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Summer of ’69, Part II: Chappaquiddick

In mid-July of 1969, as all eyes were riveted skyward on the Apollo 11 mission to land a man on the moon, a rather more tawdry drama was playing out here on planet Earth. Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, brother of slain American president John F. Kennedy and slain presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, became embroiled in a personal tragedy that would ultimately set the seal on the demise of his family’s aspirations to become a political dynasty.


On the night of July 18-19, 1969, under circumstances still not fully understood to this day, Kennedy was involved in a fatal crash of his car off the Dike Bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in Martha’s Vineyard, which took the life of 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne.   The Senator had attended a reunion party for staffers of his late brother’s fateful 1968 presidential campaign, including Kopechne, and left with her after 11 PM on the 18th. Kennedy later described their departure as at her request, to drive her back to her hotel, but the fact remains that Ms. Kopechne left her purse and hotel key at the party, and Kennedy, who was known for his indulgence in extramarital affairs, refused the services of his chauffeur for the trip, though the partygoers had been drinking.


The car was witnessed behaving erratically by a local Deputy Sheriff at about 12:40 AM on the 19th, who approached to offer assistance to what appeared to him to be a lost or disoriented driver, when the vehicle took off again at speed.


What happened next is uncertain. Kennedy later claimed that he took a wrong turn which landed him onto a dirt road leading to the wooden Dike Bridge, which was not fitted with a guardrail. Realizing his mistake too late, he applied the brakes, but lost control of the car, which skidded off the south end of the bridge into the water. Kennedy fought free of the car and swam to shore, but Kopechne was trapped in the submerged vehicle and drowned.


Kennedy rested at the shoreline for approximately 15 minutes before returning on foot to the Lawrence cottage, where the party had been held. En route he passed four houses, but did not stop to seek aid or call police. Having arrived at the party, he did not alert the guests, but collapsed in the back seat of a rented car, then later summoned his cousin and a friend who had also attended. The three then returned to the scene of the accident, still without notifying police, and attempted to retrieve Kopechne from the car but were unsuccessful.

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Aerial view of the Dike Bridge in Edgartown where the accident occurred; no metal guard rails existed in 1969

Still Kennedy did not call authorities, but returned to his hotel, after which he contacted his lawyers. He did not report the incident until a full ten hours later, just after Kopechne’s body had been discovered by fishermen and retrieved by police. An inquest held in January 1970 found that Kennedy had “operated his motor vehicle negligently… and that such operation appears to have contributed to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne.” The presiding judge found “probable cause” that Kennedy had committed a crime and could have issued a warrant for his arrest, but he did not do so; despite this conclusion, the local District Attorney chose not to prosecute Kennedy for manslaughter.


The incident caused a sensation, and led directly to Kennedy’s decisions not to run for president in 1972 and 1976, as well as hampering his abortive 1980 campaign. The political fortunes of the Kennedy clan, so bright and promising just a few years before, had evaporated.


The estimated time of the actual crash was 12:45 AM EDT on 19 July 1969, and a chart cast for that time reveals a cosmic date with destiny for the participants. Saturn, ancient lord of death, appears at 8 Taurus on the 14 Taurus Ascendant, opposing asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 10 Scorpio on the Descendant, also conjoined by asteroid Massachusetts (the state represented by Kennedy, and where the tragedy occurred) at 5 Scorpio. The Sun and Mercury at 26 and 22 Leo cluster on the 25 Cancer IC, indicating the focus and news of the day, which involved a car (Mercury) and are accompanied by asteroid Edgerton (it was the Edgartown Bridge that Kennedy should have been making for) at 29 Leo, establishing the general venue of the incident.


The Sun is also in a precise Grand Trine with Neptune at 26 Scorpio, ruling the sea, and asteroid Mary, for Kopechne, at 26 Pisces. In and of itself, Neptune in Scorpio can suggest a watery death, though this slow-mover spends many years in each Sign. Neptune is also exactly squared to asteroid Lawrence at 26 Leo, for the Lawrence cottage where the party was held, and represents the drinking which occurred there and may have led to the accident.


The Moon at 17 Virgo conjoins Pluto, modern lord of death and ruler of homicide, at 22 Virgo, suggesting the wrongful death (Pluto) of a woman (Moon), as well as asteroid Martha (for the Martha’s Vineyard location) at 8 Virgo and asteroid Rip with asteroid Icarus at 24 Virgo. Rip is another death indicator (as the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription) while Icarus represents rash, reckless actions heedless of the consequences, and also has affinities with drowning (Icarus plunged to his death in the sea). Pluto and Icarus/Rip oppose asteroid Mary, transforming that solar Grand Trine noted above into a Kite pattern.

