Mars and the Passion for Speed

This week the BBC did a program about the death of legendary actor James Dean, which occurred late in the afternoon on 30 September 1955  when the Hollywood actor crashed his car and died.  Interestingly, he had received a speeding ticket a couple of hours before the crash.  The BBC report commented that racing cars had been a passion of the young actor since childhood.  I immediately thought of Mars, the planet of action, and speculated that the red planet and Mars-ruled Aries must be quite prominent in his chart.

According to a BBC news report from 1955: “The 24-year-old actor was behind the wheel of his German-made Porsche sports car when it was involved in a head-on collision with another car 30 miles (48 km) east of Paso Robles this evening.  Mr Dean’s mechanic, Rolph Wutherich, who was a passenger in the car, was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the other car was also injured.  Medics said Mr Dean, who was dead on arrival at hospital, suffered a broken neck and numerous broken bones.  At the time of the accident the road racing enthusiast was on his way to a race meeting at Salinas, California.”

According the the Death Certificate, James Dean died at 5:45 pm PST in Cholame, California, 35N43, 120W18.  His birth information from his birth certificate is 9 a.m. CST on 8 February 1931 in Marion, Indiana.  Here is his natal chart with Placidus houses.

Natal chart of James Dean (data from birth certificate).

Natal chart of James Dean (data from birth certificate).

As expected in a birth chart of someone who loves speed and racing, Mars is quite prominent.  Mars-ruled Aries rises.  Mars lies in the fire-sign Leo, making it quite powerful and dramatic.  Mars in Leo lies in a close square with the Moon in Mars-ruled Scorpio, suggesting an impatient person with strong passions and an emotional need for adrenalin rushes.

Uranus in Aries lies almost exactly on the Ascendant, suggesting a fondness for thrills and quick action.   Mercury rules his Gemini-3rd house of automobiles and opposes ASC-ruler Mars in the 5th house of fun and recreation.

His Solar Return for 1931, the year of his fatal car crash, is quite telling.  Here is the return chart superimposed on his natal chart.

James Dean 1955 Solar Return superimposed on Natal Chart.

James Dean 1955 Solar Return superimposed on Natal Chart. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Note that Solar Return Mars, which rules the 8th house of death, rises in his natal chart. In 1955, SR Mars conjoins natal Uranus and squares natal Pluto.  SR Mars also squares SR Jupiter and SR Uranus.  SR Mercury, which rules his natal 3rd of local travel, conjoins the natal 12th house cusp (self-undoing) and opposes SR Pluto on the cusp of the 6th of illness.  SR Saturn, a traditional symbol of death (Father Time, the Grim Reaper) lies almost exactly on the natal 8th cusp of death.  At the same time SR Mars, ruler of the 8th, squares natal Saturn which by transit lies on the cusp of the 8th.  All-in-all the astrological symbolism is quite apt.

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Pennies from heaven

A man who lives nearby told me the following story today.  On Saturday, 13 September 2014, he was mowing his lawn when his weedwacker died.  Around 4 pm he was driving to the local home depot when something fell out of the truck and onto the road in front of him.  He applied his brakes to avoid hitting the object, got out of his car and pulled the object to the side of the road.  It was a weedwacker!

He assumed that the truck belonged to a professional landscaper but could identify no markings which would reveal the identity of the landscaper.  Being a good citizen, he waited by the side of the road for about 20 minutes, assuming the the truck driver had heard a crash as the object hit the road and therefore expecting the landscaper to return.  It became apparent that the truck was not coming back and so he was stuck with the device.  When he got home, the weekwacker worked perfectly and was of a better quality than the one he was intending to replace.  Of course, if he ever learns who the landscaper is, he will return the equipment which fell out of the truck and nearly damaged his car.

He was kind enough to give me his birth data.  His chart is reproduced below with the transits for 4 pm EDT at this location around the outside of his natal chart.

Weedwacker fall from truck as man is wishing for a new weekwacker!

Weedwacker fall from truck as man is wishing for a new weekwacker!  Inner chart of man’s birth.  Outer chart of the moment the weekwacker fell from the truck.

This chart is interesting because of the lucky transits to the natal chart.  Transiting Jupiter, the planet of luck, is sextile the man’s ASC.  Transiting Venus, the lesser benefit, is sextile his MC.  The transiting Part of Fortune is conjunct the transiting Sun.  Transiting Mars applies to sextile natal Jupiter.  The transiting Moon applies to conjoin natal Venus.  Transiting Venus is almost exactly trine natal Mars in the 8th of other people’s possessions.  Transiting Jupiter is trine the man’s natal Part of Fortune.

