We have not had a challenge corner in some time, and unlike most of our previous challenges, this one does not involve twins. The chart is of a male child born in 1985, but the birth data is not included to protect the identity of the family. I acquired the data when I attended the ISAR conference in Chicago and then stayed on for my 50th college reunion at the University of Chicago. The child was born with problems which I would not have anticipated if I had attempted a “blind” analysis of the chart. Normally, we include the relevant charts after the individuals have been discussed. In this case, to give readers a chance to test their skills before reading about the boy, we are printing the horoscope first. If you have time, study the chart and make some notes on how you would interpret it and what you would say to the child’s parents if they had come to you for counseling. For convenience, we will call him Ted.
Prior to getting the details on Ted’s problem, I would have anticipated a bright child who might be pulled between his vulnerability to other people with his first house Libra and Scorpio, his need to control his own world and do what he pleased with the strongly occupied first and second houses, and his need to excel at what he did with his Virgo emphasis and a tight Vesta-Saturn conjunction. The emphasis on mutables and air should indicate above-average intelligence, especially with Jupiter in Aquarius trine the Ascendant and the close opposition between Uranus and Chiron in the Gemini-Sagittarius signs and houses. Much of Ted’s chart is a reverse zodiac with many of his occupied signs in houses which are their opposites in the natural zodiac: Libra in the Aries house, Virgo in the Pisces house, etc.
Mars and Venus in the eleventh house, especially with Venus in Leo, added to the Libra, Sagittarius, and Aquarius, should indicate someone who likes people and is mostly sociable and outgoing though the first house Juno and Pluto and the twelfth house Virgo suggest a need to also have some alone time. The Scorpio shows a strong will and tenacity, but the mutable and air emphasis should temper this with adequate flexibility. An emotionally expressive mother is suggested with the Moon in Sagittarius and Ceres in Leo. The Sagittarius and Jupiter in the fourth house suggest intelligent or idealistic or idealized parents, but Saturn conjunct Vesta is often a sign of some estrangement from the father or other authority figures. Saturn and Vesta also square Venus, ruler of the Ascendant, but they are in the natural house of Venus and sextile the Sun-Mercury conjunction so the chart does not suggest crisis or catastrophe. Ceres also squares the lunar nodes, and the placement of both Ceres and the Moon in earth houses would fit a mother who works outside the home, whether because of financial need or to express her own fire need for independence and variety in her life.
Individuals with Mars in Virgo can sometimes be overly self-critical, and with it in the eleventh house they can be vulnerable to peer criticism, but Mars is sextile the first house Pluto, sextile/trine the lunar nodes, and quincunx Jupiter, aspects which would normally indicate adequate self-confidence. However, despite the indications of intelligence, I have often found Capricorn in the third house to be a sign of intellectual self-doubt. Individuals with that placement often have to prove to themselves that they are bright before they believe it.
Neptune in the third house suggests an active imagination though its earth sign will tend to ground it to some degree. It is sextile Pluto and trine Venus, and, more widely, Mars. It also participates in an “out-of-sign” T-square with Sun-Mercury and Pallas with all factors in mutable houses and all except Neptune in mutable signs. Normally, mutable conflicts are keys to individuals with too many talents and interests and a danger of scattering their efforts, or they warn against perpetual discontent if our ideals are always in conflict with what is possible. Since Pluto in its own sign and Saturn conjunct Vesta are among the most one-pointed (non-scattered) combinations in astrology, I would expect Ted to manifest the frustrated idealist form of the mutable dilemma. I have sometimes seen conflict aspects involving Pallas and mutables in people who have problems in seeing patterns, dyslexia, mirror vision, etc.
Summing up, if I were just handed Ted’s chart, I would expect him to be a pretty normal kid with above average intelligence, a strong need for other people but also a strong desire to control his own action, considerable artistic talent which might eventually manifest in writing, and the potential for doing something outstanding with his life if he finds an appropriate outlet for that Saturn-Vesta tunnel vision and dedication.
Some day, Ted may manifest all of that potential, but his early life was dramatically different. He refused (?) to walk, talk, or even feed himself. At age three he was described as totally in a shell, not responding to anything unless he wanted something and then he would scream until he got it. He was still being carried like a baby since he refused to walk, was in a diaper and being bottle-fed. Psychologists diagnosed him as borderline autistic, yet in a nonverbal test at age four he scored at the level of age six. Ted did the repetitive self-stimulation which is often characteristic of autistic children. He would play with string, line up toy cars in a row, and imitate cartoon motions he saw on TV. But he resisted changes, bit people who approached him against his will, and seemed to live in a perpetual state of anger.
