Kim Philby – lying to those who loved him

“Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.”  Arthur Miller.

  The treachery at the heart of a lifelong friendship which brought together two men who in reality were enemies but only one knew it, is the theme of a new drama about Cold War Soviet spy Kim Philby and his MI6 buddy Nicholas Elliott. Starring Damien Lewis as Elliott.

  They met during the Blitz in London in the early 1940s and their MI6 intelligence careers progressed in tandem. Except that Philby, recruited by Soviet intelligence in 1934, passed secrets to Moscow that sent hundreds — perhaps thousands — to their deaths. For nearly three decades he deceived colleagues, family, friends, wives, lovers and his country. When he came under suspicion Elliott leapt to his defence, convinced it was a witch hunt. After being cleared the first time, Elliott helped him to find work as a journalist in Beirut, where he resumed working for MI6 and the KGB.

   Philby is described as duplicitous but also generous, funny and intelligent. When Elliott finally faced the truth he insisted on going to Beirut to confront Philby in early 1963. A few days later Philby left a message for his wife saying he would be late for dinner and fled to Moscow. She had no inkling of her adored husband’s double life.

A lethal charmer, ‘he was also a ruthless dissembler, one of the greatest liars this country has ever produced. He started out as a committed communist but became addicted to the drug of secrecy, the thrill of infidelity, political and personal.’

  Philby was born 1 January 1912 2.30pm Ambala, India with an Arabist explorer father, was educated in England ending up at Cambridge University. He had a deeply-buried 8th house Capricorn Sun and secretive 8th house Mercury in Sagittarius in a opposition Pluto which would make him a convincing speaker but also capable of fraudulent misrepresentation. He had an ultra-charming Venus in Scorpio close to expansive Jupiter in his 7th so he would be extremely personable. And it opposed a dynamic Moon Mars on his Ascendant. Plus he had a highly-strung, can-be-fanatical Uranus opposition Neptune squaring a 12th house Aries North Node.

  What is striking is the juxtaposition of that ramped up, sugary charm sitting alongside (and covering up) his hidden depths from his 8th.

 George Blake another MI6 Soviet agent who fled in 1961 also had strong hidden house emphasis in his chart – Scorpio Sun in the 8th, Uranus in 12th and Pluto in 4th. See post 26 December 2020. Like Philby his early roots were not British – born in the Netherlands, part childhood in Egypt and eventually landed in Cambridge University. (Where else? – it really is a cess pit that place or was for a variety of reasons.)

  Nicholas Elliott, 15 November 1916, was a Sun Scorpio with his Sun conjunct Philby’s seductive Venus and his Jupiter was conjunct Philby’s North Node and square his Uranus opposition Neptune, arguably offering him enthusiastic cover. Elliott’s Pluto opposed Philby’s 8th house Sun, with the 8th house clearly having the upper hand, dangling Elliott on a string.  What may have been Elliott’s Achilles heel was his Saturn Venus conjunction in Leo, maybe close to his Moon square his Jupiter which might have given him an over-rosy view of certain situations – not helpful in a spy. And his South Node was conjunct Philby’s slippery Neptune

  Their relationship chart had a business-like composite Sun opposition Saturn and an adventurous Uranus Jupiter square Venus. With underlying hostility creeping in from the composite Mars conjunct North Node trine Pluto – though that would also have been soaked up in their respective clandestine careers. But it was that aspect which exploded when Elliott finally faced the truth as tr Pluto was conjunct the composite South Node and opposition Mars, with tr Uranus moving along behind. Tr Saturn also then in Aquarius was about to cast a chill as it squared the composite Venus and crossed the adventurous Uranus Jupiter.  

 Philby’s third wife Eleanor, 15 September 1913, was a Sun Virgo which fell in Philby’s sociable 5th house with her Jupiter conjunct his Sun. Their relationship chart had tr Neptune conjunct the composite Sun when he walked out leaving her to face the truth of his betrayal. Tr Saturn was also conjunct the composite Uranus for a major shake up and tr Pluto was moving in square to the composite Mars for a devastating blow. She had a Mars Pluto conjunction in Cancer in her natal chart which would attract her to dramatic and damaging situations and relationships.