All in all, this is a very fortunate chart by transit.  Too bad he wasn’t on his way to buy a lotto ticket!

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The Passing of Robin Williams

Comedian and actor Robin Williams died today (Monday, 11 August 2014) of an apparent suicide.  He was found unconscious at his home in Tiburon, California at about Noon.  A glance at his chart and today’s transits as well as his solar return for this year is revealing.

Robin Williams natal chart with transits for Noon 11 August 2014 when he was found unconscious.

Robin Williams natal chart with transits for Noon 11 August 2014 when he was found unconscious.

Note in his transits that Saturn occupies his 1st house where it applies to square natal Pluto in Leo in the 9th.  Pluto is the modern ruler of his Ascendant which rules his body and life force.  Saturn is the traditional planet of death.  Transiting Mercury, ruler of his natal 8th house of death, is almost exactly conjunct the Midheaven.  Transiting Pluto in Capricorn opposes his natal Mars in Cancer.  Natal Mars rules the Ascendant and occupies the 8th house of death.

His solar return for this year emphasizes Saturn.  Here is his solar return for his birth place:

Williams current solar return for his birthplace

Williams current solar return for his birthplace

Note that Saturn rules the ASC and conjoins the MC in this solar return, making this a very Saturnian year.  Saturn generally suggests setbacks, frustration and depression.  At its extreme it is a traditional symbol of death.  Note also the retrograde Pluto in the 12th of suicide and undoing opposing Mercury, ruler of his natal 8th house of death.

Relocating the solar return to his current residence in California, we have the following chart:

Williams current solar return for his home in California.

Williams current solar return for his home in California.

The solar return for his California residence has the Sun conjunct the cusp of the 8th house of death.  The SR Sun is conjunct Jupiter which rules the return Ascendant at this location.  Retrograde Pluto in the 1st house (his body and vitality) opposes Mercury, ruler of the 6th of illness of the return chart and of the 8th of death of the natal chart.

This series of charts suggests a difficult year in which the native is struggling with frustration and depression, ill health, and thoughts of death and suicide.  It is striking how closely the events fit the astrological symbolism.

ADDENDUM (13 Aug 2014) – Some additional comments posted at my Facebook entry regarding this page:

Claudia Dikinis also posted comments about this chart at

Saturn is Lord of the year(4th house profection in Aquarius)and ruler of the Asc of the SR and was in the SR conjunct the natal Asc and square natal Pluto and also natal Mercury ruler of the 8th in both natal and SR chart (Placidus). – U.P.

His Ascendant is currently besieged by Mars & Saturn. May he find peace. – A.M. 

On a 90 degree dial his current progressed Moon and Saturn, and his progressed Pluto and Vertex, are right on the cardinal points – very tight.  – B.S.

This Full Moon square Saturn square Mars must have been so tough as Alanna says.
RIP Robin Williams  – M.V.G.

Using primary directions, Mars (ruler of the Ascendant) as promissor is also currently square natal Pluto. – P.E.

PRIMARY DIRECTIONS: Regarding this last point, I checked his primary directions using the method of Placidus semi-arc (my preferred method) and the Morinus freeware program.  

With Ptolemy’s time key (one degree = one year), primary directed Mars square natal Pluto becomes exact on 11 July 2014.

With the dynamic key of true solar equatorial arc of his birthday, primary directed Mars square natal Pluto becomes exact on 19 August 2014

Both these dates of perfect of the primary Mars square Pluto can be considered almost exact hits for the date of his demise, 11 August 2014.  This aspect is significant because his Ascendant (life force, physical body) is in Scorpio ruled by Mars and Pluto.  Mars is the god of war, and Pluto is the god of the underworld and the afterlife. The square of these two planets is often a symbol of a violent incident.

I will be speaking at TarotCon (US) 2014 in Dallas.

I will be speaking at TarotCon (US) 2014 in Dallas about some topics in my new book Tarot Beyond the Basics.

Tarot Beyond the Basics

TarotCon (US) 2014 in Dallas

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A Skydiving Accident

Thursday, 31 July 2014: I woke this morning to the clock radio announcing that a young correction’s officer had died in a skydiving accident on Long Island, not far across the Sound from where I live in Connecticut.  The young man, who would have turned 26 years old today, fell to his death yesterday due to a parachute failure. According to the NY Daily News, the deceased man’s mother “told the Daily News that she was supposed to be celebrating her son Gary’s 26th birthday on Thursday, but was instead gathering with family reeling over the Medford man’s death.”

