GENE RODDENBERRY: FATHER OF STAR TREK
(as originally published in the May, 2009 edition of Dell Horoscope, the World's Leading Astrology Magazine)
by Sister Ray the Astrologer
©Gail Lawson Clough
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Five Houses; Five Conjunctions
The Visionary Ninth House
The Federation: An Aquarian Endeavor
Kirk and Spock
The Goddess Muse Majel
Pilot, policeman, poet, producer, writer, thinker, dreamer: Gene Roddenberry was all of these. Nicknamed The Great Bird of the Galaxy he proved the axiom that one person can make a difference. Indeed, Gene Roddenberry changed the world. With his vision of a future of social, sexual and racial equality that took place in a quasi-military setting of space exploration, Gene Roddenberry inspired generations and built an international following of fans and serious devotées who call themselves Trekkers or Trekkies. Many of the futuristic gadgets seen in the original Star Trek television programs have become reality, like computers, beepers and cell phones. Mr. Roddenberry certainly seemed to have a cosmic channel into the future. His vision of it entertained and inspired millions of people. Never before in the history of television did a TV program have this kind of impact on society. Gene made us think. He made us question our values and seek the highest moral quality for our decisions. He was larger-than-life, like his mythical heroes, Captain James T. Kirk and the beloved Mr. Spock (both of whom, by his own admission in Gene Roddenberry, The Last Conversation, are projections of himself). What do the stars reveal about this visionary man?
Five Houses; Five Conjunctions
An astrologer would expect an unusual person to have an unusual chart, and Gene Roddenberry does not disappoint. He has a remarkable chart. His eight planets and the two luminaries are arranged in five pairs in the shape of a sextant, the instrument once used in navigation to measure the altitude of celestial objects like the Sun and Moon and thereby determine a ship’s latitude. Gene’s 10 celestial points occur in five conjunctions in five houses and four signs: (1) Pluto is conjunct Venus in Cancer in the first house; (2) Mars is conjunct Neptune in Leo in the second house; (3) Mercury is conjunct the Sun in Leo in the third house; (4) Jupiter is conjunct Saturn in Virgo in the fourth house; (5) the Moon is conjunct Uranus in Pisces in the ninth house. Two of the outer planets conjunct a personal planet and one of the outer planets is conjunct the Moon, giving a personal touch to the universal vision. He expressed universal principles in a personal, human way, and expressed them in a way that reached out to all humanity. The Sun-Mercury conjunction in Leo is in the third house of writers and written communications. Gene worked very hard to develop himself as a writer. The Sun and Mercury in Leo would give him a strong ego, which would be a great asset when dealing with the rejection that most writers have to face before they are published. Mars conjunct Neptune gave drive to manifest the mystical vision; it is in the second house, showing he was driven to make money through that channel, but with that conjunction, he would probably spend it as fast as he made it! Jupiter conjunct Saturn in Virgo gave him the focus and meticulous attention to detail that would be required to give his vision form. This conjunction occurs in the fourth house of early childhood and foundations. The Star Trek characters Gene invented would become like family, not only to him, but also to the world at large. A first-house Venus-Pluto conjunction in Cancer gave him the passion to believe in himself (and other equally intense passions); rising in his chart, it gave him the charisma and personal power to sway others to see things his way. Venus also symbolizes the women who believed in him, probably starting with his mother, and culminating with his second wife, and Muse, Majel Barrett. The most elevated conjunction, his Moon conjunct Uranus in Pisces in the ninth house, gave Gene the psychic warp drive power to reach into not only the future, but also into people’s hearts. The ninth house also symbolizes foreign lands and outer space and brings to mind Gene’s legendary Star Trek mantra that ends with the famous split infinitive: “. . . to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
The Visionary Ninth House
The cusp of Gene’s ninth house of publishing, foreign lands, philosophy and higher knowledge is in the visionary, humanitarian sign, Aquarius. The Moon conjunct Uranus in Pisces occurs here. Gene found his calling as a writer when he was flying B-17 bombers in the South Pacific during WWII. With the Moon, Uranus and MC in water sign Pisces, it is not surprising that his vocation was revealed to him when he was surrounded by water! He was a far-sighted visionary (Moon/Uranus in Pisces) who would publish (ninth house) a story that would touch the whole world (Aquarius is the sign on the cusp of his ninth house).
