Jeremy Thorpe (1929 – 2014)

Jeremy Thorpe, erstwhile leader of the Liberal Party, has been in the public eye lately.  With the production of A Very English Scandal, starring Hugh Grant as Thorpe and Ben Whishaw as Norman Scott, portraying the scandal which ended his career, and a new investigation into the scandal under way, it is worth a look at the astrological picture.

Birth Chart

Jeremy Thorpe had a very earthy chart, with the Sun/Chiron, Ascendant/Jupiter/Mercury and North Node in Taurus.  Half (5 out of 10) of his planets are in Earth, with Saturn/Moon, Part of Fortune and Midheaven in another Earth sign, Capricorn.  Mars squaring his ruling planet Venus increased the sensuality of his Sun sign.

He was born close to sunrise, with the Sun closely trine Moon, which gives you the impression he knew what he was doing.  The Sun in his chart is exactly conjunct Chiron in Taurus in 12th House – he clearly had not developed his Inner Healer in any compassionate sense, and was still in the wounded stage of the Chironic process.  With the Moon conjunct Saturn in Capricorn in 8th House, he may have been depressive and even morbid, though masked by the flamboyant and debonair appearance of Jupiter on the Ascendant.  His Mars conjunct Pluto can indicate a streak of violence.

He was well known for his quick wit, and that shows up in Mercury closely sextile with Mars in his natal chart.  Mercury is also closely conjunct Jupiter, pointing to his success in his chosen academic subject, Law.

Interestingly, Jeremy Thorpe had Mercury/Jupiter on his Ascendant trine his Midheaven in Capricorn (ambition in politics).  When he took over as leader of the Liberal Party in 1967, Pluto (power) formed a formidable Grand Trine with these two points in his chart, thus fulfilling this ambition.  He had been a keen admirer of David Lloyd George growing up, as Lloyd George had been a family friend.  Lloyd George’s Pluto was conjunct Jeremy’s Sun/Chiron, making a deep impression on him.  Jupiter sextile Pluto in Jeremy’s chart shows a love of power.

Norman Scott

Under Thorpe’s leadership, the Liberal Party thrived up until the election of February 1974.  But the allegations made by Norman Scott that they had been lovers in the 1960s (when homosexuality was illegal) and that  Thorpe had mistreated him were becoming public knowledge  (Scott had first aired the subject in 1971).  In May 1976 Thorpe was forced to resign as leader of the Party, as he recognized the damage it had incurred.  Pluto (destruction) was opposing his natal Uranus in Aries in 11th House (the Party) at the time, which is quite descriptive.

Norman Scott (alive, and living in Devon) is an Aquarian and has a fiery chart, with over half his planets in that element.  We do not have a birth time for him.  Uranus square his Sun makes him more unpredictable even than the average Aquarian.  He also has the free-speaking feature of an unaspected Mercury.  Venus opposite Neptune describes him having a “scandalous” relationship in his life.

Mars conjunct Saturn can show victimhood, as can his Mars square Pluto.  But he does not like this portrayal.  He has said: “I’m portrayed as this poor, mincing, little gay person… I also come across as a weakling and I’ve never been a weakling.”  He may have an ambivalent attitude to power, as he has Jupiter trine Pluto (love of power), but in an interview with Tom Mangold he liked to portray himself as a lowly stable hand.

He and Jeremy share a karmic factor: they both have Mars on the South Node, indicating they may have been linked in warrior lifetimes, and that the events of this lifetime may be a repeating pattern from their past lives.

Scott had mental health issues, which probably did not help his case. He did suffer from recorded episodes of depression, on one occasion spending time in a Psychiatric Unit. A judge referred to him as “a fraud, a sponger, a whiner, a parasite”.  Thorpe’s biographer referred to him as a liar and a fantasist.   A prominent Neptune in his chart would bear that out, but a chart for noon on the day of his birth does not have a particularly high-profile Neptune, apart from in relationship (Venus opposite Neptune is particularly prone to projection).  Therefore, either a birth time would reveal Neptune on one of the angles of his chart or some other prominent placing, or he was not such a fantasist as portrayed.  Though Neptune may be a factor in his mental health issues.

