Alcoholism In The Natal Chart: Astrological Patterns and Placements Indicating the Tendency.

Natal Chart analysis is used to assess a person’s temperament, character, emotional needs and numerous other factors and traits of one’s personality. The following article is going to be the first one in a series where I will take a look at typical patterns and placements for various issues which can be seen in a person’s Birth Chart such as aggression and violence, depression and – the one which is in focus today – alcoholism.

Before we get to the list of typical placements and patterns and the examples which demonstrate them I want to stress that these patterns only indicate a tendency. Many times a person who is just starting to learn astrology is prone to jumping to conclusions based on one or two factors, ignoring the rest of the chart. While the tendency may exist in many charts you come across, it does not necessarily doom a person to becoming an alcoholic sooner or later. At the same time (as we shall see in some examples) a person who does succumb to this predisposition can fight and overcome it and this is shown by the ‘helping’ stronger planets in the chart.

Another thing is that finding just one of several astrological placements I am going to list below will indicate a drinking problem or even just occasional excessive alcohol consumption which are not alcoholism in its strict definition but still can be quite destructive to a person’s social or private life not to mention health. In other words – the more placements are found in the chart, the more evidence there is, so to say, the further up someone is likely to be on the scale from “teetotaler” to “alcoholic”.

Ok, so the factors we are looking for are:

  1. An afflicted Moon or Mars in a Water sign
  2. Mars or the Moon in a harsh aspect (opposition or square) with Neptune or Jupiter.
  3. Connection of the above placements and aspects to the 12th house, as well as the 1st or the 6th.
  4. Accent on the sign of Pisces (ruled by Neptune) in a negative way

I will start with 

Betty Ford 

not only because First Ladies go first. She is a vivid example of both being successful in overcoming addiction as well as the fact that this problem can permeate all levels of society; that being rich and having high social status doesn’t safeguard from having mental or emotional problems. Her example breaks the stereotype of an alcoholic being “that scruffy guy on the street or next to you in line at the store who reeks of cheap booze” . In her own words: “My makeup wasn’t smeared, I wasn’t disheveled, I behaved politely, and I never finished off a bottle, so how could I be alcoholic?”. But she was and in the 1970s she announced her long-running battle with alcoholism and substance abuse, being the first First Lady to do so. In 1982, after her recovery, she established the Betty Ford Center for treatment of people with substance abuse and dependence.

She was born 8 April 1918 at 15:45 in Chicago, IL, USA (source Astro-Databank). See the chart below.

Immediately we see the Mars-Moon opposition with the Moon in Pisces and the aspect is happening in the 1st-7th house. That one placement checks 3 items on our list: 1) afflicted Moon in a Water sign  2) a negative accent on Pisces (opposition)  3) connection with the first house of self, the house of personality and physical body. If we keep looking, we’ll see Jupiter also afflicting the Moon with a square. Jupiter is not strong by sign but is strong by house placement and it does add its negative influence.

By the way, if you are wondering why we are even looking at Jupiter here, since the first and most popular meaning of Jupiter is the “planet of good luck” I will take a minute to explain. The first and primary meaning of Jupiter is actually “a lot”. Simply that. “A lot” is quite neutral on its own and only gets a positive or a negative connotation when combined with other things. “A lot of pleasure” is quite different from “a lot of pain”, right? If we look for some synonyms here we can use “plenty” and “excess” which will clearly demonstrate the difference between a positive influence of Jupiter in the chart (plenty = enough, a lot in a way that is not inconvenient) and negative influence (excess = too much, over the top, so much that it can cause problems). That is why, apart from Neptune which is a natural significator of substances like drugs and alcohol, we look for harsh aspects from Jupiter which in our situation will show excessive drinking.

Let’s get back to Betty and see what her Neptune is doing. It is sitting just a couple degrees away from the 12th house cusp which is only a minor addition to the picture. The much more important thing here is the square that Neptune is giving to Mercury. “Wait, where does Mercury come from? It wasn’t on the list!” – you might say. Mercury here demonstrates the importance of knowing the birth time in Natal astrology. In itself Mercury is not connected to the topic but in Betty’s chart it is the ruler of the 1st house and it gives us yet another negative influence of Neptune on the first house running up the total to 5 strong indications. 

The Moon, being the weakest link here, doesn’t have any harmonious aspect which would serve as constructive solutions to the problem and this is why this chart is a good example on so many levels. We don’t see any harmonious aspect that will show us the solution so how did she manage to not only beat it but also take it to the next level by founding the help center? The answer is: dispositions aka planetary rulerships.

