Joe Biden is a cool dude. He is the essence of the old fashioned politician who loves what he does and who has dedicated his life to improving our country. He’s not perfect but he is certainly the quintessentially American politician in the Democratic Party.
His personal life has been marked by tragedy more than once. His wife and one year old daughter were killed in a car accident on 12/18/72. In their memory, he does not work on December 18th in order to honor their memory. His two sons Beau and Hunter survived the accident. Recently, in May 2015, his son Beau died of brain cancer. Later in this article we’ll examine these events from an astrological perspective as they have a considerable bearing on his decision to seek the presidency or not.
What we will find is that his chart shows both his desire to run for President at this time, and his current state of indecision. In my opinion, as much as he would like to, he will not run at the present time, or if he does he will not win the nomination. Having said so, I think that astrologically there is an interesting chance that he will change his mind in early 2016. More on this towards the end of this article.
Good planets – the core of success
The different houses in a chart can combine in various ways to produce significant success in life. In Biden’s chart above, you can see the double diagonal lines in the box along the bottom row. This marks the “lagna” or starting point of the chart. Since we are using the style of chart from Southern India, that square will always represent the sign of Scorpio. We say astrologically, that Joe Biden has both the Sun and Venus in Scorpio which is his lagna, with Saturn opposite in the sign of Taurus (count 7 signs inclusive).
By itself, this is a powerful combination because it brings together the energy of the Sun as ruler of Leo, the 10th house of career, with the soothing energy of Venus, the ruler of both Taurus and Libra; both strong but diplomatic signs. Taurus is the 7th house and Libra the 12th.
In Jyotish, the cornerstones or pillars of a chart (kendra in sanskrit) are the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th houses. In the chart above the kendras are outlined in red. Planets in kendras have considerable strength especially when combined in another kendra, in this case the first house. In Mr. Biden’s chart we see two kendra (7 and 10) rulers (Sun and Venus) combined in the Scorpio ascendant. Scorpio is a sign that is powerful in and of itself. Added to this, we see that Jupiter, who is exalted in the sign of Cancer has drishti (glance, shown in red) onto Scorpio. This means that the energy of Jupiter is projected onto Scorpio and therefore combines with the Sun and Venus who gain the added influence of spiritual, dharmic, and lucky Jupiter. Furthermore Jupiter is “vargottama” meaning that he occupies the same position in the Navamsha divisional chart as he does in the birth chart. This multiplies the influence of Jupiter considerably.
The combination of Jupiter and the Sun do not tend to make one modest. In Wikipedia, “journalist James Traub has written that “Biden’s vanity and his regard for his own gifts seem considerable even by the rarefied standards of the U.S. Senate.” and “Biden is the kind of fundamentally happy person who can be as generous toward others as he is to himself. This is a perfect example of the expansive nature of Jupiter combining with the Sun.
We should also mention that Saturn is opposite the ascendant in the 7th house which is the sign of Taurus, ruled by Venus. Venus is in the ascendant which links the two houses very closely. His partners in life are deeply invested in his success and actively support his ambitions. It is also interesting to note that when Saturn is connected with the partner, whether in marriage, business, or politics, there will be a meaningful difference in age. In this case, President Obama is 54 and Mr. Biden is 73. His wife Jill is nine years younger. It has also been my experience that a connection between the Sun and Saturn will give the individual a strong sense of persistence, bordering on stubbornness, a quality that is useful in politics where nothing is done quickly or easily.
In my experience, people who have an exalted Jupiter are generally regarded as being of profoundly good character. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, in Washington, Joe Biden is widely regarded as being ethical, and a “good guy”. From the wiki article, “Former Senate colleague Lindsey Graham (a Republican) said, “If there were no gaffes, there’d be no Joe. He’s someone you can’t help but like.”
