The ruler of the Ascendant and planets close to the Ascendant are considered in many different traditions of astrology to be extremely important. The ruler of the Ascendant provides a more specific description of someone’s nature, character and motivations beyond their Sun or Moon sign. Additionally, the house the Ascendant ruler falls in provides an area of focus in the life of the native, and offers the potential for certain kinds of events to happen under the right conditions. When the ruler of the Ascendant is activated through annual profections, this is when someone may actualize its potential, fulfilling their destiny for the kind of person they’re meant to be. It is when someone may embody their “signature”, something that defines them in some sense. Their signature move, or their signature song.
The reason I want to use the Beatles for this examination is because there is some broad agreement on their personalities, or at least the personas of each of the band members. John was the acerbic one, the rebellious charismatic activist and leader of the group. Paul was the “cute” one, upbeat, cheery, clever and cheeky, and musical inventor extraordinaire. George was the “quiet” one, and later on became the mystical, spiritual one. Ringo was the goofball, the joker, the one everyone likes even if he didn’t rise to the level of individual achievement as the others. Because these personas are broadly agreed upon and well established, I figure these characterizations would not be controversial or explained away as just a result of my own impressions or bias. Also, despite being collectively associated with hundreds of songs, there are just a few specific songs that most people would consider their “signature” songs.
For this demonstration I am using the tropical zodiac with whole sign houses and traditional rulers. First, I’m going to show how the natal condition of the Ascendant ruler of each Beatle describes something fundamental about their character, identity and purpose. Second, I’m going to show how annual profections reveal when they embody this, and how it’s crystallized in the songs they create in these periods, which become their signature songs.
John Lennon – Aries Rising, Mars in Libra 7th
While Mars is naturally tough and rough around the edges, in Libra, Mars is in a foreign environment governed by Venus, which promotes beauty, harmony, social unification, peace, etc. This is an unusual place for Mars, like a solider who has to wage war with a guitar. The lasting image we may have of John Lennon is the ultra Libran peace activist, but what people tend to forget or don’t know about is how he got there and how in some broader sense, John Lennon is actually like Mars.
John Lennon as a youth was bold and reckless, deliberately cultivating the image of a macho rocker, a greaser with slicked back hair and leather jackets. He was caustic, rude, prone to anger and even violence, putting Bob Wooler in the hospital over an insinuation he might be gay.
“I realized I was actually going to kill him… I just saw it like a screen. If I hit him once more, that’s really going to be it. I really got shocked and for the first time thought: ‘I can kill this guy.’” – John Lennon
One possible manifestation of Mars in the 7th house is antagonism or violence toward one’s partners. Sadly this is true of John Lennon, who admitted to being violent with women in his youth and physically assaulted both of his wives, and often violated the boundaries of his marriages.
Over time, this anger and rage matured into a sharp wit and incisive satirical instincts. The paradoxical Libran nature of his Mars became more apparent, becoming an activist for peace, going to war against…war itself.
We can see through annual profections how we could tell when John Lennon would embody this defining Mars placement. Since annual profections start from the Ascendant, we might expect that when we profect to the Ascendant ruler, this is when somebody will live out their Ascendant ruler most clearly. So for John Lennon, being born with Aries Rising and Mars in Libra, means that his Libra profection years should resemble his natal signature most clearly.
30 years old – 7th house Libra annual profection year – October 9th 1970-October 9th 1971
On the day John Lennon turned 30 years old, he was in the middle of recording his first solo debut album John Lennon/Ono Plastic Band after his departure from the Beatles, and finished on October 27th 1970. It is his most nakedly personal album in which he expresses and releases his psychological pain and anguish over his mother’s death and other childhood issues with ‘scream singing’, in some ways an ancestor to metal music. Mars is the planet of separations and divisions, and this album definitively marks his separation from the Beatles, which includes the infamous lyric “I don’t believe in the Beatles”. He made the album with his new wife Yoko Ono, who prominently figured into the breakup of the Beatles. This evokes several notions of Mars in the 7th house, separating from the Beatles on account of his wife, as well as Mars ruling the Ascendant, since it was establishing his own identity separate from the Beatles.
In March 1971, John Lennon wrote “Imagine” with Yoko Ono present and released the album “Imagine” on September 9th 1971. You’ve probably heard it, a sweet sounding song with subversive revolutionary lyrics, an anthem for peace for the ages, one of the most covered songs in history and considered to be Lennon’s finest song, and his signature song. John Lennon himself described “Imagine” as:
“an anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic song, but because it’s sugar-coated, it’s accepted”. – John Lennon
That description could easily apply to the paradoxical nature of Mars in Libra itself! I think it’s remarkable that he composed this signature song when he reached his Ascendant ruler, Mars in Libra, via annual profections. Now you may be wondering, why didn’t something like this happen in his two other Libra annual profection years, at age 6 and 18? Well, at 30 years old, both Uranus and Pluto were in Libra, the sign of the annual profection. We can’t speculate about age 6 because we just don’t know, but we do know that at age 18 was the first serious consequence he received as a result of his violence toward women, when his engagement with Cynthia Powell was temporarily broken off when he slapped her against a wall.
