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Biopic Shorts | Karl Marx

I recently read a couple books on Karl Marx and found that his chart very vividly reflected his life.  In my own personal opinion Marx was a great economist who is too often overlooked and helped to inspire many important positive changes in labor conditions and the regulation of business.  Drawing on Hegelian dialectics, while critiquing its spiritual aspects, his “dialectical materialism” helped to expose inherent contradictions in competitive enterprise that could lead to its necessary dissolution or transcendence, such as competition itself fostering economies of scale and mechanisms of cohersion that result in anti-competitive monopolies.

While the importance of his analyses is often overlooked, being buried under propagandistic hype and his being scape-goated for the abuse of his ideas by those in power (with a focus on Stalin without a similar critique of the mass genocide in the U.S. and other such atrocities committed to help pave the way for liberal enterprise), he also seemed to be a bit unsure of his own theoretical and pragmatic stances, very frequently reversing positions, often pardoxically, but then perhaps in a way that may be expected of someone whose philosophy was so strongly based in dialectics.  He was adamant about philosophy being used to transform the world rather than just to think about, but in that there is something propagandistic, as if the need to transform to what one feels is just or right is a priori and then the philosophy can work to justify that.  For all his urgings for transformation, he was known to advocate revolution and then do an about-face and oppose revolutionary action, and was an ardent critic of revolutionaries and “Marxists” in his own day.  He exhibited a rebellious zeal against capitalist powers but was from a wealthy bourgeois background, recklessly spent his ample allowance given to him from his friend Engels (from Engel’s family industry) even speculating in stocks for a time with his wife retaining her baroness title and them both keeping on a housekeeper, and while advocating ardently for the working class he refused to stoop down to labor work himself and seems to have been a somewhat irresponsible, with 4 of his 7 children dying in childhood in part from very poor living conditions despite his receiving more than a typical clerk’s salary in regular money from Engels, and with him possibly fathering a child with his housekeeper, and constantly avoiding paying his bills/rent. All in all, I found him to be a good-humored somewhat selfish, impulsive, and irresponsible person, though one with a strong sense of social justice and a keen mind for abstract economic analysis.  His most mature work, taken up late in life, is the three volume Capital, which is also known to be terse and somewhat prone to ambiguity.

I’d like to take a look at his chart, with an eye toward teaching the basics of chart interpretation in the ancient, original (as in first horoscopic astrology), manner of Hellenistic astrology, which differs greatly from that of modern astrology.

A Little Background in Chart Reading

The horoscope, or astrological chart, is named for the horoskopos, the point where the Sun rises on the horizon (i.e. intersection of local horizon and ecliptic plane), which is the most important point of the chart as it localizes the arrangement of the heavens to a specific time and place (with a change of about 1 degree of the 360 degrees of ecliptic space about every 4 minutes of regular clock time, i.e. 360 degrees in 24 hours).  This rising point is sometimes conceptualized as like the helm of a ship.  I often conceptualize it as being the point where sky, which is distant, evocative, abstract ratio-oriented (rational), seemingly infinite, and full of lights, being akin to the soul or mind-stuff of our reality, is seen to reveal itself, to stream out or peer out from the Earth, which is close, finite, solid, and manifest, being akin to the body of our reality.  While in modern astrology the Sun particularly, and to a lesser extent the Moon and other planets, are seen to be representative of the self, it is this point that represents the self in ancient astrology, and with much clearer analogical reasoning.  Likewise, in ancient astrology the Sun represents power, vibrancy, rule, egoism, and stuff of that sort, rather than “the ego” of an individual, allowing for the possibility that someone is more or less solar in temprement and life situation, and for the Sun to take on greater or lesser significance in relation to the individual depending on its relationship with those things that signify the self in the chart.  This allows for a much greater ability to capture life’s complexities in the chart and move further away from the over-generalization and stereotyping so commonplace in the popular astrology of today.

The chart as a whole is oriented to the horoskopos or Ascendant, representative of the self, with the rest of the circle signifying its circumstances.  The Ascendant lies in a specific degree of a specific sign of the tropical zodiac, and each sign is the “house” of a planet in the sense that some planet is in a sense evoked in connection with matters of the house and has some responsibility for them.  In addition, the signs are divided into “room-like” divisions called bounds which are also under the dominion of specific planets, and there are additional rulerships related to specific signs and houses, and the planets themselves have certain affinities for specific matters directly, called their natural rulerships.  Finally, there are certain derivative points which are used to gather further indications of various matters.  In this way, there is in any natal chart a number of planets and other factors that are relevant to any specific matter, and each has its own relations to other topics and tendencies toward pleasant/unpleasant and prominent/backgrounded effects.  Reading a natal chart helps to clarify the most prominent indications and gives you a very rich and complex jumble of possibilities, while timing techniques help to focus things by showing which planets are more active at a given time in relation to different things and to modify their indications in important ways.

To learn more about the basics of Hellenistic astrology, check out my (unfinished) series on basics and consider taking the Hellenistic astrology course offered by Chris Brennan which is affordable and is a great springboard into direct readings of translated texts from the first thousand years of horoscopic astrology (roughly the first millennium CE).  The rest of this post will illustrate some chart reading with Marx’s chart.

The Natal Chart of Karl Marx

The Ascendant is the point most symbolic of the individual in the chart and it shifts by an entire zodiacal degree about every 4 minutes of regular clock time, so horoscopic astrology is missing the most important symbolic ingredient when the birth time is unknown or inaccurate.  Thankfully, the birth time of Karl Marx is from his official birth record, so we have good reason to believe that it is very accurate (given a Rodden Rating of AA for accuracy on AstroDatabank).  He was born at night with 23 Aquarius rising.  Aquarius is the day house of Saturn, and is a fixed air sign, fixed signs being known for tenacity/focus/steadfastness, and air signs associated with the humanities and movement, and having Mercury, planet of movement, rationality, and commerce, as its primary triplicity ruler by night.  The Ascendant is in the bound of Mars, planet of aggression and inflammation.  The twelfth-part of the Ascendant (not shown) is at 6 Scorpio, the night house of Mars, a fixed water sign, with water signs being ruled by Mars at night (principle triplicity ruler), and in the bound of Mars, while in the 10th house of the chart, which is that of heights, achievement, authority, and rule.

Natal Chart of Karl Marx (CTRL+Click to enlarge)

The rulers of the Ascendant and 1st House inform us of the particular importance of Saturn, Mercury, and Mars in relation to studying Marx, but rulers of the 1st House are not the only factors of relevance to the self in ancient astrology.  Planets in the 1st, and those aspecting or “regarding” the 1st, particularly in more influential ways are very relevant, as is Mercury because of its special significations of rationality, and prominent planets for being influential, including the Sun and Moon which are naturally prominent.  There are also certain lots (derived points) which many astrologers (e.g. Vettius Valens) considered very important for particular matters of personality and character, but here I will try to stick just to the seven planets.  One important distinction often made is that the 1st house has more relevance to the body/temperament, as does the Moon, while the ruler of the 1st house has more relevance to the mind/direction, as does Mercury (and the Sun).

With an air sign rising, Saturn and Mercury will be important by default, but they are made even more important here by the fact that Saturn rules the house itself and Mercury is the primary triplicity ruler while also in his own house and bound (Mercury is in Gemini in its Mercury bound, in an air sign by night, so there is a sense of great reinforcement to Mercury which makes it more prominent).  There are no planets in the 1st house, and while the Sun, Moon, Venus, and Mercury all regard the 1st house, they do so from an inferior position so I don’t consider their influence to be particularly pronounced.  The Sun and Moon, while prominent, are in the house of family and origins (the 4th), being particularly relevant in relation to the parents, and are in the bound of Mercury further signifying Mercury’s importance in the life.  Mercury is also in phasis (crossing under the beams of the Sun within 7 days of birth, another mark of planetary prominence).  Mars provides noteworthy indications for the self but these are more covert.  Therefore, an astrological analysis of Karl Marx’s life and character should focus upon Saturn and Mercury in the chart, rather than on his Sun and Moon in Taurus as might be done in a modern analysis.  This makes good sense as Saturn is the planet of doubt, loss, fear, constriction, critique, poverty, and imprisonment, while Mercury is the planet of commerce, movement, theory, writing, and all forms of rational analysis.  Also, as was noted in my series on the charts of atheists, an identification with air, Saturn, and Mercury is rather characteristic of a rational worldview tending towards physicalism and materialism with a particular doubtful disdain for spiritual and mystical elements (Marx was irreligious and critical by sympathetic to religion, seeing it as serving a function for the oppressed but also as deluded).  We see many of the typical marks of an atheist chart, with Jupiter even being in the 12th house, in fall, stationing retrograde, and opposed by the malefic Mars (with Mars in “domination” over the 9th).

Saturn, besides being a key point of identification for Marx, is also one of the “loudest” planets in the chart, as it is the planet most advancing, being about 20 degrees from rising.  In this sense, Saturn has a sort of general prominence and persistence in the life, shedding something like a dark cloud over it with Saturn’s natural significations of doubt, negativity, death, loss, poverty, and stern cold authoritativeness.  Saturn is a complex planet in the chart.  Most noteworthy, Saturn is in the 2nd house of the chart which is that of money matters, directing Marx persistently into this sphere of life.  The 2nd house is directly impacted by its occupant Saturn, some indications of which can be poverty, loss of capital, obstructed capital, money worries, and criticism or challenges to wealth and possessions.  Here it is Marx who identifies in some ways with being the Saturn in the house of money, and coincidentally feeling a need to consistently challenge and critique those with the means of production was one of the most persistent and certain things he identified with in his life, even before his philosophical thought and analysis was well-developed.  The 2nd house itself is buried deep in paradox, akin to his own monetary paradoxes in his life, being from a wealthy background, choosing to live in poverty, while at the same time constantly begging for money from his friend, receiving money in generous amounts, and eschewing his responsibilities with money.

