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Nicholas & Alexandra: A Royal Tragedy

July 17, 2018 is the centennial anniversary of the assassination of Nicholas II, last Tsar of Russia, his wife Empress Alexandra, and their five children. Forced to abdicate in March 1917 in the aftermath of a disastrous Russian defeat in World War I, the family was held in captivity in various locations for almost 18 months, prisoners of one or another faction in the civil war which followed revolution, ending their lives in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, before an impromptu firing squad.

 

But the story of Nicky and Alix, as they called each other, was tragic long before that fateful end. Alix’s mother, Princess Alice of Great Britain, was a daughter of Queen Victoria, and died of diphtheria contracted while nursing one of her children, when Alix was only six. Nicky’s father, Tsar Alexander III, died prematurely at age 49, when his young heir, although in his mid-twenties, was still immature and ill-prepared for the responsibilities so suddenly thrust upon him. Indeed, Alix came to Russia to become Nicky’s bride scant weeks before his father’s death, and her first exposure to the Russian people was in the funeral procession. Superstitious and fatalistic, the people saw this as a bad sign, murmuring about this woman who “came to them behind a coffin.”

 

For ten years Alix and Nicky tried to produce a son and heir, but were given only four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, until the Tsarevitch Alexis was born in 1904. His parents were overjoyed, but here, too, tragedy struck, for Alix had transmitted the blood disease hemophilia to her son, inherited from her grandmother, Queen Victoria. The heir remained sickly and came close to death on several occasions, a constant worry for his mother, who became embroiled with the mystic Rasputin, the only man who seemed able to relieve her son’s pain and preserve his life. This connection, in turn, inexplicable to the Russian people because of the secretive nature of the Tsarevitch’s illness, became a formative reason behind the revolution which overthrew the Romanov dynasty, and brought the Imperial Family to its horrific end.

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Tsar Nicholas, Empress Alexandra, and their children, all executed in Ekaterinburg, Russia in 1918

Fate seemed to stalk the union of Nicky and Alix, and an examination of their birth charts and their wedding shows its implacable hold on the couple and their destiny.

 

Nicholas II was born 18 May 1868 (New Style; Russia followed the Julian Calendar until after the Revolution; all dates in this article are given in NS), no time confirmed. What stands out immediately is a late Taurus Sun (28 degrees) allied to an early Gemini Mercury (2 degrees), which describe two major characteristics of Nicholas – his mulish obstinacy and plodding nature, as defined by Taurus, and a fatal indecision or vacillation, as evoked by Gemini. His stubborn refusal to accept necessary democratic reforms, allied with an inability to adapt, was made all the more hazardous by his tortuous decision-making process, finding it next to impossible to formulate policy and stick to it. These character defects led directly to the dynasty’s fall.

 

Saturn’s exact opposition to Mercury from 2 Sagittarius should have shored up Nicholas’ decisiveness and ability to authoritatively pronounce a course of action, but in fact made him more than usually susceptible to the opinions of “elders” – family, friends and ministers who each had differing, often diametrically opposed, perspectives on the right path the Tsar should take. His mother, the Dowager Empress Marie, was a particularly strong influence on her son, often to inimical effect, as she counseled him to resist reforms, to pass along to his son, unalloyed, the full prerogative and power he had inherited from his father. With Saturn also opposing the Sun (out of Sign), and the only aspect from a major planetary body, Nicholas was unable to throw off the yoke of his deference to his mother and uncles, remaining in their shadow until well into his forties.

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Tsar Nicholas II, Autocrat of all the Russias; his Taurus Sun and Gemini Mercury made him obstinate and indecisive

There is no asteroid Nicholas, but there are a dizzying number of close alternatives: Nichol, Nichols, Nicole and Nicky (as he was known within the family), as well as the Slavic-based Nicolaia and Nikolaev. Given this preponderance of substitutes, it’s hardly a surprise to find at least one of them in contact to the Sun. And we do, spying Nikolaev at 5 Gemini, conjoined Sun/Mercury. Nicolaia at 0 Aries is also sextile the Sun, the rest we will encounter later. Also within orb of the Sun are asteroids Roman, closest match to Romanov, and Alexandra, his future wife’s name, both at 18 Taurus; Atropos, named for the Fate who severs the thread of life at death, at 3 Gemini; Nemesis, which represents self-undoing, at 6 Gemini; and Maria, the name of both his mother and third daughter, at 8 Gemini. Alexandra was the other formative influence on the wavering Nicholas, and having her asteroid ten degrees before the Sun, with his mother’s ten degrees after, perfectly depicts the tug of war between them that so often cast a pall on his life.

