My father passed away peacefully in hospice on Saturday April 6th, almost nine years after my mother. Dad had been diagnosed with leukemia six years ago, but for most of that time, his disease was little more than a scheduling inconvenience, as he worked in doctors and chemo appointments amidst his hectic-paced life, perennially grumbling that these took him away from cutting the grass, washing down the kitchen linoleum, or shoveling the driveway. Remarkably, he never had symptoms from the leukemia, nor adverse side effects form the chemo; he was blessed. It was only in the past few months, after a fall while out hunting which left him with a broken ankle, that dad slowed down.
My father was always a force of dynamism, constantly busy, with more energy and drive even into his 80s than I could ever hope for. He still did everything for himself, from banking to lawnmower maintenance, except cooking. I’ve been traveling the two hours upstate to his home every two to three weeks for ten years, since before my mother passed, to cook and stock the freezer (I have a restaurant background, one of several career incarnations for me).
I last spoke with dad the night before he died; he still sounded vigorous and alert, so I was surprised to get a call from his hospice nurse late the following day, telling me his final stage had begun. Dad was lightly bleeding under the skin, had a fever, and was going in and out of consciousness. He had no pain; they had begun low dose narcotics just the day before to ensure that he remained that way. The nurse thought he might linger for a day or two, and I was preparing to go to him when the phone rang again four hours later, to say that he had passed. Leukemia can be a very cruel disease, but it often provides just such a soft landing – with his clotting platelets depleted, my father simply bled internally until he was so weakened that he fell asleep, and never woke up.
Of course, bereaved or no, my first question as an astrologer was: what time?! I suspect that the 7:45 PM EDT time given was just an estimate, but we’ll go with that.
At any rate, it’s closer than his birth time, for which we have just his mother’s assertion that it was “in the morning … I think.” Well, you can’t blame her: Marshall Meredith Miller was her sixth and last child, by then she’d been through the process a lot, and I suppose it no longer left much of an impression.
But working off that date, 7 January 1935, we find a Sun at 16 Capricorn, widely opposing Pluto at 25 Cancer. Sun/Pluto folks are tough as nails; my mother, born four years earlier, had the solar conjunction with Pluto, and though she passed at age 78, she had hung on through heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease and Alzheimer’s; at her death, she was on 28 meds daily!
Overall, dad’s health was good, despite quadruple bypass surgery in 1998, and a melanoma scare the year before. These and a gall bladder removal in his forties were his only significant health crises; he was only taking a statin for cholesterol until the leukemia appeared.
But let’s take a look at that Sun degree. 16 Cap. Sound familiar? It should, with the latest Solar Eclipse on January 5th just a degree off, at 15 Cap, and also highlighting his natal asteroid Anubis, named for an Egyptian deity governing funerary rites, at 13 Cap, energizing a theme of death. That’s also my Saturn degree, and yes, the eclipse did coincide with increased responsibilities to my father. My visits became weekly, and I had to take over his banking and health decisions, as minor dementia had begun.
Given the fact that transit Pluto, modern lord of death, had been prepping the ground for years, crisscrossing his Sun, and that transit Saturn, ancient lord of death, had just rolled over that Sun a few weeks prior, dad’s death was not unexpected. (Though I must caution you, dad survived MANY similar moments over the previous few years without a ripple, so what seems obvious now wasn’t a sure thing in advance.)
More recently, the Aries Ingress and Libra Full Moon in its immediate wake on March 20th, at 0 Aries and 1 Libra respectively, together set off a T-Square with natal asteroid Osiris at 1 Cancer, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, an additional marker of passing. This formed another cog in the wheel of dad’s mortality, reinforced two weeks later by the Sun’s passage over his natal asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 14 Aries, just two days before he died. On his final day the transit Sun at 16 Aries squared his natal Sun exactly. Click, click, click, the celestial tumblers fell into place, and dad’s door to the underworld was unlocked.
The moment of death given may not be precise, but it must have been close: at 7:45 PM EDT in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Pluto was exactly on the 23 Capricorn IC, with Saturn at 20 Cap exactly squared the Ascendant at 20 Libra, giving both lords of death angular force and power in the moment of his passing. The door had now opened, and dad stepped through.
The Moon played a role as well. Dad’s natal Atropos, named for the Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death, appears at 7 Taurus, with the transit Moon fast approaching from 5 Taurus when he died. Also there was transit asteroid Marcia, the point most phonetically similar to “Marshall”, at 10 Taurus, and natal Marcia at 2 Taurus. Over the years I have used Marcia for my father as the closest match, and it works well, but new points are being discovered and named constantly. On a whim, I checked, and sure enough, there is now an actual asteroid Marshall. Found in 2000 but not named until 2016, transit Marshall at 2 Gemini was travelling with Mars (the blood disease) at 4 Gemini and asteroid Lachesis (named for the Greek Fate who determines the span of life) at 7 Gemini.
Turning once again to the natal chart, I inserted Marshall, and was not surprised to find it at 23 Sagittarius, currently with Jupiter (a point often active at death, the final journey) at 24 Sag and asteroid Rip (another death indicator, as the acronym RIP, “Rest In Peace”), at 22 Sag. There are no cosmic accidents.
Transit Requiem at 0 Scorpio closely opposed transit Uranus at 1 Taurus (with natal Marcia at 2 Taurus), and though not unexpected, dad’s death was sudden, as witnessed by the narrow window between its first intimation and his passing. Transit asteroid Miller at 24 Gemini opposed natal Marshall and that transit Jupiter/Rip conjunction, forming a T-Square with his natal Miller at 19 Pisces, then conjoined exactly by transit Mercury, bringing news (Mercury) of the death (Rip) of Marshall Miller. Transit Osiris at 26 Leo opposed natal Rip, Saturn and Lachesis, all death indicators, at 24, 25 and 28 Aquarius.
And so passed my father.
Just one footnote. Mom and dad were always very close, married 54 years with barely a cross word between them, and he was devastated by her death in 2010. Their fated union is prefigured in his birth chart by an exact opposition from asteroid Lorraine (my mother’s name) at 0 Leo to asteroid Juno, named for the Roman goddess of marriage and partnership, at 0 Aquarius. The January 20th Lunar Eclipse at 0 Leo hit natal Lorraine precisely, activating her in his psyche, perhaps evoking a longing for their reunion. When dad passed, transit Lorraine at 23 Capricorn was right there, with Pluto on the IC; I like to think of that as her calling him home.