Author’s note: I know at first glance this might seem inappropriate, posting an article on Hugh Hefner the week after the Harvey Weinstein scandal, revealing the latter’s systemic sexual harassment and assault upon young women in the film industry. Bad timing for this article, perhaps, but good timing for Hefner to have died just three weeks ago, thus avoiding some of the inevitable comparisons. But readers should rest assured, my rationale for writing this article on Hefner had nothing to do with admiration or apology for him, rather it’s simply the astrological analysis of an iconic figure in American culture who had recently died.
Forget for a moment your conception of Hugh Hefner as a dirty old man, naked under his smoking jacket, flanked by blonde twins with hourglass figures. Would you believe instead, a man with a genius-level IQ who was a lifelong supporter of civil rights and LGBT causes, who donated millions of dollars to ensure the protection of the First Amendment?
Hef, we hardly knew you…
Hugh Hefner was born to middle-class Nebraska farmers. Entering high school in Chicago with an IQ of 152, he was shy at first, but reinvented himself as class clown and cartoonist, founded the high school newspaper to promote student causes, and upon graduating was voted the most popular senior in his class.
He joined the US Army in 1944 and wrote for a military newspaper, receiving an honorable discharge in 1946. He went to the University of Illinois and graduated after only 2-1/2 years, with a major in psychology and a double minor in art and creative writing.
After a few years as a copywriter and promotions director for a publishing company, he discovered a demand for a gentleman’s magazine. With a stake of $8000, he assembled his first issue of Playboy on his kitchen table. Featuring a half-naked Marilyn Monroe, the first issue in December 1953 sold 54,000 copies. By 1956, it was selling 700,000 copies a month, and by 1971, seven million copies a month. Hefner was now a multi-millionaire.
Hefner has Virgo rising, with lagnesh Mercury in mixed condition in the 7th house, where it is both debilitated and retrograde, and yet with the Sun, since both aspect the lagna, they form Budhaditya yoga.
Although extremely wealthy, he had only a single Dhana yoga, that of 9th lord Venus joined with 11th lord Moon in the 6th house. Yet in the wealth amshas (not shown here) his financial security was further assured. In the D4, lagnesha Mercury is in its own sign Gemini; in the D10, Jupiter is in the lagna while Mercury occupies a positive house; in the D11, Mercury is in a positive house. Meanwhile, his 2nd lord Venus is swa in both D4 and D10, and with Mercury in the D11.
Exalted Mars in the 5th house of intellect indicates a quick study, someone who can digest ideas at a rapid clip. Mars forming Parivartana yoga with Saturn in the 3rd gives artistic skills, manual dexterity, literary arts and a talent for creative writing. Indeed, however much Playboy was criticized on moral grounds, it was much admired by the industry for its design, writing, and photography.
This same exchange of 3rd and 5th lords gives an amorous or romantic nature. The 3rd is a kama (pleasure) house, while the 5th is a barometer for what’s on a person’s mind. Since 7th lord Jupiter is debilitated in the 5th and under the double influence of malefics Mars and Saturn, we get the idea he had “sex on the brain.” But he also knew how to use that to captivate whole swaths of the American male population.
Over the years, Hef was married three times, and once admitted he’d made love to over a thousand women. Certainly, those with dual signs rising aren’t good prospects for fidelity, eg, Warren Beatty, Bill Clinton, David Duchovny, Jack Kennedy, and Tiger Woods. At the least, they are ambivalent about the marital regime.
For Virgo lagna, Pisces in the 7th house is ruled by Jupiter the lord of over-indulgence. Hefner’s Jupiter is debilitated in the 5th and afflicted by prime malefics Mars and Saturn, both provocateurs of the sexual act. Let the Saturnalia begin…
Although Hefner was castigated by Gloria Steinem and other feminists for his objectification of women, seemingly reducing them to sexual chattel, other observers saw him in more positive terms. Camille Paglia, academic and social critic of popular culture, insists in a recent article that Hefner played a seminal role in putting sexuality on the front burner of American culture, paving the way for the sexual revolution of the Sixties and the subsequent Women’s Liberation movement.