The 2nd house is Pisces, a water sign, which can connect it with emotional and familial ties, while a mutable sign which tends to signify fluctuations between two poles and possibly multiple sources of income (for much of Marx’s life he was receiving income from writing articles and from Engels, the bulk from Engels).  That both Saturn and Mercury are in mutable, or double-bodied, signs, would also signify a certain back-and-forth quality to his manner of thinking which would make him prone to reversals/flip-flops, and would likely be related to the great appeal that dialectical theories held for him.  The 2nd house, while mainly and most directly impacted by Saturn, is then ruled by Jupiter (and Saturn is in the bound of Jupiter), with Jupiter overcoming and actually connected with Saturn (aspecting within 3 degrees), while Jupiter is in a bad place (that of the “bad spirit” pertaining to negative social and mental afflictions, such as poverty and imprisonment) and is itself ruled by Saturn, creating a bit of a bounce back between Saturn and Jupiter, the planet of constriction, poverty, and doubt (Saturn), with that of expansion, wealth, and belief (Jupiter), with Saturn holding this upper-hand in this strong association and being the planet Marx identifies with more strongly.  In any case, Jupiter’s role there does add some indication of aid and luck connected with money matters (and Jupiter rules the 11th of friends, in addition to the 2nd of money, connecting the two), but overall there is the sense of such wealth going sour. Saturn is additionally out of sect, which tends to increase Saturn’s tendency toward malice, such that we are to expect Saturn to have much more vitriol in the darkness of its many significations, including those in relation to money, such that the doubt is deeper, the negative associations more intense, the difficult events connected with Saturn more painful (though again, Saturn is very mixed, so we see a difference depending on the timing of activations, with Jupiter’s activations providing more beneficent connections with Saturn abating the general difficulty signified). Finally, the twelfth-part of Saturn (not pictured), is in the 8th house of death, together with the twelfth-part of the Moon, a significator of physicality and mothering, emphasizing Saturn’s association with actual deaths, which no doubt had a big impact on Marx.

Mercury in Marx’s chart is in the 5th house which is that associated with pleasures, performance, and children.  I have personally found that a strong association of Mercury with the 5th connects with someone and the person in the chart shows someone who is involved with writing/oration/analysis as a pleasurable pursuit or “art”/”sport”.  Mercury in the sign, bound, and triplicity of Mercury, in an air sign, with Marx having an identification with Mercury, also shows an identification cleverness, intellectuality, and a bit of the trickster or even con man (enjoyment in deceiving people by mental means), as Mercury’s quick and elusive nature is very much ramped up, such that you would expect a Mercury that will do anything to avoid being to narrowly defined or pinpointed (though Mercury in Gemini was not considered good for the intellect in ancient astrology, as it is a wandering mind and prone to unpredictability and anger – while he was a middling student, unpredictable, provocative, frequently in trouble, flip-flopping, and prone to misinterpretation, there were also some additional significations in the chart for depth of thought).  The identification with Mercury shows an overall preoccupation with the world of thought, ideas, and communications.  In addition to the connections with wordy or commerce-oriented art, the 5th house is showing something of the close connection with his children too, and that such is likely to be playful and to inspire intellectualism in them.  Mercury is a duplicitous planet, and is here in a duplicitous sign, which can signify many children, and may also pertain to the possible fathering of a child with his housekeeper (two women).  Although the relationship indications in his chart show steadfast focus on one partner, with Venus, the 7th, the Moon, and all their rulers in fixed signs.  While Mercury is rather neutral (here, in sect and in a good place so tending to associate with more pleasant occurrences in the life), the 5th house is also dominated by the out of sect Saturn, which is one of the important connections between children and death that is in the chart.

Mars is very important too, and when identified with shows a certain domineering competitiveness and desire to get rowdy and stir up trouble.  Marx was an avid drinker and smoker from his teenage years and was very frequently in trouble with the law, to a notorious degree.  Additionally, the twelfth-part of his Mars is in the 2nd house, possibly showing a desire to irk those with money and to damage others’ property, all things he was known to do.  Mars is in sect in the chart, so some of its inflammatory tendencies are tempered and can be channeled productively, but its location in the 6th house of illness and maintenance (and labor?), ruled by the Moon (who pertains to physicality among other things) can indicate bothersome difficulties with accidents and disease, particularly of an inflammatory nature.  Its position in the 6th and his identification with it may also have had something to do with his identification with workers, as the 6th is traditionally a house of servants, and workers are the servants of the industrial infrastructure.  Its location in the bound of Jupiter and dominating the 9th house connect it in an incendiary way with spiritual belief, one of many indications of his ardent atheism.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look at the natal chart of Karl Marx and I hope it leads you into further fruitful explorations of ancient astrology.  – ant

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 13. Beyond Basics – Randi Revisited

Introduction

One of the first topical series on the blog pertained to delineating faith.  I first laid out some general guidelines that were based solely on basic principles, rather than special techniques.  The basic ground rules were laid out in the first post of the series, and then I returned to those and reviewed them a bit in the fifth post of the series.  However, in ancient astrology, strong delineation of a topic requires special techniques, which involve going beyond basic house ruler and natural significator indications, and examining a variety of key indicators.  Using these indicators we may attempt to refine our understanding of delineating the subject, and work backwards toward a better understanding of general principles.

Some Notes: The Law, the Sun, and the 3rd

Before returning to some of the past featured charts in the light of special techniques, I would like to briefly comment on the delineation of faith and its relationship to other topical delineations.  It should be noted that faith, while having a large social component in many societies, can also be a rather personal matter.  The house that most pertains to faith is the 9th, though the other major significations of the 9th involve travel and law.  Obviously, faith is the more personal of these three topics, and so among these, faith additionally calls for a deeper involvement with personality delineation and the 1st house (the self).  Another 9th house concern is what exactly is meant by “law”.  Today we think of law, religion, and science as extremely different fields of endeavor, and, in the case of religion and science, even antagonistic.  However, they are all very much linked within the 9th house, which as the house of law, may pertain to civil law, spiritual law, and natural law alike.

Consider also that the 9th house is the Joy of the Sun and the place was called “God” by ancient astrologers.  Firmicus Maternus also asserted that it was the Sun that produces religious customs among people (Book I, Ch. 2, #2 of the Mathesis).  This solar sense of illumination and profundity is also apparent in terms of the Lot called Spirit, which, of the lots of the seven planets, is the Lot of the Sun.  Spirit is derived from projecting the arc from the non-sect light (darkness) to the sect light (light) and was considered by some to be relevant in delineation of faith.  However, ancient astrology came into its own during an age when religion, power, and intellectual achievement were all considered quite solar and were more intimately linked than in many societies today.

Additionally, the 3rd house, that most prominently associated with shorter travels, siblings/kin, friends/neighbors, and counsel/messages, which is the Joy of the Moon, called “Goddess”, was also strongly linked with faith.  A few of the astrologers who linked the 3rd with faith were Vettius Valens (2nd Century CE), Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th Century CE), Rhetorius (7th Century CE), Sahl (9th Century CE), Abu Ma’shar (9th Century CE), Abu ‘Ali al-Khayyat (9th Century CE), Umar al-Tabari (9th Century CE), Abu Bakr (9th Century CE), and al-Qabisi (10th Century CE).  Umar al-Tabari, abu Bakr, and Abu ‘Ali all explicitly direct the practitioner to look at both the 9th and the 3rd, and their rulers, when delineating faith (see Persian Nativities Volumes I and II trans. Ben Dykes).  Linking the 3rd with faith and religion was not as frequent in the Hellenistic period as in the following Persian period though.  While nearly every Persian-Arabic astrologer linked the 3rd to faith and religion, only a handful of Hellenistic astrologers did.  For instance, Paulus Alexandrinus (4th Century CE) gave an exposition of the meanings of all the houses (Ch. 24 of Introductory Matters) but associated only the 9th, and not the 3rd, with philosophers, gods, mystics, divination, astrologers, dreams, sacred rites, and other such things.  Paulus did note that the 3rd partakes in signifying travel and life abroad due to being opposite the 9th (which is the primary house of such things).  I find that the 3rd pertains to faith, particularly as concerns counseling others, but if indications between the 9th and 3rd conflict, I would lean more heavily on the 9th.

Pertaining to the topic of the Sun and the 3rd, it is important to note that one of the most prominent skeptics in the world, James Randi, has the Sun in Leo in the 3rd house with Mercury and Venus.  Firmicus Maternus gave separate aphorisms noting that the Sun in 3rd, Mercury in 3rd, Venus in 3rd, Sun and Mercury in 3rd, and so on, all give indications of religious life. Additionally, Mercury rules the Ascendant and is with the Sun, which should also make one religious.  One the other hand, when leaning more heavily on the 9th, the relative prominences of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury, and how this all relates to the 1st and its ruler, we see “law” (the 9th) characterized by intellect (air) and doubt (Saturn), enthusiasm for expansive realms and ideas (Jupiter) weak (retreating and cadent) and embattled (12th with Mars), doubt and struggle as very loud themes in the life (Saturn strongly advancing), and a self-identification with intellect and rationalism (air rising, ruled by Mercury).  Therefore, I advise that one leans more heavily on the 9th than the 3rd, and on Jupiter and Venus rather than the Sun to show a “propensity to believe”.  Jupiter itself, like the 9th, is a natural significator of religion, law, and philosophy, so the influence and condition of Jupiter should not be ignored in delineating faith.

Interestingly, not all astrologers agreed that the Sun in 3rd should signify faith.  According to Abu Bakr, “The Sun appearing in the 3rd house and in one of his own dignities, signifies [he will] totally lack faith” (On Nativities, Book II, Ch. 1.10, Dykes, 2010, p. 149).  Abu Bakr also makes statements indicating that he doesn’t believe Jupiter in the 3rd to be indicative of true faith, as opposed to just the appearance of it.  These assertions about the Sun and Jupiter in the 3rd are in direct contradiction to statements made by Maternus.  This is a good time for me to repeat my admonition of “ancient astrologers didn’t all agree“.  By contrast, Abu Bakr gave indications of religiousness and spiritual interests for such planets posited in the 9th.  This may be an example of a view in which the 3rd is more indicative of superficial appearance of faith, being the house of counseling, communication, and gossip, while the 9th, its opposite, is more indicative of the heart of belief.  I say this because Abu Bakr delineates Jupiter, as well as the Moon, as indicative of superficial appearance of faith, without much substance, when they are in the 3rd, even when they are in sect.

Mercury

In my series, I have used Mercury primarily as a natural significator of rationalism.  However, to many astrologers, including Ptolemy, Masha’allah, and Abu ‘Ali, Mercury was not only significant in terms of showing rationality, but also as one of the most important indicators of character, as it pertained to the intentional or rational mind.  Just as we examined the nature of the 1st and its ruler for faith, Abu ‘Ali examined the planets ruling and regarding Mercury as having a particularly strong effect on the native’s faith (see Judgement of Nativities, Ch. 29 – I recommend the translation by Dykes in Persian Nativities Vol. I). Personally, I put more emphasis on the lord of the 1st than on Mercury in delineating character (and likewise in delineating inclination toward faith).

Lot of Faith and Lot of Spirit

Abu ‘Ali and Umar al-Tabari both made use of the Lot of Faith or Law, and its lord, in the delineation of faith.  It is unclear exactly which lot they were speaking of.  However, it is likely to have been the same lot mentioned later by Bonatti as the Lot of Religion, which is the arc from the Moon to Mercury by day, or Mercury to the Moon by night, projected from the Ascendant.  Umar included the Lot of Faith and its lord in a complicated (and corny, in my opinion) victor technique to find one planet more relevant to faith, and then he assessed if that planet was in good condition or not to assess the condition of the native’s faith.  Interestingly, Umar also advised that one look at the triplicity lords of the lot, and that the condition of these would show the variable condition of faith at different periods of the life (1st triplicity lord showing the first part of life, the 2nd showing the second part, and the 3rd triplicity ruler showing the last part).  On the other hand, Abu ‘Ali looks at planets that are with the lot (i.e. in the same sign), which is a more standard approach to evaluating a lot than the strange victor techniques which became so popular in the middle ages.

