The political world was rocked to its core on Saturday, 13 February by the unexpected death of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, on vacation at a hunting lodge in west Texas. Coming less than a year before the end of President Obama’s second term, the death has taken an already tense and divisive election year atmosphere and ramped up the negativity and partisan bickering to F5 shitstorm status.
Within 15 minutes of Obama’s live announcement to the nation of Justice Scalia’s passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the airwaves to state that the president needn’t bother nominating Scalia’s successor, as the Senate would not be performing its Constitutionally-mandated confirmation duties until after the next president is inaugurated.
The GOP chattering classes were quick to point out that the last time a president nominated and confirmed a Supreme Court Justice in his final year was 80 years ago—an impressive statistic, until one realizes that 60 of those years weren’t election years, and the circumstance simply hadn’t arisen in the remaining 20 years. (Technically, Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, was confirmed in 1988, Reagan’s final year in office, but he was nominated in 1987, after Reagan’s first choice, Robert Bork, had been torpedoed by Senate Democrats.)
Setting aside for a moment the character and jurisprudence of Antonin Scalia (a firm, not to say “rabid”, conservative), his passing, and the possibility of a liberal replacement to his seat on the bench, has thrown Republican circles into near panic mode, as their histrionics demonstrate. For decades a comforting conservative bloc on the court has ensured 5/4 conservative victories in most cases, and the prospect of flipping that slim majority into a 5/4 liberal advantage has sent GOP pundits into paroxysms of paranoia, which the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination have gleefully supported.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, running second in most polling, has even averred that the addition of a liberal justice to the court will result in the abolishing of Americans’ Second Amendment rights (how the ultra-liberal Warren Court left this undone in the ‘60s remains a mystery).
But let’s forget about the political ramifications of Scalia’s passing, and look at it for what it is—a death. Unfortunately, as curious astrologers, we have no time of death (Scalia was found dead in his bed by the resort’s owner after he failed to appear at breakfast, having died quietly sometime in the night), but we do have a confirmed birth time, and that helps a lot.
Born 11 March 1936 at 8:55 PM EST in Trenton, NJ (Rodden rating AA), Antonin Scalia had a Pisces Sun, a Scorpio Moon, and a Libra Ascendant. On its face, there is nothing there to suggest an extremely conservative mindset. In fact, we might expect him to be somewhat “squishy” or unformed in his opinions (Pisces), interested in fairness and evincing difficulty in making decisions (Libra), and secretive of his views, reluctant to go public with them (Scorpio).
But when we dig a little deeper, we see that Saturn, arbiter of conservatism, conjoins the 21 Pisces Sun from 13 Pisces; the Ascendant at 26 Libra closely squares Pluto, the planet ruling entrenched power, at 25 Cancer; and the 3 Scorpio Moon exactly opposes detached Uranus at 3 Taurus, a pairing which can effectively counterbalance any pesky feelings of compassion the Moon may ordinarily generate. So perhaps Scalia’s inveterate, impassioned conservative stance isn’t all that hard to explain after all.
That he was destined for a life in the judiciary seems obvious. In addition to a tight square between the Sun and Jupiter (ruling the courts) at 23 Sagittarius, Scalia’s nativity sports several secondary factors which peg him as a likely federal court nominee. A pairing of asteroid Themis, named for the Greek goddess of justice, at 16 Leo and Washingtonia, stand-in for the nation’s capital, at 14 Leo prefigures both Scalia’s rise to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in 1982, and his promotion to the Supreme Court in 1986, where he served for nearly 30 years, the longest-serving member of the current court.
Perhaps more importantly, asteroid Justitia, named for Themis’ Roman counterpart, and from where we derive the very word “justice”, was stationary at 15 Cancer at his birth, a still point in the heavens upon which the destiny of the chart revolves. Justitia turned direct just two days before Scalia’s birth, and incredibly, the asteroid also turned direct on the very day of his death! Transit Pluto had just completed its latest exact pass in opposition to natal Justitia in late January, a process begun at its 15 Capricorn retrograde station in April 2015, another indicator of the potential passing of this particular Justice.