The Sun owns the sign of Leo which is the 10th house (count 10 squares clockwise inclusive of Scorpio). The 10th house is a powerful house having to do with our place in the world most notably career. Note that in Leo we have Rahu, the planet of obsession. This man is known for his total and complete dedication to his job. Interestingly, if you start counting from the position of the Moon (Chandra Lagna) in Aries, you will see that Rahu is in the 5th house having to do with children. After the accident in which his daughter died, he was a dedicated father to his young sons and took the train to Washington DC, 90 minutes each way every day for many years. In fact, (according to the wiki article) over the years he made over 7,000 trip home from Washington DC and held an annual BBQ for the Amtrak crews, who would often hold the last train of the night for him.
Lastly, Mars and Mercury are found in Libra, the sign before his Scorpio ascendant. Mars/Mercury combinations are found quite often in the charts of politicians. It is a blending of energies that gives persuasive speech, although often times with a somewhat tenuous connection to the literal “truth”. Mr. Biden was the subject of several scandals in which there were allegations of either incomplete attribution of quotes or plagiarism. In fact, these allegations (largely unfounded) were the cause of his dropping out from the race for the presidential nomination on September 27, 1987. At that time Ketu/Sun/Moon/Venus were all transiting through Virgo. This is a combination of planets in the 11th house of recognition and one’s reputation. Ketu and Saturn are taking away all the light from both the Sun and Moon. It must have been a humiliating time, although at that time Saturn was transiting through Scorpio (as it is now in 2015) and we’ve mentioned earlier that in his chart Saturn gives him a virtually inexhaustible resilience.
Mars as ruler of the 6th house of “combat” means that he can be tough and Mercury as ruler of the 11th house of friendship and recognition, means that he can impose his will on others and not lose their friendship in the process. Because these planets are in the 12th house, he is comfortable and effective working quietly behind the scenes in order to negotiate with his opponents.
One of the unique features of vedic astrology are the planetary periods, or dasas. This means that each planet gets their chance to exert influence more strongly than usual over a number of years. There are many different kinds of dasa and they are all calculated based on the position of the planets in the birth chat. There are also sub-dasas and other levels which can be used to refine the time periods into smaller and smaller amounts. Dasas rely on the precision of the birth time, and since that is always somewhat suspect, dasa and sub dasa are the only periods that I use.
Isn’t it interesting that in the chart above, Mr. Biden ran for President the first time in 1988 when he was in his Rahu/Rahu dasa. We have already seen that Rahu being in the 10th house gives drive and determination especially because Rahu is in Leo, ruled by the Sun, which is in the ascendant – “elect me!”. Interestingly, Rahu projects his energy five signs from his position and in this chart, that means that it is felt in Mr. Biden’s 2nd house of money, the sign of Sagittarius. Early on in the campaign he raised significantly more money than his opponents.
The second house is also associated with speech and Rahu’s aspect onto Sagittarius contributed to his downfall as much as his rise. As mentioned earlier, the combination of Mercury and Mars can make one a little loose with the specifics of “the truth” and Mr. Biden was dogged by accusations of plagiarism which were largely discounted, but only after the damage had been done. At the time in 1987/88, Saturn was moving through Scorpio. In combination with the Sun, Saturn can bring humiliation and failure. Saturn’s shadow was being felt through the 10th house aspect, meaning that Saturn’s shadow was passing over his birth Rahu, obscuring his fame.
In February, 1988 he was taken to the hospital and it was discovered that he was suffering from an aneurysm, which was found and repaired just in time. The situation was serious enough, and the outcome in doubt to the extent that he was given last rites. But he was able to recover and has had no return of any problems. Astrologically, Ketu, the planet of sudden occurrences, was in the same sign (Leo) as his birth Rahu, meaning that Rahu was in the same sign as his birth Ketu along with the Sun. Since the Sun represents the life force and Rahu/Ketu cause eclipses, his life was almost lost. At that time he was in his Rahu/Rahu dasa thus giving Rahu/Ketu added power to cause trouble.
