Death is certainly one of the most significant events that will occur in someone’s life. As someone naturally inclined to great skepticism, I’ve been particularly interested in whether astrological indications are provided at the time of death. Even before I became interested in traditional astrology, I would spend a lot of time looking at charts of the times of celebrity deaths, looking at transits for some cogent sign of mortal end. I was primarily focused on techniques from Uranian astrology and Cosmobilogy at that time. Getting into traditional astrology, I deeply researched the techniques given by Robert Zoller in his DMA course, which largely revolved around the techniques of Bonatti (13th century CE), elaborating upon those of Ptolemy (2nd century CE), for predicting length of life. In my research I went from doubt, to enthusiasm, to renewed doubt about such techniques.
As I researched backward from Bonatti to his sources, the Perso-Arabic astrology that peaked in activity near the end of the first millennium of the common era, I started to get a sense of a greater diversity of opinion existing in the ancient world, as opposed to the increasing homogenization of such techniques in the late Middle Ages. Finally, reaching back into the earliest surviving strata of horoscopic astrology, Hellenistic astrology, it became clear that there is still a diverse wealth of material on death in need of exploration, testing, syncretization, and refinement through the art.
In this series, I have, so far, worked in broad and general strokes, by and large ignoring some of the more particular special techniques for predicting longevity. I will continue such a trend with this post on Elizabeth Taylor (a treatment requested by a reader), which will largely follow the same methods of analysis as the posts on Whitney Houston and Donna Summer, though with a couple new angles.
Elizabeth Taylor was born on February 27th, 1932 at 2:30am in London, England (birth data rated AA for accuracy). Her chart is pictured below with twelfth-part positions and then again with a few choice lots.
For those who have followed my series on the professional significator, you will notice that Venus (in the sign Aries and the bound of Mercury, in her Joy, the 5th place of performance and entertainment) is the clear choice for significator as Venus is strongly advancing conjunct an angle (adhering to the IC), is in a succedent house, rules the bound of the Ascendant and closely aspects the Ascendant, rules the sign of the MC, and has triplicity in the 10th (as well as being the ruler of the twelfth-parts of the Ascendant, Sun, Moon, Fortune, Mercury, and Venus). That Venus is scrutinized by Jupiter adds an additional sense of opportunity and fame to her significations. Venus, goddess of love and beauty, pertains to a profession relating to aesthetics, the arts, and/or entertainment. You can find some summary biographical info on this noteworthy actress via the Wikipedia entry on her.
As we look at her death, it will be important to first identify some of the more difficult areas of the chart, particularly as they relate to health and the body. The Ascendant and the Lights, particularly the sect light, are important in terms of health. Also, Valens noted some important points in Book II, Ch. 41 of his anthology that become relevant for the matter of type of death, including the prenatal syzygy (i.e. the position of the new or full moon preceding the birth), the 7th place and the houses on either side of it, particularly the 8th place, the 8th place from Fortune, and Fortune itself. The 4th place is also noted as significant with regards to death by Valens and many other authors.
Some of the more difficult configurations include the sect light, the Moon, being in the 12th place, Scorpio, in her fall, squared by Saturn in Aquarius, and ruled by Mars, with a square to Mars as her next application. This is especially so as the 12th is also the Place of Affliction (or Injury) in the chart, and is the 8th from Fortune, while the Moon additionally rules the 8th House, Cancer, and the Moon’s twelfth-part is in the 6th house of illnesses. Also, the Sun is with Mars in Pisces, the 4th house. The prenatal syzygy of the chart is at 2 Virgo, opposed by Mars within a degree. Additionally, Jupiter rules the Ascendant and in Leo is in opposition to Saturn in Aquarius in the chart. These are the most prominent configurations pertaining to death and bodily harm in the chart.
Liz Taylor died at age 79, in her 80th year, so we are particularly interested in activations of planets by planetary years which pertain to 79 or 80.
Looking at 79, some activated planetary combinations include Saturn-Sun (30+30+19), Mars-Sun (15+15+15+15+19), Saturn-Mars-Sun (30+15+15+19), Mercury-Sun (20+20+20+19), and Jupiter-Sun (12+12+12+12+12+19). The Sun and Saturn don’t aspect each other, nor rule each other, so that activation is less signification. The Mars-Sun activation is particularly significant for our purposes because these two planets are together in the chart and both have particularly relevance for health and death.
Looking at 80, some activated planetary combinations include Mercury (20+20+20+20), Mars-Moon (15+15+25+25), Saturn-Moon (30+25+25),Saturn-Mercury, Mars-Mercury, and so forth. The lunar activations due bring out the relationships that seem most important.
