At first glance, there seems to be so little of significance in Aretha Franklin’s chart that we’re tempted to think, this can’t be right. If she was the Queen of Soul, where are the signs of royalty, soul, and awesome voice? In fact, there are so few yogas in her chart that you can count them on the fingers of one hand. And yet, sometimes, all you need is one hand to seize the crown.
For Aretha, her ascendant lord Venus is the planet that commands the stage. Venus is the karaka for the arts and entertainment, and because it’s the only occupant of a kendra, it becomes the most likely significator of her career. Venus is strong because it has dig bala in the 4th house, and it’s stable because it receives only an aspect from Jupiter. Venus is also in Parivartana yoga with Saturn in the 8th, a combination that strengthens both planets and the houses they occupy.
Among other things, the 4th house represents one’s tribe, congregation, constituency or fan base. From her earliest performance, standing on a chair in front of her preacher father’s congregation, Aretha has stood head and shoulders above the crowd.
In the 8th house, the association of 2nd lord Mars and 5th lord Saturn forms Dhana yoga. From there, they each aspect and thereby strengthen their own houses – Mars protecting the 2nd, Saturn protecting the 5th. Other than family and wealth, the 2nd house also rules the voice. And aside from children, the 5th also rules performance.
Her 8th house is a locus of exchange activity. In addition to the Parivartana between Venus and Saturn linking the 4th and 8th, there are two different Nadi yogas involving exchanges of star lords in the 8th. The Sun and Saturn occupy each other’s nakshatra, thus creating a symbiosis between the 6th and 8th houses. Furthermore, the Moon and Jupiter also occupy each other’s nakshatra, thus creating a link between the 8th and 9th houses.
Thus, we have three different houses – the 4th, the 6th and the 9th – whose occupants are in sambandha with an occupant of the 8th. As a consequence, she has had more than her share of trials and tribulations.
Her parents (4H & 9H) separated when she was six, and her mother (4H) died just weeks before Aretha turned 10. Her father (9H) was shot point-blank in the chest during a home robbery and remained five years in a coma before he died. She lost a $1.4M house (4H) to a devastating fire. And in the last decade of her life, she was plagued with health (6H) problems, ranging from hypertension to pancreatic cancer.
Aretha grew up in a lively household with three siblings. Her father was one of the country’s most influential ministers whose circle of friends included civil rights activist Martin Luther King, as well as popular performers of the day like Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke. But his constant philandering became too much for Aretha’s mother, who left the marriage when Aretha was just six years old, leaving the young girl in her father’s care.
The Moon occupies the 9th house, showing the powerful emotional connection she had with her father. Her 9th lord Mercury is in the 5th house of ministry, amped up by the presence of mokshakaraka Ketu, and solidified by the aspect of its dispositor Saturn. In acknowledgement of Reverend Franklin’s oratorical skills, people called him “the man with the million-dollar voice.”
Early in the dasha of Saturn, lord of her 5th house, Aretha became an unwed mother – her first child born when she was just 12 years old, the second when she was 14, in Saturn-Saturn and Saturn-Mercury, respectively. With 7th lord Mars in the 8th, she was not lucky in love. One of her sisters referred to her first husband as “a smooth gentleman pimp.” She married twice, the first in Saturn-Venus, and the second in Mercury-Sun, neither of which lasted the test of time. She later went on to have two more children.
She signed with Columbia Records in 1960, and released her first single in September of that year, both during her Saturn-Venus period. Note that Saturn participates in the only two yogas of significance in her chart, while Venus as lagnesh was instrumental in her establishing herself.
The high-water mark of her career was in Saturn-Rahu, during which period she scored nine Top Ten hits on Billboard, among them the famous “Respect” of February 1967. Coming as it did on the heels of the civil rights movement, in the middle of the women’s liberation era, and at the height of the anti-Vietnam war protests, it became a virtual protest anthem for a generation.
Aretha enjoyed a career that spanned over six decades. She mixed and mingled with religious and civil rights leaders, and earned widespread respect in a society that typically withheld it from Afro-Americans. When she was inducted to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012, Franklin was described as “the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of black America” and a “symbol of black equality.” When she sang at Barack Obama’s inauguration, she brought tears to the eyes of President Obama, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and half of America.
When she died of pancreatic cancer on August 16, 2018, music lovers around the world cried all over again. The Queen of Soul is dead. Long live the Queen.
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