On November 9, 2012, Washington was stunned by the sudden resignation of David Petraeus as head of the CIA, a post he had held for just 14 months. Petraeus, a retired four star general formerly in charge of the Iraq War surge strategy and the Afghan War, submitted his resignation to President Obama on November 8, after admitting to an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, co-author of All In. The president weighed the options for 24 hours and then accepted the resignation on November 9.
The affair came to light via a months’ long investigation which began at the instigation of Jill Kelley, a Petraeus family friend who had received what she considered to be threatening anonymous emails regarding her relationship with Petraeus. Kelley went to the FBI, who traced the emails to Paula Broadwell, who was apparently disturbed by what she considered overly familiar interactions with her then lover. Both Kelley and Petraeus deny any intimate involvement, but the story broadens, and becomes even more bizarre, with the introduction of a possible romantic or flirtatious relationship between Kelley and General John Allen, Petraeus’ successor in Afghanistan, and Frederick Humphries, the FBI investigator who worked on Kelley’s case, and sent her inappropriate shirtless photos of himself.
The timing of the revelation of the scandal became suspect when it was revealed that the Congress’ Intelligence Committees had been kept in the dark about the investigation, and the White House had only been informed at 5 PM on Election Day, although some in the GOP leadership had received advance notice and kept the matter to themselves. Also questioned as a factor in the scandal’s disclosure was Petraeus’ upcoming testimony regarding events in Benghazi, Libya in September, when a terrorist attack on an American consulate took the lives of the ambassador and three other Americans.
Leaving aside the politics, the story is a tragic example of the sudden fall from grace of a lionized American hero who has given most of his life in the service of his country. Asteroids depicting key elements and actors in the drama appear in startlingly appropriate juxtaposition on the day the resignation was announced, as well as in the birth charts of David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell.
The Sun has been traveling within five degrees of asteroid America, in the scandal-and-sex ruling Sign of Scorpio, since early November, in a conjunction which became exact on November 12, so this period was likely to evoke some level of sexually-based scandal on a national level. That it should have engulfed this pair was perhaps inevitable, given the fact that this Sun/America combination highlighted both their natal Suns. David Petraeus’ Sun is at 15 Scorpio (born 7 November 1952); Paula Broadwell’s is at 17 Scorpio (born on 9 November 1972, and the scandal broke on her 40th birthday).
Also at play was the activation by the Sun that day at 17 Scorpio of a Grand Cross of deep space points, conjoining the Pulsar at 15 Scorpio (on Petraeus’ Sun and associated with newsworthy events and the media), opposed and squared the Black Holes at 16 Taurus and 17 Aquarius (indicating a major reversal of the status quo), and also squared the Maser at 14 Leo (evoking volatile or controversial events).
But the celestial story goes much deeper. Petraeus’ stunning fall from grace, with Paula Broadwell as its agent, is prefigured by three placements of asteroid Lucifer (#1930), a metaphor for the archetypal fall from grace.
According to Christian tradition, Lucifer, first among God’s angels, was expelled from heaven due to his pride and refusal to bow to humanity. The placement of asteroid Lucifer can signify any sudden demotion or loss of status, especially when due to one’s own actions or attitudes.
Lucifer in the transit sky for Petraeus’ resignation was conjoined Mars exactly at 24 Sagittarius, indicating a fall from grace based in a sexual matter. Further, Lucifer exactly conjoins a newsy Pulsar and is within orb of the supermassive Black Hole at the Galactic Center at 27 Sagittarius, suggesting news with a global impact or import, attention and notice.
Lucifer in Petraeus’ chart appears at 29 Libra, conjunct his natal asteroid Paula (#1314) at 27 Libra, identifying her as the source of his discomfiture. And in Broadwell’s chart, Lucifer appears at 16 Scorpio, conjoined both her and Petraeus’ natal Suns, as well as the transit Sun for the day.
This triple solar conjunction brings the events to a uniquely personal, identifiable level, adding high visibility and illuminating the situation for all to see. Adding to the shocking nature of the revelation was transit Uranus, which at 5 Aries was exactly opposed Petraeus’ natal asteroid Davida (#511) at 5 Libra, itself conjoined by Broadwell’s natal Pluto at 3 Libra and transit asteroid Wiener, a common euphemism for penis, at 9 Libra, which together paint a rather compelling picture of devastation (Pluto) wrought by a sexual indiscretion (Wiener).
Additional indicators of sexual impropriety include asteroids Pecker (#1629, another euphemism for penis), Dick (#17458, also a slang term), Lust (#4386), Eros (romantic passion), Aphrodite (#1388, ruling affairs of the heart and amorous liaisons), and centaur Nessus (inappropriate sexual actions), all of which have a part to play in the celestial drama as it unfolds.
Transit Pecker at 27 Libra was conjoined transit Saturn, ruling authority and limitation or loss, at 4 Scorpio, but also exactly on Petraeus’ natal Paula and within orb of Broadwell’s natal Mars (sexual relations) at 25 Libra.
