Ursa Major: The Age of Aquarius and the Rise of Sarah Palin

13 12 2010

I did not intend to write about Sarah Palin’s natal chart. I intended to write about tribalism, fanaticism, disengagement from reality—basically, the age of Aquarius, de-hippiefied.  I intended to use her as an example of an irrelevant thing to which people wildly overreact, along with stuff like the Twilight saga or jeggings—you know, the kind of shit that inexplicably sends people into paroxysms of love or hate.

cat ladies love constipated-looking vampires

Pretty sure this cat is not a fan of Twilight.

I’m still planning to write that, by the way, but Ms. Palin’s chart is way too interesting for me to pass up a chance to examine it in detail.

Before I get into the analysis, I should acknowledge my strong personal bias against Ms. Palin. I disliked her (understatement) from the moment she popped up on the cultural radar. I was unimpressed (understatement ^2) by her speech at the Republican national convention, and my opinion of her worsened (understatement x infinity + 1) as time went on. Then the election happened, and I expected that she would sort of fade off into the distance. Instead, she became the Sarah Palin Phenomenon, whipping people everywhere into frothy lathers of devotion or contempt. Why does she inspire such fierce passions?

Q. Because she’s a supreme attention whore?

A. Don’t be fatuous, Jeffrey.

Sarah Heath Palin was born February 11, 1964 in Sandpoint, Idaho. In 2008, when she burst onto the national stage, astrologers scrambled to find her birth time; the times most often cited (4:40 PM and 9:43 PM) appear to have been based on nothing. In 2009, an article in the Winter edition of Sandpoint Magazine mentioned her birth time as 6:00PM. (This time may also be incorrect, but it is the best-sourced birth time available for Ms. Palin, so it’s the time I’m going to use. Most of the things covered here aren’t dependent on the time of birth, anyway.)

Ms. Palin is an Aquarius, but not  just any old Aquarius. She’s a frickin’ UBER AQUARIUS. She’s got the Sun and Moon there, which would be enough to make her an archetypal example of the sign, but there are three more planets there, too, for a total of five. That’s a lot of planets to have in one sign.

Moon and Mercury are conjunct in the early degrees, and Sun-Mars-Saturn are hanging out together in the later degrees. (The Sun-Mars-Saturn marks her as a fierce, ruthless competitor, hence ‘Sarah Barracuda’ —but there’s yet another level of Aquarius influence in her chart. Her Virgo Ascendant is conjunct Uranus, the modern ruler of Aquarius. Planets on the Ascendant, even minor ones, exert a tremendous influence on the native. So, her essence (Sun), emotional life (Moon), intellect (Mercury), passions (Mars), relationship to authority (Saturn), and her personality and purpose (Ascendant) are all Aquarian in nature.

Aquarius, peeing in the pool.

Q.  Wait a second. I thought Aquarius was some airy-fairy hippie sign that loves brotherhood and granola and freedom and whatnot. That does not sound like our Ms. Palin.

A. That’s because a bunch of New Agers were in charge of marketing the Age of Aquarius.  This is Aquarius, and so is this. Also this and this. Oh, and this.

Aquarius is an attractor for strange theories, radical ideas and mistaken identities, which only makes sense given that the sign is ruled by Uranus the Provocateur. New-Age types like the Rosicrucians first proposed the idea of the Age of Aquarius as an era of universal wisdom and love and sharing and telepathy with the Ascended Masters or the Space Brothers or whatever, when humanity would finally come together as one, blah blah, etc. And the flower children certainly helped usher that idea into popular culture. But if those early proponents of a peaceful Aquarian Age utopia had been more influenced by authoritarian, Old Testament wrath-of-God-type stuff, and less by Eastern mysticism and scientific progress, their vision of a perfect society would look more like Camazotz than Woodstock.


Based on this little pas de deux, Camazotz is looking pretty good right now.

