(This article is reprinted here with the kind permission of Ronnie Grishman, Editor-in-Chief of Dell Horoscope Magazine. This was the featured cover article in Dell's September 1994 issue, and, because of the valuable research and information it contains for those interested in this subject, is an article that I would like to share with those who may have missed it the first time.)
There are two anonymous natal charts on the blackboard this evening in my Advanced Astrology class. I have identified the first as "Possible Past Life," the second as "Present Life."
In the back of the classroom, a quiet visitor has taken a seat to watch the proceedings. I will not disclose his identity to my students at the Carroll Righter Foundation in Hollywood until later in the hour when class members have decided whether these two charts seem to be connected--and have discussed why they think so.
I, as the instructor, know that the stranger at the back of the room is the hypnotherapist who has worked the regression case I am featuring this evening, and has elicited from his client the birth data for the "Past Life" chart on the board.
At this point, therapist Rick Brown has not yet appeared on Unsolved Mysteries to present to TV viewers nationwide the story of a claustrophobic client who recalled dying in a World War II submarine accident, a client who, under hypnosis, remembered his former name, and from that was able to track down his prior- lifetime war record, birth certificate and former family.
Nor does my class know any of this story. I tell them only that this is another pair of charts to examine for possible karmic links. Is there any astrological evidence that the "Present Life" man could have actually been the "Past Life" individual in a former existence?
The answers come swiftly. We have studied many such pairs of charts. By the end of the hour, it has been established that Man #2 probably has a fear of confined spaces, and that Man #1 may have died by drowning. Many links are seen between the two charts. Little by little a surprisingly accurate scenario comes forth.
I then surprise the class by introducing the hynotherapist. Rick, a Glendora, California, therapist, gets up to tell the full story. He's a large, bearded man, a Sagittarian with Cancer rising, who relates easily to the class. He's astounded and pleased that astrology can help validate past-life regression in this way.
Client Bruce Kelly, he says, wanted to get to the roots of his fear of enclosed places and of water. He was regressed to a life as James Johnston, a World War II American sailor, and relived the experience of dying in a submarine in that lifetime.
The memories were not vague, he said. Kelly recalled the name of a man who died with him, the type of sub, and many other details that later were verified in war records. Eventually, they found Johnston's birth certificate and surviving family members in Alabama. (Brown has told the story in depth in his book, The Reincarnation of James, Rick Brown, P. O. Box 1358, Glendora, CA 91740-1358.)
Because of the body of evidence linking these lifetimes, the charts of these two men provide wonderful examples for the astrological student.
It's important to have correct birth data in order to research this fascinating area of astrology. In this case, we have birth certificate data for both men.
James Edward Johnston was born February 1, 1921, at 5:00 p.m. CST, in Jacksonville, Alabama. He lived alone with his mother, Annie, until her death in 1936. After a brief stint in the Civilian Conservation Corps, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1940. He died aboard the submarine Shark on February 11, 1942, at 11:34 p.m., when the Shark was hit by the Japanese destroyer Amatsukaze near Celebes Island in the Pacific Ocean.
Bruce Kelly was born January 19, 1953, at 7:58 p.m. PST, at Glendale, California. In search of answers to what seemed to be groundless fears--of water, even in a bathtub, and fear of enclosed places, including elevators and airplanes--he began hypnosis sessions with Rick Brown in November 1987.
He found himself in a submarine when asked to return to the source of his fears. He was an unusually rewarding subject in that he recalled so many details vividly, even names and dates.
The House of Karma
The twelfth house of one's chart, often associated with past lives, is the first place to look for the karmic past. It is the house that gives information about hidden memories and fears. If you have carried any negative programming into your current incarnation, you are likely to find it symbolized by your twelfth house planets or ruler.
The twelfth is usually considered the house of the most immediate past life. In Kelly's chart, the South Node is here, an indication that karmic lessons from a past life would be a strong influence in his subconscious fears. Pluto is also in this house at 22 Leo. This seems to suggest extra heavy karma, especially in dealing with the manner of death in a previous life.