Paul McCartney – Neptune in Virgo Rising, Mercury in Gemini 10th
Mercury is curious, clever, cheeky, skilled, intellectual, mathematical, nimble, effervescent, mutable, independent. In the sign of Gemini, Mercury is at home and able to operate in accord with its own nature. In the 10th house, this applies to his career, reputation and actions, what he does. While Paul McCartney’s story is not complete, it has largely been written. Nothing will likely erase his lofty position in the pantheon of legendary musicians or his reputation for being one of music’s most innovative and popular composers ever. This he accomplished without formal musical training, eschewing formality for his own natural musical sensibilities, trusting his own ear.
“I prefer to think of my approach to music as…rather like the primitive cave artists, who drew without training.
We may tend to remember Paul McCartney as he was as a Beatle, writing primarily pop and rock songs, but if we remember that in the decades since he has been absolutely all over the map, certainly the most musically ambitious and chameleonic and well, mercurial Beatle. Don’t forget that he has also composed various symphonic works for orchestra, a classical style oratorio and electronic music.
This reminds us of the independence of Mercury, especially Mercury in its own sign of Gemini. He is very much a musical craftsman. Compared to John Lennon who took very few takes and relied on raw sounds and emotions for musical effects, Paul McCartney was very concerned with the particularities of melody, harmony and chord qualities and would do multiple takes to get all the details just right. We might also consider that Paul was born with Mercury retrograde, as Mercury appeared to go backward in the sky. It reminds us of how his left-handedness caused him to learn guitar backwards.
Since Paul McCartney’s Ascendant is in Virgo and his Mercury is in Gemini, we would expect to see Paul McCartney live out his Mercury in Gemini during Gemini profection years. Here is one such example.
21 years old – 10th house Gemini annual profection year – June 18th 1963-June 18th 1964
In late December 1963, Paul McCartney had a dream of a song, a melody. As soon as he woke up, he rushed to his recorder so that he wouldn’t forget it. He was unsure if he had dreamed of it or heard it somewhere else. He sang it to friends and colleagues, asking them who had written it. None of them knew, none of them had heard it before. Paul McCartney figured it was his to use, so he started setting lyrics to it, going back and forth from “Strawberries” to “Scrambled Eggs” until finally settling on “Yesterday“. It went over well.
“Yesterday” is probably the song most closely associated with Paul McCartney. It is one of the most covered songs in all music history. The fact that it came from a dream is interesting when we consider that Neptune is on his Ascendant. Neptune is associated with dreams and fantasy, and square his planets in Gemini by sign, including Mercury, his Ascendant ruler. It shows that despite the cerebral and technical craftsmanship of McCartney’s songwriting, some of it was also just truly inspired, and this came through for McCartney during a Gemini annual profection, when the ruler of his Ascendant was contacted through annual profection.
George Harrison – Moon in Scorpio Rising, Mars in Capricorn 3rd
George Harrison is a great example of the difference between the planet that rules the Ascendant and a planet that is conjunct the Ascendant. A planet conjunct the Ascendant imports its significations and house rulerships to the forefront of that person’s identity and appearance. Meanwhile, the planet ruling the Ascendant exports a person’s identity and appearance toward a particular focus.
For George Harrison, the Moon rules his Cancer 9th house, the house of religion, spirituality, travel, expanded horizons, cultural encounters, especially foreign cultures, etc. Since the Moon is on his Ascendant, those topics of of the 9th house are imported to the forefront of that person’s identity in some sense. I think it’s very interesting then, that out of all the Beatles, George Harrison was the one who introduced the sounds of foreign cultures to the music of the Beatles, incorporating Indian music and instruments such as the sitar. He was also the one to introduce the Beatles to eastern philosophy and led the Beatles on a trip to India to meet with a guru. Meanwhile, George Harrison’s persona in the group was the silent one, and later, the mystical and spiritual one, emphasized by his intense soulful stare and long hair.
On the other hand, he was Mars in Capricorn 3rd. The 3rd house is associated with siblings, close friends and short trips. Interestingly, the 3rd house signification of mobility and short trips comes up in an interesting way: George Harrison was a big fan of Formula One racing cars, even owning one and used to drive laps around lanes at his house. He even wrote the song “Faster” about his love of racing and the difficulties of having a career in motorsports. Kind of random right? But it is something that is suggested by Mars in the 3rd: risk-taking, danger or competitiveness in mobile pursuits
More importantly though, like John Lennon whose Ascendant was also ruled by Mars, his unique identity was formed more by how he separated himself from his brothers or peers than by how he was like them. Whereas Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr never felt the need to disown the Beatles in their musical pursuits. In this case, George Harrison’s Mars in the 3rd house can be seen as relevant for his relationship to his brothers, the Beatles, his competitiveness with them and his desire to be respected as a musician and songwriter alongside the overpowering duo of Lennon and McCartney.
