© 6-13-2011 by Donna Cunningham, MSW
I wasn’t going to write about former Senator, John Edwards, simply because everyone else is, but his high profile political rise and fall illustrates an important point about stelliums. They can bring great accomplishments, but the sheer concentration of so much energy in one sign or house also makes that a point of incredible vulnerability.
As we’ll see with Edwards’ chart, major transits to that sign or house can produce the highest highs and lowest lows in the course of a lifetime. Hard work to develop those talents and abilities can pay off handsomely during transits to one planet after another of the stellium.
However, misusing the abilities and qualities of the planets and signs involved can also backfire badly along the way. Much like a Grand Trine, the outstanding abilities inherent in a stellium can produce opportunities and accomplishments, but can also hold big temptations.
One reason people with stelliums may begin to misuse their abilities is because the matters of the house involved matter so much to them. Not the sort to rest on their laurels after a success, they keep wanting to top themselves with greater and greater triumphs. That’s when the lure of misusing their talents or taking dubious shortcuts creeps in. It’s especially true when the Sun is involved—as it is in Edwards’ case—because this is the source of their self-worth and the very place they hope to shine.
Stellium holders tend to stand out, so they’re often singled out by others who either need what they have or have what they need. Generally these others aren’t exactly sterling types, but instead may be 1) down and out or 2) not on the up and up. The temptations they present, once given into, become easier and easier to accept—the ends justifying the means. Eventually, under the wrong sort of transit, cutting ethical corners catches up with them.
People with stelliums have so much of themselves invested in one area of life that a setback can be devastating. Sometimes, if the planets in the cluster aren’t being used constructively, or if the first event doesn’t present enough of a wakeup, you’ll see a series of unwanted happenings while the transiting planet aspects each stellium planet in sequence.
John Edwards’ Natal Chart
The birth information and history are drawn from AstroDataBank Records here: Edwards, John and Edwards, Elizabeth and news media coverage here: Edwards Scandal Timeline: John Edwards and Rielle … – ABC News. The chart below is based on a birth time of 7:02 AM. AstroDataBank now rates this as a C, because his mother and a campaign aide both gave that birth time, but his wife asked him during an event and got 7:23 AM. The transits we’ll look at later seem to substantiate the 7:02 AM time.
The most striking feature of his birth chart is the cluster of 4 planets in Gemini, including a conjunction of Moon and Jupiter and another of the Sun and Mars. Mercury, the ruler of Gemini and of the 12th house is in Cancer and in his 12th, but conjunct the Ascendant in the Gauquelin sector. The strength of Gemini and Mercury indicates a natural salesman, able to speak people’s language and talk anyone into anything.
The close Moon-Jupiter conjunction speaks to his popularity with the public and his special appeal to the ladies. That conjunction, plus his Cancer planets and Ascendant, indicates an air of being a sincere, honest down home type. The Sun-Mars conjunction is the signature of a natural competitor and leader.
Next, we note the concentration of planets in the 12th house, including the Sun, Mars, and Mercury. I would also count Jupiter and the Moon–closely conjunct the 12th house cusp–as part of the picture, even though they’re at the very end of the 11th. My observation over the years is that a planet sitting very close to the cusp between two houses has an impact on both.
As we saw in Jupiter in the 12th—When Does Good Luck Turn Bad? Jupiter in the 12th can be very lucky and have secret sources of support, but pushing that luck too far can backfire.
Among a great many other things, the 12th is the house of secrets and self-undoing. Having the Sun in the 12th doesn’t doom you to obscurity. As noted in 12 Famous People with 12th House Suns, George W. Bush has it as well. What it does mean is that when ego and self-interest run wild, that position can lead you down the slippery slope of self-destruction.
As Edwards explained in an important interview on Nightline with Bob Woodward,
“I went from being a young senator to running for president, being a vice presidential candidate and becoming a national public figure. All of which fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want. You’re invincible. And there will be no consequences. And nothing, nothing could be further from the truth.” (transcript: John Edwards Interview)
Outer Planet Transits and Edwards’ Rise and Fall
The sequence of transits that bracketed his political career seems like a story arc in a novel or television series. Since this post is already long, I’ll give you the short version. You can follow it by downloading my Transit Tracking Table for 1990-2012.
Matching up dates and events to his transits, I saw that the entire sequence of his stellar rise and spectacular fall was related to a long series of transits by the outer planets—Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus—to his four planets in Gemini. The two clusters—Moon-Jupiter and Sun-Mars—are far enough apart that he had some golden years.
