I was about halfway through an article on the death of Donna Summer when my friend Ile Spasev brought Marvin Gaye to my attention. The timing of Gaye’s 1984 death at the hands of his father is absolutely fascinating. In reiterates the importance of planetary years, solar returns, profections, and transits.
One of the most interesting things about Gaye’s death is that it occurred on the exact day of his 45th solar return! It was also the day of a New Moon (conjunction of the Sun and Moon). It occurred the day before his calendar birthday. However, in astrological terms, it occurred on his true astronomical birthday (solar return). He was actually killed just a few hours after the exact return of the Sun to its position at his birth.
Marvin Gaye’s Natal Chart
Marvin was born on 4/2/1939 at 11:58 am in Washington D.C. (Rodden-rated A birth info). According to news releases he was pronounced dead on the afternoon of 4/1/1984 at 1:01 pm in L.A., California. His death followed his attempt to intervene between his mother and father, who were on the second day of intense bouts of argumentation. After Gaye pushed his father things took a turn for the worst. Gaye’s own father, in the heat of anger, ended up shooting him, which proved lethal.
His birth chart is shown below with the twelfth-part positions depicted along the outer wheel.
The Father in the Chart
In ancient astrology, Saturn, the Sun, and the 4th place (Valens adds the 9th place) are particularly relevant for the father. In Gaye’s chart, the Sun in the bound of Venus in the 10th is more pertinent to his fame and honors than his father. The Sun naturally signifies honors as does the 10th place, and the Sun adhering (applying conjunction within 3 degrees) to Mercury (vocal) and in the bound of Venus (arts) has particular relevance to his singing fame. The Sun additionally has no rulership over the 4th, so it provides less testimony over the house of the father, family, origins, and property. Still, the Sun is one significator of the father in the chart. The fact that Marvin’s death at the hands of his father occurred on the day of a solar return speaks to this.
Saturn is another natural significator of fathers. Like the Sun, it is in the 10th (a “stake” of the 4th). However, Saturn rules the 4th house of fathers by exaltation and triplicity (first triplicity lord of air by day). Saturn not only naturally signifies fathers but also accidentally strongly connects with the house of the father in the chart. Therefore, Saturn is considered to give the strongest testimony regarding matters concerning the father.
The Lot of the Father
The houses are not the only way that a planet comes to accidentally signify a topic. The lots also assign topics to places. Planets on or ruling a relevant lot also become significant for that topic of that lot. As I explained in my lesson on the lots, the typical formula for the Lot of the Father by day is to take the arc from the Sun to Saturn and project it from the Ascendant. This would yield a lot in early Leo. However, Dorotheus (1st century CE) and Paulus (4th century CE) both advised to use an alternate lot when Saturn is under the beams of the Sun, as it is here. The alternate lot is calculated from Mars to Jupiter, projected from the Ascendant.
Gaye’s Lot of the Father (by the Dorothean alternate formula) is at 8° Libra, the very same degree as his IC, in the 4th house. This again argues for the significance of Saturn which both strongly aspects the place, has multiple forms of rulership there, and naturally signifies the father. The antiscia of Jupiter at 8 Libra, the same degree as the lot and IC, connects the father with religion (minister).
Saturn does a good job of describing the father (and also the death itself). It is in a cardinal sign, known for initiating major changes through abrupt action. Saturn is also in a sign and bound of Mars, the planet of violence. Additionally, it is dominated by Mars (right side square). Furthermore, the twelfth-part of Saturn is in Scorpio, the other house of Mars. Therefore, the influence of Mars over Saturn is reinforced in multiple ways. Domination gives Mars substantial influence over Saturn, symbolic of a father becoming dominated by rage and violence. Saturn is also in the sign of its fall. Fall can show a type of weakness, though Saturn takes about 2 1/2 years to traverse a sign, so it is not particularly noteworthy.
