DECember 2008 GALACTIC
by Alex Miller-Mignone
On January 20, 2009, Michelle Obama will become the first African American First Lady of the United States. Strong and independent, she is unlikely to reproduce the retiring, one-step-behind model of First Lady evinced by Laura Bush and Roslyn Carter, nor is she the policy wonk that Hillary Clinton proved to be, with political aspirations of her own. Most likely, she will operate in a power-behind-the-throne mode reminiscent of Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, two other women of steel who pushed their husbands to the extremes of their own ambitions.
Michelle Obama’s roots are only slightly less modest than her husband’s. Born Michelle Robinson on Chicago’s South Side on 17 January 1964, she is the daughter of Fraser Robinson, a city water plant employee, and Marian Shields, a secretary for Spiegel’s catalog. Her father was also a Democratic precinct captain, and this background may have given Michelle a taste for political activism early on.
Michelle was very bright—she skipped the second grade, and graduated from Whitney Young High School in 1981, where she had been an honor roll student four years, student council treasurer, and a member of the National Honor Society. A partial scholarship and work study sent her to Princeton University, where she gained a cum laude BA in sociology in 1985. She went on to garner a JD from Harvard University in 1988, after which she returned to Chicago to work for the Sidley Austin law firm, where she met and mentored a young summer associate named Barack Obama.
The couple married in 1992, by which time Michelle had moved on from Sidley Austin to a position as Assistant to Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley, and Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development for the city. In 1993, she became Executive Director of the Chicago office of Public Allies, an organization focused on staffing other non-profit, community-oriented groups in the Chicago area. She was a notably successful fundraiser for the group.
In 1996, while Barack was working for the University of Chicago as Associate Dean of Student Services, Michelle developed the University’s Community Service Center. In 2002 she accepted full-time employment with the University of Chicago Hospitals, first as Executive Director for Community Affairs, and as of 2005, as VP for Community and External Affairs, with which she is still affiliated, though she has cut back her duties 80% to accommodate her husband’s presidential campaign. She will now likely resign her position or take a leave of absence for the duration of the Obama Administration.
1996 was also the year that Barack mounted his first successful political campaign, for the Illinois State Senate, where he represented the 13th District for eight years, until his elevation to the US Senate in 2004. In the summer of that year, he caught the eye of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, who gave him a keynote speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2004. Barack’s stunning rhetorical performance assured his victory that November, and overnight catapulted him onto the national stage. Throughout, Michelle supported her husband, but maintained a low profile.
Always a reluctant campaigner, by the time Barack announced his intention of running for president in February 2007, Michelle had resigned herself to the sacrifices necessary for political success. When asked by her employer during Barack’s unsuccessful 2000 run for the US House of Representatives if there was anything about campaigning which she enjoyed, Michelle replied that visiting so many living rooms had given her new decorating ideas. Early in the presidential primary process, she made it a rule not to stay away from their Chicago residence for more than one night, unless their daughters could accompany her. She does not see herself as a political partner in the Hillary Clinton mode, commenting that “my job is not a senior adviser.”
Her stump speeches were noted for their fiery quality, and a sense of speaking directly from the heart, with truth and eloquence. Early on her sense of humor about Barack’s domestic shortcomings evoked charges of sarcasm from the press, and she quickly toned down the rhetoric, though some felt that in humanizing her husband she performed a valuable counterbalance to the excited hype from star-struck supporters. A hip, jaunty fist bump with Barack on stage drew bizarre speculation from conservative news outlets, who characterized it as a “terrorist fist jab” or some gang-related signal.
The silliness faded, but she also drew fire for some of her comments in Milwaukee in February 2008, where she stated, in reference to the hope and optimism she had seen on the campaign trail, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.” Right-wing pundits seized upon this as an illustration of her lack of patriotism, and although the controversy died down in time, from that point, there was a noticeable change in how the campaign used Michelle. Gone were the fiery, challenging semi-rants which caused some to label her an “angry black woman;” Michelle now focused more on empathy, and identifying with the audience’s concerns. She gave softer, gentler interviews to non-hard-news outlets like Ladies Home Journal, and made guest appearances on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The View.” She eschewed designer outfits for sundresses and casual clothes.
Her speech at the Democratic National Convention in August was scripted to emphasize values of home, hearth, and the American Dream, of which she said her family’s success was an example. In a pitch to independents and middle America, Michelle averred that among the values she espoused were “that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, and you do what you say you're going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them.” Daughters Malia, aged 10, and Sasha, aged 7, joined her on the stage afterward.
Although her precise birth time is unknown, Michelle Obama’s birth chart includes a fair sprinkling of galactic energies, many of which act to shore up her husband’s chart at key points.
Principal among these is a conjunction of the Sun at 26 Capricorn and Mars at 3 Aquarius, which support Barack’s career-ruling Saturn at 25 Capricorn and politically-inclined Jupiter at 0 Aquarius. This Sun/Saturn synastry indicates Michelle as a driving force behind Barack’s career, whether consciously, as with Nancy Reagan or Lady Macbeth, or unconsciously, as his underlying motivation for success, in pleasing her or living up to her image of him or expectations for their future. This combination spurs Barack’s career efforts generally, but it is the Mars/Jupiter that specifically energizes politics as the venue for realizing those aspirations. In and of itself, the Sun/Mars conjunction identifies Michelle as brash, bold and assertive, with a likely well-exercised temper, an overall robust constitution, and a liking for strenuous physical pursuits. Mars is also exactly trine Barack’s Moon at 3 Gemini, a positive indicator of strong sexual chemistry between them.
