Harvey Milk, George Moscone and Dan White - The Inside Story
Dennis Sutton May 2009

This world can be a dangerous place if you're different. The dominant 'orthodox' culture has the numbers and it sets the rules. You comply, and if you don't the consequences can be very unpleasant – even dire. Those who dare to do things differently – who go against the grain, disturb the status quo or hold unorthodox beliefs – are inclined to experience persecution, ridicule and open hostility. It pays to join forces with the pedestrian majority – there's safety in numbers.

The history of the occult and astrology is one of persecution. The religious authorities deemed them dangerous so, in order to survive, the custodians of the hidden knowledge took their wisdom underground. A superficial version has always been out there in the public arena, and even though many ancient truths have been validated by new discoveries and scientific investigation they still remain out of sight. They've been silenced by orthodoxy.

Orthodox fundamentalist religion – which preaches what the Bible proclaims – vehemently opposes and openly attacks occult practices. It has no other choice – occult (or hidden) information, like that provided by astrology and the tarot, can undermine its world-view. Fundamentalist religion sees these doctrines as the Devil's workshop – and its duty is to combat God's #1 enemy and all his blasphemous teachings. In the process it opposes the other person's freedom to believe and worship what and who s/he chooses: And it seems that Fundamentalist religion has every right to speak what it thinks and to constrain the beliefs of organizations that preach a different message. But despite its open opposition more than 100 million Americans believe in astrology and church attendances are down.

Scientific rationalism – which preaches what materialism proclaims in the laboratory – also vehemently opposes and openly attacks occult information such as ESP and astrology. Orthodox science persecuted JB Rhine and ridiculed his research work on extra-sensory perception. It had no other choice – it undermined its materialistic world-view. It also derides and ridicules astrology, without investigation.

In Astrology the marker for persecution and oppression is Lower-Pluto and both the perpetrator and the victim act on and experience destructive Pluto impulses. One – the perpetrator – persecutes, coerces and intimidates while the other – the victim – feels oppressed, harassed, frightened and threatened. The actual persecution behaviour can be physical, mental, subtle, open, violent or non-violent. In one instance it involves physical coercion, oppression, torture, violent bullying and intimidation: And in the other threats, warnings, torment, ridicule, disparagement, mockery and derision.

Harvey Milk was different. He was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. His story involved persecution, ridicule, politics, activism, hostile opposition and Pluto.
Gay Politics – 1977-1978

The Gay Liberation movement was born in New York City on June 28, 1969. It was a violent birth and eight years later the budding gay-rights agenda collided with a self-righteous Christian Fundamentalist named Anita Bryant. In 1977 a civil rights ordinance had made discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal in Dade County, Florida and she claimed the ordinance infringed her right to teach her children Biblical morality: And when her 'Save Our Children' campaign collected 64,000 signatures the issue was put to a county-wide vote. On voting day, June 7, 1977, 70% of Dade County voted to repeal the law. In San Francisco, Harvey Milk, led a 3000 strong protest march declaring 'This is the power of the gay community. Anita's going to create a national gay force.' But Christian conservatives were inspired and in a domino effect civil rights ordinances were overturned by voters in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Wichita, Kansas and Eugene, Oregon.

Then, encouraged by Anita's success, California State Senator John Briggs decided to up the anti and at a press conference in San Francisco called the city a 'sexual garbage heap' – due to its homosexual population. Random attacks on gays had been on the increase and on June 21, 1977 Robert Hillsborough, a gay man, died from 15 stab wounds while his attackers chanted 'faggot'. Mayor George Moscone blamed Anita Bryant and John Briggs. In July 1977 250,000 people attended San Francisco's Gay Freedom Day parade: And in November voters decided to reorganize supervisor elections to choose supervisors from neighborhoods instead of voting for them in city-wide ballots. Harvey Milk qualified as the leading candidate in District 5.

Anita Bryant's, religious inspired, public campaign opposing homosexuality and gay-rights ordinances fueled gay politics in San Francisco and in District 5, surrounding Castro Street, more than half of the seventeen candidates were gay. Milk ran on a populist philosophy – 'we have to make up for years of persecution' – and on Election Day he won. The death threats had started well before then.

Milk began his tenure by sponsoring a civil rights bill that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation: And the bill passed with only one dissenting vote – Supervisor Dan White. Then in mid 1978, Proposition 6, a law that made firing gay teachers mandatory, was proposed by Senator John Briggs. Public support for the bill was running high, but Milk campaigned against the bill, debated John Briggs, got heavy-weight support from former California Governor Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter and on November 7, 1978 the proposition lost by a million votes. Three days later, on November 10, Supervisor Dan White resigned his position on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, claiming his annual salary of $9,600 was not enough to support his wife and three children. On the same day the signs in the sky turned hazardous. Mars the planet of violence, explosive aggression, guns and hate moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with Neptune – planet of illusion, bondage, deception, confusion, poisoning and emotional drama. The aspect reached its critical state of peak discord on November 26, 1978.
The birth data

The birth details for each of the charts used in this commentary are:

Harvey Milk – born at 1.30am EDT on May 22, 1930 at Woodmere, New York (40N35; 73W42). Jim Lewis quotes him for the data.

George Moscone – born at 4.00am PST on November 24, 1929 at San Francisco, California (37N47; 122W26). Doris Chase Doane quotes the birth certificate.

Daniel James White – born at 8.13am PST on September 2, 1946 at Bellflower, California (33N53; 118W09). Victoria Shaw quotes the birth certificate.

Dianne Feinstein – politician, senator and Mayor of San Francisco – born at 12.44am PST on June 22, 1933 at San Francisco (37N47; 122W26). Jack Fertig quotes the birth certificate.

Anita Bryant – beauty queen and singer – born at 3.10pm on March 25, 1940 at Barnsdall Oklahoma (36N34; 96W10). Jim Eshelman quotes the birth certificate.