  It’s difficult to imagine the kind of energy that would have to go into leading such a double life and lying to everyone close.  

A Spy Among Friends is on ITVX from December 8 based on the novel by Ben McIntyre.

See also post November 2 2021

Thor Heyerdahl – defying death to prove a hunch

The fine line between courage and madness, mythic heroism and blind unrealistic faith was never clearer than in explorer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl’s epic 1947 Kon Tiki voyage between South America and the South Sea Islands. Obsessed with the notion that ancient Peruvian peoples had crossed 900 miles of stormy sea to people Polynesia, he set out against a mountain of objections to build an old style raft without spikes, nails or wire. Experts predicted that the balsa would break under the strain; the logs would wear through the ropes, get waterlogged and sink; that the sail and rigging would be stripped by winds; that gales would swamp the raft and wash the crew overboard. Surprisingly the raft proved sea worthy and made an average rate of 37 nautical miles a day.

  Heyerdahl himself amazingly could barely swim. Having twice almost drowned as a boy, he had grown up terrified of water which makes the feat all the more hair-raising. Daily progress broadcasts caught public attention and was described as “the world’s first reality show.”

  In three months after 3,700 nautical miles they sighted land.

  In later years he conducted fieldwork in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Canada and never deviated from his controversial theories.

  He was born 6 October 1914 4.40 pm Larvik, Norway and had a Libra Sun trine an adventurous Uranus Jupiter in Aquarius.  Two things stand out in his chart – one is a ferociously determined Water Grand Trine of Saturn Pluto in Cancer trine an 8th house Mars Mercury in Scorpio trine a Pisces North Node – Water Grand Trines can be creative and healing but tend to live in their own bubble and don’t always interact well with reality. He also had an emphasised Neptune in Leo opposition Uranus square Mars Mercury opposition a Taurus Moon – a Fixed Grand Cross. He followed his dream with single-minded stubborness.

  There are several themes running through other explorers’ charts which tally.  Marco Polo, 15 September 1254 JC also had a Water Grand Trine of Uranus trine Neptune Jupiter trine Mars and Pluto in Scorpio – Uranus for pushing back boundaries, Neptune for a vision, Jupiter luck and Mars in Scorpio ultra-determined.

 David Livingstone, 19 March 1813 10.30pm – another Water Grand Trine of a Pisces Sun trine Jupiter trine Uranus.

  Richard Burton, 19 March 1821 9.30 pm Torquay, UK, a determined Sun Pluto in Pisces and a Pisces North Node like Heyerdahl with a highlighted Uranus Neptune in Capricorn square Jupiter Mercury in Aries.

  Ranulph Fiennes, 7 March 1944 12.30pm, another Sun Pisces with a tough Mars Saturn in Gemini and an accentuated Pluto in Leo conjunct the leadership Leo North Node and on the focal point of a Uranus trine Neptune. He shares his Leo North Node with David Livingstone and Marco Polo.

   Not all the same but similar enough themes running through – heavy Water concentration or/and Neptune – Uranus Neptune for the eureka moment of finding what their intuition led them towards. And a strong degree of unrealism allowing them to discount cautions and forge ahead risking death to fulfil their vision.

Kirsty Alley – smiles and fears

Two-time Emmy winner Kirsty Alley, best known for Cheers, Veronica’s Closet and Look Who’s Talking has died after a battle with cancer aged 71. A long-time scientologist she had a well-publicised struggle with her fluctuating weight.

  Born 12 January 1951 she was a creative and ambitious Sun Capricorn square a filmic Neptune; with a Yod onto Pluto from Sun sextile North Node (Moon) in Pisces. Such a Plutonian yod would make her feel out of step with herself never mind the world around her and tend to make her an extremist and overly intense in her views. The controlling side of Pluto would be magnified since it opposed Mars in stubborn, contrary Aquarius. Quite a heavyweight personality yet underneath also scared of being powerless, which would contribute to a weight problem, since excess girth can act as a buffer against threats from the outside. Her Neptune would also make her addiction-prone.

  Her Saturn was also emphasised being on the point of a T square to Mercury opposition Uranus which would make her early years discouraging. 

  She was married twice with two adopted children.

Tammy, Shania, Patsy – turning misery to good use

Turbulent lives filled with emotional angst appear to be the norm for female country and western singers. Tammy Wynette’s broken life is highlighted in a new miniseries which takes a journey through her tumultuous third marriage with alcoholic and abusive country artist George Jones. Her father died when she was nine months old and she was brought up largely by grandparents. She had a breakdown during her first teen marriage and received ECT, careered on through six marriages in total, none of them happy, and had a hysterectomy without her consent at one point which led to chronic abdominal pain, drug addiction and eventually killed her at 55 from a blood clot.

   She was born 5 May 1942 1.20am Red Bay, Alabama, and was a Sun Taurus trine a 12th house Capricorn Moon; with an unsettled Uranus Saturn in Taurus in her domestic/family 4th house and an intense Pluto in her 7th. Her saving grace came from a creative Venus in Pisces opposition and 8th house Neptune squaring onto an enthusiastic and lucky Jupiter in her performing 5th house. Her emphasised Neptune would raise her to musical heights though also skew her judgement when it came to emotional relationships. She’d opt for Neptunian types who walked on the dark Plutonian side.

 George Jones, 12 September 1931, has a Virgo Sun, Venus and probably Moon conjunct her Neptune so a deep but illusory connection.

  Shania Twain, one of the world’s biggest-selling female recording artists, is still with us and has a new album out soon. She grew up in poverty in Canada, one of five children. Aged 8, her mother would get her out of bed to take her to sing on stage in bars, at midnight. At 14, she got a job at McDonald’s which she did after school, then worked the  bar at night. Her stepfather was physically and sexually abusive, which taught her to downplay her appearance. By the time she was 22 her parents were killed in a car crash, so she had to raise her younger siblings. Her first marriage split after her husband had an affair with her best friend and she married her best friend’s husband. A straight swap.

  She lost her voice in 2004 due to Lyme’s disease, only recovering it seven years later after risky open-throat surgery.

  She was born 28 August 1965 3.30pm Windsor, Ontario, and is Sun Uranus Pluto in Virgo sextile an ambitious 10th house Mars in Scorpio which in turn is in a hard-edged, can-be-victimised trine to Saturn. Her Mercury in entertaining Leo squares Neptune.

  Skipping across other country and western female signers similarities emerge.

  Dolly Parton, 19 January 1946 8.25 pm Little River, TN, has a harsh Mars Saturn in Cancer opposition Venus and Sun in Capricorn square Jupiter.

 Patsy Cline, 8 September 1932 11.05pm Winchester, VA, has her Mars in Cancer conjunct Pluto opposition Saturn square Uranus – and that is tough and scary. She grew up in a dysfunctional, poor family, moving frequently with an abusive father and nearly died of a throat infection aged 13.  The second of her two marriages was “fueled by alcohol, argument, passion, jealousy, success, tears and laughter.” Her Capricorn Moon was trine a Jupiter Neptune conjunction in Virgo close to her Virgo Sun.

  Tanya Tucker, 10 October 1958 – another poor, peripatetic childhood and a constantly changing, chequered romantic life as an adult. She’s another with a Jupiter Neptune conjunction and an afflicted Mars in Gemini square Pluto.

  What stands out is the combination of fear and mistreatment from an oppressed Mars alongside strong Jupiters, which would help to give them the optimism to rise out of their misery (mainly).

  Jupiter Neptune can live in cloud cuckoo land but having an ever-hopeful approach, however unrealistic, helps to overcome the depression and damage of ill-treatment and look to a better future. Plus the anguish does give a bite to their plaintive, melancholic songs.

Robert Downey Sr to Jr – handing on a drug habit

Robert Downey Jr has been remarkably forgiving of his counter-culture film director father in a ‘sad and affectionate’ home-movie portrait about to air on Netflix, which only finished after senior died of Parkinsons aged 80.

  Robert Downey Sr was addicted to drugs and alcohol and introduced junior to marijuana when he was six years old. Not surprisingly Jr continued on to develop a full-blown addiction leading to ‘fifteen years of total insanity’ which nearly wrecked his career. He had several run-ins with the law in the late 1990s and early 2000s and even spent time behind bars after missing his required drug tests. He credits his then wife for sobering him up in 2003 after which his career took off again largely thanks to Marvel.

