Recently I’ve been diving deep on cleaning out my father’s house, which I inherited on his passing in April. I say “my father’s house”, though obviously it belonged to both my parents, because my mother passed nine years ago, and with his Capricorn fussiness and high sense of duty, dad did a remarkably good job of clearing out most of her effects, within months of her death. He left plenty of his own, but I am ceaselessly thankful for all the work he did then, or my task now would be that much greater.
Nevertheless, he did leave some of her personal items, and in going through the remaining contents of her bureau drawers, I came across a baby book for her, in my grandmother’s hand. Whenever I had asked my mother what time she was born, she never had an answer. After sixty years, all my grandmother could say was, “in the morning.” Frustrating comments for an astrologer whose mother was born at home, with no official record, but as I saw that thin pink book before me, I wondered if my question would finally be answered…
And it was! There in my nana’s spidery script was the time: 3:15 AM.
The house is not yet wired for internet, and yours truly has no truck with “smart” phones, so I had to wait until my return to Philadelphia for the astrological dénouement, but it was well worth waiting for!
A cast chart for that hour on July 16, 1931 in Nazareth, PA reveals an 18 Gemini Ascendant and a 23 Aquarius Midheaven, with the Moon at 3 Leo, all placements which had previously been a mystery to me.
I have to say, the Gemini Rising threw me a bit. I never thought of my mother as a Gemini; she was always so home-and-family oriented that I assumed a dawn birth with a double Cancer make-up, especially given my grandmother’s testimony that she was born “in the morning.” But the more I thought about it, Gemini made sense. Mom wasn’t tall, particularly, but she was always lithe and thin, and retained a youthful appearance well into her forties. She worked in records-keeping and later as a teacher’s aide; and she loved to read, was always curious and intellectually engaged, if not a bluestocking. Not a chatterbox, her Cancer components made her somewhat shy and reserved, but once she felt comfortable with you, she could hold her own in any conversation.
Most of mom’s chart is cramped between Venus at 8 Cancer and Mars at 20 Virgo, a sparse quintile of the zodiac, but there is one breakout pattern, a T-Square from Pluto and the Sun at 20 and 22 Cancer to Saturn at 19 Capricorn and Uranus at 19 Aries. This gave her watery, emotional Cancer core a spine of steel, a willful determination, and just enough quirkiness to keep things interesting. Her husband’s Sun conjoined that Saturn, filling the accepted societal role of “lord and master”, as the stand-in for and successor to her father, but mom was the true authority (Saturn) in the home, and they interacted as equals (Uranus).
In addition to the Pluto conjunction, the Sun conjoins Jupiter and asteroid Demeter, named for the Greek goddess of motherhood, both at 29 Cancer. Mom was very religious-minded, and true to that Saturn opposition, her religious philosophy was strict, by-the-book (“the Good Book”) and very conservative. But the progressive pull of Uranus inclined her to be somewhat lenient with other viewpoints, or at least, not strident in her condemnation of them. She adored travel, which was something instilled in her from a young age, another offshoot of the Jovian connection. Sun/Demeter made motherhood a self-defining feature for her, and with Jupiter exactly conjoined, she wanted a larger family, but her health would not permit it.
Of course, as an asteroid specialist, there was fertile ground here for exploration as well. I was not at all surprised to find her mother’s namesake asteroid, Mildred, exactly on her Ascendant, which also confirmed the time for me – certainly Nana Werki (full surname Werkheiser, which was far too much of a mouthful for any of her grandchildren to tackle) was front-and-center on the occasion of her birth, and did the most to formulate her daughter’s public image over time. Mildred is also exactly semisquare the Moon at 3 Leo, indicating the Mother, the domestic environment and early childhood.
I was rather more impressed to find asteroid Paul, her father’s name, at 28 Aquarius on the MC. It’s the natural home for the Father, of course, and as a door-to-door salesman (a Fuller Brush Man), it rather fit his profession, as well as a streak of nonconformity within him which we’ll discuss later. Paul is in an out-of-Sign opposition with Neptune at 3 Virgo, and mom often saw her father as absent, disengaged, and weak-willed, which is one way to interpret that pairing.
