I’ve done a series of articles over the years on different historical mysteries, always titled ‘A Question of History’; this one first appeared in a 2014 issue of ECLIPSE.
Periodically I like to inspect historical personages and events taking an astrological perspective, so when I ran across an article (in The New Statesman, and no longer available online) on England’s Richard III and a potential allergy, I had to check it out, particularly considering the way Ceres is becoming more and more obviously prominent in instances of allergy, sensitivity, and in autoimmune diseases of all kinds—I wanted to see if Richard’s famous change of demeanor after excusing himself for a strawberry feast during a council meeting of 13 June 1483 was possibly related to just such a reaction. If so, it may have had history-affecting consequences, as Richard’s fear that he may have been poisoned or the victim of witchcraft (there is even a suggestion that ingesting a massive number of strawberries may have caused the withering effect to one arm that we heretofore had believed through eyewitness description was a birth defect) led him to lash out against those who might take the crown—including his nephews, better known as ‘The Princes in the Tower’, Edward V of England, for whom Richard was acting as Protector, and his younger brother, Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York (at the time the Tower of London was not yet used exclusively as a prison; the boys were lodged there, under guard and for their protection, so the story goes). After the strawberry incident, Richard announced he was taking the crown for himself and the boys ‘disappeared’; his suspicion of even his closest allies planted the seeds for the difficulty of his reign and the horrible reputation that follows him to this day.
Richard III is believed to have been born 2 October 1452 Julian Calendar 9:02 AM LMT (time is certain) Northhamptonshire England. Times of 9 AM and 7 AM have also been put forward, but the time of 9:02 was deduced by astrologer Martin Harvey in the British Astrological Journal Spring 1967, “Time deduced from a 1452 account in Latin, October 2, 1452 OS, 9:15 AM LAT” as per Astrodatabank.
Right away we notice the Scorpio Ascendant sextile Juno (which body I’ve conjectured before may in a man signal a sense of Self-completion, as in not feeling the need for complementary energies, which means the psyche has no room for another—it’s a placement, then, of total Self-empowerment that claims the right to do as he pleases—because no one, and so no other viewpoint, figures in). The apex to the Finger created is the Earth-retro Mars conjunction in Aries—certainly easy to associate this vanity/ ego uncertainty/ identity as a man as it manifested through the personality resulting in the death Richard suffered, as a Warrior at the Battle of Bosworth Field, with blows to the head (Aries) so hard that his crown was driven into his skull (and we know this as his remains, verified by mitochondrial testing of two of his sister’s descendants compared to the DNA found, identified the skeleton discovered under a UK car park in 2012 as definitively his).
But was he susceptible to Mother Nature? Wow, was he ever! Ceres sits at 29 Libra 11, under stress and hidden just inside the 12th and a hair above the start of the 1st House; it’s the T-arm of a wide Vesta-Uranus opposition, suggesting that stress from Nature shows up in erratic and sudden behaviors that are contrary to the highest values. Ceres is the body of latest degree; it implies that all matters end in some sort of ‘reaction’, be it in relation to his sense of authority, his boundaries, his negotiating power, or his interaction with Nature.
‘Strawberries in a Basket‘ By Joseph Decker 1887 PD
Ceres is quincunx the natal Taurus Moon in the 7th; the Moon is another indicator of sensitivity, in Taurus implying a sensitivity to the environment and particularly to food and atmosphere (and of course the meeting where the impressive change to his demeanor occurred was in mid-June, a high point for strawberries and every other blooming thing!) Placement in the 7th suggests that Richard may have had a very reactive personality, emotionally and intuitively hypersensitive to others, and this is reiterated by the Moon’s opposition to Venus in the 1st.
Richard’s Ceres is also conjoined a 00 Scorpio Mercury (lungs, nerves, highly sensitive to what’s communicated, and at 00 he’s just learning to deal with this in a Scorpionic fashion). The asteroid also sextiles the North Node (while not driving the destiny, it easily figures in), trines Jupiter, ruler of the 2nd (the Ceres nature affects his relationship with the social sphere, his knowledge—indicating potential for the mind and reasoning to be affected by any reaction—and his grasp of the ‘Big Picture’), and is widely conjoined Saturn, again emphasizing the impact of the surrounding reality via Ceres. We also see his Mars in Aries conjoined his Earth, both in the 6th of health, yet again showing the importance of the environment and his own choices and actions on the health picture. This is not to mention the Grand Trine of Ceres, Jupiter, and the South Node, which does suggest that knowledge from the past, lessons learned, would guide ‘reaching out’ efforts and attempts to widen his authority and influence—and this is something that probably initially went very right for him, getting him to the position he enjoyed in June of 1483.
A look at the transits on the day of Richard’s strawberry feast include the Sun fresh in sensitive Cancer trine his Ceres-Mercury, and Saturn at 00 Scorpio conjoined his Mercury, highlighting nervous sensitivity to the material world; transiting Zeus is exact conjoined his Pluto (destructive desires!); transiting Ceres trines his Saturn (again, the influence of Nature made manifest), transiting Eris widely conjoined his Earth-Mars (irritation!); and there were not one but three transiting bodies at 29 degrees during the day, if we include the Virgo Moon (at 29 degrees for a noon chart, so perfect for an allergic reaction) as well as Jupiter and Pallas, all impacting natal Ceres, expanding the potential for sensitivity and reaction, and this in turn having an impact on the common sense and wisdom of the individual (Pallas)—and with Jupiter in the mix, we might consider the reaction could’ve been extreme, even potentially fatal.
There is one other thing: a natal aspect of the 24th Harmonic of 105 degrees (popularly termed the Squine, as it’s halfway between a square and a trine!) between Richard’s Zeus and his Ceres and Mercury. Though some feel there’s no reliable interpretation to be applied to this aspect, I believe that’s generally so because enough astrologers haven’t observed it in action for a long enough time to find consistent characteristics. We must keep in mind, too, that Ceres is not just about one’s interaction with Nature; it’s also about one’s sense of authority and interaction with those who hold authority, concerns boundaries and the propensity to overstep them, and applies to one’s negotiative abilities. If Richard’s Ceres was ‘triggered’ by strawberry consumption, and this affected the thinking (Mercury), then too it could’ve affected the ambitions and desires (Zeus)—and as we know, when the ambitions are touched by fear such as may have occurred with a biological reaction interpreted as poisoning or an occult attack, then it wouldn’t be surprising for the ‘victim’ to have grabbed as much power and control for himself as possible in a bid to insure his own safety, leading to the ominous and still unanswered disappearance of two little boys, and changing the course of a kingdom.
The Princes in the Tower By John Everett Millais 1878 PD
Addendum on the Princes in the Tower: Though we still can’t be sure what was the fate of the two princes, the bones of two children were discovered in the Tower in 1674; these were re-buried in Westminster Abbey, which now refuses to allow disinterment and testing to see definitively if these were the nephews of Richard III. And the mystery continues.