However, overall we get the sense that planetary years are not as telling in this case due to the fact that there are so many possible combinations activated in these years. We find the most important configurations related to death activated, but with such a large set of possibilities it becomes difficult to separate out what’s important.
Releasing from Fortune was noted by Valens as significant for matters of health.
The four levels of zodiacal releasing from Fortune at the time of death (1:30am on March 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, CA) are:
As mentioned in the post on Donna Summer, the emphasis in this regard is on the first two levels, with the lord of the sign of level 1 transmitting to the lord of the sign of level 2. In this case, what we have is the Sun transmitting to Mars. This is interesting from the standpoint of a luminary, showing power and vitality, passing off to a malefic, showing harm, but also from the standpoint of activating the Sun-Mars conjunction in the chart. We then see Mars transmit to the Moon (Aries to Cancer) and the Moon transmit to itself (Cancer to Cancer). That Cancer is highlighted in the shorter periods around the death is significant, as Cancer is the Place of Death (8th house) in the chart, and Cancer’s ruler is the Moon, which is in the 8th from Fortune.
The Moon-Mars relationship also shows up strongly at the time of death, with the transiting Moon in Scorpio (lunar return) and in partile aspect with transiting Mars.
In conclusion, the zodiacal releasing of the second level, which was from about December 2010 to February 2012 had highlighted a sense of vitality and heart (the Sun rules the heart) undergoing turmoil or violence (Mars), and activating the natal Sun-Mars conjunction. Moving to the third level, Cancer, which started on March 21st, 2011 (the fourth level thus kicked off with Cancer as well from then until March 25th), we also find an activation of the Moon-Mars relationship, as Mars transmits to the Moon and activates two houses with particular relevance for death (the 8th, Cancer, and the 8th from Fortune, Scorpio).
Distributors are important time lords that one finds by directing certain important points through the bounds. The distributor is typically the bound lord of the directed Ascendant (using zodiacal semi-arc non-latitudinal ptolemaic-key primary directions). However, some Persian astrologers used the sect light rather than the Ascendant. This parallels the use of the sect light as an alternative to the Ascendant in many Hellenistic techniques, such as for profectional lord of the year. The distributor is a time lord, but it can give up its rulership or at least share it with, planets actually applying an aspect to the directed point (Ascendant or sect light). Presumably this aspect would have to be within 3 degrees, as that was the definitive range for applications and separations, as distinct from regards, in Hellenistic astrology. In later traditional astrology there was something of an obsession with direct hits by primary direction, rather than use of it for time lords, but these time lords or distributors were a key element of traditional primary directions. I touch on some of these issues in my introductory post on primary directions (and there’s another post on software calculation).
At the time of death we find that the bound lord of the directed Ascendant was Jupiter (though the Ascendant had just switched signs into Aries, ruled by Mars) and that of the directed Moon (sect light) was Mars. You may recall that for Donna Summer also, at the time of death the distributor of the sect light, the Moon, was Mars. Now let’s look to see if there are any aspectual co-rulers of the distribution. At the time of death 5 Aries directed over the Ascendant, so there was no aspectual co-distributor for the directed Ascendant. However, 28 Capricorn passed over the Moon, so Saturn at 1 Aquarius, was applying within 3 degrees and was a co-distributor of the Moon.
In conclusion, the sect light had Mars as distributor and Saturn as co-distributor. The Ascendant did direct into a new sign, one ruled by Mars, but it had Jupiter as the distributor. In addition to the obvious importance of activations of the relationship of the Moon to Mars and Saturn, it is the case that Jupiter, lord of the Ascendant, actually does enter prominently into significations at the time of death also, as we’ll see.
Profections and Planetary Months and Days
The annual profection is very interesting for Liz Taylor’s last return. She turned 79 less than a month prior to her death. At age 72 the annual profection would have gone back to the 1st house, so at age 79 it would’ve been the 8th house (i.e. 72=1st, 73=2nd, 74=3rd, 75=4th, 76=5th, 77=6th, 78=7th, 79=8th). The 8th house, which is also known as the Place of Death, is the sign Cancer in her chart, which is the house of the Moon. You’ll recall that the Moon, herself, is located in Scorpio, in the 12th House, which is that of the Bad Spirit, and in her case is also the Place of Affliction and Injury and the 8th Place from Fortune (another place of death). Therefore, the Moon is the lord of the year, making her a particularly important planet to look at in regards to the most significant events of the year.
