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]