Traditional Astrology of Death | Marvin Gaye

I was about halfway through a post on the death of Donna Summer when astrologer Ile Spasev brought Marvin Gaye’s 1984 death at the hand of his father to my attention.  Once I started getting into Marvin Gaye’s chart and death, I found it too fascinating in terms of the importance of the planetary years, solar return, profection, and transits to not share it first, before finishing my Summer article.  This day preceding both an ingress and an eclipse has been a strange one altogether for me.  What’s going on!?

One of the most interesting things about Gaye’s death is that it occurred on the exact day of his solar return, as well as a day of the New Moon (conjunction of the Sun and Moon).  While it occurred the day before his calendar birthday, in astrological terms, it didn’t occur on the eve of his 45th birthday, but rather on the day of his exact real natural “birthday” (solar return), and just a few hours after the exact point of return in his annual cycle.

Marvin Gaye’s Natal Chart

According to AstroDatabank, which has given the Gaye birth data an A rating for accuracy, Marvin was born on 4/2/1939 at 11:58am in Washington D.C.  According to news releases he was pronounced dead on the afternoon of 4/1/1984 at 1:01pm in L.A., California.  His death followed his intervention in arguments between his mother and father both the day before and again directly preceding the circumstances of his death in which his father shot him in the heat of anger.

His birth chart is shown below with the twelfth-part positions depicted along the outer wheel.

Marvin Gaye Natal Chart w/twelfth-parts
Marvin Gaye Natal Chart w/twelfth-parts

In ancient astrology, Saturn, the Sun, and the 4th place (Valens adds the 9th place) are particularly relevant for the father.  In Gaye’s chart, the Sun in the bound of Venus in the 10th is more pertinent to his fame and honors than his father, as the Sun also naturally signifies honors as does the 10th place, and the Sun adhering (applying conjunction within 3 degrees) to Mercury (vocal) and in the bound of Venus (arts) has particular relevance to his singing fame.  The Sun additionally has no “dignity” in the 4th, in that it has little say over the 4th of father, family, origins, and property.  Saturn on the other hand, is also in the 10th (a “stake” of the 4th) and also naturally signifies fathers, but additionally is the exaltation and first triplicity lord of the 4th place of fathers, therefore Saturn is considered to give the strongest testimony regarding matters concerning the father.

Saturn does a good job of describing the father and death as well.  Saturn is in a cardinal or changeable/moveable sign, which are known for initiating major changes through abrupt action.  Saturn is also in a sign and the bound of Mars, which is the planet with dominion over acts of violence.  Saturn is additionally dominated by Mars (in a right hand whole sign square), which gives Mars substantial influence over Saturn, giving symbolism of the father becoming dominated by rage and violence.  Saturn afflicts Mercury, the Sun, and the twelfth-part Ascendant, bringing in a sense of argumentation, publicity, and harm to Gaye’s self.

Importantly, Saturn is the planet with the greatest testimony over the place of death in the chart, the 8th place or house, Aquarius.  This is because Saturn rules Aquarius, is the first triplicity lord there, regards the place, and is a natural significator of death – therefore, Saturn’s testimony with regards to death is very strong in his chart.  The Sun also has some testimony over both the father (natural significator of the father in a stake of the 4th) and death (rules the 8th from fortune, Leo, and the twelfth-part of the Sun is in the 8th from fortune), and shows a repeat connection between the father and death.

Both Venus and the Moon give testimony regarding the mother, even though neither of them regard the 4th of origins.  Venus does so because she rules the 4th and is a feminine natural significator of mothers, while the Moon does so because she is a natural significator of mothers and is in the 3rd, her joy, which Valens also asserted as the place of the mother.

The Moon and Jupiter provide some of the strongest testimony in terms of Gaye himself and his temperament, as they both regard the 1st and have a lot of lordship over the actual Ascendant.

Planetary Years

I discussed the use of planetary years for prediction in a past post, which you can read here for reference.

Marvin’s death occurred exactly at the point of his 45th year.  Very rarely do planetary years culminate at such an exact point.  Fascinatingly, 45 is indeed the activation of Saturn-Mars relationships in the natal chart, as Saturn has 30 and Mars 15, yielding 45.  This signifies a very major event as it activates three major Saturn-Mars configurations in his chart: the Mars-Saturn square with Mars dominating, Saturn in Aries (domicile of Mars), and Mars in Capricorn (domicile of Saturn).

Thus planetary years show strong activations linking the father with violence and death.

Furthermore, according to the technique of planetary days discussed by Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE), the ruler of the year gets the first set of days in the year.  Therefore, Mars was the planet in charge of signifying both the plan for the year and the days at the time of death.


