AUGUST 2008 GALACTIC
by Alex Miller-Mignone
On 20 May 2008, it was announced that the “Lion of the Senate,” Edward “Ted” Kennedy, had a malignant glioma, a type of cancerous brain tumor. Kennedy, the Senate’s second longest serving member, is the brother of assassinated leaders President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Senator Robert F. Kennedy. He has been a liberal icon from the turbulent ‘60s and a lightning rod for conservative opponents for more than 40 years. Although typical treatment for this cancer involves radiation and chemotherapy, with a best-case prognosis of at most three years’ survival, not surprisingly Kennedy opted for a more daring approach—surgery to remove the tumor. The operation was performed on June 2 and pronounced successful.
Born 22 February 1932, Kennedy is the child of Prohibition bootlegger Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and longsuffering saint Rose Fitzgerald. He is the youngest of their four remarkable sons. Expelled from Harvard in 1951 for cheating, Kennedy served two years in the U.S. Army before returning to Harvard to graduate in 1956. In November 1958, while earning a law degree from the University of Virginia, he married his first wife, Joan Bennett, shortly after managing older brother John’s successful Senate re-election campaign. The couple have three children, including US Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), and were divorced in 1982, following Kennedy’s failed 1980 presidential campaign. He married his second wife, Victoria Reggie, in 1992; the couple live in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
When John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960, his vacated Senate seat was intended for Ted, but Ted would not be old enough to hold the office until his thirtieth birthday in February 1962. Jack Kennedy asked then Massachusetts Governor Foster Furcolo to appoint an interim senator, family friend Benjamin A. Smith II, to fill the seat until Ted could qualify for a special election in 1962, which he duly won. He has been in the Senate ever since.
Kennedy serves as the Chairman for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and is also Chair for the Immigration Subcommittee on the Judiciary Committee and the Seapower Subcommittee on the Armed Services Committee. He is trustee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The 1960s were a decade of phenomenal success and overwhelming tragedy for the Kennedys. In addition to the assassination of his two elder brothers, in 1963 and 1968, Ted was himself involved in a plane crash in 1964, resulting in the death of the pilot and an aide. Pulled from the wreckage by Indiana Senator Birch Bayh, Kennedy suffered crushed vertebrae, broken ribs and a punctured lung, which required months of hospital and recovery time. Then, in the summer of 1969, came Chappaquiddick.
On July 18, 1969 Ted Kennedy and several married male friends, including his cousin, lawyer Joe Gargan, attended a party at Martha’s Vineyard in honor of six young female staffers who had been pivotal in RFK’s campaign, and who had shut down the campaign offices after his assassination. After the party, Kennedy offered to drive Mary Jo Kopechne, one of the staffers, to catch the last ferry to Edgartown. Kennedy was reportedly spotted by an off duty Deputy Sheriff driving erratically, on a route which did not lead directly to the ferry, and at about midnight drove his car off the Dike Bridge into a channel between Chappaquiddick Island and Martha’s Vineyard.
Kennedy, a strong swimmer, escaped the car, but Mary Jo Kopechne drowned in the submerged vehicle. Kennedy later testified that he tried several times to dive to rescue Kopechne, but was unable to reach her, at which point he walked back to the cottage where the party had been held, passing several homes en route without seeking help. He did not mention the incident to any of the other guests, but went straight to Gargan; they did not telephone police, but returned with a third man to the scene of the accident. Their further attempts to reach Kopechne were unsuccessful, and Kennedy was driven to the ferry dock where, having missed the last boat, he swam back to his hotel in Edgartown. No one that night or in the morning notified authorities, until fishermen discovered the car, and, fearing the Senator had also been drowned, a search was begun. Kennedy, who was rumored to have been drunk the night before, was found at his hotel, and initially denied any knowledge of the incident. Charged with leaving the scene of an accident, he received a two month suspended jail sentence. Since the death of his brother Bobby the previous year, Ted had been spoken of as the “carrier of the torch” for the Kennedy legacy, but this scandal extinguished the flame of his presidential ambitions for a full decade.
In 1979 he announced his challenge for the Democratic nomination against unpopular incumbent President Jimmy Carter. The announcement was met with excited enthusiasm, but the subsequent intervention of the Iranian hostage crisis boosted Carter’s support within the Party, and Kennedy bowed out of the race after winning 10 primary contests to Carter’s 24, though he refused to release his delegation until the convention, where he famously avoided shaking Carter’s hand. The Chappaquiddick incident still haunted him, with political opponents invoking the Simon & Garfunkel hit “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” to remind voters of the scandal.