The closest descriptions found in ancient astrology that could approximate our idea of consciousness tend to arise in discussions of the significance of the Sun and particularly of the Lot of the Sun, called Spirit.  The Sun is frequently described with phrases such as “light of the mind”, and the like.  Spirit, the Lot of the Sun (arc from the non-sect light to the sect light, projected from the Ascendant), is similarly related to the mind.  In Hellenistic astrology it was used for many things, from professional achievement to mental health.  Maternus, speaking of the house Spirit fell in the natal chart said, “This house is called the substance of the mind.” (Mathesis, Book IV, Ch. 5, #2, Holden trans., 2011, p. 216)  Abu Bakr included Spirit in his delineation of faith in a somewhat idiosyncratic fashion.  Abu Bakr considered Spirit to show the outward appearance of one’s faith and its ruler to show the actual extent of the inward faith, such that one could appear faithful and be faithful (both strong and good), appear faithless but actually be faithful (lot weak but ruler strong), be a hypocrite who acts religious but has no faith (lot strong but ruler weak), and other combinations pertaining to mixes of strength and beneficence associated with the lot and its lord.

The Lot of Fortune, which is the Lot of the Moon, is more seldom used in connection with faith, but as another point that can have relevance for character its occurrence in the 9th and such was noted by some astrologers as indicating religious inclinations.

Added Indicators

With all that said, while re-exploring charts there are 5 additional indicators I’d like to evaluate:

  1. Spirit shows appearance of upright religious conduct while its ruler shows the actual personal sanctity when out of sight – a sort of word vs. deed distinction.  (Abu Bakr, Book II, Ch. 1.10)
  2. Mercury’s rulership and influential regards by planets is indicative of the nature of faith. (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
  3. The Lot of Faith and its lord participate in the delineation of faith on similar footing with the 9th and its lord, in that benefics in the places or with the lords and the lords in good condition (particular stress on the nature of the planet with or ruling the lot) are indicative of faith and wisdom, while the opposite shows the opposite.  (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
  4. The quadruplicity of the 9th sign indicates the fixity of the beliefs, in that mutable sings show instability in faith, fixed signs show steadiness, and cardinal signs show doubt and frequent change of faith. The quadruplicity of the ruler adds to this to a lesser degree.  (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)
  5. Lord of the 9th oriental (i.e. preceding) the Sun shows more open profession of belief, while lord of the 9th occidential (i.e. following) the Sun shows concealing of belief.  (Abu ‘Ali, Ch. 29)

Example 1: James Randi

I first examined Randi’s chart in this context in the initial post of the faith series.  There I noted the identification with Mercury which both rules and regards the Ascendant, the blaring general strength of Saturn in the chart which is conjunct the Descendant (i.e. was setting at birth) and has the most authority over the 9th (Saturn is domicile lord of the 9th, second triplicity lord, and regards the 9th from the right side), and the afflicted state of Jupiter retreating in the 12th with Mars.

James Randi's Natal Chart
James Randi’s Natal Chart

Looking at twelfth-parts, a topic I’ve explored in the last few posts (see here and here and here), we find the twelfth-part of the Ascendant in the 5th, Libra, the kingdom (i.e. exaltation) of Saturn, in Saturn’s bound, with its ruler, Venus, in the 3rd, Leo.  Randi came to prominence as an entertainer, a stage magician.  The 5th house pertains to performance and stage, while both Venus and Leo reinforce these notions of performance.  We can gather some of this from the 3rd, of communications, being occupied by very prominent Sun, Venus, and Mercury in Leo, indicating the important role of communication in the life (signs of the Lights, Leo and Cancer, are strengthening to planets in them, as their rulers, the Lights, are naturally prominent – here, the Ascendant ruler, the Sun, and Venus all occupy the 3rd, so it is very prominent).  The twelfth-part of Jupiter also falls onto Venus further signalling fortune through entertainment.

The twelfth-parts of the Sun and Moon fall in the 8th, Capricorn, one of the domiciles of Saturn, further stressing the influence of Saturn upon the life.  In fact, it’s hard to imagine Randi outside of his current image of black-clad, spooky-looking, doubtful, foreboding old man.  That the twelfth-part of Saturn fall into the place occupied by Jupiter, signals further affliction of Jupiter, further curbing the enthusiasm for stepping beyond the known. In fact, Randi, with his extremely strong Saturn, very afflicted Jupiter, and strong identification with Mercury, is a bit of an extreme case when it comes to resistance to out of bounds experiences.

Why people are so drawn to the irrational is something that has always puzzled me.  I want to be, if I can, as sure of the world, the real world, around me, as is possible.  Now you can only attain that to a certain degree, but I want the greatest degree of control.  I don’t … I’ve never involved myself in narcotics of any kind.  I don’t smoke.  I don’t drink.  Because that can easily just fuzz the edges of my rationality, fuzz the edges of my reasoning powers, and I want to be as aware as I possibly can.  That means giving up a lot of fantasies that may be comforting in some ways but I’m willing to give that up to live in an actually real world – as close as I can get to it. – James Randi (click link for source)

As mentioned previously, Randi’s chart gives us a clear indication that heavy doses of solar energy in the 3rd are not sufficient to make one religious, and perhaps even indicate total lack of faith as suggested by Abu Bakr.

Spirit. Spirit in Randi’s chart is in the 9th, ruled by Saturn, the out of sect malefic, in the bound of Mars.  It gets a lot of attention, being squared by Mars and Jupiter in the 12th, and opposed by the Sun, Mercury, and Venus in the 3rd.  Abu Bakr suggested either that the lord of Spirit in the 9th, or the lord of Spirit being the lord of the 9th, is indicative of good faith (if the lord is received which it is not).  In this case the lord of Spirit is the lord of the 9th, so we might suppose that faith is suggested if that is what Abu Bakr meant.  It is too premature to evaluate, and that the ruler is Saturn, the out of sect malefic, and is not received, makes it difficult to judge if this type of use of the Lot of Spirit is worthwhile anyway.

 

James Randi's Natal Chart with Lots of Faith and Spirit
James Randi’s Natal Chart with Lots of Faith and Spirit

In any case, if Spirit shows outward profession of faith, then we would expect a combination of very strongly restrictive doubt and skepticism (Saturn ruling and out of sect), a spirit of pursuit of truth and intellectualism (the 9th and air), and aggressiveness associated with secret plans of undoing (Mars ruling the bound in the 12th of hidden enemies with Jupiter).  This is the case.  In terms of the Mars and the 12th sense of launching secret offensives against others based on belief, Randi has been doing so since his early twenties, taking on jobs as fake astrologer, psychic, and so forth to spoof and attack supernatural beliefs even while getting his career as a magician together and before coming into public prominence.

Certainly, Spirit is not in such great condition that we would suppose outward profession of sanctity.  We were already getting much of the Saturnine sense from the 9th and Jupiter, but Spirit may still be of value particularly as it occupies a specific bound, showing the 12th house Mars influence.  Examining the ruler is very similar to examining Spirit itself in the chart, as Spirit and the 9th were so heavily informed by their ruler Saturn.  I would judge that Saturn is in a little bit better shape than the 9th though, because directly Saturn is in a domicile of Jupiter, bound of Venus, trine the Sun and Moon, and overcome by the sect benefic Venus by trine.  Perhaps from this we might judge that Randi’s bark is bigger than his bite, and that on a more personal level he does have a reverence from some greater unknowns.  Hard to tell for sure though, because that faith would be characterized by Saturn, and Saturn knows fear and doubt best.

Mercury. It was Abu ‘Ali that advised we look at Mercury, paying particular attention to the planet or planets Mercury is most strongly connected to, such as planets with Mercury, ruling Mercury, or that Mercury applies to in aspect.  Mercury is with the Sun in the Sun’s domicile while in phasis (i.e. making an appearance), so we expect a strong solar influence.  Mercury is also in Jupiter’s bound and applying a square to Jupiter with Jupiter in the superior position, so we expect a strong Jupiterian influence.  Both Jupiterian and Solar influences on Mercury are indicative of religious and faithful people to Abu ‘Ali, so I’m not overly impressed with this technique, as our more general techniques yielded a much more accurate analysis.

Lot of Faith. First, it should be noted that the Lot of Faith is right at the beginning of a sign and a birth time error of only about 2 minutes could put the lot in the preceding sign.  This could make a huge difference, as with the current time the lot is in the 10th in the sign of Jupiter and bound of Venus, while if birth was about 2 minutes earlier it would be in the 9th in the sign of Saturn and bound of Saturn – very big difference!  Assuming that the lot is at 0 Pisces, it is ruled by Jupiter, however Jupiter is out of sect, in a bad place (the 12th), and with a malefic, so it is not very indicative of faith.  Also, Abu ‘Ali seemed to highlight planets with or aspecting the lot, and here Saturn dominates (i..e superior square) the lot, and Mars is in a scrutinizing (i.e. within 3 degrees) square to the lot, so we might consider this lot extremely afflicted by malefics, showing a destruction of faith.

Quadruplicity of 9th.  The 9th sign is Aquarius, a fixed sign, so we might expect that Randi is not the type to question his own beliefs or radically change them much.  This seems consistent with the fact that Randi has been involved in spoofing astrology, psychism, and all things supernatural since his early twenties.  The ruler of the 9th is in Sagittarius, a mutable sign, which might show instability in belief and possibly a tendency toward syncretism (input from many sources combined into a new whole).  In this case, I think the influence of mutability is on the idea of fallibility and establishing what is more true over time through interactive analysis and communication of results (mutability pertains to back-and-forth and social phenomena), such as in scientific approaches to establishing truth which are inherently unstable and assembling rather than tending to be fixed or dramatically changing on the whole.

Orientality of 9th Lord. Saturn is occidental the Sun in Randi’s chart, so we would expect more of a concealing of belief, keeping beliefs private.  This certainly doesn’t seem to be the case, as Randi is a very prominent and vocal proponent of his skepticism.  Perhaps this is overridden by the fact that Saturn is so strongly advancing right on the horizon in the chart.  I associate general strength factors like advancing with the volume of a planet in the chart and would consider this a blaring loud Saturn.  In any case the oriental/occidental distinction seems insufficient on its own to establish how ready one is to profess one’s beliefs.