Saturn afflicts Mercury, the Sun, MC, and the twelfth-parts of the Ascendant and Venus, as all are in Aries with Saturn. The vulnerability of these significators to Saturn, through their shared habitation of Aries, pertain to argumentation (Mercury), publicity (Sun), career (MC), self/body (Asc), and music and mother (Venus). Saturn’s close aspect with Mercury, both of them under the beams, may relate to the father’s strange contradictions. He was a minister who was an alcoholic, physically abusive, and a cross-dresser at home. While Marvin did not get along with his father, his own drug use and paranoia near the end of his life was seen to be turning him into his father in the eyes of some observers (twelfth-part of Asc conj. Saturn).
Death and the Father
Saturn is the planet with the greatest testimony over the place of death in the chart, the 8th house, Aquarius. This is because Saturn rules the sign, has triplicity there (1st triplicity lord of air), regards the place, and is a natural significator of death. Therefore, Saturn’s testimony with regards to death is very strong in his chart.
The Sun also has some lesser testimony over both the father and death. I discussed how the Sun is a natural significator of the father and is in a stake of the 4th. The Sun also rules and has its twelfth-part in Leo which is the 8th house from Fortune (Capricorn). The 8th place from Fortune was considered the main “place of death” by Vettius Valens. Leo also happens to be the position of the other Lot of the Father (Sun to Saturn, from Asc). Therefore, there are repeat connections between the father and death in Gaye’s chart.
Finally, there is the Hellenistic Lot of Death which is taken from the degree of the Moon to the start of the 8th sign, and projected from Saturn. There is a distance of 127°48′ from the Moon to Aquarius. Projecting this from Saturn in Aries bring us to 27° Leo for the Lot of Death. As noted, Leo is also the 8th from Fortune, the position of a traditional Lot of the Father, and the position of the twelfth-part Sun. Therefore, we see yet another repeated connection between the father and death.
Mars in the 7th House
Mars is the out of sect malefic in the chart and is in the 7th house, the alternative house of death. The 7th house was not only associated with death in early Hellenistic astrology but its opposition to the Ascendant was viewed with suspicion by Dorotheus and Valens. The fact that a planet there opposes the Ascendant (significator of the self) is indicative of the possibility of harm against the native. Mars is out of sect in the 7th and has its twelfth-part conjunct Jupiter and opposed to the Moon, two of hte significators of the self in the chart. Therefore, it signifies the potential for bodily violence.
Beyond the Sun, Saturn, and Mars
Both Venus and the Moon give testimony regarding the mother, even though neither of them regard the 4th house of family. Venus does so because she rules the 4th and is a feminine natural significator of mothers. The Moon does so because she is also a natural significator of mothers and is in the 3rd house, her joy, another place of the mother (per Valens).
The Moon and Jupiter provide some of the strongest testimony in terms of Gaye himself and his temperament, as they both regard the 1st and have a lot of lordship over the actual Ascendant.
I discussed the use of planetary years for prediction in a past article. Planetary years are a valuable technique for timing the activation of key events concerning notable configurations in a chart.
Marvin’s death occurred on his 45th solar return. Very rarely do planetary years culminate at such an exact point. Fascinatingly, 45 is the activation of Saturn-Mars relationships in the natal chart. Saturn has 30 planetary years, and Mars 15, yielding 45.
This signifies a very major event as it activates three important Saturn-Mars configurations in his chart: the Mars-Saturn square with Mars dominating; Saturn in Aries (domicile of Mars); and Mars in Capricorn (domicile of Saturn). Thus planetary years show a strong activation linking the father, violence, and death.
According to the technique of planetary days discussed by Julius Firmicus Maternus (4th century CE), the ruler of the year rules the first set of days in the year. Therefore, Mars was the planet in charge of signifying both the plan for the year and the days at the time of death.
Those unfamiliar with profections, can learn about them in my series of articles on the topic.
