An Astrological Look at Watergate & President Richard Nixon's Downfall

The Previous Transit of Saturn in Gemini and Cancer

Published in NCGR Geocosmic Journal, Spring 2004

Saturn is the taskmaster of the Zodiac.  It represents duty, responsibility, discipline, structure, and order, as well as restriction, limitation, inhibition, and delay. Saturn transits give one what one deserves—one way or the other.  A person may be promoted or fired, depending upon his or her actions.  Simply put, if a person is doing something that is illegal or untoward, Saturn transits are when that person gets caught.  

Saturn has been in Gemini and Cancer since President George W. Bush took office.  The last time Saturn transited these signs was during the presidency of Richard Nixon.  Richard Nixon began his second term in office in January, 1973, winning a landslide victory against the Democratic nominee, George McGovern.  Massachusetts was the only state in the union to vote for McGovern.  Yet, by August, 1974, Nixon resigned in the midst of the Watergate scandal. 

The events that took place read like a melodrama in a badly written spy novel.  An examination of Nixon's chart, and the US chart show what happened astrologically.  As no one transit takes place by itself, all major transits to Nixon and the US chart are examined.  The Sun in a country chart represents its president.

Richard Nixon was born January 9, 1913 at 9:35 PM, Fullerton Township, CA.  The chart used for the US is July 4, 1776, 2:17 AM, Philadelphia, PA.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the US was engaged in the Vietnam War.  The country was deeply divided.  Antiwar rallies were commonplace.  Draft evaders flocked to Canada.  Nixon did not start the war.  He inherited it from former President Lyndon Johnson.  But in an attempt to win, Nixon expanded the scope of the war.  Politics at home became more contentious, and supposedly secret information found its way into the press.

The following chain of events that occurred both before and after Nixon's 1972 election led to his downfall.  In 1971 Nixon created a Special Investigation Unit to find out who was leaking news to the press about the Vietnam War.  This unit became known as the plumbers.  Their intelligence operations ranged from wiretaps without court approval to the break-in at Dr. Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office.  Ellsberg was the person who leaked the Pentagon Papers. 

Also in 1971 the Committee to Reelect the President (CRP) told Nixon's Chief of Staff, H. R. Halderman, that they needed to collect political intelligence for the coming election.  In 1972 political espionage plans involved U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell, John Dean counsel to the President, Jeb Magruder, deputy director of CRP and G. Gordon Liddy, counsel to the Finance Committee to the CRP. 

The liking for covert operations and the obsessive need for control can easily be seen in Nixon's chart. Pluto is the most elevated planet in his chart.  It falls in the Tenth House and opposes a stellium of Mars in Sagittarius conjunct Mercury and Jupiter in early Capricorn in the Fourth House.  This is a particularly feisty, warlike combination of planets.  Nixon could be shrewd and insightful as well as paranoid and combative.  

What's not typically noted is that Nixon could also be quite naïve.  His Capricorn Sun opposes Neptune, and Neptune rules the Seventh House of partnerships.  Despite his paranoia, colleagues could easily dupe him.  Interestingly also, Mars is out of bounds by declination and parallel the Fixed Star Facies.  Mars out of bounds neatly falls into the idea of Mars having no bounds.  Facies is characterized by either being ruthless or being the victim.  War and strife characterized Nixon's presidency.  He both attacked and was attacked by others. 

At the time the covert operations were set up in 1971, transiting Uranus was conjunct the US Saturn in Libra and square to the US Sun in Cancer.  Using the Gemini Rising chart for the US, transiting Saturn in Taurus was square the US Moon in Aquarius.  A lunar eclipse in February fell at 20 Leo – Aquarius, also conjunct the US Moon.  A solar eclipse at 6 Pisces was square the US Uranus.  A lunar eclipse in August conjoined the MC – IC axis in the Gemini Rising chart.  The transiting Node was conjunct the Moon and the MC and solar arc Saturn in Aries formed a square to the US Pluto in the ninth house.

Very likely at this time Nixon did not have direct knowledge about CRP plans.  Transiting Uranus conjunct Saturn and square the Sun in the US chart shows a likely breakdown of authority—a rogue operation that ran wild.  Transiting Saturn square the US Moon depicts a melancholy people.  The country was torn apart by the War.  This war was different from World Wars I and II where there was no moral ambiguity.  People were sad, angry, and contentious as some supported the War and others fought against it.  The solar arc square of Saturn to Pluto reinforces covert operations involving foreign affairs as well as power struggles in politics.

The Watergate arrest that led to Nixon's downfall occurred on June 17, 1972. Police arrested five men at Democratic National Committee Headquarters who were caught adjusting bugging devices that they had installed in May.  One of the men arrested, James McCord, provided the link back to Nixon's staff.  McCord was the security coordinator for the CRP.

