When most astrologers look at Vladimir Putin’s chart and see Venus rising in Libra opposite Jupiter in the 7th house, they say, no, that can’t be right. In fact, I recently read an article in which an astrologer suggested at the outset that it was incongruous that such a configuration, with its implications of art, beauty and social grace, could be front-and-center in the chart of an ex-KGB boss best known as the ruthless and repressive leader of modern-day Russia.
In the rectification exercise that followed, the astrologer then rotated the chart until a more appropriate [my italics] ascendant could be found, in this case, Capricorn rising at 17h00. After that, the astrologer went on to interpret Putin’s chart in light of this new ascendant and, in all fairness, did a good job of making sense of both the man and the major events of his life and career.
Which is a lesson in itself…
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and we all indulge in it to make sense of what we have to work with, interpreting with selective reasoning those parts that work, perhaps ignoring those that don’t. Anyone who’s done many rectifications is familiar with that queasy feeling when two different ascendants each present their own logic, neither perfect, but both compelling in their own arguments, and yet only one can be right…
In the case of Vladimir Putin, Astrodienst (astro.com) indicates that he was born October 7th, 1952, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, with a birth time of 09h30, which apparently comes from some official state source. The cynical among us will say, well then, if it comes from the Kremlin, it can’t be true. Gentlemen, start your rectification engines.
Isaac Starkman, the ubiquitous astrologer whose alternate birth times appear in so many of Astrodienst’s entries, has rectified Putin’s birth time to an exact 12h39m16s, which renders a sidereal Scorpio ascendant. I have no idea of the logic behind that time, but I do know that it arises from a software program, and is therefore suspect, or at least hypothetical, as admittedly are all our speculations, including my own.
In the case of both Starkman’s and the other astrologer’s rectification, their resulting ascendants of Scorpio and Capricorn, respectively, have an attractive but superficial logic. Each designates a prime malefic, Mars or Saturn, as the ascendant lord and embodiment of evil in modern political guise. But is that all there is to it? Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler all had Libra ascendants too.
When I look at Putin’s chart, I don’t see anything illogical about Venus rising in a Libra lagna. Malavya yoga merely tells me that, here’s a person with charisma and power. And its mutual aspect with retrograde Jupiter doesn’t make it softer, but stronger.
Furthermore, Venus and Jupiter in sambandha form Viparita Raja yoga. This particular variation occurs when two (or more) trikasthana lords combine by association or mutual aspect, while at the same time neither is associated with nor aspected by the lord of another positive house. [See Uttara Kalamrita, 4:22] In order for this yoga to come to full and positive fruition, the participating grahas should be strong. In this case, swarashi 8th lord Venus mutually aspects retrograde 6th lord Jupiter, and neither is influenced by any other planet to dilute their effect.
According to NATO’s handbook, the preferred tactics in Russian information warfare can be summarized as “dismiss, distort, distract and dismay.” Indeed, it is the role of the 6th lord to befuddle, conspire against, destabilize and undermine one’s opponent. Meanwhile, the role of the 8th is to brutalize, destroy, torture and traumatize that same opponent.
These two powerful grahas (swa Venus and retrograde Jupiter) combine to Putin’s advantage, enabling him to outmaneuver and overpower his opponents. By sowing confusion and discord, he creates his own “fog of war” wherever he goes, and no matter what happens, he has a Plan B. Viparita yoga operates to his advantage, allowing him to succeed in circumstances of chaos, whether of his own making or not.
Lest we become overly fixated on Venus and Jupiter across the horizon, let’s be reminded that Putin has the nodes in the angles too, and they are always malefic, regardless of their lords. But it’s instructive to note in his case that Rahu’s dispositor Saturn occupies the 12th while Ketu’s dispositor the Moon occupies the 8th. Both trikasthanas are considered to be “hidden” houses. And when we pause to review Putin’s career, remember this: once a KGB agent, always a KGB agent. His whole career has been built on covert activities, stealth and subterfuge. Most of his life is in the shadows.
