The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, Fifty Years Later


April 4, 2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. The much-lauded civil rights leader, whose impact on legal racial equality in the US cannot be overstated, had spent the better part of his adult life fighting for freedoms which White Americans took for granted, but which were habitually denied to Blacks.


King became the conscience of the nation, and was instrumental in organizing pacifist protests against inequality which galvanized thousands of individuals across the country, and led directly to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. He organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, two years later founding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, of which he was the head. Perhaps the apex of his career came in 1963, with the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King addressed a crowd of some 250,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial, with his most memorable, “I Have a Dream” speech.


In late March 1968, King went to Memphis to support the striking black sanitary public works employees. On April 3rd he gave the final address of his life, known as “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”, and on the following day he was shot by Ray at 6:01 PM as he stood on the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel; after unsuccessful surgery to save his life, King was pronounced dead at 7:05 PM. He was just 39 years old.


Much has changed in America since, and progress in racial equality has often taken two steps forward, followed by one step back. King’s legacy stands as a shining example of how much one man can change the world, but also a reminder of the futility of confronting hate when it is so embedded in culture.

MLK march on DC

King addresses the crowd with his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Mall in Washington during the March for Jobs and Freedom

Born 15 January 1929 at noon CST in Atlanta, Georgia (Rodden Rating A), Martin Luther King sports a 25 Capricorn Sun which conjoins the Midheaven at 28 Capricorn, making it the most elevated point in the chart, granting King increased visibility and public notice. He remains the only private citizen never serving in any governmental capacity to have a Federal holiday named in his honor. Close beside the Sun is asteroid Rip, which functions as an indicator of death (based in the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription). Rip can be death itself, but also refers to one’s legacy, the visible signs of the passing, such as funerals or public displays of mourning, which can be notable when Rip is prominent. King’s funeral was attended by some 1300 people, and more than 100,000 lined the three-and-a-half-mile procession route. The Sun broadly opposes natal Pluto at 17 Cancer, indicating his transformative potential as an agent of change.


Asteroid Martina, for Martin, squares the Sun from 23 Aries, a common placement for one’s own PNA, typically connected to a Light or Angle. Asteroid King at 7 Aquarius is exactly conjoined Lachesis, another death indicator named for the mythic Greek Fate who determines the span of life, and is bound up with Mercury also, at 11 Aquarius. Mercury/King granted the gift of oratory which so infused King’s public speeches. And in essence, King eulogized himself, another manifestation of King/Lachesis tied to Mercury – at his widow’s request, a recording of his “Drum Major” sermon from two months before was played at the funeral. In it, King requested that at his funeral no mention of his awards and honors be made, but that it be said that he tried to “feed the hungry,” “clothe the naked,” and “love and serve humanity.”


There is also an asteroid Martin Luther, named for the German religious reformer after whom King was himself named, which at 12 Capricorn conjoins asteroid Gunn at 9, linking King personally with deadly weapons, implying that guns would form a key component of his biography. Another intimation of King’s fate is present in a truly remarkable Kite pattern, composed of the Sun in a Grand Trine with asteroid Lorraine at 29 Taurus, TNO Ixion and asteroid Requiem at 25 and 28 Virgo, with the “string” of the Kite formed by an out-of-Sign opposition to asteroid Memphis at 0 Leo, itself on the 28 Cancer IC, granting angular force and potency. Lorraine and Memphis reflect the venue of King’s death, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, while Ixion is named for the first murderer in Greek myth, and often indicates involvement with homicide. Requiem is another death indicator, named for the funeral mass. What is more, Lorraine, Ixion and Requiem are all stationary, embedded still points upon which the chart revolves, dramatically increasing their power and impact. Lorraine turned direct just the day before his birth, while Requiem turned retrograde five days after, and Ixion turned on December 25th, twenty days prior, but was still at its station degree when King was born.

