Virginia Vicissitudes: Northam & Fairfax (Oh, yeah, and Herring & Norment, too)
The first weekend of February 2019 wreaked havoc in the executive branch of the Commonwealth of Virginia. On Friday the 1st, the Democratic Governor Ralph Northam’s moral authority to govern was blown to smithereens by the release of a Medical School yearbook photo purporting to depict him in blackface, standing next to a hooded KKK clansman figure. At first, Northam admitted his fault, later retracting this admission, but copping to a “lesser charge” of having worn blackface during the same time period, when impersonating Michael Jackson in a dance competition. He was only dissuaded from demonstrating his version of Jackson’s trademark “Moonwalk” at a press conference by his considerably more level-headed wife, who whispered to him that these were “inappropriate circumstances” for such a performance.
Calls for his resignation from fellow Democrats were immediate and couched in no uncertain terms, but Northam is resisting taking that action. Everybody felt good about the change, since the Lieutenant Governor is an up-and-coming African American politician, Democrat Justin Fairfax, only the second black man to be elected to statewide office in Virginia.
Then on Sunday the 3rd, allegations surfaced that Fairfax had sexually assaulted a woman in his hotel room during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. At first anonymous, the alleged victim was later identified as Vanessa Tyson, then a John Kerry campaign worker, now a professor of politics at Scripps College. Fairfax says the contact was consensual. Caught in the #MeToo”, #TimesUp, zero tolerance vice, progressives baulked at the thought of a total decimation of Virginia’s Democratic leadership, and calls for Fairfax to step down have thus far been more restrained.
It was another shocking development, and Fairfax’s position may be untenable, but everybody felt OK about it, because the next in line for the Governor’s Mansion is another Democrat, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, so the progressive succession was assured in the Commonwealth.
Ummm… Not so fast! Cut to February 6th, when Herring issued an epistolary mea culpa, acknowledging that he had himself had appeared in blackface during college, imitating rapper Kurtis Blow at a fraternity party. While Herring’s self-disclosure was a model of sensitivity and tact in dealing with such situations, he may have made his own withdrawal inevitable by his call earlier in the week for Northam to resign, based in his use of blackface.
Confronted with the prospect of a complete wipeout of the Democratic members of Virginia’s state hierarchy, and the ascendancy of the Virginia General Assembly House Speaker, Kirk Cox, a Republican, to the governorship, the progressive response to Herring’s admission has been … the deafening roar of crickets.
So what in the fern is going on with Virginia?
Hard to say, really. There are two charts current for the Commonwealth, one for its initial declaration of independence from the British Crown, which pre-empted America’s own joint declaration by two months, on 15 May 1776; the other is for Virginia’s ratification of the US Constitution on 25 June 1788. Neither is really satisfying from an astrological standpoint. Nobody is free just because they say they are, and is acceptance of a unifying document that has itself not yet taken effect a viable option?
But it’s what we have, and together with charts for the politicians involved and the dates their scandals broke, we should be able to make something of this debacle.
Let’s begin with Northam. We have an exact PNA (Personal-Named Asteroid) referent for Ralph, but are somewhat hobbled by Northam, having only “Nothomb” (a sort of Bostonian-sounding pseudo-homonym) and “Norton.” For the controversy itself, we have asteroid Black, and a host of racial-slur-related points. Northam’s yearbook page identifies “Coonman” as one of his nicknames, with “Coon” of course being a racial epithet for African Americans. There seems to be some disagreement about whether the expanded term “Coonman” refers to blacks themselves derogatorily, or, paradoxically, to a white individual who appears overly fond of his darker-skinned brethren. In either case, the suitable PNA stand-ins are asteroids Koon, Cooney and Kuhner.
When the yearbook blackface photo story emerged on February 1, the transit Sun at 12 Aquarius conjoined asteroid Ralph at 9 Aquarius, setting up Northam for his “day in the sun”, for god or ill. Attention was already naturally focused on individuals of that name, and with asteroid Karma, representing the consequences of our prior actions, also conjoined Northam from 2 Aquarius, and asteroid Achilles, representing a point of weakness or vulnerability, alongside at 10 Aquarius, it was payback time for Northam, whose political career was exposed and in danger.
