George Harrison and the Spiritual Politics of Today


DATELINE DECEMBER 1, 2001 4:21PM Eugene, Oregon.... I write this unusual article on the passing of George Harrison just two days after the Beatle's death in Los Angeles at approximately 1:30PM PST on Nov. 29, 2001. There is something deeply significant about George's death at this time. Even though he was the Beatles' lead guitarist, helped to teach John Lennon how to play the instrument and was an intrinsic part of the band's success, he had to quietly remain a force behind the scenes as Paul and John reaped the greatest accolades for their prodigious song-writing achievements. Nevertheless, it was George who led the Beatles (1966-1967) to India, to studying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and opening the door for the Western masses to "tune into" the spiritual mysticism of the Far East -- particularly Hinduism and "Krishna Consciousness," the term preferred by George himself. While people like British author Aldous Huxley (Brave New World; The Doors of Perception), German writer Hermann Hesse (Siddhartha; Narcissus and Goldmund; Damien; The Glass Bead Game; Steppenwolf), Timothy Leary (experimenting with LSD), and Richard Alpert (aka Baba Ram Dass "Be Here Now") began introducing Eastern wisdom teachings to the Western world, it was George and his fellow Beatles who truly popularized the spiritualism streaming in from the exotic lands of India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Tibet. George remained a life-long devotee of Hindu teachings while the other Beatles soon shifted away from this theater of the spirit and mind. However, as I will show in this feature, this awareness of another approach to divinity is important right now as America is inundated by a "patriotic religious fervor" based more on Christian Fundamentalism than a universal spirituality. I believe George Harrison's passing is a reminder that we need to embrace and understand many pathways to spirit and not fall back on a Christian biblical view of the world -- one that stresses the duality of Good vs. Evil.

George Harrison was born on Feb. 24, 1943 at 11:44PM GMD in Liverpool, England. The date is one day earlier than that usually given in biographies and current obituaries. He found out -- only a few years ago -- that he was born about 24+ hours earlier than he had suspected. The data is given out at Lois Rodden's web site: I think most of us realize that the Beatles have had an uncanny effect on all of our lives from the early 1960s onward. Even last year, their "1" CD was the bestselling album of the year! Their timeless songs of love, imagination, fantasy and happiness have a magic that goes way beyond almost all other bands of the past half-century. Let's explore this a little deeper.

While the Beatles were making a breakthrough in Hamburg, Germany in 1960 and back in Liverpool (at a club called The Cavern) in 1961, John F. Kennedy was turning around American politics by becoming the youngest President in the history of our nation. Once inaugurated in January 1961, his beautiful and archetypal family of First Lady Jackie, daughter Caroline and son John, Jr. ushered in the 1000-day "reign" often called Camelot. This itself is an interesting link to the Beatles and United Kingdom as Camelot refers back to the legendary glories of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere. Sir Lancelot, Merlin, the Knights of the Round Table and the great adventures in southern England several hundred years after the birth of Jesus. As I have shared elsewhere in my writings, it is fascinating to note that at the rise of JFK and the Beatles, Pluto in Virgo and Neptune in Scorpio were returning to the same zodiacal placements they had in 7 B.C. when Jesus was probably born! For the two outermost planets to return to these zodiacal placements -- simultaneously -- is extremely rare.

The Beatles became enormously popular in their home country and Europe in 1962-1963 with the release of hit singles and a few albums. During those years, President Kennedy, his brother Robert Kennedy and their advisors helped save the world from nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. Just ten months earlier -- Feb. 4-5, 1962 -- an extraordinary Total Solar Eclipse had occurred at 16 Aquarius, accompanied by Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all in Aquarius. Many astrologers saw this as a conception of the "Age of Aquarius," while some astrologers in India felt this could be the "end of the world." Shortly before his death in November 1963, President Kennedy pushed for and gained an historic Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (July 25, 1963; in the atmosphere, but not underground). While France didn't agree to this treaty, America, the UK and Russia signed on. [China wasn't in the nuclear club as of yet.]