The synastry (astrological relationship) between the two men shows a dramatic karmic pattern of Thorpe’s Nodal Axis (his karmic path) exactly square Scott’s Sun, a karmic power struggle.  There is also a “double whammy” of Thorpe’s Saturn square Scott’s Venus and vice versa, a relationship which is perhaps bound to bring grief to both.  Thorpe’s Uranus conjuncts Scott’s Jupiter, which brings a compelling element to the relationship.

Crime and Trials

Apparently, as early as 1965 Thorpe had sought help in dealing with Scott’s behaviour, which had become obsessional.  He enlisted the assistance of Peter Bessell, a parliamentary colleague. Bessell warned Scott that his behaviour was tantamount to blackmail.  According to Bessell’s later account, by 1968 Thorpe was desperate to silence Scott permanently, and another friend David Holmes was drawn in to assist this.  It was Holmes who enlisted Andrew Newton as a hitman. In October 1975 Holmes tried to shoot Norman Scott, but shot his dog instead.  Saturn was on Norman Scott’s Pluto at the time (sad death of his dog).  Was Jeremy Thorpe astrologically implicated?  Mars was opposite his Saturn, so possibly.

At Exeter Crown Court on 16 March 1976 Newton was put on trial, and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.  Scott testified and accused Thorpe, but Thorpe was cleared of association with this crime.  At the time, Thorpe was protected by a trine of Jupiter to his natal Neptune.  For Scott, there was more frustration: Saturn was squaring his natal Mars/Saturn conjunction.  However, later that year Bessell confessed that he had lied to protect Thorpe, and that led to Thorpe’s resignation of his party leadership.  When Newton was released from prison in October 1977,  he sold his story to a newspaper.

On 4th August 1978 Jeremy Thorpe, along with others, was charged with conspiracy to murder, and the trial began on 8th May 1979.  Interestingly, at the time of the charge, Jeremy was experiencing his Chiron Return in Taurus in 12th House.  This reinforces the fact that his Chiron principle had not developed positively: for many people it is a time when they embark on a healing journey.  For Jeremy, it exposed his wound, or weakness.  The period of the trial itself brought another classic astrological cycle in his life: the Pluto square (Pluto square its natal position).  Again, it is often a time of testing but can bring psychological awareness.  For Jeremy it was a new nadir in his reputation.  In a strategy which proved fortuitous for them, Thorpe and his co-defendants chose to stay silent and not to offer any testimony, and they were acquitted.  At his acquittal, transiting Jupiter was exactly trine his natal Uranus, a classic liberation transit.

Parkinson’s and Death

Jeremy Thorpe’s first wife Caroline died in a car crash in 1970, and he re-married Marion Stein a few years later.  In the mid-1980s Jeremy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and though he still held out for a peerage and turned up to various memorial services, he was very much enfeebled.  An article by Martin Kettle in the Guardian yesterday told of Paddy Ashdown’s last meeting with him on such an occasion:

“I put my arm around his shoulders.  He was just a bag of bones.”

At his death, the Nodal Axis was squaring his natal Pluto, and transiting Saturn was square his Neptune.  In his birth chart, he had a tight-lipped trine of Saturn and Neptune, and with these transits he was taking his secrets to the grave.  His wife died a few months before him in the same year.

A Very English Scandal

The series aired at 9 pm on 20th May 2018.  The transits for Jeremy Thorpe (posthumously) were Jupiter trine his Pluto (empowerment) and Saturn trine his Sun/Chiron (a rigorous portrayal of his nature, and an important evaluation and expose of his strengths and weaknesses).  Pluto trine his Mercury/North Node informs us at a deeper level, and prompts reflection on his karma.