Incredibly, the story is perfectly laid out in the heavens, in the form of three PNAs at station: Norton, Virginia and Koon! Stationary points exert a greater-than-typical influence on events and biographies, establishing them as pivotal points which attract lots of energy. Norton, one of our referents for the Governor, lies at 1 Libra, and turned retrograde less than a week before, on 25 January. Virginia, the state he governs, is at 3 Libra, and turned retro almost a week earlier, on January 19th, but is still at its station degree. Their conjunction shows the linkage between Northam and the Commonwealth, which are both at quite literal “turning points”.
Koon, the point nearest to the term at the heart of the matter, is still direct at 28 Libra, but about to turn retrograde on February 9th, also at that degree. Koon is exactly opposed by transit Uranus at 28 Aries, which evokes controversy and shocking, disruptive events. There is a T-Square formed with asteroids Icarus and Photographica at the fulcrum, at 26 and 27 Capricorn. Icarus indicates rash, reckless actions taken heedless of the consequences (such as allowing a photo of yourself in blackface to appear in your yearbook, not to mention donning the guise in the first place), while Photographica is, of course, visual imagery, the picture itself.
Lending support for the racial nature of the scandal and its probable effect is a pairing of asteroids Nemesis and Cooney at 6 and 11 Gemini. Nemesis represents a point of undoing or ruin, typically self-created. Cooney is another of our points related to racial slurs, and its conjunction with Nemesis shows this as the root cause of Northam’s downfall. Cooney is just past its own direct station, which occurred at 10 Gemini on January 20th. Together Nemesis and Cooney square asteroid Black at 5 Pisces, just so there’s no confusion over what we’re talking about here.
Not to be outdone, Northam’s second celestial referent, asteroid Nothomb, appears at 3 Aries, in tandem with TNO (Trans-Neptunian Object) Salacia at 1 Aries, with this pair opposing Norton/Virginia. Salacia represents scandals, typically of a sexual nature (it’s the root of our word “salacious”), but extending to any type of behaviors which others find shocking or morally unacceptable.
Lastly, asteroid Kuhner, our final racial epithet point, appears at 18 Virgo, closely squared Jupiter, ruling politicians, at 17 Sagittarius, and in T-Square with Neptune, disappointment and disillusion, at 14 Pisces. Cooney ties to this broadly to create a loose Grand Cross.
Is there a basis for this in Northam’s chart? You betcher. Born 13 September 1959 (no time available), Northam’s 20 Virgo Sun conjoins asteroid Koon at 15 Virgo, a combination which could easily establish him as identified with that word, in a nickname. Moreover, these square asteroids Jackson at 19 Sagittarius and Photographica at 21 Sagittarius, offering visual evidence of his melanin-mocking alter ego as Michael Jackson.
Perhaps more astounding is a pair of exact conjunctions which are themselves within orb of each other. These are asteroids Kuhner and Virginia, both at 28 Libra, and asteroid Black with Neptune, both at 5 Scorpio. So we have the potential for combining, in some form, a racial slur and someone or something representing the Commonwealth, allied to a racial descriptor and a planet governing photography generally, as well as disguises, which would conceivably include blackface. Note also that Kuhner/Virginia is exactly conjoined by transit Koon for the revelation, and fits neatly into that Uranus/Icarus/Photographica T-Square described above. And if you want something to really make you think, consider that Northam’s natal asteroid Cooney at 12 Gemini was just then experiencing a “Cooney Return”, with the transit body only a degree shy of conjunction at 11 Gemini. Meanwhile, natal asteroid Norton at 5 Taurus is exactly opposed by that Black/Neptune combo. Ye gods! The cosmic hits just keep on coming!
Northam also has some stationary points in his chart: Salacia and Achilles. At 12 and 18 Capricorn respectively, these turned direct on September 19th and 26th, 1959, and together suggest an inherent flaw (Achilles) regarding shocking, socially unacceptable behaviors (Salacia) which prove to be a vulnerability (also Achilles). This zone has been transited by Saturn (chief executives and punishments) and Pluto (scandals and devastating outcomes) in recent months, and was highlighted by the Solar Eclipse at 15 Aquarius on January 5th.
