“My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.”
Boris Johnson (age 40), The Independent, 2004.
And yet on July 24, 2019 Boris Johnson did become U.K. Prime Minister (at age 55), with his mandate assured in a nationwide election five months later. Vedic astrology could have told us that Johnson would be greatly elevated in the public sphere within a few months before or after Sept. 9, 2016. This date marked the start of his 16-year Mercury Dasha (a planetary period) and a phenomenally successful period in his life. On July 13, 2016 he was appointed Cabinet Minister – a major (and unexpected) step up for him. He became even more elevated three years later as Prime Minister. Johnson persuaded the public and his colleagues in Parliament that he could succeed in implementing Brexit when Prime Minister Theresa May had failed to do so after three years, and previously P.M. David Cameron (2010-2016) had tried to fight it off and keep the U.K. in the European Union. But under Boris Johnson’s leadership, Brexit finally gets off the ground Jan. 31, 2020 at 11 pm, London, U.K. and divorce proceedings from the E.U. begin.
More hurdles remain for Johnson to work out a myriad of details, but the Conservative Party’s huge victory on Dec. 12, 2019 speaks volumes about how the force of Johnson’s personality and his ideas won over the British public. Impatient for Brexit to be implemented, they had voted for it on June 23, 2016 by a decisive margin (52% to 48%) – a margin of 1.3 million votes. But establishment figures in government, media and elsewhere were determined to keep the U.K. in the European Union, no matter how the citizens voted. David Cameron immediately resigned from office when Brexit was voted in. Even his successor Theresa May had opposed it, along with 16 of her 25 Cabinet Ministers.
At a tumultuous time in the nation’s history, the public needed a forceful leader who would truly represent them and lead the way to Brexit. Enter Boris Johnson, who had been Cameron’s most forceful political opponent leading up to the Brexit vote in June 2016. After May’s resignation on June 7, 2019, Johnson was elected to be the new Prime Minister by an internal party vote, winning a 66% Tory majority. He took office July 24, 2019. Formerly Mayor of London, 2008-2016, and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (2016-2018) under P. M. Theresa May, Johnson chafed under May’s handling of the Brexit process, saying she treated the U.K. as a “Vassal state” – as if groveling for permission to leave.
Johnson was first elected to Parliament in 2001 and re-elected in 2005. He stepped down from Parliament in June 2008, a month after winning the London mayoral race. Before becoming a politician, Johnson was briefly a management consultant before turning to journalism from 1985 onward. From 1994 to 2005 he worked for The Spectator magazine, first as a political columnist, later as its editor, 1999-2005.
Born Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, he spent his childhood between New York, London, and Brussels. With both parents in the Foreign Service or academia, the family moved houses 32 times over the first 14 years of his life. Two years later (1980) his parents divorced. Winning scholarships throughout, he spent two years at the European School in Brussels, from age 10, after which his education was entirely in Great Britain. He attended a boarding school (Ashdown House), then Eton College, then Baillol College at Oxford, where he read classics and was President of the Oxford Union. His debating skills were regarded as extraordinary, both in originality and in comedic content. From Eton College onwards his teachers saw him as a prodigy and a fantastically capable person, though he was often disorganized and late with assignments.
For his part, as a scholarship student Boris struggled to find ways to fit in to this elitist world. He could see it from both inside and outside. Beyond this, he had suffered from severe deafness through childhood, corrected around age nine by several surgeries and grommets in the ears. Deafness made him more quiet and studious, but by Eton College he was known as “Boris” and became more of the flamboyant and colorful personality for which he was both loved and loathed. His political enemies acknowledge only his weaknesses and few of his strengths.
What can we see in Boris Johnson’s chart that shows he is innately able to handle the Prime Ministership at this critical point in time? And how does the timing to his chart help him to succeed where others have failed?
Source: AstroDatabank. Class A data: From memory. June 19, 1964, 14:00 EDT, New York, NY, USA.