On June 7, 1977, when she successfully campaigned to have a civil rights ordinance making discrimination based on sexual orientation in Dade Country, Florida repealed, progressed Mars in her chart (at 19 Gemini 55) had moved to form a growth (semisextile) aspect with birthchart Uranus – cusp ruler of the 7th house (her opposition); progressed Venus (at 26 Gemini 13) – cusp ruler of the 10th house (getting the job done) – had moved to form an opportunity (sextile) aspect with progressed Jupiter (at 26 Aries 41) in the 9th house (new laws); and progressed ascendant (at 24 Virgo 05) had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Neptune – planet of mystical thinking and exaggerated expectation. Progressed Moon (at 11 Pisces 52) in the 7th house (the enemy) had moved to form an opportunity (sextile) aspect with progressed Sun (at 11 Taurus 31).

Jim Jones – leader of the People's Temple and cult figure – born at 10.00pm on May 13, 1931 at Lynn Indiana (40N03; 84W56). Beverley Good quotes newspaper sources in Indiana and Frank C Clifford confirmed the time with the register of births.

In August 1977 Jones – San Francisco's Housing Commission Chairman – fled to Jonestown Guyana following media scrutiny alleging criminal wrongdoing. Mayor George Moscone later announced his office would not investigate Jones or the People's Temple.

Sean Penn – born at 3.17pm PDT on August 17, 1960 at Burbank, California (34N11; 118W19). Aaron Fischer quotes the birth certificate.

Mar was conjunct Neptune in the sky at 4.45pm PST November 25, 1978, San Francisco – 37N47; 122W56). The conjunction was in the 7th house (open enmity and overseas events.)
Heroes and Icons

As the 20th Century did a fade to black Time (magazine) paid tribute to the century's most influential, memorable and inspiring people. In its June 14, 1999 edition it acknowledged the 'Heroes and Icons of the 20th Century'. One of the heroes – along side Charles Lindbergh, Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Rosa Parks, Che Guevara, Anne Frank, Jackie Robinson, Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, Helen Keller and the American G.I. – was Harvey Milk. In his introductory remarks Howard Chua-Eoan wrote:

'We need our heroes to give meaning to time...for it is the heroes – through their triumphs and follies – who teach us how to live. They thrilled us and brought tears to our eyes. And we shaped our lives with the lessons of their fervor and folly, their tragedies and triumphs.' Then, in a grand, but presumptuous tone he claimed: 'The full moon, brilliant on a cloudless night, can humble, even the most heroic of monuments. Yet the moon is mute. And the magnificent swirl of the cosmos simply marks time: it cannot tell us history, cannot instruct us on what to remember, what to proscribe, what to avoid. Memory is born of biological time, and it is born on blood and bone and phlegm. Can the stars shudder at sacrifice?'

Yes Howard, they can: And they also produce heroes, icons, martyrs and villains.

Harvey Bernard Milk

Harvey Bernard Milk – business owner, politician and gay-activist – was born in Woodmere, New York to a successful retail clothing-family. The younger son of Lithuanian Jewish parents he developed a passion for opera and played football at school. It was all rather conventional except for one thing – he was gay.

After graduating from Bay Shore High School in Bay Shore, New York, he attended New York State College for Teachers. There he wrote for the college newspaper, kept his sexual orientation under wraps and majored in mathematics He graduated in 1951 and joined the United States Navy – serving aboard the submarine rescue ship USS Kittiwake as a diving officer. He served in the Korean War and in 1955 was honorably discharged from the Navy. He then pursued a career as a high school teacher and in 1963 joined Bache & Co – a Wall Street Investment firm. In 1968 he moved to San Francisco. There he continued to work in finance but in 1970, after being fired from his job, moved back to New York. Then, in 1972, he moved back to San Francisco – captivated by the freedom and individuality the city promised. He opened Castro Camera on Castro Street, developed an interest in politics and soon found his vocation in life as a politician.

In 1973 Milk ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors – and lost. He ran again in 1975, but this time he made lifestyle changes and changed his appearance. He lost again, but George Moscone won: And even though he was losing he was gaining media attention and the villains weren't cheering and the death threats steadily increased.
In 1976 Milk was appointed to the Board of Permit Appeals, but within five weeks Mayor Moscone was forced to fire him when he announced he would run for the California State Assembly. Then in 1977, with the new district elections system in place, Milk ran for a third time and won the seat for District 5, which included the Castro. He was the first openly gay man ever elected to public office in America. On January 9, 1978 he was sworn in along with social conservative Dan White who won the seat for District 8.

As supervisor Milk was pro-actively involved in several issues including programs for senior citizens, dog owners cleaning up after the pets, and accessible and comprehensible voting machines for all citizens. He also sponsored the landmark San Francisco gay rights ordinance. It was passed by the Board of Supervisors with only one dissenting vote – Dan White – and signed into law by Mayor George Moscone.

Harvey Milk's Astrological profile

Some souls are astrologically designed to fight social injustice and oppression – and when a social outcast responds to the call and takes up arms in the fight against what s/he perceives is persecution and social inequality the heavens rejoice. The 'establishment', that these souls challenge and confront, ever seeks to protect its position of privilege and this makes genuine social progress a difficult and laborious political adjustment that plods along. Those at the top – or even half way up – the financial and social ladder do all they can to keep minority groups and the disadvantaged on the bottom rung. Progress takes place through a democratic political process, but when the oppression unjustly infringes on the soul's human rights some souls feel compelled to become human rights activists. Harvey Milk was such a soul.

Pluto – the planet of universal welfare, humanitarianism, groups, cooperation, coercive politics, resourcefulness and division – dominated Harvey Milk's birthchart and he was intense, active, energetic and resourceful – never meek and mild. He was naturally inclined to join a group – to unite with others to accomplish a common purpose – and had an affinity for building coalitions. But Pluto was discordant and he was a divisive figure who employed coercion, manipulation and devious means to achieve his ends.

On September 24, 1975 an assassination attempt on President Gerald Ford was foiled when Oliver 'Bill' Sipple grabbed the raised gun held by Sara Jane Moore. Sipple was gay and Harvey couldn't resist the opportunity to tell the world that gays can do heroic things too. Sipple refused to call himself a hero and did not want his sexuality disclosed, but Harvey contacted the San Francisco Chronicle and several days later Sipple was exposed as gay and a friend of Milk's.

