Remembering Karl Marx and his Ideas
I recently read a couple books on Karl Marx and came away itching to look at his chart. I find it to be vividly reflective of his life. In my own personal opinion, Marx was a great economist who helped to inspire important positive changes in labor conditions and business regulation. Drawing on Hegelian dialectics, while critiquing its spiritual aspects, his “dialectical materialism” helped to expose inherent contradictions in the competitive enterprise. He showed that competition itself can foster economies of scale and mechanisms of cohersion that result in anti-competitive monopolies. However, the importance of his analyses is often overlooked and he is often scape-goated for the abuse of his ideas by those in power (e.g. Stalin).
A Controversial and Paradoxical Character
Marx was often unsure of his own theoretical and pragmatic stances, very frequently reversing positions, sometimes paradoxically. Perhaps this is to 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 it. But for all his urgings to transformation, he was known to advocate revolution and then do an about-face and oppose revolutionary action. Similarly, he 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. He recklessly spent his ample allowance given to him from his friend Engels (from Engel’s family industry) sometimes even speculating on the stock market. His wife retained her baroness title and they kept on a housekeeper. While he advocated ardently for the working class, he refused to stoop down to laborious work himself.
In many ways, he was irresponsible. Four of his seven children died in childhood. This was in part from very poor living conditions despite his receiving more than a typical clerk’s salary in regular money from Engels. He also possibly fathered a child with his housekeeper. Additionally, he constantly avoided paying his bills and 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. Capital is also known to be terse and prone to ambiguity.
The Natal Chart of Karl Marx
Let’s analyze Karl Marx’s natal chart. If you are not familiar with the techniques of ancient Hellenistic and Persian astrology, then please check out the free lessons before proceeding.
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 the birth time must be accurate. Thankfully, the birth time of Karl Marx is from his official birth record, so we have good reason to believe it is very accurate (given a Rodden Rating of AA for accuracy on AstroDatabank).
The First House: Aquarius
He was born at night with 23 Aquarius rising. Aquarius is the day house of Saturn, and is a fixed air sign. Fixed signs are known for tenacity/focus/steadfastness. Air signs are associated with the humanities and movement. Mercury, the planet of movement, rationality, and commerce, is the primary triplicity ruler of air signs by night (Marx was born at night). The Ascendant is in the bound of Mars, the planet of aggression and inflammation.
The twelfth-part of the Ascendant is at 6 Scorpio, the night house of Mars. Scorpio is also fixed and a water sign. Water signs are ruled by Mars at night (first triplicity ruler) and that twelfth-part of the Ascendant is also in the bound of Mars. The twelfth-part Ascendant is in the 10th house of the chart, which is that of heights, achievement, authority, and rule.
Character Analysis in Ancient Astrology
The rulers of the Ascendant and the 1st house inform us of the particular importance of Saturn, Mercury, and Mars in relation to studying Marx. However, the rulers of the 1st house are not the only factors of relevance to the self. Planets in the 1st and those aspecting or “regarding” the 1st, particularly in more influential ways are also very relevant. Additionally, Mercury is relevant because it signifies rationality. Prominent planets are also generally influential, including the Sun and Moon which are naturally prominent. 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.
Mercury and Saturn on the Mind
With an air sign rising, Saturn and Mercury will be important by default. They are made even more important here by the fact that Saturn rules the house itself and Mercury, the primary triplicity ruler, is in his own house (Gemini), bound, and triplicity. There is significant reinforcement to Mercury which makes it more prominent. Saturn is lord of the Ascendant and one of its triplicity rulers, though it does not regard the Ascendant. Saturn is also one of the most prominent planets in the chart by advancement.
There are no planets in the 1st house. The Sun, Moon, Venus, and Mercury all regard the 1st house, they do so from an inferior position so I don’t consider the aspectual 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, Mercury, and to a lesser extent Mars. This is in contrast to a focus on his Sun and Moon in Taurus as might be done in a modern analysis. This also fits his life. Saturn is the planet of doubt, loss, fear, constriction, critique, poverty, and imprisonment. Mercury is the planet of commerce, movement, theory, writing, and all forms of rational analysis.
Indications of Atheism
As was noted in my series on the charts of atheists, an identification with air, Saturn, and Mercury is characteristic of a rational worldview doubtful of religion. Marx was irreligious and critical but sympathetic to religion, seeing it as deluded but serving a function for the oppressed. We see many of the typical marks of an atheist chart, with Jupiter weak and afflicted. Jupiter is in the 12th house, in fall, stationing retrograde, and opposed by the malefic Mars (with Mars in “domination” over the 9th).