Thus, the time-period of 1961-1963 saw the simultaneous rise of youthful exuberance in England and America. While in England the excitement mostly came from the musical explosion caused by the Beatles' phenomenal success, in America we were doing calisthenics, getting back into science and math in the schools, and watching astronauts fly off into space, in the first steps toward landing on the Moon (a success which finally occurred on July 20, 1969, following a visionary statement by JFK to Congress early on in his Administration). America and the Western world were being revitalized, even though the Cold War was still going strong, with Khrushchev telling us (by pounding his shoe at the UN General Assembly) that the Soviet Union would bury us and the Berlin Wall having been erected in August 1961. The Iron Curtain separating Eastern Europe from the West was also still a dominant and troubling influence. And then disaster struck in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 when President Kennedy was murdered. [Note: I wrote an extensive article on JFK in the March/April 2000 edition of Welcome to Planet Earth. Entitled "The Wound That Never Heals: America's Turning Point of the 20th Century," this special feature -- containing several charts and a long history of events -- is still available at $3.50 by sending a check or money order to Mark Lerner, PO Box 12007, Eugene OR 97440.]

America went into psychic shock on November 22, 1963. For the next four days, all television stations focused solely on the tragedy -- nothing else. Heads of State -- from dozens of nations world-wide -- made the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., to watch our stricken President be solemnly laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, where an eternal flame was lit and still flickers daily 38+ years later. As I pointed out in my article from March/April 2000, our country has actually NEVER RECOVERED from this mortal wounding of our youthful leader (on the day of a Chiron station in Pisces -- Chiron being "the wounded healer"), the destruction of the nation's archetypal beautiful family, and the disappearance of our American Camelot. However, a little less than three months after JFK's assassination, the Beatles made their first trek to America, landing in New York City and then appearing on the Sunday night Ed Sullivan show (Feb. 9, 1964). Performing before some 70+ million Americans -- the largest audience in TV history, up till then, to witness one show -- they played five of their hit songs and began pulling America out of its shock from the killing of our President. Astoundingly, this connection between the Beatles and JFK's murder is not loose and flimsy. There is a destiny and fate to all this. When the President was shot and killed in that Dallas motorcade, 20 Aquarius was rising and the Sun was at 29+ Scorpio. As the Sun reached the JFK Assassination Ascendant degree for the first time, the Beatles performed that night on the Ed Sullivan show! The light of the Sun was piercing through America's darkened psyche and the Beatles and their magical music were the catalyst!

As we all know, the rest of the 1960s seemed to be a combination of intensive political struggle, music-drug-sexuality explosion, and Vietnam war nightmares. The Free Speech Movement on American college campuses began in Berkeley in 1964 (perhaps associated with the energizing of America by the Beatles). The success of the Beatles was followed by a myriad of rock groups filling the airwaves with new lyrics, beats and sounds. Then Martin Luther King (age 39) and Robert Kennedy (age 42) were gunned down (April 4 and June 5, 1968), leading to the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago during the Summer of 1968 while the Soviet Union was invading Czechoslavkia and dimming the hopes of democracy in the "Prague Spring" of that year.

In the heart of the decade of the 1960s, George Harrison began feeling disenchanted with all the money and fame heaped upon the Beatles. He was also becoming exhausted by the touring schedule and the frenetic fans. His natural Solar Piscean urge toward spiritual enlightenment began manifesting, particularly with Saturn passing through his Sun-sign (1964-1966) and crossing his other Piscean planetary bodies (including Pallas, Vesta and Venus, his chart ruler) and a rare Uranus-Pluto union in the opposite sign of Virgo (1965-1966). George Harrison had been born at a very amazing time. The Sun was approaching a square to Saturn (Pisces to Gemini) and just 1/2 degee from exactitude. This aspect had a lot to do with his desire to eventually shift away from the money and fame of the Beatles and seek inner peace (emotionally and mentally, Pisces and Gemini) through a more structured (Sun-Saturn) form of meditation, affirmations and disciplines that he learned through the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as well as the genius of Indian musician Ravi Shankar (who taught him how to play the sitar). In addition, his Sun is almost in a precise 150-degree link to Pluto in Leo; the orb is only 1 minute of 1 degree arc! This awkward and challenging pattern was another signal that he would never remain happy to be in the Beatles band. He would have to find his own way out of the dominance of "Lennon-McCartney." In fact, George's unhappiness may have been the first cause of the eventual break-up of the Beatles, even before John Lennon's interest in Yoko Ono and the disruptions that caused for the group later on.