The first thing to notice about Johnson’s birth chart is the Virgo Ascendant, giving both practicality (Virgo = EARTH), plus versatility and flexibility – with a dual sign in the Ascendant as well as four planets in dual signs: Sun, Venus, and Rahu in Gemini; Ketu in Sagittarius. Rahu and Ketu are the foreigners, and aside from his exotic nature he has many foreign forbears. Born of British parents, his ancestry is also Turkish, Swiss, German, Irish, French, Belgian, Dutch, Cornish and Ashkenazi Jewish. Given the strength of his Mercury and Mars, there is a readiness for battle and debate. He is known to be even more combative in print, less so in person – a fact confirmed by the direct aspect of Mercury and Mars to the 3rd house of writing. Among politicians also famous for their rhetoric are Sir Winston Churchill and U.S. President John F. Kennedy, both with Virgo Ascendants. Coincidentally, Johnson’s most successful book to date is one commissioned by the Churchill family, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History (2014).
The next thing to notice are the strong positions of both Ascendant lord Mercury and its Raja yogakaraka planet Venus. The exchange of the 9th and 10th house lords creates a powerful Dharma Karma Adhipati yoga. The 9th house is a Dharma house and the 10th house is a Karma house, and any close connection between these house lords (with few exceptions) is highly auspicious. This yoga confers the destiny of a strong leadership position in society. It brings success, visibility, and fulfillment of life purpose. Natal Mercury is in the 9th house in Taurus and also in mutual sign exchange (a Parivartana yoga) with Venus in Gemini in the 10th house of public status and career. This is a commanding position for both planets, and since Mercury is Ascendant lord, it defines the strength of the individual on many levels when this planet is placed in the 9th house and also acting as if in the 10th house by virtue of its exchange with Venus. The gift of speech is given with a close and benefic conjoining of Venus and Mercury. It can also give a high degree of literacy plus fluency in more than one language. Johnson is fluent in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, and can recite at length in Latin and Greek. This Mercury-Venus combination comes to full fruition when a major or minor Dasha period occurs featuring one or both planets. If it is both planets, then the Dharma Karma Adhipati yoga becomes fully manifested.
On Feb. 3, 2020, just three days after Brexit becomes official, Johnson enters his Mercury-Venus Dasha (Vimshottari system). This runs for 2 years/10 months up to Dec. 4, 2022. Such timing is highly favorable and gives prominence to both the Prime Minister and to the nation he represents. It is definitely auspicious for the huge task of Brexit, which was the major issue of the Dec. 12, 2019 election. And though that is not Johnson’s only political goal, it is the first most important one for his party to achieve. Mercury-Venus Dasha coming now shows that his mental and communication skills (Mercury) are very likely to be successful in achieving his goals due to both speaking and diplomatic skills (Mercury-Venus).
Coincidentally, on Jan. 24, 2020 tr. Saturn exited sidereal Sagittarius (his 4th house), another personal advantage, as tr. Saturn in the 4th house is typically a low point in the career cycle. He has less opposition with tr. Saturn in the 5th house, and this adds to the astrological reasons why he did not ascend immediately to the Prime Ministership in July 2016 – even though he was both eligible and a more logical choice, having fought for Brexit, whereas Theresa May did not. We will discuss more about this shortly in the upcoming section on the Mercury Dasha.
Genius with a Saturnalian streak
In his book The Lion and the Unicorn (1941), author George Orwell says that the British common people are not puritanical, by sharp contrast to the sanctimonious “Europeanized intelligentsia.” If true, this may account in part for Boris Johnson’s immense popularity with the common people, though by education and intellect he is among the intelligentsia. The fact that he is not the typical communicator or politician is shown by Rahu in Gemini conjoining both Sun and Venus. He has been called “quirky” and “flamboyant,” and we know that Rahu exaggerates the qualities of whatever planets it conjoins and adds some unpredictability and non-conformity. Venus is also highly combust (19’ orb). A combust planet within an orb of five degrees or less from the Sun is more seriously compromised, though less than one degree can make for an exceptional person, pushing that planet to blazing glory. Venus rules over matters of love and the arts. Venus is also in the 5th house from natal Saturn. And in 2004, during Saturn-Venus Dasha, Johnson’s first novel was published. The same year an affair came to light that led to him being fired from his Shadow cabinet position.
