As the stars foretold, Boris Johnson finally managed to fulfil his lifelong ambition of winning the keys to Number 10 Downing Street on 22 July 2019. Now, however, the question on everybody’s lips is whether he will be able to hang onto them, or if, like David Cameron and Theresa May, he will become another victim of the poison chalice that is Brexit…
In keeping with his rather colourful personality and career, Boris’ first few weeks in office have not been without incident, or controversy – a trend that seems likely to continue into the autumn when the spectre (literally) of Brexit and its Halloween deadline of October 31 begins to loom as large as Dicken’s Ghost of Christmas Future.
Given how crucial the next few months are for the UK and what’s at stake, it seems fair to ask whether the 55th Prime Minister of Great Britain is made of the strong stuff needed to navigate the country safely through the choppy waters ahead. (Think ominous Saturn-Pluto conjunction in January 2020…)
Although a big personality, always ready with a witty line or comic expression, those who know him well describe him as a complicated, rather private person who is very different to his public persona. As a quadruple Gemini, it’s hardly surprising to hear that there are two sides to his character: on the one hand, the bumbling but disarming Bojo the clown; and on the other, Boris the Terminator, hell-bent on winning at any cost, and who never forgets a personal slight.
So which one will the UK get to see in office? I thought it a good opportunity to take a closer look at his natal chart to see what clues it can yield about what motivates this complicated and enigmatic public figure…
Boris Johnson: Natal Chart
This chart has a birth time of 2pm EDT, which is based on a letter written by Boris’ father, Stanley, according to Astrodatabank.
One of the most noticeable things about Boris’ chart is that he has a stellium of planets in Gemini, including his chart ruler, Venus. This sign has a lot going for it, particularly for someone who works in politics and the media (conferring, as it does, qualities like intellectual brilliance, articulateness, wittiness and persuasive power). And there’s no doubt that Boris is a talented ‘PR genius’ (Purnell).
However, too much Gemini can lead to a certain superficiality – as mutable air signs, Gemini’s can be glib. They prefer to skim over the surface of knowledge, rather than dive too deep into any one topic – details usually bore them. While this makes them sparkling conversationalists, it can lead to a tendency to play a bit fast and loose with the facts. They are also great opportunists. Which may be why the (now-ex Tory) MP, Sir Nicholas Soames (the grandson of Winston Churchill) recently described Boris as a bit of a ‘chancer’ in a BBC documentary.
And it has to be said: Gemini’s are very dynamic, engaging and convincing. However, as I said in my blog on the Tory leadership race, Boris has more than a whiff of the archetypal ‘used car salesman’ about him too – another Gemini trait. And judging by recent polls, I am not alone in my views: According to a YouGov survey commissioned by The Times:
only 13% of voters would buy a second-hand vehicle from the former foreign secretary, while 59% would steer clear. That may be because only 18% of voters think Johnson is honest, while 53% think he is dishonest.
only 13% of voters would buy a second-hand vehicle from the former foreign secretary, while 59% would steer clear. That may be because only 18% of voters think Johnson is honest, while 53% think he is dishonest.
Tons of Mutable Air, No Fire
As we can see from the elemental and modal graphs in the bottom right hand corner of his natal chart analysis, Boris’ horoscope (above) reveals a predominance of planets and chart points in mutable signs. Astrologically speaking, people with too much mutable air in their charts, especially those with no other stabilising influences e.g. earth or a prominent Saturn, can tend towards fickleness/changeability and a lack of staying power. They are good starters but not good finishers.
An excess of anything naturally leads to a deficit in other areas. In Boris’ case, his horoscope is completely devoid of anything in fire signs, and rather low on cardinal or fixed placements. This stands in stark contrast to his predecessors, Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron, who both had planets in Leo (fixed fire) and Libra (cardinal air). In astrology, it is cardinal energy that bestows the assertive, take-charge, initiating energy of a leader; while fire provides the enthusiasm and burning convictions that help to inspire others to follow them. Earth and fixed energy helps to stabilise and endow consistency.
