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Astrology and the Big SleepJudaeanDesert

Modern astrologers typically avoid the subject of death. Though predicting the date of death was just part of the job for ancient practitioners, nowadays it considered ethically questionable and generally unwise. Of course, what these ethical considerations don’t address is the bigger question of whether or not it is possible to predict the date of someone’s death through the horoscope.

The real issue is the nature of death itself. It is the worst thing that can happen to us, or just a transition to another plane of existence? Is it the culmination of some grand plan, or something we stumble into through ignorance or bring about through the choices, wise and unwise, that we make?

I recently read a biography that got me thinking about this issue. It was the biography of Bishop James Pike who was the Episcopal Bishop of California during the 1960s. Though he is not particularly well-known today, Pike as quite famous during his time. He was an outspoken advocate of the liberalization of Protestant dogma, and an activist who used his position to attack McCarthyism during the 1950s and racial segregation in the 1960s.

You may click here to see the horoscope of James Pike. There is some question as to his time of birth, but  “A Passionate Pilgrim: A Biography of James A. Pike by David Robertson confirms (pg. 14) that Pike was born in the early morning hours. The time of birth for this chart comes from Astrodatabank.

A quick look at James Pike’s horoscope reveals that he was a driven man. Every personal planet is involved in a dynamic, hard aspect. Bishop Pike was typically described as a brilliant person, bristling with intellectual energy. Like many Aquarians, he tended to pay more attention to his ideas than the people around him, and he was capable of both the charm and the sudden changes in mood and direction that come with a Sagittarian ascendant.

I could write pages about this horoscope, but it is sufficient to say that Pike was a restless and ambitious man with some serious issues with both authority (Saturn square Sun) and women (Saturn conjunct the Moon.) He was also a man who needed to dig down to the essentials of his ideals and beliefs (Pluto on the angle).

On Sept. 2, 1969, after a series of controversial decisions and personal tragedies had put an end to his career with the Episcopal Church, Pike and his third wife were traveling in Israel. Pike was seeking insight into the historical Jesus. Apparently on a whim and with nothing more than a map he had picked up at gas station and a couple of bottles of soda pop, Pike and his young bride drove off into a particularly desolate part of the Judaean Desert. (The image accompanying this article will give you an idea of what they were driving into.) They got lost and their car broke down. Pike’s wife barely made it back to civilization alive. Pike didn’t.

On that date the most prominent aspect to Rev. Pike’s horoscope was a square from Neptune to his Sun and Mercury. Neptune is also opposite his natal Moon. These are not aspects indicate anything as dark and awful as a slow death by exposure in the desert, but they are aspects that predict bad decisions. With these transits Pike felt a real need to findh is spiritual center, but his rational mind was not functioning at a high level.

So this is the question. Did Rev. Pike die because it was “his time,” or because he did something incredibly stupid?  Was his death the fulfillment of his “fate” or the product of flaw in his character? (Pike had a history of making rash decisions and ignoring practical wisdom.) The astrology of the situation seems to indicate the later, but maybe those character flaws were just part of the plan. What do you think?