Last night the news came in that one of the most iconic sports personalities ever had passed away. Muhammad Ali had the most amazing life, from growing up from poor roots in Kentucky, to conquering the world in the boxing ring with skill and grace, in standing up for his chosen religion & dealing with a degenerative and incapacitating illness. Muhammad Ali remains one of the most awe inspiring people in sport and a name that will live on through the ages. Looking at his astrology chart, I want to try and dig a little deeper to try to explain why he was “simply the greatest”.
Muhammad (Cassius Marcellus Clay Jnr) was born in Louisville, Kentucky at 18.35 on 17th January 1942 into a poor family in the city. He was a Sun sign Capricorn, had an Aquarius Moon and a proud Leo ascendant. The Sun in Capricorn showed someone who would always have great ambition in his life and would want to make an impression by doing the right thing. Capricorns are patient and disciplined and often doubt their own ability producing a wonderful humble streak, and yet the world can be their oyster as they know the value of preparation and hard work. Capricorns do tend to have a quirky streak and on occasions they can be hysterically funny too.
The Moon in Aquarius showed a real compassionate and independent streak in Ali, and through it his emotions were very much cooled allowing him to detach them from any task he was doing. There is an enigmatic and magical quality to anyone with an Aquarian Moon, they are unpredictable and yet incredibly kind too. Here is a sneaky liking for a bit of glamour and being in the spotlight, and this dispensation was enhanced immensely by the Leo Ascendant. This man would want to be front and centre in being known for his achievements (Capricorn Sun) and in his life I think he achieved that, don’t you?
Often, coming from adversity gives you the motivation to aspire to greatness. Like so many famous people I have looked in the past, the young Cassius Clay had a lack of love from his father and this is often confirmed by Saturn being retrograde in the chart as is the case here. The father can be shown through several ways on a chart, through the Sun and also the Midheaven at the top of the chart. Venus ruled his Midheaven (via Taurus) and it received squares from Saturn and Uranus both retrograde confirming an unpredictable and authoritarian father. The Sun was part of a grand earth trine connected to Neptune and Uranus so I am unsure whether the young Cassius would have got the proper guidance from his dad that he really needed. Growing up as the eldest child in any family is not easy and any Capricorn can severely suffer with self doubt and self worth if they are not given the love that they need. It is interesting that in his house of self worth and values, the 2nd house sat Neptune and the North Node. This was his goal in life, to foster that self worth in himself and to achieve a dream of financial and spiritual peace. When he was just 12 years of age that path was set out for him by a police officer who encouraged him to take up boxing after threatening to beat up a thief for stealing his bicycle. That officer told him to learn to box first before he hit anyone and so on the back of that advice Cassius joined a local gym, and the rest as they say is history.
Looking at the chart the Sun, Moon and Mercury are all in the 6th house, Virgo’s house of everyday work and technique. Now there is one thing for sure, Muhammad would not have got into the ring unprepared. Here is a propensity to work and work and work on one’s skills, he was the ultimate professional and a real perfectionist. The Moon and Mercury made an opposition to his Leo Ascendant, so these skills were part of his physical make-up and there was a square to Ali’s Midheaven, so here was a link to his professional career. Now there are many boxers who would have also been technically good, but the signs here bring the key to why Ali was so brilliant. Aquarius confers special talent with quickness of mind and of thought. Combined with the cool Aquarian Moon calming the emotions, Ali was able to outthink his opponents as well as out manoeuvre them, keeping calm to deliver the knockout blow of an assassin while maintaining his composure. Mercury in Aquarius made him very quick witted and very a guy who could not stop talking, and of course with this aspect he would have had a fabulous sense of humour. Mercury also was trine to Jupiter, so here was someone who made big confident statements; he became famous for predicting exactly in which round he would dispose of his opponent. Moon in Aquarius trine to Jupiter showed a wonderful philanthropic attitude. This was a generous man who cared deeply about those suffering around him.
The links to the violence of what became his day job, training and fighting in the ring is shown by a tremendously energetic and determined t-square, one of several on this chart. From his Capricorn Sun there is an opposition to Pluto in Leo, yet another indication of wanting to be a notable person and this opposition is squared by Mars in Taurus. Mars in Taurus has a store of steady energy and this was enhanced by Pluto. Mars Pluto can be hugely destructive and hugely controlling. Ali could summon his energy expertly, using his technique (Sun in 6th) allied to his brute strength (Mars/Pluto). This t-square also had a second meaning. We all know that Cassius Clay changed his name to Mohammed Ali because of his association to the Nation of Islam group, headed by Malcolm X. Here we see Mars in the 9th house of faith and it’s sign Aries on the cusp of the 9th squared by Pluto the planet of transformation. Three midpoints completed the picture. Ali’s Mars sat opposite his Sun Pluto midpoint (huge aggression and control), his Saturn opposed his Sun/North Node midpoint (known for his ambition and work) and Pluto opposed his Sun/Moon midpoint (transformation of his identity).
