Stephen Hawking (1942 – 2018)

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up”

~ Stephen Hawking

Universal admiration and fondness was expressed this week about physicist Stephen Hawking, who died in the early hours of Wednesday morning.  It mattered not whether you had read and mastered his book “A Brief History of Time”, there was plenty of inspiration in his life, character and work for anyone to relate to.  And such was his engagement with popular culture that he appeared in such programmes as the Simpsons, the Big Bang Theory, and Star Trek.  And if you had no interest in science or popular culture, seeing him as a human battling a fateful diagnosis of motor neurone disease and defying the odds for 55 years, plus achieving what he did during that time, you could not fail to be awe struck.

Birth Chart

We have no birth time for Stephen, and so we do not have the full facts to investigate the mystery of what made him such a great scientist or character.  He had the Sun in gritty and determined Capricorn, and over half his planets were in Earth signs.  He had no planets in the Water signs, and it is possible that a lack of emotion contributed to super-rationality.  His Sun in Capricorn was trine Saturn, emphasizing his Capricorn nature, and trine closely his North Node (karmic mission) in Virgo, bringing creativity to his scientific research.

His brilliant mental trine between Mercury and Uranus was undoubtedly one factor in his genius, but his nervous system was also under strain from an exact square between Mercury and Mars, and an opposition between Mercury and Pluto.  Uranus trine Neptune may describe the breadth of his imagination.  His illness was diagnosed shortly after his 21st birthday, when Pluto was squaring his natal Jupiter in Gemini (a disempowerment).  Natal Jupiter exactly sextile Chiron, however, may hold the key to his longevity.

The Science Bit

Stephen Hawking obtained his first degree at Oxford University, as his father had, and then managed to switch to Cambridge University for his postgraduate studies.  As an atheist, he might have described the people turning up in his life as a random phenomenon.  But working with past life therapy as I do, I see souls contracting to meet in order to facilitate and encourage each other in their line of work.  His PhD was under the supervision of Dennis Sciama, who introduced him to Roger Penrose, who in turn sustained a long and fruitful scientific collaboration with Stephen.

Stephen Hawking was developing theory around black holes, and as Roger Penrose states in his Guardian obituary:

“…it did not take Hawking long to find a way to use my theorem in an unexpected way, so that it could be applied (in a time-reversed form) in a cosmological setting, to show that the space-time singularity referred to as the “big bang” as also a feature not just of the standard highly symmetrical cosmological models, but also of any qualitatively similar but asymmetrical model.”

Hawking and Penrose had good astrological working chemistry:

Penrose’s Saturn is exactly conjunct Hawking’s Sun in Capricorn, a serious and fundamental tie between two people, and useful for shared work and purpose.  Hawking’s Jupiter was square Penrose’s Mercury, a mentally stimulating combination.  Hawking’s Pluto was sextile Penrose’s Mars, adding energy and depth to each other’s working operations.  Hawking’s Pluto was conjunct Penrose’s Jupiter, both contributing to each other’s success.  And in a further serious but constructive connection, Hawking’s Saturn was sextile Penrose’s Pluto.

In 1966 Hawking and Penrose shared the Adams Prize, a prestigious prize awarded by the University of Cambridge.  By 1970, Stephen was recognized as a leader in his field, and once again collaborated with Penrose on a more powerful and groundbreaking reasearch theorem. This was the year of Stephen’s Saturn Return in the sign of Taurus, the Saturn Return often being a time of the cementing and crystallization of a person’s life purpose.

In the mid-1970s Stephen deepened his scientific quest, in the search for a theory of quantum gravity in order that he may bring together Einstein’s laws of general relativity with the theories of quantum mechanics.

In April 1988 he published his most famous popular work “A Brief History of Time”, subtitled “from the Big Bang to Black Holes”, an attempt to bring his work to non-specialist readers, and also to finance his ever growing needs in terms of staff and equipment for his declining health condition.  Mars was opposite his natal Pluto in Leo at that time, representing a burst of energy and creativity in a constructive application in his life.  As at his birth, Saturn was conjunct Uranus at that time.  This is a challenging conjunction of two very different forces, which may in some way depict black holes or some part of their process.

A Nobel prize eluded him in the recognition of his work, because there was no tangible proof for his theories, though they were widely approved and debated, and used as the basis for scientific researches.

Jane Wilde

While studying for his PhD at Cambridge he met Jane Wilde, who would become his wife, and around that time his illness also began to surface.  He became depressed at the diagnosis that he would only possibly have two years to live, and nearly gave up his studies.  Jane Wilde determined to marry him and look after him, and there is no doubt she made a vital contribution to his life and ability to work and establish his career.  She is a woman of great determination, and positivity (natal Sun trine Jupiter) whose great strength of character helped sustain family life for many years, but eventually the strain of their lifestyle and her own needs to develop her interests led to them drifting apart.

