Jim Jones Revisited

Zip Dobyns

Soon after the Pisces issue of The Mutable Dilemma went to press, we received the recorded birth time of Jim Jones, as well as the birth data of two of his leaders who died with him. They make an interesting psychological study, and we are including the charts for your possible further exploration.

My “speculative” chart, based mostly on character and the progressed moon at the death in Guyana, proved to be fairly close to Jones’ actual birth time. Only Venus changed houses, from the 4th to the 3rd, so most of the psychological interpretation offered in the Pisces issue is relevant. The accurate time gives Capricorn rising and leaves us harder put to account for the religious interest described as present from Jones’ childhood. He does have the Ascendant in close grand trine to Neptune and Mercury, but the loss of the Sagittarius rising (that would link Jupiter in Cancer to identity) removes some of the potential for real idealism and empathy and leaves the ruthless power drives even more emphasized. The East Point is now closely conjunct Saturn while the Antivertex is just two degrees from the opposition to Mars. Mars on the Vertex has been noted often in lives which tend toward power struggles.

[Examples of the way planetary nodes can repeat a theme, in this case the cardinal dilemma:]

The relationships with others remain highly important, with the paranoid potential of Mars in the 8th house. The deep need for a mate is put in even sharper focus with Juno exactly on the 4th house cusp. We lost some of the strong transits to angles of the other speculative chart, but Uranus was square the local Ascendant in Guyana and Saturn was close to the opposition of the progressed East Point (which was opposite progressed Mars). The progressed Antivertex was quincunx natal Mars while progressed Ascendant was octile natal Uranus and tri-octile natal Jupiter. The chart is a good illustration of the need for everything to be involved for big events. One aspect is just not enough by itself. The local progressed MC was square the natal Moon and its nodes while the local progressed Ascendant was square the progressed Moon. Progressed Vesta had been opposite Jupiter for some time, and square natal Uranus, while Saturn had been opposite Pluto (both progressed).

Unfortunately, it is easy to get very involved in the astrological factors and to forget the psychological meanings which they symbolize. We must remind ourselves that the heavy Vesta-Saturn-Capricorn combination indicates someone capable of being so committed to his work that he forgets about other values in life, like love and compassion. We must remember that Aries is an essential part of our nature, representing our right and power to defend ourselves, and that it is only when it is carried to excess that we forget about the rights of others. We know that we can handle the tendency to feel as if our own power was in the hands of others (Mars in the 7th or 8th houses) by learning to compromise (share the power), to compete in healthy, open, constructive ways, and to help people. Jim Jones was trying to do the latter but he apparently never found a constructive competitive outlet and ended up trying to play God. The value of healthy competition is that we learn to lose some and to win some. Jim Jones was too insecure to risk ever losing, so in the end, he lost all. As was mentioned in the Pisces issue, the power struggle theme is present in both cardinal and fixed squares. The accurate Ascendant fits exactly into the wide Sun-Mars square, falling on their midpoint. The local Ascendant in Guyana is exactly quincunx Pluto. When a power struggle is a game, we can lose some of the time and build our strength and confidence in the process. When we lack the faith to risk losing, it can become a matter of life and death—quite literally.

We can see the lesson connected to faith with the south node of the moon in the 9th house and Jupiter in the heavy cardinal cross while Neptune, despite its trines, is also octile and tri-octile the cardinal cross. It was when Jones’ progressed Mars was conjunct Neptune that he began his fake cures in his tours, when people were paid to pretend that they had been ill and that he had cured them. A Mars-Neptune conjunction can say either “my life belongs to a higher power and my energy is given to its service,” or it can say “I am God and can do anything I want.” It is a very scary position to play God, to have to keep proving we can do anything while we know that the whole thing is fakery. Increasingly after that, Jones projected his fears of what an aroused society might do if they found him out, and he became more and more convinced that his own hostility was present in others and might be used against him. He went to wilder and more extreme lengths to convince himself of his total power, and when his back was to the wall, he ran away. Certainly the heavy drugs he was taking in his final months of life contributed to the final craziness, but drugs and the rest of the Neptunian escapism are simply the symptoms of a lack of faith in a higher power. He had to learn that he was not God and that his will was not Law (Saturn and Capricorn in the 1st house) and a good many other persons were also painfully learning that human beings are not yet God.