How does this tie to the Commonwealth of Virginia? If we look at the self-declaration chart, (5.15.1776) we see a solar cluster comprised of Nothomb at 21 Taurus, the Sun at 25 and Mercury at 28, with Photographica at 2 Gemini and Uranus at 6. This spells out a focus (Sun) on an image (Photographica) of Northam (Nothomb) which creates a controversy (Uranus) and makes news (Mercury). Virginia’s Salacia at 5 Taurus is an exact match for Northam’s Norton, and is exactly opposed by his Black/Neptune. Virginia’s natal asteroid Ralph at 27 Aries squares its natal Pluto at 28 Capricorn (a scandal involving someone of the name of Ralph), and both are part and parcel of the transit T-Square of Uranus, Icarus/Photographica, and Koon, also opposed Northam’s natal Kuhner/Virginia. Finally, Virginia’s natal Norton and Cooney combine at 3 and 0 Cancer, indelibly linking its governor with the racial slur.
The Constitution ratification chart offers but cold comfort as well. Amazingly, its natal Koon is an exact match for the Independence chart’s Ralph at 27 Aries! There is really no way out of this for the Governor! And its Sun/Jupiter conjunction at 4 and 7 Cancer highlights the Independence chart’s Cooney/Norton, reinforcing the theme of a central political figure identified with racial epithets. Its exact Mercury/Uranus conjunction at 28 Cancer, which in itself spells “controversial utterances” closely squares its natal Nothomb at 26 Libra with Nemesis at 28 (that Northam natal Kuhner/Virginia degree and the transit placement of Koon), and is once again bound up in the transit T-Square pattern, which it transforms into a Grand Cross.
Let’s move on to the case of Justin Fairfax. The salient points here are once again Virginia, plus asteroids Justino (for Justin), Vanessa-Mae and Tyson (for accuser Vanessa Tyson). There is unfortunately a rather large subset of points which can be used to represent sexual assault, based in the frequency of that theme in Greek myth, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s restrict ourselves to Aristaeus and Nessus, both named for mythic characters whose offenses were primarily sexual. Aristaeus is named for the would-be rapist of the hapless Eurydice, wife of Orpheus, who in fleeing his unwarned embraces trod upon a poisonous serpent and died. Nessus is named for the centaur who ferried Herakles’ wife Deianeira across a river and then, thinking himself safe, attempted to rape her; Herakles shot an arrow from the farther shore and killed him.
By February 6th we also had a graphic description of the alleged assault, with Tyson contending that their interactions began with consensual kissing, but progressed to forced oral sex against her will. I beg the forbearance of my readers, but in that light, I will include penis euphemisms Pecker, Dick, Dong and Wiener, as well as Blow (for the colloquial term “blow job” as oral sex) and Felicia (as pseudo-homonym for the medically-correct term “fellatio”).
When the Justin Fairfax scandal broke on Sunday, February 3rd, the sky looked much the same as it had on the Friday, but we now have additional points to add to the mix. Asteroid Justino at 1 Virgo opposes both rape indicators, Aristaeus at 3 Pisces and Nessus at 7. Exact with Nessus is Felicia, a nod to the precise nature of the violation. These form a T-Square with asteroid Nemesis, that point of self-undoing, at 6 Gemini (technically, Nemesis here is both the act itself, which Nemesis insists requires redressing, and the victim who now enacts its retribution as Nemesis’ surrogate).
Asteroid Tyson at 1 Libra is stationary, having turned retrograde on January 21st at that degree. This shows Vanessa Tyson as at a literal “turning point” in her process, and makes her an embedded factor in the day, a still point upon which the rest revolves. Sesquiquadrate the 14 Aquarius Sun, Tyson is also conjoined Virginia at 2 Libra.
Asteroid Vanessa-Mae at 5 Leo broadly opposes the Sun and more closely opposes asteroid Karma at 3 Aquarius, the consequences of our actions. This spotlights her and calls on transgressors to account for their prior bad acts against her, or her own against others. Vanessa-Mae is also sextile Nemesis and trine TNO Salacia at 1 Aries, representing scandals, especially of a sexual nature. In sextile to her surname Tyson, this pair are bisected by Justino, which is exactly semisextile Tyson, but only loosely aspected to Vanessa-Mae.