We are fortunate to have her memoir, originally published in 1999 as “Music to Move the Stars” when they had broken up, then revised and re-published after his second marriage failed and they grew closer again.  The new publication “Travelling to Infinity” was made into a phenomenal film “The Theory of Everything” starring Eddie Redmayne in an outstandingly convincing portrayal of Stephen Hawking.  Jane’s book, drawn from detailed diaries, gives us a unique perspective of their life together, and for an astrologer contains gems such as the birth times of their children, and the minutiae of crucial moments, for example the time (7.30 p.m.) when a doctor was called prior to a major illness!

They married on 14th July 1965, with challenging transits to her birth chart of Neptune square her natal Jupiter (a triumph of idealism) and Pluto opposite her natal Venus (a deep personal challenge).  There was great hope too, in the shape of Jupiter sextile her natal Mercury and Jupiter (her natal trine of Mercury and Jupiter depicts her specialism in language). It was quite a commitment for him, too, with Saturn on his South Node, but spiritually serene at the time with Neptune sextile his Sun and sextile his North Node.

In her synastry with Stephen, he was able to bring groundedness with his 6 Earth planets to her 0 Earth.  Although religion was a contentious issue between them (she was a Christian and he was an atheist; her Mars squared his Neptune), there will have been lively discussion and shared interests with her Mercury sextile his Venus.  Her Saturn was trine his Venus, producing a great deal of mutual loyalty over a long period of time.

Both Jane and Stephen loved the family life with the children, and Jane details family moments with great warmth.  Penrose noted in his obituary: “He took great pleasure in children”. It is interesting to have the birth times of their three children (two are given precisely, the third is vaguer, given as “evensong”), as sensitive points in birth charts run in families and there may be clues as to Stephen’s Ascendant.  One possibility is Sagittarius, because his eldest child Robert has his Ascendant in mid-Sagittarius, and his daughter Lucy has her Moon there.  Sagittarian interests and vision lie very much in the realms of Cosmology.  We do know that his Part of Fortune (Joy) lies in his 9th House of Higher Philosophy and Cosmology, related to Sagittarius.  Stephen collaborated closely with his daughter Lucy over various projects – her Pluto was trine his Mercury (a deep mental connection) and their Neptunes were exactly sextile (a harmonious spiritual connection).  Jane and Stephen also have grandchildren.


In August 1985, his sudden medical crisis of pneumonia when they were holidaying separately in Europe was a crucial time for them both.  Stephen had Venus square Saturn natally, and transiting Saturn was opposing natal Saturn and squaring natal Venus, highlighting both the health and relationship crisis. Jane rushed to his side in Geneva, and was briefed by a doctor.  She related the scene in her biography:

“The question was whether his staff should disconnect the ventilator while Stephen was in a drugged state, or should try to bring him round from the anaesthetic.  I was shocked.  Switching off the life supply was unthinkable.  What an ignominious end to such a herioic fight for life, what a denial of everything that I, too had fought for!”

Her response:

“Stephen must live.  You must bring him round from the anaesthetic”.  Agonizingly, Neptune was opposite her natal Mars.  But Mars was trine her natal Sun at the time, requiring her fighting spirit.

The whole crisis was movingly and gravely depicted in the film of his life.

A tracheotomy was advised to save his life, and this led to the use of his acquiring a computerised speech synthesizer and that distinctive “voice”.  This was three years before he gave us his best-known book.

Stephen required even more intensive nursing from this point  in his life, and the constant thoroughfare of nursing staff built further barriers in their relationship.  Jane felt increasingly remote from Stephen, and was particularly sensitive to the fact that Stephen had always wanted to do things for himself, and many of the nurses were oversolicitous in doing things for him.  Jane states in her biography:

“…the nurses, on the other hand, tended to smother Stephen in a blanket of sentimentality. This belied his strength of mind and undermined my attempts to keep the correct balance.”

One nurse in particular, Elaine Mason, grew very close to him, so much so that he left the family home in February 1990 (with a freedom loving trine of  Uranus to his natal Jupiter) and married her in 1995 (we do not have Elaine Mason’s birth date). Jane meanwhile married Jonathan Hellyer Jones, a church pianist she had known since 1977.  The marriage to Elaine Mason lasted until 2006.

Concerns about the Future

Stephen Hawking’s concerns about the future of mankind and artificial intelligence bear a similarity to those of Elon Musk.  They both believe that colonization of other planets may save us in the future.  Hawking believed there may be aliens out there, but we should be wary of communication with them.  He was very concerned about global warming, and Donald Trump’s approach to the problem.

