Ram Dass

Zip Dobyns

Richard Alpert, who took the spiritual name of Ram Dass after his conversion experience in India, was born in Boston, MA on April 6, 1931 at 10:40 A.M. according to his birth certificate. As discussed in the article on Applewhite, Ram Dass shares a cardinal cross with the rest of the cohort born in that year. Instead of having close to a “natural” zodiac like Applewhite, Ram Dass has most of his occupied signs in houses that create natural squares. That is, his Aries factors are in the Capricorn house, his Taurus factors in the Aquarius house, etc. Such combinations intensify the potential for conflict, but Ram Dass seems to have managed to handle the conflict reasonably well most of the time.

Following his acceptance of a Hindu guru, Ram Dass became a guru himself for the counter culture of the 1960s. He reportedly struggled with relationship issues, including sex, alternating between celibacy and bisexuality. Pluto’s conjunction with his Ascendant for many years of his life highlights the potential for tension. The first house calls for freedom while Pluto shows the desire for a mate. The first house seeks spontaneous action but Pluto demands inner analysis prior to action. Free self-expression confronts self-knowledge and self-mastery. The Aries emphasis, especially the tight Sun-Uranus conjunction in the sign, reinforces the urge to be both free and unique, not bound by cultural conventions in love (the Sun), close relationships (the lunar node), or career (the tenth house). Juno (the marriage asteroid) opposite Ceres (the parent asteroid) square Vesta in 6th house (the details of the job) and Jupiter in the 12th house (the search for the Absolute) repeat the theme of tension between the areas of home/family, career, and idealism.

Since both the first house and Pluto show a desire for personal control, when we add the stellium in Aries in the tenth house, the squares from the first house to the tenth house, and from Aries to Saturn in its own sign, the power issue is a major statement in the chart. The issue of self-will meeting the limits of self-will is as strong as I have ever seen it, but in the case of Ram Dass, he seems to have focused totally on personal freedom, resisting any control by others while avoiding trying to control anyone else. I suspect that many if not most individuals with such an intense power issue have had periods of trying to control others in order to assure their own freedom. The first house Mars adds to the emphasis on personal freedom, in addition to the Moon in Sagittarius and Venus (pleasure) in the house of Sagittarius. Sagittarius also reinforces the idealism, while Sagittarius in the 6th house and a Pisces MC connect it to the work. It is an appropriate chart for an unconventional guru, with the trine of Mercury to Neptune (shared by Applewhite and Jim Jones) testifying to the creative imagination and persuasive ability. As usual, the extra asteroids provide icing on the cake. Richard, the personal name asteroid for Ram Dass, is in 21 Pisces in the 9th house closely conjunct Urania for the unconventional spirituality and Icarus for the possibility of overdoing it.

I have very little information on the recent activity of Ram Dass, but heard that he had a stroke on February 19, 1997 while living in the Bay area near San Francisco. His left side was at least partly paralyzed but I understand that he is gradually improving. His chart is progressed to February 19, and I did his local houses for San Francisco. The latter will not be as exact as they would be if we knew his exact location, but they should be close and they have dramatic aspects. I was puzzled initially to find the P Moon in 25 Aries without obvious aspects to the traditional chart factors. For over a year, his P Moon had been aspecting his cardinal cross, and the emotional tension typically faced during such a period can often lead to a health crisis, especially if the individual is not fully aware of the inner conflict. The last months of 1996 would have been especially challenging when P Moon squared P Vesta, Saturn, and P Jupiter. Ram Dass had to integrate his idealism (Jupiter), with the limits of what is possible in the material world (Saturn, Vesta, Capricorn, tenth house where the Moon is placed), with personal freedom to do what he wanted (first house and Aries Moon), with emotional security (Moon), with peer relationships (seventh house). Mostly, the network of aspects involves the full cardinal dilemma, but Vesta adds the possibility of health issues and Jupiter brings in ideals. Eventually, I hope to find out what was happening in his life in late 1996.

Of course, when I checked some of the “extra” factors available in astrology, I found many contacts with the P Moon. It was conjunct the San Francisco Antivertex for Ram Dass, the midpoints of Sun/Mercury and Mercury/Uranus, and the Arabic Part of Saturn. The latter is calculated by adding the Ascendant to Saturn and subtracting the Sun. I interpret it as an auxiliary Saturn in the chart, carrying the same meaning as Saturn but less important. There were also several asteroids within one degree of the Moon: N Darwin (survival of the fittest) and N Attila (a famous warrior) plus P Urania (similar to Uranus) and P Belisana (a war goddess). The combination certainly fits a feeling of being in a life-and-death power struggle of some kind.

We expect a strong focus on Mars or other forms of letter one when someone has a stroke, so I was not surprised to find Ram Dass had his P MC, P Mercury, and P Phaethon square his P Mars and N Pallas. To repeat the message, the P north node of Mars was also there on P MC square P Mars. Completing a grand cross with these factors were the P midpoints of Saturn with the lunar nodes in Sagittarius and Pisces. Transiting Sun on the day of the stroke had just entered Pisces to join the grand cross in 0 to 1 degrees of the mutable signs. The pattern points to conflicts between ideals and what is possible or between different ideals, values, and goals. N Bacchus, the Roman version of Dionysus was also involved in 0 Gemini, to repeat the likelihood of an issue involving beliefs. In addition to the cross in mutable signs, N Mars in 1 Leo and N Aletheia (truth) in 1 Aquarius were connected to it with a variety of aspects. Plus, one more very important asteroid added to the focus on Mars. P Richard in 1 Taurus squared Mars and Aletheia. We are speculating when we try to guess what was happening. Something might have called in question the beliefs which had been guiding the life of Ram Dass. He might have felt that he was failing to live up to his own aspirations. He might have been disillusioned by the actions of others.

As mentioned above, the local house cusps in San Francisco were prominent. The natal local MC is 4 Aquarius and it was opposed by P Antivertex, P Hel (a death goddess), P Orpheus (whose love for his wife led to his death), and the quotidian Ascendant; all in 4 Leo. The quotidian angles circle the chart each year, so they travel about one degree a day. N Mercury in 4 Taurus and N Arabic Part of Mars in 4 Scorpio completed a grand cross in the fixed signs. (The Part of Mars is Ascendant plus Mars minus Sun.) The San Francisco quotidian Ascendant in 17 Gemini was octile N Mars. The P local MC in 7 Aries was conjunct Juno (which is like Pluto, signifying the need for a mate and the potential of endings among other meanings) and N Libitina (a death goddess) as well as opposite Ceres and P Eros. The opposition was turned into a T-square by N Dionysus, P local East Point, and P Icarus in 6 to 8 Cancer. The network hints at emotional excesses involving love and/or beliefs, and the message was reinforced by P Cupido and P Dionysus conjunct P local Ascendant in 22 to 23 Cancer opposing Saturn.

The close brush with death for Ram Dass was suggested by additional asteroids including P Osiris on the Ascendant along with Avicenna, a healer which can point to an individual who is a healer or who needs one. P Hela, another asteroid named for the same death goddess as Hel, was retrograding in 13 Scorpio trioctile the MC and East Point. P Libitina in 0 Taurus is moving into a square to N Mars. I am concerned about the latter part of this year, since P Sun is moving into a square to N Richard, Urania and Icarus while P Moon will conjunct P Richard and square N Mars. Since many progressed aspects remain in effect for two years or more, with the exception of the quotidian angles listed above, most of the aspects will last into 1998 or later. I’m sure a great many of the friends of Ram Dass are praying for his full recovery, and we can join their efforts.

Copyright © 1997 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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