by Tony Howard
The Mr Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor has been the sleeper summer indie movie hit, suggesting that its poignant message is just right for the times we’re living in. With a focus on the short supply of human decency, respect, compassion and tolerance, at this moment in history the film feels, as Alissa Wilkinson at Vox points out, “radically subversive.” How did we get here?
The answer to that question is of course long and complex. But it’s my hope that everyone receiving this email resonates with Fred Rogers’ mission, which is distinctly Piscean: We’re all sisters and brothers here, with insecurities, fears, problems. So why not support each other with care and kindness?
Rogers had such a lasting impact, in part because, as the documentary shows, he walked his talk.
Like many of you, I’m so jaded by the high drama of the news cycle and of sensational documentary exposes that I found myself waiting on the edge of my seat for the “big reveal.” But it never came. It turns out that the big revelation was that Rogers was the guy we all thought he was - and that his mission hasn’t lost its power or importance.
Rogers’ birth chart is rich with straightforward astrological symbolism that is yet another obvious validation of astrology. For instance, I found myself doing an incredulous face-palm watching the scene of Rogers sitting with the character Officer Francois Clemons, both men cooling their bare feet in a kiddie pool as Clemons sings “Many Ways to Say I Love You.” Pisces much?! If you’re a beginner, you might not know this, but Pisces rules the feet and is a water sign. Rogers had the Sun at 29° Pisces in addition to a powerhouse conjunction of Mercury and Venus in Pisces, conjunct and parallel, with Venus ruling his Taurus Ascendant. The Moon is also in Pisces and also parallel with Mercury and Venus. I know I just lost some of you with astro-lingo, but that translates into TURBO PISCES.
Even more importantly, Rogers crafted this scene to simultaneously address and heal racial tensions through actions that speak more strongly even than the words they're sharing.
(They actually set this scene up twice, once with Officer Clemmons as a young man, and once years later. Watch the later scene in the kiddie pool here: https://vimeo.com/141427439)
Wilkinson points out that, “Rogers’s slow and compassionate approach to children’s television ran counter to what we typically expect of TV shows for kids; there are no bright, flashy, fast-moving cartoons or slapstick humor in his neighborhood, just simple, direct conversation and storytelling. You got the feeling he cared.”
Taurus comes through loud and clear here in her description of the slow delivery. In addition, the documentary points out the many long moments of silence in the TV show where “nothing would happen.”
And like any good Mercury in Pisces, Rogers was getting his message across on multiple levels beyond the simply verbal. He was communicating through being, through embodying an energetic quality, through his acts of love and compassion in addition to his words. Why love and compassion? Venus rules his Taurus Ascendant, in Pisces, where one’s experience of love can be intertwined with a spiritual intention.
So the love channel was wide open. That’s easy to see. But Rogers also had natal Uranus in Aries conjunct his Sun. Wait, what? The Sun-Uranus is often portrayed as a rabble rouser, a subverter of the status quo, a rebel. At first glance those aren’t the words you’d use to describe Fred Rogers. It seems that the way we experience him is dominated by his Taurus Ascendant ruled by Venus in Pisces - as “slow, calm and compassionate.”
But look just a little closer. As the documentary points out, Mister Rogers Neighborhood was airing in the midst of violent racial tensions and war. His message was (and is) contrarian to the dominant energy of the time. He was, in his own way, shaking things up - but in a distinctly Piscean/Venusian way. His (Taurus+Pisces) intention was to smooth things out, to calm things down, to encourage people to be nice to each other. But he did so by challenging dominant assumptions about life and ways of being.
His message of peace was, and still is, subversive in a culture, in a world, that glorifies war.
And for a light detour, let’s not forget that he also had a Uranian moment when he told kids “the truth about Santa Claus” in one episode of the show. Just *a couple* of parents sent angry letters after that episode. :)
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood first aired on February 19, 1968. The transits (location of the planets) for that day are interesting in the context of garden-variety teachings about transits - for instance, that oppositions are “bad” or present an “unwanted difficulty or face-off.” Many of these accepted astrological warnings just don’t hold up to scrutiny. For instance, I think we can all agree that his show was successful, made a lasting impact, and supported him both financially and spiritually. So you might be surprised to learn that on that day Mercury was retrograde (insert gasp), Neptune was square Neptune, and Jupiter was opposite his Mercury-Venus super-conjunction.
Let’s unpack that really quick. Think about how many astrologers would have counseled him with, “Oh Fred, you should wait to launch the TV show until after Mercury goes direct.” Or “Jupiter is opposing, so luck may not be on your side.” Unhelpful advice on both counts! His show was a resounding success.
Or try this one: “Neptune is square Neptune, so this isn’t a good time to take action - the dream in you isn’t ready to materialize in this time of confusion.” But during this transit for Rogers, it seems like the dream wasn’t just ready to be actualized, it was emerging from, arguably, his deepest source of guiding mission and purpose. That, and Neptune has to do with television… And who can forget the “neighborhood of make-believe” portion of the show?
The message? If you hear a teaching about a transit or natal aspect that feels overtly negative or personally limiting, question it. It all comes back to your experience. If you’re feeling boxed in by an interpretation, how can you reframe it so that you feel more empowered?
This isn’t to say the the shadow experience of life isn’t real, or should be discounted. It’s just that any transit, even a Mars square Neptune transit or a Pluto opposite Venus transit, can express in shadow AND/OR light. And too often we describe the shadow potential and forget there is potential for light too.
One more thing I’ll share before I wrap up. Rogers had natal Mars in Aquarius. The fact that his actions were infused with a social mission to help people see each other as equals is contained in that archetypal energy. But where Pisces teaches us something about saints, Aquarius teaches us something about humanity. And combined, like they are in his chart, we have the idea that we’re all in this crazy stew together. So let’s honor each other’s humanity and treat each other with respect and care.
I’ll leave you with the words of Mary Louise Kelly, who writes, “I think it's important to understand that he was human and not a saint, because if you sanctify somebody like Fred Rogers it means that we don't have to try and live up to him.”
- Mister Rogers Talked Frankly With Kids About 'Grown-Up' Issues That Weren't
- How Mister Rogers Made Fantasy Familiar (how's that for Pisces coming through a Taurus ascendant?!)
Join me and Kelly Surtees in Palm Springs in January 2019 to plan the year ahead.