Despite the intellectual rationalizing, Hefner’s personal life did reveal a somewhat utilitarian view of women. His dark Moon, occupying a sign of Saturn, sits in the 6th house, the essential undoing of the marital contract. This implies his “love of women” was more functional (read sexual) than emotional. Venus, the karaka for relationships, is likewise in the 6th house.
Although the Moon/Venus pair in the 6th forms a Dhana yoga, we can still see this as a symbol of profiting through women as “employees” or even “pets”, eg, hostesses (bunnies) in his Playboy clubs, centerfolds-for-hire, and surrogate wives via a revolving door of companions over the span of six decades.
Hefner had a thing for twins, and appeared in many publicity photos flanked by notable pairs. Duality abounds in his chart. The angles occupy dual signs. Four out of nine planets are in dual signs. Mercury, the epitome of duality, occupies Pisces in the 7th house. And yet his love of twins only underscores the fact you can’t truly love two people equally at the same time, and their very identical-ness suggests that one is just a backup for the other, in the same utilitarian way that Wild West gunslingers always carried two guns, and the modern American man wants two vehicles. Because more is always better.
But however much his detractors criticized him, Hefner had balls. We can see this courage-under-fire aspect in his Mars/Saturn exchange. Despite furious resistance from a morally-outraged middle America, he faced an obscenity lawsuit and won his case under freedom-of-the-press principles. As a consequence, he became a lifetime supporter of the First Amendment to protect citizens’ rights of free speech and publication.
In the civil rights era, he boldly assigned writer Alex Haley to interview Norman Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, who was shocked to discover Haley was Black, yet relieved he wasn’t Jewish. In the Sixties, Hefner introduced the “Playboy interview” as a permanent feature of the magazine, seeking to elevate the publication from being just another girlie magazine while simultaneously providing a legitimate outlet for voices he felt needed to be heard. Martin Luther King and Malcom X, luminaries of the civil rights movement, were thus given a platform via which their principles were made more widely known to the American public.
In his later years, while publicly pursuing a life of blatant hedonism surrounded by multiple Playmates, Hefner privately supported organizations in favor of civil rights, gay rights, rational drug policies, and First Amendment freedom from censorship in speech, publishing and the cinema. A lifelong Democrat, he donated heavily to charities supporting animal rescue, anti-vaccination policies, conservation of endangered habitats, and the plight of homeless children.
The Parivartana yoga of Mars/Saturn, 3rd and 5th lords respectively, occupy kama (pleasure) and dharma (moral) houses, but their interplay also suggests one’s right to enjoy life, liberty and happiness. Hefner was willing to go to bat, not only for First Amendment rights, but for other causes he felt were good for the public at large.
His Dhana yoga involving the Moon and Venus also suggests the principled (9th lord Venus) and practical use of his wealth (2nd lord Venus) in service (6th house association of Moon and Venus) of social aspirations (11th lord Moon).
Admittedly, none of this changes the fact that he was a serial womanizer. Yet a closer inspection of his life reveals he was a complex man endowed with intelligence and a social conscience. So it remains to be seen how history will judge him. Gloria Steinem has said, “I think Hefner wants to go down in history as a person of sophistication and glamour … but a woman reading Playboy will always feel a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual.”
In his defense, however, Camille Paglia has said, “Hugh Hefner absolutely revolutionized the persona of the American male, legitimizing seduction in the pursuit of pleasure.” When compared to today’s casual hook-up culture in which college-age kids are encouraged by their own peers to have sex, it makes the Playboy bunny seem both archaic and quaint in its innocence.
Alan Annand is a graduate of the American College of Vedic Astrology and a former tutor for the British Faculty of Astrological Studies. His New Age Noir crime novels (Scorpio Rising, Felonious Monk, Soma County) feature astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”
He’s also the author of several non-fiction books. Stellar Astrology, Volumes 1 & 2, offer a wealth of time-tested techniques in the form of biographical profiles, analyses of world events, and technical essays. Parivartana Yoga is a reference text for one of the most common yet powerful planetary combinations in jyotish. Mutual Reception is an expanded companion volume for western practitioners, covering the same subject of planetary exchange through the lens of traditional astrology.
Websites: www.navamsa.com, www.sextile.com