At the time of the arrest, transiting Pluto was forming a station in Virgo.  The station was square to President Nixon's Tenth House Pluto.  Transiting Uranus also turned stationary direct conjunct the US Saturn and square the US Sun, another blow to authority.  Transiting Jupiter was in Capricorn in the eighth house of the Gemini Rising US chart and opposite Venus and Jupiter in Cancer.  Again, the link to finances.  Investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in part cracked the conspiracy by following the money. 

Jeb Magruder, the Deputy Director of CRP eventually admitted that he covered up CRP involvement in the break-in.  He testified that John Mitchell, who was the head of the CRP, gave the order. Mitchell denied it and investigators were never able to determine who was telling the truth. 

Upon learning of Mitchell's possible link to the break-in, Nixon instructed his Chief of Staff, H.R. Halderman, to stop an FBI inquiry by claiming that the investigation would endanger CIA operations.  Mitchell left the CRP.  On August 29, 1972, Nixon declared that no one who was then in the administration was involved in Watergate.  The money that paid for the break-in could be traced to the CRP, but it was impossible to implicate high officials. 

In July 1972, transiting Saturn entered Nixon's Tenth House.  An eclipse occurred on July 10 at 18 Cancer opposing Nixon's Sun and 19 Capricorn.  The lunar eclipse at 3 Aquarius conjoined Nixon's Uranus.  Transiting Jupiter was Retrograde in Capricorn.  During July and August, it conjoined Nixon's Jupiter, Mercury, and Mars, and opposed his Pluto.  Transiting Neptune was square Venus in Pisces.  Transiting Pluto was in the twelfth house square natal Mars.

Nixon was controversial but still immensely popular.  These planetary combinations set up the possibility for future problems.  It's very likely that Nixon never knew about Watergate ahead of time, but whether he approved it or not, he would be held responsible.  Saturn at the MC can be the height of one's career or one's downfall. 

Eclipses can portend a downfall; i.e., the person becomes eclipsed.  Uranus, ruling Nixon's sixth house, brings in subordinates.  With Venus in Pisces in the sixth house, Nixon actually had a soft spot for the people who worked for him.  He could be kind to underlings.  The transiting square of Neptune to Venus indicates the possibility of Nixon being duped by subordinates.  Transiting Pluto in the Twelfth House of hidden enemies and square to Mars, ruler of the Eighth House of other people's money, brings secret activities and campaign finances into the conflict.

Riding high in popularity, in January, 1973, with transiting Jupiter and a solar eclipse conjoining the Sun, Nixon began his second term as President.  Jupiter transits are a time of expansion and well being.  That same month, the five men arrested in the break-in and J. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, were tried in U. S. District Court in Washington D.C.  Five pleaded guilty.  McCord and Liddy were convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and illegal wiretapping. 

Transiting Pluto turned stationary retrograde in January.  Uranus also turned stationary retrograde.  These same planets had stationed at the time of the arrest.  Uranus represents, among other things, freedom, independence, autonomy, and revolution.  Pluto represents, among other things, covert operations, joint finances, and power struggles.

Transiting Saturn was in Gemini trine to natal Saturn and the MC in the Gemini Rising US chart.  Progressed Saturn was also sextile the MC.  Nixon was not yet involved.  However with progressed Mercury in Aquarius conjunct the progressed US South Node in January, the progressed Sun conjunct the natal South Node in February, and progressed Mars square the US Sun in February, Nixon didn't have much time left. 

Based on suspicions of political espionage, the Senate began conducting an investigation. During the Senate's hearings on the nomination of L. Patrick Gray to be permanent FBI director, he revealed that he had given FBI Watergate files to Dean and suggested that other White House aides were involved in underhanded activities.  Dean did his best to cover this up.  $75,000 in hush money was paid to Halderman.  Publicly Nixon stated he had begun a new investigation.  What he did in private was another matter.

In cooperating with investigators to avoid a severe sentence, McCord implicated Dean and Magruder.  Dean and Magruder in turn implicated others at the White House and CRP.  Investigators were told Mitchell approved the break-in.  On April 30, the resignations of Dean, Ehrlichman, and Halderman were announced.  

A special prosecutor's office, headed by Archibald Cox, set up public hearings in May, 1973.  Halderman, Ehrlichman, and Mitchell denied any wrongdoing, but Dean's testimony linked Nixon to the cover-up.  Then in July, 1973, it was discovered that Nixon had taped conversations in his office.  Cox subpoenaed the records related to the investigation.  Nixon refused to release them and had Cox fired in October, 1973.  Nixon denied taping some conversations.

Transiting Saturn made its final conjunction to Nixon's Midheaven and square to his Ascendant in April, 1973.  Saturn formed a contra parallel to his Sun in May, 1973, conjoined Pluto and opposed Mars in July, and opposed Mercury and Jupiter in August.  Saturn transits hold one accountable.  Transits to the MC bring recognition, whether that recognition is positive or negative.  If a person is engaging in illegal or immoral activity, this is a timeframe of getting caught in a public manner.  Power struggles with those in authority or in order to keep authority are consistent with all these aspects.           