People may say, I just don’t see in this chart the brute that everyone says he is. Well, consider this. Mars in the 3rd is just one potential signature of an athlete and a fighter, but it aspects Ketu in the 10th, a planet with which it shares pitta qualities of restless energy and potential aggression. Furthermore, Mars and Jupiter are in Parivartana yoga, and the key to understanding this is what happens when we consider (virtual) Mars in its post-exchange position.
Once we transpose Mars and Jupiter in our mind’s eye, we get Mars in the 7th in Aries, from which position it then aspects lagna and lagnesh Venus. And there’s the brute that wasn’t obvious before. From the 7th, virtual Mars still aspects Ketu in the 10th, and also aspects its own sign Scorpio in the 2nd, with financial ramifications (more on this later). Meanwhile, virtual Jupiter in the 3rd again invokes athleticism and courage, and supports (strengthens) via its aspect that virtual Mars in the 7th, which is now a clear and present indicator of aggression in the chart.
On top of all this, Putin is smart. Never mind that he has a law degree. He’s been wheeling and dealing with oligarchs behind the scenes for more than three decades, and he knows what he’s doing. All four of the natural benefics are strong – the Moon and Mercury exalted, Jupiter retrograde and Venus in its own sign. Saraswati yoga requires that all three of Mercury, Jupiter and Venus be strong in a kendra, trikona or 2nd house. In this case, Mercury misses the mark by virtue of house position. However, if we consider the Sripati house system (similar to Porphyry used by western astrologers, except that the “cusps” become the center of the houses), Mercury moves into the 1st, while Jupiter moves into the 8th. So it isn’t perfect, but Venus and Jupiter are strong enough to carry the day anyway, and Mercury has its own power regardless.
Governmental involvement is generally seen via combinations involving the 5th (ministry), the 9th (judiciary) and the 10th (administration). Putin has 5th lord Saturn associated with 9th lord Mercury, a Raja yoga, in the 12th house. Note that a 12th house position doesn’t diminish this yoga, but rather conceals aspects of it behind the scenes. His 10th lord Moon would seem to be out of the picture until we note that it occupies a Sun nakshatra, while the Sun occupies a Moon nakshatra, a mutual reception of star-lords called Nadi yoga. This may be subtle, but it does ultimately link 10th lord Moon with the Sun (karaka of kingship) and the trikona lords Saturn and Mercury.
When it comes to wealth, the Sun as a money lord of the 11th directly combines with both trinal lords Mercury and Saturn to form two Dhana yogas in the 12th. Again, this implies some degree of secrecy. Putin’s tax returns suggest he’s just a well-paid civil servant, but his actual wealth is immeasurable, although suspected to be well into the billions. He owns multiple properties throughout Russia, and the revelations of the Panama Papers have exposed many of his associates with multi-million-dollar portfolios held in secret bank accounts. Forbes magazine, a virtual Bible of who’s who in financial circles, named Putin as the most powerful person in the world for four years running, 2013-16, and they weren’t just talking about political currency.
Putin has a less-than-perfect but serviceable Lakshmi yoga, a rare combination for massive wealth. Lakshmi yoga is formed by the 9th lord and Venus in their own or exalted signs in kendras or trikonas. In Putin’s case, 9th lord Mercury is exalted in the 12th, while his swarashi Venus occupies the lagna. As noted earlier, when viewed from the Sripati house system, Mercury moves into the 1st house, giving us some justification to say this fulfills the spirit if not the letter of the yoga.
For the record, I tweaked Putin’s birth time by only 11 minutes, making it 09h19 in order to satisfy through the amshas many of the known events of his life. In the balance of this article, I’ll occasionally refer to salient factors in certain amshas, which interested readers can follow up on their own.