Could Gene Roddenberry see into the future? When he was born, he was a “veiled” baby, i.e., part of the placenta clung to his head and shoulders, giving the illusion of a veil. Veiled babies are supposed to be blessed with prescience. Certainly, his conception of The Federation and space travel was way ahead of its time, and many of the gadgets and devices from the Star Trek prop department seem to have materialized into reality over time. The influence of Uranus dominates Gene Roddenberry’s horoscope: Seven of his planets and the Sun are corralled into the first four houses; Uranus and the Moon five houses away applying to the MC, are the focus of all that energy. In addition, Uranus is the most elevated planet, giving it special significance. That his waning Moon was full in Aquarius (the sign ruled by Uranus) just the day before his birth amplifies the influence of this revolutionary planet. All of these factors fuse together to put special emphasis and focus on Uranus and the ninth house, pulling all his energy in that direction. Gene Roddenberry’s drive was focused on reaching for the stars.
The Federation: An Aquarian Endeavor
The Federation is an excellent example of Aquarian principles in action. It is a collective organized for the good of the many, without ignoring the needs of the one, a theme memorialized in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The Federation is based on racial, social and sexual equality. Everyone serves according to his or her abilities, rather than social class, racial type or gender. The setting is quasi-military: military discipline is observed universally, but the environment is more diverse and more relaxed than a formal military setting. Roddenberry’s conception of Star Trek and the Federation was rooted in his experience as a pilot and a policeman. It was as a police officer that he developed a philosophy of law enforcement that was to become the basis of The Federation. In September, 1952, he published his first article in the LAPD’s magazine, The Beat. It was a philosophical piece on the professional duties of a police officer. This led to the formation of the Association for Professional Law Enforcement. Gene used his position on the Board of Governors to network and meet people, one of whom was Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the popular Perry Mason books, and later the even more popular TV series. Their relationship began when Gene contacted Mr. Gardner regarding an article in the August, 1953 issue of Argosy magazine. Erle Stanley Gardner was like a mentor to Gene and a big influence on his early writing career.
Gene got his start in TV writing stories for Dragnet. In 1963/64, he was the producer of a TV series that foreshadowed Star Trek. It was called The Lieutenant and was a drama that took place in a military setting with plots that were driven by the social issues of the day. It was on The Lieutenant that he first worked with Nichelle Nichols (it was her TV debut), Majel Barrett and Leonard Nimoy. As the conceptual creator, and Executive Producer of the Star Trek universe, Gene would seek out the best professionals he could find to help realize his vision. Many Star Trek episodes were written by well-known, award-winning authors like Jerry Sohl, Robert Bloch (author of Psycho), Gene L. Coon, Theodore Sturgeon, Norman Spinrad and Harlan Ellison. Matt Jeffries designed the sets. Star Trek may have been conceptualized by one man, but it was a group effort, a true Aquarian endeavor. Many people contributed to its success, but two of the actors on the show would equal, or surpass, their creator in fame: William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
Kirk and Spock
Both William Shatner (Kirk) and Leonard Nimoy (Spock) have an Aries Stellium of the Sun, Mercury, Uranus and the Moon’s North Node. Despite the “me-first” attitude typical of the Aries individual, these two fictional friends and Starfleet officers worked well together and became friends off the set. This is not surprising, considering that they were born only four days apart and have so much in common astrologically. They are like brothers. Besides the Aries Stellium, both Shatner and Nimoy have Saturn in Capricorn, Neptune in Virgo and Venus in Aquarius, all of which work well with Gene’s stars. The earth signs support the manifestation of vision (Neptune) into form (Saturn), and Venus in Aquarius provides creative support to Gene’s Aquarian ninth house, the sign on the cusp, as well as harmonizing with the energy of his ninth house Uranus, the ruling sign of Aquarius. Both Shatner and Nimoy have Jupiter conjunct Pluto in Cancer (with Mars close by to fuel the conjunctions with energy). Their Jupiters are closely conjunct Gene’s rising Pluto in Cancer, blessing the triumvirate with good fortune and financial abundance (Jupiter is the planet of abundance; Pluto is the planet of great wealth). Gene’s Venus conjunct Pluto harmonized the relationship between these three men, acting as a mediator when disputes arose. Both Shatner and Nimoy have Neptune at 3° of Virgo, the same sign as Gene’s Jupiter-Saturn conjunction. Virgo is the sign of the picky perfectionist, and with Saturn conjunct Jupiter in Virgo, Gene was very picky about his “children” (his characters) and his “baby” (his concept). He wanted everything to be perfect. He was able to give nearly perfect form to (Saturn) his vision (Neptune) through the two actors, whose Neptunes gave him the ideal vehicles.