Those unfamiliar with profections, which involve the movement of positions in the chart into a new house at set intervals, typically annually, can learn about profections in my series of posts on the topic.

As the death happened just after the turning of the 45th year, the annual profection of the Ascendant moved to the 10th place, Aries, on that day for the year.  Therefore, the profection was highlighting those planets in the 10th place, Saturn, Mercury, and the Sun, with Mars, the ruler of Aries, as the lord of the year.  In other words, the profections show yet another activation of Saturn and Mars, specifically Saturn in Aries, ruled by and dominated by Mars.

Solar Return and Transits

I have been meaning to expand on my series on solar returns, which I started here.  For now, it suffices to look at the non-precessed solar return here as a set of transits to the natal chart, depicted along the outside of the natal below. In addition, I have posted the natal chart with twelfth-parts again, as there are fascinating connections between the return, which is also the transit chart for the day of death, and natal twelfth-parts.

Gaye's Final Solar Return which is on the day he died
Outer positions are from Gaye’s Final Solar Return which is on the day he died
Marvin Gaye Natal Chart w/twelfth-parts
Marvin Gaye Natal Chart w/twelfth-parts

First, it is noteworthy that the return, and death, occurred on the day of a New Moon in Aries.  This is a further activation of the sign Aries and its occupants, including Saturn, and its ruler Mars.

Second, as Mars is lord of the year and of days, the position of Mars in the return is of pivotal importance.  In the return Mars is in Scorpio, one of his own domiciles, and is with Saturn and in Saturn’s bound again echoing the Mars-Saturn significations.  Additionally, Mars is at 28 Scorpio, conjunct the twelfth-part of natal Saturn in the very same degree! The twelfth-part of transiting Mars was itself at 9 Libra, opposing Gaye’s Sun.

In addition to Mars transiting right over the natal twelfth-part Saturn at the time of death, the twelfth-part of transiting Venus was at 27-28 Scorpio, right with that transiting Mars and natal twelfth-part Saturn.  I take this Venus transit to represent the connection with the mother, who Gaye was arguing on behalf of at the time of the incident.  Transiting Venus at 22 Pisces with Gaye’s Jupiter, symbolic of himself, and opposed to his Moon, symbolic of both himself and his mother.  Fascinatingly, this Venus transit was also right over the natal twelfth-part of Gaye’s Mars, which is at about 21-22 Pisces, showing them both coming into contact with the father’s rage and violence.

At the time Gaye was pronounced dead, the Moon was at 16 Aries adhering to Gaye’s Saturn.

Primary Directions – Distributors

It is also worth noting important primary directions around the time of death, as I did for the death of Whitney Houston.

Marvin Gaye's Distributors of the Ascendant and Sect Light
Marvin Gaye’s Distributors of the Ascendant and Sect Light

First, we look at the distributors.  Amazingly, both the Ascendant and the Sect Light (the Sun) were directing through the bounds of Mars, the out of sect malefic during the period in which the death took place.

However, the aspectual directions are not as striking to me for the most part, which may be indicative of slight inaccuracy in the birth time (directions involving the Ascendant and MC can be altered by many months for each one minute inaccuracy in birth time).  One of the more interesting directions occurring within 6 months of his death is that of the star Algol (associated with death and violence) directing to Gaye’s MC.

Algol Directed to Gaye's Natal MC
Algol Directed to Gaye’s Natal MC


While death is not a pleasant topic to analyze, it is one of the most definitive events in every individual’s existence, and therefore one of the most important events to look at from an astrological standpoint.  In seeing that there is or are some higher intelligences at work in this universe such that they can express symbolism reflecting events such as an individual’s death is both beautiful and hard to get one’s head around, especially in relation to such an almost universally loathed facet of the way things work in story we take part in as human beings.  Perhaps our analysis will bring us closer to accurately spot death or even averting death for a time.  Perhaps Urania will simply whisper indications more quietly when we forsake her secrets.  In any case, even in hindsight, looking back on the pertinence of the symbolism when using the ancient techniques is always thought-provoking and stirs up our religious and spiritual functions of seeking the truth with humility.

2 thoughts on “Traditional Astrology of Death | Marvin Gaye”

  1. A youngr sis that I wasnt raised with and havent seen in 25 yrs is coming up on the computer inqiry as deceased. Also the age she was when deceased (53) I wonder if her passing or whether she’s still living will show up in my chart? Im not sure of her exact DOB either.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Even though you may not have known her well in the past 25 years, that still must be difficult. It’s hard for me to say if it showed up. The indications may be subtle because of the more indirect nature of things, but I suspect there are some things in the predictive techniques about your sister and death.

      Best wishes,


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