Vanessa-Mae is, however, exactly semisextile to asteroid Doing at 5 Cancer, one of the penis euphemisms, while Tyson is semisquare asteroid Dick at 15 Scorpio, another penis placeholder. Might we consider that having one’s PNAs in aspect to indicators of the male member may “stimulate” a reaction in the mind of the individual, even a physical response? Of the remaining two euphemisms, asteroid Pecker at 25 Leo is broadly conjunct Justino, and tightly inconjunct asteroid Wiener at 24 Capricorn, which is itself conjoined Pluto, also noted for scandal and taboo, as well as the use of force or coercion, at 21 Cap.
Asteroid Blow at 18 Libra squares both Pluto and Saturn at 15 Capricorn, and is also stationary, about to turn retrograde at this degree on February 15th. Pluto has specific connections to rape as well, being the Roman counterparty of Greek Hades, who famously abducted and raped his niece Persephone. Saturn represents Fairfax in his executive capacity, but also the issue of accountability, and whatever punishment may ensue. Blow is also exactly sextile Jupiter at 18 Sagittarius, bringing publicity and indicating a politician.
What of Justin Fairfax’s natal chart? Does it bear out the allegation? Maybe just a little, around the edges, especially when we look at the transits on the date in question. Born 17 February 1979, Fairfax’s Mars at 21 Aquarius conjoins the Sun at 28, making sexuality a core element of his self-identity. Nothing incriminating or unusual about that, especially for a male. But Mars is also closely squared by Uranus at 20 Scorpio, which can suggest an uncontrolled, volatile, even violent response to sexual stimulus, an inability to refrain or control oneself. Nothing definite in that, but there is a propensity to such behaviors.
As for forced sexual contact specifically, asteroid Aristaeus at 15 Aries is semisquare the 28 Aquarius Sun, allowing for that possibility as a behavior which feels “natural” to the individual. Transit Saturn at 15 Capricorn was exactly squared natal Aristaeus when the story broke, suggesting being called to account for behaviors of that sort. Centaur Nessus at 11 Cancer is sesquiquadrate the Sun and opposes Venus at 13 Capricorn, reinforcing the tendency not to take “no” for an answer, especially once the proceedings have begun and intimacy (Venus) has been established (Tyson admits the initial contact was consensual).
Mercury at 5 Pisces conjoins asteroid Blow at 8 Pisces, and opposes asteroid Wiener at 1 Virgo. Mercury rules the tongue as well as the hands; having this allied to euphemisms for both oral sex and the penis can indicate an attraction for fellatio or masturbation. With transit Justino exactly on that 1 Virgo Wiener, we have a cosmic reinforcement of whose penis we’re talking about here.
TNO Salacia at 10 Aquarius is conjoined by asteroid Dick at 12, doubling down on the chances that Salacia’s tendency toward scandal will play out in the sexual arena. These are squared by asteroid Vanessa-Mae at 6 Scorpio, which also trines Mercury/Blow. There is definite potential here for making news (Mercury) via a sex scandal (Salacia/Dick) involving oral sex (Blow) and someone named Vanessa.
Asteroid Tyson at 14 Virgo conjoins Saturn at 11 Virgo and trines Venus at 13 Capricorn. There’s definitely a strong attraction for Fairfax to Vanessa Tyson (Tyson trine Venus), but she may not be so inclined, and withhold affection (Tyson conjoined Saturn). Fairfax’s natal asteroid Pecker at 0 Libra closely conjoins transit Tyson at 1 Libra, bringing their sexual connection into present day proximity (with natal Wiener also exactly semisextile transit Tyson). Natal Pecker is further conjoined by natal asteroid Nemesis at 27 Virgo, suggesting ruin or downfall based in sexual behavior. Nemesis is also trined natal asteroid Dong at 29 Capricorn, emphasizing that possible outcome.
Asteroid Felicia at 22 Sagittarius conjoins Neptune at 20 Sag – there’s certainly potential here for miscommunication, mixed signals, confusion, self-doubt or uncertainty regarding oral sex, especially if alcohol or drugs are involved (though no such element to the story has thus far been reported). Neptune of course always raises the alternate possibility, of deception or outright fraud being perpetrated, but it can also indicate genuine forgetfulness or foggy mental states, a lack of clarity, which could cause two people to remember the same situation very differently.