The Moon rules Pluto in Cancer 10th and Pluto is supported by a strong exalted Venus in Pisces in the 6th. This is where the Moon receives its support and with the 6th house having to do with service and Pisces being the sign motivated by compassion and empathy it was only natural that after treating her own addiction she continued by helping others (Venus, Pisces, 6th house) on a large scale, leaving a noticeable sociable impact (Pluto, 10th house).

One more placement that helped her to solve the problem is the Sun in the sign of its exaltation (Aries). The Sun is our will and even with no aspects and in the 8th house it gives a willful and strong personality helping to achieve goals she has set for herself.

While the First Lady’s struggle with substance abuse might be news to some people, the next person’s relationship with drinking as well as driving while doing it is quite notorious. Also, he is a more recent character and should be more familiar to many of the readers. 

Mel Gibson

was born on January 3rd, 1956 at 16:45 in Peekskill, NY, USA. I won’t spend time describing his story of alcohol problems. If it’s the first time you’re hearing about it, his Wikipedia article has a separate section describing it in detail. The chart is given below:

As you can imagine, there was an abundance of candidates for this article. A large number of people meet the requirement of just two things: being known to a fairly large number of people and having alcohol problems. I made my choices based on the Natal charts and their ability to demonstrate the astrological patterns in their variety. Mel is here to contrast Betty’s afflicted Moon in Water sign. Her quiet, passive and hidden (Pisces) affair with the bottle is quite different from his active and aggressive experience indicated by Mars in a Water sign of Scorpio. Even though it is in its own sign and thus quite strong, it doesn’t save it from being afflicted by a conjunction with Saturn and a square from Pluto. Both aspects are quite wide but still within the orb. His Moon is doing just fine but just like with Betty we see a 1st-7th house opposition (remember – planets in the 1st house have a strong connection both with your personality and physical body). The opposition is narrow with two degrees orb and what is more interesting is, again, dispositions and receptions. Uranus in the 1st degree of Leo is in the sign of its detriment as it rules Aquarius. Any planet opposing it from Aquarius will also be ruled by Uranus and this the opposition would be softened as the planet’s ability to damage will be limited by the fact that Uranus is also its ruler, its boss. Mercury, however, the trickster that he is, sits right outside Uranus’ domain in the last degree of Capricorn and answers only to Saturn so he can do all the damage he wants.

Still, if we’re counting the checkmarks on the list of factors given above, the evidence in the chart is quite scarce so far…. Until we find Neptune in the beginning of Scorpio turning a simple opposition into a formidable configuration of T-square which is much more potent and tense. Placed in fixed signs it makes the problem described by the T-square chronic, a lifelong struggle (by his own admission he started drinking at 13 and it remains to be seen if he has beaten it yet by now, at the age of 64). 

Further inspection shows that Mercury here is not so simple and rules the 12th house of self-undoing. So a T-square with Neptune afflicting both the 1st and the 12th houses as well as the 12th house ruler opposing a weak planet in the 1st house. This  piles the evidence high and we move on to the next exhibit, I mean, our next case:

Ben Affleck

I mentioned in one of my previous articles that I harbor a seemingly inexplicable dislike for the guy. I call it “allergy”. I’ve just always had this strange aversion to seeing him on screen in any role no matter how good the acting was (mind you, I don’t deny his acting skills). Seeing his name on the list of famous people struggling with alcohol problems kind of made me soften up a bit and check out the chart to see if he’ll qualify for the article in terms of being a good and clear example from an astrological point of view. Looking at his chart also shed some light at my inherent aversion: while that Venus right on the ASC  might contribute to him being dubbed “Sexiest Man alive” by People magazine way back in the early 00’s, for me personally it is placed in the 12th house and in a square to placements in my chart that describe what I find attractive. BTW, an opposition doesn’t work like that as the opposites often tend to attract but the square definitely does the job and it is useful to remember in synastry analysis.

Anyway, let’s get back to Ben and his Natal Chart. Born August 15th, 1972 at 02:53 in Berkeley, CA, USA (source Astro-Databank). See the chart below.

Afflicted Moon in Water sign – check. Moon is in fall in Scorpio and it has a square from Mercury which rules the 12th house. This very same aspect gives a second check for a negative connection of the 12th house with the 1st house as his Moon rules his ASC.

