Today I wish to study some of the advanced techniques for analysing the transits of Pluto in a situation that ended in tragedy. This article will cover in detail the untimely and tragic death of Natasha Richardson, wife of actor Liam Neeson. Her full obituary can be read on the Times Online website. According to a March 18th  Times report:

The actor Liam Neeson said tonight that he was shocked and devastated by the death of his wife, Natasha Richardson, at a New York hospital after a skiing accident.

Richardson, 45, was reported brain-dead after a fall during a skiing lesson in Canada on Monday from which she was initially able to walk away. She was flown by private jet to New York from Montreal on Tuesday, wrapped in blankets with tubes covering her face, and taken to Lenox Hill Hospital. Yesterday, as the famous acting clan gathered by her bedside, it was reported that she had been taken off life support.

More details quickly emerged about the accident which led to her death:

A paramedic, who rushed his team to the ski hill for Richardson, said his team were told by emergency workers that they were not needed. Yves Coderre, director of Ambulances Radisson, told the Globe and Mail newspaper, “They (his team) never saw the patient. So they turned around.”

After her tumble on the ski trail, the actress had reportedly felt fine and even joked about it with her instructor. But an hour later she had to be rushed to a hospital near Montreal after complaining of a severe headache.

This could have been the fatal mistake, said Coderre, who has 23 years of experience as a paramedic. He said victims of head trauma often make the potentially fatal mistake of believing they are fine.

“When you have a head trauma you can bleed. It can deteriorate in a few hours or a few days.

“People don’t realise it can be very serious. We warn them they can die and sometimes they start to laugh. They don’t take it seriously,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

This – thankfully rare – phenomenon is known as a lucid interval, or more commonly “talk and die syndrome”, which describes a delayed onset complication of head trauma whereby the patient feels fine after a head injury but becomes suddenly ill at a later point. In Natasha’s case, the official cause of death was cited as epidural haematoma; however, experts believe that the probable cause of the haematoma itself was a kind of whiplash injury where the brain rotated causing a tear in the frontal lobe. There is considerable speculation that, had the injury been identified in a timely fashion, then she may well have survived the trauma.

It is undoubtedly an awful and heartbreaking story. How did it ever happen?

Astrologically there are always a vast array of factors and influences which could be considered, but in every case we need to consider the radix nativity first and then look at the various transits and directions that might mitigate or exacerbate any pre-existing natal conditions. The key observation here is that a transit cannot create a reality that is not already described in the nativity as a possibility. A person with a strong and favourably aspected Mars is extremely unlikely therefore to die as a result of an accident of this type. Let us consider Natasha’s nativity as a starting point therefore:

Natasha Richardson, actress. 11 May 1963 17:00 (BST -1:00) London, England
Natasha Richardson, actress. 11 May 1963 17:00 (BST -1:00) London, England

This is a profoundly interesting astrology evincing a kite to Saturn, tee-squares to Sun and Mars (hinting at a grand-cross of Sun, Mars, Neptune and Saturn) a Yod to NN,  a golden Yod to peregrine Jupiter and, crucially, a peregrine Pluto as well. This latter factor is a red-flag for a potentially life-threatening  difficulty and I have discussed the pitfalls of the placement in a previous article: On the Peregrination of Pluto and Other Such Tragedies. Condensed into a distilled insight, the peregrination of Pluto demands a stark choice: either to manifest the enormous life and death powers of the plutocrat, or alternatively, to die in some sudden and unequivocal manner. This is not a foregone conclusion by any means, but Plutonic themes do tend to abound for those with Lord Hades in peregrine: wealth, death, power and control, secrets and tragedy are all writ large on the life-stories of these natives. A conscious awareness of the Plutonian impulse is the only defence against his manifold compulsion.

Natasha was of course the progeny of one of Britain’s most powerful acting dynasties. She was wealthy in her own right, was married to Liam Neeson, a powerful and wealthy man and her father, Tony Richardson died after admitting he was bisexual once he contracted Aids, a disease which eventually caused his death in 1991. Her mother, Vanessa Redgrave is frequently hailed as being the greatest actress of her generation. That is quite a legacy of wealth and power; 8th house themes abound in her life and indeed are reflected, not only in the peregrination of Pluto, but also by the severely stressed Sun and Mercury in the 8th. Sun  squares Mars and Neptune, which neatly encapsulates the sexual ambiguity of her father and at the same time the manner of his demise; and it is no coincidence whatever that this also describes a fundamental quality of her end too, as we shall soon discover.

