Of all the oddities of the current Republican presidential nominating process, Dr. Ben Carson might be the oddest. A retired pediatric neurosurgeon, Carson’s phenomenal surge into a reliable second place finisher in most state and national polls can be explained only by his total lack of governmental experience or Washington connections (in other words, he’s completely unqualified and unprepared for the job). The soft-spoken, African American Carson, who is currently edging out Donald Trump for the lead in Iowa, certainly doesn’t seem a likely GOP contender, but he’s at the top of the pack, with establishment figures like former Florida governor Jeb Bush, current Ohio governor John Kasich and Florida Senator Marco Rubio in single digits, and others, like former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (himself a previous Iowa winner) and current Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal relegated to asterisk status.
What is Carson’s secret? From whence his appeal? Born in Detroit, Michigan to Robert and Sonya Carson, Ben Carson excelled academically, graduating from Yale University and receiving his medical degree from Michigan Medical School before completing his residency in neurosurgery at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University. Carson rose to head the pediatric neurosurgery department at the prestigious university by age 33, the youngest division director in the hospital’s history. Specializing in traumatic brain injury, Carson also became famed for the successful separation in 1987 of the Binder conjoined twins, joined at the head. He announced his retirement in 2013, declaring he wanted to “quit when I’m at the top of my game.”
There may be another reason for Carson’s 2013 exit, however. The widespread attention he received for controversial remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier that year, when he excoriated Barack Obama’s health care reform policies with the president sitting just ten feet away, may have excited his presidential ambitions. By October of that year, at the conservative Values Voters Summit, he upped the ante by describing the Affordable Care Act as “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” 2013 also saw the publication of his first politically-themed book (he had previously written an autobiography and several “self-help” manuals), “America the Beautiful”, followed in 2014 by “One Nation” and “One Vote”, and in 2015 by “A More Perfect Union”.
Carson is no stranger to controversy arising from expressing his opinions. Raised as a Seventh Day Adventist, a minor fundamentalist Protestant sect, Carson still espouses those views, including a literal, six-day creation of the world, characterizing himself as “proud” to “believe what God has said.” In a 2014 op-ed article, Carson argued that progressives have perverted the original intent of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, the source of the US tradition of separation of church and state, stating that the Founders never intended a “godless government”.
In a 2015 interview on “Meet the Press”, Carson expressed his views that having a Muslim as President and Commander in Chief of the US would be “inconsistent” with the “values and principles of America”, stating “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” His poll numbers shot up after the interview, bringing him within striking range of immigrant-basher and frontrunner Donald Trump.
A lifelong conservative, Carson switched his voter registration from Republican to Independent in the late ‘90s after witnessing what he described as the “hypocrisy” of Republicans impeaching Bill Clinton for an extramarital affair, but returned to the Republican fold in 2014, in a self-avowed “pragmatic move” preparatory to his presidential run. Carson’s political positions dovetail with most mainstream Republican candidates: pro-life, anti-decriminalization of marijuana (though he supports its medical use), a climate change denier, flat tax supporter, and uncommitted on the issue of raising the minimum wage.
Not surprisingly, Carson is also anti-marriage equality, and holds negative views of homosexuality generally, equating it with pedophilia and bestiality, describing the orientation as “absolutely” a “choice” and offering as proof the “fact” that “a lot of people go into prison straight, and when they come out, they’re gay.”
Somewhat more controversial to both sides of the debate is his stance on gun rights, where Carson attempts to split the baby. A firm supporter of the Second Amendment, he also endorses tighter controls on semi-automatic weapons in urban and high-crime areas, but has opined that more gun ownership by Germany’s Jewish population in the ‘30s and ‘40s might have forestalled Hitler’s Holocaust. Though admitting that using guns on innocent people is “horrible”, he cautioned this this “is not nearly as horrible as having a population that is defenseless against a group of tyrants who have arms. And that is what we have to bear in mind.”
On May 4, 2015, Carson announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, but was treated as an irrelevancy by the media until late summer, when he began consistently polling in the upper teens and low twenty percentiles, second in most polls behind frontrunner Donald Trump, who is about as antithetical in style as can be imagined from Carson’s measured, almost somnolent delivery. Strange bedfellows, indeed, but there may be an indication that the idea of a Trump/Carson ticket is being floated, as in October both campaigns colluded to blackmail CNBC into altering its debate rules to ensure their participation in the event, issuing a joint statement that the candidates would boycott the debate unless it was limited to two hours, and opening statements by the candidates were allowed. CNBC quickly complied.
Born 18 September 1951, Benjamin Solomon Carson’s time of birth is unknown, but enough can be seen in what information we have to give a useful astrological portrait of the candidate.
With the Sun at 24 Virgo, Carson is detail- and service-oriented, and a natural fit for a healing profession, something also borne out by a square from the Sun to Chiron at 27 Sagittarius. Chiron raised Asclepius, later the Greek god of medicine, and taught him his healing arts; he is also often associated with Virgo by modern astrologers, giving Carson a double dose of healing energy. Certainly the attention to detail conveyed by Virgo has been a prime asset in the delicate operations on tiny brains performed by Carson over the years, as well as his administrative abilities, in establishing Johns Hopkins’ pediatric neurosurgery department.
