1968 was not your typical year. Nor was it in any way "average". Or to be said in a more dramatic tone, 1968 was a year that most definitely wasn't "normal".
I can personally attest to this, given the expected date of the delivery of my birth was scheduled for June 6th, 1968. Things looked to be right on schedule the closer my due date to enter this plane of existence approached, but on that fated day, Robert Kennedy was assassinated in a California hotel lobby in the midst of his campaign for the President of the United States. Whether because my mother was too stunned to go into labor or because my soul resisted in protest having to enter such a violently chaotic world, I was born 5 days later on the 11th.
The decade of the 1960's sets itself apart in America's recorded history as a time of assassination, extreme social and political unrest, as well as riotous rebellion. Astrologically, those unforgettable, non-normal years were the mirrored reflection on Earth of the touch and go interplaying conjunction throughout the decade between the planet of rebellion and sudden "out of the blue" events, Uranus, and the planet of death and transformative change, Pluto, in the sign of conservative propriety, Virgo.
Prophets emerge during the most severe of times, when the atmosphere is brimming with tension and when as if the very earth itself summons both Justice and Change. Prophets are visionaries who are shown glimpses of the future so that they can act as beacons of hope and fortitude for their people. Prophets walk upon the world's stage at the advent and duration of trying times, but seldom do they live past the period of hardship they struggle the most within.
The Prophet of the 1960's was a man who fit all of the above criteria, who at the cycular end of the last joining of Uranus and Pluto in the sign of Virgo, was taken from this world 2 months and 2 days before my expected arrival into it, on April 4th, 1968 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On the day before Dr. King was killed on April 3rd, he gave a sermon to an overfilled assembly of people at the Mason Temple in Memphis Tennessee. The words of this last sermon given by the charismatic preacher are, many believe to be, those uttered by a prophet.
Dr. King's natal chart supports this belief.
The Man Of The Earth Who Aspired To The Highest Earthly Precipice
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in the late morning of January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. Astrologically, the civil rights leader came into this world when the Sun was in the last of the earth signs, whose symbol is the mystical mountain goat, Capricorn. I like to euphemistically call Capricorns, "the workhorses of the Zodiac". What the other 11 signs think is a hard day's work, is what the Capricorn gets done on their day off. In order for a Capricorn to work at maximum capacity, a particular thing needs to be present - THE GOAL. When a Capricorn has a goal in mind, no matter how far away or high up it is, they will ceaselessly toil bit by bit until they perceive that goal to be reached.
Although Martin Luther King never reached his goal of racial equality and civil justice within 1960's America, he not only displayed his inherent Capricorn qualities through his tireless work ethic, but infused his most stirring and inspirational speeches within the frame of the Capricorn goal.
The Goal Of Dreams
King's most famous speech was delivered as the storm clouds of 1960's turmoil first gathered, at the March on Washington, almost 3 months to the day before the assassination of President Kennedy, on August 28th, 1963. The spellbinding inspiration behind King's "I Have A Dream" speech is palpable, since the dreams he speaks of are firmly established goals of a brave and entirely new world made by a Capricorn for himself, his family, and his people.
The Mystical Markings Of A Prophet
When looking at the natal chart of Dr. King, two karmic aspects must be highlighted. Both are extremely rare and together they point to a person who was divinely chosen to bear the immense burden of being a prophet to his people - The Grand Trine Of The Fire Houses and Mercury both Exalted and Unaspected.
The Grand Trine Of The Fire Houses
A "Grand Trine" is when 3 planets are positioned in the 3 signs of an element in a person's birth chart. When this occurs, the 3 planets work in harmony together and this harmonious aspect is identifiable by a blue triangle showing the trine aspect connecting the 3 planets.
Although a Grand Trine has many positive aspects, they are unto themselves not rare. A Grand Trine of 3 planets in the Fire Houses (Houses 1, 5, & 9) however, is not only rare, it's a highly karmic and spiritual marking.
Stephen Arroyo, in his foundational book, "Astrology, Karma, & Transformation", describes the Fire House Grand Trine as "a mode of expression and energy release which is timeless, spontaneous, and so natural that it eludes our capturing its essence in words" and "verges on the transcendant". He describes the evolved person with this karmic marking as one who sees himself "as a channel for the manifestation of a greater power."
When observing the planets involved in Dr. King's Fire House Grand Trine, one can see how his example setting and inspirational life was marked to be such a channel for the manifestation of a greater power: Saturn in the 9th at the top of the triangle, Jupiter in the first as the lower left corner, and Neptune in the 5th as the lower right. To briefly summarize these planetary placements:
Jupiter in the 1st - Jupiter is the planet of Good Natured Hope, Faith, and Optimism. It also is the most "benevolent" of planets since the largest heavenly body of our Solar System represents both Blessings and Saintliness. The First House is the House of Self, or one's overall personality.
With the immense responsibility and burden placed on Dr. King's shoulders, there always seemed to be a sense of good natured hope and optimism he displayed as an individual and in the public eye.
