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Steps Along the Way

Planet Waves
Photo by Bill Eppridge.
I shouted out, / "Who killed the Kennedys?"
When after all / It was you and me
Dear Friend and Reader:

Most of my day Tuesday, and into the week, I invested in unraveling the charts of the Robert F. Kennedy assassination. This was my first time through that maze. As I said in my earlier coverage of the JFK assassination, the question of who killed Bobby, and why, is a different matter today from what it was 50 years ago. Mostly, we have much more context. We have the benefit of knowing what happens next, and what happens after that.

I studied a wide inventory of charts: RFK's birth chart and his progressions at the time of his death; the accused killer's natal chart and his progressions at the time of the assassination; and mostly the event chart, which I've displayed in its more complex form in the first figure, and in its simpler form in the second figure. [See RFK's natal and progressed charts here.]

Planet Waves
This is my chart with all relevant minor planets included. Damocles is on the far left side of the chart, rising in the 21st degree of Aquarius. A less-detailed, easier-to-read chart is below.
It was another one of those experiences of any remaining notions of the Sixties as a romantic time disappearing into the air. RFK embodied the idealism of the era like few other people. His difficult journey after his brother's assassination, and the challenges of being Attorney General in a tumultuous and dangerous era, had tempered him. He was perceived as a person whose leadership could unify vastly diverse facets of the deeply divided American public.

And he was campaigning openly on ending the war in Vietnam -- as was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the time of his death eight weeks earlier. With both of these men dead, the war would not end for five more years.

The decade surrounding the Uranus-Pluto conjunction (which peaked in 1965-66) was in many ways a revolutionary time. It came with surges forward in numerous areas of life, from technology to art to social causes. In retrospect, it seemed that people cared more than we do today, and were able to give a voice to their concerns.

There was greater willingness to experiment and confront the unknown. There was a greater willingness to take risks, particularly if they involved making things better. I would go as far as to say that young people and many older ones were more willing to be vulnerable than they are today.

Yet one by one, the political leaders of what might have been a more liberal-minded society of the future were picked off, just like that. In hindsight, it's easier to see all of those assassinations as part of the same thing: as steps on the way to the even more troubled world we live in today.

If you're wondering why it seems all we get these days are so-called leaders who exploit our natural desire for social justice but don't deliver, just picture Bobby Kennedy lying unconscious on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel's pantry.

Picture Dr. King lying on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel just eight weeks earlier. Imagine Pres. Kennedy, clutching his throat, that afternoon as his limousine cruised through Dealey Plaza.

Planet Waves
Basic chart for the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. When using the minor planets, I find it helpful to be able to look at a basic chart and get the information I need. This version includes Chiron and Eris, which are planets that described the events of that era -- as they do today. At the time this chart is set for, neither Chiron nor Eris had been discovered. Chiron is orange with an 02 at the lower left; Mercury is green with an 02 at the lower right.
All those other assassinations had an effect; though, finally, the political route to social justice was cut off that night in Los Angeles. To aspire to stand for truth and justice, on that kind of scale, today amounts to a death wish, and we all know why.

Some people knew it then; it's easier to see with half a century of hindsight, if you look. Just play out a potential scenario of a world without a Pres. Nixon, and without an expansion of the Vietnam War into Laos and Cambodia -- a war that cut a scar into the American psyche yet to heal. RFK was vocally campaigning against the war that his brother had first escalated.

There was no question that he was promising to pull the United States out of Vietnam, because he knew as well as anyone that it was disastrous and pointless. On the day he was shot, 106 American soldiers were also killed; 16,899 American soldiers lost their lives in Vietnam the year he was killed.

Imagine a version of American history without Watergate, which turned everyone cold, bitter and cynical to politics, proving that it's all a vicious scam; now, then and allegedly forever. Watergate was not merely a break-in; what was revealed, after the break-in, was that Nixon turned the entire U.S. government into his personal mafia.

This version of events is rarely if ever told in context. Yet consider the idealism of the 1960s, and consider the world we have today. Consider how much turned on that one night, just past midnight on June 5, 1968. Yet I would ask: do we have a problem with placing our hopes and dreams in the hands of a leader, rather than in our own ability to contribute to meaningful progress?

And by doing so, do we not excuse ourselves from the very responsibility that we try to place on those leaders? Is this not the evolutionary step we need to take: rising to the collective ownership of our destiny, with everyone involved? That would seem to exist only dimly in awareness.

Each of the assassinations opened the way to the world we have today. But something was cemented that night in LA. Something came to a halt. Much of the horoscope for that event is concentrated in the 4th house, where according to traditional astrology we look for "the end of the matter."

Here is a clue: it will come down to one aspect, Mercury in Cancer, square Chiron in Aries. But let's look at the chart first from a few other angles.