Mercury is also combust the Sun, but its combustion is less consequential, as it is out-of-sign from the Sun and nine degrees away. As previously noted, Mercury also carries the energy of Mars, the warrior, since Mercury and Mars are conjoined in Taurus. Further, Mercury is in Mars-owned Mrigashira nakshatra. Mars energizes Mercury, the communicator. Mercury-Mars brings wit, rapid speech, and at times cutting or provocative speech. Johnson is known for his insults that somehow are forgiven or forgotten because of his overriding charm, wit, and satirical gifts. From April 1998 onward his popularity spread with his frequent appearances on the British TV show Have I Got News For You.
Situated in his 2nd house of speech and financial income (Libra), his Moon is in Swati nakshatra, ruled by Vayu, God of the Wind. It guarantees an independent mind, and someone who tends to look well beyond established boundaries and is eager to spread his information far and wide. Moon opposite Jupiter insures Johnson’s optimism and self-confidence, giving him also a Gaja-kesari yoga – a yoga of public success. (Natal Jupiter must be in an angular house from natal Moon, as in his birth chart). The 11th lord (Moon here) in the 2nd house creates an excellent Dhana yoga of wealth. This Moon brings him financial success through his speech, and indeed Boris Johnson has become a very wealthy man through his many endeavors, including from public speeches, television appearances and publishing. Natal Jupiter’s aspect to his 4th house of real estate has also brought him an abundance of wealth in real estate.
The Moon is connected to both Rahu and Venus, since it is located in Swati nakshatra, ruled by Rahu, and in Libra, owned by Venus. Both Venus and Rahu in turn reside in the 10th house of status and visibility, reflecting back to the Moon, which confirms that Johnson’s speech will be a major career asset, though he will change his opinions and fluctuate, as does the Moon in the heavens. For this Johnson has been criticized as “an opportunist” and more.
With Jupiter’s direct aspect to the Moon, there will be a lot of speech. His writing is another major factor, with Mercury featured in the 9th house of publishing. The 3rd house of writing (Scorpio) is aspected by both Mars (3rd and 8th house lord) and Mercury (1st and 10th house lord). Johnson is prolific, having written a large number of articles as well as 22 books. The most popular to date is The Churchill Factor, as noted earlier. It was published in Oct. 2014, close to a partial Solar eclipse on Oct. 23, 2014 at 6: 21 Libra, and within one degree of Johnson’s natal Moon at 7:14 Libra. Tr. Saturn was exalted in Libra for the entire month of Oct. 2014, preparing to enter Scorpio on Nov. 3, 2014, the last third of his Sade Sati, giving increased responsibilities, especially financially. Tr. Mercury was in Libra the entire month, preparing to turn Stationary Direct Oct. 25, 2014 at 22:45 Libra, exactly opposite Johnson’s natal Jupiter. Tr. Jupiter was exalted in Cancer in the 10th house from natal Moon. Johnson was then in Saturn-Jupiter Dasha, with natal Jupiter in the 3rd house (of writing) from natal Saturn (Dasha Lagna), and Navamsha Jupiter in the 10th house from Navamsha Saturn. Natal Saturn, the planet of discipline, gains strength by its proximity to its Stationary Retrograde degree (2’ orb) and its position in its own sign (Moolatrikona).