During his 45 years in the Senate, Kennedy has lent his name and support to what Time magazine in 2006 termed “a titanic record of legislation affecting the lives of virtually every man, woman and child in the country,” including much bipartisan legislation, such as the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Act of 2005. He was instrumental in the passage of the controversial No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. He supports gun control, same-sex marriage rights, and abortion rights (although he was avowedly pro-life before the 1973 Roe v Wade decision made abortion on demand legal in the US). He opposes drilling in ANWR, the war in Iraq, and the use of torture at Guantanamo Bay and other US installations, as well as the Bush administration’s policies on domestic spying. In his work on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has opposed the nominations of Robert Bork, William Rehnquist, David Souter, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, voting to confirm Thurgood Marshall, Warren Burger, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy (no relation), Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer.
On 28 January 2008, Kennedy, who had remained carefully neutral in the Democratic primary process, endorsed Barack Obama. He was joined in the endoresment by his niece Caroline, JFK’s daughter, and his son Patrick. Kennedy was reportedly angered by Bill Clinton’s race-based remarks following Obama’s win in South Carolina, prompting him to enter the fray. The occasion broke precedent, not only with Caroline’s endorsement, the first she has ever publicly given, but also when Kennedy alluded in very personal terms to his brother John’s 1960 candidacy. Many saw this as a passing of the Kennedy torch to a new generation.
On May 17, 2008, Kennedy was admitted to Cape Cod Hospital after suffering two seizures that appeared to be strokes. Further testing led to the diagnosis of malignant glioma on 20 May. On 2 June Kennedy underwent a three and a half hour operation at Duke University Hospital to remove the tumor. He was awake for the proceeding so doctors could test his speech and cognitive functioning, as the tumor rested in an area of the brain governing those functions. The operation was pronounced successful, but may not extend Kennedy’s life for more than a few additional months. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments began shortly after at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Born 22 February 1932, Edward Kennedy’s 2 Pisces Sun tightly squares the Black Hole at 3 Sagittarius, giving us the image of a compelling, magnetic personality that is nonetheless secretive and opaque to some extent. Able to assume alternate personas at will, Kennedy has the larger-than-life image common to brothers Jack and Bobby, both of whom share Black Hole Suns. Focused and driven, Black Hole Sun is capable of drawing others into its orbit almost effortlessly, for good or ill. It can be susceptible to others’ projections to an inordinate degree, to the extent that the individual becomes lost in what he or she represents, a victim of their own personal magnetism and charm.
Mercury and Mars conjunct at 28 Aquarius, also conjoined a Black Hole at 27 Aquarius and the Sun, define him as a spokesman (Mercury), leader and fighter (both Mars) for progressive (Aquarius) causes. Black Hole Mercury can be a persuasive and eloquent speaker, and Kennedy is known for the power of his rhetoric on the Senate floor. It is also capable of seeing both sides of an issue, indicating Kennedy’s record as a collegial member inclined to bipartisan compromise, despite his reputation as a pugilistic (Mars) advocate (Mercury).
Black Hole Mars has a distinct temper, and Kennedy’s often gruff manner and harsh, rasping tones reflect this placement. Black Hole Mercury may chose its words with care for nuance and connotative effect, but however precisely chosen, Mars here will make them sound more confrontational and aggressive than intended. This combination can also attract violence and tragedy, often under bizarre or seemingly preternatural or fated circumstances. Again, both Kennedy’s brothers have the same combination, all three siblings with Mars just two degrees from a Black Hole. This pairing also reflects the automobile (Mercury) death (Mars) which so blighted Kennedy’s ambitions, and deprived Mary Jo Kopechne of her life.
Venus at 12 Aries opposes a Black Hole at 13 Libra and the USA Saturn, representing the presidency, at that same degree. Women and romantic involvements (both Venus) can be an Achilles heel with this placement, and his first wife Joan’s alcoholism, prompted in part by Kennedy’s rumored infidelities, combined with the Chappaquiddick incident, worked to frustrate Kennedy’s deep desire (Venus) for the Oval Office (USA Saturn). Failed marriages and numerous affairs are common with this placement, but so is the finding later in life of a true and stable love, which appears to be the case with his second marriage. Uranus conjunct Venus from 16 Aries reiterates the inability to respect the limitations and boundaries imposed upon him by conventional marriage, and conveys a restless, uninhibited romantic nature, unconcerned with observing proprieties and inclined to shock others with its amorous conduct.
Jupiter at 15 Leo conjoins a Maser at 13 Leo and squares the Black Hole at 16 Taurus and a Pulsar at 14 Scorpio. Kennedy’s moniker of the “Lion of the Senate” is ably portrayed by Jupiter in Leo, his mane of now grey hair one of his defining features. Jupiter on a Maser can be problematic for a politician, combining controversy and ambition, and Kennedy’s often fractious, combative relationship with the press is seen in the confrontational square to the media-related Pulsar. The square to the Black Hole indicates sudden reversals of fortune, as with the deaths of his brothers and Chappaquiddick, but can also accrue vast amounts of political clout and power. At barely 30, Kennedy was one of the youngest members ever to enter the Senate, and if he survives to finish his current term in 2012, will have kept a tight grip on that power for 50 years. The combination can also suggest sudden and complete reversals of political or philosophical views, as when Kennedy reversed his pro-life position in the aftermath of Roe v Wade.
