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Astrology at Work: Richard NixonNixonImage

Several years ago, when I was gathering material for my book, Saturn Cycles: Mapping the Changes in Your Life, one of the examples I considered using was Richard Nixon. However, when I traced the pattern of Saturn transits to his natal chart I came upon one bothersome blank spot, one transit that didn’t seem to coincide with an important decision or experience.

That transit was the passage of Saturn over his natal Midheaven in the summer of 1943 (when he was 30 years old). During this period Nixon was an ensign in the U.S. Navy serving in the South Pacific. His assignment, however, was running a supply depot on an island far behind the front lines, hardly the kind of duty that lent itself to dramatic, life-changing events. (Click on Richard Nixon to see the chart).

Before the war Nixon had lived a rather sheltered life. He was a typical Capricorn, a kid who went by the rules, did what he was supposed to do and didn’t ask for a whole lot of attention. As a naval officer, Nixon continued on this path. He was competent, and yet not afraid to work alongside him men when manual labor was required. The main thing he learned during this period, according the biography I was using at the time, was how to cuss. That skill, as the White House tapes would later reveal, stuck with him long after the war was over.

However, as I recently learned, Nixon picked up another skill during the summer of 1943. He learned how to play poker. In fact, he learned the game so well that he was able to send large amounts of cash home to his new wife, Pat. As a poker player, Nixon’s Capricorn attributes, such and patience and strategic thinking, gave him an advantage. So did his capacity for hiding his feelings, keeping a “poker face”, which is also typical of a Sun sign Capricorn.

Nixon’s experience as a poker player set to tone for his entire political career. After all, poker and politics have a lot in common. In both, bluffing is a necessary skill, as is taking calculated risks. In both you only show your opponent the cards you want him or her to see, and you keep you aces close to your vest.

Immediately after Nixon’s wartime service was completed, he was invited to run for congress in California. Nixon was an unknown. He had just bought a house on the other side of the country and had a pregnant wife to provide for. And yet, he decided to run. Uranus was crossing Nixon’s Midheaven when he made this decision, so he was willing to take a chance. But it was something he learned when Saturn crossed the same degree in 1943 that set the stage.

When Saturn crosses the Midheaven, particularly during our youth, we typically find our identity, our place in social spectrum. What Nixon learned during Saturn’s transit over his Midheaven was that he could be a competent leader, and a dangerous foe in a game of wits and psychological leverage.  This knowledge gave Nixon the confidence he needed to enter politics. It also gave his the winner-take-all toughness that would become the trademark of his political career.

Generally, of course, we expect Saturn transits to coincide with important events, like a marriage or a significant success of failure.  But sometimes what Saturn brings us is quieter and much more personal.  Sometimes it’s a change in how we see ourselves that is important, and that can come from many different sources, even a poker game.