If you’re a halfway competent astrologer and you have no interest in knowing how you’re likely to meet your maker, then stop reading now.
Today I am going to explore some of the key insights relating to death in the nativity; it is a profoundly difficult subject for very obvious reasons and not one that I would ever make mention of in consultation, however, it provides a fascinating area of study and it is possible to demonstrate that the manner of death is a very fruitful domain for study using the astrology.
What I will not attempt is to formulate a method for predicting the time of death, that is a level of detail in which I am not remotely interested, and I cannot imagine any reason or logic that would make such a discipline even remotely attractive. This article will only seek to determine the manner in which the end is met, not the timing of it.
I have long known – broadly – how my life will conclude and it holds remarkably little fear for me; I am reconciled to it and – perhaps due in part to that long familiarity – I find it vaguely comforting to have some sense of what I might expect at the end. I am also absolutely confident of my conclusions in this regard, I have looked at too many nativities of the deceased to harbour any illusions about the probabilities of such profundities. In addition, for the astrologer, the methodology of predicting the manner of death is really quite straightforward. As ever though, due to the Cascade Effect, hindsight lends all manner of granularity to the picture, texture that can only be guessed at beforehand. Of course this is one of the key criticisms of the whole of astrology, but, as with all immeasurabilities, a sense of form is not rendered pointless because the finished piece is still in the conceiver’s mind’s eye.
So then, to practicalities.
The key elements are as ever: placements in the 8th, the ruler of the 8th house cusp and its conditions, Pluto and broadly, in the sense of determining the conditions ruling the end of the life, the 4th, placements in it and the ruler of the 4th house cusp.
The 8th house, which I have written about before is not so simplistically (as it is often maligned) the house of death. It provides considerable insight into the conditions of the physical death, but the difficulty with comprehending the intrinsic nature of the 8th is based upon its primativity. Simply put, the 8th rules the birth-death-rebirth principle and in this sense it tells us much about how we start over, how we remove the old to make way for the new: mundanely it says something about how we end relationships (see the astrology of marital breakdown for more), how we quit our jobs and to some extent too, our attitude toward possessions and money, taxes, credit, our partner’s resources and of course, sex.
But that’s another story for another day.
In general terms, a tenant within a house overrides the ruler of that house’s cusp, most especially though, the proximity of a tenant to the house cusp is proportional to the weight of it in the analysis. A tenant applying to the 9th cusp therefore is often of less import even to 8th house affairs than a placement in the latter degrees of the 7th. Also, the Cascade Effect suggests that clues about one’s demise can be gleaned from other affairs of the 8th. Thus, for example, if you experience sudden relationship breakdowns, then you can be fairly sure that your exit from this life can be similarly fast. Let us consider the zodiac in this respect: if your 8th house cusp is in the sign of or the sign ruler is similarly configured, or that planet is within the 8th or especially applying to its cusp:
Aries (Mars): sudden, possibly violent, head or brain configured.
Taurus (Venus): slow, generally peaceful, maybe due to overindulgence, throat.
Gemini (Mercury): Possible multiple causes, mental deterioration possible, lungs and breathing.
Cancer (Moon): At home, overeating may be a factor, stomach.
Leo (Sun): probable cardiac problems, some drama.
Virgo (Hygeia): Often a quiet demise in modest circumstances, not dramatic, digestive system.
Libra (Venus): Not difficult, maybe related to kidney function.
Scorpio (Pluto): Possibly confined or violent, alcohol.
Sagittarius (Jupiter): Abroad or away from home, possibly overindulgence.
Capricorn (Saturn): Slow degenerative demise probably in old age.
Aquarius (Uranus): Sudden, possibly unusual demise, rare diseases, blood problems.
Pisces (Neptune): Confused; cause of death obscure or uncertain, alcohol, poison, drugs, mistake, suicide.
In general terms the elements define themselves, with earth tending to physical disease, water to depression and so forth. Of course, these are no hard and fast rules. Consider Karl Marx who, with the 8th house cusp in Libra actually died of pleurisy, a classically Geminian death. However, a quick glance at his astrology confirms that Mercury was peregrine in Gemini: and when you consider the Cascade Effect again, it becomes a factor which runs away with the entire chart, a brilliant mind, a classically Mercurial demise. Peregrination, which very often rules the life, similarly can have a pronounced influence upon the death too.
Let us consider some concrete examples.
