As of this writing (late June 2016), the polling numbers for presumed Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump have fallen sharply. However, considering the results on the “Brexit” referendum last week, this is no time to discount his possibilities to win an election. In the year since Donald Trump declared his candidacy for President, much, too much, has been written about him. One could say that he’s had a symbiotic relationship with writers and journalists everywhere. Even I made a contribution, an astrological profile from January of this year.
Standard liberal and conservative news sources have attracted many eyeballs amusing themselves with and warning others about Donald Trump. Since Trump is so different from so many American political leaders, people have been searching for analogues.
One starting point has been to compare Trump with many right-wing politicians in Europe who also have promoted anti-immigrant nativist policies, yet Trump is more resourceful and has so far been more successful than they have been.
Others liken Trump to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s dominant politician for the last twenty-five years, a billionaire media mogul whose life has entertained and exasperated his countrymen, who has never stayed out of the headlines whether in or out of Italy’s leadership. Here’s an example. Indeed there are many surface similarities.
On the darker side, others have wondered whether Trump stands for an American version of fascism. Here is one article that argues for Trump’s resemblance to twentieth-century fascists. Here’s an example.
As an astrologer, I will take a slightly different approach. This article considers the astrology of both Berlusconi and Mussolini, filling in some historical detail, so that you can make an intelligent determination for yourself. We begin with the more contemporary political leader and then things get darker. First, we need to review Trump.
From his natal chart we quickly notice an Ascendant in that is conjunct the regal fixed star Regulus and Mars is also nearby. This gives him an innately aggressive stance toward the world, one that can also be full of his own grandeur. Sun is the ruler of the Ascendant and is in the fortunate Eleventh House not far from Uranus. Uranus adds willfulness and unpredictability (or impulsiveness). Moon is in Sagittarius, symmetrically connected to Mercury in Cancer, giving him a combination of nostalgia and informality (Mercury in Cancer) together with a visionary quality (Moon in Sagittarius), perhaps a tendency to ignore uncomfortable realities. Sun and Moon are in trine and sextile to Jupiter in Libra respectively, further accentuating Trump’s “jovial” or should we say “grandiose” nature. Venus is in Cancer conjunct Saturn in the Twelfth House, not a felicitous configuration for love and relationships.
Silvio Berlusconi: Politician and Man Behaving Badly
At this time (late June 2016) Silvio Berlusconi is recovering from major heart surgery and it’s likely he will be out of the public view for a time, perhaps for the remainder of his days. However, he does have this habit of coming back from adversity.
In mid-1994 it was surprising that Italy came under the governance of a coalition headed by this well-known businessman with no prior political experience. Beginning his career with a construction business in Milan — with uncertain initial financial backing — Berlusconi became owner of three television networks and later the owner of Milan’s soccer team. He was one of the wealthiest men in Europe. Shortly before the 1994 election, Berlusconi founded his own political party, Forza Italia (a soccer slogan) that quickly prevailed in national elections. He ran on a roughly conservative agenda, promising to fight the corrupting ties between politics and industry (a major problem at that time), reduce inflation and bring down unemployment.
Two years later his coalition fell apart and it became obvious that Berlusconi had no particular strategy to fight inflation or reduce unemployment. He also began to stir controversy about conflicts of interest between his private enterprises and his national office. In 2001 he again headed a coalition government until 2006 and then again from 2008-2011. Even when out of office he relished the role of “King Maker” and has managed to keep in the public eye for decades. His political success has been largely due to his iron-fisted control of much of Italy’s broadcast media (and made sure press coverage would tilt in his favor), a forceful style, and an ability to dominate Italian media news coverage – pro or con. It’s been hard to take your eyes off him.
One often wondered whether his political ambition was to strengthen the cash flow of his business enterprises. For much of his tenure as head of state, Berlusconi had shielded himself from prosecution by a law of immunity he has pushed through. He has been charged with tax fraud, embezzlement, and bribery and was found guilty of tax fraud in 2013.
Even more prominently, Berlusconi has been infamous for an appetite for attractive young women. Much of the press coverage of him veered toward the tawdry. You can read about his alienated marriages, his sponsorship of beautiful young women into politics, his “bunga-bunga” parties, a purported bevy of prostitutes, and one relationship with a young woman that eventually gave him a guilty verdict on the charge of having sex with an underage person (he may have gotten away with a few more).
During many years in which Berlusconi’s official and extra-curricular activities kept the limelight focused on him, less attention was paid to Italy’s economy that was sinking deeper and deeper into recession. In was the adoption of forced austerity measures that eventually led to his final resignation from office.
In American democracy there has always been a certain attraction to politicians who are “colorful” – tough minded and seemingly decisive, yet corrupt with public funds and with uncertain personal morals. Silvio Berlusconi may not be well known to many Americans but his character type is well-known and even admired by some. These “colorful” politicians have usually been big city mayors, an occasional governor of Louisiana, but not a head of state. Perhaps not until next year.