Asteroid Lorraine, her first name, appears at 5 Scorpio, squared the Moon at 3 Leo and Mercury at 10; one’s own PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) typically do connect to the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant, with Mercury, ruling the naming function, coming in a close second. Lorraine also makes a trine with Venus at 8 Cancer; mom was the acknowledged beauty of the family. Asteroid Miller, her eventual married surname, falls at 14 Leo, conjunct Mercury and sextile asteroid Hera, named for the Greek goddess of marriage, at 10 Gemini, also broadly squared Lorraine, uniting both her adult names.
But mom had another name in the family – Mimi. The story of how she acquired this goes as follows: Mom’s middle name was Minnie, after her maternal grandmother Minerva (who was far too sensible for such a grand moniker and preferred the nickname), but mom always hated it. After her elder sister Betty married, she and her new husband initially shared the family home, and one of the “perks” of this situation for her brother-in-law was tormenting mom by calling her “Minnie” mercilessly. When their first child came along, he followed suit, but was unable to pronounce the name correctly, which became “Mimi.” And “Aunt Mimi” mom has been ever since! Asteroid Mimi at 13 Capricorn broadly opposes the Sun, and conjoins Saturn, an early sign of mom’s adult identity within the family.
When I last looked at mom’s chart, at her passing in 2010, there were some names pivotal to her story whose eventual celestial namesakes had not then been discovered. My father’s name is Marshall, for which I had been using the phonetically similar “Marsha” (which also works well, btw); an asteroid with that name was discovered in 1997 but not named until 2016. I find it now at 3 Pisces, firmly planted in the Tenth House, just off the MC, and in a precise T-Square with Juno at 3 Gemini and Neptune at 3 Virgo.
This admirably fits the circumstances; Juno of course rules marriage and partners, and Neptune can indicate a strong spiritual bond. Mom and dad were truly soul mates, very attuned, with a shared spiritual perspective. It’s interesting that mom “split” the Neptune attributes of the two most important men in her life, whose PNAs both oppose it, assigning its negative implications to her father and its positive ones to her spouse.
Another point not named until recently was asteroid Kevinmiller, which attentive readers of this site will recognize as my birth name. Kevinmiller appears at 23 Gemini, also on mom’s Ascendant, and semisquare asteroid Child at 9 Taurus. Previously I had used the asteroid Kevin, also valid, and this appears at 20 Virgo, exactly conjoined Mars. Now, I won’t say that mom and I fought a lot, but we had our share of skirmishes, and as I grew up I was certainly a source of tension for her (not to mention anxiety over my early health issues and open-heart surgery at age 3). But what’s fascinating is that my natal Moon is just a degree shy of Kevin/Mars, at 19 Virgo, so the celestial body governing maternity was just coming up on her Mars when she experienced the trauma of birthing Kevin, her first and only child. (Incidentally, mom’s natal Moon at 3 Leo is just a degree off my Sun, so was also receiving solar transit activity when I was born, highlighting her new role as a mother.)
And since I’m a Leo, let’s pause here to talk a bit about me, as mom saw it. Kevin is semisquare Lorraine and exactly quintile Venus; Mom identified with me in some sense (Lorraine semisquare), and in addition to a depth of love (Venus) conveyed by this contact, mom saw artistic talent (also Venus) in me and always encouraged it. Kevin is also trine Saturn, so mom took seriously her parental responsibilities and her role in teaching and guiding me as I matured. This led directly to one of the greatest challenges of my mother’s life: coming to terms with my sexuality.