In an interview, he stated:

“The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory, or partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all. A major nuclear war would be the end of civilization, and maybe the end of the human race. The quality I would most like to magnify is empathy. It brings us together in a peaceful, loving state.”


“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”

~ Stephen Hawking

Despite the harshness of his physical condition, he was able to demonstrate to a remarkable extent the ability and value of not giving up.  In this way, he was able to encourage and inspire everyone.

He held strong political views as a supporter of the Labour Party, and as a campaigner for nuclear disarmament.  He gave out a particularly powerful message in recent years, as the National Health Service crumbled due to neglect by Conservative governments, in fighting for the N.H.S. literally to the end of his life.

“I have received excellent medical attention in Britain, and I felt it was important to set the record straight.  I believe in universal health care.  And I am not afraid to say so.”


“I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

Life and Death

Stephen Hawking was born on 6th January 1942, exactly three hundred years after the death of Galileo, a scientist he strongly identified with.  Galileo himself was born the year in which Newton died.  Stephen died on 14th March 2018, which was the 139th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s birth.  Stephen’s nickname at school had been “Einstein”.  Accordingly, perhaps a new star is being born right now.

Although an atheist, Stephen talked in scientific terms of describing the Mind of God, if God were to exist.  He was however tolerant of those whose beliefs were more inclined towards religion, believing “We are each free to believe what we want”.

Transiting Pluto (finality) was trine his natal Saturn (his ruling planet) this week. There was also support from Chiron (healing) at his passing.

He was not afraid of death, but now he is on the other side of that veil he will know more of the truth of existence.  Though he was an atheist, I crave indulgence for my view of him now as a being of light enabled to whizz about and travel and explore those parts of  the universe he travelled to in his imagination while on earth.


Venus trines the True North Node today, which may ensure harmonious karma, truces and declarations of eternal love.    You may search out old friends, and renew old alliances.  The Arts may receive encouragement.  However, the weather is freezing here in the U.K. and there is a cold war brewing with Russia, so the trine may not reach all the parts we would want it to.

 Tomorrow, Monday (19th) the Sun conjuncts Chiron, and this may bring a focus on healing, and problem-solving in relation to crisis management.  Ingenious minds are often born with this conjunction, and so it is possible to reach out for solutions and obtain them under this influence.

A literary and diplomatic influence arrives on Tuesday (20th) with Mercury conjunct Venus, a helpful and communicative combination. good for catching up with writing projects.  Socializing, and lingering in tea shops and coffee bars are all congenial pursuits on such a day.  Caveat: again, there may not be any thaw in some wider international relations!  Venus is considered the “lesser benefic”, and not associated with major breakthroughs on that level.

However, a fresh outlook is possible in the mid-afternoon when the Sun enters Aries to usher in the new astrological year on the Spring Equinox.  Minor paranoias may be put aside, and positive resolutions made with more confidence.  If you didn’t achieve some clutter clearing while the Sun was in Pisces, you may have more energy for it now.  Take a deep breath and make a start on your new priorities.  Hopefully, the snow will have thawed (if not international relations) and you may enjoy the Spring vibe.

Friday (23rd) sees the interruption of communications, with Mercury stationary prior to turning retrograde.  You know the drill:  be clear in  your communications, focus, allow more time in your travelling schedules, check details, etc.  If you want to get ahead, attend to documentation between now and Friday, then you can relax more easily.  And don’t buy too heavily into the retrograde, it is possible to make progress, especially if you pay heed to historic lessons.  Mercury turns direct on 15th April, so make a note of that in your diary if you intend to shelve all paperwork in the meantime.

In the late evening Venus squares Pluto, and this is more problematic on an emotional level.  You might, on encountering any problem, be tempted to blame Mercury retrograde, but if there is an emotional or psychological element, Venus square Pluto may be the cause.  It may be a time for soul-searching, either individually or with a partner.  Letting go and forgiveness may be necessary tools in the process.

The Sun squares Mars on Saturday (24th) and caution is definitely the watchword of the day.  Hotheads could cause havoc, so keep a cool head, keep your car serviced, keep your dogs on a leash, and avoid conflict.  Otherwise, you’ll be fine.  The energy, fire and enthusiasm which the Sun with Mars generates can be positively harnessed if you are especially mindful, e.g. if you are conversant with car engines and handle dogs well.  It can also be useful in sport, and courageous in the face of danger.  Not for the faint-hearted, though.

The week in bullet points:

  • Today – harmonious karma
  • Tomorrow – healing
  • Tuesday – literary; a new beginning
  • Friday – interrupted communication; soul-searching
  • Saturday – heated exchanges