We begin looking at Berlusconi’s astrological chart with his prominent Mars in Virgo. According to whole sign houses, Mars is in the First House and is quite strong: Mars is also oriental – visible, rising ahead of the Sun on the day of birth — and is wholly in sect. Because Berlusconi’s Sun is in fall in Libra and is in the relatively inactive second house, Sun needs a tough bodyguard or “spear-bearer”– and that would be this Mars. The fiery red planet is also the lord of his Lot of Fortune in Aries and this tells us something about how he conducts his business – toughly. Berlusconi’s first instinct is aggressive, and he is particularly good at taking the fight directly to his perceived enemies. That is part of his entertainment value.
Mars’ ruler is Mercury and, like the Sun, is in a compromised position – in a mediocre house, within the Sun’s beams and, being retrograde, closing in on the Sun. These limiting factors are mitigated somewhat by Mercury being in its own triplicity (in this nocturnal chart). His Mars-like instincts are not always well-tethered and he has the knack of making enemies unnecessarily when a softer approach might work better.
When Berlusconi was born the fixed star Betelgeuse (one of the shoulders of Orion) was culminating. The planetary nature of this star is Mars and Mercury, these two planets racing into prominence once again. On the more trivial side, he also famous for having had much cosmetic surgery – is that not also Mars and Mercury?
Mars has another interesting feature, its close sextile from Venus in Scorpio. Together they are symmetrical to the axis 0◦Aries and Libra, as contra-antiscia or their midpoint is the Aries Point. This helps take the aggressive edge off Mars and instead gives it some charm and sociability. I would add, however, that this is Venus in Scorpio whose dispositor is Mars, so Mars is clearly in charge. He has a likeable Venusian dimension, yet the priority is the business of Mars. Yet he can have a touch of tactical brilliance when it suits his purposes.
This brings us to Berlusconi’s Jupiter, angular and in its own sign Sagittarius. Berlusconi’s adversaries are strong but so is he — in fact adversity brings out even greater self-confidence or even defiance, perhaps to the point of his over-reaching. Jupiter is also the lord of the Lot of Spirit, indicating its importance for how he fashions his life.
Another of the Hellenistic Lots is called “The Lot of Victory” and involves Jupiter and the Lot of Spirit. Its meaning has the same range as Jupiter itself. In this nocturnal chart this Lot is the distance from Jupiter to Spirit, added to the Ascendant, and this also falls in Sagittarius, five degrees from Jupiter itself! This is a supremely self-confident guy.
Berlusconi’s extracurricular sexual activity does not simply manifest as a large appetite but is a form of conquest, of personal self-expression, cast in a Mars/Jupiter-like way. Venus makes a contribution to his Mars-like nature, not the other way around. His partying etc. is not from simple lust but is about the fact that he can do what he wants, thank you very much.
Having held silent for just so long, you might suddenly say, “But he has a T-Square with a Jupiter apex!” Well yes, but let’s look at this configuration in a different way.
We begin with Moon, strong in sect and in Pisces and angular in the Seventh House. Moon gives a strong indication of another side of Berlusconi, an intuitive and even sympathetic side. Moon governed by Jupiter and also casting a “predominating” square to Moon. Here’s a man with good personal instincts, an ability to read others and their needs and give them what they think they wanted (with the requisite amount of positive publicity).
Next, we look at the Moon’s next application, a simultaneous conjunction with Saturn in Pisces and an opposition to Neptune in Virgo. Perhaps we can read Moon-Saturn to indicate women he has married, women tough enough to call him on the carpet publically for his errant behavior. Saturn in the Seventh makes me wonder whether for Berlusconi, for all his charm and interpersonal agility, hell is indeed other people, at least those he becomes partners with.
What of the Moon’s approaching opposition to Neptune? Along with the Moon’s conjunction to Saturn, this also points to the failure of his ambitions. People with Neptune in the First can be elusive; they can also be the recipient of whatever qualities others project onto him. We have Berlusconi’s ability to project himself as a successful executive who can fix the country, and later as a “lovable rogue” politician. Yet for all his Neptune smoke and mirrors, it is Saturn in the Seventh, wholly out of sect, who has the final say. Eventually his marriage partners, his friends, even his public gets tired of him – he can no longer con them. For somebody who has surrounded himself with admirers and hangers-on, he may die alone.
For all his many faults and his wasted political potential, there has been a comic quality to his nature and his misdeeds have not gone unpunished – eventually. However, when we consider the life and astrological chart of Benito Mussolini we descend into greater depths and greater darkness.