Pluto was in the 2nd – Scorpio (sex) – decanate of Cancer and Harvey was engaged in a very personal struggle with his sensual desires and the limitations imposed by death. Intensely emotional he was mediumistic and had a natural aptitude for spirit communion.
And with Pluto in the 5th house its life-matters and activities – his sex life, social ties, sporting interests, risk taking, a stage to perform on and the big screen – were influenced by coercion and compulsion. His sex life was far from harmonious. Erratic and unstable it involved drastic events: And while Castro Street was his personal stage Hollywood did it bigger by providing him with a world-wide audience.

The prominent planets in his birthchart – those with above average power – were Saturn (loss, hardship, system and order), Jupiter (optimism, joviality, good-will and tolerance), Neptune (dramatic talent, sensitivity and promotional skills) and the Moon (moods, curiosity, novelty and the public): And with Saturn, Neptune and the Moon also aspecting the dominant planet – Pluto – their astrological influence and importance were correspondingly upgraded. Pluto and its aspect structure detailed a dominant developmental trend that displayed itself as his life story.

Pluto formed a luck (trine) aspect with the Moon – planet of adaptability and water – in the 1st house (his personality) and cusp ruler of the 6th house (the navy). This high-harmony stellar structure provided him with extraordinary adaptation skills and he – the self-conscious thinker – easily adjusted to his personal circumstances and the unconventional sexual desires (Mars conjunct Uranus) that were a prominent feature of his unconscious mental make-up. It also allowed him to take on the identity of the political underdog. The Moon was in the 'self-sacrifice' decanate of Pisces and Milk grasped, more readily than most, the true meaning of universal brotherhood: And, even though, his own life was filled with restriction and limitation he worked to alleviate the mental suffering of those like him. He suffered persecution and martyrdom so that others might benefit.

And with Pluto forming a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with Mars – planet of strife, haste, energetic effort, guns and violence – in the 2nd house (money) he was hyperactive and prone to fantastic outbursts of temper: And by simply being who he was he was naturally inclined to attract strife, dissension and hostility. 'The first step is always hostility, and after that you can sit down and talk about it.'

As a Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Milk received an annual salary of $9,600 and in October 1978, due to severe financial problems, he was forced (Pluto) to close Castro Camera. At this time in his chart progressed Mars (ruler of the 2nd house – money) had moved to form an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with birthchart Saturn – planet of loss, hardship and closures; progressed Sun had moved to form a friction (semisquare) aspect with progressed Neptune – planet of cameras; and progressed MC (his business interests) in the 12th house (disappointments) had moved to form an expansion (inconjunct) aspect with birthchart Venus.

Mars was conjunct Uranus and even though they were the weakest planets in his chart their square aspect to the dominant planet, Pluto, not only enhanced their influence it increased – at astrologically dangerous moments – their potential for discord, harm and misadventure.
With Pluto forming a high-discord separation (opposition) aspect with Saturn – planet of loss, work and responsibility in the 11th house (friends) – his struggle involved heavy losses and distressful separations from friends and lovers. Saturn – the planet of system and cold-hard reason – was discordant and while his political campaigns were a study in disorganization he realistically accepted the possibility of his own assassination.

The available evidence suggests that his life lacked deep meaning and purpose until 1972 when he moved to San Francisco and discovered his passion for politics and fighting for the rights of others. In his chart at this time progressed Mercury had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Venus in the 4th house (re-location and home-life changes); progressed MC had formed a separation (opposition) aspect with progressed Pluto – the planet of human-rights; and progressed Sun – the planet of politics – had formed a separation (opposition) aspect with birthchart Saturn.

Pluto formed an (obstacle) square aspect with Uranus – planet of radical activism, bizarre behaviour, extreme events and unforeseen developments – in the 2nd house (money). It's the planet of disclosure and personal revelation and Harvey did not feel the need to 'come out' regarding his homosexuality and emerge from the shadows till around the age of 40. At this time (1970) in his chart progressed Venus had moved to form a luck (trine) aspect with birthchart Uranus – the 'coming-out' planet.

Pluto formed a friction (semisquare) aspect with Neptune – planet of deception, schemes, cameras, submarines, diving, drama and films – in the 7th house (partnership, the public, open conflict and the enemy): And vague and dreamy Neptune was a very powerful influence in his life. It formed a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with the Sun – the worst aspect in the chart – and this very nebulous stellar structure distorted his sense of self-importance, over-stated what he could politically achieve, exaggerated his expectations and sourced misguided imaginings and theatrical behaviour.

Pluto formed an intensity (parallel) aspect with the Midheaven – his business interests, reputation and publicity – and Milk was relentless in his pursuit of attention. He needed to be out there simply because he knew that the root cause of the gay predicament was invisibility – and he used his astrological resources as best he could. He showed community leadership, grabbed media attention and pulled publicity stunts. But the story didn't centre on his being gay. 'It's just about a gay person who is doing his job'. His reputation has continued to grow and Harvey, the political activist, has now become a gay icon.

The Moon-Pluto trine marked for good-luck and fortunate associations when working with groups, but the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto T-square told a difficult story. It marked for coercion, harassment, threats, heavy losses, extreme events and drastic developments. Yet in spite of the heavy duty struggle – the set-backs and disappointments – Milk remained optimistic. Jupiter – the planet of hope and optimism – had prominence status and his home (Jupiter in the 4th house conjunct Venus) was his safe haven and place of contentment.
The altruistic sign Aquarius was on the ascendant – incidentally the same degree as Abraham Lincoln – and Harvey was a humanitarian who saw the big picture. The need to liberate himself from the social persecution expanded to embrace 'that poor runaway kid from San Antonio'. The Moon was in sympathetic Pisces and he felt for the oppressed and persecuted: And with the Sun in clever Gemini – forming a conjunction aspect with intelligent Mercury in the 3rd house (newspapers) – he had savvy media skills, was smart at getting media attention and attracted a lot of attention from the press. He never missed a chance to get publicity and to promote himself and what he stood for: And with Scorpio (Mars and Pluto) on the cusp of the 9th house (public speaking) his speeches were fiery and flamboyant.

