Joe's Upside Down Ascent
Is Saturn descending your chart? So is Joe Biden's–and look–he's just become the president. How do you figure?
There was never any money in my ‘attention bank’ for Joe Biden.
Throughout 2019 I worked against Biden’s campaign by donating time and resources to Bernie Sanders.
But after the early 2020 South Carolina primary—with its whiplash twist of fate—I knew that the mysterious machinations that guide political fortunes were about to crown Biden the frontrunner.
In retrospect, I’ve come to see how African American voters knew something that folks like me—without the instinct and history of disenfranchisement—couldn’t foresee. Namely that Sanders didn’t have the ineffable ‘reality factor’ that could trump Donald Trump’s hypnotic grip on the country.
But neither did Joe Biden.
I mean, like a lot of folks I fretted over (maybe, possibly) what appeared to be encroaching dementia (Biden’s, not mine). And whatever was gonna pop out of his son Hunter Biden’s laptop.
A viral curse
As I speculated early last year, if not for COVID, Trump would have claimed four more years for us to agonize through.
As I wrote at the time, the viral pandemic arrived just as Pluto (the solar system’s Shiva on steroids) began to oppose Trump’s lucky charm conjunction between Venus and Saturn in his natal horoscope.
With a daily reminder of a burgeoning death count, this proved to be a fatal transit that pulverized Teflon Trump’s rabbit’s foot. And come election day, Trump was unable to escape unscathed: hogtied by Pluto.
In the early days of the campaign, when the Democrats had about ten candidates vying for the nomination, I studied Biden’s birth chart and dismissed his chances for winning after noting transiting Saturn’s descent toward Biden’s nadir—the bottom point of the horoscope.
This reversed apex is a mysterious estuary—a cusp that demarcates the River Styx from the Fountain of Youth.
Generally speaking, a Saturn transit like Biden’s is not part of a Man of Destiny’s playbook. But then ‘destiny’ in 2020 was not like anything any of us expected when the year launched with a deadly virus in tow.
One of astrology’s first psychologically oriented astrologers, Grant Lewi, labeled Saturn’s transit through the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd house of a natal chart as “the obscure years” in an individual’s life.
Lewi’s 1940 book Astrology for the Millions is a master class on tracking Saturn’s 28-year cycle around a birth chart. Lewi’s take is unique, eerie and pragmatic. I recommend that you grab a copy today.
Writing of Saturn’s journey around the horoscope he said, “To follow this indicator through the lives of those who have ridden it to the full is to see the very wheels of life go round before your eyes.”
Although each Saturn transit is unique—and regardless of the planet’s relationship to other natal placements, the lower quadrant passage of Saturn can feel like you’re burrowing through stone; a slog. A veritable grind that seems to be going nowhere—slowly.
Of this approximate 7.5 year phase, Lewi advised: “Seek voluntary withdrawal or semi-retirement.”
And this is exactly where transiting Saturn was traversing through Biden’s natal chart at the start of his campaign. And where it resides now for his inauguration. Saturn will not touch Biden’s nadir (and begin its ascent up the wheel) until June of 2024. I will write about this phase (and Kamala Harris) in another post.
2, 3, 4: The horoscope’s netherworld
The origin of the astrological houses is a near apocryphal mystery.
As Deborah Houlding explains in her stellar book The Houses: Temples in the Sky, students are wrong to associate the houses with numerological values, or the houses’ seeming similarity to the meaning of the signs of the Zodiac.
The houses have a powerful philosophical basis of their own—distinguished and developed through centuries of historical observation and metaphorical application.
The Egyptians considered the nadir—and the lower half of the wheel in general—as the underworld or resting place for the dead.
Ancient astrologers assigned to the second house of the horoscope curious names like Gate of Hades, Gate of Hell, or Portal of Pluto. These underworld descriptors refer to the house’s location in the midnight terrain.
Houlding explains how the lower hemisphere “was one that related to the hidden process of renewal, returning fertility which celebrated its appearance at the [chart’s] ascendant.”
But before renewal, there is a diminishment of power and often (as Saturn moves towards the nadir at the fourth house) a loss of momentum and the certainty that one knows where she is.
Being opposite the midheaven as a marker of the world stage, Saturn here moves the traveler into the underground’s hidden realm to discover the roots of one’s identity.
It’s interesting to note that before cemeteries were a thing people buried their dead relatives under their home’s floorboards. Reinforcing this literal cross-reference to the fourth house of the horoscope as it relates to home, lineage, and endings.
And so, planets moving by transit towards the horoscope’s nadir—the rock bottom—are returning to origin—the elephant’s graveyard. Preparing to be ‘reborn’ as they turn direction and begin their ascent towards the chart’s midheaven—back into the world.