Their antithesis is mutable and water energy – which is better suited to followers, nurturers and those in support roles. Boris has a lot of mutable air (Gemini), earth (Virgo) and water (Pisces), as well as a smattering of fixed water (Scorpio) and earth (Taurus), but perhap more significantly: NO fire and very few cardinal placements beyond his Libra Ascendant. A worrying prospect, given how badly Britain needs a strong leader with vision and staying power right now….
It’s hardly surprising then, that many of Boris critics have expressed doubts about his ability not to ‘bugger it up’, with many MPs openly sceptical about his ability to deliver on his promises or stick to his word/principles. Judging by Boris’ chart, their fears seem well-founded – something confirmed by Johnson’s biographer, Sonia Purnell, who uses the words ‘ideological emptiness’ to describe his political orientation in her book, saying that perhaps because of the persecution of his great great grandfather, a Turkish politician and polemicist who was assassinated by Turkish Nationalists for being a dissident, Boris has chosen to remain ‘unencumbered by ideological fixity’. This is no conviction politician, then.
Indeed, according to her, ‘Boris prefers being liked to being consistent’ – a notion that resonate with his people-pleasing Libra Ascendant. (Although this is certainly NOT the whole picture, as my analysis of his Pluto in Virgo and Scorpio Moon below will attest). However, we cannot argue with the fact that, like many politicians who have Venus prominent (including David Cameron who has the Sun, Venus and the Ascendant in Libra), Boris certainly knows how to charm and woo the crowds on the campaign trail. This is what made him pure gold for the Vote Leave camp.
However, while both Boris and ‘Dave’ have Venus for a ruling planet, there are some key differences between the two:
- In addition to his Libra Ascendant, Cameron’s Venus is also in Libra, which means he really does value peace, harmony and fairness. Whereas Boris’ Venus is in fickle, persuasive and trendspotting Gemini, so one can never be sure that his charms are 100% sincere.
- Cameron has a more even balance of elements (more water to balance out the air) and modes (more cardinal & fixed planets to offset mutable stuff) than Boris, who has a ton of planets in Virgo and Gemini, both mutable signs.
- Cameron’s Venus is more ‘dignified’ (and therefore works better and is more prominent) than Boris’ according to Ptolemy’s system for assessing planetary strengths and weaknesses.
Both benefics in Venus-ruled Signs
However, Boris has a secret weapon: his star quality is down to more than just one benefic planet. In addition to a prominent Venus (known as the lesser benefic), he also has lucky Jupiter (the Greater Benefic) in Venus-ruled Taurus, giving him an added dose of charm. Jupiter rules his 3rd house of self-expression, which explains his ‘big’ public persona. Purnell also calls him a ‘manic self-promoter’, which certainly befits someone with Jupiter ruling the 3rd house of communication. Jupiter is all about expansion, so a tendency to create hype and ‘big oneself up’ is par for the course. Of course, it also explains his larger than life, clownish persona and finely-tuned sense of comic timing – something Boris uses to brilliant effect as a political weapon and crowd pleaser. This is Bojo, the loveable, self-deprecating and bumbling buffoon. In Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition, Sonia Purnell writes:
Through sheer force of personality [Jupiter] and slight of hand [Neptune], Boris is pure box office.
Con Artist? Jupiter-Neptune opposition
Here we also encounter the other element of what gives Boris such magnetism: magical Neptune in seductive Scorpio – something we’ll get onto later when we look at his Scorpio/Pluto placements…All I will say at this point is that in his chart, Neptune and Jupiter are in opposite signs, so tend to work against each other/cancel each other out. Jupiter bestows him with the ‘colourful bluster,’ while Neptune leads to ‘groundless optimism’ – a combination that, understandably, his critics view as both irresponsible and dangerous, especially how vital it is to get it right with regards to Brexit.