As an astrologer, I wondered about the young man’s chart and about what was going on in his solar return which was about to transpire.  Given his occupation (correction officer) and his fondness for excitement, risk and speed (skydiving), I speculated that he must have a prominent Mars, an emphasis on Pluto, and probably lots of fire in his chart (from his late July birth date I already knew that his sun was in Leo).  The time of birth is not known, so I cast a general sunrise chart for the place of his place of residence.


Skydiver, sunrise, time unknown, Placidus houses

Skydiver, sunrise, time unknown, Placidus houses

As expected, he has five planets in fire signs: Sun, Mercury, Mars, Uranus and Saturn.  Thus, 50% of his natal planets are expressed through the fire element, which is associated with enthusiasm, risk-taking and a fondness for adventure.  He has three planets in their home signs: Sun in Leo, Mars in Aries, and Pluto in Scorpio.  (Mars is the traditional ruler of Scorpio, and Pluto is its modern ruler.)  Mars in Aries is usually fond of competition, risk-taking, speed, adventure, and adrenaline rushes.  In the sunrise chart, Mars happens to be in the Placidus 9th house, which governs air travel.  Pluto in the Placidus 4th house of endings stressfully squares his natal sun in Leo.

Now let’s look at his solar return of today, calculated on the basis of his sunrise chart since we don’t know the actual birth time.

Solar Return 2014 based on sunrise chart.

Solar Return 2014 based on sunrise chart.

The most significant planets in a solar return are the angular planets.  Here Jupiter is almost exactly on the MC, which would typically mean a year of career opportunities and advancement.  Unfortunately, Jupiter is squared by Mars, powerfully placed in Scorpio in the 1st house of the body.  Mercury in the 9th (and ruling the 9th of air travel) is also conjunct the solar return MC and receives the square from Mars in the 1st.  Mars square Mercury is often an indicator of accidents related to travel or speed.  Saturn also in Scorpio occupies the first house (physical integrity of the body).  The presence of both traditional malefics in the 1st house of the return warns of possible health problems during the year, especially because Mars rules the 6th house of illness in the return.

Venus rules the solar return Ascendant and is thus a symbol of his bodily well-being.  Venus in the 9th of air travel receives an opposition from Pluto in the 3rd of local travel.  This Venus-Pluto opposition is squared by Uranus (sudden disruption, accidents) in Aries in the 6th of health problems.  This powerful T-square formation involving the 3rd, 6th and 9th houses warns against taking risks while doing any form of traveling because of the likelihood of an accident (Uranus) affecting health (6th) and bodily integrity (Venus ruling ASC of solar return).

Given the turn of events, the symbolism of the general sunrise chart and its solar return are quite striking.

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Ponerse las pilas

Anthony Louis:

An interesting phrase in Spanish.

By the way, if you are interested in learning languages a great site is

Originally posted on Expresiones españolas para Erasmus en apuros:

A lo mejor habéis escuchado alguna vez a alguien decir: chico, ponte las pilas! No es que las personas tengamos ningún hueco para enchufarnos una batería ni nada por el estilo, pero bueno, metafóricamente podría decirse que sí.

Hay momentos en los que estamos como apagados, que nos dormimos o que simplemente nos relajamos y no hacemos las cosas que se supone que deberíamos hacer. Y claro, el tiempo pasa, los exámenes llegan, los plazos de entrega de proyectos se van cumpliendo o simplemente el resto de la gente avanza en su vida y nosotros no.

Pues ante cualquiera de estas situaciones nos pueden decir: PONTE LAS PILAS! Es decir, venga, ánimo, o te mueves o te quedas atrás.

Vayamos con los ejemplos. La fecha del próximo examen se acerca y no hemos estudiado nada. Pues o te pones las pilas y estudias o suspenderás! Otro ejemplo. Van pasando los…

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An interesting electional chart

On Thursday, 12 June 2014, a friend in New York called to ask about a best time to leave for the airport the following day.  She and her husband were going to attend a conference in the UK, and their flight was due to leave on Friday evening from JFK airport.  Because of their busy schedules and the time of the flight, they could only leave their apartment between 4 and 5 pm to arrive at JFK on time.