So, yes, there is at least circumstantial celestial evidence to support Tyson’s claim. And, true or false, we can certainly see the pivotal role she will have in his biography, spelled out in the PNA placements from Fairfax’s birth chart and the transit sky for the day this became public. (At press time, no birth date for Tyson could be obtained, so we can’t examine her half of the story.)
And now to Mark Herring. It’s inconceivable to me that two elected officials in the same state could be caught up in such similar scandals that are unrelated to each other, at the same time, particularly when the offenders are self-styled “progressives”. I guess it’s the New South, same as the Old South.
Herring’s self-outing of his racist past occurred 6 February 2019. Since there is no evidence of a sustained racist bent (unlike Northam, whose college nickname was “Coonman”), only an ill-advised singular blackface appearance, I will not be using the coon-related asteroids for this interpretation. But we’ll look at Black, asteroid Marc (for Mark) and two Herring alternates, asteroids Herin and Herran, both phonetically similar names. Incredibly, asteroid Blow will also feature in this analysis, though in a rather different context than for Justin Fairfax. The rapper Herring made himself up as was Kurtis Blow, so we’ll be using asteroids Curtis and Blow as well. Since Herring is the Commonwealth’s Attorney General, head of its Justice Department, we’ll also include asteroids Themis and Justitia, named respectively for the Greek and Roman goddesses of justice.
As with Governor Northam, there is a PNA for Herring with the Sun, now moved on to 17 Aquarius: asteroid Marc, at 21 Aquarius. This again establishes Herring as highly visible, a focus of attention, for good or ill. Asteroid Herran, one of Herring’s PNA referents, squares the Sun from 10 Scorpio, increasing this effect, and adding an element of stress or conflict.
A grouping of Karma, Curtis and Achilles at 4, 5 and 11 Aquarius, also squaring Herran, shows a prior act (Karma) involving someone named Curtis (Kurtis), which exposes a weakness or vulnerability (Achilles), and must now ne atoned for. As with Fairfax, asteroid Blow is still at station at 18 Libra, preparing to turn retrograde 9 days later, now referring to rapper Kurtis Blow.
Asteroid Black at 7 Pisces combines with asteroid Herin, the other Herring surname substitute, at 12 Pisces, and Neptune at 15. This directly links Herring with blackface, and illustrates the disappointment and disillusion he evoked by his disclosure. Neptune further relates to disguises, such as the Kurtis Blow costume donned by Herring.
Asteroid Virginia has now retrograded back to 2 Libra, still opposing scandalmonger Salacia at 1 Aries, which is joined by Justitia, representing Herring’s status as AG, at 0 Aries. Asteroid Themis, Greek personification of justice, appears at 19 Cancer, squaring Blow and opposing both Saturn and Pluto, again representing government leaders and accountability (Saturn), as well as scandals, taboo and devastating outcomes (Pluto).
In Mark Herring’s natal chart (born 25 September 1961, no time available), asteroid Herran at 7 Libra conjoins the Sun at 2 Libra, a common placement for one’s own PNA. These square asteroid Virginia at 10 Cancer, showing a strong connection to the Commonwealth. Asteroid Black at 26 Gemini is in an out-of-Sign square with the Sun, and exactly opposed the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius. This suggests both that Herring would be at least partially identified with the color black on some level, and that this identification would be something for which he could receive worldwide attention (the GC).
There is an intriguing cluster of points stretching from asteroid Justitia at 23 Leo through an exact Uranus/Kurtis pairing at 28 Leo, on into Virgo with Venus, Herin and Pluto at 2, 6 and 8 Virgo. This depicts a controversy (Uranus) related to facial features and makeup (both Venus), involving an identification of Herring (Herin) with rapper Kurtis Blow (Curtis), taking place during his time as Attorney General (Justitia), with devastating results (Pluto). Not bad, for a celestially-based scandal 57 years in the making.
