Werner Erhardt—Guru Western Style
For our Virgo issue of The Mutable Dilemma, we have chosen Werner Erhardt to be “missionary of the month.” In his own way, he is as much a center of controversy as Anita Bryant, though he has not sought to influence the political scene. We started our series of modern Pied Pipers with Ram Dass, and followed with Bryant and Madelyn O’Hair, all of whom have the Sun in Aries. They also share a contact of letters one and nine; Ram Dass with Jupiter conjunct the Ascendant; Bryant with Jupiter in Aries and Aries in the 9th house; O’Hair with Jupiter in the first (natural Aries) house. Erhardt has Jupiter conjunct Mars, still another version of 1-9, which connects personal identity, self-will in action, self-confidence, etc. (letter one) with the quest for “Truth”, the meaning of life, ultimate goals, and so on (letter nine). One potential for the one-nine mixtures is the conviction that one has personally discovered the Truth, and should so inform the world. “Here it is, world. I have the answers. Follow me.” The message may be strident, or it may be low-key if softened with water and earth, but the inner drive of the person calls for finding the truth and acting upon it.
In the light of Erhardt’s emphasis on earth and water (there are planets in all the earth and water signs and houses), we would expect his approach to be more low key than our previous missionaries. The Aries stellium in the Ram Dass chart is also muted by placement in the Capricorn house with Cancer rising and Pluto, a water planet, on the Ascendant. The earth-water focus in Erhardt’s chart shows a deep-rooted concern with security which can indicate a driving need for personal security in a weak person or a capacity to care about the security of others in a strong person. Certainly his financial empire is testimony to his ability to provide for his own needs, while his campaign to end hunger in the world implies concern for others. Of course, his adversaries see the Hunger Project as a grandstand play to gain public favor and even a way to get more money for himself with the $5 donations “for the cause of the hunger project.” That this money goes to a foundation and not directly into his pockets is widely interpreted as a skillful way to evade income tax, while the foundation provides him with his needs and desires.
But the financial return from one’s work is not really relevant to the value of the accomplishment, unless being poor is equated with being “holy” or “good.” It is true that Erhardt has the south node of the Moon in the second house, suggesting a “lesson” in the handling of money, possessions, sensuality, etc., but its grand trine suggests the area is not a serious problem. He also has Saturn, the other key to a current “lesson,” in the 10th house, and again the trines suggest that he has the capacity for immense success and the challenge may be in how he uses the power he acquires. History will record that judgment. It is too early in the game to guess the outcome. Certainly Saturn in its own house marks the natural executive.
Other than the theme of earth-water emphasis, the major focus in Erhardt’s chart is an emphasis on mutable signs and houses. It is a classic chart of a mutable dilemma, but the strong earth reduces the tendency to scatter and diffuse, so he would be more likely to look for impossible goals. This form of the mutable dilemma typically is clear about ambitions, but sets them at a level that can never be reached and hence is never satisfied. Of course all preachers are trying to convince themselves when they try to convince the world. Erhardt’s main message “you are already there. You don’t have to do anything more” is precisely what this form of the mutable dilemma needs, to relax the extreme workaholic drive of the Virgo (sign and house) and Capricorn (sign and house, with Saturn in its own house for further punch). As is the case with all religions, they fit some people and are very helpful; they are destructive for others. Erhardt’s message is constructive for heavy Virgo or Capricorn individuals. If taken seriously by someone who is mostly air and water, it could encourage a further retreat into the head to become a floater and spectator of life.
If Erhardt were almost all earth and water, we would not expect the leadership and drive he has demonstrated, though he does admit that he is not basically creative; he has borrowed from many other teachers and put together an eclectic blend of techniques for influencing human minds. But he does have more fire than appears at first glance. His Mars-Jupiter conjunction puts two fire planets in the strongest aspect, and Mars is also sextile the Sun. His Sagittarius Moon exactly on the Descendant shows some of the charismatic potential for tuning into others and swaying them. Also Mercury, the ruler of his Ascendant, is in the fifth (Leo) house, and other planets are there by progression, including the natural ruler, the Sun. Still another clue to his urge to go beyond convention and tradition (not typical of earth and water which prefer the status quo that is familiar and feels safer) is his Uranus conjunction to the Antivertex which seems to operate like an auxiliary Ascendant. It is definitely a chart of a person who lives in the head (mutable emphasis) but who is driven to get tangible results from his efforts (earth). Pluto conjunct the third house cusp further emphasizes the depth of mind. Neptune conjunct the Sun can be delusions of grandeur, fortunately held in check somewhat by the strong earth. Extreme forms of the mutable dilemma without the earth can be hopelessly scattered or even schizophrenic. The chart strongly suggests artistic talent or aesthetic appreciation, but I do not know enough of his personal life to know how this manifests. Note the Ceres in the fifth house, which can indicate a number of children. If my memory is accurate, he had four, but left them to pursue his vision. Like the rest of our missionaries, part of Erhardt’s lesson involves beliefs, faith, goals, values. Saturn rules his 9th house, is in Pisces, and Pisces is in the Saturn house. Despite all the earth, his aspirations may need to be grounded; his teaching should be taken with caution; but his primary theme is one I accept and teach myself—personal responsibility. As I prefer to phrase it: Character produces destiny. We create our own character in a series of lives. We can change our character and that changes our destiny. Change is a long slow process, like climbing a sand dune—two steps up and slide back one. But when we want to change, we can. Sometimes suffering fuels the desire. Always, self-knowledge helps us to see the situation more clearly and facilitates more effective change. And that is what astrology is all about.