In an article in The New Statesman entitled ‘The Con Man with the keys to the Kingdom’, Martin Fletcher puts his finger on this trait in Boris when he writes that:
…his [Boris’] talk of restoring Britain’s “mojo”, escaping the Brexit “hamster wheel of doom” and getting this “incubus… pitchforked off our backs” – was a substitute for anything remotely resembling serious, detailed policy. He has no more of a plan for delivering Brexit now than he did on 23 June 2016 – just well-honed soundbites and dollops of wishful thinking.
Not terribly reassuring in such uncertain times…
Competitive Spirit & Sibling Rivalry
Interestingly, the 3rd house also rules siblings and having Jupiter rules this house fits with his family background – Boris comes from a large extended family. He is the eldest of four children, all of whom seem to be colourful characters. According to his biographer, one of the main drivers of his competitive spirit was good old-fashioned sibling rivalry; especially with his sister, Rachel. In Boris’ chart, this is reflected in the Arabic Part of Brethren, which happens to be located in his 3rd house in ambitious, reach-for-the stars Sagittarius, opposite his Mercury in Gemini. This helps to explain why his sister, Rachel has described the ferocity of their sparring as ‘Isis-like’ in its proportions. Eg. It is alleged that their verbal sparring over some Clash lyrics (how ironic!) once ended up in fisticuffs, according to close sources. Having three high achieving siblings no doubt also helps to keep Boris on his toes…The Johnsons are said to be very competitive but ‘tight’ – something Sonia Purnell puts down to the fact that the family moved around such a lot when they were children, which meant that they didn’t have time to form close bonds with anyone else their own age. I thought it rather telling that the three people who were given pride of place in the front rows at his leadership announcement were his father Stanley, and two of his siblings, Rachel and Jo.
With Friends like This… Pluto in the 11th
Given this strong sibling bond, and his lack of close friendships with other men (perhaps because of his overly competitive, critical and often treacherous Pluto in Virgo in the 11th house? Look at his lifelong rivalry with David Cameron as a case in point…), it must therefore have been a real blow to Boris when his brother Jo resigned from his government, citing a conflict between ‘family loyalty and the national interest.’
We have also recently seen how vindictive (Pluto in Virgo) he can be towards fellow group members (11th) if he considers them to be disloyal – look at his unequivocal ousting of 21 Tories from their party in the last two weeks. This is a man who cannot lose face in public, or forgive what he considers to be betrayal. It’s win at all costs. However, not only is this hypocritical, but it could well come back to haunt him. (See Saturn below)
In addition, this Pluto is opposite Saturn in Pisces in the 5th house, which to me shows his proclivity towards dishonesty and sexual infidelity . When asked by Boris’ ex-wife Marina Wheeler what she thought of him, Purnell replied:
I think he is the most ruthless, ambitious person I have ever met.
Saturn: Sloth, Vice and Scandal
In his school reports, many masters complimented Boris on his intellectual brilliance but also regularly complained of his ‘idless’ and dislike for hard work. in JUly 1982, a master wrote that ‘Boris is pretty impressive when success can be achieved by pure intelligence unaccompanied by hard work’ as well as a certain degree of entitlement – a ‘tendency to assume that success will drop into his lap’ withotu havign to work for them. A rather damning indictment but one that perfectly describes Saturn in mutable Pisces in the 5th house of pleasure: ie shambolic, disorganised and ill-disciplined, or ‘sluglike’ as his Rachel has described him.
Saturn is close to the fixed star, Deneb Adige, which is associated with the flawed genius. Not only does it help to explain the uncanny knack Boris has for getting out of scrapes (the ultimate escape artist), but it can also lead to scandal as a result of being ‘found out’ when one’s weaknesses are finally exposed/revealed. It can also hint at a bad temper behind closed doors (further emphasised via a mutable T-square to Mars in Gemini in the 8th – more below) – something that almost stopped Boris’ leadership bid in its tracks a few months back.