Another aspect is Mars square Neptune and this one is the reason his chart did eventually get picked for demonstration. You see, it’s easy to sort of blend the first and the second items on the list  of placements I have indicated at the beginning and start looking only for Mars or Moon afflicted by Neptune or Jupiter in Water signs… no, they are two separate criteria:

1) afflicted Moon or Mars in a Water sign (afflicted not just by Neptune or Jupiter)

2) Moon or Mars afflicted by Neptune or Jupiter (in any sign)

So Ben’s Mars in Virgo still qualifies. As I understand from  reading his wiki page the struggle is ongoing with some periods of staying sober and a recent relapse in 2018-2019. What caught my eye though is another section speculating about his involvement in gambling. I have recently written an article on trading which also involves the element of risk and 5th house being a factor in the analysis. If we look at Ben’s chart for possible constructive use of aspects and an outlet for the conflict leading to alcohol abuse, we notice that both the Moon and Neptune are in the 5th house and the Moon has a trine to Venus which rules the 5th house (and also the 2nd house of money). Not enough 8th house involvement shifts the focus from stock trading to pure gambling and positive aspects ensure that this is likely to be lucrative. However, due to accusations of counting cards he was banned from casinos and poker games… and the channel for positive energy output was blocked. I mean, gambling addiction is also an addiction but for him it could have had much less severe consequences because a) there is no damage to health b) he’s got enough money to waste it in a poker game if he wants to c) actually not all of it is waste as his chart clearly suggests gains from gambling.

Ok, we’ll leave Ben alone and move on to one of the saddest stories among the 5 that I have chosen for this blog entry (and I left a happy-end story for the end).

Robin Williams

Who tragically took his own life after battling depression and addiction. In mid-2014, just a few months before the suicide, Williams admitted himself into the Hazelden Foundation Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesota, for treatment for alcoholism.

He was born July 21st, 1951 at 13:34 in Chicago, IL, USA. The chart is given below:

This far into the article you can already give it a try yourself and find all the placements before I list them for you. There are plenty, I mean, this is just too much, really. While the chart has its strengths as well (quite obviously, for a star of his scale) the tragedy depicted by the planets makes my Water-heavy chart reach out in compassion to all the tension and torments going on inside this man’s soul.

Let’s start with Mars: afflicted not once, not twice but 4(!) times by squares from Neptune, Jupiter and also by a conjunction with Uranus (bringing unrest and tension). It is not just in Water but in the sign of its fall in Cancer. So it’s like the other 3 are kicking the one who’s already down. Not fair!

This T-square alone is more than enough to give someone more problems than they can handle but then there’s the touchy and gentle Piscean (Water) Moon in a tight opposition with Venus, the ruler of the 12th house. The only positive connection the Moon has is the trine to Mars. Trines indicate help but what help can be given here, considering Mars’ condition? None. Mars in its turn also only has help (harmonious aspects) from the Moon (which can’t give it) and Venus. Venus is not the strongest one here and can only help so much. It rules the 7th house in addition to the 12th, so help can come from other people (spouse, partners, etc) as well as rehab (12th house as the house of hospitals and institutions) but despite being in a strong house it is weak by placement (in fall in Virgo).

If you keep looking you’ll see the ASC (self) ruler Pluto conjunct the ruler of the 8th (death) while that poor  Mars under such pressure is placed inside the 8th and co-rules the ASC… makes me wanna cry.

Well, let’s hope Robin found peace wherever he is now and let’s do the last piece to cheer up and end on an optimistic note

Drew Barrymore

Born on 22 February 1975 at 11:51 at Culver City, CA, USA. See chart below:

Her story of both childhood fame and childhood addiction is presented by the Sun (ruler of the 3rd house of early childhood environment) place in the 10th house of fame in Pisces (here comes the first checkmark on our list) which adds to the heavy accent on Pisces (4 planets) with Black Moon  Lilith (destabilizing factor) in the mix. The Moon is in Watery Cancer, afflicted by Mars and also Saturn, but Saturn is weak in Cancer and the Moon totally  dominates here. This strong Moon is also the reason she was able to win the battle. Similarly to Betty Ford, who had the strong Sun and Venus in the chart to lean on, Drew’s Moon, while under fire, is still a strong planet and is able to handle the attack. Neptune has only harmonious aspects: it is the apex of a very productive bi-sextile from Mercury (ruler of the ASC) and Pluto, ruler of the 6th house of work. With Neptune itself being in the 6th house work was one of the things that pulled her out.

All right, so there you have it. You can practice on other charts now and see if you can spot both the tendency for the problem and the solution for it (through strong placements and harmonious aspects). However, there is another way this information can be put to use. Analyzing the chart which  already exists only helps you to see if the problem is there or not. One of the advantages of knowing astrology is in using it to prevent possible future problems. With modern medical practice increasingly using induced labor (1 in 5 in the UK and over 25% in the US) picking the date of birth and thus the baby’s Natal chart is something more common than it used to be. And picking the date when the factors described in the article are not present in the planetary picture for the day helps to avoid unpleasant issues the child will be facing in their life.