Saturn in the 9th - Saturn is Jupiter's foil and represents Hardship, Restriction, and Pain. However, when placed in the 9th House of Faith and Organized Religion, the extreme difficulties the planet known as "The Lord Of Karma" usually represents are transcended, so that a person born with this placement would display an overall sense of wisdom along with a practical approach of faithful tenacity when problems or challenges were presented.
Saturn is the planetary ruler of the sign of Capricorn, Dr. King's Sun Sign, and the preacher most powerfully displayed to the world his wisdom and faithful tenacity in the most practical of ways by always promoting non-violence as the most effective way to make a statement.
Neptune in the 5th - The most positive aspects associated with Neptune are inspiration and a spirituality that extends beyond organized religion. In its most basic sense, the watery planet, along with The Moon, is the heavenly body most associated with anything related to the stuff of dreams. The 5th House is the House of Creative Self Expression.
As mentioned earlier, Dr. King's most inspirational and famous words embody his Neptunian 5th House placement when he proclaimed to the world "I Have A Dream."
Mercury : Both Exalted & Unaspected
In a recent article I published regarding Mercury entitled "Mercury: Know Thy Planetary Self", I describe the planet's astrological role:
"In Astrology, Mercury represents how we communicate, be that via speech, writing, as well as body language."
In another recently published article entitled, "Living Through The Right Hemisphere of Society's Brain: Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius", I describe the circumstances surrounding a planet being exalted:
"A planet is exalted when it is placed in a sign that works in synch with that planet's overall energies and influences, resulting in said planet having the best possible optimal effect or influence whenever in said sign."
Many astrologers argue over which sign Mercury is exalted in. I firmly believe Mercury is exalted, or functions best in, the sign of Aquarius, since the planet of Thought & Communication couldn't have a better environment than in the last of the air signs known for its traits of genius, invention, and far reaching thought which affect the masses at large.
Dr. King's Mercury is not only placed in the sign of Aquarius, but the planet of Thought and Communication is also placed in the House that Aquarius rules over, the 11th House of Hopes, Wishes, Dreams, Humanity, and The Future.
When looking at MLK's Mercury in the 11th House, it is noticeably different from the rest of the chart due to there being an absence of any lines emanating from it. This is known as an "unaspected" planet. A planet is unaspected when it has no other aspects, or interactions, with any of the other planets in a natal chart. Due to its solitary and confined nature, an unaspected planet can many times be a special or gifted talent and is viewed as a highly karmic marking.
Unaspected planets are not common, but are not incredibly rare. Why Dr. King's Mercury placement is the mark of a prophet is not only is his Mercury exalted by its sign and house placement, but of all the planets of our Solar System, the 2 which have the highest probability of being aspected are those closest to the Sun - Venus and Mercury. Dr. King's Mercury is made even more karmicly special since it is a planet that almost always has some form of tie to the rest of the chart, and when that planet is unaspected, the person born with that marking is destined to make statements of a timeless nature.
The Universe decreed that Martin Luther King's words, especially those said in front of large groups of people, or the masses, would stand the test of time and be remembered long after his departure from this world.
The Sermon On The Mountaintop
"Early Morning, April 4
Shot rings out, In the Memphis Sky
Free at last, They took your life
They could not take your pride."
- "Pride (In The Name Of Love)", U2
Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on a hotel balcony on April 4th, 1968. As previously mentioned, the day before, on April 3rd, Dr. King gave his last sermon to an overfilled gathering of people at the Mason Temple in Memphis. This sermon, known to many as "The Mountaintop" Speech, are words which I truly believe to be those said by a prophet, both for their mystical pre-awareness of an untimely end and for their literal prophetic symbolism as evidenced in the civil rights leader's birth chart.
The Awareness Of An Untimely End
As stated earlier, seldom do prophets live past the period of hardship they struggle the most within and eerily, they seem to be inherently aware of this fact all along. Dr. King displays this sense of pre-knowledge of his death more than once in his Mountaintop Sermon:
"And then I got to Memphis...Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now."
"Like anybody, I would like to live - a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now."
King's words mirror The Bible's Deuteronomy 34:1-4, where the Prophet Moses leads his people out of Egypt, but the prophet does not make it to the Promised Land :
"Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo... There the Lord showed him the whole land... Then the Lord said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob... I will let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it."
The Capricorn Prophet Speaks From His Prophetic Goal Of The Mountaintop
Martin Luther King was born a Capricorn. At the time of his birth, not only was his Sun positioned in the sign of Capricorn, but the heavenly body which astrologically represents The Self was also placed in the House that Capricorn naturally rules as well, the 10th House of Status.
As Pluto, the planet of Death and Transformation, was fast approaching a fated, exact squaring with Martin Luther King's chart ruler, Mars in Gemini, as well as with the ruler of his Sun, Saturn in Sagittarius in the sky on that early April day during that non-normal year of 1968, the prophet summarized his life and divine purpose in the last sermon he ever gave a mere few hours before his death:
"I've been to the mountaintop. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man."
Through these final, powerful words, the mystic mountain goat had indeed reached the mountaintop and in doing so, fulfilled his prophetic destiny.