On Tuesday, May 30, 2017, celebrity gossip site TMZ tweeted an advance picture from a photo shoot of comedian Kathy Griffin, noted for her edgy, highly political humor. In the photo, Griffin stands impassively, holding a blood-soaked decapitated head, which closely resembles Donald Trump.
Within hours the social media firestorm had begun, and so did the repercussions from sponsors and employers, with several venues canceling scheduled appearances, including a book signing with Senator Al Franken. CNN, whose New Year’s Eve coverage Griffin has co-hosted with Anderson Cooper for a decade, severed ties with the comedian on Wednesday.
Trump’s response, delivered a la mode via Twitter, excoriated Griffin as “sick”, and his adult sons followed suit in their condemnation. Don Jr. characterized the image as “disgusting but not surprising.” Even First Lady Melania Trump weighed in, in a rare public foray, releasing this statement: “As a mother, a wife, and a human being, that photo is very disturbing. When you consider some of the atrocities happening in the world today, a photo opportunity like this is simply wrong and makes you wonder about the mental health of the person who did it.”
Griffin apologized almost immediately in a video released on social media, and again at a press conference held that Friday, where she accused the president and his family of bullying her, and attempting to destroy her over the incident: “A sitting president of the United States and his grown children and the first lady are personally trying to ruin my life forever,” she said. “You guys know him, he’s not going to stop. … I don’t think I’ll have a career after this. I’m going to be honest, he broke me.” Griffin’s charge of bullying seemed ironic to many, as the comedian has often been accused of a bullying, in-your-face style of comedy herself.
A look at Griffin’s birth chart and transits for the day the photo was released shed considerable light on the matter. Born 4 November 1960, Griffin’s 12 Scorpio Sun is conjoined by asteroids Thalia at 17 Scorpio, named for the Muse of Comedy, and Toro, noted for bullying, aggressive behaviors, at 16 Scorpio, and here we see the source of Griffin’s special brand of humor. Mercury retrograde joins the stellium from 18 Scorpio, making words an effective ally and outlet for the comedian. Bullying works both ways, and Griffin has spoken about the extreme level of abuse she endured as a child, where her atypical looks brought derision and hectoring on a routine basis, with other students calling her “dog.” As she confessed to Rosie O’Donnell: “I was so ugly that the other kids would just look at me and bark.”
Griffin internalized the bullying and had issues with bulimia and body image, but she worked through that and exorcised her demons through her comedy, often aggressively lashing out at others. She denies the charge of bullying for herself, however, stating, “You’re going to call a comedian a bully – then what that tells me is that you have never really been bullied.”
The solar stellium is in sextile to a pairing of Saturn and TNO Salacia at 13 and 14 Capricorn, translating Griffin’s personalized comedic sensibilities (Sun/Thalia) into an actual career environment (Saturn), with the emphasis on shocking or scandalizing others (Salacia, noted for overtly sexual imagery, but also representing sensationalism generally). Asteroid Kathy at 29 Aquarius closely opposes Uranus at 28 Leo, suggesting Griffin’s quirky, kooky, scattershot style, while asteroid Griffin at 9 Libra squares natal Mars at 17 Cancer, establishing her as a fighter and survivor. Mars also opposes Saturn, suggesting a career fraught with battles, arguments and disagreements.
Griffin’s full-throated advocacy for the LGBT community is legendary, perhaps bolstered by asteroid Sappho, named for the noted ancient Greek lesbian poet, at 2 Libra, conjunct asteroid Griffin and semisquared Mercury. Asteroid Ganymed, another indicator of homosexual affinity, falls at 8 Virgo, conjoined Pluto at 7; these square asteroid Kathleen, Griffin’s given first name, at 11 Sagittarius, again providing a very personal focus and foothold on gay issues.
Opining on national politics is also a natural fit for Griffin, who sports a conjunction of Jupiter, ruling politics, and asteroid Whitehouse, representing the Oval Office, at 1 and 6 Capricorn respectively. Ironically, she has an exact conjunction of asteroids Washingtonia, representing the US capital, and Troemper, representing Donald Trump, at 25 Scorpio. These form a T-Square of the Kathy/Uranus polarity, and are within wide orb of opposing asteroid Photographica at 17 Taurus. This of course represents the now-infamous beheading picture, originally intended as a joke (Photographica exactly opposes Thalia).