Pluto in Sagittarius opposed his Moon-Jupiter conjunction and entered his 6th house in 1998, the year he began his run for the Senate as a working man’s hero. It remained there, making oppositions to each of the 12th house planets in turn. He became a national figure and conducted his two presidential campaigns during a series of Pluto aspects to his Sun-Mars conjunction. Transiting oppositions don’t have to be bad.
From 2006-8, Pluto opposed his Sun and Mars, while squaring his Pisces Midheaven. He dealt with sexual and campaign fraud scandals by first denying them and finally having to admit what he’d done. When he was indicted recently, Pluto, now in Capricorn, was opposing Mercury in Cancer, the ruler of the whole shebang. His 6th is a large house and Pluto moves very slowly, so it entered in 1998 and won’t leave until 2015. I suspect this novel has a few more plot twists and turns.
During this same story arc, his chart also was strongly aspected by transiting Neptune—which is similar to the 12th in some of its effects as well as the ruler of his Pisces Midheaven. Since natal Neptune and Saturn are conjunct in the 4th and trine his Sun-Mars conjunction, he may have felt his fame and success was a great victory over his childhood poverty.
Neptune went into his 8th house in 1999, the year he took office in the US Senate. Being in Aquarius, it trined one after another of his Gemini planets during its time in the 8th. The trines brought what he must have considered fantastic opportunities but which translated into dirty deals, misuse of campaign funds, secret sexual affairs, and payoffs to cover up his actions. (Sleaze is sleaze, even under a trine!)
And, finally, transiting Uranus, first in Aquarius and then in Pisces was also part of the story arc. It was conjunct his Cancer Ascendant at birth and no doubt contributed to his enormous charisma. In his younger years, it passed through the lower half of his chart, more recently going through the 8th while it was in Aquarius. There it trined his Gemini stellium as he became a self-made multimillionaire, and then passed through the 9th as he became a lawmaker and a popular public figure.
However, Uranus can also have its manic, grandiose, and lawless sides, so as it went into Pisces and squared his Gemini planets, he spun out of control. The Uranus-Saturn opposition of 2009-10 meant Uranus was crossing over his late Pisces Midheaven while Saturn in Virgo was on his IC, while both of them squared his 12th house Mars. (The exactness of this set of aspects, to me, confirms the original birth time of 7:02 AM.) During that time, his misdeeds were revealed, the family broke up, Elizabeth died, and an indictment loomed.
Transits to stelliums are seldom as dramatic as we see here. The combination of a stellium being seriously misused and the 12th house being expressed in a self-destructive manner made John Edwards’ rise and fall particularly spectacular. His story may, however, serve as a cautionary tale to anyone who misuses the gifts and opportunities a stellium can represent.
Stellium Setbacks—the Bitter End or Another Beginning?
Not all setbacks that people with stelliums experience are due to misdeeds. They may correlate with shifts in the outer planets’ signs, eras when we undergo collective shifts in the areas of life related to those signs. Pluto in Capricorn, for instance, has accompanied huge changes in corporations and in the earth itself. The long series of transits to the sign Libra over the past century have profoundly reshaped relationships, and not always for the better.
These global shifts can represent both great losses and great opportunities when a stellium’s sign or house is affected. The genius of a stellium is that a personal failure can stimulate the individual to come up with solutions that help others affected by those same collective changes.
Where there are huge losses, it can take years to come back, though many of these gifted folks DO rebuild—better, stronger, and wiser—because that’s all they know to do with the special abilities and interests that make up the heart and soul of their existence.
Incidentally, while John Edwards won’t be welcomed back into politics, don’t conclude that he’s headed for the poorhouse. Born to an impoverished family, he was a multimillionaire by his late 30s. This cat can definitely land on its feet, and let’s hope he’s learned something from his long downhill slide
Readers, have you had—or watched someone else have—a rise and fall during outer planet transits to a stellium? Or, do you know of other celebrities who have? Please tell us about it in the comment section.
Articles on the 12th house:
- Jupiter in the 12th—When Does Good Luck Turn Bad?
- 12 Famous People with 12th House Suns
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the 12th House—but Were Afraid to Ask
- Readers Ask: Q & A about the 12th House
- New Insights into the 12th House from our Q&A Session
- 7 Secrets You May not Know about the 12th House
The Stellium Series:
- Skywriter’s Impact Test for Stelliums and Multiple Conjunctions–Version 2.0
- (Download a printable version here: Stellium Test 1 page .)
- The Incredible Vulnerability a Stellium Creates
- Readers Ask: Question and Answer Session on Stelliums by House
- Four Big Things You May Not Know about Stelliums
- Readers’ Insights into their own Stelliums
- A Few Last Insights into Stelliums from Readers
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Art Credit: Edwards’ photo by By alexdecarvalho.