On Thursday August 16, 2018 “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin relinquished her earthly title for a spot on the Celestial Choir. Franklin, aged 76, who had been fighting pancreatic cancer for 8 years, passed away at home while on hospice care, surrounded by family and friends. Her death elicited memorials, statements, tributes and reflections on her life from across the globe.
Franklin’s history with music was lifelong and universal. She began singing gospel as a young girl in the choir of the church her father pastored in Detroit, later embarking on a secular career after High School, but that gospel root pervaded her style and stood out in bold relief in her concerts, where she continued to perform church standards in the mix until her death. She once substituted for an ill Luciano Pavarotti, with whom she was friends, seamlessly shifting into operatic mode with seeming ease, but it was Soul and Blues classics like “Respect”, “Chain of Fools” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” that rocketed her to stardom in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Franklin was a huge commercial success, recording 112 charted singles on “Billboard”, including 17 top-ten pop hits, making her the top female performer on that chart. Franklin won 18 Grammys, sold more than 75 million albums worldwide, and was the first female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987. She sang at the inaugurations of three American Presidents, Clinton, Bush Jr and Obama. Her final performance was at a 25th anniversary gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation on November 7, 2017.
Franklin was married twice, and twice divorced, but only the third of her four sons was born in wedlock. Her first two boys were born when Franklin was 12 and 14 respectively, and raised by her grandmother and sister, especially after Franklin’s career took off when she signed with Atlantic Records in 1966, and she began spending increasing amounts of time on the road.
Born 25 March 1942 at 10:30 PM CWT in Detroit, Michigan (Rodden Rating AA), Aretha Franklin’s connection with music was heaven-sent (with an assist from NASA). The bit of space debris that would eventually become asteroid Aretha was first detected in 2001 and was designated as an asteroid in February 2010 by the NEOWISE project, according to the federal agency. The project officially named the space object after Franklin in 2014, and the agency tweeted its condolences hours after the singer’s death: “We’re saddened by the loss of Aretha Franklin. Asteroid 249516 Aretha, found by our NEOWISE mission and named after the singer to commemorate the #QueenOfSoul, will keep orbiting beyond Mars.” It’s quite remarkable to find that this asteroid, named for Aretha but not discovered until she was nearly 60, should fall in such a prominent place in her nativity.
Appropriately, Aretha’s namesake rock chunk falls at 27 Libra in her birth chart, opposing asteroid Polyhymnia, named for the Greek Muse of sacred song, at 25 Aries, and in a Grand Cross with Euterpe, Greek Muse of lyric poetry wo presided over music generally, at 19 Capricorn; asteroid Rocknroll at 28 Capricorn, designated to honor the genre itself, but playing such a pivotal role in Franklin’s biography, as the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and asteroid Franklina, closest match to Franklin, at 22 Cancer (Franklina also conjoins the Moon at 17 Cancer, which governs family inheritance, perfect for her surname). Just to be sure you get the point, and in case two classical and one pop references to singing weren’t enough, the cosmos obliged with asteroid Singer at 28 Cancer, squared Aretha and exactly opposed Rocknroll. Aretha is also sesquiquadrate natal Mercury at 13 Pisces, ruling the naming function, another common placement for one’s own PNA (also broadly squared the Moon). This Pisces Mercury is musical, sensitive and lyrical, poetic, empathetic and sweeping, and is exactly sesquiquadrate Singer, perhaps explaining why vocalist, not orator, was Franklin’s chosen means of expressing its potential.
Aretha’s sultry, soulful style can be sourced to her 15 Scorpio Ascendant, sexy, deep and emotionally penetrating. Her 4 Aries Sun, brash, bold, uncompromising and forthright, widely opposes Neptune, modern planetary ruler of music, while Venus, the traditional ruler, enjoys angular force and importance from 20 Aquarius, conjoined the 23 Aquarius IC. Truly, music was her foundation (IC), and Venus in square to Saturn at 24 Taurus, with Neptune in trine, made music a likely career choice. Aretha’s status as “Queen of Soul” can be glimpsed in asteroid Aretha’s close trine to asteroid Queen’s at 28 Aquarius, within orb of Venus, traditional ruler of singers, and also conjoined the IC. As well, asteroid Regina, Latin for “queen”, opposes her Sun from 10 Libra, making that regal attitude a central part of her core being.