Long-Winded Conclusion to Long-Winded Post

I’ve thrown quite a lot of material at the reader in this post, and it is organized in a somewhat chaotic fashion, for which I apologize.  While our general method of reading faith in the astrological chart has proved very valuable, there is room to go deeper.  As we go deeper we take on more factors and self-deception becomes easier though, so we must lay it on the table and be self-critical.  These additional factors are more complicated than they seem at first encounter.

Saying that the 3rd participates in faith is easy, but judging the exact nature of its participation is difficult.  I would suggest that the 3rd pertains more to general communication and association, such that the manner of communicating beliefs and ideas must come through the 3rd, while the actual nature of one’s beliefs and ideas is more tied with the 9th (note: besides being consistent with main house meanings this is also consistent with the traditional dichotomy in which the Sun signifies more abstract phenomena and the Moon signifies more concrete phenomena).  Similarly, while the Sun pertains to illumination, truth, clarity, honors, and recognition, it is difficult to assess exactly how much the Sun indicates faith in a chart.  Perhaps this will become clearer as we work through more charts.  Usage of the Lots of Faith and Spirit may similarly provide deeper insights, or simply pose as distractions in such delineations.  While Mercury is a significator of personality and intention, it doesn’t seem to be very indicative of inclination toward faith, though we’ll continue exploring the possibility.  Use of quadruplicity of signs for degree of stability (fixed) vs. changeability (cardinal) vs. mixture/duality/instability (mutable) is common in the analysis of topics.  We’ll continue to at least explore the quadruplicity of the 9th and its ruler as suggested by Abu ‘Ali.

All of this and primarily just to distinguish the very faithful from the very doubtful, and the very genuine from the very superficial?  Apparently not.  With all these factors there is room enough for a very nuanced view of one’s beliefs that goes well beyond whether they’ll defend any old dumb thing propounded by the propagation or will take up authority as knowing the ultimate reality of the universe as a giant illusion staged by physical reproduction machines.  Faith is one small topic among many.  Obviously, as astrologers, we have our work cut out for us. To those who need all the answers now, so that they can go out and compete with psychics, this may be disparaging.  However, I think the techniques are extremely promising, and by remaining humble and working with them the 21st century may be the century in which the art of astrology reaches a depth of accuracy never before attained.

References

al-Tabari, U., & al-Hasib, A. B. (2010). Persian Nativities II:  ’Umar al-Tabari and Abu Bakr. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.
Masha’allah, & al-Khayyat, A.  ’Ali. (2009). Persian Nativities I: Masha’allah and Abu  ’Ali. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 12. Rudolf Steiner

The ingredients and recipes for this type of analysis can be found in the first post of the series, which you can view here, and were reviewed with additional comments a couple posts back, which you can view here.

Happy precessed solar return to Rudolf Steiner!

Rudolf Steiner

In this series I’ve been alternating between those who are strongly atheist/skeptic and those that are religiously or spiritually devout.  Rudolf Steiner is an interesting case of someone who was certainly spiritually devout, having many profound and guiding spiritual experiences throughout his life and himself founding the Anthroposophical Society, while he was also something of a rationalist, a well-read philosopher seeking a synthesis between science and mysticism.  He reminds me somewhat of Leibniz, who combined a profound rational intellect with deep religious convictions, seeking their synthesis in philosophy.  Certainly, thinkers like these remind us that spirituality and rationality, while not necessarily conjoined faculties, are neither opposed faculties, in spite of frequent New Atheist claims to the contrary in our era.  You can read a brief biography of Steiner on Wikipedia by clicking here.  His natal chart is below, and has a Rodden Rating of AA.  Despite the AA rating, I should note that even the day of Steiner’s birth is not without controversy, so the AA rating should be treated with a little bit of suspicion.

As I’ve done in the rest of the series, I’m going to analyze the main basic factors concerning faith, belief, doubt, and rationality, showcasing how they provide clues as to the nature of the person’s belief system.  This might be called the first phase of this series, while in subsequent phases we’ll be exploring other factors and techniques that pertain to spirituality, going beyond the basics.

Rudolf Steiner's Natal Chart
Rudolf Steiner’s Natal Chart

Steiner’s Chart Analyzed in Brief

  • Jupiter:
  • Extremely Strong – Jupiter is the strongest planet in Steiner’s chart and is extremely strong.  Jupiter is not only culminating in the 10th place, in a sign ruled by a Light, and the first triplicity lord of its place, but is actually conjunct the angle (MC) within 3 degrees, which makes it fantastically prominent, being aligned as it is with the meridian through Steiner’s location, in the South, at his birth.
  • Benefic, somewhat mixed – Jupiter is naturally benefic and is in a good place, the 10th, while very strong.  This is  a benefic Jupiter overall.  Jupiter is out of sect and dominated by Mars (though Mars is in sect), so Jupiter can associate with a fair degree of battles, heated situations, and general competitions and contentions.
  • Summary – Jupiter has an extremely strong and pervasive influence on Steiner’s life, that pertains to the 10th of actions, occupation, and career, and well beyond that.  Jupiter’s expansive, positive, faith-oriented, truth-seeking, and spiritually experiential nature leaves its mark on his life in a big way.  That Jupiter is out of sect, and particularly that it is dominated by Mars, linked Jupiter’s significations with heated challenge from others at various points in his life.
  • 9th Place:  
  • Very Prominent, Lunar, Saturnine, and Mercurial  – The 9th, Cancer, is empty, and is ruled by the Moon, which is the Light of the nocturnal sect, pertaining to the power of subjectivity, irrationality, instinct, the wild, movement, nurture, and bodies of water.  The Moon also regards the place.  The Moon is with Saturn, adding a sense of fear, control, obligation, and doubt to the significations, and associating such with the 9th to some degree.  The Moon shows an emphasis on the personal, on natural development, natural processes, and a sensitivity to social reality, in the belief system.  The Moon is in the bound of Jupiter, linking her to Jupiter’s expansive positivist spirituality, while in the domicile of Mercury, planet of rational intellect.  The Moon separates from the Sun and applies to Mercury in his chart, which, in a night chart, Firmicus associated with particularly learned people who make much public writing and are entrusted with and/or invent some sort of secret wisdom.
  • Somewhat benefic, mixed – The Moon is very mixed in the chart.  She is for the most part a powerful force (the Sect Light), benefic, and in a good place, ruled by a Mercury made benefic by sect, place, and rulership by Jupiter.  So the Moon is centrally benefic, but her copresence with Saturn, the out of sect malefic, and her being overcome by Mars by trine, both weigh her down and associate her with difficult circumstances and challenges in the life.
  • Summary – The Moon’s dominant influence over the 9th adds a particularly idiosyncratic element to the beliefs as well as stress on the role of natural processes, women, nurture, and personal development.  The Moon, like Jupiter, has her significations associated with good things in the life, but also attended by difficulty.
  • Saturn:
  • Very strong – Saturn is very strong, as he is strongly advancing in the chart, about 14 degrees from the MC.  Saturn has a strong and pervasive influence on the life.
  • Malefic – Saturn is quite malefic in the chart, being naturally malefic, and her out of sect and overcome by Mars very strongly within a degree (applying).  Saturn will tend to destroy, nullify, and challenge.  Saturn is at least in what is arguably one of the best of the good places, the 11th, where it most directly influences friends and social circles.  Saturn’s malefic tendencies are tempered somewhat by its copresence with the very powerful Sect Light, the Moon, also.
  • Summary – Interestingly, Saturn is very strong in Steiner’s chart and quite malefic.  Steiner’s life was in fact plagued with a good deal of loss, death, sorrow, adversity, and oppression.  He was certainly no stranger to doubt and criticism.  Jupiter still was a great deal stronger than Saturn in the chart.  The influence of Saturn was no doubt part of the reason he strove to make “proofs” of his ideas, hoping that he could make concrete and unbreakable the validity of his own deep spiritual experiences to others.  There is a certain Saturnine sorrow, desperation, and sense of responsibility and obligation bring the light to even the darkest most pessimistic and critical mind at the base of such a pursuit.
  • Mercury:  
  • Strong – Mercury is in phasis, copresent with the Sun, in the chart and ruled by a very strong and prominent Jupiter, so Mercury is quite strong.
  • Benefic, mixed – Mercury is quite benefic in the chart, being in sect, in the 5th place which is a very good place, and ruled by Jupiter.  Mercury is opposed by Saturn though, like a critical weight always pressing on Mercury and challenging during activations.
  • Summary – Steiner’s Ascendant is in the bound of Mercury, as is his MC, and his Descendant, as well as his Jupiter and his Saturn.  There does seem to be a strong identification with Mercury, the planet of rationality, intellect, and scholarship, even though Mercury doesn’t have the same sort of pervasive influence on the life as Jupiter, or even the Moon, Saturn, or the Sun.  Mercury is in the 5th of children, entertainment, leisure, and creative pursuits.  Mercury here gives a strong bent toward teaching and lecturing, as well as a connection with children and the creative arts (especially with the Sun here as well).  The strength of Mercury combined with the strong identification with Mercury combine to make Steiner quite the intellectual and rationalist, somewhat unusually for the leader of his own spiritual wisdom society.

Overall, the most immediately striking feature of Steiner’s chart is Jupiter conjunct his MC in Leo.  This while the Sun, its ruler is in Pisces, ruled by Jupiter, saying something of a spiritual leader and spiritual teacher.  Digging deeper we find that while Steiner’s faith and sense of the spiritual were extremely strong, this was not due to an absence of adversity or a lack of understanding as to how difficult and dark of a place this existence can be, but despite his very difficult experiences with such.  It seems to me that he was contending with this darkness and doubt nearly constantly, always attempting to build up stronger and stronger arguments and works against it.  I think this is at the heart of his desire to fuse mysticism and science, and to make mysticism somehow more objective, verifiable, and concrete.  He was a rationalist of immense strength, identifying readily with the scholar type even more than the religious type, extremely well-learned in philosophy and adept in a broad array of subjects, he was an intellectual to be reckoned with and used these powers intensely to bolster his spiritual cause.

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 11. Michael Shermer

The ingredients and recipes for this type of analysis can be found in the first post of the series, which you can view here, and were reviewed with additional comments a couple posts back, which you can view here.

Michael Shermer

Shermer is one of the most prominent skeptics in the world today as founder of The Skeptics Society (skeptic.com) and editor in chief of its magazine, Skeptic.  He is also a self-professed atheist – see here for his article, “Why I Am An Atheist”.  You can read Shermer’s biography on Wikipedia by clicking here.  His natal chart is below, and has a Rodden Rating of AA.