As the death happened just after the 45th year solar return, the annual profection of the Ascendant moved to the 10th place of the chart. Therefore, Aries was the sign of the annual profection at the time of death. The profection was highlighting the planets in the 10th place, including Saturn, Mercury, and the Sun. Mars, the ruler of Aries, was the lord of the year. In other words, the annual profection put the focus squarely on Saturn in Aries, ruled by and dominated by Mars.
Solar Return and Transits
I have been meaning to expand on my series on solar returns, which I started here. For now, it suffices to look at the solar return as a set of transits to the natal chart. I depict the solar return along the outside of the natal chart below. In addition, I have posted the natal chart with twelfth-parts as there are fascinating connections between the return on the day Gaye died and the natal twelfth-parts.
First, it is noteworthy that the return, and death, occurred on the day of a New Moon in Aries. This is a further activation of the sign Aries and its occupants, including Saturn, and its ruler Mars. At the time Gaye was pronounced dead, the transiting Moon was at 16 Aries adhering to Gaye’s Saturn.
Second, as Mars is lord of the year and of days, the position of Mars in the return is of pivotal importance. In the return Mars is in Scorpio, one of his own domiciles. Return Mars is with return Saturn and in Saturn’s bound, again echoing the Mars-Saturn significations. Additionally, Mars is at 28 Scorpio, conjunct the twelfth-part of natal Saturn in the very same degree! The twelfth-part of return Mars was itself at 9 Libra, opposing Gaye’s Sun, and conjunct his Lot of the Father and IC (both at 8 Libra).
Venus and the Moon
In addition to Mars transiting right over the natal twelfth-part of Saturn (at 28 Scorpio), the twelfth-part of transiting Venus was also at 27-28 Scorpio. I take this Venus transit to represent the connection with the mother, who Gaye was arguing on behalf of at the time of the incident.
Transiting Venus itself was at 22 Pisces with Gaye’s Jupiter, symbolic of himself. This position is also opposed to his Moon, connecting to both himself and his mother. Fascinatingly, this is also the position of Gaye’s natal twelfth-part of Mars. Therefore, there is the symbolism of himself and his mother mix and come into contact with the father’s rage and violence (Mars).
It is also worth noting important primary directions around the time of death, as I did for the death of Whitney Houston.
First, we look at the distributors. Amazingly, both the Ascendant and the Sect Light (the Sun) were directing through the bounds of Mars. Mars, the out of sect malefic, set the tone as the many time lord during the period in which the death took place.
Aspectual Primary Directions
The aspectual directions are not as striking to me as some of the indicators, but there are a few relevant ones. One of the more interesting directions occurring within 6 months of his death is that of the star Algol (associated with death and violence) directing to Gaye’s MC.
Additionally, less than 4 months before his death there was a direction of Mars to Jupiter. This is relevant as Jupiter is one of the important significators for Gaye himself in the chart. Jupiter rules the bound of Asc and exalted in the sign of Asc. The relevance of the placement of twelfth-part Mars on Jupiter and opposed to the Moon in the natal chart is echoed. I discussed how the transit of Venus at death over this position also pertained to the importance of the mother in the situation. Gaye was intervening on his mother’s behalf.
Death is not a pleasant topic to analyze. However, it is one of the most definitive events in every individual’s life. Therefore, it should be one of the most stand-out events from an astrological perspective. When we see that there is a higher intelligence at work in this universe it forces us to rethink the nature of life and reality. Perhaps our analysis will bring us closer to accurately spotting death, enabling us to even avert death for a time. Or maybe Urania will simply whisper indications a bit more quietly when we forsake her secrets. In any case, even in hindsight, looking back on the pertinence of the symbolism when using the ancient techniques is always thought-provoking and humbling.
Featured image is in the public domain.
02/11 to 2/13/2019: Thorough edit, plus additional information regarding Mars and the Lot of the Father, as well as some notes about Gaye’s dad and more.