When Aretha Franklin became the first female inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 3 January 1987, the skies of course cooperated in this honor. The Sun at 12 Capricorn is exactly conjunct Regina, highlighting the Queen of Soul for the day. The Sun is also opposed her natal Moon and broadly squared her natal Sun. Asteroid Rocknroll at 29 Scorpio is appropriately conjunct Venus at 26 Scorpio, ruling both females and singers, and exactly opposed a stationary asteroid Queen’s at 29 Taurus, for the record-setting event. Asteroid Singer at 10 Aries and Aretha at 15 Libra form a T-Square with the Sun; Singer also exactly opposes natal Regina at 10 Libra. Transit asteroid Franklina at 7 Sagittarius bridges the gap between Rocknroll and transit Saturn at 15 Sagittarius, signaling the career (Saturn) boost from the induction. It was a good day for all the inductees, with Saturn, Singer and Polyhymnia (at 14 Leo) forming a Grand Trine in the sky, but it was asteroid Aretha at 15 Libra which created the “string” of the resulting Kite Pattern, giving it direction and focus.
The family’s official announcement of her death on August 16th states 9:50 AM EDT as the time, in Detroit, the city of her birth. This shows 29 Virgo Rising, closely conjoined natal Neptune, with the 29 Pisces Descendant within orb of her 4 Aries Sun. The 29 Gemini MC conjoins natal Anubis, named for the Egyptian deity ruling funerary rites, at 27 Gemini. The transit Sun at 23 Leo was an exact match for her natal Midheaven, which in itself is another indicator of that regal, “queenly” demeanor, so apparent in her bravura onstage performances.
Pluto, with its close affinity to cancer, was very active in Franklin’s chart over the past two years, with its retrograde station of April 2016 at 17 Capricorn exactly opposed her 17 Cancer Moon, ruling the physical body. In April of 2017 Pluto’s retrograde station exactly conjoined natal Euterpe, bringing an end to her singing career barely six months later. This past spring, Pluto’s station did not quite make it to the exact opposition to Franklina, turning retrograde at 21 Capricorn (however, July 12th’s Solar Eclipse at 20 Cancer did highlight Franklina, as well as the Moon, an image of blotting out her light). At her passing Pluto, the modern ruler of death, was once again exactly conjunct natal Euterpe and exactly squared transit Regina at 19 Libra, representing the passing of the singer known as the Queen.
When Aretha Franklin died, asteroid Aretha at 17 Taurus was conjunct both Queen’s at 13 Taurus and Singer at 20 Taurus, memorializing the Queen of Soul in the skies. These oppose transit Jupiter, ruling fame and celebrity, and often active in passing charts, at 15 Scorpio, as well as transit Anubis at 21 Scorpio, reiterating the theme of death linked to Aretha. Jupiter exactly conjoined her natal Ascendant. Transit Franklina at 20 Virgo opposes Neptune and Euterpe at 15 and 18 Pisces, both identifying her as a musician and singer.
A grouping of asteroids Atropos at 26 Libra and Rip at 0 Scorpio with the Moon at 2 Scorpio and asteroid Polyhymnia at 9 Scorpio, combines a double dose of death imagery (Atropos, named for the Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death; and Rip, for the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”) with references to a female (Moon) singer (Polyhymnia). These oppose a natal pairing of Atropos and Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 1 and 4 Taurus, energizing death indicators in the birth chart. These were also currently being transited by Uranus at 2 Taurus, and while Franklin’s death was not unexpected (her family announced that she was grievously ill and not likely to recover, three days earlier), Uranus’ hand can be seen in Franklin’s unique style and eclectic blend of musical genres to create her own distinctive flair, a parting nod to her individuality. Truly, Aretha Franklin was one of a kind.
Transit Atropos is also conjoined natal Aretha at 27 Libra, and sets off that natal Grand Cross described above. Transit Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, falls at 22 Cancer, exactly conjoined natal Franklina, signaling her death, while transit Rocknroll at 17 Cancer is an exact match for her natal Moon. Transit Nemesis, noted for undoing (though not necessarily mortality), exactly conjoins natal Lachesis at 6 Gemini, the Greek Fate who determines the span of life. Transit Lachesis falls at 0 Gemini, about to return to its natal place, and together with Nemesis squares natal Rip at 7 Virgo.
Aretha Franklin’s was a voice which, once heard, was not easily forgotten. Though it has been stilled, it continues to resonate, like her eponymous asteroid, spinning on the cosmic turntable for all time.