As Lewi revealed, Saturn moving through the lower quadrant of the horoscope often corresponds with prolonged frustration—and the feeling of becoming invisible.
The degree of frustration relates to one’s effort to forge connections with the world at large. But it is the world below one’s feet that beckons and captures the attention. A process is underway to comprehend origin; where we came from (instead of where we are going).
The two times that I’ve experienced this Saturn transit it matched up with a period of chronic low-grade disappointment. Any effort I exerted felt like I was pushing a bean across the floor with my nose.
Yes, there were silver linings related to the kind of research and study I achieved, but only because those are pastimes we accomplish alone.
Back to Biden’s stealth
With COVID turning the world upside down, suddenly Joe Biden was benefiting from the hindrances and roadblocks that would dispirit another candidate on route to the presidency.
Within a few months, he was holding regular press conferences from his home’s basement (a locale that complimented the transit’s preference for obscurity).
And when he wasn’t in his basement he was masked and safeguarded while on the campaign trail. Partially ‘present’, partially obscure.
Consider too Biden’s stellium of planets in Scorpio. A sign that becomes fully animated when confronting disasters and death. Scorpio’s power for transforming and healing is unmatched in the Zodiac.
Like Aquarians Lincoln and Roosevelt—two other presidents that managed a nation in shambles—the sign Scorpio belongs to the same fixed quality; tenacity merged to a Martian (the sign’s ruler) revivalist spirit. This could make Biden a worthy architect to confront the bleak blown-out landscape he’s inherited.
How fitting that the day before he is to be sworn into office, Biden oversees a somber memorial in Washington for the 400,000 American citizens who died from COVID. Another eerie resonance that mirrors his Scorpio Sun in the 12th house. A house traditionally associated with collective calamity.
Consider also Biden’s amplified Jupiter in Cancer in his chart’s 8th house. Meaning, he finds inspiration and spiritual growth from the various themes and activities related to mortality and renewal.
Death’s shroud over his own family has fortified Biden’s image as someone humbled and human; empathetic to other’s suffering. These Jovial ‘gifts’ from the 8th house added emotional gravitas to his political persona.
Winning by losing
Almost all of my clients that have strong 12th house, 8th house, Scorpio, or Pluto placements in their horoscopes are benefiting in various ways from the COVID pandemic.
This makes sense. Those celestial markers have a lot to do with vocations and experiences that the populace wishes to ignore—disease, hospitals, hospice, mortuaries, death—or vocations that involve palliative care, grief counseling, recycling, and rebuilding.
But here we all are—required to make adjustments by existing within quarantines and lockdowns—accommodating death and disease on a daily basis. But more troubling and freakish is how half of the population believes that we’re living through a conspiratorial hoax.
But stop and think about it. Joe Biden’s counterintuitive ascent is a keen lesson to contemplate. When the world is turned upside down it exposes our prejudice and preference to embrace only what is affirming and uplifting in life.
I mean, if your intrinsic nature is predisposed by nature to contend with calamity and loss, well, you’re on a winning streak within COVID America. The rest of us are held in abeyance.
So, despite my enthusiasm (and grudge related to Bernie) I’m coming to see—through an astrological lens—how Biden appears to be a precise Man of His Time; a fitting character to show up and help mop up the radioactive fallout from 2020.
But more, to confront our nation’s collective shadows.
Presently the country feels like its been jettisoned back to the post-Civil War years of the late 19th century. Ideologically the United States is outrageously polarized. And a term like ‘reconstruction’ is more than just a metaphor.
Can Biden bridge the two manias?
It’s a Shakespearian question. And quest.
Hope and chickens in pots
Biden’s Sagittarius ascendant—the mark of someone with an indefatigable capacity to envision bright futures—might be able to impart genuine hope for a coming together of opposites.
As Biden put it in his inaugural speech we’re a nation that is: “…restless, bold, optimistic.”
Of course, those are common political slogans. Making America great again. Hope and change. The dawn of a new morning (for white America). A chicken in every pot.
But with Sagittarius rising in our nation’s own horoscope, we’ve always been suckers for rhetoric like that. There’s a charm about it, but also a long and twisted shadow.
Americans really do see themselves through that kookie Sagittarian lens of eternal optimism. With an unfettered zeal to keep growing and moving and hoping (hopping?) wildly into the future. Goddess love us.
And right now with the nation still smoldering, its infrastructure (both literally and figuratively in disarray), I’m going to allow myself the Sagittarian fantasy of a USA reborn.
And why not? Saturn’s climbing its way towards my midheaven. (And the nation’s official comeuppance—its Pluto return—is a couple of years away).
What do I have to lose?
(Famous last words).