 

Atropos is not the only death indicator to be intimately connected to Nicholas’ birth chart. Asteroids Nichols and Nicky, at 4 and 7 Scorpio, conjoin asteroid Rip (for the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription) at 11 Scorpio. Decades after their deaths, the Russian Orthodox Church canonized Nicholas and his family; the potential for future sainthood can be seen in asteroid Santa (Italian for “sacred” or “holy”, as in Santa Barbara), which conjoins Nichols and Nicky from 5 Scorpio.

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Nicky and Alix at their engagement, Hesse Darmstadt, April 1894

Asteroid Lachesis, named for the Fate who determines the span of life, broadly squares the Sun from 21 Aquarius. Asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, squares Mercury and is sextile Nicky from 8 Virgo. Refinements alluding to the manner and location of his death include a combination of Uranus (ruling shootings) in exact conjunction with TNO Ixion (named for the first murderer in Greek myth) at 10 Cancer, also conjoined by Ipatov at 9 Cancer (for the Ipatiev house, where his murder occurred) and Venus at 12 Cancer (implying the inclusion of loved ones in the murder).

 

Asteroid Anubis, named for the ancient Egyptian deity governing funerary rites, appears at 26 Cancer, sextile the Sun, and in the company of asteroids Ekaterinburg and Ekaterina at 21 and 25 Cancer, both representative of the town of Ekaterinburg, where he died. Asteroid Gunn at 19 Sagittarius, representing the means of his death, opposes asteroid Nichol at 15 Gemini, and forms a T-Square with asteroid Hera, representing his wife, at 19 Pisces. Empress Alexandra’s importance is also denoted by asteroid Juno, named for the Roman goddess of marriage, opposing the Sun from 21 Scorpio. Alexandra was attached to his core being, but she was also a mirror, and Nicholas spent a great deal of energy trying to match the image she reflected back to him, as depicted by that “Full Moon” opposition to Juno.

 

Lastly, there are two stationary asteroids in the chart, still points upon which the chart revolves. These are Alex, indicating Alix of Hesse, his future bride, at 25 Capricorn (also opposing the Ekaterinburg stellium), which turned retrograde the day after his birth; and Tsarevsky, indicating his position as Tsar, at 22 Virgo, which turned direct ten days before.

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Alix of Hesse, who became Empress Alexandra; family was everything to her, as evidenced by no less than four asteroids representing family members conjoining her Sun

Alexandra’s chart shows a similar emphasis on death as resonant to her life. Born Alix of Hesse at 3:45 AM CMT on 6 June 1872 in the little grand ducal court at Darmstadt, Germany (Rodden Rating AA), Alix’s natal Sun at 15 Gemini is remarkable for the preponderance of family names associated with it, perhaps related to the fact that the Moon, ruling family and motherhood, is just minutes away from its New Moon conjunction to the Sun. Within orb of the Sun are the names of three of her five children – Anastasia at 8 Gemini, Maria at 11 Gemini, and Alekseev (for son Alexei) at 12 Gemini, all clustered on the 11 Gemini Ascendant. Her remaining children are represented by asteroids Olga, in sextile to the Sun from 12 Leo, and Tatianina (for Tatiana), in trine from 10 Libra.

 

Her own names are present as well, with asteroid Alex inconjunct the Sun from 14 Scorpio and Alexandra in semisquare from 28 Aries, where it conjoins Neptune at 25. Alix’s mystical side was strong, as imaged by Neptune/Alexandra, but it did not assert itself until after she moved to Russia and adopted that name, and especially after her son’s illness, when she turned to religion and the mystic Rasputin in consolation and entreaty.

 

Despite this chart’s incredible accent on Gemini, with all three major factors conjoined each other in that Sign, Alix appears to have been granted more than her portion of the backbone her husband so tragically lacked, perhaps bolstered by the presence of willful Mars at 10 Gemini, very much in the middle of things. She often attempted to stiffen Nicky’s spine, to get him to make his own decisions and stand up to his elder relatives, but of course, in doing this, she was just substituting her own opinions and authority for theirs. Staffing and military advice taken from Rasputin, a peasant with absolutely no knowledge of government or foreign affairs, she passed on to her hapless husband, often with disastrous results. Gregory Rasputin’s pivotal role in her life is foreshadowed by asteroid Gregory at 20 Sagittarius, opposing her Sun/Moon.