Other points of interest include a Marc/Karma/Themis/Achilles grouping, at 4, 9, 15 and 18 Pisces, which straddles the transit Black/Herin/Neptune stellium. Again, we see a personal connection, both in the birth chart (Marc) and in real time (Herin), which relates to his time at Justice (Themis), based in prior bad acts (Karma), a costume or disguise (Neptune) and a resulting vulnerability (Achilles).
Also of note, transit Virginia has come to exactly conjoin the natal Sun, linking Herring with the Commonwealth he serves, and natal Salacia at 15 Capricorn, which is currently conjoined exactly by transit Saturn, and received the exact hit form the Solar Eclipse in January. Finally, consider natal asteroid Nemesis, representing self-undoing, which at 1 Scorpio conjoins Mercury (decisions) at 27 Libra and Neptune (costumes and disguises) at 9 Scorpio, and is semisquare asteroid Blow (Kurtis Blow) at 15 Sagittarius.
As I wrote these lines on Thursday afternoon, I thought we were done with this story. And then this happened:
NBC reporting showed that Virginia State Senator Thomas “Tommy” Norment, Republican Majority Leader, had been managing editor of the 1968 Virginia Military Institute Yearbook, a publication which includes multiple racial slurs and photos of students in blackface. Incredible! How can this be happening?
Norment initially refused comment, but later issued a statement: “The use of blackface is abhorrent in our society and I emphatically condemn it. As one of seven working on a 359-page yearbook, I cannot endorse or associate myself with every photo, entry or word on each page. However, I am not in any of the photos referenced on pages 82 or 122, nor did I take any of the photos in question.”
Given the overtly racist sentiments expressed in the yearbook he edited, I’ll be using the “Coon” variants once again, and we’ll include asteroids Thomas, Tommei (for “Tommy”, the nickname by which he is generally known) and Norman (for “Norment”), as well as asteroid Senator, for the position he holds.
By now we’re all thoroughly familiar with the general sky patterns for the period, so I’ll just comment on the newbies. Asteroid Thomas at 3 Aquarius is no longer within orb of the 18 Aquarius Sun, so I would expect Norment to gain less exposure for this act than his more highly-placed colleagues. But Thomas is conjoined by Achilles at 11 Aquarius, indicating a weakness, and by Photographica at 0 Aquarius, identifying in part from where that vulnerability stems.
Asteroid Tommei at 26 Libra conjoins Koon at 28,linking Norment with racism; both are approaching station, though Tommei will not turn until February 25th, at 27 Libra. But its opposition to Uranus at 29 Aries indicates controversy, and it is in an out-of-Sign T-Square with Photographica/Thomas. Asteroid Norman is also at station, and turned direct at 23 Gemini that very day, February 7th. Asteroid Senator at 12 Taurus squares the Sun at 18 Aquarius, turning the spotlight onto members of that group.
When we look at Thomas Norment’s birth chart (born 12 April 1946, no time available), we see the typical resonance. A Grand Cross tells much of the potential for this story. The Sun at 22 Aries is conjoined by asteroid Senator, his job title and an identifying feature of his biography. The Sun exactly opposes Jupiter at 22 Libra, also indicating a politician generally. The crossing squared polarity is formed by Saturn (career, government work) at 18 Cancer, with asteroid Koon at 19 and Mars at 25 Cancer, opposing asteroid Photographica at 20 Capricorn. So we have three iterations of work in politics and government, including the specific job, linked to a racial slur and a picture. The entire Grand Cross is currently being stimulated by transit Saturn and Pluto in mid-Capricorn. Asteroid Virginia at 12 Libra opposes Senator, identifying where Norment works in government.
Asteroids Norman, Kuhner and Black, at 16, 19 and 23 Pisces, once again connect him to racist themes, while Mercury, ruling yearbooks and the editing process, appears at 28 Pisces, conjoined asteroid Tommei at 3 Aries. Note that transit Salacia at 1 Aries currently conjoins both. Mercury is also caught up in a T-Square with natal Salacia and Achilles at 26 and 29 Sagittarius, which oppose asteroid Karma at 26 Gemini. This reads as a weakness (Achilles) connected to a scandal (Salacia), relating to a prior bad act (Karma) involving a publication (Mercury).
Are we done now with Virginia political hierarchy scandals? I have the sickening feeling we’re not, but I am.