On Tuesday, 17 April 2018, former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away peacefully at home at the age of 92, with her husband of 73 years at her side. A few days previously, Mrs. Bush, whose heart had been failing for years, refused further medical treatment and opted for comfort care.
The Bush legacy is certainly a tangled one, but Barbara was widely liked, and consistently more popular than her husband, President George H. W. Bush (“41”, as he is known), or her son, President George W. Bush (“43”). She had a wry sense of humor and could be caustic in her statements; some thought she was unfeeling of the plight of the poor or underprivileged. But she was a mainstay of her husband and family, the solid rock upon which they built their dynasty. As First Lady, one of Barbara’s areas of focus was literacy, for which she had a lifelong concern.
George and Barbara met at a country club Christmas dance when she was 16; 18 months later they were engaged, and wed on January 6, 1945, after her future husband’s military service in World War II had ended. The couple had six children, including George W. Bush, a former governor of Texas and US president; and John Ellis Bush, popularly known as “Jeb” (an acronym of his initials), a former governor of Florida.
In their early life together the Bushes knocked about the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states for several years (the family moved a total of 29 times during their marriage), eventually settling in Odessa, Texas when George entered the oil business, then moving on to Houston. Politics was also an early lure, with George elected as Harris Country Republican Party chairman in 1963. The following year George, whose father had been a US Senator, attempted to gain that office, but failed. He was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1966, and embarked on a Washington career that included stints as US Ambassador to the UN and Chair of the Republican National Committee during the Watergate years. President Gerald Ford appointed him head of the US Liaison Office in China in 1974, and Barbara followed. Three years later they were back in Washington with George heading the CIA.
In 1980 George ran for the Republican presidential nomination, denouncing fellow candidate Ronald Reagan’s fiscal policies as “voodoo economics,” but after losing to the former California Governor in the primary, he accepted the number two job as his Vice President. In 1988 he succeeded Reagan for a single term, being ousted by Bill Clinton in 1992. Barbara was a popular First Lady, because she largely avoided controversy, and even espoused some more liberal social views on abortion and homosexuality, which were fast becoming anathema to the Republican Party.
After leaving the White House, George and Barbara divided their time between Houston and the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. Both remained active (with George famously enjoying sky diving well into his 80s), but largely withdrew from politics, except to support their sons in their successive runs for office. Up to a point. As Jeb pondered his own presidential run in 2015, Barbara opined that “we’ve had enough Bushes” in the White House, but she reversed herself once he announced, and appeared in a campaign ad for him.
A series of surgeries and hospitalizations for pneumonia decreased her stamina in the 2010s, though she remained mentally alert and as feisty as ever. In April 2018 the family announced she had decided to remain at home with family rather than continue hospital care; days later she passed away.
Born 8 June 1925 at 7 PM EDT in Queens, New York (Rodden Rating A), Barbara Pierce Bush combined an adventurous but philosophic Sagittarius Ascendant with an inquisitive, quick-witted Gemini Sun and a pragmatic, goal-oriented, disciplinarian Capricorn Moon. Her focus on literacy stems from the Gemini/Sagittarius accent in the chart, while Capricorn inclined her to government service and a sense of what was right, proper and decorous.
As is common with one’s own PNAs, and those who become closest to them, Barbara’s asteroids reflect their importance in her life. Asteroid Barbara at 13 Cancer opposes her Moon at 16 Capricorn; asteroid Pearce (homophone for maiden name Pierce) squares it from 14 Aries. Barbara is also sandwiched between Pluto at 12 Cancer and Mars at 19 Cancer, conferring a core of steel, intense personal presence and an iron will. Barbara Bush was a force to be reckoned with, as witnessed by her adult sons, who sometimes termed her “the Nutcracker” or “the enforcer.” Pearce, of course, also squares these placements.