Aside from what we think we know about the “public” Putin, does this chart with Libra rising work for the many other details that are available about his life? Let’s see…
He projects an image of health and vitality, a sportsman and athlete who promotes activity, adventure and physical exercise. Lagnesh Venus in the lagna gives him a relatively youthful appearance, and he’s been depicted in many instances competing in judo events, riding horseback, swimming in frigid waters, and so on. He first took up judo when he was 12 years old, and in 1964 he was running Mars dasha, Jupiter bhukti, the very planetary exchange that lends credence to his athleticism.
He studied law, graduated in 1975 and promptly went to work for the KGB. At the time of his graduation, he was running Rahu-Saturn. Rahu occupies the 4th house of education, and Saturn is associated with his exalted 9th lord Mercury of higher education. Saturn is also swarashi in the lagna of his D24 (chaturvimsamsa), a measure of education and knowledge.
He worked for the KGB for the rest of his Rahu dasha, most of it in East Germany where, thanks to his fluency in German, he operated as an agent under the cover of being a translator. Needless to say, that whole period was an education in spycraft, a skill set he has undoubtedly honed while in power.
He got married in Rahu-Venus. Both period lords are in positive houses in the D9 (navamsa), and Venus is exalted. He had two daughters, one in Rahu-Sun, the other in Rahu-Moon, and both bhukti lords are stable in the D7 (saptamsa). After 30 years, in which time transiting Saturn went from his ascendant, around the chart and back, he separated and divorced in Saturn-Sun. In the D9, Saturn is afflicted by the nodal axis, and the Sun is in a negative house.
He resigned from the KGB in Jupiter-Saturn, and took control of the St. Petersburg Committee for External Relations, a role in which he was responsible for managing international relations and foreign investments. Note here that bhukti lord Saturn is the nexus of two key patterns in his chart – government ministry and wealth generation – concentrated in his 12th house. During his tenure, he oversaw the sale of $93 million in metal exports in exchange for food aid that never materialized. No one knows where the money went. An ethics committee recommended his firing but he somehow dodged that bullet and moved on.
He changed jobs in Jupiter-Venus, moving from municipal to state jurisdiction, and ended up with a similar but much larger portfolio as Deputy President of Property Management for Russia as a whole. It’s useful to note here that Venus is the most powerful planet in the chart, ruling not only his ascendant but the 8th house of other people’s wealth. From this point on, through the rest of Jupiter dasha and into Saturn dasha, he forged deals with the oligarchs of Russia, gaining massive financial benefits in exchange for political protection and sponsorship of Russia’s vast oil, gas and mineral resources.
In Jupiter-Sun, he became head of the FSB, Russia’s federal security service and successor to the infamous KGB. In Jupiter-Moon, a succession of events took him to the peak of the political pyramid – he was appointed as Prime Minister to President Yeltsin, nominated President-designate on Yeltsin’s resignation, then formally endorsed by the Russian parliament. Recall that Sun and Moon are interlinked as mutual nakshatra dispositors, ruling both the 10th and 11th houses from the shadowy trikasthanas they occupy.
His entire Jupiter dasha reflected a spectacular ascendancy in power and wealth. In the rashi, Jupiter rules two upachaya houses of improvement, and in its periods also delivers results for its nakshatra lord, that powerful Venus who is lord of both the 1st and 8th houses. Furthermore, Jupiter is dignified in several key amshas – dig bala although debilitated in the D4 (chaturthamsa) of property and net worth, swarashi and dig bala in the D10 (dasamsa) of professional success, and exalted in a positive house in the D11 (ekadasamsa) of fabulous wealth.
In Saturn dasha, Putin’s attention began to shift from domestic to foreign matters, starting with the post-Soviet states of Georgia and Chechnya. Provoked by ongoing conflicts with the latter, Islamist militants took 1100 people (including 777 children) hostage at a school in Beslan. Russia’s ruthless military response, although it cost 334 lives, cemented Putin’s tough-guy image. Note that the event occurred in Saturn-Saturn, where 4th lord (schools) Saturn is in the 12th (loss), and Saturn delivers on behalf of its nakshatra dispositor Mars, karaka for police, military and violence in general.