Both of the accompanying charts are of leaders who died in Guyana. The female born September 14 was actually an astrologer and one of the few who stood up to Jones when he went too far. Yet, at one time, she told her friends that she was convinced that Jones was actually Jesus Christ returned to earth. We can see the strong personal idealism with Pisces in the first house and Mars (natural ruler of the 1st) conjunct Jupiter. She was born just 9 months before Jones while the other leader was born 11 months later than Jones, and there are many configurations in common between the charts.

The female was a warm person, with her fire-water combinations. She had two daughters who died with her in Guyana though her friends are convinced that she would not have willingly committed suicide and that she was probably one of the ones who was forced to take the poison or was injected with it. She was a fighter for what she believed in, with a lesson in personal relationships with the south node of the moon in the 8th house (her marriage was a struggle and ended in divorce). Neptune in the 7th apparently symbolized two of its possible extremes. She expected too much of her husband and left the relationship. Then she projected the ideal on Jones and saw his human flaws too late. Saturn, as our primary clue to lessons in realism, in what we can do, what we can’t do, and what we have to do, suggests that she failed to learn the limits of human beings and did not realize that a society built on the power of one man was bound to end destructively. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and Saturn’s position in the 11th house was a reminder of the need for democracy and basic equalitarian principles in addition to the need for objectivity, the air principles. We need faith, but we also need a clear, reasoning mind, to see people as they are.

The chart of the male, born April 13, 1932, also emphasizes idealism with the Aries stellium in the 9th house, Jupiter rising conjunct the Ascendant, and Neptune in the 1st house. It is even more dominated by fire and water, showing an emotionally intense person who was driven to find his version of ultimate truth and then to spread that vision to the world. His Saturn lesson gives us the same message as did the female chart. In an earth house, it is a lesson in realism and practicality. In Aquarius, it is a lesson in objectivity and democratic principles. His south node of the moon is in an earth sign and house, again emphasizing the need to be more practical in his aspirations and his handling of the world. His Cancer-Aries squares indicate an intense freedom-closeness dilemma, in addition to a conflict in values which could be between head and heart—clearly formulated principles vs. emotional yearning for total absorption. Despite his obviously keen mind with Mercury conjunct Uranus and trine Jupiter and Ascendant the overwhelming emotion of the fire and water obviously won over the reason. It seems tragic that two such caring and idealistic people could be lost to the world for lack of a little common sense and realism, but if we accept the continuity of life, as I do, they learned the hard way, and will have other opportunities to give their special gifts to the world.

P.S. As some of you know, an ephemeris of Chiron is now available from Malcolm Dean in Toronto, Canada. Any initial work with a newly discovered planetary body must be highly tentative, checking its position in charts of individuals where the character is understood, and watching its aspects at the time of major events. It is also possible to take the nature of the mythical god for which the planet or planetoid is named as a possible clue to the meaning of the body. So far, the astronomers who have discovered new celestial objects have given them appropriate names. In mythology, Chiron became the constellation of Sagittarius, so our first hypothesis would test it as a key to letter nine; faith, religion, teaching, writing, healing, and general spirituality, or the search for meaning in life. I was a bit surprised when Jones turned out not to have Sagittarius rising, in view of the commitment he made to religion in his early life. I was more than a little excited to find that his natal Chiron was conjunct his natal Sun, and that it was exactly on his Sun by progression for about the last 8 years of his life; the time when he moved into power in San Francisco and began the development of Jonestown in Guyana. Chiron also provided another link with the charts of his leaders. The Male had his natal Chiron closely conjunct Jones’ natal Sun, while the Female had her natal Chiron on Jones’ Chiron. Both looked to him for spiritual leadership, with his close Sun-Chiron aspect.

That his aspirations toward spiritual leadership might be misdirected, or that his own actions might somehow conflict with his spiritual goals, was suggested by the Ascendant tri-octile to Chiron. In Guyana, the statement was even clearer; Chiron was square the local Ascendant within a one degree orb. Jupiter, the traditional key to Sagittarius, was tri-octile the midpoint of MC and Ascendant, and quincunx the local Ascendant. A conflict of letter one and letter nine warns of action against one’s better judgment or that interferes with the attainment of desired goals. It can also mean lack of faith in the self or in a higher power, or conflict between the two.

One more piece of the puzzle is symbolized by Chiron’s placement in Jones’ house of the mother, along with his Ceres in the 9th house. Both suggest a religious or idealistic mother, or that the mother in some way was an important influence on the child’s religious ideas and beliefs. One of the accounts of Jones’ life described the mother as having a conviction that her son was destined to be a world savior; a conviction which she shared with her son. Her death preceded his by just over a year, and his last words were to call out to her that he had tried.

Copyright © 1979 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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