50 years since Dallas: JFK anniversary rekindles America's fascination

(16 November 2013)  America's enduring fascination with President John F. Kennedy returns to the fore this week as the nation observes the 50th anniversary of his assassination.  Kennedy's death in Dallas on November 22, 1963 left an indelible mark on the country as the hope and youthful optimism of his administration soon disintegrated into social turbulence, distrust of government and widespread alienation.  While the 1960s would eventually bring about progressive and necessary changes to the US, many Americans feel that JFK's death was a turning point after which things would never be the same.  Americans may therefore look back nostalgically at the Kennedy era as a happier time before things started go wrong for the country in Vietnam, the inner city ghettos, and the various failed social experiments of the 1960s.  Not surprisingly, recent polls still show JFK as the most popular president of the 20th century.

The astrological perspective suggests the JFK mystique may well have a planetary basis.  JFK's horoscope is well known so there is no need for any detailed examination here.  Suffice to say his commanding and inspiration presence is seen through the close conjunction of Saturn and Neptune close to the 10th house cusp (career, status).  His keen intellect is represented through the close conjunction of Mercury and Mars in Aries -- as well as with Jupiter in the first degree of Taurus.  His tragically short life may also be reflected in this Mercury-Mars conjunction since Mercury is ruler of his first house (life, vitality) conjoined 8th house ruler Mars in the 8th house very close to that cusp.  The 8th house is arguably the most malefic house in the chart and is closely associated with life and death-type issues.  His father's wealth and status is also seen through the placement of Venus in its own sign of Taurus close to the 9th house cusp in wide conjunction with the Sun.  The fact that Venus was also sitting so close to the 9th house cusp (in trine aspect with the Ascendant) likely played a role in Kennedy's charismatic charm and affable nature. 



But to explain why JFK enjoys such an enduring popularity in the US we can look at a comparison of the Kennedy's horoscope with that of the USA.  For such as beloved leader, one would expect many close contacts and alignments between the two charts.   The picture is fairly encouraging although some questions remain.  Off the top, we can see that JFK's Ascendant (27 Virgo) lines up very closely with the 10th house Saturn (24 Virgo)  in the USA chart.  As I see it, this is one reason why Kennedy ascended to the presidency since his Ascendant (self) aligned tightly with the respect and authority afforded its leaders (Saturn in 10th house).  The fact that Kennedy's Venus (24 Taurus) was also in a 120 degree alignment with this Saturn reflected his knack for converting his charm and good looks into leadership assets. 

Interestingly, Kennedy's Mars (25 Aries), Mercury (27 Aries) and Moon (24 Leo) are also part of this alignment with the 10th house Saturn in the USA chart.   While these are not standard full strength Vedic aspects, they all contribute more energy to that initial Ascendant-Saturn conjunction and thereby broaden the appeal of JFK.  Venus-Mars to Saturn suggests sex appeal and certainly JFK had no shortage in that department as the handsome, young president received rapturous celebrity-like welcomes from huge crowds wherever he went.  The Moon-Saturn contact may have contributed an emotional or sympathetic connection with the country as a whole.  Even JFK's brilliant quick wit may be seen through the Mercury component in this complex alignment with the USA's Saturn. 



JFK's legacy of youthful dynamism may be seen through the conjunction of his Sun (15 Taurus) with the USA's Uranus (18 Taurus).  Since Uranus is the planet of science and innovation, this combination may reflect JFK's important push to the space program to land a man on the moon.  The close conjunction between Kennedy's Saturn (4 Cancer) and the USA's Mercury (3 Cancer) suggests a more intriguing connection.  On one level, it may simply symbolize Kennedy's leadership (his Saturn) was chosen by the people at the ballot box (Mercury).  Remember that Mercury rules the 10th house of leaders and government in the USA chart, so that is a fairly appropriate contact.  But Saturn also symbolizes death.  The fact that Kennedy's death (Saturn) is so close to Mercury in the USA chart may be one reason why his mortality in office (Mercury as 10th house ruler) occurred in the first place and still resonates so strongly with many Americans.  Before I looked at these charts, I thought that there might have been a stronger connection with the USA's Moon since that rules the national mood or emotional make-up.  A lasting wound on the national psyche may therefore appear as some kind of affliction to the USA Moon.  However, this is plainly not the case here. 

Instead, it may well be the conjunction between JFK's Ketu (South Node) and the USA's Jupiter that begins to explain this deep emotional bond.  Pisces is the sign in the USA's 4th house of happiness and emotions, and this is ruled by Jupiter.  But Ketu is a natural malefic and symbolizes transcendence, detachment, and the erasing of boundaries.  The Ketu-Jupiter connection here is therefore one way to think about the Kennedy legacy on the American heart and soul.  With its emphasis on non-material reality, Ketu is typically seen as a spiritual planet.  Ketu's contact with 4th lord Jupiter may be one reason why JFK inspired so many people ("ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country") but also why the connection was ultimately unfulfilled.  And needless to say, JFK's Ketu is also fairly closely conjunct with the USA's Sun.  Literally, this may be rendered as "spiritual or transcendent leaders".   In the end, that conjunction may say as much about the JFK mystique as the sense of loss and sadness.  While I may be guilty of the astrological sin of over-interpretation, it is nonetheless intriguing to speculate on the various manifestations of this Ketu conjunction.



Interestingly, the renewed focus on JFK around the 50th anniversary of his death is reflected in his natal chart as transiting Jupiter (26 Gemini) recently stationed right on his equal 10th house cusp (27 Gemini).  Jupiter moves very slowly around its retrograde station, so it is still sitting atop the chart.  Jupiter is a benefic planet that symbolizes wisdom and achievement and therefore it is no surprise that he is being fondly remembered in most media accounts this week.  What is fascinating here is that JFK's horoscope is still operating at some level.   In a living person, this Jupiter station on the 10th cusp would typically represent a career advance or reward for previous efforts.  For clients seeking a career forecast, I always like to see this kind of strong Jupiter connection with the 10th house since it usually brings good news on the job front whether it is a raise or a new position.  But for a deceased person, the planetary cycles may still reflect new developments in how the person is remembered.  The horoscope lives on, just as the memory of John F Kennedy lives on in the hearts of most Americans and indeed in the hearts of most people around the world.