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The heir, Tsarevitch Alexis; his hemophilia, inherited from his mother, contributed to the dynasty’s fall

Of course her husband is prominent as well. Asteroid Nicky at 21 Capricorn conjoins Saturn, the husband, consort or spouse, at 20 Capricorn, which also opposes asteroid Nikolaev at 21 Cancer (asteroid Hess is here as well, representing her homeland, at 25 Capricorn). These form a T-Square with asteroid Juno at 23 Libra, representing marriage, and a loose Grand Cross is created by the addition of asteroid Nichol at 16 Aries, which is also sextile her Sun. Asteroid Nicolaia at 1 Gemini conjoins both Venus and Mars, at 4 and 10 Gemini respectively, suggesting an intimate, romantic and sexual bond. Asteroid Nicole at 7 Cancer is inconjunct Hera, goddess of marriage, at 10 Aquarius, while asteroid Nichols at 28 Virgo is exactly inconjunct Alexandra, uniting the couple yet again. Hera’s status as stationary (turning retrograde four days after her birth) establishes matrimony as key to Alix’s biography.

 

Also at station is Juno, reinforcing the marriage theme, which turned direct ten days later, and asteroids Osiris, named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, which turned retrograde at 5 Aquarius five days prior, and Requiem, which at 15 Libra turned direct two days before her birth. These indicate the powerful presence of death in her life, from the early loss of her mother, to her father-in-law’s premature demise, to the obliteration of herself and her entire family in such a spectacular manner.

 

Establishing the specifics of her death is asteroid Ekaterinburg, which at 27 Pisces is tightly squared Atropos at 28 Gemini (and in a T-Square with Nichols at 28 Virgo), with asteroid Ekaterina at 16 Taurus conjoined Pluto, modern ruler of death, at 19 Taurus, and trine Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 20 Capricorn. Asteroid Gunn at 13 Pisces squares her Sun, Ixion at 16 Cancer is in semisextile, while Mars, ruling violent death, conjoins it. Asteroid Ipatov, for the Ipatiev house, where she met her end, falls at 24 Aries, in square to Saturn. An exact conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus at 28 Cancer hints at the revolution (Uranus) against royalty (Jupiter) which precipitated her demise. Alix’s eventual canonization is also referenced in an exact trine from asteroid Santa at 28 Leo to Alexandra at 28 Aries.

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The wedding of Nicky and Alex, November 1894, by Ilya Repin

The chart for Nicky and Alix’s marriage is also illuminating, particularly since it was an ad hoc affair, held months in advance of its planned date, confirming that the timing of the cosmos is always perfect, whatever mere mortals may intend. When Nicky’s father, Alexander III, passed away unexpectedly in early November 1894, Alix had just arrived in Russia as Nicky’s prospective bride, with a lavish wedding planned for the spring of ’95.

 

But Nicholas, overwhelmed by the stresses of the responsibilities that had so suddenly come crashing upon his head, demanded (for once) that the ceremony be moved up, as he felt he needed Alix’s active support as his wife to get through the transition. This created a protocol dilemma, for Russian Court etiquette decreed that nothing but funeral ceremonies could be conducted during the official period of mourning for a deceased Tsar. There was, however, one exception to the convention, which was for the commemoration of royal birthdays, when the rigidity of court mourning could be slightly relaxed.

Nicky and Alix in traditional Russian dress, before a Court Ball

As it happened, the Dowager Empress’ birthday fell on November 26th, so that date was chosen for Nicky and Alix’s wedding, though the affair was a rather impromptu, hole-in-the corner one, muted and poorly attended by foreign guests, who did not have much time to make travel arrangements (obviously, this was in the pre-flight era, and most traveled by ship or rail, which was a long, time-consuming venture). But imagine being married on your mother-in-law’s birthday! The essential conflict in loyalties which was to be a dominant feature of Nicky’s life going forward is encapsulated in this single fact; even their most intimate anniversary had to be shared.

 

But despite its somewhat shabby beginnings, Nicky and Alix’s marriage was one of the more successful royal unions, at least on a personal level. By all accounts, the couple truly loved each other, and were devoted to their new family as it grew. This was quite a rarity for the time, especially in royal circles, but it is borne out by the astrology of the day.