Michael Shermer's Natal Chart
Michael Shermer’s Natal Chart

 

Shermer’s Chart Analyzed in Brief

  • Jupiter:
  • Strong – Jupiter is strong in Shermer’s chart.  Jupiter is advancing, in a sign of a light (Cancer), regarded by both Lights, and receiving the application of the Moon.  When Jupiter is generally strong in this way, we might suppose that among other Jupiter significations being prominent in the life, the native has had many expansive spiritual experiences that transcended the known.
  • Benefic – Jupiter is naturally benefic and is in the 11th (its Joy), while in sect.  This is  a very benefic Jupiter overall.   Jupiter is opposed by Mars, the out of sect malefic, so there is some heat and contention to Jupiter’s significations, particularly upon activations of the Jupiter-Mars opposition.
  • Summary – The influence of Jupiter is pretty substantial and positive.  The subjects that interested Shermer and which he pursued in school were cultural anthropology and experimental psychology, both of which are more expansive, holistic, and Jupiterian type of fields.  Later he earned his Ph.D. in the History of Science.  While an atheist, he has also argued that science cannot invalidate religion.  Unlike many prominent skeptics and atheists he doesn’t appear to advocate intolerance for others based on their religious beliefs.
  • 9th Place:  
  • Moderate prominence, Venusian and Saturnine  – The 9th, Taurus, is empty, and is ruled by Venus, planet of sensuality, artistry, and pleasure.  Venus is advancing, but is in a cadent place.  She does regard the 9th by opposition though.
  • Somewhat malefic, mixed – Venus rules the 9th and is somewhat malefic, being in a more neutral place, but out of sect and applying a conjunction to a malefic (Saturn), while also in the bound and sign of the out of sect malefic, Mars.  Saturn is in very close aspect to Mars, and Saturn opposes the 9th, so overall the 9th place has a very Saturnine influence on it, inducing much doubt, critical thinking, and need for tangible evidence when it comes to matters of belief systems and dogma, from science to philosophy to religion.  Saturn would lean more toward the science end of things, while Venus more toward the importance of aesthetics and happiness in the evaluation of belief.  Somewhat of an association of matters of higher truth and dogma with unpleasantness or strife, but it is mixed in this regard, exhibiting a broad range, as Saturn is in sect and Venus is a benefic.
  • Summary – Matters of belief-systems and searching for some greater truth have moderate prominence in the life, but are not as prominent as in most of the charts of vocal atheists we’ve seen.  His evaluation of belief systems tends to be heavily influenced by aesthetics or pleasure (Venus rulership) and doubt or skepticism (Saturn opposition to 9th and conjunction to ruler of 9th).
  • Saturn:
  • Moderate strength – Saturn is moderately strong, being advancing but cadent.  While Saturn has a strong effect on the 9th, it doesn’t have a strong effect on the life overall.  So overall the life is not marked strongly by doubt, loss, dreariness, darkness, and negativity as it is in the charts of many atheists.
  • Somewhat malefic, mixed – Saturn is naturally a mafefic and is ruled by the out of sect malefic, but is here in sect and conjunct a benefic, while overcome by Jupiter by sextile.  Therefore, there is a quite a broad mixed range with the significations of Saturn in the chart, from malefic to bringing about very positive developments.
  • Summary – Saturn influences the belief system, but doesn’t have a huge impact on the life overall, and has both positive and negative associations.
  • Mercury:  
  • Extremely strong – Mercury is strongly advancing on the Ascendant and rules the Ascendant, while also very strongly in phasis (15 degrees from Sun).  Mercury is therefore extremely strong in this chart.  The god of movement, intellect, rational thought, and commerce has a very strong and pervasive effect on the life as a whole.  We expect the person to be involved with and encountering Mercurial themes in a wide variety of ways.
  • Somewhat malefic – Mercury always has a broad range from benefic to malefic influences, but here is out of sect and in a dark place (the 2nd), while in the bound of Saturn, while applying to Mars, so we expect a more negatively inclined Mercury.  In other words, we expect Mercury to be more geared into destroying than creating, negatively evaluating rather than positively contributing something new.  In the bound (and exaltation, and triplicity) of Saturn, we expect Mercury to be particularly geared into skeptical evaluation (Saturn pertains to doubt, judgment, and nullification).
  • Summary – There is a very strong identification with Mercury, as Mercury is strongly connected to the Ascendant and is extremely prominent generally.  Mercury is in the 2nd of money and wealth, so while Mercury’s influence is pervasive and broad, the significations concerning commerce are particularly appropriate, and we expect that Shermer is a shrewd business-minded individual.  Identification with Mercury is such a common theme among atheists and skeptics, who as a whole appear to identify very strongly with rationality and intellect.  So far, half of the atheists/skeptics in this series (Randi, O’Hair, and now Shermer) have had Mercury as the actual ruler of the Ascendant.

Overall, with Shermer we again see the influence of strong identification with Mercury, which is the strongest influence in the life, and by contrast, no identification with Jupiter.  We also see the influence of Saturn upon the belief system (9th) and rational thought (Mercury).  Unlike some more vocal atheists, it appears that there isn’t a strong influence of doubt, dreariness, and “desire to reject” on his life in general (Saturn is not very strong), and that he has had many spiritually expansive experiences in his life that test the limits (Jupiter strong).  Perhaps it is this which has led him to be more tolerant of religion generally than many other skeptics and atheistics, to remain open-minded, and to direct his attacks instead at specific ideas and claims.

 

Article feature image is attributed to User: Loxton of Wikipedia.

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 10. Abu Ma’shar

The ingredients and recipes for this type of analysis can be found in the first post of the series, which you can view here, and were reviewed with additional comments a couple posts back, which you can view here.

Abu Ma’shar

Abu Ma’shar was one of the most influential of the later Persian Medieval astrologers.  He differed from most Persian astrologers in his use of quadrant houses (rather than the whole sign houses used in the Hellenistic period and by most earlier Persian astrologers – and by me), he profected in 30 degree increments rather than by sign, as well as a few other innovative approaches that were of particularly strong influence upon later European Medieval and Renaissance astrology.  In my opinion, his greatest contributions were in introductory material, mundane astrology, and in his particular natal predictive tool set (though I don’t always agree with the particular way he used the tools).

I was reading the introduction to Ben Dykes’ recent translation of Abu Ma’shar’s “On the Revolutions of the Years of Nativities”, which is Abu Ma’shar’s work on natal predictive methods, including solar returns, and I noticed that Dykes’ gives Ma’shar’s birth time and natal chart as established by noted historian of science, David Pingree.  The source appears to be from chart examples Ma’shar has given, and there is some conflict between the positions implied by the day and time and those given by Ma’shar, by a few degrees, sometimes one way, sometimes another.  In any case, Dykes gives the day and time as 8/10/797 at about 10pm, near Balkh, Afghanistan (Dykes, 2010, p. 1).  The Ascendant of the reconstructed chart example is at 2 degrees Taurus, so I’ve set my chart at 9:55pm to match the example.  All planets are in the same positions, in the same signs, in the chart example as in my chart, give or take about 5 degrees, except Saturn which Ma’shar’s example puts in late Aquarius, while the day and time puts it at 0Pisces.

Given that there is some conflicting information about his chart from the reconstruction, why use this chart at all?  The problems with the chart are probably owing to slight table inaccuracies and calculation errors committed in Ma’shar’s time.  The chart should therefore be regarded as near B-rating accuracy, in my own opinion.  Ma’shar is interesting from a belief standpoint, as he was initially a skeptic.  Ma’shar was an astrological skeptic until his late 40’s, when al-Kindi brought him around to astrology (Dykes, 2010, p. 1).  He went on to become a very notable astrologer and defender of the science of astrology.

Abu Ma'shar's Natal Chart
Abu Ma’shar’s Natal Chart

Ma’shar’s Chart Analyzed in Brief

  • Jupiter:
  • Very Strong – Jupiter is strongly advancing, within about 5 degrees of the MC, and so is very strong, even though it is in a cadent place.
  • Very Benefic – Jupiter is naturally benefic and is in a good place, the 9th.  While out of sect, Jupiter is not regarded by the malefics, and is actually dominated by the benefic Venus.  Therfore, Jupiter is very benefic in the chart overall.
  • Jupiter is one of the strongest planets in the chart.  We expect expansive experiences, including spiritual ones, to play a major role in this person’s life.  Jupiter is in the sign and bound of Saturn, so we may expect such experiences to also be accompanied by doubt, and that the native will seek to make them more concrete or explicit for reassurance.  Jupiter is dominated by Venus, so there is likely to be a strong sensual or artistic orientation to the joys of Jupiter.   
  • 9th Place:  
  • Strong  – The 9th, Capricorn, is occupied by a very strong Jupiter, and is ruled by Saturn, planet of doubt, fear, loss, and dread.  Saturn is pretty strong, as it’s advancing in the 11th, overcoming the Ascendant (with a scrutinizing sextile).  Venus, the ruler of the Ascendant, also dominates the 9th.  Overall, it’s a prominent place.
  • Mixed, somewhat benefic – Saturn rules the 9th, and is quite malefic, as Saturn is out of sect.  However, a planet in the place pertains more directly to characterizing it than the ruler.  The position of Jupiter in the actual 9th and Venus dominating it, is enough to associate the place more typically with pleasant circumstances in the life.
  • Matters of belief-systems and searching for some greater truth are fairly prominent in his life.  His beliefs tend to be heavily informed by doubt/skepticism (Saturn rules the place), spirituality/religion/faith and deeper expansive truth (Jupiter), and also sensual pleasure (Venus domination).
  •  Saturn:
  • Strong – Saturn is advancing and is not subject to any major weakening conditions.
  • Somewhat Malefic – Saturn is naturally a mafefic, and here is out of sect.  Saturn is in a good place and is overcome by Jupiter by sextile, yet still, we would expect Saturn to regularly signify difficult matters and circumstance in the life.
  • Saturn, as the significator of doubt, fear, obstruction, loss, and so forth, does have a pretty strong effect over the life in a general and pervasive way, and particularly over matters of belief (the 9th).
  • Mercury:  
  • Very strong – Mercury is advancing, in phasis, and is in a “pivot” of the chart (i.e. the 4th), while assembled with the Sun and regarded by the Moon, so Mercury is very strong.
  • Mixed, somewhat benefic – Mercury is in sect and is in a good place, but is assembled with Mars, so there is quite a lot variation over time with whether Mercury’s significations are positive or negative, but overall they’ll tend to be positive.
  • There doesn’t appear to be a strong identification with Mercury, as Mercury has no dignity at the Ascendant.

Ma’shar was not a religious leader, nor was he an atheist.  He also seems to identify quite strongly with the Moon and Venus (we know little of his personality and life before astrology). However, what is unique about him is his doubt in astrology in particular, and then his very strong faith in it.  In his life in general, we see that faith plays a major role, but that doubt is also quite strong, and both play a role in the belief system.

