Sixteen years ago on July 16th, a small plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Its pilot had become disoriented and lost control of the plane, unable to distinguish sea from sky in the hazy, moonless night. The pilot and both of his passengers died in the crash.
The pilot was John F. Kennedy, Jr. He was 38 years old. The passengers were his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, age 33, and his sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette, age 34.
I remember the incident so clearly. Many of us anxiously awaited news in the days that followed, hoping that by some miracle the three had survived. When the Coast Guard recovered their bodies from the ocean floor on July 21, a nation mourned. I was heartbroken reading the beautiful words Senator Ted Kennedy spoke in eulogy of his nephew at the private funeral mass, two days later. Fresh tears fell as I read it again in preparation for writing this post.
Why does John Kennedy’s early death matter so much, even now?
I have always loved the Kennedy family, growing up as I did in a passionately Democratic household. I loved them in the way we love national heroes, those who seem to embody the ideals we hold dear. The Kennedys fought for the working person and the poor in America. They were privileged themselves but devoted their lives to public service; that set them apart. They were Roman Catholic; this was important to Catholics in America, including my family.
My first memory in this life is hearing my mother gasp when a neighbor told her that President Kennedy had been shot. I was four years old.
Everyone loved John, the handsome and charming son of the slain President. In his eulogy of John, Senator Ted Kennedy explained it this way:
“From the first day of his life, John seemed to belong not only to our family, but to the American family. The whole world knew his name before he did.” (http://www.cnn.com/US/9907/23/kennedy.eulogy)
John’s salute at his father’s funeral is one of the iconic images of the 20th century. When he gave a speech at the 1988 Democratic Convention, he received a standing ovation. He was polite; he was intelligent; he was advancing his family’s legacy of service in his own way, quietly, never seeking the spotlight. In fact, much like his mother and his sister, he worked hard to safeguard his privacy and avoid the pitfalls of wealth and fame. His future seemed to hold such promise!
In the mid-90s I followed his romance with the tall and beautiful Carolyn Bessette, an accomplished publicist in the world of fashion. I read every word published about their secret marriage on Cumberland Island in Georgia in 1996. I marveled at the photos of Carolyn that found their way into print. I had high hopes for John and for them. What a terrible shock to learn that they had died! It seemed an unthinkable tragedy, falling as it did upon the tragedies already endured by the family.
The Kennedys are the closest equivalent of a royal family in America. In losing John we had lost our crown prince.
My intention here is not a full natal analysis, nor do I aim to describe John’s character; that has been well described by those who knew him. My aim is to discuss the testimonies that strike me as salient in his chart.
* There is no imbalance in temperament here. Both the Virgo Ascendant and the Lord of the Geniture (Saturn) are strongly melancholic (cold/dry), but his sanguine-phase Moon in Aquarius (hot/moist) balances this. Lord Ascendant Mercury is also sanguine: moist in Scorpio and hot due to rising before the Sun.
* Although both are sanguine, Lord Ascendant Mercury and the Moon have different priorities, each in a sustained way (from fixed signs). Being in Scorpio, Mercury wants to feel, to follow desire. Mercury disposes to Mars, signifying excitement, action, and adventure. The Moon wants to think, to be rational. It disposes to Saturn, signifying structure, order, and stability. The two dispositors oppose each other (more on that below).
* John has royal fixed stars on both his Midheaven (Aldebaran) and his IC (Antares). Given his social status I expected to see at least one royal star in a place of prominence.
* Antares, Heart of the Scorpion, is on the IC. The fourth house is the house of family and parents, the father in particular. The Scorpion’s heart is its essence. In the myth, the lowly Scorpion’s poison kills the mighty Orion in his prime. There is hardly a more fitting star for this position in the chart.
* At 2.41 Sagittarius, John’s Sun is on Graffias, another star in the constellation of Scorpius. Having more than one fixed star from Scorpius tells us that themes involving the pride of life will inevitably be triggered as the chart unfolds over time.
* Mars is debilitated in its fall, high in the sky, the only planet of the seven positioned above the horizon. By antiscion Mars is conjunct the MC, exactly square the Ascendant/Descendant axis, as if hanging over the rest of the chart with its potential to harm. Mars is Lord 3 and Lord 8 in John’s chart.
* Saturn wields a lot of power as dispositor of four of the seven planets. It is also Lord of the Geniture as the planet with the most essential dignity. Saturn exalts and applies to oppose Mars, which takes it into detriment. This seems to give us a picture of John’s full potential (signified by this dignified Saturn) cut short by death (signified by Mars).
* The Ascendant/Descendant axis is spot-lit by the Nodes of the Moon falling across it, with the North Node on the Ascendant. Thus, any testimony in the directed charts that picks up the Ascendant will pick up this amplifier along with it.
* Having six planets positioned under the earth signifies a private nature. The South Node on the Descendant, in the ‘border control’ position, also seems to connote privacy. It’s as if the South Node is putting limits on the number of ‘others’ (seventh house) who gain access to John. At the same time, perhaps the North Node on the Ascendant helps to explain John's appeal, as if he walked around with a spotlight shining on him at all times. It is true that John could go nowhere without people knowing who he was.
* John’s Part of Courage (‘Super Mars’) is 29.52 Capricorn, conjunct his Sun by antiscion, strong testimony of a brave and adventurous nature.
In the next post, we will look at the testimonies showing John's father’s death in 1963. Then we will look at testimonies for his own death in 1999. Finally I will discuss the testimonies for his marriage to Carolyn Bessette in 1996.
Here are some links to consider if you wish to read more about John Kennedy, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, or the plane crash of July 1999: