What came to be known as Tecumseh’s Curse laid on US presidents who were elected in years divisible by twenty by an irate Shawnee Native American chief does spookily appear to hold good. Tecsumeh was angered by dirty dealings over native land by William Harrison who became president in 1840 – and died in 1841. And the mishap pattern did repeat – though the ‘curse’ itself may have been a retrospective invention and the catastrophes more connected to the recurring Jupiter Saturn conjunction, which comes round every 20 years.
Jupiter is associated with Zeus, the fiery and arrogant god of Olympus, who soars above all else, while Saturn, the grim reaper, symbol of mortality, cuts down to size. The combination of the pair can occasionally precipitate an Icarus-like fall – for those who fly too close to the sun, challenging the power of the gods, their wings melt and they plummet.
Excerpt from my book The Astrological History of the World:
Jupiter–Saturn has a special relevance to the United States and American history. One of the key dates after the Declaration of 1776, when hostilities with the British came to an end and American independence was formally recognized in 1783, fell during the Saturn–Jupiter conjunction in Capricorn.
More tragically, every American president in the past 200 years who has been inaugurated on a Jupiter–Saturn conjunction has either been assassinated or survived an assassination attempt or else has died while in office; only two, Thomas Jefferson and James Munroe, are exceptions to this rule. And GW Bush though 9/11 happened on his watch which arguably soaked up the energy.
- F. Kennedy, elected in the hope of a new ‘Camelot’ in 1960, with Jupiter–Saturn in Capricorn, was dramatically shot in 1963 in Dallas. Ronald Reagan, elected on a ticket to reduce taxes, deregulate the economy and strengthen defences, was a Hollywood-style president, bringing flamboyant promises after Jimmy Carter’s lacklustre term of office. Reagan, inaugurated under Jupiter–Saturn in Libra, survived serious injuries sustained in an assassination attempt in 1981.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the reforming president, was voted in for an unprecedented four terms, the second of which, in 1940, fell during Jupiter–Saturn in Taurus. He created a mood of hope with his uplifting ‘fireside chat’ style of radio broadcast. He died in office three months after his fourth inauguration in 1945, aged 63.
Warren Harding, elected in 1920 with Jupiter–Saturn in Taurus, an unremarkable compromise candidate, represented a desire for normality after the unsettled years of the First World War. His sudden, early death at the age of 58 in 1923 was attributed to the shock of learning of the imminent exposure of corruption in his Cabinet, on a scale unprecedented in White House history.
William McKinley, voted to a second term of office in 1900 under Jupiter–Saturn in Capricorn, was an expansionist president who added to America’s colonial empire and aggressively boosted trade on a global scale. He survived less than a year of his second term, being shot by an anarchist on 19 September and dying eight days later; he was 58 years old.
James Garfield, elected with Jupiter–Saturn in Taurus in 1880, upset his party by insisting on the freedom to make political appointments as he chose, and was shot by a deranged admirer of his critics in the July of his inauguration year, dying two months later from the wounds, aged 50. He was succeeded by Chester Arthur, whose health suffered badly under the strain of office.
Most famously of all Abraham Lincoln, elected for his first term of office on the Jupiter–Saturn conjunction of 1860 in Virgo, promoted national unity and declared an end to slavery. He survived through the years of the Civil War to his second term, but was shot by an actor in April 1865, months after his second inauguration; he was 56.
Elected in 1841 on the run-up to the conjunction in Capricorn, William Henry Harrison campaigned on his military reputation as a log-cabin frontiersman and victor over the Native Americans. He caught pneumonia at his inauguration and died a month later.
Intriguingly Thomas Jefferson, born in 1763 and one of only two presidents to survive a Jupiter–Saturn election, has the conjunction in his birth chart in Leo and Virgo. Roosevelt, who was born in 1882 and who survived through to his fourth term, also has a Saturn–Jupiter conjunction in Taurus in his chart.
Jupiter Saturn conjunction
Jupiter—expansive, idealistic, high-minded, a soaring energy—is usually described by astrologers in glowingly positive terms. It brightens, keeps optimism high, boosts confidence, smooths rough edges and produces pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. The downside is a tendency to impracticality, or paradoxically to narrow-mindedness when its lofty philosophy moves into self-righteousness. Mythologically connected to Zeus, the supreme deity (who fathered myriad children—many of them illegitimate, to the intense aggravation of his wife, Hera), it is an energy that brings Olympian aspirations. The thunderbolt and the eagle were Zeus’s symbols, although Jupiter as ruler of Sagittarius is also connected with Chiron, the centaur, the wise but wounded healer, philosopher, teacher, who helps others but cannot cure himself.
The Jupiter–Saturn mix is an interface of opposites. Idealism versus materialism; high-flying boundless ambition versus melancholy awareness of the inevitable limitations of life; the urge for immortality versus the Grim Reaper at the core of the human condition. The birth of a new messiah for the culture, or an upsurge of optimism, are usually seen as the outcome of Jupiter–Saturn conjunctions, which occur every 20 years and whose influence spans about 12 months. Saturn’s ability to give structure and apply self-discipline has the capacity to ground Jupiter’s soaring vision, but the balance is difficult to strike. Disappointment can follow the heady new beginnings, as Jupiter’s tendency to attempt too much too soon crash-lands. The combination of energies is symbolized by the myth of Icarus, who ignored his father’s advice and flew too close to the Sun, which melted his wax wings and caused him to plummet to earth and die.
Jupiter–Saturn can, then, tell a cautionary tale about the dangers of inflated ambition. This has uncanny resonances in the assassinations or untimely deaths of American presidents and other major figures, such as Princess Diana and John Lennon, and even Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert, who were raised to mythical status only to be cut short in their prime.
Cultural icons – and death
The zeitgeist, or spirit of the age, is often carried by personalities, whose lives seem marked out in some special way by destiny. Messiahs in their own sphere, they bear the hopes of their era, often reflected in these conjunctions. The most influential pop group of all time, the Beatles, was centred on John Lennon, a Liverpudlian Catholic born in 1940 with Jupiter–Saturn in Taurus; Lennon became the unlikely hero of a generation, with his wit and his songs of peace and protest. The Beatles’ debut occurred on the 1960 conjunction in Capricorn, and Lennon’s shocking death on the conjunction in Libra in 1980. He was a legend, who died at the age of 40, and whose life was seemingly fated by these paradoxical conjunctions to rise high only to short-circuit.
Similarly, Diana, Princess of Wales was born in 1961 on a waning Jupiter–Saturn conjunction in Capricorn and Aquarius, and was married in 1980 during the exact Jupiter–Saturn conjunction—fittingly in the relationship sign of Libra—in a fairy-tale wedding watched by 700 million TV viewers around the globe. Tragically, high hopes disintegrated through the unhappy and increasingly scandal-prone years that followed, ending in her sudden death in a Paris car crash in 1997.
The attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II also occurred in 1981 on the Jupiter Saturn in Libra conjunction.
Queen Victoria’s much-loved consort Prince Albert died at the early age of 42 from either typhoid or cancer, sending his widow into seclusion for years on Jupiter Saturn in Virgo. Victoria herself died during the Jupiter–Saturn conjunction in Capricorn in 1901, after a long and successful reign.