Aquarius is possessed of an innate and eternal sense of dissatisfaction with The Way Things Are. That’s why it’s the sign of the inventor toiling obsessively in his workshop or lab to perfect his new creation, the pioneer creating a new life out on the frontier, and the revolutionary proposing a new paradigm for society. It’s an intellectual sign (in the sense of being mental rather than emotional, not in the sense of being especially smart) frequently attracted to radical philosophies and strongly associated with change on the micro and macro levels, but it’s also a fixed sign.

This fixed quality expresses itself in the tendency of Aquarius to insist that what it knows is all anyone needs to know, including what’s good for you, and if you’d only go along with the program, you’d see how right Aquarius was about the whole thing. Oh, and anyone who gets screwed in the implementation of these changes can suck it. In short, Aquarius wants to change things for the better, but is dismissive of outside input regarding what ‘better’ actually is. What’s right for Aquarius is right for everyone. As an added bonus, Aquarius is suspicious of, if not openly hostile to, any ideas that don’t fit in with its preferred paradigm. (I am not suggesting that everyone with their Sun or Moon in Aquarius is a self-righteous control freak, of course. But if you’ve got five planets there, I bet someone else has already suggested it about you. Just sayin’.)


The placement of Sun-Mars-Saturn in the 6th house of illness suggests that Ms. Palin serves a vital role in the healing crisis that must precede any real progress in the US, for better or worse. The 6th is also a populist house that represents the TEA Party archetype: people on the middle or lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder, who work hard, live by traditional values, and feel their voices have been stifled by those in power—Ms. Palin’s people.

Aw, come on–it’s just a joke. Besides, if loving Blazing Saddles is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Moving on…

A concentration of planets in one sign isn’t enough in itself to explain the public fascination with Ms. Palin. A look at the North Node reveals some clues. For one thing, it’s in the 11th house of large groups and social movements—ruled by (surprise!) Aquarius. The sign on the house is Cancer, the sign that rules homeland, family and tribal ties, fertility and childbirth, and just happens to be the Sun sign of the US. In fact, Ms. Palin’s North Node is closely conjunct the US Sun, a compelling indicator that the destinies of the country and the woman are linked in some way.

The node is squared by Jupiter and Venus, the greater and lesser benefics. This dynamic aspect is certainly the engine that powered the Palin Express; her rise to national prominence as a sort of ‘consort’ to a man who quickly became irrelevant to the story once she appeared. People didn’t vote for or against McCain in 2008, they voted for or against Palin or Obama.

And speaking of rendering male partners irrelevant, plenty of people talk about Ms. Palin as a serious choice for a 2012 presidential run, even though her husband Todd has in the past been a member of the secessionist Alaska Independent Party; this would seem to be a problematic association for the spouse of a serious Presidential candidate, but it seems to me that nobody refers to our mavericky mama grizzly as Mrs. Palin, know what I mean? If she were to run for president (something I don’t consider likely) it would be interesting to see how she’d handle questions about her husband—if anyone even bothered to ask them.

On the subject of mama grizzlies, check out the bear symbolism going on in her chart: Asteroid Kallisto is conjunct the North Node (and the US Sun, remember?), squared by asteroid Artemis. Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, childbirth, and of virgins and young girls. When Artemis discovered  that Kallisto, one of her attendants, had betrayed her and become pregnant by Zeus, she flew into a rage and turned Kallisto into a bear. Eventually, Zeus placed Kallisto in the sky as Ursa Major—the constellation that appears on the Alaskan flag.

Those stars TOTALLY look like a bear if you squint.

Unrelated to bears but in the same area of the chart, the dwarf planet Eris is hanging out with Venus, Jupiter, and Artemis. Eris is the goddess of strife (Roman ‘Discordia’), known for inciting envy and anger. Since nobody was in the mood to have crazy old Aunt Eris start shit at yet another family gathering, she was the only Olympian not invited to the wedding of  Peleus and Thetis. Eris found out about this—as  anyone who has ever watched a sitcom could have predicted—and was understandably miffed. So she tossed the golden Apple of Discord into the party and started an argument between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite over who was the fairest. They called upon Paris to settle their dispute. Hera offered him power, Athena offered wisdom and skill in battle, and Aphrodite offered the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris, of course, decided in favor of Aphrodite–again, as anyone who has ever watched a sitcom could predict. The most beautiful woman in the world was Helen of Troy, whom Paris stole from her husband Menelaus, igniting a war between the Greeks and the Trojans. So basically, the Trojan War started because of a party snub.