Petraeus’ natal Pecker at 23 Scorpio was within days of activation by a highlighting Solar Eclipse at 21 Scorpio on November 13, bringing these private matters very much to public attention. Further, natal Pecker is exactly squared natal Pluto at 23 Leo, suggesting devastating effects from sexual antics at some point in the life. Pecker is also exactly semisextile Petraeus’ natal asteroid Pandora at 23 Libra, representing the release of unexpected consequences from a sexual act.
Pandora forms part of his natal stellium of Paula and Lucifer, with Paula exactly squared the USA natal Pluto, ruling sex, scandals and spies (like the CIA), at 27 Capricorn.
Broadwell’s natal asteroid Pecker at 15 Scorpio conjoins her 17 Scorpio Sun, and may indicate an inordinate identification with sex, as well as lying exactly conjunct Petraeus’ natal Sun, making him the focus of this energy.
We have already noted transit Wiener’s (#18182) position at 9 Libra. From here it is exactly semisextile transit Lust at 9 Virgo, and also squared by transit Pluto, uncovering secrets, revealing scandals, and causing devastating loss, at 7 Capricorn.
Petraeus’ natal Wiener at 5 Aquarius was exactly sextile transit Uranus at 5 Aries, and squared by transit Saturn at 4 Scorpio. In the birth chart, Wiener is exactly trine natal Davida at 5 Libra and inconjunct natal Washingtonia at 4 Virgo, while opposed natal Aphrodite, ruling affairs, at 6 Leo.
Wiener also falls on Broadwell’s natal Davida at 3 Aquarius and her Salacia at 0 Aquarius (Salacia is a Trans-Neptunian Object from the Kuiper Belt, named for a mythic goddess from whom we derive our word “salacious”). Broadwell’s natal asteroid Wiener at 29 Aries opposes her Mars at 25 Libra and Petraeus’ natal Paula/Lucifer at 27 and 29 Libra.
Transit asteroid Dick at 8 Virgo conjoins transit Lust at 9 Virgo, squared transit asteroid Aphrodite at 7 Sagittarius and Petraeus’ natal Mercury (news) at 8 Sagittarius. Dick is also trined transit Pluto at 7 Capricorn and Broadwell’s Jupiter (renown, reputation) at 6 Capricorn, squared her natal Mercury at 9 Sagittarius. Transit Dick is also exactly trined Petraeus’ natal asteroid Dick at 8 Capricorn, which is an exact match for his natal Chiron, the wound-maker; both have been transited by Pluto this year. Petraeus’ natal Dick is exactly semisextile his Mercury, squared natal Davida and trined natal Washingtonia.
Broadwell’s natal asteroid Dick at 1 Sagittarius conjoins transit Mercury at 3 Sagittarius retrograde as well as Petraeus’ natal Lust at 2 Sagittarius, and is opposed her natal Lust at 0 Gemini. This combination of Dick, Lust and Mercury is also squared by the transit Neptune/Chiron conjunction at 0 and 4 Pisces, adding a level of deception, disillusion (Neptune) and maverick behaviors (Chiron).
Transit Eros at 1 Capricorn is moving to conjoin transit Pluto, while squared transit Uranus at 5 Aries, and conjunct both Petraeus’ natal Salacia at 3 Capricorn and Broadwell’s natal Jupiter at 6 Capricorn. Petraeus’ natal Eros at 17 Sagittarius conjoins his natal Venus at 20 Sagittarius and is an exact match for transit Paula also at 17 Sagittarius, while opposed Broadwell’s natal Saturn at 19 Gemini and transit Jupiter at 14 Gemini.
Broadwell’s natal Eros at 25 Aquarius is conjoined her natal Achilles at 22 Aquarius, an indicator of her passionate attraction to military men, as well as transit Davida at 24 Aquarius, refining this attraction specifically to Petraeus. Natal Achilles is also currently exactly conjunct transit Nessus, ruling inappropriate sexual relations. Broadwell’s Eros is also exactly trined her natal Mars at 25 Libra and more broadly trined Petraeus’ natal Pandora/Paula at 23 and 27 Libra, as well as opposed her own asteroid Paula at 27 Leo.
Transit Aphrodite at 7 Sagittarius is conjoined news and media ruling Mercury at 3 Sagittarius retrograde and exactly semisextile transit Pluto at 7 Capricorn. Aphrodite is sextile transit Wiener at 9 Libra and squared transit Dick and Lust at 8 and 9 Virgo, also conjoined both Petraeus’ and Broadwell’s natal Mercuries at 8 and 9 Sagittarius, and trined Petraeus’ natal Aphrodite at 6 Leo, semisextile his natal Chiron/Dick at 8 Capricorn.
Petraeus’ natal Aphrodite aspects all the above points as well, while Broadwell’s natal Aphrodite at 19 Taurus opposes her natal Sun, Petraeus’ natal Sun, and the transit Sun for the disclosure of their affair. Broadwell’s Aphrodite is also closely inconjunct Petraeus’ natal Venus at 20 Sagittarius, traditional ruler of matters of the heart, which is conjoined by transit Paula at 17 Sagittarius at his resignation.