Damocles is Rising

During the Barack Obama campaign of 2008, there were many comparisons to RFK, who had died 40 years earlier. Does anyone else remember this? For many people, Obama represented a kind of potential that was vaguely reminiscent of Bobby Kennedy. (Remember, though, that Obama campaigned on escalating the war in Afghanistan.)

Planet Waves
In Richard Westall's Sword of Damocles, 1812, the boys of Cicero's anecdote have been changed to maidens for a neoclassical patron, Thomas Hope. Still, the infamous sword hangs over him as the king watches. Image from Wikimedia Commons.
When I first read Obama's natal chart 10 years ago, I discovered that his natal Sun was opposite a strange minor planet called (5335) Damocles. Really a long-period comet nucleus (it has an orbit of just over 40 years), this type of object was probably formed in the vicinity of the gas giants, in the early days of the solar system, according to MIT astrophysicist Dr. Jane X. Luu.

By strange, I mean that at its closest point to the Sun, Damocles enters the orbit of Mars, coming close to the Earth; at its furthest, it extends beyond the orbit of Uranus, which is far, far beyond Saturn. Even weirder, Damocles spends two-thirds of its time in Aquarius; most of the rest is in Pisces, and it spends next to none in the other signs.

If you are wondering why I have any respect for Obama, it comes from recognizing this one placement in his chart. I know that's saying a lot, though the fact of Damocles exactly opposite his Sun reminded me of one particular truth about those who are, today, involved in politics.

The name of this body references the sword of Damocles, named for a servant of the court who, for one day, sat in the chair of the king. He was envious of the king’s power and wanted to see what it was like; he got his chance. Above his head was suspended a sword hung by a single strand of horse hair, "an allusion to the imminent and ever-present peril faced by those in positions of power" in the elegant words of Wikipedia.

In the chart for the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, Damocles is rising, to the degree. A planet rises to the degree for four minutes out of every 24 hours. The synchronicity is a reminder what potential all politicians and many in the public eye must face every day.

The 8th House: Death of the Revolution

In a death chart, you can find out relevant facts from studying the 8th house. That includes the contents of the 9th, and the condition of the planet that rules the sign on the 8th house cusp. In this chart, we get relevant information from both.

I am counting all of Virgo as the 8th house in this chart. That's because it's the 8th sign from the ascendant; and what are called "whole sign houses," perhaps the oldest house system, prove to be a dependable tool.

What we find in Virgo is the Uranus-Pluto conjunction that in astrological terms defines the 1960s for what they are: the upheaval and revolutionary spirit of the times. Yet this was not all a "power to the people" kind of revolution, even though that was the popular meme of the day -- what the Trilateral Commission described in a famous report as a "crisis of democracy."

Planet Waves
Seventeen-year-old Jan Rose Kasmir offers a flower to soldiers at a Pentagon anti-war protest, 1967. Photo by Mark Riboud.
If the 8th represents or helps reveal the nature and cause of death, RFK was killed by the times in which he was living. That is the nature of a politically motivated murder, though this instance is particularly glaring.

Many people experienced Uranus conjunct Pluto as a revolutionary spirit of liberation rather than of tyranny. And for those who believed that this was a crisis -- of democracy in particular -- it was that very spirit of liberation, in their view, that needed to end.

There were not many bright spots left to the Sixties. Sixty-eight was a horrendous year overall, with the riots at the Democratic National Convention, with Nixon getting elected to the presidency, and the Tet Offensive (a battle in the Vietnam War) taking many lives. Any notion of the Woodstock spirit of 1969 would be blotted out by the Kent State massacre of the following year.

The Moon is in Virgo, though it's in a condition called void-of-course, which means that it's very late in its sign and not making any more aspects before entering the next sign. The Moon can represent the public, or the question itself. It would appear that the public was asleep at the wheel, or perhaps drunk.

The Moon is conjunct, to the degree, the asteroid Bacchus, named for the Roman god of grapes and wine. The hapless public was not ready to take on the responsibilities that the Uranus-Pluto conjunction demanded. There were riots and protests that year and a lot of drugs being taken, though there was not much serious political organizing, with the exception of Richard Nixon's team.

Venus, Sun, Mars in Gemini

Mercury is the ruling planet of Virgo. Let's consider that in a moment -- it reveals what the chart is really about. However, let's consider the other Mercury-ruled sign, Gemini. Because the meridian (usually the 4th/10th cusp axis, or MC/IC) is passing through Gemini and Sagittarius, Gemini certainly seems like the 4th house (domestic issues, security, ancient house of fathers, the end of the matter).

But let's remember it's also the 5th sign from the ascendant, so it has the flavor of the 5th, as well. With Venus, the Sun and Mars there, we have an image of something sexual (a theme of the 5th, and also of the 8th).