This mixing of private weakness (Saturn in Pisces) and public mercilessness (Pluto in 11th) is a poisonous combination. Although natives with this placing might try to be secretive and cover up their sins/weakness/vices, they will ultimately be found out – not just because they will eventually betray someone who will not slink away quietly and keep their secrets, but mainly because of their leaky boundaries and inability to control their weaker impulses. Johnson was fired from his job as an MP for lying to Michael Howard about having an affair with a colleague. He now stands to be found out on a much wider, far more public scale if he insists on having an election. Indeed, already former friend and colleague Sir Nicholas Soames has said of Boris:
Boris Johnson’s experience in life is telling a lot of porkies about the European Union in Brussels and then becoming prime minister.
He then went to say that he didn’t think Johnson was anything like his grandfather, Sir Winston Churchill and that he was a good writer but ‘deeply unreliable’. In many respects, he is lucky that we don’t run American style presidential campaigns in the UK, or his career would be dead in the water before he even got into office.
Furthermore, what he needs to consider is that with Pluto, ‘payback’ works both ways – if he betrays others, as he did to friends like David Cameron and previous party leaders like Theresa May, then ultimately, he shouldn’t expect any loyalty or clemency in return when he screws up. Especially if he shows no genuine remorse for what he’s done, or contrition when he makes errors of judgement (a very real possibility when you have a natal T-square involving this Saturn-Pluto opposition both squaring hasty and impetuous Mars). Indeed, expelled Tory (and GQ’s Politician of the Year) Rory Stewart, summed up his Pluto in the 11th in a nutshell when he said of Boris’ actions:
To take the whip away from them [expelled Tory MP’s] is a gross act of folly. [Mars] I think it’s vindictive [Pluto].
He went on to hint that this smacked of the despotic behaviour of leaders who run dictatorships – something echoed by Nicola Surgeon, First Minister of Scotland when she labelled Johnson a ‘tinpot dictator’.
Unpredictable Uranus – Maverick Outlaw or Social Reformer?
In this regard, we should not ignore the fact that unpredictable and chaotic Uranus sits close to this Pluto in wide conjunction. It is this natal placement that I think makes him dangerous as a leader – it bestows in him the belief that he does not have to follow the rules, do the right thing or abide by social conventions. It is what makes him a social disruptor like Trump (who also has a strong Uranian signature in his chart), also creates instability within group situations (look at the breakup of the Tory party since he has been in charge). Placed in the 11th, it could make him a great social reformer, but combined with Pluto, I worry that it could create someone like Robert Mugabe – a tyrant with a lust for power who is also extremely erratic, temperamental and uncontrollable. (Mugabe had a natal square between Uranus and his Mars-Jupiter conjunction = ‘might is right’ atitude mingled with brutality and unpredictability). Perhaps that’s why his brother decided to head for the nearest exit rather than stay and be part of a givernment that could quickly push the UK over the No-Deal Brexit cliff and into a state of chaos?
In my view, it this T-square that may ultimately be what decides the fate of his career, especially if he refuses to back down, ‘play ball’, comply with the law or compromise. Soames calls Johnson’s views on Brexit an ‘obsession’. In his own words, it’s ‘do or die.’ He recently said he would rather ‘die in a ditch’ than give in and go back to Brussels to ask for another Brexit extension. Typically extreme Plutonic and militant Martian language. While some wonder if this is faux outrage or aggression, I do think that he means it. He just won’t say it himself but intsead, get others to be his emissary.
Mars T-Square: Secret Bully?
According to his biographer, Sonia Purnell, Boris was, from a very young age, ‘uber competitive’ and always wanted to be ‘top dog’. This fierce competitiveness is reflected in his chart by Mars, ruler of his Descendant (and therefore, indicative of his style of relating to significant others, from wives to arch enemies). In recent years we have also heard that Boris can be quite a bully, something often seen in people with afflicted Mars’. In his case, I suspect this is done quite passive-aggressively (Mars is in mutable Gemini). In addition, it forms part of a mutable T-square with Saturn and his natal Uranus-Pluto conjunction in Virgo. And this, I think, holds the key to understanding what drives him.