Since Pluto co-rules his third house, his thinking would be especially affected by the subconscious Plutonian element. Pluto demands catharsis and often therapy. As the natural ruler of the eighth house of death, it suggests that the manner of his death in the past could be at the root of hidden fears.
If you turn the wheel of Kelly's chart so that the twelfth house becomes the first house of a past life, you will see Leo rising as it did in Johnston's chart.
This is the first step you can take in looking at your own chart. What is the sign on the cusp of your twelfth house? That may have been your ascendant in your most immediate past life--or it can in some way describe the person you were then.
Look also at any planets in your twelfth house. They will reveal past issues you have brought into this life to resolve.
The nodal axis in one's present chart may have been an important axis in a past life chart. The South Node is especially important, as indicated above, because it usually tells us something important about the past, by sign or house, or both.
Kelly has his Nodes in 12 Aquarius/Leo, from his sixth house to his twelfth. His South Node at 12 Leo in his twelfth is conjunct Johnston's first house Neptune at 12 Leo, an important placement in the latter's chart because it suggests his vocation of sailor, as well as ruling his eighth house of death.
Kelly's North Node at 12 Aquarius is conjunct Johnston's seventh house Sun at 12 Aquarius. Thus the nodal axis runs along the line of the sailor's Sun opposite Neptune. This looks like a sure link, since in Johnston's chart, the Sun/Neptune opposition says something about death on the sea through open enemies (seventh house), which became such a trauma for Kelly.
In this way, the nodes of Kelly's chart, combined with the planets in Johnston's chart, suggest what was carried over. In his life as Kelly, he had to deal with the fear created by his death, and this fear was represented by the South Node in 12 Leo on the degree of his former Neptune.
You will note that Kelly's nodal axis also reflects the zodiacal degrees of Johnston's ascendant/descendant. Kelly's South Node at 12 Leo is almost conjunct Johnston's ascendant at 10 Leo. I have in my files other cases featuring the transfer between Nodal Axis and chart angles. Sometimes the nodal axis in one chart is the same as the ascendant/descendant in the other, and sometimes the same as the midheaven/IC axis.
If you want to explore past-life possibilities yourself, look to this nodal axis. The South Node particularly pertains to your past.
The Kind of Dealth
The eighth house in Johnston's chart shows the kind of death in that life. The sign Pisces on the cusp of Johnston's eighth house suggests water, confusion, and drowning. True, such a Pisces placement might also mean death through drugs, alcohol, or some other Neptunian symbol, but in light of Kelly's phobia about water, we would be more likely to think of a watery death.
Uranus practically on the cusp of the eighth house tells us that death came quickly and unexpectedly. That war or strife and sea adventure might be involved is symbolized by Mars in Pisces in the eighth house. Venus also there means that he might not have suffered greatly.
Neptune, the ruler of Pisces, just below the ascendant of bodily health, opposite the Sun, ruler of vitality and his first house, again can indicate death by drowning.
To see whether Kelly's chart tells us similar things about death in a past life, turn his chart so that his twelfth house becomes his ascendant. When you do, his current seventh house becomes his eighth house. Pisces is on the cusp, as was the case with Johnston. The ruler of Pisces, Neptune, is in the new third house in Libra.
Pisces and Neptune again tell us that drowning may have been involved. The third house indicates that some form of transportation may have been a factor. Libra, the sign of partners, suggests that he may not have been alone. In fact, there was another sailor with him at the time of death, whose name he remembered accurately under hypnosis.
With this method of turning the chart, Venus and Mars in Pisces will now be in the new eighth house. Since Johnston also had Venus and Mars in Pisces in his eighth house, these planetary placements help point to a past life as Johnston.
To see how you may have died in your most immediate past life, turn your chart so that your twelfth-house cusp becomes your ascendant. Your present seventh house becomes your eighth house. Read the indications there.
