Certainly one of the strangest stories to come out of the sports world (or anywhere else, for that matter) in recent memory, is the mind-boggling tale of Manti Te’o’s fictional girlfriend. Te’o, a star linebacker in the Notre Dame football program who led his team to an undefeated season in his senior year, was a 2012 Heisman Trophy runner-up, something virtually unheard of for a defensive player.
Part of Te’o’s winning biography included a string of tragedies afflicting his girlfriend, culminating in her death from leukemia on the same day his much-loved grandmother passed away. The story was just the sort of tale the American press eats up, and undoubtedly led to Te’o’s unusually high national profile for a college player, possibly influencing votes in the Heisman competition as well. The story had everything—high drama, romance, tragedy, even a cyber-age twist in the form of an exclusively online relationship between the happy couple.
The only problem was, it was complete fiction, from start to finish. The girlfriend never existed, being the brain child of a prankster acquaintance of Te’o’s, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who had apparently developed a crush on the football phenom. That much is now clear—the only question remaining is whether Te’o himself was as hoodwinked as the rest of us, or in on the hoax.
Manti Te’o “met” Lennay Kekua online in his freshman year in 2009; the two emailed and talked on the phone sporadically until becoming officially a couple in early 2012. On several occasions, including in conversation with his father, Te’o alleged that he had met Lennay in person, stating after the hoax was made public that he did so because he felt pressured to portray the relationship as “normal” and not exclusively in cyberspace.
If Te’o believed the many tortuous twists and turns of Lennay’s story, and was truly fooled, then he must be one of the most naïve individuals on the planet. Although they spoke frequently, sometimes for hours, whenever they attempted to meet, fate always seemed to intervene. Once Lennay’s car was being borrowed by her brother, and she couldn’t make it to their arranged tryst; other unfortunate circumstances occurred at other times, preventing their meeting. When Te’o tried to visit visually via Skype or FaceTime, all he saw was a black box where Lennay’s face should have been, although she told him she could see him clearly; even technology seemed to be conspiring against the couple.
When these rather feeble excuses had run their course, in April 2012 trickster Tuiasosopo upped the ante by creating a near-fatal car crash for Lennay. She supposedly was struck by a drunk driver, isolating her in the hospital for months. While she lay unconscious, Te’o would fall asleep with his phone next to his ear, with the line open to hers, listening to the sound of her ventilator. He was thus connected when she miraculously came out of her coma, but before her release, Lennay was diagnosed with leukemia. Although she spent over five months in the hospital, Te’o never contrived to visit his girlfriend.
Finally strong enough to return home, Lennay tragically died suddenly on September 12, 2012, without warning, the day after her release, within hours of Te’o’s grandmother’s death. Her last wish was that he not attend her funeral, but soldier on, leading his team to victory.
And so he did, with his winning streak and tragic tale propelling him to national sports stardom. He played through his grief, and began to put his shattered life back together, until on December 6, just two days before the Heisman Trophy presentation, he received a phone call from beyond the grave. It was Lennay, telling him she was alive and weaving an even more improbable story of a faked death to evade her family’s unsavory mob connections.
At the Heisman ceremony Te’o repeated the assertion that his girlfriend and grandmother had died the same day, and continued to maintain the charade to his family, his friends, the Notre Dame staff and the nation at large until January 16, 2013, when the sports blog Deadspin.com, acting on an anonymous tip, broke the story that the dead girlfriend was a hoax. By Te’o’s own account in an exclusive interview with ABC’s Katie Couric, he only learned the full truth that very day, when his “friend” Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, Lennay’s supposed cousin, called to confess to his years-long deception.
There are still many unanswered questions about Tuiasosopo’s motivation, and Te’o’s gullibility or complicity, in continuing to manipulate and deceive over such a protracted period. Te’o’s sexuality has been called into question, as statistically speaking, a 21-year-old star athlete willing to commit himself romantically to someone he’s never met, is a rare occurrence, and supposition arose that the girlfriend story was concocted to hide Te’o’s homosexuality. Te’o strongly denied this in the Couric interview, but Tuiasosopo was forced to admit in a two-part interview with Dr. Phil that he is, at minimum, “confused” about his sexuality and did have romantic feelings for the sports star.
Another odd wrinkle to the story is Tuiasosopo’s assertion that his was the voice of Lennay, and there was no female accomplice in his deception (the photos of Lennay were actually those of a high school friend, Diane O’Meara, used without her knowledge or permission). Dr. Phil asked FBI voice analysts to compare voicemail messages from Lennay released by Te’o with recordings of Tuiasosopo’s voice, and they determined there was only a 1 in 10 million chance that the same person made both recordings. When pressed by Dr. Phil to reproduce the voice of Lennay during their interview, at first Tuiasosopo was unable to comply, citing embarrassment at having an audience as the reason. But when controlled conditions were recreated in his bedroom, with show staff in attendance to monitor, Tuiasosopo did recreate Lennay’s voice to the analysts’ satisfaction, lending credence to his story and assertion that Te’o was an unwitting dupe.
