James Randi is one of my favorite skeptics. He has done much to debunk ridiculous claims by so-called psychics like Uri Geller who are simply clever stage magicians who are able to dupe a gullible public. Randi has also been a sharp critic of astrology which he views (accurately) as a pseudoscience. His criticism was not helped when an astrologer published a video on YouTube about Randi’s chart based on the wrong birth date! This video has subsequently been revised, using the correct date of birth.
According to astro.com, Randi was born 7 August 1928 in Toronto, Canada. Randi responded to a request by Isaac Starkman for his time of birth and gave it as 1:20 AM. Even though the time comes directly from Randi, he is known to provide false data to confound his critics. For the time being, let’s assume that Randi was telling the truth and use data from his biography to test the validity of the birth chart which Randi has provided us.
Perhaps the most striking event of his childhood was a bicycle accident at age 13. He was hit by a car while riding his bike and needed to remain in a body cast for more than a year. Such an event should show up clearly in his birth chart. I was unable to find the date of the accident but all sources agree that Randi was 13 years old at the time, so it occurred between August of 1941 and August of 1942. Randi says of this accident: “… it took over two years to recover from a back injury. It was quite serious and it still bothers me to a certain extent.”
In looking for such a serious accident in a chart, I would look to hard aspects involving Saturn (gravity accidents, confronting hard reality), Mars (force, iron, motor vehicles) and Uranus (accidents and sudden happenings. Confinement is ruled by the 12th house. Major life changes and dramatic medical treatments are an 8th house matter. The 6th house governs infirmities of all kinds. The ASC rules the body and one’s vitality. These factors should be prominent in his transits, progressions and directions at age 13. Here is the natal chart, using the birth time provided by Randi.
At this time of birth, the most angular planet is Saturn in Sagittarius in the 7th. This is fitting, as Saturn is the planet of hard reality and quite related symbolically to skepticism as well as to the type of car accident he suffered at age 13. Here are his essential dignities calculated with the Morinus program:
As one might expect, the most essentially dignified planets are Mercury (intellect) and Saturn (the reality principle). The least dignified planet is the Moon, a symbol of emotionality and sentimentality. Here is his natal chart with the Solar Return for age 13 superimposed:
At age 13, natal Uranus (accidents, unexpected events) rises to prominence as it conjoins the solar return MC. In addition, the SR Saturn/Uranus conjunction in the natal 12th conjoins natal Mars, which is trapped between these two SR planets. In fact, natal Mars lies exactly at the midpoint of the Saturn/Uranus conjunction! The conjunction of Saturn, Mars and Uranus in the 12th house of confinement is emblematic of a serious accident involving a crash which leaves one confined to bed. SR Pluto (intense force) conjoins natal Mercury (ruler of the ASC and the body) in the natal 3rd of local travel. The SR ASC conjoins the cusp of the natal 3rd making matters of local transport a major issue for the year. Here is the same SR chart with the natal chart around it:
This view of the two charts shows that Cancer rules the SR ASC with the Moon (Caner’s ruler) conjunct the SR 8th cusp (major medical procedures). The SR 8th house is also emphasized by its close conjunction with the natal MC, suggesting a confrontation with mortality. The SR Pluto conjunction natal Mercury rises to the 1st house of the return, giving this aspect special prominence during the year. Finally, let’s look at his primary directions based on the birth time Randi provided. These are Placidus semiarc directions, using latitude, with the natal equatorial arc as the unit of measure.
What stands out in this list is the opposition of Mars and Saturn summer of 1941. Saturn rules his 8th house (death, major medical interventions) and Mars rules the 12th (confinement) and co-rules the 6th (infirmity) because Scorpio is intetcepted in the 6th. These are the types of aspects which we predicted would be in effect during the year of the accident; and since primary directions characterize an extended period of time, the hypothesis appears to be verified by the facts. The astrological data suggests that Randi was not lying about his birth time. If it turns out that the time was inaccurate, we will need to re-analyze the data to determine whether it has astrological validity.