On Sunday, January 15th, we will celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday. His birth chart gives a time of noon, which is suspect, but in many ways it does seem to be in the range of what is possible, so we will use that chart. As most of us know, King was one of the most prominent leaders of the civil rights movement from the mid-50’s until 1968 when he was assassinated. One of his main legacies is his powerful adherence to nonviolent resistance similar to Mahatma Gandhi that many believe is why he was able to move the nation. The movement he led achieved three legislative Acts in a period of only four years: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
To me, astrology is an archetypal, symbolic language which describes the ways a person might actualize the potentialities latent within a horoscope. There are many aspects of his chart that can describe the extent to which he used all of its potency to achieve what he did, but there are three that stand out to me that I believe were strengthening his resolve, resiliency and determination and made him such an effective spokesperson for the civil rights movement.
- His Sun, at his midheaven and in the 10th house, at 25° Capricorn centered his will on concretely manifesting his vision for what needed to be created. Capricorn, more than any sign, dedicates the self toward sacrificing personal interest and egoic gain so that much greater societal goals might become a reality. In Capricorn, one must focus on the needs of the collective good that will have the potential to last far longer than just the person’s life if the fullness of the chart’s potential might be achieved.
- His Mercury at 11° Aquarius, which is on the south node of Neptune is unaspected. This means it is not making any aspects to another planet. The general meaning for this is that the person will likely have difficulty integrating that planetary energy with the rest of the chart, which some astrologers have interpreted as being weak or problematic. While it certainly can manifest that way, it has another more important characteristic. It can actually strengthen that archetypal force so that it becomes the highlight of the chart. Since it no longer must report to the rest of the chart, it stands out as distinct and potentially very powerful. This is certainly how it affected Dr. King. Also, in the sign of Aquarius, he put this marvelous voice into the service of the collective needs of, in my opinion, the entire human race.
- Finally, there is an earth grand trine between Jupiter at 1° Taurus, Chiron at 5° Taurus, Neptune at 0° Virgo and Saturn at 25° Sagittarius. The reader might notice that Neptune, the planet that unites us all into a compassionate understanding of each other’s humanity, repeats as a key planetary archetype. This configuration demanded that he attain concrete, practical results. With Jupiter, possibly in this 1st house, he was motivated to put his cause and purpose at the disposal of the entire collective, even at the expense of his own life. It is clear that he knew he could be a target of assassination long before he actually was. A grand trine enables a person to flow with and create from all of the planets involved in the configuration. I believe that with Chiron being conjunct Jupiter, he felt the need to move from the need for personal healing to having a great sense of the need for a collective one. He must have been very sensitive to the underlying collective wound which the U.S. must heal if it is to continue forward as a great nation.
It took about 100 years after the end of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, for the three laws to finally be enacted and it was Martin Luther King who drove this political and social movement as one of the most influential leaders of the last century.