Astrologically, there is a strong prominence of asteroids Hermes and Loki, both named for Trickster gods, in Te’o’s birth chart as well as the charts for the day Lennay “died” and the day the story broke, coupled with serious afflictions to asteroids Aletheia and Veritas, named for the Greek and Roman goddesses of Truth. But as with all things astrological, there are two sides to the coin, and it’s difficult to determine if this prominence indicates conscious deception by Te’o, or deception directed at him by others.
But the potential for deception is there aplenty. Neptune is the planetary energy most associated with falsehoods and lies, and at 15 Capricorn in Manti Te’o’s birth chart, it conjoins Mercury at 14 Capricorn, ruling communication, very closely. Mercury/Neptune natives can play fast and loose with the truth, but are also susceptible to others’ lies, being sometimes gullible or overly trusting, preferring a utopic vision of the situation to what might seem a harsh reality. In short, they want to believe, which can translate as being an easy mark for a con man or deceiver. Additionally, Neptune and Mercury together square Te’o’s natal Aletheia at 14 Libra, named for the Greek goddess of truth, so truth-telling in general may be a challenge for him.
Asteroid Loke (#4862, named for the Norse trickster god rendered into English most commonly as “Loki”) at 11 Scorpio is squared Te’o’s natal Sun at 5 Aquarius, which could indicate that Te’o is the trickster here, or is merely his target. Loke is also embroiled in a mini stellium of Eros, Veritas and Pluto, at 15, 19 and 20 Scorpio.
Eros rules erotic passion, and in ancient times was typically used as a referent specifically for homosexual love, though today we give it a more general flavor, and it can also indicate what one “has a passion for” in life.
Veritas is Aletheia’s Roman counterpart, and here bound up with a trickster and a point suggesting erotic or gay passion, we see the broad outlines of the deception perpetrated by a male acquaintance who has confessed to a romantic attraction for Te’o.
Pluto rules secrets, taboo, and sexuality; with Veritas it suggests a less than open relationship with the truth, something covert or hidden, not revealed to the light of day, especially concerning sexual matters. There is also a suggestion that a truth, when revealed, will be devastating in its consequences. All these points square Te’o’s natal asteroid Mantl (#17488, the closest asteroid match for Manti, his first name) at 17 Aquarius.
Two points indicate the potential for fraud or chicanery specifically regarding a death. Hermes, the original Greek version of Mercury, is associated mythically with trickery and subtlety or double dealing. We find Hermes here in Te’o’s chart at 21 Pisces, with Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, close beside at 16 Pisces, both in trine to the Scorpio stellium discussed above. Also paired are asteroids Kassandra and Lachesis, at 21 and 23 Aries. Kassandra, named for the Trojan priestess gifted with prophecy but doomed never to be believed, symbolizes credibility issues, while Lachesis is named for the Greek Fate known as “the Allotter,” who determines the span of life. Together these also oppose natal Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 28 Capricorn.
Te’o’s natural attraction for the fictional Lennay may be explained by the appearance of asteroid Lene (#3796, a phonetic match for Lennay) exactly squared the Sun from 5 Taurus, and opposed Loke the Trickster.
When Lennay Kekua “died” on September 12, 2012, transits reflect the deception as well. Most prominent is an exact conjunction of Saturn, ancient ruler of death, with Hermes the Trickster at 27 Libra, these in close square to Te’o’s natal Saturn at 28 Capricorn. Loke and Kassandra are exactly conjoined at 7 Taurus, with transit Lene close by at 2 Taurus, all atop Te’o’s natal Lene and squared his natal Sun. Transit Lachesis at 29 Aries is creeping up on Lene and opposed the Saturn/Hermes conjunction.
Signifying that death might touch him closely that day (which it did, in the actual loss of his grandmother), asteroid Mantl at 20 Scorpio is traveling with asteroids Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, and Osiris, at 24 and 28 Scorpio, with Mantl exactly conjoined natal Pluto and transit Aletheia exactly squared from 20 Leo, raising the issue of truth or falsehood associated with a death that affected him very personally.
Te’o’s commentary on Lennay’s “resurrection” that December in his interview with Katie Couric, if genuine, leaves little doubt as to the truth of the emotions he felt at the time of her death: “I had just found out that everything that I believed to be my reality, wasn’t actually reality at all.” This is also a compelling commentary on the natal blending of Mercury—sensory and intellectual input—with Neptune—illusion and fantasy.
Venus (women) at 6 Leo is conjunct asteroid Tea (#453, for Te’o) at 5 Leo, both inconjunct transit Pluto, modern ruler of death, at 6 Capricorn, and forming a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with a second inconjunct to transit Chiron (emotional wounds or hurts) at 6 Pisces, itself conjoined asteroid Kekula (#13254, for Kekua) at 7 Pisces. Neptune is in this region as well, adding confusion and deception by conjunction from 1 Pisces.