Apples: ruining parties for millenia.

The apple that Eris tossed was inscribed ‘To the Fairest’—in Greek, ‘Kallisti’. Which is one letter off from ‘Kallisto,’ the asteroid conjunct the North Node and square Artemis-Eris.

I just love stuff like this. I’ve got all these asteroids in my chart, and so do you. But the fact is, most of us don’t have them playing together and exerting influence on sensitive points, acting out the ancient archetypes the way they are here. This, to me, is what’s most interesting and illuminating about astrology—seeing the symbols at play with each other, weaving together a story told in the language of metaphor, like Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

There’s even more juicy symbolic stuff to consider—for example, the remarkable collection of strong and/or scary female archetypes hanging out at the bottom of the chart. Pallas (one of Athena’s titles) is the enlightened female warrior, fighting for justice. Juno is the consort or partner who goes rogue if she doesn’t feel sufficiently respected or taken seriously. Black Moon Lilith is bewitching, sexy, and sovereign unto herself, refusing to submit to male domination.

Witches of Eastwick

Can you spot the castration metaphor in this picture?

This intimidating trio of hot bitches is joined by the asteroids Medusa and Judith. Medusa was the Gorgon whose gaze turned men to stone. She was slain by Perseus, who cut off her head and used it as a weapon until he offered it to Athena, who placed it on her shield.

I kind of expected Athena to look a little more athletic, didn't you?

Snuggled almost exactly between Pallas and Medusa is Judith. The biblical Judith is a virtuous widow, the only Jew brave enough to act against Holofernes, a general of the king of Nineveh. Judith and her maid go to Holofernes’ camp, where Judith charms and seduces the general. Then, when Holofernes’ guard is down, Judith decapitates him and brings the head back to her countrymen, inspiring them to rise up and rout the king’s now leaderless troops. Judith herself returns to a life of obscure and virtuous widowhood after her daring deed, spurning all those who would court her.

Fun fact: images of Judith like this one were used by old-school courtesans to advertise dominatrix services.

As if that weren’t enough heads a-rollin’,  Judith is directly opposite Algol, widely considered ‘the most evil star in the heavens.’ It has also been called Lilith or The Gorgon’s Head. One of the many unfortunate things associated with this star is the loss of one’s head—weirdly enough, losing your teeth is another.

Born under a bad star.

A more modern take on this star is that it represents intense, all-consuming passion that lends a fearlessness about speaking out and standing up to power, no matter the price. Some modern astrologers (Bernadette Brady, for example) also associate Algol with certain aspects of modern feminism. (Some light reading about Algol, mass death, war, and messed-up heads here, if you’re morbid.)

This is a pretty potent bitches’ brew, and in my opinion, it’s the real source of our continued fascination with Ms. Palin. Her Aquarius planets help to make her a face of the current Zeitgeist, but it’s the badly behaved ladies in her chart that make her a lightning rod for controversy. These fierce feminine archetypes color Ms. Palin’s entire persona, and Western society has traditionally had a pretty complicated relationship with fierce females—especially ones that stir up subconscious ideas of decapitation and/or emasculation.

Of course I’m not saying Ms. Palin is about to go full Bobbitt on anybody, nor do I mean to imply that she’s destined to get her own head separated from her shoulders.  But she is one of the ‘heads’ of a populist movement that dovetails neatly with the birth pangs of the Age of Aquarius, and she could very well be one of the midwives that helps bring a new paradigm into being. (Whether that delights or terrifies is perhaps indicative of one’s own opinions of certain less docile and pretty aspects of womanhood.) Sarah Palin embodies a face of femininity long absent from our public pantheon—beguiling, perplexing, dangerous and contradictory, simultaneously ridiculous and terrifying, as befits one who so completely personifies the essence of Aquarius and the power of the dark feminine.




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