I quickly checked the chart for the 1-hour range of time which they allowed for their departure and realized that there was no way to avoid retrograde Saturn in Scorpio in the 1st house.  Generally, I would not start any project with retrograde Saturn in the 1st.  In her essay on Considerations Before Judgment, the noted horary astrologer Sue Ward summaries Lilly’s thinking about Saturn in the 1st (emphases mine):

Saturn in the 1st house: this Consideration is preceded by the phrase: The Arabians … doe deliver these following rules, as very fit to be considered … which is also the case for Saturn in the 7th house, the ruler of the ascendant combust and the ruler of the 7th unfortunate. …  The chart on page 437 [of Christian Astrology, 1647], has Saturn retrograde in the 1st house. This question, If he should obtaine the parsonage desired?, was rather distasteful to Lilly, since he disliked the priest and his reasons for asking. Nonetheless, he judges the chart and, in fact, uses this placing of Saturn to describe the querent’s conditions: Saturn is impedited in the ascendant, and by his presence infortunates the question, causing the querent to despaire in the obtaining of it.  So, he [Lilly] agrees that Saturn here is afflicting the chart as a whole and certainly the priest was advised by Lilly not to proceed with the matter and did not obtain the parsonage. It ended unfortunately, in that the priest did go ahead and was subsequently reported anonymously for some liaison with a woman, ruining his chance of getting the post.”

Seeing Saturn Rx in the 1st, I thought there would be some significant delays or problems with the trip.  Since they had a limited time period in which to leave, I looked for a way to minimize or alleviate the potentially adverse significance of the 1st house Saturn.  In cases like this, I find that maximizing the positive effect of the Part of Fortune is useful.  Fortunately there was a brief period around 4:45 pm during which Venus and the Part of Fortune occupied the same degree of the zodiac.  Since Venus is the lesser benefic and was not particularly afflicted in the chart, I advised her to leave to JFK at 4:45 pm.  At this time, Jupiter, which was exalted in Cancer, occupied the 9th house of long-distance travel — another very positive factor for a trip abroad.  Here is the chart for the elected time of departure:

Leave for JFK, Friday, July 13th 2014, at 4:45 pm, NYC.  Placidus houses.

Leave for JFK, Friday, July 13th 2014, at 4:45 pm, NYC. Placidus houses.

The result was that the plane was delayed at JFK.  When it finally got onto the runway, a passenger became ill and the plane had to return to the terminal so that the passenger could deplane and receive medical attention.  (Note Uranus in Aries on the cusp of the 6th of illness opposite Mars in Libra on the cusp of the 12th of undoing.)

When my friend arrived at her hotel in the UK, she discovered that there had been a mixup with the reservation and no room was available.  (Note the Aquarius cusp of the 4th house of lodging is ruled by retrograde Saturn in the 1st and also lies in the Mercury decan of Aquarius with Mercury retrograde in Cancer in the 8th.)  The hotel was able to help my friend find lodging at a nearby hotel which was not as nice as the one she hoped to stay at.  The change is lodging also cost them more money than they had planned to spend.

Otherwise the trip went well.  She and her husband had a good time, and she enjoyed the conference they were attending.  They returned safely to NYC.  Had she consulted me well in advance of the trip, I would have advised her not to plan a trip which starts with retrograde Saturn rising in the 1st house.

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Suarez bites Italian defender

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez made headlines for biting an Italian rival at the World Cup this week in Brazil, after which Suarez grabbed his teeth in pain.  Apparently the Italian’s shoulder was tougher to chew than Suarez expected.  This is what wikipedia says about him:

  • Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz is a Uruguayan footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club Liverpool and the Uruguayan national team. In 2006, Suárez moved to the Netherlands to play for Groningen in the Eredivisie.
  • Born: January 24, 1987 (age 27), Salto, Uruguay
  • Salary: 10 million GBP (2014)

When I heard the news about the aggressive biting, I expected to see a strong and afflicted Mars in his natal chart.  Here is his natal chart for 12 Noon (time unknown) with solar sign houses:

Uruguay's Luis Suarez Noon chart, time unknown.

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez Noon chart, time unknown.

Mars is quite strong as the red planet lies in Aries the Ram, a sign which it rules. Rams like to butt heads. Mars is nicely sextile Mercury, which is often seen in the charts of athletes who rely on  speed, agility, and physical dexterity.  His Mars is quincunx Pluto in Scorpio, which is also ruled by Mars.  Pluto is a planet of intense power and emotion, and modern astrologers grant Pluto rulership of the sign Scorpio.  Scorpions have a painful sting and can at times be vindictive.

If he were born prior to 7:35 PM, his Moon would also be in Scorpio.  Because of the Moon’s close tie to alimentation, I suspect that Suarez’s Moon acutally does lie in Scorpio. In addition, snakes as well as scorpions are associated with the sign Scorpio, and snakes are feared for their venomous bites.

Solar Fire delineates Mars quincunx Pluto as “your intense energy is not always appreciated by fellow workers …”  It always amazes me how the astrological symbolism plays out in real life.  I doubt that the Italian player with the bite on his shoulder appreciated the intense energy displayed by Luis Suarez.  My only hope is that Suarez is up-to-date on his rabies shots.

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