Malcolm X: An Astrological Profile

by Amir Bey

This article originally appeared in American astrology, c 1993 JBH Publishing. Used by permission.


Malcolm X has received increasing attention in the years since the 60th anniversary of his birth in 1985. Though this has certainly come from people who have studied or have otherwise been influenced by Malcolm X, there has also been a growing interest among others who had either forgotten him or were not aware of his influence in the first place.

Malcolm X (born May 19, 1925 at 10:25PM CST in Omaha, according to his birth certificate) was a communicator, thinker, and philosopher. Mercury in Taurus, conjunct Moon in Aries at 29 degrees, in the 4th house, sextile Mars in Cancer, gave him a fast, responsive, flexible, determined, even militant mind. Uranus in Pisces conjunct the 3rd house gave depth to his good mind by giving him an intuitive, experimental, unorthodox outlook. In particular, it points to an ability to see beyond the personal and to arrive at a more universal perspective.

Mercury closely trines the Ascendant, sextiles the Descendant, and is opposite the Midheaven, making the planet of writing, speech and travel one of the strongest in his chart. Such Mercury placements and aspects can contribute to a certain amount of instability, but also give adaptability, and even a tendency to adopt (or adapt) the behavior patterns of others. For example, it has been noted that he studied the speech patterns of Paul Robeson closely while was incarcerated.

While Mercury conjunct Moon is a strong indication of someone who is a natural communicator, Uranus in Pisces in the 3rd house emphasizes this further by its conjunction with the Sun/Jupiter mid-point, giving prominence to the mental faculties and imbuing them with a sense of purpose, honor and power. This made him less the "media manipulator" some said he was and more like an instructor or a professor, especially if you consider his 1st-house Jupiter. His ability to study for long periods of time is due to Mercury opposite Saturn (ruler of his Ascendant and Jupiter) in Scorpio in the 10th house.

This Mercury-Saturn contact helped to stabilize and discipline the potentially inconsistent Mercury, Moon and Uranus placements. Saturn opposite Mercury is conservative in nature, and can have a refining, taming effect, usually by presenting difficult obstacles or hardships that can lead to a maturing of one’s mental skills and viewpoint. It is excellent for the "heavier" or practical forms of science.

During his early teens, he had desired to become a lawyer, yet with this aspect he could have been a scientist or involved in any discipline which requires long periods of observation or research. Indeed, with his Saturn in Scorpio and his Uranus in Pisces, with both Uranus’s and the 3rd house ruler in the 8th house, he was able to unlock many doors, to be able to search and to reclaim the "unknown" and the "lost." This perhaps indicates a mystical sort of curiosity, though combined with discriminating thinking.

That he was forceful and controversial in his way of thinking and speaking is due to his Moon in Aries in mutual reception with Mars, which itself is conjunct Pluto in the 7th house. He could be flamboyant, yet able to dig deeply, to an unsettling degree, into areas others considered controversial (7th house). This configuration shows that he would have been a great challenge to any status quo, no matter what he chose to do with his life. The Capricorn Ascendant with Saturn in the 10th house opposite Mercury shows an attitude that can range from honesty to shrewdness, while his 5th house Sun gave a diplomatic potential, especially with his Sun-Venus conjunction.

Malcolm X the Man:

During his early years, he often felt awkward around others due to the prominence of Saturn in the 10th house and Capricorn rising. He was distinctly different and, with his Uranus in the 3rd house, unconventional compared to other children. Some of this awkwardness was the result of instability at home, (Moon conjunct Mercury and 4th house cusp, square Jupiter; Mercury in the 4th, opposite Saturn) due to the death of his father and the subsequent disintegration of the family.

That he had a strong capacity for social life is born out by Venus’s and Jupiter’s positions. These two planets helped him make fortunate contacts with influential people and persons of authoritative standing throughout his life. Along with Saturn, they also helped to advance him very quickly in the Nation of Islam. In the 5th house, Sun-Venus conjunct can give a sunny, charming disposition, with Venus in Gemini giving him a variety of acquaintances.