Mom’s struggle with acceptance on this issue generally, and the thorn it was in her side, can be seen in an exact pairing of asteroids Nemesis and Antinous at 24 Aries, squared the Sun, Pluto Jupiter and Demeter. Antinous is one of four primary asteroid indicators of homosexuality, named for an actual person, the Second Century lover of Emperor Hadrian, who sacrificed himself in the Nile to save his beloved, and who was later deified. Nemesis refers to a block or hindrance, something which stands in our way, causes our ruin or undoing, or sets us back. The general sense is that homosexuality would be a stumbling block for my mother. The square to the Sun shows this to be a self-defining issue, one affecting self-image; that to Jupiter indicates a conflict with religious or philosophic values, and a hit to reputation or status, while Demeter involved calls into question her performance as a mother; the square with Pluto suggests a dread of scandal arising from the issue.
In addition to my own sexuality I know that my mother was aware of her maternal grandfather’s bisexuality, and suspected that of her father and a cousin, though I am not certain if she confirmed those suspicions at any point before she died. I class my great-grandfather and grandfather as “bisexual”, since if they never had sex with women, I would not now be writing this article, but my understanding, from others who knew them well, is that emotionally, they were gay. Pappy Werki’s penchant for men on the side is reflected in his daughter’s chart with his asteroid’s Aquarian placement, daring to be different, dancing to the beat of another drummer, with its societal shock value; and a sextile to Antinous, combined with a broad square to Sappho at 19 Taurus, another gay asteroid, named tor an ancient Greek poet, Sappho of Lesbos, who extolled the virtues of same-sex love and gave her name to female homosexuals, lesbians.
My own inclinations are expressed as Kevin/Mars conjoined asteroid Ganymed at 16 Virgo, named for Zeus’ cupbearer and boytoy lover, and a trine to Sappho, also inconjunct Antinous. Part of the difficulty my mother had with this issue is reflected in the placement of asteroid Christian at 9 Leo, conjunct Jupiter, the Moon and Mercury. Mom had a strong emotional connection (Moon) to Christianity (Christian) as her religious philosophy (Jupiter), backed up by an intellectual certitude (Mercury) that she was right, and took its prohibitions against homosexuality seriously. This was shattered when her only son came out as gay, and it was an emotional blow from which she never fully recovered.
Too devout to blame God, she blamed herself. She felt she had failed as my parent and instructor (trine to Saturn), and this feeling was compounded when she later began to grasp the likely genetic component to sexual preference, which she had also bequeathed me. Be it nature or nurture, she saw herself as a mother who had failed her child.
Additional PNAs fill out other aspects of her biography. Sister Betty shows as asteroid Betti, which at 25 Libra squares the Sun and fills in that dynamic solar T-Square to create a Grand Cross. There was always tension and underlying conflict in their relationship, as each competed for the attentions and affections of their parents, as seen in the square aspect. Betti also opposes Nemesis, suggesting the rivalry between them, while the opposition to Uranus indicates a separation, distance or alienation between them.
Close friends are present as well. Two coworkers who became fast friends were Margie, with whom mom worked in an office right out of High School, with asteroid Marjorie at 15 Virgo trined Saturn; and Irene, a fellow teacher’s aide, seen as asteroid Irene at 13 Pisces in sextile to Saturn, which rules the workplace. But perhaps her closest female friend was Karen, a former pastor’s wife who shared a thirty-plus year friendship with my mother. At 4 Libra, Karen is squared Venus, showing a strong bond of affection.
Even pets make the list. Mom had two favored dogs over the course of her life; as a child into young adulthood, there was Penny, a collie to whom my mother was devoted. When I was in my mid-teens and mom in her forties, we acquired our poodle Bridgette, who was technically my dog, but made her preference for my mother very clear. Asteroid Penney at 10 Cancer is exactly semisextile Mercury, ruling pets, while asteroid Brigitta at 11 Gemini is sextile.
Family charts are excellent sources of illumination about asteroid impact for the astrologer, since these lives are so well known by their intimates. Finding my mother’s time of birth helped me to better understand her psychological dynamics, and the apparently disparate threads that came together to weave the fabric of her life.
Had she lived, mom would be 88 on July 16th. A Lunar Eclipse this year on that date at 24 Capricorn, opposing her natal Sun, may help to explain her being thrust into the limelight again, with this article. Happy Birthday, Mom!