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



In the last article of the series, we looked at the chart of Pope Benedict XVI. For those that are new to this series, the basic rules of the game were spelled out in the initial article which you can find here. This is a series on determining if there is belief indicated in the natal chart, and as such each analysis is not intended as a thorough look at any individual’s life.

Review of Significators

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

Perhaps in a future article, I will go into more depth on the Hellenistic and Persian techniques for delineating faith and religion. Those techniques tend to incorporate additional things, particularly the Lot of the Sun (i.e. Lot of Spirit) and/or Lot of Faith, and the 3rd Place.

Review of Factors


We restrict ourselves to just 4 major strength/weakness indicators. However, on occasion I mention more minor strength indicators such as dignity, joy, and regard from one of the Lights, i.e. the Sun or Moon. The 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 more prominent in the life. A more prominent Saturn will tend to make doubt, criticism, and challenge more prominent themes.

Interestingly, we found that both atheists and religious folk tend to have a strong 9th place.  In other words, for both types belief plays a major role in their lives. This lends some credence to the view that atheism IS a religion, albeit one of doubt. However, “philosophy” is a better all-encompassing term for 9th place matters. Philosophy is inclusive of religion, science, atheism, and other approaches to belief and “big truths”.


We also use 4 major beneficence/maleficence indicators. 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. They give us a measure of whether the planet tends to signify unpleasant matters and states (bad times) or more pleasant and fortunate matters and states (good times).  All planets will signify a mix of some good and some bad. However, there is a great possibility for a predominance of signification of one or the other. There can be very mixed, maybe even to extremes, such that good is signified in connection with certain configurations and difficulty with others.

This is not necessarily a view incompatible with human will and spirituality (i.e. not necessarily fatalistic). Rather, we acknowledge the fact that will acts within a context and contexts can be very unfavorable.

Our finding so far is that atheists will tend to have negative associations tied to Jupiter. They will also tend to have a Saturnine influence on the 9th (doubt-oriented belief-system). Additionally, a strong identification with Saturn and/or Mercury (i.e. doubt and negativity and/or intellectualism and rationality) is common, as shown through the 1st place.  Religious people on the other hand, will tend to have more positive circumstances associated with Jupiter and the 9th. They may also have 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. Similarly, belief itself may have an unstable importance in our life, sometimes figuring into matters, sometimes disregarded. Some of this complication can be seen in just a cursory glance at the factors I’ve discussed in a natal chart. One can be highly religious but still be a scientist and a rationalist. Similarly, one can simply have no interest in either religion or atheism, putting their focus completely elsewhere. The natal chart of an average person typically shows a complex mixture of indications concern religion and spirituality, befitting the complexity of the matter.

Trent Reznor and Complex Beliefs

For example, sometimes people strongly critical of religion, who are assumed atheist, have also publicly stated that they believe in some form of God or higher power in explicit terms. In such cases, they are often mislabeled as an atheist or agnostic.  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.  Reznor 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.

Extremes as Test Cases

The techniques “work” quite well, and can even be used predictively to see events affecting these matters. However, they won’t necessarily classify the populace into “believers” and “non-believers”. Human beings are complex and dynamic. The techniques need continual refinement and improvement if we are to untangle the web and grapple with that complexity. When we examine the charts of people who sit strongly on one end or another of a continuum, we can test our hypotheses regarding which factors are most important and in what ways.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair

Madalyn Murray O’Hair was a prominent crusader for atheism. She helped to put in place many reasonable political reforms related to her beliefs. For instance, she helped 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. She was known to generate a fair amount of controversy.

Sadly, O’Hair was also a victim of career criminals who kidnapped, killed, and mutilated her. I will not be addressing her death in this article.

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


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.

Notes on Jupiter

For an atheist, we find Jupiter unusually strong and mixed.  The 2nd Place was included in the bad places in Hellenistic astrology. The 2nd doesn’t regard the 1st. The 6th, 12th, 8th, and 2nd don’t regard the 1st and therefore were considered “dark” or “bad”.  However, in many ways the 2nd is the least bad of those houses. It may be the case that O’Hair’s atheism was a development in life brought on by Mars dominating Jupiter. This is a common configuration for evangelizing but can similarly pertain to aggression, contention, and competition when it comes to belief.  She was known to purposely try to offend people that disagreed with her. Additionally, she disowned her own son for becoming a preacher (Moon in V applies to and is dominated by Jupiter but is opposite Mars; Jupiter’s twelfth-part is in V). 

O'Hair's Natal Chart

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. It 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).


The 9th is ruled by Saturn. Saturn is naturally malefic. Saturn is not only the ruler of the 9th but also opposes the 9th. Additionally, Mars overcomes Saturn (right-side trine) and aspects the 9th. Venus is in a stake of the 9th (the 12th) but it is a left side aspect. Venus is also out of sect and in a dark place. The 9th is linked with Venusian matters (reproductive rights) but Venus is associated with being under threat (dark place, out of sect, square Saturn and in Saturn’s bound).

Notes on the 9th Place

Displeasure pervades matters of belief in her life . The 9th house is more oriented toward destruction and contention than construction and enjoyment.

O'Hair's Natal Chart


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 in sect. However, Mars (out of sect malefic) overcomes Saturn (right-side trine).

Notes on Saturn

As with Randi, O’Hair is someone in constant touch with a powerful force of doubt, skepticism, and hardship of an often harsh sort.

O'Hair's Natal Chart


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. We also find Mercury in its own bound, a 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. Mercury’s negative significations follow from Mars.

Notes on Mercury

Mercury is the ruler of the Ascendant, as in James Randi’s chart.  There was a strong self-identification with that signified by Mercury (intellectualism, rationality, speech, and argumentation). Mercury overall signified some of the better circumstances and matters in her life, and was a very strong and pervasive influence. However, it is charged with the more malefic side of Mars (meanness, vulgarity, aggression, and competitiveness).

O'Hair's Natal Chart


In conclusion, in O’Hair’s chart we see Saturn much stronger than Jupiter. Additionally, Mars afflicts Jupiter. We also see a 9th place characterized by Saturn and impacted most strongly by the malefics. Like many skeptics and atheists, her identification with Mercury (as well as Saturn) was strong.  Her strong and aggressive, sometimes vulgar, war against all things religious seems strongly signified by Mars dominating Jupiter 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 –



Blogger interested in all things astrological, especially Hellenistic, medieval, Uranian, and asteroid astrology.

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