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Charles E.O. Carter and Frances Perkins: Mid-Century Movers and Shakers

Charles E.O. Carter first published The Principles of Astrology in 1925 and then continued to update it over the next three decades as the new movement of “modern astrology” grew into prominence. His work became foundational in establishing astrology as a serious study and as a means for understanding ourselves as unique human beings. His goal in writing this small but intensely informative guide was to instruct students in the basic building blocks of astrology and how to integrate them. He also wrestled with the meaning of the newly discovered Pluto, and speculated about the role of the outer planets as chart rulers. The Principles of Astrology continues to be a sound place to start for the beginning astrology student, and it provides a refreshing review of the astrology those of us at a certain age first learned in those days before Project Hindsight.

I thought it would be interesting to pull up some charts of those who were prominent during the early to mid-twentieth century when Charles E.O. Carter was practicing astrology, and use his book to evaluate their charts. Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and the first woman to serve in a president’s cabinet, began her political career in the 1920’s and would be an important voice for workers’ rights until her death in 1965. Frances Perkins told FDR she would not serve on his cabinet unless he would push though social security, unemployment insurance, a federal minimum wage, and federal laws against child labor. None of these protections were in place before Frances Perkins demanded them as the rights of all citizens.

That she was such a trailblazer is indicated by the Sun, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn all in Aries, a cardinal sign which Carter tells us brings “energy, push, and enterprise” into the outer world. Cardinal signs bring a sense of purpose to the life. A fire sign, Aries combines its purposefulness with a willingness to face hazards and take chances on new endeavors. Within this Aries energy are the Sun, which Carter describes as “the positive powers of our nature. Exalted in Aries, Frances’s Sun “makes for dignity, self-reliance, strength of character.” Mercury, energized with Aries, brings “a strong sense of logic, and a rapid comprehension of the facts.” Frances was famous for her extensive fact-finding missions through America’s workplaces, and her ability to back up her demand for better conditions with detailed descriptions of what she had witnessed.

Jupiter, Carter writes, exhibits “that of orderly and healthy growth or increase,” supporting her Aries trailblazing efforts to improve conditions for working, disabled, and older Americans. In the Aries mix is also Saturn, “the planet of limitation,” tempering Frances’s boldness and efforts to revolutionize society with political realism. She learned very early in her political life that strong forces for maintaining the status quo would hamper her at every turn, and she grew adept at accepting compromise when she had to, and sometimes losing to come back and fight another day.

Venus, the planet of love and harmony, was exalted in Pisces, bringing Frances the “joining of hands for a common purpose” which she craved. She loved others through the sign of universal compassion, Pisces. Here, “the sympathies are abundant, and the sign is attracted to the needy and sick and all those who require help.” Frances Perkins was actually present during the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, a bystander watching horrified as the workers, faced with being burned alive, jumped from an 8-story building to their deaths. From that moment on, she was committed from the depths of her soul that no one should suffer such mistreatment in the workplace again.

Mars, which indicates “physical activity, enterprise, push, courage,” in Gemini gave Frances her unparalleled ability to put forth her point of view and defend it valiantly. It also gave Frances a keen and agile mind, keeping her relevant even into old age, when she was a popular university professor and housemother to adoring students over 50 years her junior.

About the outer planets, Carter describes Uranus as bringing “originality and independence” and Neptune as a planet of “creative imagination.” Interestingly, these planets were in trine in 1880 when Frances was born, making her part of a generation of reformers who could imagine a better world and had the revolutionary zeal to fight for it. Carter was still exploring the meaning of Pluto as he revised further editions of this book, and had come to understand it as indicating “isolation.” Pluto was at 20 degrees of Cancer when Frances accepted the role as FDR’s Secretary of Labor, in square to her Sun-Saturn conjunction in Aries. She knew taking the job that, one, it needed to be done, and two, that it would demand everything of her. She would face implacable political enemies who hated the progress she represented, and her position as the only woman to serve on the cabinet till then left her as a permanent outsider. Her husband, suffering from mental illness. became a distant figure, and she became estranged from her volatile and demanding daughter.

Frances served FDR loyally for 12 years, the only cabinet member to do so, and after he died, Harry Truman succumbed to the pressure to remove her from his cabinet because having a woman in the room made the other cabinet members uncomfortable. There was no golden parachute waiting for Frances Perkins. She worked the rest of her life, managed to get by on her simple earnings, and had the comfort of being surrounded by those who knew her worth. The Sun-Saturn conjunction indicates the limitations of her later years – but it also promises her legacy. Today, we have safer workplaces, a minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and social security, all due to Frances Perkins, “The Woman Behind the New Deal.”

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