Her 17 Gemini Sun is conjoined by asteroid George, showing the close identification with her husband which wrought their extraordinary 73-year-long union, the longest in US presidential history. George is also very broadly conjoined natal Venus at 29 Gemini, showing a love match, and also widely opposed to both asteroid Juno at 11 Sagittarius and Hera at 27 Sagittarius, Roman and Greek goddesses of marriage respectively, establishing George as the spouse of choice. Hera’s position on the Galactic Center shows a potential for her marriage or spouse to be globally famous.
Additionally, asteroid Georgia, a feminine variant of George, appears at 18 Libra, opposing Pearce and squaring the Moon as well as the Pluto/Barbara/Mars stellium, and is stationary in the sky, turning direct the day after her birth. Stationary points are embedded in consciousness and become the lodestars of the life, exhibiting an enhanced importance and power. With Georgia is asteroid America at 20 Libra, also stationing (turning direct 5 days later). Asteroid Busch (spelling variant of “Bush”) at 20 Leo is exactly conjunct Neptune, signaling a spiritual union, sextile the Sun (thus becoming a part of her self-identity) and also widely conjunct Washingtonia at 27 Leo, indicating where alliance with that name would draw her.
The pull to the White House can also be seen in asteroid Whitehouse at 11 Gemini, conjunct her 17 Gemini Sun, but also exactly conjoined asteroid Achilles, suggesting that her stay at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue might have brought out some sort of inherent weakness or vulnerability, and exactly opposed Juno at 11 Sagittarius, indicating it was her role as spouse that got her there.
Natal Mercury at 4 Gemini conjoins the 1 Gemini Descendant, further evidence of the importance of primary, basic education such as literacy, in her life. A combination of the Moon with both Jupiter and asteroid Texas at 21 Capricorn shows a well-traveled life, with some residence in foreign lands or for diplomatic purposes (Jupiter), and the choice of the Lone Star State (Texas) as the focus of much of her domestic life. Asteroid Houston, the city where she died, falls at 0 Aries, squared to asteroid Rip (for the acronym“RIP”) at 5 Cancer, sesquiquadrate asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 17 Leo, and inconjunct Atropos, named for the mythic Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death at 1 Virgo, providing three specific contacts between death-elated bodies and the venue for her demise.
When Barbara Bush passed away on April 17th, the transit Sun at 27 Aries was exactly conjunct natal Chiron, with transit Chiron at 0 Aries exactly conjunct natal Houston. Chiron, as the mythic guide, teacher and mentor, also has associations with education, a fitting emphasis on the day for one who was so engaged in literacy programs. Transit Houston at 9 Capricorn was exactly conjunct transit Saturn, ancient lord of death, with both aligned to Barbara’s natal asteroid Osiris, named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, close beside at 10 Capricorn, and opposing natal Pluto at 12 Cancer, modern ruler of death.
Transit Barbara at 21 Leo was at station, having turned direct on April 14th, at about the time the family announced she would not be receiving further medical attention, indicating the major “change in direction” her life was taking with that decision. Of course that is also conjoined by natal Neptune/Busch at 20 Leo, and still within orb of natal Requiem at 17 Leo. Transit Requiem at 17 Cancer is just one degree past the natal Moon, leading transit Busch, which at 12 Cancer exactly opposes natal Pluto.
A curious grouping of transit Jupiter, Hera and Anubis (named for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites) at 20, 28 and 29 Scorpio foreshadows the death (Anubis) of a political (Jupiter) spouse (Hera). These oppose transit Venus and Osiris at 21 and 22 Taurus (death of a woman or loved one), forming a T-Square with Barbara at 21 Leo. Asteroid George at 11 Pisces conjoins transit Neptune at 15 Pisces, and is semisquare the Sun at 27 Aries, also highlighting the former president for the day. It is also exactly squared to Barbara’s natal Juno, the spouse, at 11 Sagittarius.
Barbara Bush may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but she exuded a graciousness and propriety sadly lacking in much of today’s political class. As a relic of a bygone age, she is to be celebrated and honored.