With his close Sun-Venus-Rahu combination in Gemini at the top of his chart, Johnson has often pushed the parameters too far, and at one point nearly lost his job as political columnist at The Spectator magazine. Earlier in his career as a journalist he was fired from The Times for fabricating some quotes in a front page story. He quickly went on to become Brussels correspondent of The Daily Telegraph. Then in Nov. 2004, as Conservative MP, shadow secretary of the arts and Spectator magazine editor (already juggling too many roles), his years-long extramarital affair with Petronella Wyatt, a Spectator magazine columnist, became public, including one or two abortions (paid for by Johnson). Married with four children, he denied the affair. Caught with the lie, he was offered the chance to resign from his post as shadow secretary. Instead, he insisted that he be fired. A later affair with arts consultant Helen MacIntyre led to the birth of a child in 2009.
What saved his reputation in the long run was his sheer brilliance, charisma, and comedic style, somehow escaping the usual parameters of conventional behavior. Since Venus is an excellent planet for this chart (Raja Yogakaraka), it does more to attract positive attention, while deflecting scandal and negative attention. Neither does the Dharma Karma Adhipati yoga let him escape easily from his leadership destiny. This may also account for his apparent immunity from scandals, as he continues to gain positions of high leadership. His artistry is shown astrologically by Venus’s strong position in an angular house, and his charisma and brilliance by Venus almost exactly combust the Sun, within a 19’ orb. Venus with Rahu also accounts for his unusual and unpredictable aesthetic. His first novel in 2004 was a political comedy called Seventy-Two Virgins – A Comedy of Errors. It received mixed to positive reviews for its daring plot and characters. And as previously noted, this occurred during Saturn-Venus Dasha.
Venus-Rahu also describes the changing partnerships through his marriage and his love life. Venus with Rahu does not conform to conventional norms in love life. Johnson is known to have had various affairs throughout his married life. He was married twice, the second time for 25 years to barrister Marina Wheeler, with whom he has four children. They announced their separation Sept. 7, 2018 and their intention to divorce. This was due to Johnson’s ongoing philandering. But career ambition was a factor in the failure of both marriages.
Johnson had been quietly dating Conservative Party publicity director Carrie Symonds for about one year as of fall 2018. So for the first time since the 1760s the U.K. Prime Minister resides at 10 Downing Street with an unmarried partner. At age 31, Symonds (b. March 17, 1988) is 24 years younger than Johnson. Since Johnson’s divorce was not yet final at the time he became Prime Minister in July 2019, Symonds was not photographed with the new P.M. entering 10 Downing Street, though she is indeed living there and was standing nearby. An advisor on his 2012 London Mayoral campaign and involved in politics since graduating from university at age 21, she may prove to be an astute political partner in addition to being his personal partner.
Beyond the unconventional path that Venus-Rahu often brings, natal Venus is also retrograde in the 10th house, making the unconventional approach to public and private life very public. Adding to this picture, we note that Sun and Mars are in a Nadi yoga. Sun is in Mrigashira nakshatra ruled by Mars, and Mars is in Krittika nakshatra ruled by the Sun. Without any aspect between these two fiery, masculine planets, there is a still a strong interconnection between them through the Nadi yoga, giving Johnson formidable physical and sexual vitality, and a close personal connection to his biological father (Sun) and his siblings (Mars). He is the eldest of four siblings. The Sun is already strong in the 10th house, achieving Digbala (best angular house position for the Sun) and an excellent position for a politician or someone in the public sphere with the ambition to seek a leadership position. Prior to becoming a politician, Johnson was gaining attention with his many appearances on television as a journalist, and his striking and at times controversial way of expressing his opinions on political matters, as noted earlier. Often he has refused to retract or apologize for his less cautious statements, especially when he felt they were taken out of context.
“…Working with him so closely, I had observed that under a well-cultivated veneer of disorganization lay not so much a streak of aspiration as a torrent of almost frightening focus and drive…. The fact is that Boris stands out from the crowd like no other public figure of his generation.” Sonia Parnell, Just Boris: The Irresistible Rise of a Political Celebrity, 2011, pp. 4-5.
To be continued…