Before moving on to the rest of the story, I think it must be said that in 1965-1966 as Saturn in Pisces opposed Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, George Harrison led the Beatles (and, by extension, millions of the Beatles' followers in the West) to a major shift in consciousness. He began building a bridge between the West and East, through India, and its source of Ageless Wisdom. We didn't know it at the time, but through the Beatles' music (a kind of healing force) our Western state of mind and spiritual outlook was being gradually altered! In his quiet, good-natured and unassuming way, George Harrison led this movement. This was eventually borne out in his extraordinary 3-LP bestselling album All Things Must Pass which appeared in 1970. This album was Number 1 for 7 weeks and it appeared shortly after the break-up of the group following the release of Abbey Road the previous year, along with George's two previous greatest singles, "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun." It was in the time-period of 1969-1971 that Neptune reached the end of Scorpio trining harmoniously George's natal Venus at 29+ Pisces (the planet ruling his late-Libra Ascendant) while Pluto reached the end of Virgo opposing George's natal Venus. These outer planets impacting George's Venus changed his value system, social outlook, view of materialism and money -- all Venus themes. By 1971, in two concerts in New York, he created the first massive fundaising musical celebrations of their kind, with the Bangladesh concerts to benefit the millions of people in need in the former region of East Pakistan, that was struggling to become a new nation. Thus, 30 years ago -- one Saturn cycle in the zodiac -- George Harrison was paving the way to a link with the East that we are in desperate need of recognizing on a higher level right now -- with the war in Afghanistan, our alliance with Pakistan, and the battle between Christianity and Islam! George's spiritual awakening -- which also catalyzed that awakening for millions of Beatle fans -- occurred in the mid-1960s when Saturn opposed Uranus (he has them conjoined in his 8th house of death-rebirth, mysteries and the unknown) and when Saturn opposed Pluto (the same pattern that is happening in 2001-2002, as George dies, and as war rages so close to the area that he championed in his benefit concerts in 1971, one Saturn cycle ago).

Part of my purpose in writing this feature is to reveal a connection between the Beatles and the American political landscape. In particular, the Beatles seem to link strongly to our executive branch of government. Why this is true is hard to fathom. I have already shared the fascinating links between the rise of the Beatles (1961-1963) and the rise and fall of JFK and American Camelot. Now we move on to the tragic death of John Lennon, late in the evening of Monday December 8, 1980 in New York City. I remember that night very vividly. After three years of living at the Findhorn Spiritual Community in Northern Scotland, I was now living in Amherst, Massachusetts and the father of a 1-year-old daughter. I happened to be watching Monday Night Football and sports commentator Howard Cosell broke away from the game to report the tragic news of John's murder by Mark David Chapman. It was another supreme shock -- similar to when JFK was murdered. John Lennon had been born on October 9, 1940 at a Jupiter-Saturn union in Taurus. Now another series of Jupiter-Saturn unions were about to begin (in late December 1980, March 1981 and July 1981) -- this time in Libra (John's Sun-sign) -- and these Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions can only happen every 20 years. They are potent turning-points for the world and have been watched for thousands of years -- going back to Babylonia and Chaldea. While John Lennon's death broke the hearts of millions around the world, it also scared George Harrison -- who had always feared this kind of attack against the Beatles. Remember his natal Sun-Saturn and Sun-Pluto exact tense alignments? John's murder pushed George Harrison into becoming far more protective, careful and fearful for the rest of his life.