The Sixth House Influence
The type of illness that preceded death is shown by this house. Capricorn is on the cusp in Johnston's chart. Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, is in Johnston's second house opposite Mars in the eighth. Saturn can indicate a fall, while Mars opposite might mean he would be hit a crushing blow in death. He had been hit in the chest by a beam and he still carried the pain of it in his life as Kelly.
When you turn Kelly's chart, you'll find that his present fifth house becomes his sixth house. Capricorn is also on the cusp of this house. Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, can now be found in Kelly's new third house, conjunct Neptune. Here again, we get the message of a fall and drowning as his final illness.
You can apply this to your own chart also. See what your current fifth house, turned to become the past-life sixth house, has to say about your past-life final illness.
Similarities Between Charts
We would expect to see some similar placements from one chart to the next since many traits and attitudes are being carried over from one life to the next. This is especially true when one dies young and comes back very quickly.
There are definitely similar placements and patterns in the two charts. Both have: Venus conjunct Mars in Picses; the Moon in a fire sign; Uranus in a water sign; a Sun-Pluto inconjunct; Jupiter in an earth sign; Saturn in the second house conjunct another planet; and a planet at 29 degrees.
We also usually see a forward or backward move through the zodiac of Sun and ascendant. This is not always true, but has been noted in many cases. In this case, Johnston's Aquarius sun sign moves back one sign to become Kelly's Capricorn sun sign. Meanwhile, Johnston's Leo ascendant moves forward one sign to become Kelly's Virgo ascendant.
Often, one notes that a significant planet or placement in the first chart become the ascendant or midheaven in the second chart. That is not true in this case. But there is a similarity in midheavens. If you progress Johnston's midheaven 32 degrees to represent the 32 years between Johnston's birth in 1921 and Kelly's birth in 1953, the MC will have moved from early Taurus into early Gemini, where it is in Kelly's chart.
Interplanetary Interactions Between Charts
Since Pluto rules reincarnation and Saturn indicates death as well as lessons to be learned, one often sees ties between these planets in the two charts, both natal and directed by solar arc. You'll note an arc of approximately 32 degrees between Johnston's Saturn at 24 Virgo and Kelly's Pluto at 22 Leo. This is also the number of years between Johnston's birth and Kelly's birth.
In addition, the midpoint of Kelly's Saturn and Pluto is at 24 Virgo, conjunct Johnston's Saturn at 24 Virgo.
There is also a significant tie between the two Saturns. When you add 32 degrees to Johnston's Saturn (24Virgo04), you'll come a degree away from Kelly's Saturn (27Libra04).
There are three Arabic parts that I use to find past-life kinship between charts. One is the Part of Karma (ascendant plus Saturn minus the Sun). The second is the Part of Reincarnation (ascendant plus Jupiter minus Saturn). The third is the Part of Death (ascendant plus eighth-house cusp minus Moon). The Part of Reincarnation seems to be the most significant.
Johnston's Part of Karma is 22 Pisces 04. It falls into his eighth house of death, conjunct his Mars at 21 Pisces 22. This suggests that the manner of his death was somehow karmic in nature.
His Part of Reincarnation is 4 Leo 11. It falls into his twelfth house. Transiting Pluto was 4 Leo 15 on the date of his death, seeming to indicate the end of that life.
His Part of Death is 7 Scorpio 40. It falls into his fourth house, and in his case showed a watery death. A link with Kelly is shown by its conjunction with Kelly's Part of Fortune at 8 Scorpio 18.
Kelly's Part of Karma is 2 Gemini 26. It is conjunct his own midheaven of 2 Gemini 33. This seems to me to indicate that his karma would make him famous in some way. Since his case has already been presented on television, this is true. It might also indicate a parent or boss relationship that is karmic in nature.
When we look for Kelly's Part of Reincarnation, we find it at 19 Pisces 28 in his seventh house. It is very close to Johnston's eighth house Mars at 21 Pisces. This is a strong suggestion of connection between the two charts.
