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The Mountain Astrologer

Speaking Your Chart: Political Speeches - Timing and Impact

by Frank Clifford

Political speechesSpeeches by leaders or influential personalities in history carry a double astrological message. An important speech will be reflected in the horoscope of the orator (natally as “potential” and by transit, progression, and direction), as well as in the transits in the sky at the moment of the speech, which will show its key themes, impact, and place in history. Essentially, a speech is of its time and by those seen to shape the times (even if the rhetoric is written or fine-tuned by others). So, what can we learn of astrology in action during historically important speeches and interviews?

Neptune and Earth: Dreams and Promissory Notes

With the Ascendant and Jupiter in Taurus and the Sun on a Capricorn Midheaven (MC), Martin Luther King, Jr. gave an address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 that had a monetary tone:

We have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution … they were signing a promissory note … But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt … We have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.1

It’s no surprise that Neptune appears by transit, progression, or direction when people reveal the romantic longings, ideals, and dreams composed in their natal charts. King’s soaring, rhythmic “I Have a Dream” speech — addressing his hope of ending racial segregation and letting go of discrimination, anger, and bitterness — was delivered when transiting Neptune crossed his Descendant at 13° Scorpio, and his Sun had just progressed/directed into the sign of Pisces.

Negotiating Power

A meeting of minds (Gemini Sun) and the coming together of both sides for peace (Libra Ascendant) were the main themes of charismatic John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address on January 20, 1961, a time of transiting Pluto in Virgo squaring his Sun in Gemini. He asked that:

Both sides begin anew the quest for peace … [but] we dare not tempt them with weakness … [Remembering that] civility is not a sign of weakness … Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate … Let both sides join in creating a new endeavor — not a new balance of power, but a new world of law — where the strong are just, and the weak secure, and the peace preserved.

That speech, given when transiting Mars was retrograde in nationalistic, patriotic Cancer, included his famous reversal: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” also revealing his natal Saturn conjunct his Cancer MC.

Libra: The Art of Persuasion

ThatcherAs a mediator to warring sides, Libra understands the art of diplomatic negotiation and arbitration. But Libra knows that the concept of compromise is overrated: No one gets what they really want. Upon closer inspection, cardinal Libra has an agenda. It seeks agreement through the full acceptance of its needs from the other. At first, it attempts to have those needs met through the line of least resistance — gentle, logical persuasion and charm (Libra sends you to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip). But when faced with stubborn obstruction or an impasse, Libra reveals itself to be an iron fist in a velvet glove by sending in the troops.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was born with a Sun–Mercury conjunction in Libra and Mars in that sign as well. Although her remark that “the lady’s not for turning” speaks of the firmness and inflexibility of Saturn rising in Scorpio, many of her remarks convey the very essence of Libra: “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end” and “I don’t mind how much my ministers talk, so long as they do what I say in the end.” Upon her arrival at Downing Street on May 4, 1979, this Libran paraphrased another Libran, St. Francis of Assisi:

Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope.

It was not to be. In the sky that day, Mercury was conjunct Mars in Aries and both were opposed by Pluto in Libra. Over the next eleven years, Thatcher would go to war against Argentina and do battle with the miners, the labour unions, the IRA, and members of her own cabinet. Libra attempts resolution and reconciliation and aims for a course of action that’s free from strife, but this sign is usually found at the heart of ongoing conflict — where it’s needed and where it is most effective.

Leo–Scorpio: The Jewel and the Noble Mansion

Jawaharlal Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny” speech, on the eve of his becoming Prime Minister to a newly independent India (around midnight of August 14–15, 1947 in Delhi), captured the spirit of determination and triumph worthy of the statesman’s fixed Leo–Scorpio horoscope and his people’s hundred-year struggle for freedom: “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge.”

India independenceAt an exact Saturn–Pluto conjunction in Leo, it was time for India to separate and form a new alliance with its autocratic, colonial father, whose empire was now fading. India, once the jewel in Queen Victoria’s crown, was being reborn as a self-ruling republic at this “solemn moment,” when: “The soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance … The responsibility rests upon this assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India.”

Mahatma Gandhi (Moon in Leo and possibly Scorpio rising) may have been the spiritual father of India, but Nehru was the iconic patriarch of the nation and, along with his dynasty, wrote the script and shaped the drama of a politically unstable and violent India for decades to come. Both Nehru and his willful daughter, Indira, were born with the Sun in Scorpio near the IC and Leo on the Ascendant. In his speech, he said, “We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.”

Independent but partitioned India (with more than a thousand languages and dialects at that time) arrived with 0° Gemini rising and the IC flanked by five planets in Leo, most of which were in square to Jupiter in Scorpio. Much of Nehru’s legacy rests in his development of educational institutions and universal primary education in India (Gemini–Leo).

Mercury–Pluto: Articulating the Irrevocable

Rivers of Blood speechPluto addresses the unspeakable; it unearths buried information (be it treasure or toxic waste), broaches the taboos of sex and politics, and satirizes its target with an uncompromising, irrevocable candour. When British politician Enoch Powell took to the stage at 2:30 p.m. on April 20, 1968 in Birmingham, England (Mars on the MC and Mercury in Aries quincunx Uranus), he spoke with the full power of someone with a politically aware Scorpio MC and inflammatory Mercury conjunct Pluto in Gemini (and at a time when transiting Neptune was retrograding back towards his natal MC). Following anti-discrimination laws and legislation introduced earlier that year which extended immigration rights to Commonwealth nations (including citizens from the Caribbean and India), Powell gave a provocative speech that addressed his concerns over mass immigration. It was to be the defining moment of his career.

We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual influx of some 50,000 dependants … It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre … As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see “the River Tiber foaming with much blood.”