Pluto stands for spiritual endeavour and Harvey stood for gay-rights – the right to live your life, and pursue happiness, free from discrimination based upon sexual orientation – and his gay activism – his desire to alleviate the suffering of many gay people – was simply his spiritual engine (Pluto) doing its thing. He probably never experienced the hostile ostracism faced by many members of the gay community yet he empathized with their plight.

As a Pluto soul Harvey was tuned to picking up the spiritual message, but the spirituality he felt was not some vague mystical state of mind. It was a powerful noble emotion that drove him to gay activism and political office. His spirituality had high personal value and it gave him meaning and purpose: And by contributing to what he thought was a worthwhile social cause he experienced an elevated sense of spiritual wellbeing.

But because of Pluto's extreme nature it also had him walking and talking with the sordid, vulgar and corrupt: And it brought him in contact with sinister groups – in particular the People's Temple. Its leader Jim Jones was politically powerful in San Francisco and Temple members worked as volunteers on Harvey's political campaigns. He seemed to be aware of the situation and summed up the group as – 'they're weird and they're dangerous, and you never want to be on their bad side.'

Harvey's experience with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors was no doubt a tough, combative political fight. The passing of new legislation required discussion, cooperation and collaboration, but the Board (Pluto) was split into rival factions and this resulted in dissension and personal animosity. Harvey was clever, astute and intelligent (Sun in Gemini), mentally conceited (Moon square Jupiter), knowledgeable and very good at debating (ascendant in Aquarius) and he no doubt riled the less adroit members of the board. And while his outrageous and bizarre behaviour (Mars conjunct Uranus) was simply his misguided individualistic urge (Uranus) seeking to shock and offend it no-doubt caused the more conservative board members to feel ill at ease. Like everyone he was born with an astrological starter pack and his personal success required the constructive, effective and sustained development of the resources, skills and abilities it contained. There's no doubt that he did things in the only way he could – what you do is what you know – but with a little bit of astrological guidance he could have done it a whole lot better.

George Richard Mascone

George Moscone was born in San Francisco. He had a Catholic education – studied law at Hastings College – served in the United States Navy – met and married Gina Bondanza in 1954 – (the marriage produced four children) – and in 1956 started a private law practice. In 1966, Moscone a progressive democrat, ran for and won a seat in the California State Senate and was elected by his party to serve as Majority Leader. By 1974 he was a proponent of gay rights and in 1975 ran for Mayor of San Francisco. In the mandated runoff election in December he narrowly defeated his conservative opponent. Members of the religious sect, the People's Temple, worked to get out the vote and were instrumental in his success: And Moscone appointed Temple Leader, Jim Jones, as Chairman of the San Francisco Housing Commission.

In November 1977 the city's first district elections for Board of Supervisors took place and among those elected were the city's first openly gay Supervisor, Harvey Milk, attorney and women's rights advocate Carol Ruth Silver and conservative fireman and former police officer Dan White. Dianne Feinstein, heading a loosely organized coalition to oppose Moscone and his initiatives, was elected President of the Board on a 6-5 vote.

This 'set-up' set the scene for dissension and division and on November 10, 1978, when Dan White resigned from the board, George Moscone was in a position to tip the Board's balance of power in his favor. Recognizing this, the more conservative board members got White to change his mind and on November 14 White asked Moscone to reappoint him to his former seat. Moscone initially indicated a willingness to consider White's request, but the more liberal board members, including Harvey Milk, lobbied him against the idea. In the end Moscone decided not to reappoint White and announced he would name Dan White's replacement on November 27, 1978.

George Moscone's astrological profile

The Sun, planet of politics, dominated George Moscone's astrological profile and he was a natural born politician. Mercury – the planet of perception and intelligence – and Mars – the planet of aggression, strife and violence – were conjunct the Sun – and all three planets had above average power. This prominent – high-powered – astrological 'hot-spot' formed an extra-lucky grand trine with liberal and progressive Uranus and the MC – his career – and a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with Neptune – planet of idealism, deception and vagueness – in the 11th house (friends and supporters). Communication – Mercury – was his forte – and vagueness – Neptune – was his undoing. The Sun-Mercury trine to the MC delivered political success and the Mars-Neptune square signed for dangerous deception. Both Mars and Neptune were high in discord and Mars – the cusp ruler of the 7th house (open enemies) – formed an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with Pluto – planet of groups and coercion – in the 9th house (the law). The Mars situation demanded vigilant risk-management and, at astrologically hazardous times, a reduced exposure to danger.
The Sun-Mercury-Mars conjunction was in the 1st decanate of Sagittarius – the decanate of devotion – and George Moscone was a religious man who, on occasions, experienced cosmic consciousness. He felt impressed to fulfil a definite mission and when he followed his 'inner voice' he invariably made the right decision. It was only when he took the advice of others that he invited mishap, misfortune and failure.

The Moon was in the 2nd decanate of Virgo – the decanate of experience – and Moscone's life was filled with an exceptional variety of good and evil experiences. He talked with the honest and walked with the corrupt. He had a diplomatic mind, strong powers of discernment and comparison and a strong desire for fame and glory. The ascendant in the 3rd decanate of Libra – the sign of open enemies – marked for a peculiar fatality. This is the decanate of expiation – of paying the penalty – and the only way tragedy can be avoided is to lead a straight forward moral life free from corruption, but with the Moon in the 2nd decanate of Virgo the temptations were going to be great.

In December 1975 when George Moscone was elected Mayor of San Francisco the progressed ascendant in his chart (at 1 Sagittarius 40) had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Sun – planet of politics – and co-ruler of the 10th house (getting the job – Leo is intercepted); and progressed Sun (at 18 Capricorn 34) had formed an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with birthchart Neptune – planet of vagueness and deception – and an opposition (separation) aspect with progressed Pluto (at 18 Cancer 33) – planet of groups and the People's Temple. Progressed Venus (at 11 Capricorn 48) had moved to form a luck (trine) aspect with birthchart Moon – planet of the people and cusp ruler of the 10th house (career advancement); and progressed Mercury (at 7 Aquarius 08) had formed a luck (trine) aspect with progressed Jupiter (at 7 Gemini 09) – a very fortunate rallying force that no doubt provided the extra bit of luck that allowed him to win the very close Mayoral election.