Muhammad has three major planets in his 10th house of worldly ambition and career, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. Both Saturn and Jupiter in this house conferred the desire to be someone of note and someone who made a big impression on people, touched their lives in some manner. My word, didn’t he do that?!! Uranus here bucks society, shows a rebel tendency and wants to initiate change. Now what type of change? Peaceful change. For someone who was so successful in such a brutal sport, Ali was a humanitarian and a pacifist at heart. Why? Look at the chart. We have Venus in his 7th house of relationships bang opposite his Ascendant in humanitarian kind Aquarius. Venus in Aquarius likes to relate, to get on with people and thus will rebel against discrimination. Notice that the Uranus in his 10th house which wanted to change society’s perceptions and bring about change is in Taurus, the two planets are in square aspect, form a bigger t-square formation and crucially Venus and Uranus are in mutual reception. This t-square was working beautifully in harmony, and Ali used his personality to fight for his community. This was an emotional quest with Venus in conjunction with the Moon and something he did vocally with Venus conjunct Mercury.
It is interesting that after changing his religion and name, it was abroad where Ali’s new identity was more accepted. Mars and Aries in the 9th not only shows athletic ability shown internationally, but and enthusiasm and progressive attitude to his personality away from the US. Mars received a square from Pluto, so abroad there was jealousy of his ability, but ultimately his ability and his humanitarian stance won over his critics there. In contrast in the US it was much harder for him to gain acceptance. Looking to his 3rd house of his local environment and his 4th house of home and country things were more tricky. On the 3rd house cusp we find Libra and Venus it’s ruler receives a squares from a critical Saturn and rebellious Uranus. The 4th house cusp has Scorpio on it’s cusp, and of course Pluto it’s ruler receives a square from aggressive Mars. At home he was vilified and even hated for the anti-military position he took, his vocal stance against discrimination and the action of changing his faith.
This peaceful and public stance from a man from an “inferior race” and of different religious beliefs to many around him was also directed at the nation through his refusal to join the military during the Vietnam War, which drew meant that the authorities threatened to throw him in jail. The same peaceful ascendant/Venus opposition is squared by Saturn, laying down the law against him. You know in astrology when you get to planets in conjunction and in competition in the same sign, there may be a battle for supremacy but the slower moving planet will always win. This time in a battle between Saturn square Ascendant/Venus and Uranus square Ascendant/Venus, Uranus did win the day, Ali had the charges eventually dropped and this provided the inspiration for his friend Martin Luther King to raise his voice on behalf of the oppressed black community in America. There was however a second link to faith on the chart. We have a grand earth trine on the chart, a store of talent & inspiration which was one of the driving forces in his life. Uranus in his public 10th house trine to spiritual Neptune in his 2nd house of self-worth trine to his Capricorn Sun. By changing religion, Ali became twice the person and his self belief would have soared. By using his spiritual beliefs in opposing war, he change society and precipitated a revolution of equality.
Of course as Ali’s glittering boxing career ended and he moved into middle age, he had another battle to fight, his one with Parkinson’s disease. I return to that Pluto in the 12th house opposing Ali’s Sun Moon and Mercury in the 6th house of health. Pluto is retrograde and coming out of the 12th house of sacrifice and suffering. Whenever I see an opposition across the 6th/12 house of health axis involving an outer planet (Saturn, Uranus, Neptune or Pluto) and one of the planets involved in the opposition rules the ascendant (this time the Sun), one knows that health issues may affect the subject and the body. Pluto not only opposed the Sun, but also opposed the Moon ruling that same 12th house and made an opposition to Mercury representing the brain. Parkinson’s disease is a slow degrading of the brain, exactly expressed by this opposition.
He was undoubtedly an amazing human being, with endless compassion and the heart of a lion. He may have been known as a warrior in the boxing ring, but I think the greatest fight he won was the stand he took in opposing violence and eventually bringing freedom to his community. He’s now free from pain, and may he forever rest in peace. He will never be forgotten.