That Sun also conjoins a pulsar, often indicative of media attention or notoriety, becoming “newsworthy” in some sense, as well as being tapped into things, a natural receptor for information of all types, someone with her finger on the pulse of events. Sun/Pulsar can also be “fidgety” or impatient, reminiscent of a strongly placed Mercury, Uranus, or a heavy Gemini accent. The Sun is exactly inconjunct asteroid Washingtonia at 26 Leo retrograde, suggesting a natural pull toward the nation’s capital, also reiterated by the Sun’s conjunction with the USA’s natal Pluto, its power center, at 27 Capricorn. This inconjunct became a transient Yod, or Finger of Destiny, on Election Day 2008 with asteroid Potomac also exactly inconjunct Washingtonia and sextile the Sun from 26 Pisces retrograde, and it may be significant that the Obamas had not moved to Washington when he won his Senate seat, but remain in their home base in Chicago until moving into the White House.
Natal Mercury at 4 Capricorn is exactly conjoined one Black Hole and opposed another, squared the Pulsar at 3 Aries and minor planet Eris at 9 Aries, and squared a Quasar at 5 Libra, forming a Galactic Grand Cross in cardinal signs. Black Hole Mercury natives usually have an extreme relationship with learning, whether positive or negative. Michelle’s early promise, the skipped grade, the National Honor Society membership, the scholarships to Princeton and Harvard, all represent one form of Black Hole Mercury, and can be favorably contrasted with George W. Bush’s opposite use of the same energy, in coasting through his academic career on “Gentleman’s Cs” as well as his all-too-obvious difficulties with language.
Black Hole Mercury is also subject to misrepresentation or misinterpretation by others, a thing which the media-ruling pulsar in square will be quick to pick up on and run with, as in the “finally proud of my country” comments. With Eris hovering in the mix, these unintentional faux pas are likely to evoke some degree of fractiousness or disagreeability, to cause conflict or ill will. Even an unafflicted Mercury in Capricorn can incline to sarcasm or criticism, which some have noted in Michelle, and Eris augments this character trait. Eris’ trine to Barack’s Sun at 12 Leo may be responsible for the somewhat slighting, almost demeaning remarks made about her husband early in the primary campaign. There is a part of Michelle that is ready to find fault with Barack, and is not overly squeamish about airing his quirks in public, though the trine suggest that this is done with the best of intentions, albeit with an underlying grain of genuine irritation.
Natal Jupiter at 12 Aries opposes a Black Hole at 13 Libra and conjoins asteroid Barry, for Barack, at 14 Aries. Barry with Jupiter suggests the formative, expansive influence her husband would be in her life, the Black Hole further reinforcing the sense that this union would be transformative of her fortunes, and reveal a future of unexpected promise. That this Jupiter/Barry union also opposes the USA Saturn at 14 Libra, emblematic of the office of nation’s Chief Executive, says that there is a key something which Michelle’s optimism and encouragement brings to the table for her husband which enabled him to attain the presidency.
Natal Saturn at 22 Aquarius conjoins a Quasar at 25 Aquarius, an indicator of the success Michelle has found in her own career efforts, as well as her attainment of a position of social prominence as First Lady of the land. Quasars promote success, recognition and visibility, and with the opposition to asteroid Washingtonia at 26 Leo, we see the venue for its full expression. The Aquarian position for Saturn reflects the emphasis on community organizing, social activism and humanitarian concerns or organizations in her employment history. Interestingly, transit Neptune made its direct station conjunct this Saturn from 21 Aquarius just two days before the election: although Barack’s winning of the presidency was the fulfillment of a dream for both of them, it is also extremely likely that in the immediate aftermath, Michelle has felt rather ambivalent about the inevitable changes this will bring to their lives.
Natal Uranus at 9 Virgo retrograde is exactly conjunct a Black Hole and exactly inconjunct Eris. There is a core to Michelle that loves to shock, and challenge others’ sense of propriety or rectitude, and she is not too concerned about any negative consequence that may ensue from this desire to tweak others out of their complacency. This could signal her as a lightning rod for controversy for the administration, particularly if at any point she becomes active in policy decisions, as was Hillary Clinton. Feeding into this is asteroid Icarus, which at 12 Capricorn conjoins the South Node at 11 Capricorn, and is within orb of natal Mercury at 4 Capricorn. There is a streak of rashness to Michelle, a temptation to overreach, a restlessness when confronted with restriction, all of which could combine to provide a self-generated undoing of some sort.
All in all, Michelle Obama promises to be an interesting First Lady, one who may be difficult to pin down, and whose deepest influence may not be understood until well after the Obama Administration becomes history.
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.
His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at Alixilamirorim@aol.com.