  In an interview, Downey Jr. said: “When my dad and I would do drugs together, it was like him trying to express his love for me in the only way he knew how.”

  He was born 4 April 1965 1.10pm New York, Robert Jr has a lucky, successful and indulgent Moon Jupiter in Taurus in his 10th, suiting him for a career in the public eye but also attracting him to hedonistic pleasures. His Moon Jupiter oppose a 4th house Neptune describing his creative, film-maker father who was also hooked on other forms of escapism. There are various ways Neptune in the 4th can manifest but a sick or druggie father is certainly one of them – not a great role model.

  Downey Jr also had a volatile, volcanic Mars, Uranus, Pluto in Virgo opposition an 8th house Saturn which would give him a hot-lava reservoir of anger issues and depression.

  Sr, born 24 June 1936, in Iowa, was a Sun Venus in Cancer conjunct Mars in final degree Gemini which in turn squared Saturn – a mix of charm, wildly enthusiasm and short-temper. His Virgo Moon Neptune were conjunct his son’s Mars Uranus Pluto and opposition Saturn so it was a difficult emotional connection where nurturing was concerned.  

  When Jr finally got clean of drugs in 2003 tr Pluto was just finished squaring his natal Pluto (and Saturn).  That mid life crisis – aged 38 to 42 years old  – which starts with tr Pluto square natal Pluto is a vital transition if the second half of life is to be fulfilling.  It pulls away from the past – and is followed by tr Neptune square natal Neptune and then the Uranus opposition.

   His relationship chart with his father is tight and controlling/possessive with a composite Sun Venus Mercury square Pluto; with two strained Yods – one not surprisingly onto a Neptune apex planet and the other onto Saturn.  Not an easy bond but Jr appears to have risen above or moved beyond the more damaging aspects of it.

Edward Snowden – paying a price for whistleblowing

Edward Snowden, the former computer intelligence consultant who leaked classified NSA information in 2013 about their mass surveillance program and had his US passport revoked under the Espionage laws has become a Russian citizen. After the initial furore he fled to Hong Kong and then Russia. In 2020 a USA court ruled the program exposed by him was illegal and possibly unconstitutional. He has been called a traitor, a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a coward, and a patriot.

  He was joined in Russia by his girlfriend now wife, acrobat/dancer Lindsay Mills, with whom he has two children. He has a job at an unnamed Russian IT company.

  Born 21 June 1983 4.42AM Elizabeth City, NC, he is an assertive Sun Mars in Gemini in an Air Grand Trine to an unyielding Saturn Pluto in Libra trine an Aquarius Midheaven, formed into a Kite by Sun Mars opposition Neptune. Very bright clearly but also beyond stubborn with a can-be-fanatical idealist’s Air Grand Trine plus an unbudgeable Saturn Pluto.

  He also has an adventurous, risk-taking Jupiter Uranus in Sagittarius opposition Mercury in Gemini.  It’s a Fire Air chart – so he’ll tend to live in his head and be ungrounded. He can put his ideas into action but will have a tendency to stay high rather than anchor his feet to the ground – so can be unrealistic. He has no Earth signs and only one Water sign – a Scorpio Moon. A driven man but not one to consider practical consequences.

  When he embarked on the actions which would upend his life in 2013 tr Neptune was in a head-in the-clouds, overly-optimistic square to his Jupiter Uranus with tr Uranus in a freedom-loving trine. Tr Saturn was also conjunct his Moon, separating him from his childhood family and home. More significantly tr Pluto was just into his 8th house for an extended decade of feeling trapped.

  Tr Pluto is about to move out of his 8th in 2023 which will lift certain restrictions. But he still has the weight of tr Pluto square his Saturn to slog him through a discouraging 2023 alongside a debilitating tr Neptune square his Mars followed by tr Neptune square his Sun in 2024/25.

  Whether the brave new world of Air and Fire emphasis from tr Pluto, Neptune and Uranus shifting signs over the next four years will affect his status is moot. Only by 2028 when tr Uranus crosses his Ascendant will he feel free of more restrictions.