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Kennedy’s car was retrieved from the water almost twelve hours after the crash, with Kopechne’s body still inside

Mary is also at station, turning retrograde a week later on July 26th, which would have been Kopechne’s twenty-ninth birthday (thus she was experiencing her first Saturn Return at the time). Broadly with Mary is asteroid Dike, for the Dike Bridge, which at 4 Aries is also stationary (it would turn retro on July 28) and exactly squared to asteroid Kennedy at 4 Capricorn, placing him on the scene. A T-Square is formed with an exact Jupiter/Uranus conjunction at 0 Libra, which indicates a shocking (Uranus) political development (Jupiter), as well as the accident itself (also Uranus), involving a member of America’s “royal family” (Jupiter). Kennedy is very broadly with asteroid Anubis at 25 Sagittarius, named for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites; Anubis’ close conjunction with the Galactic Center suggests a death which is universally noted or acknowledged.


There is a remarkable grouping of asteroids Osiris, Nemesis, Senator and Atropos exact with Bridges, at 8, 9, 13 and 18 Leo respectively, which depicts a death (both Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, and Atropos, named for the Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death) which leads to self-undoing (Nemesis) for a Senator (Kennedy), involving a bridge (Bridges). A loose grouping of asteroids Edoardo, Chappe and Lachesis at 0, 7 and 19 Gemini, with Venus between them at 13 Gemini, combines Kennedy (Edoardo = Edward), Chappaquiddick (as Chappe, closest asteroid referent), a woman/romantic interest (Venus) and the end of a life (Lachesis is named for the Greek Fate who determines the span of life). These loosely oppose Mars with asteroid Achilles at 2 and 5 Sagittarius (a violent death – Mars – and a resultant weakness or vulnerability – Achilles), square Martha and the Moon (the venue – Martha’s Vineyard – and another female indicator) and T-Square asteroid Eduarda at 1 Pisces (another variant of Edward).


The potential for this incident is reflected in both Kennedy’s and Kopechne’s charts. Born 22 February 1932 at 3:58 AM EST in Dorchester, MA (Rodden Rating AA), Edward Kennedy’s 2 Pisces Sun is in a Grand Trine with asteroids Rip, Osiris, Achilles and Mary, at 2, 3, 4 and 11 Scorpio (all straddling the 6 Scorpio MC, influencing reputation and career), indicating a weakness (Achilles) originating from an individual of that name (Mary), as well as aligning her with two prominent death indicators (Rip/Osiris); and asteroids Edoardo and Requiem at 3 and 11 Cancer, linking Kennedy very personally (Edoardo) with the theme of death (Requiem; and again, in a Water Sign). Note also that Requiem and Mary are exactly trine. Achilles, Rip, Requiem and Edoardo are all at station, with Achilles turning retrograde on February 18th, Rip on February 17th, Requiem on the 25th, Edoardo on the 15th; this suggests a greater-than-normal prominence for these themes in the biography, as embedded factors in Kennedy’s psyche.

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The tragedy at Chappaquiddick, or rnore correctly, Ted Kennedy’s response to it, effectively ended any chance of the Kennedy family regaining the White House, though it did not end his political career entirely; he remained in the Senate for forty years

Requiem exactly squares an exact Lawrence/Venus conjunction at 11 Cancer, which Mary exactly trines. This links death (Requiem) with a romantic interest (Venus) named Mary Jo (Mary) at a house party (also Venus) at the Lawrence cottage (Lawrence). These three also exactly aspect death-indicator Anubis at 11 Gemini, by semisextile (Requiem), inconjunct (Mary) and sextile (Lawrence).


Venus conjoins Uranus at 16 Aries, suggesting an accident involving a romantic partner, and these square an Atropos/Pluto pairing at 16 and 20 Cancer, suggesting the mishap is a fatal one; Mary opposes asteroids Bridges and Nemesis at 6 and 9 Taurus, both conjunct the 0 Taurus IC, granting them angular force and power and identifying Mary Jo (Mary) as a source of undoing (Nemesis) related to a bridge (Bridges). Anubis conjoins asteroid Dike at 8 Gemini, identifying where the death (Anubis) occurred (the Dike Bridge).


Asteroid Massachusetts at 0 Aquarius pairs with asteroid Karma at 2, depicting that state as pivotal to Kennedy’s fate, while Saturn conjunct from 29 Capricorn shows a career link, as well as one to death; an exact trine from Massachusetts to asteroid Senator at 0 Libra defines the role Kennedy would play for the commonwealth. A string of additional Aquarian points further confirm the facts: Icarus at 15 with Chappe at 16 denotes rash decisions revolving about the Chappaquiddick locale; Damocles with Kennedy at 20 and 24 shows a doom hanging unseen overhead for Kennedy related to this; and the Mars/Mercury conjunction at 27 and 28 Aquarius speaks to a violent death which makes news.

