Last Wednesday, Lynn at astrodynamics did an interesting blog on the health of John F Kennedy. Not being familiar with his chart, what stayed in my mind was his Saturn-Neptune conjunction on the Midheaven. As Lynn put it, “Saturn [is] right on the MC where it reflects the pressure of his father (Saturn) pushing him into public life (MC). And in Cancer no less, demonstrating that his public life was part of the family dynamic and not just an individual ambition.”
I have heard it suggested elsewhere that left to himself, Kennedy’s natural leaning would have been to become something like an academic, and that it was mainly family expectation that pushed him into politics. The dreams (Neptune) of the father (Saturn) and family (Cancer). Or even the unreal (Neptune) expectations of the father (Saturn).
John F Kennedy 29 May 1917 15.00 Brookline MA
He had no fire planets in his chart, and an unaspected Sun and unaspected Pluto! You would expect to find Fire – a sense of vision, direction, leadership – in a President (like Bush’s Leo Rising or Clinton’s Leo Sun). Unaspected planets can manifest in various ways – they can, for example, be apparently absent, or they can take over (like Hitler’s unaspected Neptune-Pluto conjunction, which made him the undiscerning voice of the German Unconscious.) In the case of JFK, we could speculate that in manifesting his Saturn-Neptune, he never found his real individual destiny (unaspected Sun), and that Pluto, again unaspected, and the only planet in a fire house (the 9th), was able to manifest as a raw drive for power, independently of his personal needs and wishes. No wonder he had health problems! Maybe, even, no wonder he died young.
I have been struck lately, through personal experience, by the extent to which members of an ambitious family can subsume their own identities in the collective consciousness of the family, leading lives that are the same down to ridiculous details, and espousing identical, unexamined values. It is no different to the dynamics within a religious cult. It gives psychological security, but it is also based on fear, which the worldly success can mask, for to question such a family’s values inevitably leads to ostracism, to what would be experienced as psychological annihilation. And such families usually have one or two members who suffer this fate.
Back to Saturn-Neptune. It is interesting that Kennedy didn’t just carry the dreams of his father, he also carried the dreams of a nation, the Cancer nation to which he belonged. He was built for this, as we can see from his chart. And he wasn’t just the victim of family pressure: the Saturn-Neptune-MC is also HIS Saturn-Neptune-MC, he had a propensity to carry the unreal expectations of others (‘Camelot’) at the expense of his personal destiny (unaspected Sun).
Tony Blair also has a Saturn-Neptune conjunction (opposite Mercury and Venus in Aries) and he too has been the carrier of the dreams of the collective, and the original expectations of him were way beyond what a human could deliver. Saturn-Neptune can raise you to god-like status, and if you don’t die young (which many of them do), you are likely to eventually encounter a huge backlash as people feel let down. This happened to Blair over Iraq, and would almost certainly have happened to JFK had he lived: archetypal patterns have an inevitability about them. It is interesting that David Cameron was elected leader of the Conservative Party under a Saturn-Neptune opposition, because he is seen by many as the Tories’ answer to Blair, the young saviour of the Party (who will inevitably let them down in the end.)
The Dalai Lama was born under a Saturn-Neptune opposition, and his life from the word go has been devoted to living out the dream/fantasy which his religious tradition (Saturn in the 9th) and the Tibetan people have of him: the god-king. It is amazing he has done so well on it, as this level of expectation would twist most of us right out of shape. Maybe those who brought him up knew what they were doing. I think the Tibetan tradition does have a lot of good stuff in it, but it is also an organised religion, and prone to exactly the same weaknesses as other religions.
Venus Williams, the former world number one women’s tennis player, was born under a Mars/Saturn-Neptune square, and her and her younger sister are well-known for being the products of their father’s ambition. Mars gives the sporting drive and ability, but it is interesting that her reign at the top has been short-lived and erratic, and she is known for pursuing other interests: this suggests to me that Venus has been breaking away from the dream (Neptune) of her father (Saturn).
On 22 May this year, twins were born to a 60-year old woman in New Jersey. I read this in a blog by a lady named Out the Comet's Ass. Now I don’t want to rush in and judge, and only time will tell how wise it is to have kids at such an age. But the astrology doesn’t look entirely promising. The twins have no earth planets (though they do have earth ASC and MC), suggesting there may be a problem about their connection to the earth and to nature, but which their Angles (which are doorways, rather than part of us, unlike the planets) will require them to develop. This interpretation is backed up by a Moon-Saturn conjunction in 12th House Leo, opposite Neptune and Chiron. At worst, this indicates that they are the product of the damaged fantasy (Neptune/Chiron) of a self-centred (Leo) unconscious (12th) Mother (Moon/Saturn). This is a harsh thing to say, but there may well be an element of truth in it. And again we have Saturn-Neptune, the dreams, even fantasies, of the parent, which these twins will be carrying - they'll have to live up to being 'miracle babies', or something like that.
I think it’s natural for parents to have hopes and dreams for their kids, even unrealistic ones, dreams that perhaps compensate for what they haven’t managed to achieve. If you’ve built up a business, you’re probably going to want one of your kids to join it and build it further – and at the same time, you may be jealous of their youth and success, and you may try to undermine them. We’re a bundle of contradictions, with feet of clay (Saturn) and dreaming of the stars (Neptune).
When I was young I was at the receiving end of some pretty powerful and unconscious parental fantasies which, with the Saturn-Neptune opposition currently hitting my Sun-Chiron, I’m doing a further stage of untangling. It can take decades! But I’m not kidding myself that I can decide not to have my own set of fantasies for my 6 year old. I can try to minimise them by being fulfilled in my own life, but beyond that it’s probably just a matter of finding out in 35 years what those fantasies were when he presents me with the bill for his therapist. (Joke)
As always, it’s good to have a bit of myth around these things so we can see the universal pattern that we fit into. In their book ‘The Mythic Journey’, Liz Greene and Juliet Sharman-Burke begin with the myth of Thetis and Achilles, which they subtitle ‘Great Expectations’ – “How parents expect nothing less than everything from their children”.
“Thetis was the great goddess of the sea and ruled over all that moved in its depths. But it was time she married, and Zeus, king of the gods, had received a prophecy that, if Thetis married a god, she would bear a son who would be greater than Zeus himself. Worried about losing his position, Zeus espoused the sea-goddess to a mortal man called Peleus. This mixed marriage was not unsuccessful, and the two settled down relatively comfortably – although Peleus sometimes resented his wife’s supernatural powers, and Thetis sometimes felt she had married beneath her station.
In time, Thetis bore a son, whom she called Achilles. Because he was fathered by a mortal, he was a mortal child, allotted his time on earth by the Fates, as are all mortal beings. But Thetis was not content with this prospect. Being immortal herself, she did not wish to remain eternally young while watching her son grow old and die. So she secretly carried the newborn child to the River Styx, in whose waters lay the gift of immortality. She held the child by one heel and dipped him in the waters, believing thereby that she had made him immortal. But the heel by which she held him remained untouched by the waters of the Styx, and therefore Achilles was vulnerable through this one place.
When he reached adulthood and fought in the Trojan War, Achilles received his death wound through an arrow in the heel. Although Achilles achieved great glory and was remembered forever, Thetis could not cheat the Fates, nor turn that which was human into the stuff of the gods.”