MLK lorraine motel

The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where King’s life came to its tragic end

King’s assassin is also well represented in his birth chart. Asteroid James at 5 Scorpio is within orb of the 13 Scorpio Descendant, exactly opposing Chiron, the wounder, and also Jupiter, ruling both political philosophies and fame or renown, at 1 Taurus. James is also placed at the Apex of an out-of-Sign Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with inconjunct aspects to a Uranus/Karma pairing at 3 and 6 Aries, and asteroid Lorraine at 29 Taurus. Uranus rules explosives and shootings, Karma suggests some predestined event, and Lorraine of course represents the motel where he was shot.


Asteroid Wray (phonetic match for “Ray”) appears at 23 Gemini, conjunct Mars at 21 Gemini ruling violent death, attacks and guns, while opposing an exact natal triple conjunction of Saturn, ancient Lord of Death, asteroid Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, and the Galactic Center, conferring global notice or attention, all at 25 Sagittarius. Ixion/Requiem ties to this polarity by square, forming a T-Square, which becomes a loose Grand Cross with the addition of King’s natal Moon at 19 Pisces, representing the physical body and temporary living spaces such as the Lorraine Motel, which King frequented often during his lifetime.

MLK james-earl-ray

James Early Ray, King’s assassin

If James Earl Ray is prominent in King’s chart, so, too, is King prominent in the chart of his killer. Born 3 PM CST on 10 March 1928 in Alton, Illinois (Rodden Rating AA), Ray’s 20 Pisces Sun kicks off a string of points including asteroid James at 27 Pisces, an exact Uranus/Apophis pairing at 2 Aries, and asteroid Lorraine at 4 Aries. James on the Sun is again a common placement for one’s own PNA, but it’s the points after it, which conjoin James but not the Sun itself, which are of interest. Uranus again reflects violence and shootings, and Apophis is named for the ancient Egyptian personification of pure evil, often active in the commission of heinous acts. Lorraine identifies the location for Ray’s evildoing. Opposing both James and the Sun is an exact conjunction of TNO Ixion, that murder-related point, and asteroid Gunn, both at 23 Virgo. Note how this fits seamlessly into King’s Mars/Wray conjunction in Gemini, by square. Asteroid Wray at 16 Aries closely squares natal Pluto, modern ruler of death and planetary ruler of murder, at 15 Cancer, another indicator that Ray had the potential to be a killer.


Ray’s natal asteroid Martin Luther falls at 17 Scorpio, broadly conjunct his Moon at 9 Scorpio. Martin Luther is also stationary, turning retrograde three days after Ray’s birth, marking individuals who resonate to this point as critical elements of Ray’s story. Asteroid King at 27 Sagittarius conjoins Ray’s natal Rip at 29 Sagittarius, and falls atop King’s natal Saturn/Osiris, while T-Squared Ray’s Sun-Ixion/Gunn polarity, and forming a Grand Cross with asteroid Atropos, named for the Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death, at 21 Gemini, itself overlaying King’s.Mars/Wray. Asteroid Martina at 0 Pisces is trine natal Nemesis, named for the goddess of vengeance and retribution, at 2 Cancer, and forming a Grand Trine with the Moon. This becomes another Kite with the exact opposition of Nemesis to asteroid Lachesis, determiner of the lifespan, at 2 Capricorn.


Asteroid Memphis is once again angular, as in King’s chart, denoting it as of vital importance for Ray. At 2 Taurus, Memphis is exactly conjoined Chiron, opposes the Moon, and conjoins the 5 Taurus MC, suggesting that Ray’s public image, reputation or status is somehow bound up with the Tennessee city. Note also the conjunction to King’s natal Jupiter at 1 Taurus, and the opposition to his natal asteroid James at 5 Scorpio.