The Sun-Jupiter trine bestows leadership capabilities. Jupiter’s ascending position adds generosity, but its Capricorn placement disciplines this possibly excessive aspect, also giving organizing ability. Mars conjunct Descendant and Pluto probably characterizes his social life more than any other single factor, not only because of its angular position, but because of its intense, no-compromise quality.

The dynamic force indicated by these two planets shouldn’t be overlooked, as they direct and channel energies of great potency, showing that behind his Saturn-in-Scorpio reticence lay an active, challenging, keen individual. Early in his life he was too often directed by his impulses, yet finally learned to temper and focus these energies through constructive group enterprises. In other words, he was able to devote his personal resources to a wider self.

As a result of this conjunction in the 7th house, he had a need to blend his personal and individual needs. It has been said by many that even those who did not agree with Malcolm X were still changed by having come in contact with him. The reverse is true with this aspect also, as people and events around him could influence and shape him, in some cases, drastically. Mars-Pluto can denote a compelling force related to the area of life highlighted by its house position. The 7th house is the house of interrelationships, partnerships, social activities, and open adversaries, so the conjunction thus describes the element of danger he often faced in his life, as well as his tireless, total commitment in the areas denoted by the 7th house.

Evolution of a Leader:

One symbol for Pluto cold be the Phoenix, the ancient representation of metamorphosis. The angular position of Mars-Pluto is a major indicator of the evolution Malcolm underwent at different times in his life. The powerful momentum of this combination, which kept him on an unswerving course, was re-enforced by his own unambiguous choices.

Its effect can be seen most clearly in the mental and spiritual transformation that took place after his early years, when a life of crime led first to self-degradation, then to prison. The most important point in his personal evolution, however, occurred when his progressed Sun conjoined his natal Mars in the 7th house, at which time he broke with the Nation of Islam.

Another facet of Mars and Pluto conjunct in an angular house (and Mars in mutual reception to the Aries Moon) was its effect on Malcolm X’s personal energy, which could be described as alert, obsessive, determined, unbridled, challenging, restless and direct. His Sun in Taurus gave this electric combination of forces sustaining power, but its conjunction with Venus also lent a touch of grace to an otherwise dynamic picture. The emotional quality of that Venus is also enhanced through her conjunction with the Moon/Pluto and Mercury/Mars midpoints.

The Sun’s benefic aspect to Jupiter in Earth signs adds a fair measure of stability, allowing him to respond to the adversity which he often faced with a good deal of poise and confidence. Another possibility in this aspect is that the individual whose chart it shows up in can be perceived as a threat to the hypocrisy of others. Thus, this configuration is certainly responsible for the controversial quality in Malcolm X. However, the profound sense of honor, duty, and love for his people symbolized by Venus’ position and the Sun-Jupiter trine, and the fact that the intense energies these and other aspects imply were devoted to a constructive purpose should not be overlooked.

The prominence of his Moon made his nurturing instincts, his need to preserve and protect, strong. At least in part because of this, while was daring, he was not reckless. This is borne out by the fact that even though he felt it necessary to question the direction of the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad’s morality, it wasn’t his primary aim to destroy either one. It wasn’t until he could no longer restrain his strong sense of justice, and that he had no choice, that he opposed Mr. Muhammad and the Nation. When he finally confronted his former mentor, he approached the situation cautiously.

Where nurturing instincts are concerned, it should also be mentioned that Malcolm X had a lot of children! Looking at his house of children, the 5th, we find his Sun conjunct Venus, with Venus significantly in conjunction with the Moon/Pluto and Mercury/Mars midpoints; and inconjunct the Ascendant, inconjunct the Ascendant rule, Saturn in the 10th. In fact, Venus is inconjunct the Midheaven/Saturn midpoint! He had six daughters with his wife Betty.