Heroes and villains

Dan White – the villain in the story – was a troubled antigay conservative – and I suppose there are some who would see him as a hero. Your world-view is determined by your conditioning by environment, family values and education, but the fact that brothers and sisters often develop different, contradictory viewpoints on the same matter reveals that there's something else going on besides environment. This of course is the original astrological script. It contains good (harmonious) and bad (discordant) sectors that display themselves as constructive and destructive mental attributes. Your job, as the self-conscious thinker, is to ensure that your viewpoints are constructive, worthwhile and socially beneficial. But the potential for astrological discord to display itself as destructive anti-social behaviour is very high – you can watch it on the 6 o'clock news every night – and that's why laws are passed to regulate human behaviour. The police uphold the law, but there's no guarantee that things will always work out the way they're supposed to.

Daniel James White

Dan White – a family values Catholic conservative – was born in Bellflower, California. The second of ten children he was raised by working-class parents in a Roman Catholic household and attended Riordan High School. In 1965 he enlisted in the Army and spent a year in Vietnam as a paratrooper. After being discharged in 1972 he returned to San Francisco where he worked as a police officer and firefighter. The San Francisco Chronicle described him as a high-achieving 'all American boy.'

In the 1977 San Francisco Board of Supervisor's election White won the seat for District 8: And on January 9, 1978 he was sworn in along side gay-liberal Harvey Milk. Despite their personal differences both men initially worked well together, but in April 1978, when the Catholic Church proposed the establishment of a mental health facility for juvenile offenders who had committed murder and other crimes in his District, White strongly opposed the proposition and Milk supported it: And this falling out sowed the seeds for conflict. White then opposed every initiative and issue Milk supported (and frequently clashed with other board members.) He cast the only vote in opposition to San Francisco's landmark gay rights ordinance – that was passed by the board and signed by Mayor Moscone in 1978.

On November 10, 1978 ten months after he was sworn in, Supervisor White resigned his position citing dissatisfaction with the corrupt inner-workings of San Francisco city politics and the difficulty of making a living and supporting his family on an annual salary of $9,600 without a police officer's or firefighter's salary. He had opened a potato restaurant at Pier 39, but it failed to become profitable. Then on November 14, after his supporters lobbied him to withdraw his resignation, he met with Mayor Moscone and requested his reinstatement – and initially the Mayor agreed. But then, following the intervention of the other more liberal supervisors, in particular Harvey Milk, Moscone reversed his position and announced that he would name Dan White's replacement on November 27, 1978.

Dan White's Astrological profile

Mars – the planet of war, policemen, firefighters, aggression, impulsivity, resentment, adrenalin, guns and strife – dominated Dan White's astrological profile. It was in the 1st house (his personality) and he was described as having a pugilistic temper, a very short fuse, and an impressive capacity for nurturing a grudge. Extremely competitive, he found defeat difficult to take. Mars formed a high-powered prominence (conjunction) aspect with the ascendant and a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with the MC – the worst aspect in the chart – and these two aspects shaped his life experience. Mars and the ascendant were in the 2nd decanate of Libra – the decanate of independence – and while White was an exponent of liberty, (the ascendant and Mars were trine Uranus – planet of liberty), he also felt it his duty to destroy those who opposed his worldview. Mars was cusp ruler of the 7th house (marriage, open opposition and the enemy): And his 'military' mindset saw Harvey Milk and George Moscone as representing all that was wrong with the world.
Uranus (the planet of independence and extreme views), Jupiter (the planet of goodwill, tolerance and religion – in his case Catholicism), Pluto (the planet of cooperation, coercion and groups – and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors) and Venus (planet of affection, social fun and companionship) all had above average power: And the Venus-Jupiter conjunction in the 1st house (his personality) was the dominant and most harmonious aspect in the chart. Jupiter – the planet of abundance and the law – was cusp ruler of the 3rd house (his siblings) and formed a luck (trine) aspect with Uranus in the 9th house (court cases).

The Sun – planet of self-esteem, conscientiousness and self-control – in the 1st decanate of Virgo was the weakest planet in the chart. This is the decanate of achievement and while White lacked authority, and the ability to dominate others and get his own way (weak Sun), the know-how and talent he acquired as a paratrooper, policeman and firefighter provided a rich harvest of experience that spurred him on to greater personal accomplishment.

On January 9, 1978 when he was sworn in is a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors the progressed Sun in his chart ( the planet of achievement at 10 Libra 12) had moved to form a growth (semisextile) aspect with birthchart Sun; the progressed ascendant (at 10 Scorpio 14) had moved to form an opportunity (sextile) aspect with birthchart Sun; and progressed MC (at 15 Leo 38) – getting the job – had moved to form an opportunity (sextile) aspect with birthchart Mars.

The Moon in the 3rd decanate of Scorpio – the decanate of attainment – marked for intense emotions and vivid ideas. White had a spirit of chivalry and a personal sense of being of value to his country but he needed a female companion to stimulate his ambitions: And his social usefulness was greatly influenced – for better or worse – by his social life (Venus).

As the self-conscious thinker Dan White had to deal with the unconscious mental activity that represented his character – and his low-level self-control (weak Sun) found the powerful aggressive Mars impulses difficult to discipline and manage. As a paratrooper, policeman and fireman he was operating in a comfortable environment with like-minded souls, but when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of supervisors (with progressed Mars sesquisquare birthchart Uranus) the radical change in circumstance was a whole new ball-game that he found hard to handle. The Moon (his mentality) in the discordant 2nd house (financial difficulties) formed a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with Mercury (his objective thinking and problem solving skills) and when the financial stress escalated (Mars was cusp ruler of the 2nd house) he was prone to crack under the mental strain. Mars saw the solution as shooting the enemy and he dealt with the financial problems and the opposition he confronted on the Board of Supervisors in exactly the same way as he dealt with the enemy in Vietnam. Saturn and Pluto were in the high-discord 10th house and Mars formed a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with the MC – an astrological scenario that eventually played itself out as a ruined reputation, public hate and an appalling, shameful legacy.