Natally, Justitia is closely trined Saturn, indicating the potential for a career in the justice system, leading eventually to his actually attaining the title of “Justice.” At 20 Gemini when he died, transit Justice was squared his 21 Pisces Sun, and approaching Scalia’s natal asteroid Rip (for “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription, a point which performs reliably as a marker of death) at 24 Gemini.
But even without reference to the chart, Justitia’s station tells the tale of Scalia’s death—it is exactly opposed by transit Lachesis, named for the mythic Greek Fate who determines the span of life, at 20 Sagittarius, also opposed by asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 22 Sagittarius (both focused on Scalia’s natal Jupiter at 23 Sagittarius), and T-Squared by transit Jupiter, ruling the Supreme Court, at 21 Virgo (exactly opposing Scalia’s Sun). So the broad brush strokes are there, the passing (Lachesis/Requiem) of a jurist (Justitia) connected to the Supreme Court (Jupiter), and the detailed connections to Scalia’s chart confirm him as the cosmos’ nominee for the position of “deceased Justice”.
But there is much, much more. For Justitia was not the only “minor” body to be stationary in the skies when Antonin Scalia was born. Asteroid Shafter had turned retrograde just eight days prior, and was still at its station degree of 8 Scorpio, another pivot point with potentially huge ramifications in Scalia’s life.
“Shafter?” you ask. “Shafter? What the heck does ‘Shafter’ mean?”
Well, it meant virtually nothing for almost 80 years, I suspect, but the hunting lodge where Justice Scalia died was in Shafter, Texas! Imagine—this randomly named chunk of space debris, which “just happened” to be sitting still and potent in the heavens at his birth, would become a major feature of his biography, as the location of his death. At that time, transit asteroid Nemesis, which represents undoing, was conjunct natal Shafter from 7 Scorpio, and exactly opposing transit Lachesis at 7 Taurus, marking the preordained span of the life which terminated in Shafter.
Transit Shafter was also active in the nativity. At 26 Capricorn it exactly squared the Ascendant/Descendant axis, and was within orb of Scalia’s natal IC at 1 Aquarius, giving it angular force and power. It was also conjunct his natal asteroids Texas (!) and Antonia (a variant of “Antonin”) at 23 and 25 Capricorn, and opposing natal Pluto at 25 Cancer, modern ruler of death. Look at that natal grouping, just by itself—an opposition from Pluto to Texas, the state in which he eventually died, with Antonia nearby, just to assure us that it’s his own death we’re talking about, not just some Texas death penalty case coming before him on the Supreme Court.
Transit Texas at 8 Aries has a tale to tell as well—it’s exactly conjunct Scalia’s natal asteroid Anubis, an Egyptian god ruling funerary rites, and is thus another real-time indicator of a pending death and funeral. Texas is also paired with transit Atropos (named for the mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death) at 4 Aries, and transit Antonini (another variant for “Antonin”) at 10 Aries, as these encroach upon an exact transit conjunction of Rip and Uranus at 17 Aries, suggesting a sudden, unexpected (Uranus) death (Rip, Atropos) of someone named Antonin (Antonini) in the Lone Star State (Texas).
Scalia’s very public passing at a hunting lodge is indicated by transit asteroid Hunt at 0 Leo, which closely conjoins his natal MC (public spotlight) at 1 Leo, and is prefigured natally by a Grand Cross involving natal Antonini at 28 Taurus, natal Hunt at 21 Scorpio, natal Mercury at 28 Aquarius and natal Scalesse at 26 Leo. I was reluctant to use Scalesse as a celestial referent for Scalia, as perhaps too variant, but its effectiveness is confirmed by its transit position, with Scalesse exactly conjunct Scalia’s natal Sun at 21 Pisces when he died.
That exact Antonini/Mercury square is elegant in its evocation of Scalia’s mind, opinions, and pen—perhaps more than any other Justice in recent memory, Scalia’s written decisions, and especially his dissents, became an integral part of his time on the bench, the most visible and enduring of his contributions. Couched in laymen’s terms, they make engaging reading, vivid and often peppered with sarcasm and disdain, but always with the goal of confiding his incisive logic to future conservative jurists. Whatever your opinion of Scalia’s rulings, the authentic man (Antonini) was expressed and preserved in those words (Mercury), which will remain his most lasting legacy.