Incidentally, three different planets – Mercury, Saturn and Rahu – all occupy nakshatras of Mars. That means that in each of their periods, as well as that of Mars itself, this kshatriya (warrior-king) graha is projecting his image into the world via the Parivartana with Jupiter in the 7th. This has been accomplished through Putin’s personal involvement in sports, his sponsorship of world athletic events (eg, 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, 2018 World Cup in Moscow), as well as the flexing of Russia’s military strength.
Since the outset of his Saturn dasha, Putin has orchestrated several international interventions. In Saturn-Sun, Russia annexed the Crimea and started a proxy war to destabilize Ukraine. In Saturn-Moon, Putin sent troops to support President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. In Saturn-Mars, Russian operatives influenced the 2016 US Presidential election. In Saturn-Rahu, Putin scored a major political coup in Helsinki when Donald Trump said he took Putin’s word over that of 17 American intelligence agencies regarding Russia’s meddling in US elections.
In Putin’s D10 (dasamsa), Saturn is swarashi in a positive house, thus perpetuating a long-term play on the world stage. And speaking of play, consider the game of chess, which Russians have largely dominated since WW2, to such an extent that the game itself is practically synonymous with Russian culture. Games are ruled by the 5th, strategy by the 9th. In Putin’s chart, the relevant planets are Saturn and Mercury, conjoined in the stealthy 12th, both in Chitra, which is known for its craftsmanship. In Putin’s case, think spycraft, and you gain an appreciation for his abilities.
Following Yeltsin’s resignation, Putin served two four-year terms as President of Russia, during 2000-2008. Bound by the constitution, he was then obliged to step down, at which point his political ally Dmitry Medvedev became President, but promptly appointed Putin as Prime Minister. They even had a name for this political maneuver – Rokirovka – which is Russian for “castling,” a chess term referring to a rule wherein the King and Rook pieces are allowed to make a two-in-one move for defensive purposes.
This transition period occurred during Putin’s Saturn-Mercury and Saturn-Ketu periods. During the (interim) President’s tenure, Medvedev introduced a new law permitting subsequent Presidents to serve six-year terms instead of just four years. After Medvedev finished his term, Putin was allowed to stand for re-election again, which he handily won, and was then installed for six years. Thus, he was back in power again in Saturn-Venus, stronger than ever, in the bhukti of the strongest planet in his chart.
He faced some opposition in 2012, including the girl band Pussy Riot (when else but in a Venus period?) which he characteristically dismissed with criminal charges and imprisonment, meanwhile crushing the nascent LGBT movement in Russia. As befits his Venus in Libra public persona, Putin has always cultivated his law-and-order image. He portrays himself as a socio-cultural, political and religious conservative, just trying to protect the best interests of the Motherland.
At the same time, he has been violently repressive in order to control public opinion. State-owned media is strictly controlled in Big-Brother fashion, allowing only sanctioned points of view. Scores of journalists have been imprisoned, tortured and murdered to silence their criticism or exposure of wrongdoing by Putin and his cronies. The media in general, signified by 9th lord Mercury, is heavily afflicted by the Sun and Saturn in the 12th. Meanwhile, the free press of the democratic world, despite being an endangered species, continues to point out Putin’s human rights violations and his state-sponsored criminal enterprises.
With his recent re-election to the President’s office in the spring of 2018, Putin is now installed for what is supposed to be his last six-year term in office, which will take him up to 2024. Mercury dasha begins in 2022 and so, political chess grandmaster that he is, Putin will already be planning his endgame. With his powerful Mercury in the 12th, we can reasonably expect that it will be covert, strategic and highly profitable. Mercury is swarashi in both his D4 (chaturthamsa) of net worth and D11 (ekadasamsa) of fabulous wealth, and exalted in both his D9 (navamsa) and D7 (saptamsa), potentially extending his legacy to his heirs, both familial and political.
Who knows, perhaps some grateful oligarchs will make a movie about Putin’s life: The Spy Who Came Home with the Gold.
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