The two most common methods of assigning days also highlight the Moon. In monthly profections, the first month after the solar return (i.e. “birthday”) goes to the sign of the annual profection, which is in this case Cancer, so the Moon would be the lord of the month also. Also, in planetary days, one starts with the lord of the year, giving each of the 7 planets, in the order in which they appear in the chart (via zodiacal order). The Moon gets 70 5/6 planetary days, so the Moon would be the ruler of days still at the time of Taylor’s death. You will also recall above from the discussion of zodiacal releasing that the Moon became the most important time lord pertaining to physical health matters for the month and group of days in which Taylor died. Clearly, in terms of profections, day lords, and releasing for health, the spotlight is on the Moon at the time of Taylor’s death.
I discussed Valens-Style profections in a past post you can read here. As mentioned there, in addition to profection of the Ascendant, the profection of the Moon was particularly important for matters of the body.
In Taylor’s case, the Moon profects to Gemini, the 7th House, which is empty, so it is a case of the Moon transmitting to Mercury. The 7th itself carries some significance for matters of death (place of setting), while Mercury is in the 4th, which also carries such significations (place of anti-culmination, endings, and the earth). Mercury is cazimi the Sun and is with Mars.
While overall, the emphasis has been on the Moon, we see that Mercury may also have some special significance in terms of matters of the body.
It should be noted that because the Moon is in the 8th from Fortune, Fortune itself transmits to the Moon in her last year.
Liz Taylor’s final solar return is shown below (non-precessed, 2011 solar return).
We had determined that the main planet to watch is the Moon, and that Mercury may be of some lesser importance. Also, by distribution, we may want to take a look at the malefics and Jupiter.
The Moon in the return is in Sagittarius, which is the 1st house of the natal chart, pertaining to the body and self. The Moon in the 1st is particularly significant of the body, as the Moon herself tends to signify the body, so such signification is reinforced. For instance, in the electional astrology of Dorotheus he recommends that the Moon be strong, such as in the 1st or in the 10th, but advises not to put her in the 1st if she is afflicted by malefic as she could signify bodily harm. The Moon is in the house of Jupiter, but is in the bound of Saturn. The Moon most closely aspects Saturn and her connections are from a separation with Saturn to an application with Mars, so she moves from malefic to malefic which is a particularly difficult transmission.
Mercury and Mars are also strongly in their planetary returns for the 2011 solar return. Each one is only about a degree from its natal position, while simply being in the same sign as its natal sign would be considered a planetary return. Jupiter which is the lord of the natal Ascendant and the lord of the solar return Moon, is opposing Saturn, echoing the natal Jupiter-Saturn opposition.
Looking at the solar return as a set of transits, there are the 2 planetary returns in Pisces (the 4th house) that stand out, but also the conjunction of solar return Saturn to the natal midheaven and its opposition to natal Venus. We’ll see all of these factors really pop out at the time of death.
Transits at Time of Death
The time of death is given in a news report as 1:28am on March 23, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The chart of the time of death is below.
We are fortunate to have the exact time of death, as there are many striking features about this specific time. For one, it is 22 Sagittarius rising. This is not only Taylor’s rising sign rising but 22 Sagittarius is also the very degree held by the Moon at the solar return. Meanwhile, the Moon was in Scorpio, the sign it holds natally, so this is a lunar return, and the Moon is aspecting her ruler Mars to the degree. Therefore, the natal Moon-Mars relationship is popping at the time of death also. In fact, the death even occurs on a Mars day and at a Moon hour. In astrology the new day starts at sunrise, so it is still astrologically Tuesday, rather than Wednesday, and Tuesday is the day of Mars, as well as being the very same day of her exact lunar return. Transiting Mars is at 22 Pisces, square to the solar return Moon and the death Ascendant to the degree. On a side note it is also interesting that the Lot of Boldness (noted as “COLD” on the chart), which pertains to actions without feeling or empathy, had its daily transit over her natal Moon (15 Scorpio) at the time of death.
There is a transiting Jupiter-Saturn opposition that is applying very strongly (within 2 degrees) which is also in focus at the time of death. Saturn is culminating at 14 Libra (the natal MC degree) opposed to Jupiter anti-culminating at 13 Aries. While transiting Jupiter is very strongly opposed by transiting Saturn, it is also the case that the transiting Sun and Mercury are in opposition to this Saturn which is the most prominent planet at the time of death and is itself the planet that signifies death.
As a set of transits, the lunar return and the alignment of the transiting Jupiter-Saturn opposition with the natal IC-MC are the most striking features of the time of death.