 

On November 26, 1894, Venus smiled on the young couple as from 3 Sagittarius she conjoined the 4 Sag Sun, with marriage broker Juno also conjoined from 10 Sagittarius. This shows the union as a true, loving partnership, not merely a marriage of state or convenience. Asteroid Nichols conjoins the Sun from 28 Scorpio, while Alex at 10 Libra is exactly sextile Juno, establishing the couple as pivotal to the day. (Alex is also conjoined by asteroid Hess at 18 Libra, and Nikolaiev, another Nicky referent, at 4 Libra.) The particular fly in the ointment (and there always is one) was Pluto’s opposition from 10 Gemini, which augured a devastating conclusion, with plenty of power struggles along the way. But Pluto also brings empowerment, and for both partners, personal self-assurance and an increase in authority was the short-term result, as Alix came into her own as a wife and mother, and Nicky tried to relax into his role as autocrat of all the Russias.

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The medal struck to commemorate the coronation, 1896

It’s interesting that Alexandra, as she became known, was judged an outsider from the get-go, labelled “the German” or “the foreigner”, and there is an exact pairing of Uranus, which rules xenophobia and alien-ness, with asteroid Hessen, the Germanic form of Alix’s country of origin, at 16 Scorpio. With Mercury also here at 14 Scorpio, her motives (Mercury) were always suspect (Scorpio), and she was accused of manipulating (Scorpio and the opposing Pluto of the marriage chart) her husband to enact her own will.

 

The final act to be played out in this royal tragedy is also prefigured, with a combination of asteroids Damocles (the doom hanging unseen overhead), Nemesis (self-undoing) and Ekaterinburg (the town where they died) at 18, 21 and 27 Aquarius.

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Nicholas II after his abdication, under guard on the grounds of his own palace

But perhaps the most stand-out factor is the stationary status of both Nichol, representing the groom, and Alexandra, representing the bride, with Nichol at 8 Leo turning retrograde three days later, and Alexandra at 5 Aries having turned direct eight days prior. These form a Grand Trine with Sun/Venus, but there’s that Pluto again, sitting on their midpoint. With Nichol, appropriately, is a stationary asteroid Russia, which turned retrograde the same day. Also stationary is Mars, ruling violent death and the blood disease which stalked their marriage, turning direct at 21 Aries five days before their wedding. Significantly, none of these points would have been stationary had the wedding been held on its planned date, but they vividly represent the participants and dynamics of the marriage on the date it actually occurred.

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The Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, where the last act of this royal tragedy played out

We come now to the assassination itself, enacted in the wee hours of July 17, 1918. Since the Tsar’s abdication on the Ides of March 1917, the family had been shunted from one holding pen to another, as the struggle between the Whites, under Kerensky, and the Reds, or Bolsheviks, under Lenin, careened first one way and then the other. At first, exile was mooted, offered by the British, whose sovereign George V was a first cousin to both Nicky and Alix, but the offer was quickly withdrawn, and after the Whites lost physical control of the family in October 1917, there was probably only one way for the tragedy to end.

 

And the end duly came, in the cellar of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, where the family had been held for six months. Awakened in the middle of the night, the Romanovs were only told that they were being moved again, to avoid being shelled by the approaching White army. Dressing hastily, they were escorted to the cellar, where they waited for over an hour, only two chairs being provided. Alix took one of the chairs, giving the other to their ill son, whom Nicky had carried to the cellar. Standing were Nicholas and his daughters, and four attendants, with the Tsar in front, the others ranged behind. Meanwhile, a firing squad of ten soldiers was assembling in the next room.

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The mystic holy man Gregory Rasputin; his hold on Alix proved fatal

At last the commander of the facility, Yakov Yurovsky, entered the cellar, flanked by the soldiers, and announced that the family had been condemned to death by the Ural Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. A stunned Nicholas had only time to utter the exclamation “What?” before Yurovsky drew a handgun and shot him point blank in the chest. The soldiers then opened fire indiscriminately, killing most of the group in short order. The lining of the girls’ dresses, however, had been sewn with a fortune in precious gems, which deflected the bullets, and they were then bayoneted and shot in the head. Their bodies were burned, doused with sulfuric acid, and buried in a shallow pit, camouflaged to prevent discovery. They were not found until 1979, when DNA evidence proved their identities conclusively.