The transits for Norman Scott are not easy: Mars opposite his Pluto, and Saturn square his Jupiter.  He has had some reservations about certain issues of the filming, but in some way it may have been cathartic for him.  For Hugh Grant, it was a personal triumph (Jupiter sextile his Sun), but Saturn squared his Venus (he was playing an unflattering role), plus Neptune was opposite his Sun (the scandalous nature of the film) and conjunct his South Node (a karmic nuance).  For Ben Whishaw, Jupiter was on his Mercury which denotes a success, but Pluto was square his Pluto (some psychological soul-searching; but at any rate more positive than Thorpe’s Pluto square which occurred at the time of the beginning of the second trial).

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant has excelled himself in his portrayal of Jeremy Thorpe.  He looks like him, has all the nuances of his mannerisms, and is utterly believable in the role.  He recently declared he was not going to play the romantic comedy leads which typified his earlier acting roles.  When he played a villain in the film Paddington 2, he said he enjoyed the change.  He is now proving his talent as a serious actor.  In his personal life, he has grown: coming through the scandal with Divine Brown, then championing the right to privacy through the Hacked Off campaign, becoming a father and on 26th May finally committing himself relationship-wise in a marriage ceremony.  He has gone through a lot of changes.

Like Thorpe, Grant has half his planets in Earth signs.  He has the Moon in Jeremy’s Sun sign Taurus, so is enable to portray his emotional tone.  Grant has his Sun in Virgo, and is perfectionistic in his craft as an actor.  American film critic Dave Kehr has written that Hugh Grant “is known in the film industry as a meticulous performer who takes his time to prepare a role – someone who works hard to make it look easy – though that isn’t a trait he admires in himself.”

Hugh Grant’s own Chiron Return was a much more positive and healing event than Jeremy’s, incidentally.  It was the birth of his first child, which seemed to take his personal life on a new trajectory.  At the time Grant appeared in the Paddington film, Uranus was trine his natal Midheaven (Careerpoint), showing a shift in his persona in the world.  Pluto was also trine his natal Sun, bringing about internal psychological changes as well.  He is fairly fulfilled at the moment, with Jupiter sextile his Sun/North Node at the time of his recent wedding.

His synastry with Jeremy Thorpe is interesting: there is a sextile between Grant’s Sun and Jeremy’s Pluto – possibly depicting the posthumous portrayal.  His chart is generally sympathetic to Jeremy’s, with his Jupiter trine Jeremy’s Venus, his Neptune sextile Jeremy’s Moon, and his Pluto trine Jeremy’s Moon.

Ben Whishaw

I thought Ben Whishaw was the definitive John Keats in the film “Bright Star”.  But of course he has defined a lot more roles since then, and now he makes a very authentic Norman Scott.  Whishaw went to see Scott before they started filming the series, and Scott was reportedly pleased with his personal portrayal (though he had other issues about which he was more reserved).  Director Stephen Frears has stated:  “He was very pleased, he laughed and cried”.

Whishaw has the depth to portray such varied characters and make them real, in his exact conjunction of the Sun and Pluto in Libra, sextile Neptune.  With Venus trine Chiron, you could say he is particularly adept at portraying heart-wrenching lovers!  His synastry with Norman Scott includes a trine between their Suns in the Air element, and Whishaw’s Mars trine Scott’s Pluto, bringing life, realism and energy to his psychological portrayal, and apparently Scott was moved by it.

Current Investigation

Yesterday it was announced that Andrew Newton, the hit man hired to kill Norman Scott, and who did kill his dog Rinka, was still alive, and the case has been re-opened.  An investigation by journalist Tom Mangold which was shelved in 1979 is the basis for a new documentary, to be shown at 10 pm tonight on BBC 4 after the last in the series of “A Very English Scandal”.  It is rumoured that Andrew Newton has changed his name to Hann Redwin. But we do not have his birth date, that is the first thing I would like to know!


