Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 9. Bill Maher
This article continues the series on examining religion, faith, or lack of such in the astrological chart. In the last article, we looked at the chart of a religious leader, Pope John Paul II. In this article we turn to the chart of another religious skeptic, Bill Maher. The ingredients and recipes for this type of analysis can be found in the first article, on James Randi. The basics were reviewed with additional comments in a few articles back, on Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
Comedian and talk-show host Bill Maher is a very vocal critic of religion and frequent supporter and publicizer of the “new atheist” movement. He has served on the advisory board of Sam Harris’ Project Reason. Maher also has a film spoofing religious belief (Religulous). Additionally, he won the Richard Dawkins award from Atheist Alliance International.
Rather inaccurately, he self-describes as an apatheist, though he has actually shown great interest in religious belief. He attacks religious belief often and actively promotes atheist causes. You can read Maher’s biography on Wikipedia by clicking here. His natal chart is below, and has a Rodden Rating of AA.
Bill Maher’s Chart Analyzed in Brief
Not strong, not weak
Jupiter is just barely advancing, so it’s not very strengthened. It does not have any other major strengthening or weakening conditions. Retrogradation may be mildly weakening to Jupiter.
Mixed, somewhat benefic
Jupiter is naturally benefic and is in the 11th (its Joy). However, Jupiter is also out of sect and struck by the rays of Saturn (square within 1 degree). Therefore, Saturn hits Jupiter hard with its significations. On a more minor level Jupiter is in the term of Mars and is opposed by the Sun and Mercury. Overall, Jupiter is benefic influence but being afflicted by Saturn.
Notes on Jupiter
Jupiter is one of the weaker planets in the chart. However, it is not as weak as Venus, and is arguably about equal in strength to Mars and Saturn. We can expect some spiritually expansive experiences as Jupiter is not very weak and is somewhat benefic. However, Maher seems to have publicly chalked these up to his drug experiences. In any case, Jupiter is struck very strongly by Saturn, planet of doubt. Jupiter does not have a prominent and pervasive effect on the life, but should bring great fortune in terms of 11th place matters of friends, gifts, and social benefits.
Moderately strong, primarily Mercurial and Saturnine
The empty 9th, Gemini, is ruled by Mercury, planet of reason, intellect, and communication. Mercury itself is moderately strong, being in phasis. However, it is also weakened from stationing retrograde about 2-3 days before birth. Mercury not only rules the 9th but overcomes it by trine, and is the 1st triplicity ruler. Saturn and Mars both oppose the 9th from the 3rd. Saturn has the stronger effect, as Saturn is a triplicity ruler, and is a bit more prominent than Mars (Saturn rules the Sun and Mercury, is exalted at Ascendant, and is in a partile sextile with the Sun). Venus dominates the 9th (right-side square). However, her influence does not seem as strong as that of Mercury nor Saturn, as she is rather weak and has no rulership of the 9th.
Mixed, somewhat malefic
Mercury rules the 9th. It is rather benefic in the chart, being in sect, and in the very good 5th (of creative performance). However, it is heavily influenced by Mars and Saturn which overcome Mercury by sextile. This hints at how Maher’s mercurial performance can be controversially dark, skeptical, and even aggressive. Still the combination works well or harmoniously for him, as shown by the sextile. In other words, Mercury is friendly with Mars and Saturn, though they rub off on Mercury because of their more influential position in the friendship. Overall, the 9th is more malefic than benefic by having both malefic opposed to the place (i.e. in the 3rd).
Notes on the 9th Place
Matters of belief-systems and searching for some greater truth have moderate prominence in the life, but are not as prominent as in most of the charts of vocal atheists we’ve seen. His beliefs tend to be heavily influenced by rationality and intellectualism (Mercury rulership), doubt/skepticism and contentiousness (Saturn and Mars opposition), and also sensual pleasure (Venus domination).
Saturn is not very strong in the chart, as it is cadent, and just barely advancing. While Saturn has a strong effect on the 9th, and upon the Sun and Mercury, it doesn’t have a strong effect on the life overall. Overall, the life is not marked strongly by doubt, loss, dreariness, darkness, and negativity as it is in the charts of many atheists.
Saturn is naturally a mafefic. Here Saturn is made more malefic as it is out of sect, not in a good place (nor a bad one), and assembled with Mars. Jupiter overcomes by whole sign trine, but by degree it is a close square (within 1 degree). Jupiter is expected to ease up some of Saturn’s significations as its ruler. Overall, Saturn is still quite malefic in the chart, and is the significator of the most difficult challenges in his life.