Modern Fascism’s Eldest Brother
Although Mussolini took power a decade before Adolf Hitler and was the first of the twentieth century totalitarians, Americans know far more about Nazi Germany than Mussolini’s Fascist Italy. Mussolini’s fascist Italy did not plumb the banality or profundity of evil than did Hitler’s Germany, yet his regime was oppressive, brutal in its foreign wars in Africa, totalitarian in its treatment of dissent and its promotion of Il Duce as a heroic personality, and increasingly irrational.
Benito Mussolini was born to a devoutly Catholic mother and a stridently socialist father in 1883, not long after Italy became a unified country. Young Benito (named after a prominent Mexican revolutionary) was a difficult, bullying, sometimes violent, child who was moved through several schools when young. Later, perhaps when he calmed down a bit, his strong intellect and cleverness began to manifest, and he got enough schooling to obtain a teacher’s certificate. Later he was to read philosophy and politics intensely.
Mussolini allied himself with socialist causes from an early age although it was when he moved to Switzerland in 1902 (to escape the military draft) that he began his career as a political activist. Upon returning to Italy, he found his calling in advocacy journalism and at the young age of 29 he was appointed to be the editor of the socialist party newspaper. In this role, Mussolini’s talent for strident messaging and factual distortion for a good cause were on clear display. He had already established himself as an upcoming leader of the socialist movement.
All this began to change in 1914 when World War I broke out. Although formally allied with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy was at first neutral. However, along with the more conservative and nationalist groups, Mussolini came out on the side of going to war as an enterprise in national character building. The socialist party, internationalist in tone, promptly threw Mussolini out of the party. Mussolini then founded another newspaper, registered for the army and served about a year and a half, and during the war began to lean conservative. Now let’s go to his natal chart; it has something for everybody.
Those who look for chart patterns will notice a “wedge”, that the planets are close together, within a trine. If you exclude the outer planets, the distance between Saturn at 07 Gemini and Sun at 06 Leo are a mere 61 degrees apart! This denotes somebody who is narrowly focused, who can accomplish great things and/or fall tragically.
Those who use fourth and eighth harmonic aspects will note that Mars is in sesquiquadrate to the Ascendant in Scorpio and that the Sun-Mercury combination is in semi-square to Uranus. Both aspect configurations tell of Mussolini’s aggressiveness and willfulness.
If you use fixed stars, the royal star Aldeberan is prominent: this bright star in the constellation Taurus, of the nature of Mars or Mars and Venus, co-culminates with his Moon and is conjunct Saturn in the zodiac. Procyon, the Little Dog, rises with Mercury and co-culminates with Venus. (Does this make Hitler the “Big Dog?”)
Back in the second century CE Ptolemy wrote much of the positive nature of planets that are oriental to the Sun. Except for Mercury all planets are visible on the eastern horizon on the day of Mussolini’s birth. This is one indicator of prominence.
Those who like outer planet symbolism might notice that Neptune opposes the Ascendant and Mussolini did have a genius for illusion, casting himself as the hero to return Italy to its Roman Empire glory days, even as the leader of a historically important but currently small country. (One must give him credit for reviving the Etruscan-Roman fascio, a symbol of strength and resilience through unity.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascio
As usual our analysis begins with the Ascendant in Scorpio whose and ruler is Mars in Gemini. The zodiacal sign Scorpio is known for inscrutability and focus but we must also account for the condition of Mars. In the Eighth House, Mars is disconnected from the Ascendant and may operate differently or more extremely than he is able to manage. For nocturnal Mars is out of sect in Mussolini’s diurnal chart; additionally, the red planet is in a masculine sign and is on the same side of the horizon as the Sun. Mars is wholly out of sect.
I always note the condition of the out-of-sect malefic (either Mars in a day chart or Saturn in a night chart), for that allows us a beginning understanding of the native’s difficulties in life. Being wholly out of sect, Mussolini’s Mars can be quite problematic for him. This is an intemperate and insecure placement that may make up for perceived weakness through heightened aggressiveness and braggadocio. This also relates to Mussolini’s idealization of military leaders and his desire to be one – with disastrous consequences. Note also that the Moon’s next aspect is the conjunction to Mars, further cementing Mars as Mussolini’s most important – and dangerous – planet in his chart. (Hint: Trump also has Mars wholly out of sect but his is in the First House near his Ascendant.)
Mussolini’s Ascendant degree has an exact sextile to Uranus in the Eleventh House and indeed he could be unpredictable. Although there is much in his chart that is focused and patient, Uranus, together with his strong Gemini, gave him the ability to turn on a dime when necessary.
Using Whole Sign houses Mussolini’s Sun in Leo is in the Tenth Place of career or life activity. The Sun is in its own sign and even in its own triplicity. Mussolini could fill a room by walking into it, who could easily cast himself as larger than life – and thus conned many in Italy and abroad who wanted to believe in a strong leader. Once Mussolini came into power he attempted to make himself appear more respectable and carefully groomed his public image to hide his own coarseness and insecurity. Mercury in Leo is very close to the Sun and is moving quickly, more than two degrees a day; it’s a quick witted Mercury. One must also note the strong sextiles to Sun and Mercury from Saturn.