Kelly's Part of Death at 2 Virgo 49 falls in his own twelfth house. If you regress this back 11 years to his death as Johnston in 1942, it becomes 21 Leo 49, conjoining Kelly's own twelfth-house Pluto.
Another method you can use to find karmic links involves the Uranian formulas for birth and death. To simplify this method, we can use the formulas without employing a 90-degree dial or the transneptunian planets.
The theory is that when you direct one of these birth or death formulas forward or backward a number of degrees equal to the number of years between lives, a significant planet or point should be hit. This is based upon the idea that our charts express more than our current existence. (For more about a Uranian approach to past lives, see Maria Kay Simms' Dial Detective, ACS Publications, San Diego.)
A Uranian death formula that works with the Johnston/Kelly charts is Uranus plus Neptune minus North Node. In Kelly's chart, this falls at 27 Pisces 24. When you direct this back 11 years from Kelly's birth to Johnston's death, you arrive at 16 Pisces 24. This falls on Kelly's own Venus at 16 Pisces 20 in the eighth house of his turned chart. This could show a previous death eleven years before his own birth.
A birth formula that works here is Venus/Uranus. In Johnston's chart, this midpoint falls at 16 Pisces 44. As you may notice, this is conjunct Kelly's Venus also. When you direct this forward 11 years to Kelly's birth, it becomes 27 Pisces 44, right near Johnston's own eighth-house Venus (and conjunct Kelly's death aspect above.) This shows a very strong connection between the two charts.
The Aries Point and Your Past
In Uranian astrology, the Aries Point (0 degrees Aries) symbolizes your connection with the world in general. When you are looking in your chart for events symbolic of your relation to the world in general, you direct your age-arc forward or backward from the Aries point to see where they link up with your natal planets.
From my research, I've concluded that there's an amazing relationship between the Aries point and the Part of Reincarnation in indicating intervals between lifetimes.
For instance, there is an 11-year interval between the lives of Johnston and Kelly. In Kelly's chart, when you direct the Aries Point backward 11 degrees from his birth to Johnston's death, you arrive at 19 Pisces. (0 Aries=360 degrees minus 11 = 349 or 19 Pisces) Kelly's Part of Reincarnation is 19 Pisces.
In going back to a previous life, you should always measure from your own birth back to the other's death. Since we are working with a 360-degree wheel rather than a 90-degree dial, you have to adjust your answers to the 90-degree dial way of thinking. Kelly's Part of Reincarnation in such a dial would also have been conjunct anything at 19 Virgo (opposite) or 19 Gemini and 19 Sagittarius (both square) in order to be valid. Just remember that all planets in cardinal signs are conjunct each other. All fixed Signs are also conjunct, as are all mutable signs.
You do not necessarily always move backward from the Aries Point in measuring the years to a past life. In a few charts, I've found that measuring forward works best. A man who was born in 1927 recalls a past life as a World War I aviator who died in 1918, nine years before his own birth. Measuring forward 9 degrees for 9 years, you arrive at 9 Aries. This man's Part of Reincarnation is opposite at 9 Libra.
What about measuring forward from a previous lifetime chart to verify that the person you have in mind may have reincarnated at the time of your birth. You can do this also. But since you must start with a birthchart, you should measure this from birth year to birth year (rather than back from birth year to death year) to get the right result.
In the cases we are examining, Johnston was born in 1921, Kelly in 1953. That is an interval of 32 years. Measuring forward in Johnston's chart from the Aries Point a distance of 32 years, you will arrive at 2 degrees Taurus. Since Johnston's Part of Reincarnation is 4 Leo, this is conjunct. (I think it would be exactly conjunct if Johnston's Ascendant were more accurate. When you see that a person has been born right on the hour--in this case 5:00 P.M.--it's right to wonder if that time is not a minute or two off.)
You may find other methods that work better for you. All of our research in past lives cannot be anything but tentative since we have no absolute proof. But the case of James Johnston who became Bruce Kelly stands out as a milestone on the road of discovery in this fascinating field.