This interplay between faith and doubt, with a desire to give concrete evidence for God or the gods, is not uncharacteristic of the charts of serious astrologers employing rigorous methods.  For instance, Robert Zoller has Jupiter in the 9th, dominated by Saturn (though Saturn is a bit weak, and Jupiter rules the Ascendant, so there is much less doubt and much more faith there), and Chris Brennan has Saturn as ruler of the 1st and in the 10th, while Jupiter is somewhat weakened, yet the 9th is made prominent through a Venus (which is ruled by Jupiter).  Myself, I also have Saturn ruling the 1st, Mercury as bound lord of the 1st, a very prominent Mercury (in the 10th, in phasis, conjunct the MC within a degree), but Saturn in the 9th, conjoined to Jupiter in the 9th within 2 degrees, and with Jupiter scrutinizing my Ascendant by trine.

In future posts in this series, I am planning on expanding out from the basic analysis, to explore more thorough characterization of belief drawing upon Hellenistic and Persian astrological literature.

Blessings!

Anthony

 

References

Ma’shar, A. (2010). Persian Nativities III: Abu Ma’shar on Solar Revolutions. (B. N. Dykes, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: The Cazimi Press.

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 9. Bill Maher

The ingredients for this type of analysis can be found in the first post of the series, which you can view here, and were reviewed with additional comments a couple posts back, which you can view here.

Bill Maher

Comedian and talk-show host Bill Maher is a very vocal critic of religion and frequent supporter and publicizer of the “new atheist” movement, serving on the advisory board of Sam Harris’ Project Reason, creating a film spoofing religious belief, winning the Richard Dawkins award from Atheist Alliance International, and frequently featuring new atheist figures on his shows.  Rather inaccurately, he self-describes as an apatheist, though he has shown great interest in religious belief, attacking it often, and promoting atheist causes.  You can read Maher’s biography on Wikipedia by clicking here.  His natal chart is below, and has a Rodden Rating of AA.

Bill Maher's Natal Chart
Bill Maher’s Natal Chart

Bill Maher’s Chart Analyzed in Brief

  • Jupiter:
  • Not strong, not weak – Jupiter is just barely advancing, and so is not very strengthened by advancing.  It does not have any other major strengthening or weakening conditions.  Retrogradation may be mildly weakening to Jupiter.
  • Mixed, somewhat benefic – Jupiter is naturally benefic and is in the 11th (its Joy), but Jupiter is also out of sect, and struck by the rays of Saturn (Jupiter is square Saturn within 3 degrees – actually within 1 degree – and in such a case the overcome planet strikes the planet behind it with rays and afflicts it.  This is part of the Hellenistic aspect doctrine, and the way I imagine it, it’s as if the dominant planet can see the other one better and take some control over it, sort of like with a panopticon, but the dominated planet has a straight enough shot to chuck something in the dominating planet’s eyes.)  So Saturn hits Jupiter hard with its significations.  On a more minor level Jupiter is in the term of Mars and is opposed by the Sun and Mercury.  Overall, Jupiter is benefic though.
  • Jupiter is one of the weaker planets in the chart, though not as weak as Venus, and arguably about equal in strength to Mars and Saturn (though I would consider Saturn, being exalted ruler of the Ascendant, to be stronger than Jupiter; also Venus is ruler of the Ascendant so there is a case for Jupiter as weakest planet, but it’s not clear-cut).  We can expect some spiritually expansive experiences because Jupiter is not very weak and is somewhat benefic, though Maher seems to have chalked these up to his drug experiences on his show, and in any case, Jupiter is struck very strongly by Saturn, planet of doubt. Jupiter does not have a prominent and pervasive effect on the life, but should bring great fortune in terms of 11th place matters of friends and networking. 
  • 9th Place:  
  • Moderately strong, primarily Mercurial and Saturnine  – The 9th, Gemini, is empty, and is ruled by Mercury, planet of reason, intellect, and communication.  Mercury itself is moderately strong, being in phasis, but also weakened from stationing retrograde about 2-3 days before birth.  The 9th is overall quite Mercurial from Mercury ruling, overcoming it by trine, and being the 1st triplicity ruler of Air signs by night.  Saturn and Mars also have a strong effect on the 9th by opposing it from the 3rd, though Saturn has the strong effect, as Saturn is a triplicity ruler of Air, and is a bit stronger than Mars (Saturn also rules the Sun and Mercury, is exalted ruler of the Ascendant, and is in a partile sextile with the Sun).  Venus dominates the 9th (right-side square), but her influence does not seem as strong as that of Mercury nor Saturn, as she is rather weak and has no rulership of the 9th.
  • Mixed, somewhat malefic – Mercury rules the 9th and is overall benefic in the chart, being in sect, and in the very good 5th (of creative performance) though is heavily influenced by Mars and Saturn which overcome Mercury by sextile (perhaps hinting at how Maher’s mercurial performance can be controversially dark, skeptical, and even aggressive, but with some degree of working well or harmoniously for him, as shown with the sextile – Mercury is friendly with Mars and Saturn, though they rub off on Mercury because of their more influential position in the friendship – overcoming – and so Mercury takes on some of the same inclinations).  However, the 9th is made more malefic than benefic by having both malefic opposed to the place (i.e. in the 3rd).
  • Matters of belief-systems and searching for some greater truth have moderate prominence in the life, but are not as prominent as in most of the charts of vocal atheists we’ve seen.  His beliefs tend to be heavily influenced by rationality and intellectualism (Mercury rulership), doubt/skepticism and contentiousness (Saturn and Mars opposition), and also sensual pleasure (Venus domination).
  •  Saturn:
  • Somewhat weak – Saturn is not very strong in the chart, as it is cadent, and just barely advancing.  While Saturn has a strong effect on the 9th, and upon the Sun and Mercury, it doesn’t have a strong effect on the life overall.  So overall the life is not marked strongly by doubt, loss, dreariness, darkness, and negativity as it is in the charts of many atheists.
  • Malefic – Saturn is naturally a mafefic, and here is out of sect, not in a good place (nor in a bad one), and is assembled with Mars.  Jupiter overcomes by trine, but the aspect is actually a scrutinizing square because it is within 3 degrees as such.  Jupiter is expected to ease up some of Saturn’s significations though, but overall Saturn is still quite malefic in the chart, and is the significator of the most difficult challenges in his life.
  • As noted, Saturn does not have a very strong and pervasive influence over Maher’s life.  Saturn does have a strong impact on the belief system, and there is a self-identification with Saturn (exalted ruler and a triplicity ruler of the 1st, while also regarding the 1st), but we don’t expect Saturn encroaching strongly on many areas of Maher’s life.  Saturn is very destructively inclined, signifying the more difficult matters in life, rather than simply discipline and duty or something like that.  In fact, discipline, duty, mortality, and authorities have very negative associates attached to them.
  • Mercury:  
  • Moderately strong – Mercury is advancing, and is in phasis, but stationed retrograde 2-3 days before birth.  The Lights are very prominent in Maher’s chart, but Mercury is at least the strongest planet other than the Lights (the Lights are naturally strong).  Mercury is in the 5th place of creative performance (the Joy of Venus) and with the publicizing Sun, in an idea-oriented Air sign (and one of the “human” signs).
  • Overall benefic – To reiterate: Mercury is overall benefic in the chart, being in sect, and in the very good 5th (of creative performance) though is heavily influenced by Mars and Saturn which overcome Mercury by sextile.  We expect some of the greatest fortune in the life to be associated with Mercury, even though the styling is influenced by the malefics.
  • There is a strong identification with Mercury, as Mercury is strongly connected to the Ascendant.  For instance, Mercury is the 1st triplicity ruler of Air signs, the term/bound ruler of the Ascendant, and regards the Ascendant by trine.  The domicile ruler of the 1st, Venus, does not regard the Ascendant.  There is also something of an identification with Saturn, the exaltation ruler, and another triplicity ruler, of the Ascendant.  There is not a strong identification with Jupiter.  Mercury does have a prominent and pervasive influence upon the life, and has a particularly strong influence on the 9th of belief, which it rules.

With Bill Maher, we see a lot of similarities, and some differences with the charts of other outspoken atheists and skeptics.  For instance, Maher does not have a Saturn that is much stronger than Jupiter, but he does have a Jupiter which is most strongly linked to the out of sect malefic, a 9th place characterized by Mercury and the malefics, and a strong identification with Mercury and Saturn, with Mercury quite strong.

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 8. Pope John Paul II

The ingredients and recipes for this type of analysis can be found in the first post of the series, which you can view here, and were reviewed with additional comments in a past post of the series, which you can view here.

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II was the last pope before the current Pope Benedict XVI.  He was one of the more tolerant and well-liked popes, helping to encourage much interfaith dialog, in pretty sharp contrast to the current pope who has made public derogatory remarks about other religions.  Pope John Paul II also heavily engaged in that other 9th House activity, travel.  You can check out his biography on Wikipedia by clicking here.  His natal chart is below, and has been given a Rodden Rating of A.

Pope John Paul II's Birth Chart
Pope John Paul II’s Birth Chart

Pope John Paul II’s Chart Analyzed in Brief

  • Jupiter:
  • Extremely strong – Jupiter is extremely strong, strongly advancing on the MC.  That Jupiter is overcome by the Moon, dominated by the Sun, and in the domicile of the sect light, The Sun, also confers strength and prominence.
  • Extremely benefic – Jupiter is naturally benefic, and here is in sect, in perhaps the most benefic place, the 11th (the Joy of Jupiter).  Jupiter is also dominated by the benefic Venus, and overcome by the Moon by sextile.
  • Jupiter is one of the strongest planets in the chart, and the most benefic.  Lofty spirituality has a profound influence over the life, and is associated with very fortunate matters.  While Jupiter is only a triplicity ruler of the Ascendant, there is still likely to be a strong identification with Jupiter because Jupiter dominates the Ascendant and has some dignity, while the domicile and exaltation rulers (Venus and Saturn) are both in aversion to (i.e. don’t regard) the Ascendant.  Jupiter, Venus, and Mars, all have a strong effect on the character.
  • 9th Place:  
  • Very strong, Lunar and Mercurial – The 9th, Gemini, is ruled by Mercury.  Most importantly, the Moon is in the 9th, bringing much prominence to matters of the 9th.  The ruler of the 9th, Mercury, is advancing and in phasis, so is very strong also.
  • Quite benefic, some mixed indications – The benefic Moon is in the 9th.  The ruler Mercury is also benefic overall, despite being in a bad place (the 8th), as Mercury is in sect and conjunct Venus (as well as ruled by Venus).  Saturn squares the 9th, so more negative associations can also be present, particularly with Saturn’s activation.
  • Matters of belief are very prominent in the life, and overall associated with fortunate happenings.  The 9th is most directly Lunar (powerfully and vividly subjective, personal, even irrational).  The 9th is also quite Mercurial, and in fact, John Paul II put a strong emphasis on reason during his papacy, and drew on St. Thomas Aquinas in stressing how reason and faith can be mutually supportive of each other.  The Moon is the natural significator of journeys in ancient astrology, and Mercury also pertains to movement, so it is little wonder that with the Moon and Mercury so strongly associated with the 9th, which besides religion also pertains to travel, we saw such a globetrotting pope.
  • Saturn:
  • Mildly strong – Saturn is mildly strong, as it is advancing, though also cadent.  However, Saturn is arguably the weakest planet in the chart, as it is the only cadent planet.
  • Quite mixed, somewhat malefic – Saturn is naturally a malefic so will indeed have some negative significations, particularly as it is in the 12th place.  However, Saturn is in sect and is overcome by trine by Venus, as well as overcome by both Lights, so we can expect things to be quite mixed overall.
  • Saturn’s significations are not nearly so strong as those of Jupiter, nor of most of the other planets in the chart.  However, Saturn does make itself felt, and with mixed results.  Saturn is the exalted ruler of the Ascendant, but we don’t expect as much identification with Saturn because Saturn doesn’t regard the Ascendant.
  • Mercury:  
  • Quite strong – Mercury is advancing, and is in phasis, so Mercury is quite strong.
  • Somewhat benefic – As mentioned, Mercury is overall benefic because it is in sect and assembled with a benefic.  There may be some difficult associations on occasion due to the fact that Mercury occupies the 8th, which is a bad place.
  • There is not a strong identification with Mercury, but there is a little bit of one, as Mercury is a triplicity ruler of the Ascendant and is conjunct the Ascendant Lord, Venus.  Mercury is quite strong, and has mostly benefic associations, so there may be an overall pleasant relationship with rational intellectualism.