November 27, 1978 – The inside story

Mayor George Moscone was to name Dan White's replacement to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at a press conference on November 27, 1978, but on November 14 White had spoken with Moscone requesting his reinstatement. This was a tipping point and when the Mayor refused White became mentally unstable. He was angry with Moscone for turning his request down and Harvey Milk for lobbying against it. On the morning of November 27 – half an hour before the press conference – White entered San Francisco City Hall via a basement window (to avoid metal detectors) and made his way to the Mayor's office. He confronted Moscone and made a final plea to be reinstated as supervisor, but Moscone again turned him down. Witnesses then heard shouting and gunshots. White shot the mayor once in the arm and three times in the head. He then went to his former office reloading his police-issue revolver along the way and intercepted Harvey Milk. He asked Harvey to step inside and shot him five times – twice in the head at close range.

On November 27, 1978 in Harvey Milk's chart progressed Mars – planet of guns and violence at 26 Taurus 38 – had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Mercury – co-ruler of the 7th house (open enemies) – and two bullets (Mars) actually entered his brain (Mercury); an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with birthchart Saturn – cusp ruler of the 1st house (him); and a luck (trine) aspect with progressed MC (publicity and public notice): And progressed Venus – cusp ruler of the 8th house (death) at 24 Leo 51 – had moved to form a high discord opposition aspect with birthchart ascendant (him). Progressed Sun – at 16 Cancer 46 in the 5th house (risk) – had moved to form a friction (semisquare) aspect with progressed Neptune – at I Virgo 40 in the 7th house. It activated their birthchart square, added to the 1st and 7th house discord and increased the level of risk.

In George Moscone's chart progressed ascendant – his physical self at 3 Sagittarius 57 – had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Mars – planet of violent attacks and shootings and cusp ruler of the 7th house (open enemies); a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with birthchart Neptune; and an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with birthchart Pluto – planet of drastic events. Progressed Sun – co-ruler of the 10th house (public notice) at 21 Capricorn 35 – had moved to form an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with progressed Jupiter – at 6 Gemini 57R in the 8th house (death). Progressed Moon – at 17 Gemini 18 in the 8th house – had formed an obstacle (square) aspect with progressed MC – and his death received widespread publicity.

In Dan White's chart progressed Mars at 6 Scorpio 57 – planet of guns and violent attacks and cusp ruler of the 7th house (the enemy) – had moved to form a high-discord (square) aspect with progressed Saturn at 6 Leo 57; and a high-discord agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with birthchart Uranus – planet of extreme behaviour: And progressed Mercury – planet of rational thought and premeditated intent at 25 Libra 26 – the decanate of expiation – had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Venus – cusp ruler of the 8th house (death).
San Francisco - a city in agony

November 1978 was an eventful month for California and San Francisco.

John Brigg's radical initiative Prop 6 went to the polls on November 7. It would have banned gays and lesbians and possibly anyone who supported gay rights from working in California's public schools. Gay men and lesbians couldn't be teachers, administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, or even janitors: And the pre-election polls indicated huge public support for the initiative. But Harvey Milk in San Francisco staged a political coup by getting Briggs to accept a one-on-one debate. Milk won the debate easily and that's when politicians from across the political spectrum – President Jimmy Carter and former California Governor Ronald Reagan – began calling for its defeat. Prop 6 lost by over a million votes and the gay community rejoiced.

Then on November 10 – the day Dan White resigned from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors – the signs in the sky turned hazardous. Mars – planet of guns, violence, shootings, hate and reckless destruction – had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with Neptune – planet of idealism, misguided mysticism, illusion, emotional confusion, unreality, bondage and poisoning. At San Francisco the conjunction was in the 7th house (open enmity and off shore events) and its high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with Saturn upped the potential for mishap and misadventure.

In the summer of 1977 the San Francisco based religious cult the People's Temple had relocated to Jonestown, Guyana and on November 18, 1978 news broke of the murder of California Representative, Leo Ryan, who had gone there to check on the remote community. The next day news came of the cult's mass suicide. The cult's leader Jim Jones had forced his followers to drink a mixture of Kool Aid and cyanide and over 900 people died in the mass poisoning. Most of the dead were ex-residents of the Bay Area and Leo Ryan was a resident of San Francisco. The city was plunged into mourning.

Jupiter and Pluto dominated Jim Jones's birthchart, and he was a religious dictator. Their conjunction in the 7th house (the other person) formed a high-discord opposition aspect with Saturn in the 1st house and a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with the Moon and Uranus in the 3rd: And with birthchart Sun square to Mars in the 8th house he was a sinister and highly destructive individual. On November 18, 1978 in his chart progressed ascendant – at 11S22 – had moved to form an intensity (parallel) aspect with birthchart Neptune – planet of poisoning in the 8th house (death); and progressed Venus – at 19 Gemini05 – had moved to form a semisextile (growth) aspect with birthchart Pluto – planet of groups and diabolical behaviour – activating their birthchart square.

The Mars-Neptune conjunction in the sky reached its critical peak state on November 26, 1978, and two days later the city was again plunged into a state of shock and mourning.


Diane Feinstein, President of the Board of Supervisors, heard the shots and called the police. She found Milk lying face down on the floor – and in a state of shock identified the bodies. She announced to the press, 'Today San Francisco has experienced a double tragedy of immense proportions. As President of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to inform you that Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed and the suspect is Supervisor Dan White.'

In her chart on November 27, 1978 progressed Mars – planet of guns and violence at 17Libra47 – the ruler of the 6th house (her work associates) and cusp ruler of the 8th house (death) – had moved to form a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with birthchart Venus; progressed Sun (at 13 Leo 50) – planet of politicians and ruler of the 3rd house (the press) – had moved to form a high-discord separation aspect with progressed Saturn – cusp ruler of the 10th house (publicity); and progressed Venus (at 12 Virgo14) – in the 6th house (her fellow workers) – had moved to form an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with progressed Uranus – planet of shocks and unforeseen events – in the 1st house (her personality).

On December 4, 1978 she was sworn in as Mayor, served for ten years, and later emerged as one of California's most prominent politicians.