Planet Waves
One thing we can say about political assassinations is that they don’t put anyone in a good mood. They are merely tragic.
Not enough has been written about the political elements of the Sixties in contrast to what we call, in hindsight, the sexual revolution. People aspire to more social and political freedom when they are sexually free, and they become subject to tyranny when they are sexually unfree.

In other words, repression of loving instincts leads to repressive governmental structures. It's easy to see that Donald Trump is appealing mostly to people who are sexually frustrated.

The Sun, a father figure, or authority figure, standing between Venus and Mars looks like something between men and women -- who might ordinarily be inclined to get together. The scene in the 4th house (domestic affairs) looks like a kind of tension if not outright strife. Gemini, when populated, can be the scene of disagreements, owing to the presence of multiple viewpoints.

However, this scene in Gemini may describe something apart from psychology: it may be a diagram of the assassination itself, which took place in a pantry (4th house or domestic feeling) and the certain presence of at least two assassins. In this reading, the Sun would be RFK, the "king" of the moment and heir apparent to the presidency, and Venus and Mars would represent the killers.

Patterns and individual elements in astrology charts can signify two different things at once, which may be more or less closely related. One thing we know, though, is that all of the elements in Gemini and all of the elements in Virgo come back to one planet -- Mercury, the ruling planet of both signs.

Mercury Square Chiron, and the Aries Point

One of the boldest aspects in this chart -- which represents a rarified turning point in American history -- is that Mercury is square Chiron. Mercury is a fast mover, so an aspect like this lasts a day, and June 5, 1968, was the day. Note that Chiron had not yet been discovered by this time.

Planet Waves
Only people who were alive at the time remember the sensation of shock and horror at the death of another Kennedy, and another beloved civil rights leader. UK Daily Mirror.
Mercury, as mentioned, has extraordinary power in this chart, as it is the planet that rules many planets in Gemini and Virgo, both of which describe the crime scene. So on one level it represents the state of mind of the assassin.

Yet because Chiron is on the Aries Point and Mercury is square the Aries Point, we have a connection that extends out to the widest reaches of the public. This also describes an event that reaches into the heart and soul of anyone who is in some way touched by it. With such a powerful structure highlighting the Aries Point, we are at the crossroads of the individual and the collective.

This is what Mick Jagger was talking about when he said that "after all, it was you and me" who killed the Kennedys. (This song was being recorded the very day that RFK was shot. The original line was, "Who Killed Kennedy?" Jagger changed it to, "Who killed the Kennedys?")

As you may know from my earlier coverage, Chiron entered Aries on April 1, 1968. Three days later, Martin Luther King was shot; and just eight weeks after that, Robert Kennedy was shot. This was not a coincidence, though that's a subject for another article or broadcast.

So what is in this state of mind described by that Mercury-Chiron aspect? To me, these two planets together can indicate deep self-doubt about one's mental capacity and intelligence. When I see this aspect in a chart, I first check whether the person had some unusual intellectual gift but was in some way persuaded that their mind was broken. Usually there is a source point for this doubt, in the form of a caregiver, though it can also manifest internally.

Chiron in Aries is inherently seeking of self-knowledge, though my early (somewhat joking but not really) key phrase for this placement was, "Get a real identity crisis!" That is, look for yourself in meaningful ways, not (for example) through brand identity or any other form of consumerism.

Planet Waves
Photo by Hank Walker.
In a book published in 1968, War and Peace in the Global Village, Marshall and Eric McLuhan introduced their theory that violence is a quest for identity. They proposed that this works on every level, from individual to tribal to national. I think this is a valid idea, and it explains much of what is happening in our world today. A paucity of self-awareness being expressed as aggression would make a lot of sense. However, the McLuhans don't address sex or sexuality, one of the few limitations on their brilliant body of work. You can fill in this gap by reading Wilhelm Reich; then it will be easy to make the connections.

My take is that the urgency for a violent approach to self-knowledge occurs primarily in the vacuum of a loving and healthy approach to sexuality. And it is in this environment that eroticism and toxic aggression are most easily conflated; this explains much of our current social and political crisis.

What happened to RFK was a violent act, driven by self-doubt, and the troubled emotive mind of Mercury in Cancer, square a warrior planet, Chiron, in Aries. The people who killed RFK had their own agenda, which I take as a mix of wanting to perpetuate a war-based society, and also not wanting someone who could be a unifying force to get any real social traction. It would be safer, they determined, to martyr him.

Yet the background environment of the nation was, at that time, deeply troubled and deeply divided. Many people had been thrust into situations demanding growth they just could not handle. Many had been subjected to injury, pain and grief they did not deserve. Kennedy was offering something that Americans were not ready for then, and which it seems we are even less ready for now.

We need to do something about that. Yet let's remember that the assassinations of the Sixties (including the Kent State massacre) were part of an organized program. They were not, in my view, the efforts of lone nutcases or freaky circumstances, but were in truth your tax dollars at work.

With love
eric

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