Even though the 5th is the Sun’s natural house, it doesn’t always bestow children, due to the fiery, barren quality of that body. However, his Sun had a trine from Jupiter and was sextile and trine his 3rd and 9th houses respectively. These aspects, along with the Venus aspects, gave him intellectual offspring as well. He founded mosques for the Nation of Islam in major cities around the country at an incredible rate. That he is an ideological and intellectual father to many ideas and movements is one of his enduring legacies.

An Element of Conflict:

Malcolm X was certainly not a conformist, but beyond that there is an inherent element of conflict present in the dynamic, even nurturing, qualities noted so far in his horoscope. For example, the Mars-Pluto conjunction in the 7th house points to the possibility of involvement in factionalism, or perhaps of a schism playing a major role in his life.

An Aries Moon individual finds it difficult to fully integrate with his social environment, but at the same time he does not easily disengage himself from a society that he would like to rid himself of. In the last year and a half of Malcolm X’s life, he was caught up in this conflict between his individual and collective tendencies. Others find it easier to join with others, or to maintain their relationships with their social environments. But those with the Moon in Aries, the planet of familyhood is forced to attempt to blend with a sign whose main tendency is to distinguish itself from the crowd.

Aries, the sign of self, is forced to accommodate or compromise the singularity of its persona due to the lunar influence, so the pioneer must adjust his freedom-loving ways. Malcolm X’s Mars in Cancer was in mutual reception with his Moon - that is, Mars was in the Moon’s sign, Cancer, and his Moon was in Mars’s sign, Aries. His Mars, then, faced similar conflicts, as by nature the planet of initiative tends to move away from the path of least resistance which might otherwise be favored by a Moon-related sign. But Mars is in the sign of the private life (Cancer) finds itself in circumstances that can cause it to boil over.

Here, the impulses are at times to keen, and when the chickens in such an individual’s life come home to roost, they don’t just sit in their nests. Malcolm X said that if a racist grade school teacher hadn’t discouraged him from pursuing law, he might have turned into a "complacent bourgeois." Impossible! With this configuration, no matter what path he chose, he would have shaped and reshaped the concept of that path.

In any case, when Malcolm X broke away from the Nation of Islam, it was not a simple matter for him, as he had so heavily invested himself in the Nation and Elijah Muhammad that it was painful - he himself was splitting apart as he was splitting apart from them. He knew he could not continue within the Nation, and that the next stage in his personal transformation might prove to be his "final" one. Malcolm X often alluded to his dying a violent death because he was realistically aware of the possibilities of the situation.

We have to look at his solar arc and secondary progressed horoscopes and transits at the time of his death in order to gain a full perspective on that phase in his life. The time of death of any person gives a more precise view of that individual than any other event in his life. This is because it is the culmination of life. With the exception of suicide, most death is not planned and therefore reveals the character and resultant destiny of that person. Malcolm X’s progressed Sun on the date of his death was making a conjunction to his natal Mars, the planet of gunshot wounds. This aspect had been forming since December 1, 1963, beginning precisely at the time of his "chickens coming home to roost" comment about President Kennedy’s assassination. This aspect not only can designate physical danger to the person receiving it, but can also involve that person in conscious actions that often put him or her at risk.

More Than a Martyr:

This would suggest that Malcolm X had a purpose in making that pronouncement, and it would certainly have been out of character for him to talk loosely. This is reinforced by the fact that Elijah Muhammad had given orders for his ministers not to make any statements about Kennedy’s death. More than this, his comment was made in the presence of Captain Joseph and John Ali, two Muslim officers with strong animosity towards Malcolm X himself, thus making it seen almost like a dare.

Along with his facing the potentially fatal progressed Sun conjunct natal Mars, both his natal and secondary progressed Neptunes were in conjunction with his progressed Descendant. It should be noted that Neptune is posited in the 8th house at birth, the house of death. Placement there suggests the possibility of assassination and conspiracy as a cause of death. It should also be noted that his progressed Sun had crossed into his natal house of open adversaries, the 7th, around March of 1962, but didn’t approach that fatal conjunction with Mars until the period preceding his silencing and suspension by Mr. Muhammad.