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Annotated map of the incident, illustrating events and Kennedy’s story

An exact Moon/Neptune conjunction at 6 Virgo suggests a prominence of women and water; asteroid Edgerton at 23 Leo grouped with Martha, Lachesis and Jupiter at 19, 16 and 15 Leo hints at a famous (Jupiter) death (Lachesis) at the Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard location (Edgerton, Martha). These oppose the Aquarian stellium mentioned above.


Note also the connections to the accident itself. Natal Rip, Osiris, Achilles, MC and Mary conjoin the accident’s Massachusetts, Requiem and Descendant. Natal Senator is conjoined exactly by the accident’s Jupiter/Uranus conjunction, sending shockwaves through Kennedy’s political prospects. Natal Atropos/Pluto conjoins the accident’s Mercury/IC/Sun; natal Dike/Anubis conjoins the accident’s Edoardo/Chappe/Venus/Lachesis; natal Nemesis conjoins the accident’s Saturn/Ascendant. Natal Sun conjoins the accident’s Eduarda, while natal Icarus/Chappe/Damocles conjoins the accident’s Karma at 13 Aquarius, with Fate catching up to Kennedy at last.


Mary Jo Kopechne’s chart is just as fraught with karmic implications for her association with Kennedy. Born 26 July 1940 (no time available), Kopechne’s Pluto/Sun conjunction at 2 and 3 Leo suggests a violent, scandalous, possibly sex-related demise which is caused by another person and comes to define her.

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Just days shy of her 29th birthday when she died, Mary Jo Kopechne’s birth chart shows several connections between death indicators and asteroids representing Kennedy

Two points are at station, indicating inordinate power and influence: asteroid Osiris at 6 Sagittarius, conjunct asteroid Edoardo at 9 Sag. This inextricably links the Senator (Edoardo) with her death (Osiris), while a Grand Trine formed from Nemesis at 12 Aries identifies him as source of her undoing or ruin, doubly so given the Kite pattern created by Nemesis’ opposition to asteroid Eduarda at 10 Libra.; this makes him the driver of her fate (as the “String” of the Kite) Asteroid Kennedy at 11 Gemini (with Chappe at 9) is an exact match for Kennedy’s natal Anubis, while asteroid Lawrence at 1 Pisces falls exactly on the accident’s Eduarda; when these four factors came together, with Edward Kennedy at the Lawrence cottage, death was the result. Anubis at 9 Pisces exactly squares Edoardo and T-Squares Chappe.


Also at station is asteroid Lachesis at 28 Pisces, that lifespan determiner (which would turn retrograde three days later), and this squares a triple conjunction of Dike, Bridges and Venus at 23, 27 and 28 Gemini, identifying the Dike Bridge venue and the romantic liaison about to ensue. The T-Square with the Galactic center at 26 Sagittarius makes this a globally-recognized incident.


Kopechne’s natal Mercury at 26 Cancer was an exact match for the accident’s Sun, with Mercury ruling cars; the natal conjunction with Pluto suggests a potential for death from that quarter. Natal Edgerton at 4 Taurus widely conjoins an exact Jupiter/Saturn pairing at 13 Taurus, which is itself squared natal Mars at 14 Leo, combining a violent (Mars) death (Saturn) with a politician (Jupiter) and the Edgartown locale (Edgerton). The accident’s Saturn and Ascendant at 8 and 14 Taurus cement this bond further.

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Mary Jo came to the attention of Teddy when she worked on the 1968 presidential campaign of his brother Bobby, pictured here with Kopechne; within 18 months of this photo, both would be dead by violent means

A mingling of Achilles at 2 Cancer with Martha at 0 and Senator at 7 shows a weakness or vulnerability (Achilles) associated with Martha’s Vineyard (Martha) and Kennedy (Senator), both self-reflectively and as regards him. These oppose Massachusetts at 5 Capricorn, the state where the death occurred, and T-Square Atropos at 3 Libra and Eduarda at 10; Nemesis at 12 Aries makes this a Grand Cross.


Natal Damocles at 27 Aquarius conjoins natal Lawrence at 1 Pisces, identifying the Lawrence cottage as a potential source for impending doom. Damocles’ exact conjunction with Kennedy’s Mars, also conjunct his natal Sun and asteroid Kennedy, shows his active involvement in that doom.


The drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne remains one of the great political fiascos of our age, as well as a devastating personal tragedy for both parties involved. It may not resonate as long as the Moon Landing that same weekend, but in its own way it helped to create the world we live in today.



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.

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