The TMZ tweet releasing the photo was sent at 1:59 PM PDT on 30 May 2017, from Los Angeles, CA. The chart has a 25 Virgo Rising degree, which conjoins Griffin’s natal asteroid Nemesis, named for goddess of divine retribution, at 28 Virgo (Nemesis’ role was to step in and chastise mortals who had exceeded their boundaries). Asteroid Griffin at 25 Gemini squares this, and exactly conjoins the Midheaven, showing Griffin as the focus of all eyes in that moment. Aside Griffin is Mars at 26 Gemini, and both oppose the Galactic Center at 27 Sagittarius, on the IC. This prefigures the fight (Mars) to come, and grants it universal notice and attention (the GC). Asteroid Kathy at 13 Leo is with the Moon at 19 Leo, and is also conjunct a Maser, a deep space anomaly which promotes violent controversy (Griffin has stated that she has received numerous death threats from the incident). Transit Mercury at 18 Taurus squares Kathy/Moon and exactly opposes its own natal degree, while conjunct Griffin’s natal Photographica as well, thrusting a photo prominently into the news (Mercury).
In casting about for suitable “beheading” asteroids, two came to mind immediately: Medusa, named for the Gorgon decapitated by the hero Perseus, who is also represented by the “Demon star” Algol in the constellation of Perseus; and Orpheus, whose story ends after his dismemberment by frenzied followers of Dionysos, with his severed head floating out to sea, still singing funeral dirges.
Transit Orpheus at 24 Pisces conjoins the Descendant, lending it angular force and power, as well as potentially disrupting relationships with others. It is also within orb of both Chiron at 28 Pisces and asteroid America at 21, showing the wounding (Chiron) Griffin would take over the incident, and the broad dissemination of the picture throughout the country (America). Incredibly, these asteroids are conjunct each other in Griffin’s natal chart, at 21 and 25 Libra, forming a loose T-Square with the Mars/Saturn opposition. These points have been receiving an opposition from transit Uranus and TNO Eris, an open invitation to shocking others’ sensibilities and stirring up controversy (both Uranus) , resulting in disaffection and discord (both Eris). This grouping was joined by Venus at 23 Aries for the photo’s release, exactly conjunct Eris, indicating a female entertainer at the center of the controversy.
Transit Medusa, our other beheading asteroid, falls at 7 Gemini, conjoined the transit Sun at 9 Gemini, making decapitation a focus of the day. The Sun is itself exactly trined Griffin’s natal asteroid Griffin at 9 Libra and opposed natal Kathleen at 11 Sagittarius, also highlighting her as pivotal to the day’s events. Medusa exactly squares Griffin’s natal Pluto at 7 Virgo, which is also the degree of transit asteroid Karma, representing the results of our actions. This symbolizes a devastating loss (Pluto) evoked by the decapitation imagery (Medusa), based in Griffin’s own acts (Karma). Also with the Sun is asteroid Troemper at 14 Gemini, bringing The Donald specifically into the mix.
Asteroid Photographica at 1 Cancer exactly opposes natal Jupiter, blending photos and politics, while asteroid Icarus at 13 Aries is exactly squared natal Saturn, suggesting the rash, reckless action (Icarus) which would impact her career (Saturn). Asteroid Achilles at 5 Capricorn bisects the natal Jupiter/Whitehouse conjunction, showing a weakness or vulnerability (Achilles, as in “Achilles Heel”) proceeding from politics, specifically the Oval Office.
Perhaps most interesting is a mini-stellium in late Aquarius, comprising transit Whitehouse at 29 Aquarius, Damocles at 26 and Thalia at 21. Together these spell “the doom hanging unseen overhead (Damocles), proceeding from the Oval Office (Whitehouse), affecting a comedian (Thalia).” Exactly which comedian is specified by Whitehouse’s exact conjunction with Griffin’s natal Kathy at 29 Aquarius. These all square Griffin’s natal Washingtonia/Troemper conjunction at 25 Scorpio, reinforced in the moment by transit Washingtonia at 28 Scorpio. Thus Griffin has just experienced a “Washingtonia Return”, an event recurring every five and two-thirds years, and affording the opportunity of a “reset” with the point in question. Additionally, this stellium, and the natal grouping in Scorpio, all interact with 26 Taurus, the degree of Fixed Star Algol, forming Medusa’s head in the Perseus constellation, a point noted for promoting decapitation.
This picture was obviously an egregious breach of good taste, and it’s ironic to have to defend a man who has crossed that line himself so many times, with such gusto. Given this, I suspect that career setbacks for Griffin will likely be temporary rather than permanent. It can’t be a deal-breaker to insult the Don Rickles of politics.