Astrological Musings

photo from the NYT archive

Asena asked in a comment, “What do you think about JFK’s birthchart? Is his birthtime accurate in your opinon.I somehow started to think that he might ha ve a different ASC than Libra after I read an article regarding his health problems.It seems to me that there is not indicators of the diseases he had diagnosed in his Libra rising birthchart.”

I hadn’t really looked at JFK’s chart and took a quick look to respond in the comments section but the comment quickly grew into a post of its own.

I hadn’t really looked at JFK’s birthchart so this was an interesting exercise. (click chart to enlarge, info 5/29/1917, 3 pm, Brookline MA) There is nothing in a Libra ascendant that would preclude health problems – in fact, the desire to please others that drives Libra can drive other more socially controversial aspects underground where they arise in health issues. The charm and charisma of JFK as well as his ability to reach out and connect with people is well described by a Libra ascendant, and this birthtime does show Saturn 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.

JFK had no oppositions that would aid him in reflection and give him perspective on issues, and he surrounded himself with good friends and aids to play that role. He had an exact square from Uranus to Mars in the 8th house, showing his rebellious streak as well as a fiery rage that may not have been able to find expression with the Libra asc and that heavy midheaven. With Chiron in the sixth house, even though it is well-aspected, there is a tendency to play out emotional issues through the physical body unless attention is paid to the body’s own healing mechanisms. Chiron is also the ruler of his twelfth house of unconscious influences.

JFK’s first physical ailment was at the age of 2 years 9 months (according to this excellent site) when he contracted scarlet fever and almost died, just as his progressed Moon was crossing that Libra ascendant. This just happened to be the time that the fourth Kennedy sibling was born, and JFK would have been rather ignored by his mother at that time. We already know that his father favored the eldest son, Joe Jr., and that JFK lived in the shadow of his older brother. He was already the third child, with a natal Virgo moon which often denotes a mother that is critical and demands perfection. The symbolism of the progressed Moon crossing the ascendant, which is where we are seen by others, signifies JFK’s need to be visible in his family, to cry out at that point for attention. His near death likely accomplished that goal.

At the age of 13, as Saturn began a transit over his IC and shortly thereafter opposed his natal Saturn (a difficult time for any young person) he wrote to his mother complaining of blindness in one eye as well as dizziness and fainting. A transit over the Midheaven/IC axis denotes a challenge to our very sense of being grounded on planet earth (IC) versus our obligations to our public life (Midheaven).

At the age of 17 JFK began a debilitating battle with colitis and other digestive problems, health issues that are usually associated with unexpressed anger as shown by the square of Uranus to Mars that could not be expressed outwardly. At the time these problems are said to have begun, JFK’s progressed Mars and Mercury were on the verge of a sign change from Taurus to Gemini, where they begin to draw more attention, and were exactly squared by progressed Chiron which would have started working on his mental (Mercury) and anger (Mars) issues.

Kennedy’s legendary sexual appetite is shown by the packed eighth house which includes Mars, which denotes not only anger but also shows our drive, which in the eighth house of sexuality tends to be very sexual in nature. The eighth house is also associated with death and intimacy, as well as the more prosaic “taxes and inheritance”. In 1936 and 1937 Kennedy’s progressed Moon traversed his eighth house, activating each planet there and creating an eruption of sexual adventures that resulted in nonspecific urethritis and other sexually transmitted disease.

In 1938, JFK’s progressed Moon entered Cancer (the progressed Moon takes 2-1/2 years to travel one sign, and the change of sign typically denotes a life change of some sort). Cancer is the sign that focuses on family obligations, and suddenly Kennedy must have been overwhelmed by the responsibilities to his family that ensued. He was finishing his senior thesis while a student at Harvard and must have been looking ahead to his future and this is when the back problems that plagued him throughout his life began (back problems are associated with a sense of being overburdened and not having enough support in life). He also sought treatment for abdominal pain during this period.

By 1943 JFK was crippled with back pain, correlating to a transit of Saturn over his Sun. He faced one of the greatest trials of his life at this time with the rescue of his PT-boat shipmates and the award of medals from both the Navy and the Marine Corps. The overwhelming sense of obligation for Kennedy, a Gemini with a light nature whose Saturn on the natal Midheaven denoted an individual with great responsibilities, was evidently more than he could handle. He evidently was hospitalized twice for back surgery during his Saturn return (1943-1945) although Kennedy’s medical history is sketchy and inconsistent.

In the fall of 1947 Kennedy was hospitalized with weakness, nausea and low blood pressure which was later diagnosed as Addison’s disease, an immune disorder. As an interesting corollation, Kennedy’s progressed Moon was again crossing his natal ascendant for the first time since he nearly died of scarlet fever at the age of two.

Between 1953 and 1955 Kennedy was hospitalized several times and nearly died as Chiron crossed the IC of his chart, opposing Saturn and his Midheaven. According to his widow Jackie, Kennedy’s most severe depression came in 1961, correlating to a transit of Saturn across the Midheaven/IC axis and opposing his natal Saturn. The fact that so many of Kennedy’s health problems occurred during periods of transits to the Midheaven/IC axis shows a deep inability to resolve his need to feel that he had a real place in the world (IC) with the pressure of his public responsibilities (Saturn on the Midheaven).

It is likely that Kennedy channeled the dissonant energy created by the Mars/Uranus square in his chart through his eighth house focus on sexuality. This helped to ease his inner frustration and dissipate the energy, but did not solve the more psychological issue of the need to express his own needs as described by Mars, and the frustration his inability to do so caused as indicated by the square from Uranus. In my experience, this sort of Mars problem is one of the most prevalent underlying causes of most undiagnosable health problems and immune disorders, such as fibromyalgia and Epstein-Barre syndrome.

s kind of astrological difficulty does not doom a person to a life of ill health. Understanding his need to act out his aggression in a healthy way (Mars/Uranus), setting positive boundaries within his family and between his public and private lives (Saturn on the MC), and encouraging him to take periods of retreat where he could reconnect with himself on a deep level (Saturn opposing the MC) could have helped him to balance these energies in a way that was more productive and less debilitating for his health. Reclaiming the lost parts of ourselves brings about a greater wholeness and lessens the necessity for the body to create disease in order to get our attention.

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