After the shootings Dan White fled City Hall and within an hour called his wife. Escorted by her he turned himself in. He admitted the murders and on November 28, 1978 was charged with first-degree murder. He was eligible for the death penalty and held without bail.

Harvey Milk's body was cremated and his ashes scattered in San Francisco Bay and buried beneath the sidewalk in front of 575 Castro Street where Castro Camera had been located. George Moscone was interred at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California.

At Dan White's trial his defense argued diminished responsibility – mostly due to depression – and the jury – mostly middle class Catholics – was clearly sympathetic. His defense argued he was not capable of premeditating his act of violence and was thus not legally guilty of first-degree murder: And the jury bought it. A forensic psychiatrist testified that White was suffering from depression pointing out that he wasn't eating his usual healthy diet, but a diet high in junk foods and sugary drinks – the 'Twinkie' defense. On May 21, 1979 the jury found White guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than first degree murder and he was sentenced to serve seven and two-thirds years. With the sentence reduced for time served and good behaviour, he would be released in five. He cried when he heard the verdict.

At the time of the murders there's no doubt that White's mind was under severe astrological stress and – as the image in the chart is an exact match of his mental state – he was struggling to maintain control of his life and, in particular, his financial situation. The Moon in the 2nd house of his birthchart (finances) marked for a very changeable and unstable financial situation and its high-discord obstacle (square) aspect to Mercury placed severe stress on his conscious thought processes and nerves. In March 1977 progressed Mars – the high-discord dominant planet – and cusp ruler of the 2nd house (his personal finances) – had moved to form a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with progressed Saturn – planet of loss and hardship – in the 10th house (business). This destructive mix of aggressive-fear thinking (Mars and Saturn) resulted in dietary deficiencies (Saturn) and a chemical imbalance that displayed itself as adrenal burnout depression (Mars and Saturn): and as the level of discord escalated so did the obstacles and financial difficulties. The aspect reached its critical peak state of discord on November 26, 1978.

The astrological evidence reveals that Mars is a poor self-observer – and he's not inclined to calmly and rationally assess life's problems. He's much more inclined to point the blame and seek payback: And that's what Dan White's conditioned response to conflict would have been – and all his associates – his siblings, friends and workmates – should have known it. He was having a very difficult time, but his 'now' astrology revealed that there was powerful astrological help at hand….if only. Progressed Mercury (at 25 Libra 26) – the planet of communication and problem solving – had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Jupiter – the planet of financial support – and he must have said something (Mercury) to his siblings or work mates (Jupiter rules the 3rd and 6th houses) about his financial and other problems. But nobody read the signs correctly and in the end the Mercury-Jupiter conjunction provided assistance that turned out to be of no help at all.

On May 21, 1979, the day Dan White was found guilty of manslaughter, progressed Mars in his chart (at 7 Scorpio 16) had moved to form an agitation (sesquisquare) aspect with progressed Uranus – the planet of unexpected developments in the 9th house (the court case and the jury); and a growth (semisextile) aspect with birthchart Neptune in the 12th house (prison). Progressed Mercury (at 26 Libra 11 – the decanate of expiation) – cusp ruler of the 9th house (the jury) and the 12th house (prison) – had formed a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Jupiter (planet of leniency) and birthchart Venus (planet of sugar and high-sugar junk food): And progressed Sun – at 11 Libra 32 in the 12th house – had moved to form an opportunity (sextile) aspect with birthchart Pluto in the 10th house (the judge): And mayhem erupted on the streets of San Francisco.

Acting Mayor Feinstein, Supervisor Ruth Silver and Harvey Milk's successor, Harry Britt, all condemned the jury's decision and as the groundswell of anger escalated a mob of 3000 went on a destructive rampage. The police were ordered to hold their ground – and not retaliate; but later in the evening several police cruisers filled with officers wearing riot gear stormed the Elephant Walk Bar in Castro Street and began to beat patrons at random. The White Night riots lasted several hours. By morning 61 police officers and 100 rioters and gay residents of the Castro had been hospitalized. On May 20, 1979 in the sky: Mars – the planet of angry rampages and police beatings – formed a high discord square aspect with Jupiter – the planet of judges and court decisions. In the San Francisco chart Mars was in the 9th house and the jury's verdict in the court case ignited a violent (Mars) response.
Dan White served little more than five years for the double murder. He was paroled on January 6, 1984 – a very troubled soul. Dianne Feinstein, who feared for her safety, issued a public statement asking White not to return to San Francisco, but he did – attempting to restore his life with his wife Mary Ann and their three children.

Later that year White confessed to Frank Falzon (the homicide inspector with the San Francisco police to whom he had turned himself in) that he had the intention of not only killing Moscone and Milk, but another supervisor, Carol Ruth Silver, and (the future Mayor of San Francisco) Willie Brown. Falzon stated 'I felt like I had been hit by a sledge-hammer…I found out it was premeditated murder.'

Dan White failed to rebuild his shattered life and on October 22, 1985 committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. He was found dead in a running car in his ex-wife's garage. He was 39 years old. By then the level of discord in his chart had escalated. Having been raised in the Catholic faith White was unable to reconcile his own destructive behaviour with the teachings of his church – a situation mapped by progressed Jupiter in his chart (at 3 Scorpio 26) – his religious teachings – having moved to form a high-discord obstacle (square) with birthchart Saturn – planet of loss, guilt, remorse, grief and anguish. His destructive past had become a nightmare memory and there was no escaping the mental torment.

The day Dan White took his own life progressed Mars in his chart (at 11 Scorpio 42) – the planet of destruction in the 1st house (him) – had moved to form a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with birthchart Pluto – planet of drastic events; and progressed Venus (at 27 Scorpio 51) – cusp ruler of the 8th house (death) – had moved to form a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with birthchart Mercury. He left a note (Mercury) that 'apologized for all the trouble his death would cause': And California abolished the diminished capacity criminal defense.