However, the death of Beatle John Lennon occurred at a very curious time -- again related to American politics and religious upheavals. It was in November 1979 that the Iranian hostage crisis had occurred -- with some 40+ Americans being held at our consulate building in Teheran, Iran by the Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Fundamentalist extremists. By the time of the November 2000 election, those hostages were still being held. The failure of President Carter (also a Sun-sign Libra like John Lennon) to free the hostages was one of the major reasons he lost the election to Republican Conservative candidate Ronald Reagan. Reagan became President in January 1981 and then was shot and almost killed on March 30, 1981 (at the time of a Sun-Mars union in Aries) -- just a few weeks after another, although retrograde Jupiter-Saturn union in Libra that had first occurred in December 1980 when John Lennon was shot and murdered. Thus, we find the strange curiosity of John Lennon's death being a kind of "psychic warning" about the potential demise or danger to an American president. We also see John Lennon's passing as a link between the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in Iran and the eventual Republican Conservative onslaught in America during the "Reagan Years." If we see John Lennon as the most upfront and politically demonstrative of the 4 Beatles (in an extremely liberal way), then his passing from the scene was an international symbol of the "death of liberalism" and the "rebirth of conservatism" (in the near-death, but eventual resurrection of Ronald Reagan). This is also confirmed in the rise of Margaret Thatcher in the UK, as Prime Minister. Called the "Iron Lady," she became the first woman Prime Minister (as a Conservative Tory) on May 3, 1979. [I was living at Findhorn and traveling by car through England at the time. I remember watching the news on the BBC at a roadside restaurant.] She and President Reagan formed a strong conservative "team" of Western leaders as the 1980s began. Oddly enough, she, too -- like John Lennon -- was a Sun-sign Libra (born Oct. 13, 1925, very close to a Pluto station).

We could just let all this go if it weren't for the bizarre connection between the month of John Lennon's death (December 1980) and the near-murder of George Harrison (December 1999). On the 30th day of Dec. 1999, a deranged man broke into George Harrison's palatial estate West of London, stabbed him several times in the chest, and might have killed him, except that his wife hit the intruder over the head with a lamp. George was near death from blood loss and a punctured lung (recall his natal Saturn and Uranus in Gemini in the 8th house of death) when he arrived at the hospital, but luckily survived. December 1980 and December 1999 are separated by what is known as a "Metonic Cycle." Named for the Ancient Greek astronomer who discovered it, this refers to the the New and Full Moons occurring at the same degrees of the zodiac (and on the same days) every 19 years! In fact, the New, First Quarter, Full and Last Quarter Sun-Moon phases of December 1980 and December 1999 are all happening at the same degree areas and on the same dates. These are the months of John's death and George's near death. Now George had already noticed while gardening in July 1997 that he had a lump in his neck. This began his 4+ years of treatment for throat cancer. A life-long smoker, George was never able to shake loose of this horrible disease. As George dies on Nov. 29, 2001, it is just one day before a potent Full Moon at 8+ Sagittarius-Gemini (exactly conjunct America's natal Uranus). Uranus rules Aquarius, so intimately connected as the third air sign to the spiritual, healing vibrations of music. In addition, as pointed out earlier, the Beatles became a major force in the music world in 1962 (when there was a Total Solar Eclipse in Aquarius, with 5 other planets in that sign). It is noteworthy that at George's passing, we find Neptune, Uranus and Mars all in Aquarius and the 11th house -- very symbolic of his influence as a member of the greatest musical band ever (Aquarius rules groups) and his enormous impact universally. For the first time since the September 11th Attacks on America, the TV media put the war against terrorism down a notch and honored the achievements and dedication of George Harrison as a spirit-filled, global citizen. Also -- at his death, Mercury at 5 Sagittarius was almost precisely trine to the Ascendant degree (5 Aries). Recall that George was the Beatles' lead guitarist (finger and mind-hand coordination skills are very mercurial), learned how to play the complicated sitar, and helped bring the wisdom teachings of the East (Sagittarius emphasis at his death -- Mercury, Sun and Pluto all clustered around the 9th house cusp of higher learning and the search for God!) to the eager masses in the Western world. As someone who was a devoted gardener, it is highly appropriate that he would die under Taurus Moon. And what is truly mind-boggling is that he was born with Jupiter at 15 Cancer (and close to a station by that largest planet in the solar system) and dies with Jupiter at the exact same degree (and close to the same station)! Jupiter (expansion of consciousness; connector to the higher planes) is often active at death even though it is usually seen as a benefic in life -- offering good fortune, success, prosperity, golden opportunities. Perhaps George's passing -- also close to his second Saturn Return (which had just occurred in June 2001) -- is a reminder of how important it is to watch the Jupiter-Saturn cycles in life -- often forgotten by many astrology students.

