Irene & Bob, Part 1

Two years ago this month my friend Irene’s book, Two Chai Day: One Widow’s Story about Living beyond Grief, hit the bookstands.  It is the compelling and moving story of her husband Bob’s cancer diagnosis and death, and how she managed to pick up the pieces afterwards.


Bob was a loving husband, wonderful father, and good friend.  We met Irene and Bob in a birthing preparation class just before our babies were born in the summer of 2000.  From that birthing class sprang a small community of friends traveling down the path of new parenthood together.


We all lived through the experiences Irene chronicles in her book.  Bob’s death affected so many people, in rippling concentric circles of community.  He was well loved. It’s hard to believe it has been eight years since he died.

Irene is a strong supporter of my astrological pursuits.  When the book first came out she generously shared Bob’s birth data and her own so that I could learn from the charts and offer some insights here.  This is the first of five parts.


Bob (chart below) was born under an Aries Sun.  The Lord of his Ascendant is Mercury at 0.49 Taurus.  Bob's temperament was choleric, making him a man of action.  He also had a strong streak of melancholy in his Mercury and his Moon, tempering the fire with the practical and ponderous qualities of earth.  Bob's Lord of the Geniture (LoG, strongest planet) was Mars, placed its own sign of Aries and in the 11th house. 


Bob died on March 29, 2004, a few days shy of his 40th birthday.  What is there in Bob’s chart that might speak to a life cut short?


To examine general fortune in traditional natal work, we look at the Sun (in a day chart) or Moon (in a night chart).  What element is the luminary in?  We then look at the Lords of Triplicity for that element.  Bob’s Sun is in a fire sign, so the Lords are Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn, in that order.  We divide the life into roughly three parts.  The condition of each Lord in turn tells us about the general quality of that portion of the life.


Bob’s Sun is very strong, a good sign generally for the first third of his life.  Next is Jupiter, peregrine and in the 12th.  This is quite a drop in condition, suggesting that things go badly in the middle portion.  We know this is true, so we need look no further.  We do not draw conclusions from this alone, but it is one indication of misfortune.


Let’s now examine the major significators of self, starting with Lord Asc, to see what is going on.  Look at Mercury: it is in the 12th, a powerless position.  Look at the aspects: it is about to make a sextile to Saturn, which is Lord 8 and the anareta of the chart.  It’s a sextile, but throw out the idea that sextile=good; not necessarily.  What is going on with the reception between the two?  Saturn takes Mercury immediately into its detriment and fall.  This is another concerning sign for Bob.


Fortuna (‘Super-Moon’) is high in the sky, ruled by this Saturn which harms Mercury.  Look at the antiscia: Fortuna is afflicted by a conjunction with Neptune by antiscion.  Neptune is an outer planet, so we treat it like a fixed star.  Is Neptune nice?  Neptune is the god of the ocean—the vast, turbulent, overwhelming ocean.  This is not nice, and it is not helping Fortuna.  The testimonies are beginning to feel congruent.


Are other fixed stars playing a role in the chart?  There are many at play here, especially on house cusps, and if we were doing a full analysis we would look at all of that closely.  For now, it seems important to note that Bob’s LoG, Mars, is on Difda.  Difda is of Saturn nature. It is a star in the Sea Monster, the one sent by Neptune to devour Andromeda.  Alas, this is fitting together all too sadly.  Saturn is about to harm Mercury in this chart. Neptune is afflicting Fortuna.  And now we see that the LoG is harmed by Difda.  We know Bob died of cancer, and that’s what cancer does—it devours the body until life is no longer possible.


As if the above weren’t enough, there is another factor important to mention here.  We see a certain confinement of expression in Bob’s chart.  If a native has several essentially strong planets, we would hope to have them in prominent places, such as on the angles, so the energies they signify can find full expression in the life.  As we have already mentioned, Bob’s Lord Asc is in the 12th.  Venus, another strong planet, is also placed there.


This lack of power or ‘voice’ (Irene’s term) is relevant because silence was a central issue for Bob.  Ending the silence was a major reason Irene wrote her book.  She did this by including entries from Bob’s private journals. Through his own writing, Bob’s voice rings clear and strong throughout.


What was the silence about?  We’ll address this in part two, along with the progressed and solar return charts for the year of Bob’s diagnosis.


Irene's book is available for purchase online.  I highly recommend it to you:


I also invite you also to visit Irene's blog:


A social worker by profession, Irene now does hospice work.  As a working mother of two children and stepmother of three, she doesn’t find time to write much anymore.  But the blog archives are full of rich stories that will move you in many ways, make you laugh, and help you to appreciate life's many blessings.



Above photo is Irene's book cover (2011 printing). 

The photo below is my own of our 'baby group' in 2002.  Bob and Irene are in the middle holding hands, with son Henry on the slide in the yellow shirt.  On the right of the slide are the writer with her husband and daughter.


First published Sept 9, 2012 on