The obvious question is why did he survive? My feeling is that Jupiter was in Aries at the time, and in a nakshatra (vedic constellation) called Ashvini, which is very strongly related to healing. From that position, Jupiter is aspecting both Saturn and Mars in Sagittarius, a sign owned by Jupiter. Saturn owns the sign of Aquarius, where Ketu is found by birth, and where the Sun and Rahu were transiting. The influence of Saturn and Rahu/Ketu were softened by the healing nature of Jupiter. Mars owns the sign where Jupiter was transiting (Aries), thus establishing another linkage to the healing qualities of Jupiter.
Often times, as is true in this case, it seems like the planets gang up on an individual and disaster ensures and were it not for one or two factors, the life would be lost. Mr. Biden was fortunate indeed to have survived.
The 2008 Campaign
Mr. Biden chose to run again in 2008 which was in his Jupiter/Saturn dasa. Jupiter, the dasa lord is in his 9th house by birth and the 9th house represents, among other things, the role of government in upholding dharma. Since he had continued to be in the Senate since his first run in 1988, he built up a base of experience in the Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees. He was well regarded as being both moderate and willing to work with the opposition. Certainly he felt that he was the superior candidate based on his experience in the Senate and especially with foreign affairs. In his usually witty style (there’s that Mars/Mercury again), he said of then candidate Obama; ” I think he can be ready, but right now I don’t believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”
The funny thing about astrology is that one can say with absolute confidence that whatever happens, it will be consistent with the imagery in the astrology chart. As an astrologer, it is up to us to decipher what will happen ahead of time, and it is very easy to make an incorrect prediction, but with hindsight, the universe is always correct. The events always match the symbols. In other words, the universe is perfect. We astrologers are not.
The chart above shows the relationship of the planets in the sky on the evening of January 3, 2008, when he withdrew from the race. Mr. Biden had a difficult time raising funds and couldn’t seem to attract attention compared to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He dropped out of the race after attracting less than 1% of the vote in the Iowa Caucuses. As you will see below, at that time there were several negative factors acting against him, so his lack of success is not surprising. On the other hand, some of the astrology was quite positive. In fact, on the evening of his withdrawal he said, “There is nothing sad about tonight…. I feel no regret.”
- Transiting Saturn was moving through Leo. This affected him in a number of ways. Saturn was aspecting his birth Saturn (blue arrow) and thus adding to the impact of Saturn in his chart.
- Saturn was retrograde at that time, and that is not usually a time when people are able to make “forward progress”. Retrograde movement of a transiting planet tends to intensify the negative qualities of that planet.
- Transiting Saturn was with transiting Ketu in the same sign that Rahu was in at the time of his birth. Rahu/Ketu take on the qualities of the planets they are in close contact with thus amplifying the negative influence of Saturn.
- In 2008, Mr. Biden was in his Rahu/Rahu dasa, thus placing even more emphasis on the astrological configuration of Leo; lots of Rahu/Ketu influence all of which translates into a considerable influence on the part of Saturn – the planet of “no”.
- It is important to remember that Saturn represents the public in a democracy and Rahu is often associated with fame. All of these symbols are present in the situation as his presidential aspirations came to a close for that election cycle.
I suspect that for him to have been successful, the combination of Sun and Jupiter in Sagattarius (see chart above) would have had to be better positioned relative to his birth planets. Furthermore, I would be willing to bet that in the charts of Clinton and especially Obama, that would be the case.
As mentioned above, publicly Mr. Biden seemed to accept his fate gracefully. In the chart you will see that transiting Venus was with his birth Venus and the Moon was with his birth Mars/Mercury. These are gentle and positive influences for him. Certainly as time went on and he was selected as the vice presidential running mate by Barack Obama, better times were in store for him.
The Big Question – 2015, Will he run again?
The chart above shows the configuration of the planets in the sky on 10/20/2015. As I write this, speculation is boiling about Mr. Biden’s intentions regarding the presidential race. He has spoken openly about not feeling ready to plunge into what would be a grueling campaign. He is, by his own admission, still grieving the loss of the his son to brain cancer, and up to now, has suggested that he would not run. And yet, he continue to quietly explore the options.