A couple of salient points before closing. Most of us are aware of the power of the Moon's North and South Nodes (the Dragon's Head and Tail) in any horoscope. They are areas of destiny, fate and karma -- often linked to one's worldly influence and the public consciousness. George was born with the North Node at 24+ Leo and the 10th house. Fame, fortune and being part of the most regal and honored band in the world are strongly connected to this placement in his chart. At the time of the Beatles first performance on Ed Sullivan (Feb. 9, 1964), when he was stabbed (Dec. 30, 1999) and as he died (Nov. 29, 2001), Mars (strife) in Aquarius was conjunct his South Node of the Moon (old karma; fate) and also opposing his natal Chiron (healing old wounds; pain; "The Wounded Healer" archetype), which was located within 1 degree of his North Node in Leo. George Harrison clearly was a "Chironic Figure" for millions of us. Chiron links to "building bridges in consciousness" and this article is a testimony to his dynamic role in bridging the spiritual consciousness movements from East to West in the 1960s.

This tribute to the "quiet" Beatle wouldn't be complete without my associating George Harrison to another George -- George W. Bush, President of the USA. We have found the Beatles originally connected to JFK. Then at the death of John Lennon, we see his passing as linking the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Now with the passing of George Harrison, the recognition of his remarkable spiritual odyssey through Eastern teachings and his transference of those ideas into his music, it's crucial to ask this question: Is George Harrison's death a harbinger concerning changes for President Bush? America is already on high alert concerning terrorism. There have been worries about the health of VP Dick Cheney. As I mentioned in my last article, President George W. Bush is about to have an extremely rare aspect of Progressed Mars at 13+ Libra exactly squaring his natal Sun at 13+ Cancer (March 15, 2002). And Mercury in mid-Aquarius precisely squared Mars (violence) in mid-Scorpio when President Bush took the Oath of Office on January 20, 2001. It seems as if President Bush will need even greater protection in the months ahead. In addition, it feels that George Harrison's death is a reminder for us (including our national leaders) to think more broadly about spiritualism, divinity and religious faith. America has become locked into rigid biblical and Christian fundamentalist views of Good vs. Evil since the Sept. 11th Attacks on America. While it is clear that Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda terrorists, many in the Taliban, and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein are all a part of the malevolent forces of our time, creating mental images of "us vs. them" and that we in America are "all good" and Islamic extremists are "all bad" seems far too limiting and a misleading generalization.

As we look back on the magical mystery tour of the Beatles during the last 41 years, we also realize that it has been a quarter of Neptune's 164-year cycle through the zodiac -- exactly! In the profound year of 1960, the Beatles hit their stride by becoming famous in Hamburg, Germany -- an odd connection to now as we are finding that many of the Islamic terrorists who crashed the planes into the WTC and Pentagon lived in Hamburg and had strong links to that town. Back in 1960 -- year of the U-2 spy plane incident over the Soviet Union -- Neptune was in secretive Scorpio (7-9 degrees of that sign). In 2001, Neptune has been prowling around 7-9 Aquarius. Neptune is considered the "higher octave" to Venus, since this far-out planet was discovered on Sept. 23, 1846 in Germany, amazingly enough. As a higher octave to Venus, Neptune is strongly associated with higher forms of musical expression -- particularly those related to spiritualism and the Ageless Wisdom teachings. In 1960, a 17-year-old, under-age George Harrison was busted in Germany; he was too young to actually be there performing with the other Beatles. He had to go home to Liverpool. He thought he had destroyed the chances for the band to become world famous. But Paul and John followed young George back to Liverpool, the three of them found Ringo Starr to replace Pete Best on drums, and at The Cavern in Liverpool, they began making musical history. George's death in 2001 -- with Neptune in Aquarius squaring the Neptune in Scorpio that was prominent in 1960 -- is the perfect higher expression of this great musician's remarkable influence in all of our lives. As we listen again to his timeless classics -- Something (which Frank Sinatra called the greatest love song of the past 50 years), Here Comes the Sun, Taxman, My Sweet Lord, What Is Life, As My Guitar Gently Weeps -- we are reminded of the power of astrology, the healing force of music and the strange inter-linkings between spiritualism and politics which are still having a profound effect on the future of Spaceship Earth and a humanity in tremendous need of enlightenment.