What factors then relate to her death? Astrology alone posits a great many intriguing factors. We have begun with the understanding that peregrine Pluto creates a distinct possibility of a rather tragic end, but this alone is not enough. Sun in the 8th and so profoundly stressed from Mars and Neptune becomes extremely intriguing because this blends accidents, falls and cuts with confusion, mistakes and misdiagnosis into a single potential. This exact principle led directly and unerringly to the death of Andy Warhol through a mistake (Neptune) in the quantity of fluid (also Neptune) that he was administered after surgery. Warhol’s nativity also evinced a fixed Mars-Neptune square (from Taurus to Leo) and I discussed this intriguing case also in a previous article: The 8th House: A Good Death?

Clearly in Natasha’s case, a misdiagnosis (Neptune) was in evidence after a fall (Mars). By Ebertin, the biological correspondence for Mars – Neptune is “the discharge of pus”, but of course Neptune rules any fluid, so the discharge of fluid in general is implicated and it does appear to describe the possibility of haematoma quite succinctly. With Mercury in the 8th and square Uranus there is the potential for a sudden (Ur) demise (VIII) whilst in motion (Me) as well.

So, we understand therefore just a few of the difficult potentials of this astrology. Whilst nothing is written in stone, what should be clear is that under the most stressful of transits and directions, these potentials might well be tragically realised.

The probable timing of Natasha's fall: 16 March 2009 1pm (4 hours before her admission into hospital), Mont Tremblant, Canada.
The probable timing of Natasha's fall: 16 March 2009 1pm (4 hours before her admission into hospital), Mont Tremblant, Canada.

Here there are a number of identifiable culprits, but most pressing in my view are the placements of Venus and Neptune. Venus in Natasha’s nativity is the ruler of the Ascendant and the 8th house and at the time of her accident, Venus was at 13 Aries, the degree for the frontal lobe of the brain; the specific site of the injury which caused her death. Furthermore, Neptune was opposing the Mars – Uranus midpoint of Natasha’s radix chart (applying to less than 9 minutes of arc!), which by Ebertin denotes “an injury causing the loss of blood. Thus the loss of blood (Ma/Ur) from the frontal lobe (Ve): the combination reinforces the suggestion of haematoma which is incipient in the natal configurations.

And yet even this might not be enough to cause death. However, we must look to Pluto, peregrinated in Natasha’s nativity to have the final word. I have attempted to delineate the crucial transits of Pluto in a diagram thus:

Pluto's applications to crucial halfsums at the time of the accident.
Pluto's applications to crucial halfsums at the time of the accident.

Here then is Pluto at 3 degrees of Capricorn forming a square to the midpoint of Mars – Neptune (marked in green) and a sesquiquadrate to the midpoint of Sun – Neptune. The latter application to the Sun – Neptune halfsum was partile within half a day of the accident, which considering the speed at which Pluto transits, is infinitesimally precise.

NR_transitsThe full array of Pluto’s transits at this time are stark indeed, with the most powerful being Pl = Su/Ne: “affliction through emotional or physical suffering, a tragic deception or illusion” within hours of the accident occurring. This difficult transit occurs as Pluto transits the Mars – Neptune halfsum throughout the beginning of 2009: “The tendency to cause damage to others brutally or to suffer likewise: death.” Finally then a narrative can be gleaned from all these portents and potentials.

  1. Pluto peregrine: the potential for a tragic demise.
  2. Venus, ruler of the 8th, transits to the degree corresponding to the brain’s frontal lobes.
  3. Neptune = Ma/Ur: injuries causing loss of blood.
  4. Pluto = Su/Ne: a tragic illusion (misdiagnosis) of the injury.
  5. Pluto = Ma/Ne: suffering damage, death.

In the final analysis, the question ought to be asked: could this accident have been foreseen and therefore prevented? I would say it is possible, but unlikely, it would take uncanny skill and exhaustive attention to the multidimensional implications of future trends. On the other hand, anyone with a Mars Neptune square and a peregrine Pluto ought to be well advised to be very thorough about checking and double-checking any medical condition or diagnosis, especially where accidents, cuts, falls or the like are implicated. A little caution in these cases might go a very long way indeed.

Less scary insights are available to all through my consultation service at Astrology Hour.

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