the death of U.S. border agent, Brian Terry. More than 100 members of congress have called for Holder’s resignation over his handling of Fast and Furious, terrorism, and other matters.
Saturn as Father All of this, of course, is completely different from Saturn figures that signify authority, limits, mastery, and such. Father as boss, rule maker, disciplinarian (tough love), taskmaster, and worldly success are some of the roles that are consistent with Saturn. Women/mothers can perform these functions, too, but archetypally they are more associated with fathers. Saturn’s sign, house, and aspects provide information as to how one’s actual father embodied these principles.
In Obama’s case, his Saturn is in Capricorn in the 12th house. The 12th house association with sorrow and loss is consistent with the fact that Obama’s father abandoned his wife and child, eventually becoming an alcoholic and tragic figure in his native Kenya. It follows that Obama’s compassion for 12th house figures – the poor, underprivileged, victimized, dispossessed, and sick – at least partly derives from his perception that their Saturnian capacity is weak or missing, for that is the condition of his own Saturn.
Obviously, one does not become president of the United States without a somewhat functional Saturn. However, this should not detract us from recognizing that Obama’s supreme ambition is to minister to those who appear to lack a capacity for success without government assistance. Accordingly, Obama’s administration is renowned for having significantly expanded unemployment and disability benefits. Welfare payments have jumped 32% during Obama’s presidency; food stamp recipients have nearly doubled over the last six years. Obama’s signature achievement is the restructuring of the health care system to provide a safety net for individuals unable to obtain their own health insurance. In short, Obama’s Saturn is largely employed in the service of those who appear to be lacking or missing their own Saturn function.
Pointing this out is not meant simply to be critical. All things considered, Obama’s overriding ambition to help the underprivileged is an admirable use of Saturn in the 12th. At higher levels of integration, the best and proper use of any difficult configuration is to employ its energies in the service of helping those who are mired in that same planet’s lower level expression. Despite one’s best efforts, however, any planet in the 12th can manifest problematically in the form of characters who embody that function poorly and who directly impact one’s life. Sometimes there is simply no escape.
One of Saturn’s primary roles is that of expert, master, and authority. When placed in the 12th house, the people that perform these roles may be absent or dysfunctional, just like Obama’s father. It is noteworthy that the alleged experts that Obama has relied upon to build and administer the Affordable Care Act have largely failed him. From the disastrous rollout of the website to the constant changes within the law itself, Obamacare has been described as a “nightmare,” “train wreck” and “chaotic mess” by members of his own party.
Likewise, endless confusion over the Benghazi tragedy, IRS scandal, and NSA leaks has reinforced the view that public officials within the Obama administration are either incompetent or deceitful. All of this has contributed to the widespread impression that Obama’s presidency is itself dysfunctional. Yet, when pressured to take responsibility for his administration’s failures, Obama appears insulated and clueless. The joke circulating about Washington says it all. Question: What did the president know and when did he know it? Answer: Not much and about a minute ago.
Conclusion The point here is not merely to pick on Obama (of course, I am), but to demonstrate how Sun and Saturn can signify various characters that reflect the native’s own capacities vis-a-vis those planets. Recognizing that Sun and Saturn not only symbolize psychological functions within the individual but also characters that perform specific roles in the native’s life helps us to appreciate the synchronistic nature of astrology. As within, so without: fate is character turned inside out.
The Obama Administration scandal involving the NSA surveillance program has me feeling sympathetic toward the government. While there are widely varying reactions to 29-year old Edward Snowden’s recent disclosures, we can probably all agree it’s an interesting manifestation of the Uranus-Pluto square. Before exploring this further, let us first examine the Edward Snowden birth chart in an effort to understand what drove him to reveal NSA and CIA data to the international community.
Snowden is the former undercover CIA employee and computer systems specialist who perfectly embodies the tensions between Uranus and Pluto. Uranus rules advanced technology, as in computers, and is associated with revelation, awakening, and liberation. Pluto rules the dark and shadowy world of CIA operatives intent on rooting out destructive elements within our midst (think home grown terrorists like the Tsarnaev brothers). If integrated with Pluto, Uranian technology can be utilized to awaken us to the nature and extent of global terrorism especially as it bears on matters of national security. If unintegrated, however, Uranus is apt to prematurely (and irresponsibly) reveal government secrets, which impairs the proper functioning of Pluto.