There are no planetary aspects until Wednesday, and therefore I will look at the alignment of our Sun with one of the Fixed Stars early in the week, providing two seed thoughts in each case from “Starlight Elixirs” by Michael Smulkis and Fred Rubenfeld.

On Tuesday 5th June, our Sun is aligned with the Fixed Star “Cursa”, the beta star in the constellation of Eridanus (“The River”).  The name Cursa comes from the Arabic name for a group of three stars and is portrayed as “the Chair (or “Footstool”) of the Central One”.  In Chinese it is known as “the third star of Jade Well”.

I will quote from two facets of this star:

“This star has a capacity to increase endurance and strengthen the ability to do work of a mental nature with many individuals.  Some enhancement of thinking process will take place.  Physical stamina will be enhanced where concentration or direction of the energy flows in the physical body by the mind are necessary.  Any sort of physical action where danger is involved can be influenced by this star elixir in a positive way.  When working with biorhythms, individuals may find that a coordination of the valleys or switch-points between two or more cycles would be excellent times for utilizing this star.”


“… this sense of patience may also be transmitted to some individuals who work with this star elixir.  This star does not directly enhance patience, but when someone is involved in a concentrated pursuit which combines mental and physical, they may begin to understand patience better as a direct result of the elixir.”

On Wednesday (6th) the Sun is conjunct Mercury at 15 degrees Gemini, a placement which can bring crystal clear thought, depending on which House area of your life it falls in.  If you don’t know where it falls, you may experience it as pure thought.  If you know which House it falls in, you can apply that clarity of thought.  It will heighten the performance of any teaching projects.  That conjunction occurs at 2.02 a.m., so you may awaken in the morning with some bright ideas or clear dreams.

Twenty minutes later, at 2.25 a.m., Venus opposes Pluto, which is a very different experience.  This aspect is much more in the feeling and psychological realms, and may work to distract the other aspect of the day, or make a surreal juxtaposition with your experience of Sun conjunct Mercury.  You will probably have to multitask!  There may be some confrontation in relationships, or ultimations given and received.  You might hear or say the words “I can’t do this any more” in relation to an aspect of an ongoing relationship.  Other ways need to be found to negotiate a way forward.  Again, being early in the morning in the U.K. the depth of feeling may invade your dreams, and create some colourful landscapes which you will remember in the morning.  The aspect may result in a change of values.

When the day is well under way, at 14.07 Hrs, and after you may have found benefit from the mental clarity and processed some of the emotional depth of the previous two aspects, Mercury squares Neptune, producing a further challenge.  This actually fogs up the mental picture, so that you may initially lose some of the clarity you had gained earlier.  But it will increase your sensitivity, which may help paradoxically with the processing of emotional issues.  You just need to ensure that you are seeing through the illusions which have come up, or the psychological masks which people may have brought up, if that is not too dramatic to contemplate.  You could spend part of the day in meditation and bypass some of the drama, extend the mental clarity, or rise above the emotions.  An intense day!

It is a good plan to deal with as much as you can on Wednesday, and not evade the issues that come up, for more obfuscation occurs on Thursday (7th) in the shape of Sun square Neptune.  This time the illusionary qualities are more generalized and not so mentally focussed, and could involve paradoxes needing to be solved within your creative endeavours.  You will need to do something grounding that day, to counteract the overload of Neptune in the middle of the week, so that if you are confused the grounding will take some of the edge from that.  Despite the fact that conundrums may occur in your creative work, creativity is a good activity for that day, if you look upon it as a challenge of problem-solving.  You may then be able to turn the square into a trine and produce an inspired creation.

The week in bullet points:

  • Tuesday – endurance, and patience
  • Wednesday – intense: clarity, emotional depth, and then confusion
  • Thursday – more fog and illusion, but can be channelled into creativity