  Relocating his chart to Moscow puts his Mars Sun in the 10th so it is a location that can further his ambitions. Though with Neptune in the 4th it will demand sacrifices on the home and family front.

 Lindsay, 20 February 1985, fills in for his emotional gaps with a Watery Pisces Sun, Mercury and Moon as well as Pluto and Saturn in Scorpio (not conjunct). Her passionately enthusiastic Venus Mars in Aries trine Uranus fits his fiery excitement-seeker side.

  Their relationship chart has a possessive, life-changing composite Sun opposition Pluto which will be under strain over the next two years with tr Pluto in square. There’s also an ever-optimistic Jupiter Neptune conjunct and Venus opposition Uranus which thrives either with freedom or an unconventional setting.

   They haven’t chosen an easy furrow to plough and the next few years look rocky.   

Liz Taylor & Richard Burton – once more into the fray

Liz Taylor and Richard Burton can probably be blamed for kicking off the modern celebrity culture when their torrid romance on the set of Cleopatra in 1962 sparked off a media frenzy. Their turbulent, on-off scorching hot and frequently aggravated liaison is well-trodden turf so I’m not sure why we need yet another rerun. But a new book claims to have had unprecedented access to diaries and letters.

  They lived a decadent, drink-sodden life together with copious amounts of seriously expensive jewellery being handed over as apologies when a alcohol led to arguments. It was a symbiotic love-hate match. She said “We were like magnets alternately pulling toward each other and, inexorably, pushing away.”

  He drank himself to oblivion and she started her days with a  bloody Mary, rolling on to wine and whisky or vodka. Her health was constantly throwing up problems which she wasn’t above using as a lever to catch his attention, and latterly to induce him into a second marriage after a 14 month separation and divorce.

  I’m not altogether convinced about her 2.30am birth time 27 February 1932 London. It explains certain things with a powerfully influential 8th house Pluto in a disruptive square to Venus Uranus in Aries in her 4th pointing to a constantly changing domestic life. But it says little about the health problems which plagued her life.  She was a Sun Mars Mercury in Pisces opposition Neptune so well suited to the film business. And her Jupiter in flashy Leo clearly appreciated the high-life.

  Burton, 10 November 1925 3pm  Neath, Wales, had a deeply buried, depressive and obsessive Sun Saturn in Scorpio in his 8th square a filmic and addiction-prone Neptune in his 6th and in a creative and unrealistic Water Grand Trine to Uranus trine Pluto in Cancer in his 4th. His Grand Trine became a Kite with Pluto in a confident opposition to Jupiter – he had luck and talent to spare but was blighted by that downbeat Saturnine streak.

   On the synastry, her Scorpio Moon was conjunct his Sun Saturn in his 8th – intense but conflicted, both passionate and defensive on his part. Her Neptune was conjunct his Virgo Moon for an evasive connection. Her Venus Uranus in Aries squared his central Jupiter opposition Pluto for fireworks as her adventurous streak was attracted to his grand gestures.

  But it is not as strong a connection as I would have expected. Their relationship chart has a possessive and controlling composite Sun Mercury opposition Pluto which would bind them together for a while and feel meant and Pluto tends to lead to messy breakups. There was a destructive composite Mars Saturn conjunction; a delusional Venus opposition Neptune. And a Yod of Neptune sextile Jupiter inconjunct Uranus – head in the clouds and unstable.

  The one thing which catches my eye is that both their Black Moon Lilith are conjunct their North Node – I have no idea what that means though to suggests a karmic journey towards the darker emotions. A relationship at some level they needed but was ultimately damaging to both. Both went on to marry twice more after their final split.       

East India Company – the glory of England in its day

The East India Company formed in the final years of Queen Elizabeth 1’s reign grew into a formidable enterprise which seized control of large parts of the Indian subcontinent, colonised parts of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. At its peak, it was the largest corporation in the world and had its own army of 260,000 soldiers, twice the size of the British army at the time. According to wiki it accounted for half of the world’s trade during the mid-1700s and early 1800s, particularly in basic commodities including cotton, silk, indigo dye, sugar, salt, spices, saltpetre, tea, and opium. It eventually came to rule large areas of India and was involved in the slave trade between 1684 and 1834 until forcibly stopped by the UK government.