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The cellar of the Ipatiev House, where the Romanovs were executed

Once again, the skies portray the earthly reality with perfection. The Sun at 24 Cancer is conjoined by asteroids Alexandra at 21 Cancer, Nicky at 16 Cancer, Tatianina at 19 Cancer, and Ekaterinburg at 1 Leo. Moreover, this placement falls on Nicholas’ natal Ekaterinburg/Anubis pairing at 21 and 26 Cancer, and exactly squares Alexandra’s natal Ipatov at 24 Aries, opposing her Saturn at 20 Capricorn. We have here a truly remarkable group bringing together PNAs for half the victims and the place they died, plus natal contacts to the place, the theme of death, and the very house they were killed in, all brought into the focus of the day by the Sun. The Sun also squares transit Atropos at 22 Libra and opposes Nichol at 28 Capricorn, once again linking Nicky and death.

 

Ixion (murder) and Requiem combine at 12 Virgo with Anubis at 15 and Maria at 16 Virgo, while Anastasia is in trine from 16 Taurus. Rip and Damocles at 15 and 10 Aquarius square Anastasia and are inconjunct the Virgo stellium. Olga and Alekseev at 0 and 3 Sagittarius square Ekaterina at 3 Virgo, are inconjunct Pluto at 5 Cancer, and trine Lachesis at 29 Pisces, also opposing Ipatov at 8 Gemini. Alex and Tsarevsky (which can indicate the heir, or Tsarevitch, as well as the Tsar) at 5 and 8 Libra square Pluto and are conjunct Mars at 12 Libra.

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Nicholas II, left, and King George V of England; cousins twice-over, the two were remarkably similar in appearance; George initially offered Nicky and Alix asylum after the revolution, but withdrew it under political pressure

Incredibly, asteroid Gunn at 16 Libra conjoins Mars, squares the Sun, Alexandra, Tatianina and exactly squares Nicky, is exactly inconjunct Anastasia, is semisquare Olga and Alekseev, and is exactly semisextile Maria. The family’s principal executioner, Yakov Yurovsky, is represented by asteroid Yakovlev, which makes stunning connections in all three principal charts. At 5 Gemini it conjoins Nicholas’ natal Atropos and Nemesis (as well as his Sun and Mercury); at 3 Aries it is semisextile Alexandra’s natal Nemesis at 5 Taurus; and at 20 Leo in the assassination chart, it is exactly sextile transit Nemesis at 20 Gemini. Clearly, Yakov Yurovsky was a triple threat to enact Nemesis’ retribution and destruction.

 

The prior Solar Eclipse, at 17 Gemini, on June 8, conjoined Alexandra’s natal Sun/Moon/Ascendant/Mars at 15, 11 and 10 Gemini and opposed Nicholas’ natal asteroid Gunn at 19 Sagittarius. The prior Lunar Eclipse, at 2 Capricorn, on June 24, opposed Nicholas’ natal Ipatov at 9 Cancer, and formed a T-Square with Alexandra’s natal Lachesis at 0 Libra and Yakovlev at 3 Aries. Both transit Lachesis and Osiris are stationary for the murder. Lachesis at 29 Pisces would turn retrograde seven days later, and highlights Alexandra’s natal Ekaterinburg/Atropos square at 27 Pisces and Gemini. Osiris turned retrograde at 21 Pisces on July 21, and squared Nicholas’ natal Gunn at 19 Sagittarius, conjoined natal Hera at 19 Pisces.

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Icon of Saint Nicholas Romanov after his canonization in 2000

On August 15, 2000 the Russian Orthodox Church announced the canonization of Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children, as “passion bearers”, selected for their “humbleness, patience and meekness” during their imprisonment by the Bolsheviks. Appropriately, asteroid Nicole at 22 Leo is conjunct the 23 Leo Sun, with asteroid Nicky at 29 Pisces stationary, about to turn retrograde the following day, and exactly squared asteroid Russia at 29 Gemini. Asteroids Nichol at 14 Libra and Alexandra at 26 Leo bookend Santa (Saint) at 20 Libra, with Maria also at 26 Libra, Olga at 5 Sagittarius in exact semisquare to Santa, and Alekseev at 24 Scorpio closely squared the Sun. Tatianina at 13 Taurus is semisquare Russia and Anastasia at 8 Libra is exactly semisquare the Sun.

 

So ends the tale of one of the most tragic royal families in history, beset by fate, revolution and the pitiless arc of destiny.

 

 

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Alex Miller

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, due in 2018. 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 currently a board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

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