During the 2016 Presidential election, my astrological (though not political) bets were on Hillary Clinton (sun in Scorpio) over Donald Trump (sun in Gemini). An astrological analysis of past US presidents suggested that Americans preferred the fixed signs for this unique position: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. Clinton did win, but not in the way that gives you the key to the Oval Office.
Trump, in contrast, is a mutable (air) sign. Gemini sun has comprised a total of four years of US presidency (George H. W. Bush). With Trump, we’ve now accumulated another two years.
Fixed signs are strong in character, determined, forceful, energetic and confident. As such, they are often elevated to positions of leadership through the systems in which they operate. And, due to their natural energy which often is charismatic, they are also natural leaders outside of established systems such as with cults.
Leaders in associations and organizations are often developed through a process of working through the ranks and earning a position based on natural and learned skills. To be a cult leader is similar but relies much more on personal power and charisma. It takes quite extensive personal influence to convince others to drink poisoned Kool-Aid. It also takes insight into the trends of society and the weaknesses of other individuals.
The New Cult Leader
Reading about a new cult in the news was a surprise. It’s been a while since a group of people have crossed social and personal barriers to commit crimes for a charismatic leader (if you don’t consider politics and its own set of rules).
Keith Raniere is the leader and founder of an organization called NXIVM that offers “executive success programmes for personality development.” He also, it appears, likes to have sex with minors and dabble in sex trafficking. Following trends in sex trafficking, he likes to brand his victims.
Unlike cult leaders of the 20th century, Raniere is not a fixed sign but a mutable sign – Virgo (earth).
Where’s the fixed energy?
Raniere does have Uranus and Mercury conjunct in fixed Leo (fire) and Neptune in fixed Scorpio (water). But of the ten “planets,” six are in mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo and Sagittarius; Pisces is also mutable but there are no planets in this sign in his chart).
Like the US presidency, is the cult culture evolving into mutable energy? Why the change?
Pluto and Uranus in Virgo
From 1956-1972, the outer planet Pluto transited Virgo. From 1962-1968, Uranus also transited Virgo so Uranus and Pluto spent time in conjunction.
Pluto is the planet of destruction and transformation. Having it near another planet brings a compulsion and power-seeking to that energy. Uranus is the planet of enlightenment and having it near another planets brings sudden and unpredictable shifts to that energy.
As noted in the blog The Uranus Twist, the Virgos born during this time have a bit more intensity and eccentricity than your average quirky Virgo. Those born during the conjunction are now in the prime of life – in their 50s – and are influencing culture.
This generation was once described to me as the generation that would “clean the planet” as there is a natural interest in health and wellness with Virgo. Like many an astrological pipe dream, there are many other manifestations of this energy including the fear of germs and illness, the rise of pharmaceuticals for all and, also related, the quest for perfection.
American life is filled with work and schedules. There isn’t time for disruption or a day to malinger. There is work to do and steps to measure and calories to count so we must be constantly productive.
Virgo perfection is due to anxiety about pleasing others (in contrast to Aquarian perfection which is about ideals). While our pharmaceutical developments have helped a host of people in many ways, there are also more mind-altering and mood-enhancing drugs prescribed on a regular basis to bring us all to a certain social norm so that we can keep up with the demands of a Virgo-inspired culture.
Raniere has Pluto conjunct sun in Virgo which is a compulsive drive for perfection which matches a culture trend. Perfection is in the eyes of the beholder so properly speaking is a sort of delusion – your perfect will never be another’s perfect. To demand perfection from others is simply to force them into your worldview.
Raniere’s Moon in Libra and Mars in Gemini are looking for the other and are generally focused on partnership, whether of the committed or non-committed sort.
Mars (in Gemini) is opposite Jupiter (in Sagittarius) square Venus (in Virgo). This is where tension arises from the need to have perfection in love and pleasure (Virgo) with the desire for variety and stimulation (Mars in Gemini) and a tendency toward excess (Jupiter in Sagittarius).
From the articles I’ve read and his cult leadership methods, Raniere turned his bad habits into a sense of Virgo purity and perfection. We all have different ways of dealing with or explaining our bad habits. Raniere chose to rationalize his bad behavior as a bestowal of purity on others.
Through the guise of self-improvement which is a focus of our age, Raniere self-indulged at the expense of those around him.
Raniere is not the only entity out there exploiting the positive trends of the age for negative outcomes. Charismatic cult leaders are very good at this. “Executive Success Programs” has the feel of all the business and leadership buzzwords out there today.
With Saturn in Capricorn, Raniere probably harbors a deep sense of failure. According to this CBS News Interactive site, Raniere’s father was quoted (second-hand):
James Raniere shared a remarkable story. When his son was seven or eight years old, he took an intelligence test that determined he was gifted. His father noticed a dramatic change in the boy’s character when he learned the results, Bouchey says.
“He said it was almost like a switch went off. And suddenly, overnight, he turned into, like, Jesus Christ. And that he was superior and better than everybody, like a deity.”
Learning he had high intelligence probably gave an insecure young boy a sense of personal success, one in which he exploited to gather people around him.
The article also describes Raniere as a “traumatizing narcissist:”
Another trait of a traumatizing narcissist, Shaw says, is that the need to constantly bolster their delusion of omnipotence inevitably leads to escalation. They must constantly ramp up their level of control.
Ramping up the level of control is definitely in the realm of Pluto. Pluto gains your intimacy and trust to encourage into activities which then bind you. If this doesn’t work, coercion is usually used.
Raniere, like all cult leaders, engages the energy of the times to parse out the weaknesses of others for exploitation. While we all think this won’t happen to us, we are affected in the same way by the marketing and social pressures around us. The stakes are simply much lower.
Today’s cult leader may not have the fixed nature of those of the 20th century with strong idealist messages. Today’s cult leader, like the times, will focus on health, wellness and personal development.