Mars in Taurus in the 8th I think also helps to explain his sexual appetites (in the 8th house of sex and other people’s money, it can bestow greed and lasciviousness) It also points to someone who can, when pushed/behind closed doors, be quite confrontational/uncooperative, as well as more than a little unpredictable (due to the influence of Uranus, which is conjunct Pluto). The Yod from Mars to his Moon and south node suggests that a tendency to bulldoze is a bad habit he has brought in from past lives but which he needs to kick in he is to evolve from a soul perspective in this lifetime. Indeed, Martian recklessness and arrogance are both reflected in a school report by one of his masters at Eton, which describes him as having a ‘disgracefuly cavalier attitude’ to responsibilities and obligations that borders on ‘sheer fecklessness’ – not exactly reassuring words to hear about the person in charge of navigating Britain throught the choppy waters of Brexit, and potentially, another global downturn…
The Two Faces of Boris: First House Placements
In a fitting nod to the predominance of planets in the sign of the twins, his critics talk a lot about the two faces of Boris. Take this quote from the Spectator magazine:
There are two Borises: the goofy character who wants to be loved and the steely one who will let nothing come between him and his ambition.
It is interesting that Boris was born Alexander but chose to take on the name Boris at school which is when Purnell says he developed the public schoolboy persona we see most often in public:
Over the next few years, he developed the persona which has become famous today, a facade resembling that of PG Wodehouse’s Gussie Fink-Nottle, allied to wit, charm, brilliance and startling flashes of instability.
This is reflected in his chart – not only in the surplus of planets in Gemini (wit and brilliance), but also in the contrast between his Libra ascendant (charm and politeness) but also the fact that he has Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky, conjunct his Midheaven. Sirius was thought by ancient astrologers to bestow fame, honour, renown and wealth, but also passion and resentment – something we see very clearly in his Scorpio Moon.
It is this lunar placement which holds the key to unlocking his hidden, more Plutonian side, as embodied by the mutable T-square involving Pluto, his Neptune in Scorpio and another placement we haven’t yet discussed – his sensitive, secretive and determined Scorpio Moon. The latter not only occupies his first house, colouring both his personality and emotional temperament, but also rules his Midheaven (career and public life). By itself, this placement can confer loyalty and a deep sensitivity. However, if we consider that it is ruled by that afflicted Pluto in Virgo, then it doesn’t necessarily bode quite as well. It is this difficult lunar placement that can tell us the most about what sort of Prime Minister he is likely to be.
But first, the loveable rogue.
Wolf in Sheeps’ Clothing: Libra Rising, Scorpio Moon
Boris has Libra rising, which does confer charm and does tend to make ‘natives’ congenial and sympathetic listeners who are eager to be liked/accepted. We discussed this in detail earlier, so I won’t get into this more deeply, except to quote Sonia Purnell who says that, on the face of it (Ascendant), ‘Boris prefers being liked to being consistent’.
A succinct description of how the Ascendant often acts as a mask or persona, concealing people’s true nature, embodied by their Sun. In Boris’ case, this is in Gemini the chameleon. According to those ‘in the know’, he has a ‘proclivity for telling different audiences what they want to hear.’ An admirable quality perhaps in an entertainer, but not so great when it comes to the person being entrusted with the future of the British economy (and constitution), and probably the important treaty negotiation since the end of War World II. Still, not untypical of your average politician, especially in a post-truth world…(Look at Donald Trump who is also a Sun Gemini).
Hidden Dark Side: Pluto-ruled Moon
The real key to understand what motivates Boris Johnson is, however, what we don’t see in public – his hidden dark side. As we’ve already seen, Boris has quite a Plutonic element to his chart: he has that ruthless Pluto sextile his Midheaven. And it is this, together with stealthy Neptune in Scorpio that makes him someone not to be trifled with, either as a friend, group member, boss or colleague. Think shark or smiling assassin – when he does take his revenge, people generally don’t see it coming and don’t know what’s hit them!