There is something fated about the relationship among these three men, as though destiny had chosen them for a special purpose. Leonard Nimoy talks about the “theme of destiny” between him and Shatner on page 33 of his autobiography, I Am Not Spock, when he mentions that they were born only four days apart. Shatner and Nimoy both have the Moon’s North Node at 14° Aries, which sets off Roddenberry’s North Node at 19° Libra. Even though Gene was often at odds with Bill and Leonard, they were all working towards the same goal, the realization of a creative vision. Opposites attract and often bring out the best in each other. There was bound to be conflict because each of the Aries actors was headstrong, each wanting his own way. This would prove to be more of a problem with Nimoy than Shatner, as Shatner has the Moon in Taurus near his Aries stellium to steady some of that fierce drive and Uranian fire. Nimoy has the Moon in Gemini, which falls in Gene’s twelfth house of secret enemies and behind-the-scenes machinations. Also, Nimoy’s Gemini Moon butts heads with Gene’s combustible Mercury (though sextile it), the planetary ruler of Gemini, sometimes frustrating Gene’s ability to communicate his intentions. Their relationship was often adversarial.
Gene recruited Leonard for the role of Spock when he first worked with him on The Lieutenant in the early sixties. They would have a long and testy relationship, both of them responsible for, and competing over, the development of the character of Mr. Spock; both laid claim, and rightly so, to knowing the mind and heart of Spock. Both were Spock, and Nimoy would suffer emotional harm when his own identity became subsumed by the Spock character. As mentioned previously, Gene stated in his final “Captain’s log,” Gene Roddenberry, The Last Conversation that the characters of Kirk and Spock are projections of his own character. Kirk was Gene the swashbuckling pilot, modeled after the famous Captain Horatio Hornblower and Hamlet, but I believe that Spock was closer to Gene’s heart than Kirk, which is why both he and Nimoy claimed to be Spock.
Shatner and Nimoy, the personifications of Kirk and Spock, were two of the three most important people to be part of Gene Roddenberry’s vision. The third was the most important of all, his Muse, Majel Barrett, the tall beauty from Ohio who walked into his office at Screen Gems one day looking for work. Majel would become an integral part not only of the Star Trek universe, she would also become Gene’s second wife.
The Goddess Muse Majel
Gene has a Venus-Pluto conjunction rising in Cancer, his appreciation for the opposite sex was renowned. He was a lover of women, and women loved him back. One woman would become the most important person in his life, his Muse, the Goddess Majel Barrett. Nicknamed “The First Lady of Star Trek,” she was Number One in the original Star Trek TV pilot; Nurse Christine Chapel in the classic Star Trek; Ambassador Lwaxana Troi, formidable Betazoid mother of Ship’s Counselor Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; and finally, she was the computer’s voice throughout all of the Star Trek TV incarnations. She appeared in all five of the Star Trek television series and five of the movies. Tall, like Gene (who was 6’2”), she was a statuesque beauty with large, luminous blue eyes and a stunning figure, every bit the Goddess. She was smart and sassy. Gene was smitten.
Regrettably, there is no reliable data for Majel Barrett’s birth time or year. My sources agree that she was born on February 23 in Columbus, Ohio, and the general consensus is that the year was 1932; however, other sources indicate 1939. Unfortunately, consensus does not constitute corroboration. Since astrology requires accuracy, there is little we can know for sure about the positions of the planets when Majel Barrett was born. Nevertheless, we do know that on February 23 in both years, the Sun was at 3° Pisces and Neptune was in Virgo on February 23, so Majel’s Sun would be exactly conjunct Gene’s Moon. This is one of the most supportive positions for a successful relationship. She lit the path for his outer-space vision and was an active participant in the execution of Gene’s vision. She truly was his Muse, her mystical Neptune providing inspiration to his Jupiter-Saturn conjunction -- perhaps the perfect Muse, with her Neptune in the sign of perfection. Of all the remarkable people he knew, she had the biggest influence on him.