Transit Nessus at 22 Aquarius is broadly squared all three affected Suns as well as being conjunct transit Davida at 24 Aquarius. Nessus often refers to coercive sexual relations, but has affinities with any sexual acts or relationships deemed inappropriate by others. David Petraeus is perhaps inclined to step outside the box sexually by his Sun’s exact natal opposition to Nessus at 15 Taurus, which, with its exact conjunction to natal Jupiter, has the power to negatively affect his reputation.
Broadwell’s natal Nessus at 23 Gemini conjoins her Saturn, denoting a potential for inappropriate conduct with someone in authority, but also engendering loss or limitation via that contact. Nessus/Saturn may also indicate an attraction for older partners or father figures, as evinced by Broadwell’s affair with a man twenty years her senior. This was activated by an opposing Mars from 24 Sagittarius when the affair was revealed.
Nessus also forms a Grand Trine with Broadwell’s natal Mars at 25 Libra and natal Eros at 25 Aquarius, thus further reinforcing the sexual nature of all three. Natal Eros’ opposition to Petraeus’ natal Pluto at 23 Leo fatally activated the latent potential of the Grand Trine, transforming it into a Kite pattern, and wreaking devastating effects (Pluto) in his life, with a second Kite formed by natal Nessus’ opposition to transit Mars, thus providing the impetus for the resignation.
The supporting players in this melodrama are well represented also. Jill Kelley, who got the ball rolling by reporting the threatening emails to the FBI, is represented celestially by asteroid Kelly (#22312), which falls at 10 Aquarius for the resignation, conjoined asteroid Washingtonia at 4 Aquarius, itself exactly squared by transit Saturn at 4 Scorpio. Kelly is also trine transit Wiener at 9 Libra, inconjunct transit Dick and Lust at 8 and 9 Virgo, and trine transit Jupiter at 14 Gemini. Transit Kelly conjoins Petraeus’ natal Wiener at 5 Aquarius, squares his 15 Scorpio Sun, and opposes his natal Aphrodite at 6 Leo, while squared Broadwell’s natal Pecker/Lucifer/Sun stellium at 15, 16 and 17 Scorpio.
In Petraeus’ natal chart, asteroid Kelly at 14 Leo broadly conjoins his 6 Leo Aphrodite, and forms a tight T-Square with the 15 Scorpio Sun and the Jupiter/Nessus conjunction at 15 Taurus. Broadwell’s natal Kelly at 28 Taurus conjoins asteroid Lust at 0 Gemini and squares asteroid Paula at 27 Leo, also inconjunct Mars at 25 Libra and trine Salacia at 0 Aquarius.
Frederick Humphries, the FBI agent who ran the investigation that ultimately brought down Petraeus, is represented by asteroids Fredrick (#41943) and Humphreys (#10172). Fredrick appears at 21 Gemini in the transit chart for the resignation, conjoined transit Jupiter at 14 Gemini, trine transit Pecker at 27 Libra, squared transit Salacia at 23 Pisces and opposed transit Mars at 24 Sagittarius. Transit asteroid Humphreys falls at 4 Virgo, with transit Dick and Lust at 8 and 9 Virgo, squared transit Mercury and Aphrodite at 4 and 7 Sagittarius, and opposed transit Neptune and Chiron at 0 and 4 Pisces, forming a T-Square. Humphreys is also at the apex of a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, exactly inconjunct transit asteroid Washingtonia at 4 Aquarius and inconjunct transit Uranus at 5 Aries, marking a fated role for the agent in the disclosure of the scandal.
In Petraeus’ natal chart, asteroid Fredrick at 26 Leo conjoins natal Pluto at 23 Leo, symbol of his undoing and loss of power, while sextile Paula/Lucifer at 27 and 29 Libra, and squared natal Pecker at 23 Scorpio. Asteroid Humphreys appears at 8 Gemini, exactly opposed media-ruling Mercury at 8 Sagittarius and exactly inconjunct natal Chiron/Dick at 8 Capricorn.
Broadwell’s natal Fredrick falls at 9 Leo, exactly trine her 9 Sagittarius Mercury and broadly squared the Pecker/Lucifer/Sun triple conjunction. Asteroid Humphreys at 23 Libra conjoins natal Uranus and Mars at 20 and 23 Libra, provoking revelations (Uranus) of the shocking (also Uranus) sexual relationship (Mars). Humphreys also joins the Martian Grand Trine with natal Achilles/Eros at 22 and 25 Aquarius and natal Nessus at 23 Gemini, spelling out an inappropriate (Nessus) and passionate (Eros) sexual interlude with a military man (both Mars and Achilles).
The scandal has broader implications for where, when and why we separate private acts from public performance. Although the affair and email correspondence was deemed at no point to have threatened national security, David Petraeus felt he could not operate effectively as CIA director after its revelation. And that revelation would not have been possible without the inroads into privacy provided by the Patriot Act and subsequent rights-shredding legislation. More than 30,000 pages of documentation were collected without the foreknowledge or consent of any of the parties involved, in what was ultimately revealed to be a private matter between consenting adults, the disclosure of which ended a lifetime of public service. When is enough, enough?