MLK lorraine motel king

King’s final minutes, on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel

This brings us to the day of the assassination itself. Shot at 6:01 PM CST on 4 April 1968, the chart shows 11 Libra rising, a degree which exactly matches that of King’s natal asteroid Nemesis, with his natal asteroid Atropos right beside at 10 Libra. Asteroid Anubis, named for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites, is also rising, at 15 Libra, exactly squared Ray’s natal Pluto. Setting on the 11 Aries Descendant is an exact conjunction of the transit Sun and Saturn at 15 Aries, marking the day as one associated with death. All these points conjoin Ray’s natal asteroid Wray at 16 Aries, highlighting him for the day (Sun), as well as in the moment (angularity). The 12 Cancer MC conjoins both King’s and Ray’s natal Pluto placements, and is exactly opposed King’s natal asteroid Martin Luther at 12 Capricorn, which is thus exactly conjoined the IC of this chart. Clustered about that MC are the transit Moon, asteroids King and Martina, at 2, 3 and 7 Cancer respectively. This puts Martin Luther King symbolically at the top of the chart, the focus of all eyes, elevated in much the way he was elevated on the Lorraine Motel’s second-floor balcony.


Incredibly, asteroid Lorraine is again stationing! At 18 Leo, Lorraine will turn direct just two days later. Lorraine is also squared asteroid Karma at 11 Scorpio, suggesting a fated locale, and opposes asteroid Wray at 17 Aquarius, itself conjoined Damocles, the doom hanging unseen overhead, at 19 Aquarius, putting Ray very specifically at the scene of the crime. Just pulling out of orb of this conjunction are asteroids Martin Luther and Memphis, at 27 and 28 Aquarius, placing King on the scene as well. These oppose Jupiter at 26 Leo, signifying a highly public event, something notable and famous, and form a T-Square with Neptune at 26 Scorpio, indicating a fanatical zeal, as well as King’s status as a spiritual leader.


Asteroid James at 25 Pisces is travelling with Mercury (news of the day) at 26 Pisces and Lachesis (determiner of lifespan) at 27 Pisces, and these oppose the Pluto/Uranus conjunction at 20 and 26 Virgo, source of so much unrest and strife in that decade, which straddles King’s natal Ixion at 25 Virgo. Remember also that these degrees align with King’s natal Saturn/Osiris – Mars/Wray opposition by square, overlaying Ray’s natal Sun/James – Ixion/Gunn polarity.


Also elevated in the Tenth House is asteroid Gunn, which at 22 Cancer opposes King’s natal Sun/Rip pairing at 25 and 24 Capricorn, forming a T-Square with his natal asteroid Martina at 23 Aries. Transit asteroid Requiem at 0 Leo is an exact match for King’s natal asteroid Memphis, once more reinforcing the venue for his death, and forms a T-Square with a transit opposition from TNO Ixion, ruling murderers, at 2 Scorpio, and transit Mars, violent death and attacks, at 5 Taurus. Note how Mars exactly conjoins Ray’s natal IC and exactly opposes King’s natal asteroid James (which Ixion more broadly conjoins), while Ixion exactly opposes Ray’s natal asteroid Memphis, yet again identifying the scene (Memphis) of the murder (Ixion). In addition, Ray’s natal Mars at 8 Aquarius factors into this polarity, forming a T-Square (actually a Grand Cross when transit Requiem and King’s natal Memphis are included).


When King was pronounced dead in St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 PM, the angles had shifted, to place 24 Libra on the Ascendant, exactly squared his natal Requiem at 24 Capricorn and the Sun at 25, and putting natal Martina at 23 Aries on the Descendant. The MC, now at 27 Cancer, opposes King’s natal MC at 28 Capricorn by one degree, essentially flipping the Vertical Axis of the birth chart.


Another stunning, if tragic, example of the perfect timing of the cosmos. If Martin Luther King were alive today, he would have celebrated his 89th birthday in January. One wonders what he would make of an America with award-winning black authors, actors and sports stars, including a former black president, and a current occupant of the Oval Office who draws moral equivalencies between White Supremacists and those who oppose them, and refers to black-majority nations as “shithole countries.”


Two steps forward, one step back.

Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

One comment, add yours.


Did you see his granddaughter at the DC march against guns? What a pistol!

Great post, Alex.

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