Ted’s parents are separated but his father remains concerned and in contact and provides child support. His mother is a nurse and Ted has been cared for by a series of live-in domestics who were unable to handle him. Near his third birthday, a care-taker was finally found who was sufficiently strong to challenge Ted’s total refusal to cooperate with the world. Under her loving but very firm guidance, Ted is now toilet trained, walking, feeding himself, and starting to talk. He is even starting to respond to praise which is a milestone for him. He loves water, collects rocks, and has learned that screaming no longer gets him what he wants. Ted’s chart is a good example of astrology’s ability to see psychological issues but not to specify the details of the life which depend on the individual’s choices. Ted used his powerful will and his ability to scream to control his world on his own terms, making the world carry him, feed him, clean him and give him what he wanted. The only remotely comparable chart which I recall was one with all of the planets grouped in the twelfth to the third house, with the majority in the first and second houses. The subject was a middle-aged woman who described herself as completely shut off from the world and miserable. She said she had had nothing but pain from the world and that she had given up trying to relate to it.
We can wonder what kind of past Ted came from? He has some fascinating asteroids along with planetary nodes and midpoints. His Ascendant is conjunct Calvinia, Hiroshima, the south node of Mercury, and the midpoint of Mercury/Pluto. Calvin was an early leader of the Protestant reformation who broke from the Catholic Church to create a theocracy which controlled the social and cultural lives of individuals to the smallest details. A fellow Protestant who sought refuge with Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland but who did not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, was tried as a heretic and burned at the stake by Calvin. Hiroshima was named for the city destroyed by the first atomic bomb used in war. The south node of Mercury suggests a lesson involving the intellect, the ability to be logical, objective, and able to accept other people as equals. The Mercury/Pluto midpoint could show a need to integrate the logical, accepting potential of Mercury with the intense, emotional need to control of Pluto.
Recha, a possible key to religious tolerance or a need for it, is on N Ceres in Ted’s tenth house of career. Swedenborg, an iconoclastic religious leader whose followers founded a new church based on his teachings, is on Ted’s N Mercury along with Ate, a Greek goddess considered the personification of evil. Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, is on Ted’s N Sun. Ted’s East Point is on his name asteroid along with Tezcatlipoca and Santa. Tezcatlipoca was named for the Aztec god of war who demanded human sacrifices while Santa is the Spanish version of saint. Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order of the Catholic Church, is conjunct Hel, Norse goddess of death, and square Mars. Ignatius, the first name of Loyola, squares Ted’s N Ascendant. Vaticana, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, is octile Ted’s Uranus in Sagittarius, the sign of organized religion and trioctile his Chiron, which is equivalent to Jupiter, the ruler of Sagittarius. Vaticana is also octile Berna, the capitol of Switzerland, and Karma, the consequences of the past, as well as trioctile the midpoint of Mercury/Mars. Like Mercury/Pluto, Mercury/Mars can point to an area where dogma confronts objective ideas. Swissair, named for the country’s national airline so related to the country and/or air travel, is square Neptune. Hidalgo, named for the Catholic Priest who led the first Mexican revolution, is on Uranus.
In addition to the asteroids related to religion and some relevant midpoints which have been mentioned, there are many more midpoints which suggest an issue involving air (logic, objectivity, acceptance of other people and their ideas) versus personal will and control (Mars-Pluto-Saturn and Vesta when the individual has made a commitment). Like the asteroids, midpoints are especially important when they conjunct the traditional astrological factors. Mercury/Saturn and Mercury/Vesta are on Ted’s Juno which is like another Pluto. Mercury/Uranus (double air) is on Pluto. Pluto/Moon is on Saturn/south lunar node, connecting a major lesson to security needs and emotional habits from the past. Uranus/Pluto is on the Moon. Pluto/Ceres is on Mercury.
Though I believe in the continuity of life, that we start a current life as a collection of habits from the past, trying to guess the details of that past is speculation which can never be proved. But I am really tempted to guess in this case. I suspect that Ted was a dogmatic, perhaps ruthless religious leader who opposed the Catholic Church during the reformation. He might have been Calvin himself. It would be interesting to see Calvin’s chart, to compare the two. How would someone react if he finally realized, after several hundred years in “our” time, that his dogmatic beliefs were not the “whole truth” about life and God? Accepting that one has been mistaken will not wipe out ingrained habits of dogmatism, of forcing others to conform to what we believe is God’s will made manifest through us. Pervasive anger is also a likely consequence in a dogmatic person who has to give up the beliefs which have formed the foundation of his life.
The Saturn-Vesta conjunction signals the capacity for total focus. It is found in people who are outstanding, but they can range from great healers to monsters. Jim Jones and Jeffrey Dahmer are in the latter category. A superb healer and a man with dramatic psychokinetic power are in the former. Let us hope that Ted’s current care-taker can continue to guide him toward his positive potentials.