Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009

The death of pop superstar Michael Jackson yesterday has sparked an overwhelming outpouring of grief and remembrance around the world.  Although more recently known for his bizarre behaviour and various legal and financial troubles, his millions of fans paid tribute to the man and his music and the indelible mark he left on the entertainment industry.   There are several widely divergent birth times floating around for Michael Jackson, some from apparently reliable sources.  And yet unless and until some one sees the birth certificate, his true horoscope will likely remain an open question.  Of all the birth times in common usage for MJ, I think the 7.33 p.m. chart offers a plausible window onto the nature of the man and his life events.   This is the birth time that Michael Jackson himself provided to Chakrapani Ullal, a Los Angeles-based Vedic astrologer several years ago when he went in search of a Vedic chart reading.  What follows is a brief astrological sketch based on that birth time, although I have amended it slighty to 7.30 pm.

MJ was born on the day of a Full Moon, an appropriate placement for such a famous person.  Bright Full Moons are considered very auspicious in Vedic astrology because like the Moon, the person becomes visible and easily noticed.  People with the Moon in the first house are often playful, refined, and energetic.  However, these natives can also be changeable and eccentric just as the Moon is prone to quickly change its shape and appearance. Moreover, this chart has the Moon rising in sidereal Aquarius, which underlines his great fame since the first house is the most important in the whole chart.  Fame and success were also indicated by the placement of Saturn on the MC in the 10th house.  As ruler of Aquarius and the first house, Saturn placed in the 10th house confers high profile and career success. As an additional boost for success, the 10th lord Mars closely aspects this Saturn in the 10th house.  We can also see that Mars was doubly powerful here because it was in its own sign of Aries. It is noteworthy that his Saturn dasha began 1972 when he started to achieve success in his musical career with the Jackson 5 and it lasted into 1991 when he had reached the apogee of his fame with his best-selling albums, Thriller and Bad.  While Saturn often gets a bad rap since it is a natural malefic, it's clear that Michael Jackson's Saturn was a key ingredient to his success due to 1) its rulership of the 1st house; 2)  its placement in the 10th; 3) the strength of its dispositor Mars; and 4) the absence of any afflicting aspects.

Michael Jackson's horoscope suggests he was an immensely talented and successful person but also isolated and troubled.  His Moon (emotions, mind) and Saturn (structure, limits, loss) were in square aspect, a common signature in depressed or lonely people who cannot easily connect with others.  The 4th house (Taurus) is also associated with happiness and emotions and it is ruled by Venus.  As we've seen, Venus is in an awkward place due to its Mars and Uranus influence and its placement in the dussthana 6th house.  When the 4th lord is afflicted and placed in the 6th house it can create emotional problems with parents.  It is well known that he was abused by his father as a child.

What else does the horoscope reveal about Michael Jackson?  His musical and performing abilities perhaps stem from the association of Mars and Venus.  Mars rules his strong 3rd house, the house that is associated with creativity and the arts, and it is well situated in its own sign of Aries.  Mars aspected Venus by square aspect hence the 3rd house is linked with Venus, the planetary significator of art and beauty.  Venus was conjoined with innovative Uranus in Cancer and this perhaps contributed to his originality and ground breaking performances which launched the era of music videos in the early 1980s.  Significantly, Venus-Uranus were in Cancer which is ruled by the Moon, and with the Moon powerfully placed in the first house (self), we can see how his artistic abilities could be translated into the world.

For all of his career success, MJ was notable for his strange and turbulent love life.  He married twice, but neither lasted very long and both of them seemed more like public relations stunts designed to deflect attention away from the persistent charges of sexual abuse and pedophilia.  Relationships are seen through Venus and the 7th house and MJ's 7th is ruled by Sun which is well-placed in Leo although it is aspected by Saturn.  While Saturn rules the benefic first house, it also rules the 12th house (Capricorn) which is related to hidden or secret matters.   This 12th house influence on his 7th house would increase the likelihood of an unusual or unhappy love life.  For its part, Venus is greatly troubled by virtue of the Uranus conjunction which can create desire for different or unusual partners.  The Mars aspect to Venus is another destabilizing influence on relationships.  The 8th house and its lord are more closely connected with the sex act itself and we see transgressive Rahu there in the 8th.  Mercury rules the 8th and it is in tough shape since it is retrograde in early Leo, leaning towards the 6th house, and worst of all in a trine aspect with Ketu.  Like Rahu, Ketu can introduce an element of 'weirdness' into the equation.  The Ketu-Mercury aspect wasn't all bad obviously, since it likely gave him an acute perception and uncanny ability to communicate feelings and ideas in unusual ways.  That is the positive side of Ketu.  However, Mercury was also ruling the 8th house of sexuality and given its retrograde direction at birth, I wonder if this played a role in MJ's tormented sexual life.

We can see that Mercury was a weak planet for MJ because it was during his Mercury dasha (1991-2008) that he gradually lost his popularity and saw his difficulties grow on various fronts.  Ketu dasha began in 2008 and he was running Ketu-Venus at the time he died.   Ketu is in a particularly vulnerable place in his chart since it is gandanta, that is, it sits on the cusp between Pisces and Aries, or a water and fire sign.  When planets are situated near this zodiacal 'no-man's land' they lose strength and are more prone to deliver life challenges and hardship.   As we've seen the subperiod lord Venus was significantly weakened by virtue of its 6th house (health, illness) placement with Uranus (sudden or rash actions) aspected by Mars (harm, strife). 

MJ's transits were also very stressful.  Transiting Saturn (loss, disappointment) had just stationed (21 Leo) opposite his 1st house Moon (21 Aquarius) in May and was still forming a very close aspect at 22 degrees of Leo.  The Moon was doubly important here since it rules the 6th house of health and the 1st house of the body and the whole person.  The transiting conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune (2 Aquarius) was closely opposite MJ's 8th lord natal Mercury (2 Leo).  The 8th house is associated with serious diseases and sudden developments.  Since it was natally weak, Mercury could not withstand the draining energy that Neptune was contributing.  The otherwise positive effect of Jupiter did not translate here.  Given the multiple afflictions to the chart, it was simply a bit player in a much larger tragedy.  Perhaps the gentle calming Jupiter influence was reflected in the fact that he apparently died of an overdose of Demerol, a powerful opioid.  As a short term triggering transit, the subperiod lord Venus (25 Aries) was in a tight conjunction both with transiting Mars (24 Aries) and his natal Mars (28 Aries).   This is therefore a double Venus affliction by Mars, a planet that does not mix energies well with Venus.

As difficult as this transit and dasha combinations were, it's not clear how much of Michael Jackson's demise was inevitable.  As rational and self-reflective beings, we naturally resist the temptation of simple fatalism, and yet these astrological influences were unlikely to produce anything very favourable at this time.