On the day of the speech, stationary Jupiter in Leo (exactly square Neptune in Scorpio) assured much publicity, and the fear of public condemnation resulted in his immediate removal from office. This, in turn, incited workers — who felt that their livelihoods were under threat from immigrants — to strike in protest. Powell, revealing his Moon–Neptune conjunction in Cancer in the 7th house, had spoken (through Mercury–Pluto) of a longing for an England of yesteryear. His speech, however, exacerbated racial tensions and led to race attacks and chants of “go back to your country.” According to some, it helped to legitimize hostility and violence towards black Britons, yet, interestingly, 74% in a Gallup poll that month agreed with the thrust of Powell’s speech.

A Loaded Sound Bite

When Diana, Princess of Wales, said, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” she was revealing the state of her ill-fated soap-opera union. She was also depicting her horoscope’s dramatic t-square: Moon opposite Uranus and both square Venus. Each of these planets could, in its own way, describe all three players in the love triangle. For instance, Diana’s Moon in Aquarius indicates the troubled kindergarten teacher in need of affection, the aloof husband unable to provide emotional comfort, and the other woman/best friend of Charles.

Diana of WalesWhile all three adults were committing adultery, Diana was following a self-destructive course that would see her replicate her own parents’ acrimonious divorce (following her mother’s affair). And using this radical fixed t-square to blow open the House of Windsor and its Pandora’s box of secrets, the interview on the Panorama TV show would prove how ill-suited she was to the royal role expected of her. Like almost everything else she did in the final years of her life, this course of action divided public opinion (Moon–Uranus).2 Many people had sympathy for a vulnerable victim caged and abused by a heartless monarchy, while others felt scepticism towards a loose cannon and arch-manipulator seemingly hell-bent on using the media to exact revenge.

The infamous interview, recorded in secret, was announced on Prince Charles’ birthday (apparently elected by Diana’s astrologer, with transiting Jupiter on Diana’s Ascendant), six days before it aired on November 20, 1995. But larger transits were at play that month. It was her royal status that was rocked (transiting Uranus conjunct natal Saturn), and the revelations led to the removal of the title Her Royal Highness (transiting Neptune square her Libra MC). Interestingly, with MC-ruler Venus in the fixed sign of Taurus as the apex of the t-square, her status could have been assured, but perhaps on some level the emotional volatility of Moon–Uranus wanted to shatter a rigid system (the monarchy) and, in so doing, sabotaged her very wish to remain royal.

Chart Data and Sources (in alphabetical order):
Diana, Princess of Wales, July 1, 1961; 7:45 p.m. GDT; Sandringham, England (52°N50’, 00°E30’); A: from Diana to her astrologer-friend Debbie Frank, and from Diana’s mother to Charles Harvey (birth times and anecdotes given later by Diana appear to have been “red herrings”).
Indira Gandhi, November 19, 1917; 11:11 p.m. IST; Allahabad, India (25°N27’, 81°E51’); A: Robert Jansky quotes her private secretary.
John F. Kennedy, May 29, 1917; 3:00 p.m. EST; Brookline, MA, USA (42°N20’, 71°W07’); A: from Kennedy’s mother to Garth Allen.
Martin Luther King, Jr., January 15, 1929; 12:00 p.m. (noon) CST; Atlanta, GA, USA (33°N45’, 84°W23’); A: from King’s mother, “high noon.”
Jawaharlal Nehru, November 14, 1889; 11:30 p.m. LMT (6:09 p.m. GMT); Allahabad, India (25°N27’, 81°E51’); A: from Nehru’s secretary by letter, June 1962, quoted by BV Raman.
Enoch Powell, June 16, 1912; 9:50 p.m. GMT; Stetchford, Birmingham, England (52°N29’, 01°W54’); A: from him to the Astrological Association’s Data Section.
Margaret Thatcher, October 13, 1925; 9:00 a.m. GMT; Grantham, England (52°N55’, 00°W39’); A: from Thatcher’s private secretary to Charles Harvey.

Reference and Note:
1. Quotes originate from Speeches That Changed the World (Quercus, London, 2005) and online sources.
2. Moon–Uranus can also be seen as Diana’s bulimia: an ongoing cry for help that she described as a “release of tension” as she negotiated her marriage and public role (Venus, ruler of the MC, as the t-square apex).

Note: This piece is included in Frank’s book Getting to the Heart of Your Chart: Playing Astrological Detective (Flare 2012). Order on Amazon.com.

Image sources:
Speaker's desk: © steva via fotolia.de
Diana of Wales: By Gegodeju (Own work) (CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)), via Wikimedia Commons

First published in: The Mountain Astrologer, Aug/Sep 2011

Author:
Frank CliffordFrank Clifford is the author of Getting to the Heart of Your Chart (Flare, 2012), Horoscope Snapshots: Essays in Modern Astrology (Flare, 2014) and Palmistry 4 Today (Random House, 2002; new edition: Flare, 2009). New mini-books, including The Midheaven: Spotlight on Success and Dialogues: Tools for the Working Astrologer (with Mark Jones), have recently been published and are available on Amazon. Frank’s websites can be found at http://www.flareuk.com and http://www.frankclifford.co.uk

© 2011 - Frank Clifford - published by The Mountain Astrologer

Current Planets
28-Mar-2017, 13:29 UT/GMT
Sun83'23"3n12
Moon1357'58"2n22
Mercury2611'24"11n54
Venus30'31"r8n30
Mars1316' 9"16n09
Jupiter1933'54"r6s12
Saturn2743'58"22s05
Uranus2330'53"8n36
Neptune1241'10"7s35
Pluto1916' 0"21s09
TrueNode30'53"r10n24
Chiron2530'30"1n40
Explanations of the symbols
Chart of the moment
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