In conclusion, Pope John Paul II, like most religious leaders, had an extremely strong Jupiter, an emphasis on 9th house matters, and a relatively out-of-focus Saturn.  Through the Lunar and Mercurial characterization of the 9th, we see the stress on humanity and reason which characterized his particular brand of religion, as well as his propensity for nearly constant travel.

 

 

Featured Image Attribution:

José Cruz/AbrAgência Brasil

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 7. Arthur Schopenhauer

The ingredients and recipes for this type of analysis can be found in the first post of the series, which you can view here, and were reviewed with additional comments a couple posts back, which you can view here.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Schopenhauer’s beliefs were quite complex, and belief certainly played a major role in his life.  You can check out his biography on Wikipedia by clicking here.  His natal chart is below, and has been given a Rodden Rating of AA.  While he was an atheist, he was also heavily influenced by Eastern religious thought.

Schopenhauer's Birth Chart
Schopenhauer’s Birth Chart

Schopenhauer’s Chart Analyzed in Brief

  • Jupiter:
  • Very weak – Jupiter is retreating and cadent, so it is very weak.
  • Mixed, somewhat benefic – Jupiter is naturally benefic, and here is in sect and overcome by Venus by sextile, so Jupiter has some positive significations.  Jupiter is in a bad place (the 12th) and is dominated by Saturn (right-side square) so there are negative significations with Jupiter as well.
  • Jupiter is the weakest planet in the chart, so there is not a pervasive influence of spiritual expansion and positivity in Schopenhauer’s life.  There is some identification with Jupiter as it is the exalted ruler of the Ascendant.  Jupiter overall signifies fortunate matters in the life, but does have negative associations and is dominated by the planet of doubt. 
  • 9th Place:  
  • Very strong and Saturnine, Solar, Mercurial, and Jupiterian  – The 9th, Pisces, is ruled by Jupiter.  However, planets in the place will have a more direct effect on the place’s dealings, while the planet ruling will have a more overall characterization.  The presence of a Light, the Sun, in the 9th (the Joy of the Sun) is enough to make the 9th very strong, and one signification can be in terms of honors and achievement related to matters of belief (religion, philosophy, science).  Saturn and Mercury are also in the 9th, characterizing it as a place of much doubt, skepticism, and intellectualism.  Jupiter rules the 9th, so there is a sense of religion and spirituality influencing the 9th in more of an overall sense.  The 9th is very prominent and very complex.
  • Benefic – While Saturn is in the 9th, it’s in sect, in a good place.  Having the sect light (the Sun) in the 9th, Jupiter ruling the 9th, and both Jupiter and the Moon in stakes of the 9th, makes this place a place of very positive significations in this life.
  • The 9th is a very complex and prominent place in this life and one that is accompanied by overall very fortunate significations in the life.  Doubt (Saturn), Achievement/heroism (Sun), and Intellectualism (Mercury) very directly impact matters of belief in Schpenhauer’s life, but there is an overall influence of religion and spirituality (Jupiter) upon these matters.
  • Saturn:
  • Strong – Saturn is very strong, despite being combust and in a cadent place, because Saturn is not only Strongly Advancing but actually conjunct the MC within 2 degrees.
  • Somewhat benefic – Saturn is naturally a mafefic so will indeed have some negative significations, but Saturn is in sect and in a good place, the 9th, so indeed signified some fortunate matters in Schopenhauer’s life.
  • Saturn is a very prominent and pervasive influence in Schopenhauer’s life, and is particularly strong in relation to belief.  Saturn is made somewhat benefic, so is not necessarily inclined to connect a lot of destructiveness and fear with matters of belief, but will add considerable skepticism and critical thinking (common among scientific seekers of truth, as opposed to religious seekers).  The strength of the 9th and its beneficence shows considerable comfort with matters of belief and attainment of wisdom.
  • Mercury:  
  • Strong – Mercury is strongly advancing, so while combust and in a cadent place, it still is strong overall.
  • Mixed, somewhat malefic – Mercury is somewhat malefic due to being out of sect and assembled with Saturn, but Mercury is in a good place and is naturally neutral, so Mercury’s capacity to signify unfortunate matters is limited.
  • Interestingly there is not a strong identification with Mercury, the planet of intellectualism, though Mercury does have a strong influence upon affairs in the life.  There may even be some degree of negative association with intellectualism due to Mercury’s capacity to signify unpleasant or unfortunate states of affairs.

Schopenhauer is considered to have been an atheist as he was critical of religion and objected to the notion that a god or gods created this world.  However, he was not an outspoken atheist in the sense of actively speaking out against religion and all things supernatural.  Rather, Schopenhauer was strongly influenced by the Upanishads and Buddhism, and was a strongly advocated compassion. The Full Moon in its Joy in the 3rd, also reflects a component of the belief connected with powerful vivid subjective experience.

As typical of those who are skeptically inclined and averse to uncritical and/or jubilant spirituality, he had a very strong Saturn and a Jupiter that was not so prominent (actually, quite weak).  Additionally, his 9th place  and Jupiter were both under the strong influence of Saturn.  Mercury was also quite strong.  However, what made Schopenhauer so complicated on these grounds is that the prominence of the 9th place with all of its pessimism, intellectualism, and achievement, appeared to nevertheless evoke a spiritual purpose and sense of goodness (shown through the ruler Jupiter) which Schopenhauer most likely identified with much more than he did with doubt or intellectualism.

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 6. Billy Graham

The ingredients and recipes for this type of analysis can be found in the first post of the series, which you can view here, and were reviewed with additional comments in the last post of the series, which you can view here.

Billy Graham

Billy Graham is one of the better known prominent Christian evangelists.  You can check out his biography on Wikipedia by clicking here.  His natal chart is below, and has been given a Rodden Rating of AA.

Billy Graham's Natal Chart
Billy Graham’s Natal Chart

Graham’s Chart Analyzed in Brief

  • Jupiter:
  • Quite strong – Jupiter is strongly advancing in the chart and is in an angle or “stake” of the chart.  However, Jupiter did station retrograde 4-5 days before birth which is somewhat weakening to it.  When a planet is strongly advancing it is as if the volume is cranked very high on the planet in the person’s life, with very powerful and pervasive significations touching upon all areas of life, so this Jupiter is quite strong.
  • Extremely benefic – Jupiter is naturally benefic, and here is in sect, in a good place, and scrutinized by the Sun (by trine), while the Sun is a benefic and the sect light (the Sun also confers power and strength and leadership, making Jupiter even more prominent because of its close connection).  Additionally, Jupiter is also trine Venus (with Venus applying to Jupiter).  There are no major indicators of maleficence for Jupiter, so it is very benefic.
  • Jupiter is one of the most prominent planets in the chart (the Moon, and to a lesser extent Mars, are also very prominent).  There is also something of an identification with Jupiter as it is the term ruler and triplicity ruler of the Ascendant, regards the 1st Place, and rules the Lord of the 1st.  Religious identification is strong, and religion represents almost purely good things in this person’s life. 
  • 9th Place:  
  • Extremely strong and Lunar, Martian, and Jupiterian – The 9th, Sagittarius, is ruled by Jupiter.  However, it should be noted that planets in a place will have a more direct effect on the place’s dealings, while the planet ruling will have a more overall characterization.  The presence of a Light, the Moon, in the 9th is enough to make the 9th very strong.  That the ruler of the Ascendant, Mars, is in the 9th, makes the 9th even stronger, and very strongly tied to this person’s sense of self.  Additionally, the Moon is within 5 degrees of the MC, thus is quite prominent, and Mars being tightly conjunct the Moon and just over 5 degrees from the MC, is also quite strong.  Jupiter rules the 9th, and again is quite strong.  Rarely do we see such a prominence and identification with 9th house matters in a chart.
  • Mixed, somewhat benefic – The benefic Moon is in the 9th, and the most benefic planet in the chart, Jupiter, rules the 9th, so there are strong associations of the 9th with beneficence.  However, the out of sect malefic, Mars, is also in the 9th, and both Mars and the Moon are overcome and scrutinized (in this case a right-side trine) by Saturn.  Saturn is not the ruler of the 9th, nor in an angle or stake of the 9th, so the 9th is not Saturnine.
  • The 9th is Lunar (powerfully and vividly subjective, personal, even irrational) and Mars-y (competitive, contentious, aggressive), in sometimes unpleasant ways, in addition to its overall characterization of religious and spiritual expansiveness (Jupiter).  There is extreme self-identification with matters of belief, and Jupiter plays a major role in the belief-system.
  • Saturn:
  • Somewhat weak – Saturn is arguably the weakest planet in the chart (Venus is also very weak).  While the Moon and Mars are conjunct the MC, Jupiter is strongly advancing, and the other planets are advancing, with Mercury in phasis, Saturn is just barely advancing, with no other major strength indications.
  • Quite mixed, somewhat benefic – Saturn is naturally a mafefic so will indeed have some negative significations, but Saturn is in sect and in a very good place, the 5th, while being scrutinized by the Moon by trine, all indications that Saturn can have very positive significations as well.  Saturn is also scrutinized by Mars by trine (in fact, exactly), showing additional maleficence.  Therefore, we have quite a broad range for whether Saturn’s significations are more positive or negative.  A fair characterization would be to say that Saturn overall serves to improve life circumstances, in ways others might finding constrictive or challenging.
  • Saturn’s significations are not prominent in this person’s life, nor does the person really identify with them.  Saturn has little influence on matters of belief, but does characterize some of the planets with direct influence on belief as more Saturnine.  Overall, Saturn is more geared towards its positive significations (duty, tradition, discipline, tangibility), than negative ones (fear, depression, death, loss).
  • Mercury:  
  • Somewhat strong – Mercury is just barely advancing, but is in phasis, so Mercury has some strength.
  • Malefic – Mercury is somewhat malefic in the chart, as Mercury is neutral, easily swayed, and here Mercury is out of sect, in a bad place (the 8th), and dominated by Saturn, which scrutinizes it (right-side square within 3 degrees).  Mercury is assembled with Venus and overcome by Jupiter though, so we expect some positive associations with Mercury.
  • There is not an identification with Mercury’s significations as Mercury neither rules, nor even regards, the 1st place.  Intellectualism and communications have a somewhat strong influence upon the life, but they also have primarily negative associations in the person’s life.  Mercury’s assemblage with Venus may show an artistry with communication, or a “way with words”, and Mercury’s ruler is in the 9th of belief.