The Sun also squares the Galactic Center, at 26 Sagittarius when Carson was born. This contact always conveys a potential for global notice or attention at some point in the life, or at a minimum, dominance over one’s local sphere of influence, peers, etc. Like most people, Carson’s particular PNA points (Personal-Named Asteroids) intersect meaningfully with one of the Lights or the Ascendant. In this case, asteroids Benjamina and Carson are both sextile the Sun, Benjamina from 26 Scorpio and Carson exactly sextile from 24 Cancer.
There is also an intriguing Grand Trine with the Sun and PNAs Troemper and Whitehouse, at 24 Taurus and 18 Capricorn respectively, which technically becomes a kite pattern with the insertion of Benjamina, in opposition to Troemper. Both Troemper (the closest match to “Trump” in the asteroid world) and Whitehouse are within days of their stations; Whitehouse turned direct at 18 Cap just 8 days before Carson’s birth, while Troemper would turn retrograde on October 1, just 11 days after, at 25 Taurus. This signifies that both points exert a greater-than-typical pull on Carson’s psyche, and the linkage may be prophetic, if Carson either joins forces with Trump as his running mate or is denied the nomination by him. Regardless, these two factors will constitute major influences and episodes in Carson’s life, as is currently apparent.
Whitehouse also exactly squares natal Neptune at 18 Libra, an indication that Carson’s ambitions for the Oval Office may be just fantasy, and a source of disappointment, although this could also indicate a high level of support from fundamentalist Christians, which can be seen in his growing support in Iowa.
Although soft-spoken today, in his autobiography, Carson describes himself as having a violent temper in youth, once almost stabbing a friend during a heated argument. Both character traits are apparent in the nativity. Venus at 2 Virgo conjoins Mercury at 7 Virgo, the source of the mild-mannered, polite, soft-spoken verbal communication style. But Mars at 19 Leo is closely conjoined Pluto at 20 Leo, a volatile combination if ever there was one. Carson avers that he “cured” his anger management issues by turning to the book of Proverbs and adopting its advice about anger, stating that afterward he “never had another problem with temper.” But his career move into surgery doubtless channeled much of this explosive, potentially destructive energy into more positive forms of expression, with Mars the traditional ruler of surgeons and Pluto ruling regeneration at a cellular level.
Could Ben Carson ever occupy the Oval Office? It seems unlikely.
However, natal Saturn at 4 Libra is closely squared to asteroid Washingtonia at 3 Cancer, which could be a symbol that Carson is headed to DC for career reasons. Asteroid America at 22 Sagittarius is also squared the Sun, providing a strong point of connection and identification between Carson and the country, perhaps another reason why his message is resonating in conservative circles. We’ve already seen how asteroid Whitehouse figures into his nativity; with all three indicators of the US and its political system at sensitive points in Carson’s chart, a successful candidacy cannot be completely discounted, though it’s hard to see a clear path to the GOP nomination in practical terms, much less mounting a successful national run for president.
When Carson announced his candidacy on May 4, 2015, the skies reflected the moment ably. Transit asteroid Carson at 10 Pisces roughly squared transit Mercury (news, statements) at 4 Gemini, which was itself exactly trined Carson’s natal Saturn at 4 Libra. But Carson also conjoins transit Neptune at 9 Pisces, another indicator that the candidacy may be just an illusion or fantasy for Carson. There is an additional natal connection in transit Carson’s placement, opposing his natal Mercury (announcements) at 7 Virgo.
The Sun at 13 Taurus was exactly squared transit Jupiter, ruling politics, at 13 Leo that day, and Jupiter was traveling with a cluster of US-related points, asteroids Whitehouse, America and Washingtonia, at 11, 12 and 20 Leo respectively. But to be fair, that configuration dominated the entire spring season when most of the candidates made their dishonorable intentions known, so almost every campaign has this combination. In this case, however, Washingtonia was exactly conjoined Carson’s natal Pluto, indicating that his personal power could be augmented by a connection to the nation’s capital. Transit asteroid Benjamina at 18 Aquarius opposing that natal Pluto would convey much the same message.
Carson’s sudden surge in September 2015 may be related to the total Solar Eclipse at 20 Virgo on the 13th of that month, conjunct his Sun and bringing up that Grand Trine. The Lunar Eclipse two weeks later at 4 Aries exactly opposed his natal Saturn, emphasizing career matters. Eclipses highlight what they touch, giving Carson added personal visibility (Sun) key to his goals (Saturn). Transit Saturn’s entry into 2 Sagittarius, exactly squared his natal Venus, in mid-October 2015 coincided with his surpassing Trump in polls of likely Iowa caucus-goers, perhaps a sign that Saturn/Venus isn’t all bad.
Looking ahead, the March 23 Lunar Eclipse at 3 Libra conjoins natal Saturn, reprising the eclipse energies of the previous autumn, but the Solar Eclipse at 18 Virgo is too wide to reactivate his Sun, perhaps indicating that his moment will have passed by then. In April 2016 transit Pluto will come to its retrograde station at 17 Capricorn, just shy of Carson’s 18 Capricorn Whitehouse, which may be a case of “close, but no cigar.”
But Carson’s PNAs are prominent on Election Day 2016, with Benjamina at 15 Aries inconjunct the 16 Scorpio Sun for the event, and Carson at 15 Leo in tight square. Again, he shouldn’t be dismissed too lightly, but even the best stars in the cosmos can’t replace good, old-fashioned political savvy and preparedness, neither of which Carson seems to possess.