What happened in San Francisco in November 1978 was a local historical event. The outside world didn't know about Harvey Milk and what happened that fateful day. After the initial shock the city settled down into its normal, day-to-day, routine existence while, Harvey Milk, has grown, and continues to grow, in stature. He's now become 'a symbol of what gays can accomplish and the dangers they face in doing it': And The Advocate listed Milk third in their '40 Heroes' of the 20th century' issue. They quoted Dianne Feinstein: 'His homosexuality gave him an insight into the scars which all oppressed people wear. He believed that no sacrifice was too great a price to pay for the cause of human rights.' His astrological profile displayed a preparedness to pay the highest price of all – and he did.

Then in 2008 Harvey Milk's political life was portrayed on the big screen by Director Gus Van Sant. Filmed in San Francisco, the film uses flashbacks to trace Milk's life and career from his 40th birthday. Sean Penn played Harvey Milk and on February 22, 2009 at the Academy Awards his performance won the Oscar for Best Actor.

Sean Penn

Sean Penn's mother and father were both actors. The second of three sons he was raised in a secular home – graduated from Santa Monica High School – skipped college – rode the wild surf – spent two years with the Los Angeles Group Repertory Theater – studied drama – made his professional acting debut in an episode of TV's Barnaby Jones – moved to New York – got decent reviews for his role in Heartland – made his first film, Taps – and has had a very successful acting career ever since. He has received 5 Best Actor Academy Award nominations and won twice. In 1990 his enthusiasm for acting hit a brick wall so he retired and tried his hand at directing and writing. But in 1993, the price was right, and he was back in front of the cameras starring with Al Pacino in Carlito's Way. Other film credits include: I am Sam, Mystic River, Dead Man Walking and She's So Lovely.

His marriage to Madonna on August 16, 1985 made the headlines but 'didn't work out.' She filed for divorce on January 25, 1989: And on April 27, 1996 he married Robin White. They have two children. Penn has been active supporting several political and social causes. He criticized the Bush administration for its 'deconstruction of civil liberties' and its 'simplistic and inflammatory view of good and evil.'

Sean Penn's astrological profile

The Sun's in kind and ambitious Leo and the Moon's in tenacious and sensitive Cancer, but it's his boisterous and rowdy Sagittarian personality that dominates the proceedings and gets all the media attention. The Moon – planet of the home and family – in the 7th house (marriage) dominates his chart. It's in the 1st decanate of Cancer and he's adaptable, curious, fond of novelty, very emotional, easily carried away, particularly susceptible to domestic intrigue and capable of remarkable dramatic expression. The Moon's aspect structure details his life story. It forms an opportunity (sextile) aspect with Venus – planet of affection and cusp ruler of the 5th house (the stage and screen); a separation (opposition) aspect with Jupiter – planet of conceit in the 1st house (his personality); a high discord opposition aspect with Saturn – planet of fear and insecurity in the 1st house (his personality); a high-harmony luck (trine) aspect with Neptune – planet of movies and dramatic talent in the 11th house (his friends); a high-harmony opportunity (sextile) aspect with Pluto – planet of groups, cooperation and spiritual endeavour in the 9th house (religion); and a high-discord obstacle (square) aspect with the MC (his career and reputation).

Neptune and the Venus-Pluto conjunction intercept the high-discord Moon-Saturn opposition and his film life and friends (Neptune) and social-group activities (Venus and Pluto), by acting as a harmonious conciliator, allow him to neutralize and avoid much of the selfish-insecurity he's inclined to feel: And the Sun-Uranus conjunction trine to Jupiter provides an abundance of personal good-luck – and there's no doubt that Penn, when the time is right, has experienced extraordinary good-luck.

In June 2004 progressed Mars in his chart moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Moon – the dominant planet – signifying an important developmental phase involving his family (the Moon), marriage (Moon is in the 7th house), death (Moon rules the 8th house cusp), strife, haste and energetic effort (Mars).The emotional distress triggered by the marital and other family-life problems mapped by the aspect would require the development of adaptability, positivity, initiative and courage. The aspect reached its critical state of peak energy on August 1, 2006 and its end-date on October 17, 2008.

On January 24, 2006 Chris Penn – Sean's brother – died from an enlarged heart and prescription medications. At this time in Sean's chart progressed Uranus (at 25 Leo 15) – in the 8th house (death) and cusp ruler of the 3rd house (his brother) – had moved to form a prominence (conjunction) aspect with birthchart Sun; and progressed Sun (at 9 Libra 09) had moved to form a friction (semisquare) aspect with the Uranus-Sun conjunction. Progressed Moon (at 6 Pisces 10) – in the 3rd house – had formed a luck (trine) aspect with the Moon-Mars conjunction – providing additional stimulation to the 8th house.

Then in December 2007 Penn and his wife announced their separation and pending divorce. By now progressed Mars in the 7th house had moved to form a fiction (semisquare) aspect with birthchart Uranus and a luck (trine) aspect with birthchart Neptune; and progressed Venus – cusp ruler of the 5th house (his children and screen work) – had formed a prominence (conjunction) aspect with progressed Neptune: And in January-February 2008 he worked on the biopic Milk – a fortunate Venus-Neptune diversion that eased the 7th house distress – and in April 2008 Penn and his wife called a halt to their divorce proceedings.

On February 22, 2009 with progressed Mars (at 6 Cancer 43) forming a luck (trine) aspect with birthchart Neptune – planet of the movies and dramatic talent; progressed Venus (at 10 Scorpio 05) – cusp ruler of the 10th house (honors) – forming an opportunity (sextile) aspect with birthchart Venus; and progressed Sun (at 12 Libra 11) – planet of acclaim and recognition in the 10th house – forming an obstacle (square) aspect with progressed Saturn – Penn won the Academy Award for Best Actor. By now, with progressed Mercury forming a high harmony luck (trine) aspect with birthchart Moon, his 7th house and marriage were benefiting from the astral sunshine and better communication.


The fight for human rights and equality is not without peril and both Harvey Milk and George Moscone paid the ultimate price. Assassination provided Harvey with something rarely given to gay men – public empathy, hero status and Hollywood celebrity. His life pays testimony to the perils of earthly existence and the dangers of being different. According to Time (magazine) he was 'the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet.'

Today he and George Moscone are both mourned as martyrs of the gay-rights movement.