Andy Warhol, artist: 6 Aug 1928 )6:30 (EST +5:00) Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Andy Warhol lived with an acute gallbladder problem his entire adult life. Warhol died in New York City at 6:32 a.m. on February 22, 1987. According to news reports, he had been making good recovery from a routine gallbladder surgery at New York Hospital before dying in his sleep from a sudden post-operative cardiac arrhythmia. Prior to his diagnosis and operation, Warhol delayed having his recurring gallbladder problems checked, as he was afraid to enter hospitals and see doctors. The sun square to Jupiter is especially pertinent to the gallbladder difficulty, wherever this aspect is found, there is a sensitivity to indulgent habits that usually finds its way out into the liver or its associated functions.
Now consider this news report taken from the New York Times, December 5th 1991:
Care Faulted In the Death Of Warhol
Andy Warhol — anemic, undernourished and fearful of hospitals — slipped into a coma after surgery and died virtually unattended because his doctors overloaded him with fluids, a lawyer for his estate said yesterday in opening arguments in a wrongful death suit.
The lawyer, Bruce Clark, said that New York Hospital negligently pumped more than twice the required volume of fluids into Mr. Warhol when he underwent gallbladder surgery five years ago and that the resulting internal pressure caused his death from heart failure.
Pointing out the vein of his right arm to the State Supreme Court jury in Manhattan, Mr. Clark said: “They pumped him full through here and they never kept track of what came out later. The fluids drowned him.” ‘Where Were They?’
Mr. Clark, the lawyer for the heirs to the estate, including Mr. Warhol’s two brothers and the Warhol foundation, recounted what he called mistakes and omissions by the doctors and hospital staff both before and after the 58-year-old artist’s surgery.
Now look to the astrology. We ought to consider the tenants of the 8th first, although Moon is, in my view somewhat discounted since she applies to the 9th with alacrity. Uranus then, and in Aries suggests sudden endings, and rather unexpected too; Warhol’s gallbladder problem was not considered to be remotely life threatening.
More intriguingly, the ruler of the 8th is Neptune. Consider some of the language in the above news report: “overloaded [...] with fluids”, “wrongful death”, “the fluids drowned him”, “where were they” and “mistakes and omissions”. A litany of Neptunian language indeed. Thus, liquids, mistakes, confusion and abandonment are all themes which are intrinsically associated with Warhol’s death. The actual cause of death: “a sudden post-operative cardiac arrhythmia” is entirely in keeping with Uranus – Saturn (by Ebertin, inhibitions of rhythm, heart-block) and with Neptune on the degree of Leo for the atrioventricular septum, the muscle wall which separates the ventricles of the heart one from the other, then this hardly constitutes a surprise.
Therefore, both Uranus (tenanting the 8th) and Neptune (the 8th house ruler) describe key qualities of his death.
The same conditions and insights occur in other cases. John F. Kennedy, the American president had Mars in the first degrees of the 8th, thus a violent end, and of course, Mars rules firearms too. Lee Harvey Oswald had Mars in the 8th house and in Aquarius, thus sudden, unexpected and violent and also involving firearms. Marilyn Monroe had Mars and Uranus in the 8th, thus sudden, unexpected and violent also, but as with Warhol, the 8th house cusp in Neptune creates another possibility, and of course the mystery and confusion surrounding the circumstances of her death remain to this day, this from Wikipedia:
On August 5, 1962, LAPD police sergeant Jack Clemmons received a call at 4:25AM from Dr. Hyman Engelberg proclaiming that Monroe was dead at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California. Sergeant Clemmons was the first police officer to arrive at the death scene.Many questions remain unanswered about the circumstances of her death and the timeline after Monroe’s body was found.
The official cause of Monroe’s death was classified by Dr. Thomas Noguchi of the Los Angeles County Coroners office as “acute barbiturate poisoning”, which he recorded as a “probable suicide”. Eight milligram percent of chloral hydrate and 4.5 milligram percent of Nembutal were found in her system after the autopsy.Her death was classified as “probable suicide”, but because of a lack of evidence, investigators could not classify her death as suicide or homicide.
Once again, with Pisces configured the terminology is resonant with Neptunian themes: “many questions remain unanswered”, “acute barbiturate poisoning”, “probable suicide” and “lack of evidence”.
There are always subplots. Andy Warhol’s Pluto was in Cancer on the degree for the duodenal opening of pancreatic duct, and very close therefore in proximity and function to the gallbladder itself. The closest aspect in his entire astrology at only 4 minutes of arc was Mars square Neptune, an aspect which in itself promotes wastage; Warhol was painfully underweight (a common side-effect of gall diseases in general due to an inability to process fat) at 5 feet 11 inches in height, he weighed only 138 pounds (a touch under 10 stone).
When Warhol’s body was weighed at autopsy he weighed 150 pounds, the hospital had arguably pumped 12 pounds of fluids into his body by mistake. That equates to approximately one and a half gallons of fluid by weight.
Andy Warhol was inadvertently drowned.