Saturn Prominent in the House of Capital
Saturn, besides being a key point of identification for Marx, is also one of the “loudest” planets in the chart. 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 this are poverty, loss of capital, obstructed capital, money worries, and criticism or challenges to wealth and possessions. Marx identifies with being this Saturn in the house of money. He feels a need to consistently challenge and critique those with the means of production. This is one of the most persistent and certain of his identifications, even before his philosophical ideas were well-developed.
The 2nd house itself is buried deep in paradox, akin to his own monetary paradoxes in his life. He was from a wealthy background but chose 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.
Mutability and Back-and-Forth
The 2nd house is Pisces, a mutable water sign. The water element can connect it with emotional and familial ties. The mutability signifies fluctuations between two poles, such as multiple sources of income. For much of Marx’s life he was receiving income from Engels and from writing articles.
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. This made him prone to reversals/flip-flops, and would likely be related to the great appeal that dialectical theories held for him.
The Jupiter-Saturn Exchange
The 2nd house, while mainly and most directly impacted by Saturn, is ruled by Jupiter. Saturn is also in the bound of Jupiter and Jupiter closely overcomes Saturn (aspecting within 3 degrees). Jupiter is in a bad place, the 12th house of the “bad spirit” pertaining to enemies and obstacles, and is itself ruled by Saturn. This creates a bit of a bounce back between Saturn (constriction, doubt, poverty) and Jupiter (expansion, wealth, faith). Saturn holds the upper-hand in this strong association and is also the planet Marx identifies with more strongly.
In any case, Jupiter’s role in the 2nd place does add some indication of aid and luck connected with money matters. Jupiter also rules the 11th of friends connecting it with the 2nd place of money. However, the overall sentiment is the sense of wealth going sour. Saturn is out of sect, which tends to increase Saturn’s tendency toward malice. We expect Saturn to have dark significations, including those in relation to money; the doubt is deeper, the negative associations more intense, the difficult events connected with Saturn more painful. Jupiter’s activations provide the more beneficent connections with Saturn which abate the general state of difficulty.
Saturn’s Twelfth-Part in the 8th of Death
The twelfth-part of Saturn, is in the 8th house of death with the twelfth-part of the Moon. The Moon is a significator of physicality and mothering. Saturn’s position in the 8th with the twelfth-part of the Moon emphasizes Saturn’s association with actual deaths, which no doubt had a big impact on Marx.
Mercury Prominent and in the 5th of Works
Mercury in Marx’s chart is in the 5th house which is the place associated with pleasures, performance, and children. Mercury’s connections with the 5th and the 1st pertain to writing, oration, or analysis as a pleasurable pursuit or “art”. Mercury in its own sign, bound, and triplicity (an air sign). Marx has an identification with Mercury, indicating cleverness, intellectuality, and a bit of the trickster or even con man. Mercury’s quick and elusive nature is very much ramped up. You would expect a Mercury that will do anything to avoid being too narrowly defined or pinpointed.
Note that Mercury in Gemini was not considered good for the intellect by some ancient astrologers, as it is a wandering mind and prone to unpredictability and anger. It is true that Marx was a middling student, unpredictable, provocative, frequently in trouble, flip-flopping, and prone to misinterpretation. However, the identification with Mercury and its prominence show an overall preoccupation with the world of thought, ideas, and communications.
Mercury and Children
The 5th house is also showing the prominence of children. Mercury indicates a playful relationship and one inspiring intellectualism. Mercury is a duplicitous planet, and is here in a duplicitous sign, which can signify many children. It also pertains to the possible fathering of a child with his housekeeper (two women). However, this is contrasted by 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. Mercury is rather neutral but the 5th house is also dominated by the out of sect Saturn. This is one of the important connections between children and death that is in the chart.
Fiery Mars in the House of Labor
Mars 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. He was frequently in trouble with the law, to a notorious degree. Additionally, the twelfth-part of his Mars is in the 2nd house. This can show a desire to irk those with money and to damage others’ property. He was known to do these things in this life. Mars is in sect so some of its inflammatory tendencies are tempered and can be channeled productively.
Mars is located a bad place, the 6th house of illness and labor. This place is ruled by the Moon (physicality). So there is an indication of bothersome difficulties with accidents and disease, particularly of an inflammatory nature. Its position in the 6th and his identification with it also pertains to his identification with labor. The 6th is traditionally a house of servants. Workers are the servants of the industrial infrastructure. Its location in the bound of Jupiter and its domination (superior square) of the 9th house is another indication of dislike of religion.
The featured image of Karl Marx is in the public domain.