P.S. Commentators now are talking about his "dark" sense of humor. George was born with the Moon at 0+ Scorpio and almost exactly rising. Relocating his birthchart to India, we find the Moon in Scorpio (secrets; mysteries of life) directly above, Mars rising in Capricorn (profound shift of ego direction; serious focus of his energy) and Jupiter setting in Cancer (feeling at home with his expanded consciousness). India is important in all this. America has had a hard time recognizing the strength of this "largest democracy" in the world. It's as if our government has a blind spot to the significance of India. We were allied with Pakistan in the 1960s and India fell under the spell of the Soviet Union. Once again, we are supporting a military dictatorship in Pakistan, to eliminate the Taliban and forces under Osama bin Laden, while our connection with India is weak. Something is wrong with this picture and America needs to be more pro-active with the 1 billion plus people of India. The Secondary Progressions at George's death are exteme. Progressed Mars is within 2 minutes of his Pisces Sun and exactly 150 degrees to his natal Pluto. Progressed Venus and Progressed Saturn are conjunct -- within 3 minutes of arc. Remember Venus rules his chart! And the Progressed Moon at 29+ Sagittarius is exactly squaring his natal Venus. In his Tertiary (Lunar-based) Progressed map, Pluto (death-rebirth) is stationary direct -- something that can only occur for one month every 12-16 years. When he died, the transiting Sun was approaching Pluto and about to oppose Saturn. These are the three celestial bodies tied together at his birth. At his passing, spiritualizing Chiron (a great healing presence) had just conjoined the Midheaven in Los Angeles while Pallas Athena (Goddess of Wisdom; mental brilliance) was almost precisely united with the 10th house cusp of worldly influence. At George's birth, the Sun and Pallas were conjunct in Pisces while Chiron played an extremely prominent role by being conjunct his destiny-oriented North Node of the Moon. For being the "quiet Beatle," George was quite expressive over his lifetime. Perhaps that was linked to his being born under a Disseminating Sun-Moon Phase. When the Sun-Moon relationship is decreasing in light and the two lights are between 135 degrees apart and 90 degrees apart, the person born at such a time tries to be a "disseminator" of knowledge, ideas, teachings and wisdom. Thomas Jefferson was born at such a Sun-Moon Phase. Dane Rudhyar even says that such an individual can act "as a popularizer of what has impressed him most forcibly in his studies or his experiences, in his tradition." George Harrison was definitely a popularizer of Eastern thought and religious belief through his music. Others born in this phase include Teddy Roosevelt, Bismarck, Hitler, Carl Jung, Dante, Wagner, and both President Clinton and VP Al Gore. George was born with Mercury in Aquarius opposing Pluto in Leo. This is a testimony to his strong connection to our country and the American people -- as the USA was born on July 4, 1776 with the same polarity, Mercury in Cancer opposed to Pluto in Capricorn. In our chart, it often represents a difficulty in seeing our "dark shadow" psychologically and our projecting internal evils onto real, political monsters in the world (i.e., King George III, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, now Osama bin Laden). Again, it seems that in this regard, George Harrison's passing is a cosmic reminder for us to wake up as a nation, to make sure we know what we are doing in the war against terrorism and that we also remain vigilant about our loss of freedoms on the home front.

Copyright 2001 by Mark Lerner and Great Bear Enterprises, Ltd. All rights reserved.

[Mark Lerner is the publisher of Welcome to Planet Earth. Contact him by sending an e-mail to or by writing to him at Mark Lerner, The Great Bear, PO Box 12007, Eugene OR 97440. Please see our "Special Offer on Consultations and 2002 Calendars" which gives the variety of our astrological services on the Index page of our web site.]