Transit Uranus (shocking, disruptive events) at 7 Aries ties to Kekula by exact semisextile, and also forms a Grand Trine with transit Venus/Tea and Te’o’s natal asteroid Tea at 7 Sagittarius. This pattern becomes a Kite with the opposition from natal Tea to transit Atropos, an asteroid named for the Greek Fate known as “the Cutter” who severs the thread of life at death, at 9 Gemini. The transit Sun at 20 Virgo conjoins Mercury (news) at 21 Virgo, with transit Veritas in the mix from 14 Virgo; these trine Te’o’s natal Neptune/Mercury and are sextile his natal Pluto, as well as squared his natal Atropos at 18 Gemini.
When the hoax was revealed by Deadspin.com on January 16, 2013, and Ronaiah Tuiasosopo called Te’o to confess his deception, Hermes and Mantl are conjunct at 12 and 13 Capricorn, atop Te’o’s natal Neptune/Mercury. Venus and Pluto are exactly conjunct at 9 Capricorn, focusing on the death (Pluto) of a girlfriend (Venus). Another Sun/Mercury conjunction has formed, reopening the issue of Lennay’s death, first envisioned at their September conjunction. This one falls at 26 and 25 Capricorn, conjoined Te’o’s natal Saturn, with both transit Osiris and Requiem there at 21 and 24 Capricorn, all points squared by a pairing of transit Lene and Loke at 23 and 27 Aries, highlighting the fraudulent (Loke) news (Mercury) of a death (Saturn). Transit Saturn at 10 Scorpio conjoins Te’o’s natal Loke at 11 Scorpio, also revealing the deception.
Transit Aletheia at 17 Virgo conjunct asteroid Tea at 13 Virgo could point to Te’o’s underlying truthfulness in the matter as a whole, and their conjunction with the Sun/Mercury/Veritas of the announcement of Lennay’s death links back strongly to that event, perhaps obviating any responsibility for the hoax on Te’o’s part.
Definite birth data was not available for Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, but his age has been reported as 22, and a June 27 2012 tweet from Manti Te’o wishes him a happy birthday. This suggests a birthdate of 27 June 1990, which if so, provides an exact conjunction of Neptune at 13 Capricorn with asteroid Mantl in Tuiasosopo’s nativity, making Te’o an almost preordained mark for deception. A natal Kassandra/Lachesis conjunction at 20 and 23 Aries hints at a lack of credibility regarding a death, one highlighted by that transit Lene/Loke combination when the hoax was revealed.
Tuiasosopo’s natal Lene at 3 Taurus conjoins Te’o’s own, and both men were experiencing a “Lene Return” when the fictional Lennay “died”, a date which coincides with that exact transit conjunction of Kassandra and Loke atop all three Lene placements. Natal Loke at 0 Virgo conjoins natal Kekula at 6 Virgo, linking the trickster with the fictitious name he created, and was opposed by Neptune/Chiron (deception causing hurt or harm) when the story of the hoax broke.
A Kite formed of natal Hermes at 17 Pisces (which is itself conjunct the Kekula at 16 Pisces for the fraud’s unmasking) with natal Pluto at 15 Scorpio and natal Chiron/Jupiter at 17 and 18 Cancer establishes Tuiasosopo’s claim to fame (Jupiter) in a hurtful wounding (Chiron) founded in the fraudulent (Hermes) death (Pluto) of a woman named Kekua (Kekula).
This becomes a Kite with the addition of his natal Veritas at 16 Virgo, opposing Hermes (truth and deception in dynamic tension) and conjoined the Sun/Mercury/Veritas of Lennay’s supposed death. It is interesting that in his interview with Dr. Phil, Tuiasosopo describes his motivation for killing off Lennay Kekua at that time as a desire to start back on the road to truth, with a Veritas Return about to occur in his chart.
Is Manti Te’o gay? Culturally and biographically, a repressed Mormon upbringing and strong family ties with a desire not to hurt his parents, allied with his willingness to commit himself to a relationship with no physical or sexual satisfaction during the years of his sexual peak, suggests he might be, even if he cannot admit this to himself. And astrologically, there’s a good case to be built for it.
Venus at 26 Aquarius squares Pluto at 20 Scorpio in Te’o’s birth chart (an aspect which also renders him susceptible to the deaths of women in his life), and suggests some taboo element in his romantic life. This combination is common among gay men and lesbians, who often have hard aspects between outer planets and indicators of sex or romance. Uranus at 11 Capricorn is also in exact semisquare to Venus, further encouraging unorthodox, societally unacceptable expressions of love and relationship.
But the kicker here may be a Grand Cross of Sappho at 16 Taurus, Ganymed at 16 Leo, and Eros at 15 Scorpio, with asteroid Mantl at 17 Aquarius. This directly links three prominent gay indicators with an asteroid very personally representing Manti Te’o. It’s not enough to guarantee behavior, but there is a distinct flavor of homosexual tendencies which pervades the chart.
Assuming Te’o was unaware of the deception, and Tuiasosopo did in fact produce Lennay’s voice, then it’s interesting, in light of these patterns, that Te’o was in fact drawn romantically to another man, albeit he thought it was a woman. As he described “her”: “Possibly the most beautiful girl I ever met, not because of her physical beauty, but the beauty of her character and who she is. She was just that person I turned to. The love of my life.”