In conclusion, Billy Graham has one of the most belief-oriented natal charts I’ve yet seen.  We find doubt and intellectualism quite eclipsed by a strong personal relationship with belief systems, and a pervasive spiritual influence in the life generally, and particularly upon matters of belief.  We also see a strong Mars influence upon belief that is characteristic of “crusading” for one’s beliefs (even characteristic of crusaders for atheism).

Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 5. Review and Madalyn Murray O’Hair

With very limited time today and tomorrow, I’m going to try to give a couple more charts, one atheist, one religious, for this series.

For those that are new, the basic rules of the game were spelled out in the initial post of the series which you can find here.

Review of Significators

The basic idea is that Jupiter tends to give strong significations about the role of expansive spirituality in the life, the 9th tends to give indications about religion, but even more broadly about philosophy, higher education, and most fundamentally about “belief systems”, while Saturn is a natural significator of doubt, fear, skepticism, and challenge, Mercury is a natural significator of intellectualism, and the 1st Place (i.e. the rising sign) and its ruler tend to reflect strongly on the person themselves and their character and self-identification.

Perhaps in a future post or in a short booklet with more thorough coverage, I will go into more depth on the Hellenistic and Persian techniques for delineating faith and religion, which tend to incorporate additional things, particularly the Lot of the Sun (i.e. Lot of Spirit) and/or Lot of Faith, the 3rd Place, and some additional factors.

Review of Factors

We restrict ourselves to just 4 major strength/weakness indicators (even though there are many, though I occasionally mention more minor strength indicators such as dignity, joy, and regard from one of the Lights, i.e. the Sun or Moon).  Strength of a place or a planet will show more prominence and pervasiveness in the life.  For instance, a more prominent Jupiter will make spirituality, fortune, and positivity pop up more, and become a more prominent fixture in the life, while a more prominent Saturn will tend to make doubt, criticism, and challenge a more prominent theme. Interestingly, we found that both atheists and religious folk tend to have a strong 9th place.  In other words, for both belief plays a major role in their lives, lending some credence to the view that atheism IS a religion, albeit one of doubt.  However, perhaps “philosophy” is a better all-encompassing term for the 9th place matters (inclusive of religion, science, atheism, and other approaches to “big truths”) related to belief than “religion”, with them at one point being fairly synonymous in our history.

We also use 4 major beneficence/maleficence indicators (even though, again, there are many more minor ones, such as being in the place or term of a malefic).  These can be a bit trickier than the strength/weakness indications, as they give us a measure of whether the planet has more of a propensity to signify unpleasant matters and states, i.e. associate with “bad”, or more pleasant and fortunate matters and states, i.e. associate with “good”.  All planets will signify some good and some bad, but there is great possibility for a predominance of signification of one or the other, and even for very mixed and even broadly mixed ranges, where it’s great things in certain configurations (i.e. at certain times of life) and horrible things at others.  This is not necessarily a view incompatible with human will and spirituality (i.e. not necessarily a fatalism), but rather an acknowledgement of the fact that will acts within context and contexts can be very unfavorable.  Our finding so far is that atheists will tend to have negative associations tied to Jupiter, as well as tend to have a Saturnine influence on the 9th (doubt-oriented belief-system) and to have a strong identification with Saturn and/or Mercury (i.e. doubt and negativity and/or intellectualism and rationality) shown through the 1st place.  Religious people on the other hand, will tend to have more positive circumstances associated with Jupiter and the 9th, and a more Jupiterian (faith, positivity, expansion, fortune, spirits) characterization of the 9th.

Why Use Folks Representative of the Extremes?

Of course, the bulk of us humans are likely to be quite mixed.  This mixture emerges through time in the form of various degrees of faith and doubt through life, of importance and non-importance placed on belief-systems.  Some of this complication can be seen in the natal chart with even the bare ingredients laid out so far.  One thing that has really stuck out at me is that many of the celebrities that atheists on the net have identified as famous atheists or agnostics are often celebrities who have made statements strongly critical of religion, but have also publicly stated that they believe in some form of God or higher power in explicit terms, making their classification as atheist or agnostic erroneous.  An example, which I hope to address in a future post is Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who has railed strongly against religion, leading many to assume atheism (one quick example), but also has acknowledged explicitly that he does believe in God.  He has Mars in the 9th, Virgo, with Mercury ruling the 9th, though Mars is in sect and dominated by both benefics, Venus and Jupiter – Mercury, as you might imagine is extremely strong, and is actually conjunct the IC).  While the techniques “work”, even predictively, they won’t necessarily classify the populace for you into “believer” and “non-believer”.  Human beings are complex and dynamic.  You will see where they are on a continuum, and thus better anticipate the nature of their beliefs as concerns religion.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair

Madalyn Murry O’Hair was a prominent crusader for atheism.  She had helped to put in place many good and reasonable political reforms, for instance that help protect public school children from having someone else’s religion hoisted on to them in their daily lives.  With three planets in the 11th place of friends/groups, she emerged as an activist and organizer.  Her beliefs were a strong reflection of important personal circumstances in her life, particularly surrounding abortion, and she generated a fair amount of controversy.  She was also died as a victim of career criminals who kidnapped and mutilated her, which I will not be addressing in this post. More information about her and her AA rated chart can be found here, as well as through Wikipedia and/or an internet search.

O'Hair's Natal Chart
O’Hair’s Natal Chart

O’Hair’s Chart Analyzed in Brief

  • Jupiter:
  • Somewhat strong – Jupiter is somewhat strong, as Jupiter is advancing.
  • Somewhat malefic but mixed – Jupiter is naturally benefic and is in sect, but Jupiter is dominated by Mars, the out of sect malefic.
  • For an atheist, we find Jupiter unusually strong and mixed.  The 2nd Place was included in the bad places in Hellenistic astrology, because it doesn’t regard the 1st (i.e. the 6th, 12th, 8th, and 2nd don’t regard the 1st and therefore were considered “dark” or “bad”).  However, the 2nd was always to a lesser extent so I use it as more neutral in this series.   It may be the case that O’Hair’s atheism was a development in life brought on by Mars dominating Jupiter, which is a common configuration for evangelizing and being very aggressive, contentious, and competitive about one’s belief system.  She in fact disowned one of her own sons for becoming a preacher, and was known for doing what she could to offend people if they held differing beliefs than her. 
  • 9th Place:  
  • Strong and Saturnine – Just as in the charts of James Randi and Percy Shelly, we see the 9th empty but ruled by an extremely strong Saturn.  Saturn is in the 3rd of communication (messengers, transportation, as well as siblings/cousins).  Saturn is in a cadent place, but Saturn is Strongly Advancing, and is in fact the most strongly advancing planet in the chart. Therefore, 9th place matters of philosophy, belief, and religion are very prominent in the life, and strongly Saturnine (doubt-oriented).
  • Malefic – The 9th is ruled by Saturn, a naturally very malefic planet, explored in more depth below.  Saturn is not only the ruler of the 9th but also opposes the 9th, and Saturn is overcome by Mars (right-side trine).  Matters of belief in her life are strongly associated with unpleasantness and are more oriented destructively and contentiously than constructively and enjoyably.
  • Saturn:
  • Very strong – Saturn is very strongly advancing, but is in a cadent place.  In any case Saturn is quite strong, and could easily be considered the strongest planet in the chart, though I think Mercury is a bit stronger.  The influence of Saturn in the life is extremely pervasive.  The lord of darkness, death, doubt, and dread should make its mark all over the life in a major way.
  • Somewhat malefic – Saturn is naturally malefic entailing very malefic significations, unless there are major counter-indicators.  Saturn is at least in sect, though Saturn is overcome by the out of sect malefic, Mars (right-side trine).
  • As with Randi, O’Hair is someone in constant touch with a powerful force of doubt, skepticism, and hardship of an often harsh sort.
  • Mercury:  
  • Very strong – Mercury is advancing (albeit barely) and is in phasis.  Mercury is therefore very strong.  In my opinion, Mercury is the strongest planet in the chart, and then Saturn, both of them having a very powerful and pervasive influence over affairs of the life.  Mercury is also in its own bound, which is a more minor strength consideration.
  • Somewhat benefic to mixed – Mercury is in sect and in a very good place (the 11th of friends).  Overall, Mercury should be quite benefic, associating Mercury’s significations with the more enjoyable things in life.  However, Mercury is assembled with (and ruled by) the out of sect malefic, Mars, so those negative significations with Mercury will follow from Mars.
  • Mercury is the ruler of the Ascendant, as in Randi’s chart.  There was a strong self-identification with that signified by Mercury, planet of intellectualism, rationality, speech, and argumentation (among other things) for O’Hair.  Mercury overall signified some of the better circumstances and matters in her life, and was a very strong and pervasive influence, though charged with the more malefic side of Mars (meanness, vulgarity, aggression, and competitiveness).

In conclusion, in O’Hair’s chart we see the typical power of Saturn being much stronger than Jupiter, of Jupiter being maleficent (or at least afflicted by a very maleficent force), and of the 9th being characterized by Saturn and impacted most by the malefics.  Like many skeptics and atheists, her self-identification with Mercury (as well as Saturn – 1st triplicity ruler of Air signs by day) was strong.  Her very strong, and often quite vulgar and hate-filled, war against all things religious seemed strongly signified by Mars (war, violence, hatred, anger, competitiveness) dominating Jupiter (spirituality, religion, positivity) in her chart.

 

 

 

Featured Image Attribution:

“Madalyn Murray O’Hair (full)” by Alan Light – Flickr: Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Madalyn_Murray_O%27Hair_(full).jpg#/media/File:Madalyn_Murray_O%27Hair_(full).jpg