The aspect in question duplicates the archetypal square between Aquarius and Scorpio, the signs ruled by Uranus and Pluto. This highlights the difficulty as well as the importance of integrating this archetypal pairing. Whereas Scorpio understands the necessity of secrecy in the battle against evil, Aquarius’ open, altruistic, and egalitarian nature just doesn’t get it. Revealing CIA secrets for the sake of protecting the privacy of American citizens is like setting your house on fire to keep ants out. Mind you, I’ve no love for ants. They can be annoying and intrusive. But burning one’s house down seems a bit over-reactive. Snowden’s personal rebellion against the NSA is the equivalent of calling Al-Qaeda and saying, “This is how we spy on you guys,” the result being they can adjust their strategies in light of the newly disclosed information. However well-intentioned Snowden’s whistle-blowing might seem, we are less safe now than we would have been.
Edward Snowden, June 21, 1983, 4:42am, Elizabeth City, NC
Snowden’s birth chart is certainly consistent with the behavior for which he is now infamous. While a full analysis is not possible here, we can at least note the four oppositions involving the Gemini-Sagittarius axis: Sun and Mars in Gemini both opposing Neptune in Sagittarius, while Jupiter and Uranus in Sagittarius oppose Mercury in Gemini. The lunar nodes are in these signs as well, further underscoring the importance of the Gemini-Sagittarian dialectic. Gemini is obsessed with the gathering and classification of raw data, while Sagittarius is concerned with its significance in the big picture. In other words, Sagittarius is focused on what the information means with respect to larger, global issues such as the war on terror. Sagittarius would also be sensitive to the ethical consequences of obtaining, evaluating, and disclosing the information.
It is significant that Snowden’s three inner planets—Sun, Mars, and Mercury—are all in Gemini, whereas the slower moving, outer planets are in Sagittarius. The suggestion here is that Snowden is more identified with the relatively narrow, immature perspective of his Gemini planets, which operate on the assumption that nothing is more important than full and immediate disclosure of information for its own sake. Developmentally, Gemini corresponds to age 5-8 when children are apt to blurt things out without fully understanding the sensitive nature of the question asked, or the embarrassing implications of the information disclosed. Their relative ignorance and insensitivity is age appropriate, however, so easily forgiven. The situation is more complicated for a 29 year-old.
With Sagittarius on the Descendant and Neptune in Sagittarius in the 7th house, Snowden is apt to project qualities associated with these signs and planets onto others with whom he is in relationship. This would include NSA, CIA, and government officials who are in charge of evaluating the information for its potential usefulness as well as their legal right to obtain and store it. Sagittarius corresponds to ages 44-53, which is that stage of life wherein one’s capacity for moral reasoning is fully mature. With 6th and 7th house planets in this sign, it follows that Sagittarian qualities would be most fully expressed in Snowden’s co-workers (6th house), collaborators (7th house), and superiors (with Aquarius on the M.C., Uranus signifies the 10th house of authority). It would be precisely these others that would utilize the data Snowden provides to predict the nature of possible threats to national security.
As the final dispositor of the chart, Mercury is especially important. Not only is it in a very aggressive position on the Ascendant as well as disposing Mars in Gemini (thus repeating the Gemini-Aries link in three different ways), but the opposition to Jupiter-Uranus in Sagittarius suggests that Snowden is opposed to the use of data gathering for the sake of a holistic, techno-analysis of potential terrorist threats. To the extent Snowden is identified with his Gemini planets and prone to impulsive reporting (as when a child tattles on his friends to elevate his own good standing), his revelations evidence a lack of integration between the respective planets. In other words, Snowden’s capacity to make wise and effective use of his Uranus-Jupiter conjunction was insufficiently mature. He was still influenced by Jupiter and Uranus, thus his image as a high-minded whistleblower motivated by altruistic concerns; yet, I do not believe he had the experience or vision to fully understand the necessity of the task in which he was engaged as an NSA employee, nor the potentially lethal consequences of making the information available to U.S. enemies.
As ruler of the M.C., Uranus in Sagittarius in the 6th signifies the authority that Snowden betrayed. This is precisely the NSA in its role as a global information network employed to discern troubling patterns of information, connect the dots, and predict the nature and location of specific threats. Rather than cooperatively engage his Uranian cohorts in solving the problem of domestic terrorism, Snowden co-opted Uranus for himself in a shocking revelation of government secrets.
It is also interesting that he has the same opposition between Sun-Gemini and Neptune-Sagittarius as the rogue LA cop, Christopher Dorner, who likewise blew the whistle on his superiors. Whenever the Sun opposes Neptune, there is always the possibility of narcissistic inflation, as when a single individual sets himself against the system and acts as if his opinion, his specialness, and his moral superiority trumps all other considerations. As a trans-border fugitive fleeing from justice, Snowden is currently under the protection of Russian president, Vladimir Putin. One suspects he was blinded by his own light and flew straight into the spider’s web.