Buying or renting property with horary analysis

Ever since I started learning Horary, I can not stop being amazed at how multi-functional and also very practical Horary astrology is. While Transits or Solar returns or other prognostic methods can indicate a good or bad time to move or buy a house or an apartment, when it actually comes to choosing between available options all these methods are of no help. Horary, however, comes very handy with its ability to give an answer to a specific question in a clear and precise manner.

A client of mine was on the market for a one-bedroom apartment last year. She questioned me first in October and horary chart was the following:


A property you want to buy is shown by the 4th house ruler and in this chart it is Venus. Before we get to Venus’ condition, I notice that the 1st house ruler, the Sun(querent) is in Libra, ruled by Venus. She likes the apartment very much, but in the last degree of Libra the Sun is about to change the sign showing that this infatuation with the place is about to change also. The way she spoke about the apartment was clearly reflected in this placement:she was in love with it……after looking at the pictures of the online listing.

So the ruler of the pretty apartment is Venus, but Venus is in detriment in Scorpio – there is a problem with the place. This also explains the price being lower than normal – the ruler of the 10th house (showing the price) is Mars in detriment in Libra. The affliction to the house is shown by a water sign in this particular chart which  indicates a problem of that nature – plumbing, leaks or mold. Since it is Scorpio we expect it to be hidden as well, not something that stands out right away or the seller is willing to reveal. They may not even be aware of it.

After visiting the place with the agent, the client indeed had her pink glasses taken away – it was a first floor apartment in the shades of the trees and balconies of the upper floors which isn’t great in the humid climate of the area. The building was old (there was no prior information about this in the listing online) so even without horary one would start suspecting problems with the systems like electrical and plumbing that are 40+ years old. The seller had no information on any renovations done to them previously, which isn’t a good sign either.

While problems shown by horary as “hidden” were not so easy to confirm, there was other information that was easy to verify. In describing the property, the 6th house shows the neighbors and here it is shown by Saturn placed right inside the 6th house. Saturn signifies old people and being physically placed inside its house it shows exactly that – they stay in their homes.

My client was able to talk to one of the neighbors (an elderly lady) who said that the majority of the tenants indeed were retirees. One thing verified, my client didn’t take the risk of verifying the apartment had problems by buying it – she was in no rush and continued to search for a good option.

3 weeks later she found something else and asked me about that place. This time things looked much better:


The 4th house ruler again turned out to be Venus, but in a much better place for her this time. I mean, it is peregrine in Sagittarius for sure but peregrine is still better than fall or detriment. Per rules of horary, peregrine planets gravitate towards worse rather than better, so in the question about the property it should be read as “OK now, but deteriorating”. Sure, just like anything (and anybody) else does with time. However, the main thing we’re concerned with here is the initial condition the place is deteriorating from. The condition doesn’t seem bad at all, considering that the 5th house is the house of joy for Venus.

The placement in Sagittarius, ruled by expansive Jupiter, suggested a larger place as well, which it was (by about 50 sq.ft). The building was only 12 years old, so it had a long way ahead until reaching the detriment state of the previous place. However, the age does not guarantee the absence of problems – a house can be 10 months old and get pipe leaks because someone didn’t do the job right. Either way, with no afflictions to the 4th house ruler by placements or aspects, it was time to look at the neighbors. Saturn, again and in its own house again. Confirmed by the sellers of the place as they said that the nearest hallway neighbor was a very quiet old lady they had seen about 4 times in the past 2 years. 

Remarkably, the placement of the Moon in both horaries reflects the floor placement as well – in the first one the Moon is below the horizon (first floor) and in this one it is in elevation above all other planets (new place was on the top floor). 

The price for the second place is also low, but this time explained by the rush of the sellers – a young family with a two-year-old and planning to have another one was itching to get out of the one bedroom, however spacious it might be.

My client purchased the place and moved in 4 months ago. So far, other than some minor cosmetic repairs (a loose shelf in the hallway, a chipped mirror in the bathroom, a few crayon marks on the wallpaper in the bedroom) there have been no problems. She indeed feels like Venus in the 5th – rejoiced. She sent me some pictures of the place and I could not believe just how “Venus in Sagittarius” that apartment really is! With her permission I’m using the photos here. The first one is just Venusian with a touch of Jupiter’s flair – the pink bedroom with niched shelves and built-in lights in each one. This is exactly how she bought it, including the curtains (the only exception is the stuff on the shelves – that’s hers):


The second picture is a much stronger mix of Venus’ desire for beauty and Jupiter’s exaggerating touch. The chandelier-style light… in the bathroom! I am dead serious – note the shower-head in the background. She says she finds it funny and likes the kitschy look of it and has no wish to replace it. Even shows it off (for a laugh) to friends and family who come to visit her place for the first time…