Malcolm X’s solar arc progression shows the Sun in conjunction with natal Mars as well. It also shows Pluto at 20 degrees Leo, conjoining the 7th house cusp at an even closer orb than Neptune in the secondary chart, within one minute of arc of the progressed 7th house. Pluto is a planet also associated with assassinations. Solar arc Pluto is conjunct Malcolm X’s natal Neptune, further allowing the possibility of an assassination. The solar arc Mars is approaching a conjunction with the house of death and other solar arc aspects give a prominent role to his Mars/Pluto conjunction.

The transit chart for February 21, 1965, the day of the assassination, touches on sensitive points of the progressed charts previously mentioned. We find a T-Square that involves Neptune transiting at 20 degrees and 1 minute Scorpio, almost exactly square to the progressed Ascendant/Descendant, opposed by Jupiter at 19 degrees 1 minute Taurus with Venus squaring that opposition and conjunct the progressed Ascendant, opposite solar arc Pluto, and progressed Neptune. While this Neptune-Jupiter-Venus configuration in itself is a "poetic" one, its effect is wholly different, due to the points that are aspected. Transiting Mars’s close opposition to his natal Uranus - which often signifies something of a shocking, sudden nature - along with a square from transiting Saturn I the 8th house to the progressed Midheaven, pose danger and can denote a sudden block to the vital functions.

The aspects involving his progressed Neptune and Pluto to his progressed Descendants suggest potential conspiracies against him, but they also symbolize more positive aspects of his life in his year, specifically that he would form unions with others in order to promote the universal perspective inspired by Pan-Africanism. He experienced a social revelation when he traveled to Africa and came into contact not only with African leaders, but African-Americans such as writer Maya Angelou and other expatriates who formed the Malcolm X Committee in Ghana while he was there. As we can see, each planetary configuration can have a number of possibilities. The truth is, we choose which direction a possible manifestation may take.

The same aspects that pointed towards new initiatives in Malcolm X’s life also were those that led to his death. He was in the middle of a promising and momentarily bewildering transitional phase. This was symbolized by his progressed Sun conjoining his natal Mars, an aspect the effect of which would have ended on January 3, 1966; and also by an approaching progressed Half Moon phase, affecting the period from July 7, 1965 to September 6, 1965. That lunar phase, a waxing Moon, would have culminated in a Full Moon 7 years later.

From these charts it appears that he was stopped because precautions which might have gotten through a rough time (astrologically and otherwise) weren’t taken. While the love (Venus) he had for his people inspired the cause that was now being articulated in new ways, it also made it difficult for him to shield himself from the unrelenting enemies trying to eliminate him. An example of this was his growing refusal to search people for weapons as they came to his gatherings, not to mention his rejection of police security (which was cynically offered in any case) when an assassination attempt seemed imminent.

Malcolm X was usually cautious and focused in his words and actions. However, in the last year and a half of his life, he felt it necessary to pursue the course he had set for himself even though it meant the breaking of his many bonds with the Nation of Islam, perhaps with resulting danger to himself. This conflict was due in part to the way his Moon in Aries and Mars in Cancer expressed themselves.

In retrospect, Malcolm’s chart speaks of more than his being a martyr. Martyrdom’s emphasis is too strongly centered on death, and to cast him in this role would imply that his death at the hands of others was the most significant aspect of his life. But the larger picture can be seen by looking at Malcolm X’s natal Moon, which is in the balsamic, or "seed" phase. This phase signifies the formation of the future by gathering collective consciousness and producing a seed to be sown and germinated at New Moon. Malcolm X was gathering a sense of himself and his people from previous experience (history), and was also looking forward to tomorrow. He was able to fulfill his destiny and produce his seeds, and it is for others to nurture those seeds to fruition.

NewTimesHollar (Home Page/Amir)



All text by Amir Bey in connection with Starcats' Astro Academics is Copyright © 1998-2000 by Amir Bey and cannot be used without the written and expressed consent of the author.