Transiting Uranus squared Nixon's Sun in May, 1973.  It stationed in June, 1973, still within orb of the square to the Sun.  The final exact square occurred in July, 1973.  Having Saturn and Uranus aspects simultaneously can be very unpleasant.  Saturn represents restriction; the need to consolidate.  Uranus represents freedom, the desire to break through.  By all accounts, likely, Nixon's behavior became erratic and unpredictable at this time. 

The simultaneous squares from Chiron to Nixon's Sun in May and September did not help matters. Transiting Chiron and Uranus were in opposition to one another.  Chiron was transiting the eighth house of joint resources, which were part of the trouble to begin with.

Transiting Pluto turned Stationary Direct in June, 1973 square to Nixon's Jupiter, which conjoins Mercury and Mars and opposed Pluto in his natal chart.  Pluto transits heightened the anger and the sense of being out of control.  Since Pluto was transiting the first house, in all likelihood, Nixon's own actions made situations worse, and situations became more and more out of control. 

Between June and December, 1973, the following aspects occurred in the US chart.  The progressed Sun conjoined Pluto and progressed Pluto in the US chart, transiting Saturn squared Neptune, solar arc Mars opposed Jupiter, and Chiron returned to its own placement. Pluto squared to Venus and was sessiquadrate the Moon.  Saturn conjoined Venus and was sessiquadrate the Moon.  The Node opposed Jupiter and Venus.  Uranus squared Mercury. 

The progressed Sun in the US chart coming to the conjunction of Pluto portends the possibility of a leader's fall from power.  This is an aspect that will occur during only one timeframe in 360 years.  Saturn's square to Neptune symbolizes deceptions being revealed.  SA Mars' opposition to Venus is another aspect that only occurs once in 360 years.  Venus' rulership of the Sixth House of employees in the US chart once again brings in the role of subordinates.  This aspect and those of Pluto and Saturn to the Moon and Venus show the combative political climate and wounds dividing the country. 

Court battles continued in 1974.  On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court in an 8-0 vote rejected Nixon's claim that as President he had authority to withhold material from the prosecutor and order him to deliver the tapes in accordance with the subpoena.  Before the end of July, the House approved three articles of impeachment.  On August 9, Nixon resigned. 

In January, 1974, transiting Saturn conjoined Nixon's Pluto in Gemini in the Tenth House of career and public standing.  It stationed in February, within orb of a conjunction to Pluto, and exactly conjoined Pluto again in March.  Saturn then moved forward to oppose Mars in Sagittarius and Mercury in Capricorn in April, and Jupiter in Capricorn in May, and formed a semi-square to its natal placement and was contra parallel the Sun in August. 

Saturn transits give one what one earns, one way or the other. The Tenth House is a public placement.  This means planets there are visible.  People know what you are doing.  It's the wrong time for covert operations.  The negative side of Saturn can be fear. As a Capricorn, Nixon longed to be looked up to and admired.  As Saturn moved forward, fear of public scrutiny as well as the desire for control drove his actions. 

Nixon's solar arc Sun formed a semi-square to Uranus in January, 1974.  Chiron formed a square to the Sun in March.  Secondary progressed Pluto formed a semi-square to Nixon's progressed MC in May.  Uranus squared Neptune in May, turned stationary direct in July, and squared Neptune again in August.  Nixon's natal Pluto turned stationary direct by secondary progression in August.  The Uranus influence reinforces erratic behavior once again.  Chiron's influence reflects the wound Nixon was likely to feel based on the whole affair. 

At the time of Nixon's resignation, transiting Saturn conjoined the US Sun and squared Saturn.  Once again, Saturn is the planet that gives one what he deserves—one way or the other.  The President, as symbolized by the Sun in the country chart, had been caught red handed and would pay the price.

No one transit can bring down a president or any person.  The natal set up of a fall from power has to exist in the birth chart.  Natal Pluto in the Tenth House brings to mind the saying, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." 

Nixon's downfall began from his suspicious nature and his need for total control.  Despite the divisiveness in the country, he had won an election by a popular majority.  There had been no need for skullduggery in Democratic headquarters.  No one will ever know whether Nixon's efforts to protect his underlings were inspired by loyalty or self-interest, but in the end, his own actions did him in.          

Joyce Levine is a full-time professional consulting astrologer with 30 years experience.  She serves as a catalyst for her clients to overcome astro/psychological obstacles so that they can achieve their full potential.  As a consultant, Joyce works with individuals, couples, families, and businesses. 

Joyce publications are as follows:  Computerized astrology report: AstroAnalysis, the report that will save you years of therapy, Books: A Beginner's Guide to Astrological Interpretation and Breakthrough Astrology, Transform Yourself and Your World.  Transformational CDs:  Self-Help Series:  Meditation, Creative Visualization, Healing Anger, and Contacting Your Guardian Angel; and Integrating Astrological Cycles Series:  Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn, and Jupiter. 

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To discover how the planets affect you, call Joyce 617-354-7075 or e-mail  for an appointment.