26 years old – 3rd house Capricorn annual profection year – February 25th 1969-February 25th 1970
In the previous Capricorn annual profection, he joined together with John and Paul in their first band, in the shadow of these two older talented teen musicians. Over the course of the Beatles’ time together, John and Paul outshone George, whose songwriting contributions were greatly restricted. By the time he arrived at his next Capricorn annual profection, he would prove himself as a worthy competitor to his accomplished peers.
Suffocated by the tense and controlling atmosphere of working with John and Paul on Abbey Road, he entered the studio alone on the day he turned 26 years old. On that day he recorded a demo of “All Things Must Pass“, the title track of what would eventually be his first solo album. In defiance of John’s dismissal of his talent, and Paul McCartney’s criticism of his musicianship, he came up with some of the Beatles’ most famous and successful songs.
- In April 1969, he composed the ultimate summer song “Here Comes the Sun”, an iconic Beatles song which Beatles producer George Martin called “…one of the best songs ever written”.
- In the summer of 1969, he completed the recording of “Something”, a song which shocked and awed his peers. Lennon called it the best track on Abbey Road. McCartney called it the best song Harrison had ever written. It has become one of the most covered Beatles songs ever, behind only “Yesterday“.
These two songs cemented Harrison’s status as an equal with Paul and John, who could no longer deny his talent, and featured his songs on the A sides for Abbey Road.
They blessed me with a couple of B-sides in the past, but this is the first time I’ve had an A-side. Big deal, eh? – George Harrison
- In December 1969, Harrison started composing “My Sweet Lord”, the song which would become his biggest #1 hit single as a solo artist.
This was the most dramatic Capricorn annual profection George Harrison would experience in his life, but it’s interesting to consider what happened in his other Capricorn annual profection years and its connection to 3rd house topics: He joined John and Paul’s first band, joined back up with the Beatles for a tribute track to John, and joined back up with the remaining Beatles for the Beatles Anthology interviews.
Ringo Starr – Pisces Rising, Jupiter in Taurus 3rd
Ringo Starr was born with Pisces Rising, so Jupiter rules his Ascendant, which is placed in his Taurus 3rd house. Right away we can see how the good-natured jolly beneficent character of Jupiter corresponds with Ringo’s goofball, comedic persona in the Beatles. He often got the best comedic one liners in the Beatles movies. But it’s the house placement of Jupiter that really ends up underlining his signature.
The 3rd house is traditionally the house of siblings and close friends. Ringo didn’t have any siblings, so how did his Jupiter relate to the notions of the 3rd house? Like George, the ruler of his Ascendant in the 3rd highlighted the central importance of their relationship to the Beatles, but unlike George, his relationship to the Beatles was never competitive. Even when the other Beatles were at each other’s throats, Ringo was beloved individually by each of the other members of the band. Ringo has even sometimes uncharitably been called “The Luckiest Man in the World” due to the perceived disparity in talent compared to the other 3 Beatles.
We can see when this natal potential would come into focus through annual profections. Since we are profecting from his Pisces Ascendant, we would be keenly interested in Taurus annual profections, because that is where Jupiter is placed. There are only a few times in his life when Taurus was the profected sign in his life, at ages 2, 14, 26, 38, 50, 62, 74. We’re going to focus on the one he experienced at age 26 just because it’s such an impressive example of profections in action.
26 years old – 3rd House Taurus annual profection – July 7th 1966-July 7th 1967
In a Taurus annual profection, special attention is paid to the ruler, which is Venus, as well as transits through the sign of Taurus. So naturally we would pay special attention to when Venus itself would transit through Taurus, especially when it is close to 10 Taurus, the degree of Ringo’s Jupiter, his Ascendant ruler. This happened in March-April 1967. So what happened?
In mid-March 1967, Paul and John wrote a song specifically for Ringo to sing on their newest album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was sort of a tradition for Ringo to sing lead vocals on one song per album. They began recording the song on March 29th 1967 and didn’t finish the backing tracks until dawn on March 30th. At that point, Ringo got up to leave and go home but John, Paul and George cajoled him to record his vocals right then and there, standing around the microphone for moral support. And that is when Ringo recorded the vocals for “With A Little Help From My Friends”.
Venus was at 11 Taurus conjunct his Jupiter at 10 Taurus. The annually profected planet, in the annually profected sign, conjoined to his Jupiter which rules his Ascendant. It’s a song he is closely associated with, the most famous song he sang lead vocals on. And it happened in his 3rd house with Jupiter, and the topic of the song is about, well, getting by with a little help from his friends! And he recorded it with his friends surrounding him at the microphone! This is the song he still closes his concerts with, and it’s not even cringey at all…
His other 3rd house profection years coincided with the year he first discovered drumming, the first album released by his All-Starr Band made up of his musical friends and his long-overdue induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Remember, Jupiter also rules his 10th house, so it imports some of those significations when Jupiter is activated.
So I hope I have demonstrated the importance of looking at the ruler of the Ascendant, as well as the utility of paying attention to the years when the ruler of the Ascendant is activated via annual profections!
Many thanks to Nick Dagan Best for access to his data collection on the history of the Beatles!