But Gene was not always popular. Pluto rising can be overbearing and domineering. Fortunately, it was tempered and softened in its intensity by its conjunction with Venus. With Cancer rising, he was a very private person which would have made him even more shy if he hadn’t been born with an outgoing Leo Stellium. There is no question that Gene was able to dominate most people and situations with sheer force of personality; but with that first-house Pluto and his Leo Stellium, Gene had an obsessive need to rule and control. He created more than his share of enemies in the business, many of whom opposed his plans. That closely conjunct Jupiter-Saturn opposed the MC, which brought a great deal of studio opposition to Star Trek, starting with objections to the characters (especially the most popular one, Commander Spock) and ending with the cancellation of the original series after only three seasons. Gene also made enemies because of his Chiron in the professional tenth house, six degrees from the Moon’s South Node. He might have wounded (Chiron) a lot of people in his career (tenth house) in this life or prior ones, and could have picked up or been working out some bad karma (South Node). Despite all the opposition, the Star Trek legend only grew, both in popularity and scope of vision. The classic Star Trek television show grew into an amazing franchise, spawning ten movies, an animated TV series, and four new television programs, Star Trek: The Next Generation; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Star Trek: Voyager; and Star Trek: Enterprise.
No doubt, some of the hard feelings against Gene came from his free exercise of veto power as the Executive Consultant for the Star Trek brand. He demanded, and received, total control over his creation. He was the absolute, iron-handed ruler of his domain. Indeed, his Leo Stellium consisting of the Sun, Mercury, Neptune and Mars would give him the need to rule with absolute control over his Star Trek kingdom. With Jupiter and Saturn conjunct in Virgo, Gene wanted everything to be perfect. This inevitably led to conflict with actors, writers and studio executives. One of the most famous tiffs involved the famous science-fiction writer, Harlan Ellison, who was particularly vociferous in his objections to Gene’s rewrite of the famous, award-winning episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Gene defended his turf like a prize-fighter going for the championship. Born under a waning Moon that had been Full just one day prior to his birth, Gene no doubt felt the Full Moon pressure on his psyche, which affected his temperament. Full Moons create unresolved tension, and Gene may have given the impression that he was always sporting for a fight especially with fighting Mars inconjunct that Moon-Uranus conjunction. So, his Leo sense of authority, Pluto drive, Martian fighting spirit, Moon-Uranus edginess, and Saturn opposite the Midheaven would give him problems with authority and difficulty keeping his rebellious nature in check. Remarkable people stand out, and attract the attention of those in authority. Gene was no exception, an astrological standout with his unusual pairing of ten heavenly bodies in five impressive conjunctions.
In a breathtaking example of the Hermetic Law of Correspondence (“As Above, So Below”), Gene Roddenberry’s five conjunctions form the image of a sextant, the instrument once used by maritime navigators to guide their ships across the Earth’s oceans (see Diagram A). The eight celestial bodies in the northeast quadrant and spilling slightly over into the fourth house of Gene’s chart are framed in a quintile aspect between Pluto and Jupiter-Saturn. Venus-Pluto in the first house, Mars-Neptune in the second house, the Sun-Mercury in the third house and a powerful, close conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in the fourth form the arc of the sextant; the index arm of the sextant points to the elevated Moon-Uranus conjunction in psychic Pisces in the ninth house of outer space. The creative power here is unmistakable, although regrettably, its full expression was burned up by Mercury combust the Sun. Mystical vision would take precedence over the actual written word. The Moon takes over (with Uranus), pointing the way to the stars. His energy was funneled into the ninth house. The Great Bird of the Galaxy was a pilot, poet, policeman and philosopher who reached for the stars and brought back to Earth an Aquarian vision of the future that resonated throughout the entire Western world. Even though he has been gone for over a decade, the legendary universe Gene Roddenberry created lives on. Echoing the same sentiment that came with the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, the world eagerly awaits the release of the new Star Trek movie in the summer of 2009.
LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!
Alexander, David, Star Trek Creator, the Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry, New York, NY, ROC, 1994.
Fern, Yvonne, Gene Roddenberry, The Last Conversation, New York, NY, POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, 1994.
Michelsen, Neil F, The American Ephemeris for the 20th Century, 1900 to 2000 at Midnight, San Diego, CA, ACS Publications, Inc., 1983.
Nimoy, Leonard, I Am Spock, New York, NY, Hyperion, 1995.
Shatner, William (with Chris Kreski), Star Trek Movie Memories, New York, NY, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1994.