The British East India Company was fiercely competitive with the Dutch East Indies company in particular, leading to four Anglo-Dutch Wars.

  The East India Company was formed 31 December 1600 (JC) with the founders birth dates unknown. That gives a financially ambitious Sun Mars in Capricorn in a ruthless square to Pluto and Uranus in early Taurus. Saturn in determined Scorpio opposed Uranus and squared Mercury. There was also a wide Yod of Pluto sextile Venus inconjunct Jupiter – grandiose, super-confident, has a considerable impact on society. That Jupiter in Virgo was conjunct Elizabeth 1’s Sun. She was born, 7 September 1533 JC 3pm London, as Pluto moved onto zero degrees Aquarius with Neptune in final degree Pisces about to enter Aries – so not dissimilar to now.

  Elizabeth 1’s Coronation 41 years earlier on 15 January 1559 JC also indicated an expansive and acquisitive reign ahead with Jupiter in Aquarius on the focal point of a T Square to Mars Uranus in Scorpio opposition Saturn Neptune in Taurus.

  The company lasted into the early years of Victoria’s reign. What is of interest is that it bears similarities to the England, 11 May 973 AD JC chart with its Taurus Sun Mars square Pluto. England’s drive for power at its height.

  The Dutch East Indies Company, 20 March 1602 JC,  was also a force to be reckoned with. Pluto still in pro-active Aries in 1602 was opposition an expansive, ambitious and lucky Jupiter  and inconjunct Saturn in determined Scorpio would give it staying power.

  Pluto in Aries clearly gave both companies ‘boot’ when they started; and Uranus moving into Taurus and Neptune moving into Virgo would signal the start of a new materialistic era.

Susan Hussey – setting off a Royal racist timebomb

Prince William looks fit to explode as his much punted Boston Earthshot trip is knocked sideways by the furore over unbelievably crass questions from a close Royal intimate at a London charity function. Lady Susan Hussey, a former lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, managed to make one black invitee feel as if she didn’t belong after repeated queries about where she ‘really’ came from.

   Having had their recent Caribbean tour criticised by an ill-advised ‘colonial’ parade on the back of a landrover, the Wales were presumably hoping to put the Royal ‘racist’ criticisms ladelled around by Meghan Markle to rest. It’s almost spooky the timing of the fiasco.

  Lady Susan Hussey, 1 May 1939, a daughter of the Earl of Waldegrave, married the former head of the BBC, Marmaduke Hussey, and joined the Royal household in 1960, was made godmother to Prince William and accompanied the Queen to Prince Philip’s funeral. She’s woven into the fabric of the Royal family which makes her behaviour all the more damaging.

  Although reputed to be sensitive and diplomatic she has a very, very tough chart. She is a Sun Taurus with a Libra Moon. But her chart is dominated by an Earth Grand Trine of Uranus in Taurus trine Neptune trine Mars in Capricorn – practical, materialistic, limited in her vision. Her Mars opposes Pluto and squares onto a hard-edged Saturn in Aries; and her Neptune opposes Jupiter in Pisces. So her Pluto and Jupiter (in trine) are her leading planets. Scrape off the tact of the Libra Moon, and she is formidably self-assured, stubborn and not overly compassionate.

  William has a ‘major setback’ tr Saturn opposition his Sun/Mars midpoint exactly now as well as a confidence-dampening tr Saturn opposition his Mercury/Jupiter midpoint plus an over-stressed and explosive tr Uranus square his Mercury/Pluto midpoint.

  Relocating his chart to Boston, it’s clear that it does not bring out the best in him, burying his Jupiter, Pluto, Saturn, Mars in the hidden 12th and Sun in the even more hidden 8th. Plus it gives a 16 degree Leo midheaven which tr Uranus is presently elbowing in square.

  His relationship with Meghan Markle is also flagging up more than a hint of chill with tr Saturn opposition the composite Moon exactly now.

  Quite what prompted Susan Hussey into such a witless, blunderingly insensitive line of questioning defies explanation. She’s certainly old school but that’s no excuse.