Saturn at 29 Capricorn conjoins a Pulsar at 28 and the USA Pluto at 27, as well as opposing a Black Hole at 28 Cancer and squaring another at 28 Libra. Saturn on a Pulsar indicates excessive media attention in career matters, and Kennedy and his family have always been fodder for the tabloids. The contact with Black Holes reinforces the unattainable nature of his ultimate career goal, the presidency, withheld despite the application of the Black Hole Sun’s considerable magnetism and all the energy Black Hole Mars can muster. Saturn with Black Holes can also indicate increased family or parental responsibilities, and after the untimely deaths of his two brothers, Kennedy established himself as a surrogate father figure for his 13 orphaned nieces and nephews, and has been the undisputed patriarch of the Kennedy clan for more than 40 years. Saturn’s placement on the USA Pluto reflects all three of his Senate chairmanship positions, involving pensions, armed forces, and immigration, and is a secondary indicator of the denial of his hopes for the presidency.
Neptune at 6 Virgo opposes the Sun and exactly conjoins a Black Hole. Alcohol abuse has been a frequent problem for Kennedy and his intimates, including his first wife; with Neptune on a Black Hole the attraction for and addiction to consciousness-altering substances is very strong indeed. Neptune’s connection with water describes in part not only the Chappaquiddick incident, so pivotal in his career, but also the active seaside lifestyle he has always gravitated to, with his beachfront Cape Cod compound and yachting a frequent pastime. There is a difficulty in seeing oneself clearly with this placement, but also a certain glamour conferred, that indefinable something which we have termed “the Kennedy mystique.” JFK and RFK also shared exact Neptune/Black Hole contacts.
Pluto at 20 Cancer opposes the Black Hole at 19 Capricorn. Personal ambition is strong with this placement, but often operates subconsciously, with the native making self-defeating choices which frustrate his desires. It can also be a magnet for scandal and secrets, and others may see the native as overbearing or controlling and manipulative.
Transits for the Chappaquiddick incident are very telling. The Sun (representing Kennedy himself and the life force) and Neptune (water) are in an exact trine from 26 Cancer, within the event horizon, or orb of influence, of a Black Hole (dramatic reversals, sudden unexpected shifts) at 28 Cancer to 26 Scorpio, conjoined a Quasar (manifestation, actions in the limelight) at 27 Scorpio (death, scandal). The 26th degree also ties directly to Kennedy’s natal Nodal Axis at 26 Pisces/Virgo, indicating this as a fated moment for the Senator.
Neptune is also broadly conjunct Mars (accidents, death) at 2 Sagittarius, itself conjoined a Black Hole and exactly squared Kennedy’s natal Sun at 2 Pisces. Further, transit Neptune is within two degrees of an exact square to the natal Mercury (cars)/Mars (accidents, death) conjunction atop the Black Hole at 28 Aquarius. Venus at 12 Gemini is exactly sextile natal Venus at 12 Aries, bringing out that opposition to the Black Hole and the USA Saturn, while Pluto at 22 Virgo is exactly conjunct the South Node for the day, describing both the death itself and the brake on Kennedy’s power which would result. Saturn (career) at 8 Taurus is conjoined the controversy-provoking Maser at 7 Taurus, while an exact conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus at 0 Libra points to the sudden shock (Uranus) to his political ambitions (Jupiter). Asteroid Martha, for Martha’s Vineyard, at 8 Virgo, conjoined a Black Hole and lay in exact trine to the day’s Saturn, as well as resting atop Kennedy’s natal Neptune at 6 Virgo. And most startling, asteroid Mary, for Mary Jo, appears at 26 Pisces, exactly filling in a Grand Trine in Water Signs with the transit Sun and transit Neptune.
Pluto (cancer) and Mercury (the brain) have been interacting with unfortunate results in recent months. Transit Pluto’s retrograde station of March 2007 fell at 28 Sagittarius, conjoined a Pulsar and in exact sextile to the natal Mercury/Mars/Black Hole combination at 28 Aquarius, a degree which was repeated as recently as December 2007. The gestation of the tumor would have occurred somewhere within this period, propelling Kennedy into an alternate universe (Black Hole) of health concerns; when the story broke, it was very big news (Pulsar) indeed. This degree will be repeated with Pluto’s upcoming direct station, late July through late October, a period which may well be crucial in Kennedy’s recovery or relapse. On the day of the diagnosis, 20 May 2008, transit Mercury at 20 Gemini was in exact semisextile to natal Pluto at 20 Cancer, with the transit Sun at 29 Taurus just past the square to natal Mercury/Mars, providing triggers to both points of significance in the birth chart. The Lunar Eclipse of 16 August 2008 at 24 Aquarius will also highlight the Mercury/Mars conjunction, and may prove a turning point in the disease’s progress.
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.
His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at Alixilamirorim@aol.com.