Notes on Saturn
As noted, Saturn does not have a very strong or pervasive influence over Maher’s life. Saturn does have a strong impact on the belief system though. Additionally, there is a self-identification with Saturn (exalted ruler and a triplicity ruler of the 1st, while also regarding the 1st). Saturn is destructively inclined, signifying the more difficult matters in life, rather than simply discipline and duty or something like that.
Mercury is advancing, and is in phasis, but stationed retrograde 2-3 days before birth. The Lights are very prominent in Maher’s chart, but Mercury is the strongest non-luminary. Mercury is in the 5th place of creative performance (the Joy of Venus). It is with the publicizing Sun, in an idea-oriented Air sign (and one of the “human” signs).
As noted, Mercury is overall benefic in the chart, being in sect, and in the very good 5th but very influenced by Mars and Saturn. Saturn is especially influential as Mercury is in one of Saturn’s houses (Aquarius). We expect some of the greatest fortune in the life to be associated with Mercury, even though the styling is influenced by the malefics, especially Saturn.
Notes on Mercury
There is a strong identification with Mercury, as Mercury is strongly connected to the Ascendant. For instance, Mercury is the 1st triplicity ruler of Air signs, the term/bound ruler of the Ascendant, and regards the Ascendant by trine. The domicile ruler of the 1st, Venus, does not regard the Ascendant. There is also something of an identification with Saturn, the exaltation ruler, and another triplicity ruler, of the Ascendant. There is not a strong identification with Jupiter. Mercury does have a prominent and pervasive influence upon the life, and has a particularly strong influence on the 9th of belief, which it rules.
With Bill Maher, we see many things we expected, but also some surprises compared with other outspoken atheists and skeptics. For instance, Maher does not have a Saturn that is significantly stronger than Jupiter. However, Jupiter is most strongly linked to the out of sect malefic (Saturn). Maher also has a 9th place characterized by Mercury and the malefics. Most importantly, there is a strong identification with Mercury and Saturn, and Mercury itself is very saturnine. When it comes to belief, a saturnine Mercury runs the show in Maher’s chart.
Featured image by Angela George [CC BY 3.0]
7 thoughts on “Astrology of Religion, Atheism, and Belief | 9. Bill Maher”
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Finally a chart with a different ruler of the 9th!
I believe you have already seem some lights as the ruler of the 9th, right ?
And just for mention – comments are always very good in your site, speccially your answers!
Sartre and his partner, the famous author Simone de Beauvoir, both had lights ruling the 9th and were atheists (not necessarily in a rage against religion/supernatural way like the so-called “new atheists” today though). Sartre had Sagittarius rising, fitting for a notable philosopher (though I think a Mars-influenced Mercury is even more common for philosophers, fitting with the argument as war metaphor). His Jupiter was retreating in the 6th, opposed by Mars, in the bound of Saturn, and with a twelfth-part that is in Aquarius in the bound of Mars and with the twelfth-part of Mars. The ruler of the 9th was the Sun which was also the sect light and the main triplicity lord of the Ascendant. The Sun was with Mercury, together in the Saturn bound of Gemini, and dominated by Saturn in Pisces. Like Schopenhauer, I think that Sartre’s beliefs are rather complex. Beauvoir had the Moon ruling the 9th, but the Moon was with both malefics in Pisces (the 5th), and with Saturn (and the Moon and Mars) strongly advancing to the IC. Her Jupiter was retreating in the Saturn bound of Leo. She was born with the Saturn bound of Mars rising.
“With the church of Satan guy, Anton Lavey, there is a strong identification with Saturn and Mars, both in dark places (12th and 2nd), and yet a very strong Jupiter, and a strong influence of Saturn and Venus on the 9th.”
Good example. That makes sense, you’ve still got belief in higher powers, but it’s of a much darker tone than what the Dalai Lama or Billy Graham are into ^_^
“His cult celebrated carnal indulgence, vengeance and the rule of Satan.” – quite
Cheers for that, your comments are often longer than the blogs themselves. I realise now that I was asking for something a lot more complicated than has been looked at so far, but I’ve got a few clues on what to look for.
Would you give Neptune any significance in these matters or do you not look at the outer planets at all?