The general trends in life are seen through the dasa and sub-dasa lords. He is in his Jupiter major period and Venus minor period. If you count from the birth Jupiter square in the chart above, you’ll find that birth Venus is 5 signs away from his birth Jupiter. This is a harmonious relationship and suggests that even though Jupiter/Venus dasa is generally a difficult dasa, his will be as good as it can be. These are both benefic planets and so his experience of life will be generally a positive one. When he ran in 2008, he was in his Jupiter/Saturn dasa; a more difficult dasa that the current one, but clearly Jupiter is involved in his desire to run for president.
Jupiter is active in his chart now as you can see from the orange lines. His birth Jupiter is aspecting his birth Ketu, thus giving Ketu the qualities of Jupiter. His birth Jupiter aspects his birth Sun and Venus giving them luck and power. In the blue square, the sign of Scorpio, you can see that Jupiter is aspecting the transiting Saturn. Transiting Jupiter in Leo (red square) is also aspecting his birth Moon giving him a sense of fullness and confidence. I think we can say that Jupiter is favorably disposed at this time.
In the red square we see that his birth Rahu is in Leo and right now Venus and Jupiter and Mars there by transit. This is the significant 10th house of career and activity in the world. He has both his dasa and sub dasa lord in the same sign along with the combative Mars – handy for contesting an election.
One of my astrology teachers is fond of saying that “nothing happens without the blessings of Jupiter and the permission of Saturn.” So far, it seems to me that Jupiter is very supportive.
Saturn is transiting through Scorpio (blue square) and is aspecting (blue lines) Mr. Biden’s birth Saturn and his busy 10th house with Venus/Jupiter/Mars by transit and Rahu by birth. There is a strong connection with the dasa/sub dasa lords, and the transits of Saturn and Jupiter seem to be supporting his ambition. Furthermore, from the red square (Leo) you can see that Mars is aspecting Saturn (red arrow) adding the combative power he will need to contest the nomination and possibly the election in 2016.
If you consider that Scorpio is his lagna and that he has Sun and Venus there by birth, he would feel sensitive to the influence of the transiting Saturn. The Sun shines as the center of the solar system. Saturn is the shadow and son of the Sun. There is a natural conflict between the two as Saturn moves over the Sun, he obstruct the light that the Sun usually emits. But this is complicated because rules the 3rd house of ambition and the 4th house of emotions and in a political sense, the seat of power. I would say that Saturn has a good side for Mr. Biden, but not completely so.
There are more problems when we look at the chart starting from the Moon (Chandra lagna). When we do so, Scorpio is the 8th house. To have the Sun in the 8th house is not good for victory. Sadly we have seen that Mr. Biden lost his first wife in a car accident. His wife is represented by Venus and with Venus in the 8th house we can see the power of the 8th house to painfully take something away.
It is also important to note that the 8th house is associated with “the enemy you can not see”. In a positive sense, Mr. Biden has been able to put his own ego aside to serve President Obama as an exceptionally active and effective Vice-President, often time working behind the scenes to bring to fruition many of President Obama’s policy goals. On the other hand, the darker side of the 8th house may presage a difficult campaign with much happening unseen in an attempt to undermine his candidacy.
The balance of factors related to his powerful Jupiter make me think that he will choose to run. Given the 8th house influence in his birth chart and with his current transits, there is some weakness that will be played out one way or another. With any chart, the trick to an effective prediction is being able to judge the relative strength of influence exerted by the various planets. Everyone seems to be happy, but then here we see Saturn who could spoil the party at any minute.
Post Script – 10/21/15
The day after I wrote the above, Mr. Biden announced that he would not run for President. It is interesting that on this day, the Moon is being aspected by Saturn, the planet of “no”. It was my feeling that there were so many similarities to the previous times when he ran, that he would choose to do so again. But as he said in his announcement, “the time is not right”, and it seems that the influence of Saturn predominated. I’ll deduct a letter grade for not following through on my initial inclinations.