This Midheaven is ruled by the Moon in Scorpio, which is what makes him quite a complex person. The Moon is traditionally in fall here, and there’s a reason for that. It tends to make people feels things extremely deeply – whether it is anger or sadness, love or hate. This makes them very sensitive, intuitive and passionate – qualities that make them feel too exposed, which is why they tend to prefer to conceal how they really feel and avoid talking about their private lives. It can also make them vulnerable to depression and sometimes misanthropic, especially if they have had to watch a loved one suffer from the sidelines without being able to do anything.
Given his Moon in Scorpio, I suspect that there is also a certain sadness about Boris, linked to his troubled family history, particularly his relationship with his mother, the artist Charlotte Johnson Wahl, who suffered from depression, anxiety and early onset Parkinson’s. His father, Stanley, also travelled a lot, leaving Boris in charge. As the eldest with a sensitive Scorpio Moon, it is not surprising that he became his mother’s confidante, which couldn’t have been an easy task for such a deep feeler at such a young age, especially given that she was often tormented and in pain, traumatised and overwhelmed by having to cope with a large and unruly family on her own, a situation compounded by frequent house moves, her poor health and Stanley’s regular infidelities.
Many people have commented on the fact that while he is extroverted in crowds; privately, Boris is a bit of an enigma – outside of his family, very few people seem to be close to him. His Scorpio Moon suggests that he is a complicated character – serious, slow to trust and probably quite moody. I woudl imagine that he needs quite a bit of time alone in order to process his volcanic passions.
It also makes him a perceptive and sensitive person who has an intimate understanding of how women think. And I suspect it is this compelling hidden placement when combined with his Venusian charm, kindness and affability, that may explain his magnetic appeal, especially to women with a maternal bent.
However, we cannot forget that this Moon also rules his Midheaven, which in itself suggests a changeable career path (perfect for a Gemini journalist cum politician who bores easily). In the public sphere, I suspect that Moon in Scorpio could operate quite differently. Here it is secretive, scheming and vengeful. Again, Sonia Purnell captures his Scorpio Moon as ruler of his Midheaven well when she describes him as a ‘torrent of almost frightening focus and drive’. Once they’ve made it, those with Pluto-ruled Scorpio don’t easily let go of a grudge or forget a slight and will make it their business to exact payback – a trait the Johnsons allegedly share, according to Rachel Johnson, Boris’ sister, who jokingly refers to it as their ‘Sicilian side’. But it does also make for a wily tactician and someone with dogged determination.
So although Boris aka Bojo may appear to be harmless and bumbling, the private character is actually far more complicated and calculating than he seems. In this respect, one could say that his Libra Ascendant acts as a useful smokescreen, disarming people and giving him what some might call an unfair advantage.
Boris Johnson is supposed to have told his sister that when he grew up, he wanted to be ‘king of the world’. And with Sirius, the brightest of all our fixed stars, smack bang on his Midheaven, one may be forgiven for thinking that such lofty aspirations might simply be a reflection of what Aleander Boris Johnson instnctively knew was his destiny. In many ways, he has realized that by becoming British PM. How long his star will continue to shine here is, of course, another matter…one that will largely depend on whether he can reign in his mutable T-square involving bovva boy Mars, vindictive and power-hungry Pluto and ‘slug-like’ Saturn, which weakens his resolve and waters down his willpower, especially in the face of temptation.
In many ways, it is fitting that he should be Prime Minister now – it was Brexit that got him into No.10 Downing Street, but it may also be Brexit that leads to his leaving it. Brexit was the defining hallmark that shaped the premiership of his predecessor, Theresa May. It will be interesting to see if it turns out to be the same for Boris Johnson.