I don’t mind throwing the outers, asteroids, midpoints, and even a deck of tarot cards at a chart. Neptune is a god of religion, in addition to being a god of the sea and horses, so I think it’s fitting. Uranus is god of the sky, so you might want to see that in connection with astrologers also. I find all that other stuff less predictively reliable, and sometimes difficult to fit into the system, so I would chuck it in after viewing things in a more traditional manner. You can read a short public note that I wrote on the recent Mars-Pepper conjunction, right here, if interested. With Jupiter strong, it doesn’t even necessarily have to be belief in higher powers, because Jupiter has many significations and the person may not identify strongly with Jupiter, but in any case, when that strong, Jupiter will throw various natural significations at the person with some intensity, so they’ve definitely experienced a lot of things beyond the normal pale of reality, whether or not they consider them “real”. It’s been a fluctuation between faith and doubt in my life, with a tight (1.5 degree) Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in my 9th, while Saturn rules my Ascendant and Jupiter is trine my Ascendant within 2.5 degrees, and Mercury is conjunct my MC within a degree (and Uranus is conj. my MC within half a degree), while Mars is square to Jupiter-Saturn but dominated by them, and Venus rules my 9th, retreating but in the 10th. A complicated mix of doubt and faith, and I myself was an atheist with an attraction to Buddhism in my teenage years.
This was a great series. I’d be very interested in seeing you analyse some charts of people with perhaps more nuanced religious beliefs; how about doing a prominent spiritualist, occultist, new ager, theosophist, satanist or something? How about Aleister Crowley or someone along those lines?
Yes, that’s an interesting thing to check out. Much more difficult too. l would suggest bringing in the 3rd, the Lot of the Sun, and possibly also the Sun itself (and also Mercury) in such an endeavor, to get a more thorough delineation of faith. I’ve mainly been focusing on the prominence of matters of belief (9th), out of bounds expansive experience and luck (Jupiter), doubt and fear (Saturn), and rationality (Mercury). This can tell you a lot, but still we’re missing a lot. I think it was Valens that described the Sun as the light of the mind, evoking a sense of consciousness. I tend to connect the Sun particularly to the sense of the “hero”. The Lot of the Sun pertains to the spirit and mind, and both the lot of the Sun (which is the opposite of the Lot of Moon/Fortune, in that you take the distance from the non-sect light to the sect light and project from the Asc) and the Sun, as well as the 9th (the Joy of the Sun – basically the Place of the Sun) have a sense of the ideal and seeking out the greater truth to them. The Moon and the Lot of the Moon, tend to pertain more to pertain more to the body and the irrational/subconscious mind. The irrational stuff particularly pertains to the Moon, and also tends to connect more with the evocative end of things (like the portion of meaning that is evocative memory) and to drinking in information, such as psychism and divination – receiving impressions (the Moon receives and transmits the impressions of all the planets in a symbolic sense). Venus and Mars are on the side of the Moon so to speak. Venus, like the Moon, will tend towards nature cults, hippies, music, and art, etc. as well as strong sexual components. Mars will find god in irrational violence and power. The Celts therefore strike me as particularly nocturnal in their religious activities which were often highly irrational, particularly reverent of nature and water, but also violent, reckless, war-like, erratic, hard-drinking, crude, and rough (historically, the Celts weren’t the gentle nature priests they’re often made out to be).
You’re dealing with two very different groups when it comes to those with weird cult rituals which tend to be more irrational, and those with very formulaic and orderly beliefs like the magickal community. Mars will tend to show more competitiveness around the belief system though. It’d be an interesting study.
Ignoring the Lights, the Lot of the Sun or Spirit, and the Lights’ Places of Joy, I noticed that Crowley (though his chart is rated B) and Regardie both had some Mars thrown into their identification and/or beliefs, and they both also had the ruler of the 9th in the 6th (the 6th is of slaves, health, and also hauntings, so you get a sense that it pertains to underlying dependencies, bodily, in terms of doings, and in a spiritual sense – so perhaps their belief systems involve a sense of being able to use something/spirits as your slaves to do your bidding), and they had the North Node in the 9th, as well as a healthy does of Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury. Jim Jones is a very complex matter, with Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, and the 9th all extraordinarily strong – I’ll delve into that one deeply some day. For this guy – http://www.astro.com/astro-databank/Magnoni%2C_Anthony – who dug up some dead bodies and performed some satanic rituals on them, we find Saturn and Mars together in a dark place (2nd) as some of the strongest planets in the chart, as well as the Moon as the absolute strongest planet in the chart, and with Saturn ruling the 9th. With the church of Satan guy, Anton Lavey, there is a strong identification with Saturn and Mars, both in dark places (12th and 2nd), and yet a very strong Jupiter, and a strong influence of Saturn and Venus on the 9th. Marilyn Manson has a 9th ruled by Mars and occupied by Saturn, a relatively weak and afflicted Jupiter, and the Moon in the 1st – Venus rules his 10th and is strongly advancing. Have fun!