What is interesting about Mussolini’s Saturn? In Gemini in a diurnal chart, Saturn is in its own triplicity and is the ruler of the Lot of Spirit, an index of one’s personal motivation and priority. We can talk about focus and discipline, a tendency toward absolute control and distrust of any set of opinions that were not his own. Saturn also has the virtue of patience and, in Gemini, flexibility of tactics, and in the years preceding his becoming Il Duce, his strategy was not only brilliant and he was able to rebound quickly from setbacks. By contrast Donald Trump’s Saturn in Cancer has few of these positive qualities.
Mussolini had a charismatic and personal side that he used to good effect. The Ninth House is the sign Cancer and contains Venus in triplicity and an exalted Jupiter. His Moon in Gemini is also antiscion to Venus in Cancer and you could say that this would give Mussolini a “common touch”, and ability to see the needs of others and get others to feel that he was on their side. At his most successful, ordinary people felt he understood them and that he was on their side.
When Italy entered World War I and Mussolini entered the army, Mussolini’s decennials were a timely Mars/Mars decennial and by the end of the war it had changed into Mars-Mercury. In September 1916 progressed Pluto was at its retrograde station, further intensifying things for Mussolini. In August 1917 he had a Progressed New Moon, accompanied by transiting Saturn conjunct his Sun and Mercury, followed by transiting Neptune: these factors all would begin the enterprise that would bring him into power and beyond. By 1918 he extolled the qualities of a man “ruthless and energetic enough” to revive Italy and we know who he had in mind. During this time, transiting Jupiter was conjunct natal Jupiter and Venus.
At the end of World War I Italy was a mess. They had not done well on the field against the Austrians, took too many casualties and many soldiers had deserted the army during a long protracted war. Although on the side that prevailed, Italy received too few concessions in the Treaty of Versailles to have justified the sacrifice of war. Returning soldiers often had njo jobs to go back to. At the same time, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia inspired many leftist causes and a wave of strikes by those who were employed began to hit Italy. Last but not least was the flu epidemic of 1918. The liberal parliamentary government was by now tired and ineffective and there was an urge for a strong national leader. Benito Mussolini was happy to fill that role.
In the middle of 1919 Mussolini and a few hundred others formed the Fascist Party, soon augmented by paramilitary groups called the Blackshirts or squadristi. Formed by one of Mussolini’s confidants, they were composed by mostly unemployed and disaffected armed army veterans and others who excelled at physical intimidation of leftist political groups and the press and for breaking strikes, for which work they were subsidized well by factory owners and other businessmen. The government took advantage of the Blackshirts’ tactics to reduce disorder and this gave Mussolini a far stronger role. They also attempted to accommodate Mussolini in the hope that a little power would get his cooperation help tame his extremist tendencies and those of his followers.
During the early 1920’s Uranus was going through Pisces and making transits to Mussolini’s natal Moon and Saturn; in mid-1922 Uranus was at station on his Mars. Uranus is not a humanitarian planet but one marked by willfulness and sudden activity. In mid-1921 and for the next two and a half years Mussolini’s decennials were Mars-Saturn. For many this can be a difficult time, yet Saturn is a positive planet for Mussolini and he carefully maneuvered between the government and the Blackshirts, accumulating personal leverage and political respectability at the same time.
Italy’s difficult situation culminated in October 1922 when thirty thousand Blackshirts marched on Rome. Mussolini, not knowing how this would end, hedged his bets and stayed far from the action. However, instead of opposing the march, Italy’s King summoned Mussolini to Rome and made him Prime Minister.
Mussolini began as head of a coalition government that gradually became more stacked with his political allies. The move to dictatorship came gradually over a few years. After his government almost fell, he consolidated his power, rendered Parliament irrelevant, and began governing autocratically. This was in place in 1925 and what followed were the abolition of an opposing (or even neutral) press and opposing political parties. Astrologically 1925 featured Mussolini’s progressed Sun square Moon and zodiacal releasing from Fortune being Scorpio/Leo, his Tenth and First Houses. By the end of 1925 his decennials changed from Mars-Moon to Jupiter-Jupiter, cementing his role as the country’s savior and Il Duce.
If you wish to investigate further, there were his economic reforms that had a degree of success and his evolving friendship with Hitler that was catastrophic. There were edicts against Jews, an ambivalent entry into World War II that resulted in an allied invasion of Italy, his being deposed by the king and being restalled by the Germans as head of an area of North Italy buttressed by the Germans, and two years later, his capture and execution. I invite the interested reader to read further especially if you like to read about the eventual fortunes of most totalitarian dictators or the consequences of total warfare.