Deb Clow’s weekly astrology class uses birth charts of presidential candidates to interpret their leadership styles and personality traits. “The natal chart is a beginning. It’s a moment in time. The beginning of the life of a human, or the life of a nation,” she explains.
The spacious open living room in Deb Clow’s Rattlesnake area home forms a nexus for local astrology students. Bookshelves, plants, and a full-size window with southern exposure cultivate a mood of openness and calm to facilitate Clow’s day-to-day work creating horoscopes. Throughout the week, people visit for day-long seminars, private birth-chart readings, and weekly classes in something called evolutionary astrology, exchanging small talk along with cosmic wisdom.
As the presidential campaign season has grown to dominate the national news over the last several weeks, Clow has initiated an ongoing experiment by handing out “mystery” birth charts for each candidate to her pupils, clients and colleagues—conducting a kind of blind astrological poll. While most voters struggle to assess superficial media analysis, unconvincing campaign promises, and impeccably well-crafted public personas, Clow’s approach offers a more personal—if more nebulous—perspective on the candidates than scripted ads and polished campaign websites.
“The charts show you what kind of archetypes are running their lives,” explains Jan Weertman, one of Clow’s students, “It gives you an idea of what kind of political leader they will be.”
Clow’s students aren’t the first to mix astrology into their political analysis. During the build-up to her husband’s 1996 re-election campaign, Hillary Clinton reportedly relied on her trusted astrologer Jean Houston and a handful of self-help gurus like Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey for both spiritual and political advice. Washington Post writer Bob Woodward reports in his book, The Choice, that Clinton and her spiritual advisors held secretive meetings where they channeled the spirits of Eleanor Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, and Jesus Christ to engage in “conversations” with the spirits about Clinton’s future. Like many powerful historical figures–from Adolph Hitler to Nancy Reagan—Clinton’s preoccupation with astrological and spiritual indicators weighed directly on her political strategy. Apparently, she wasn’t getting the feedback she needed from opinion polls and focus groups.
No stranger to electioneering herself, Clow’s father served the South Dakota Legislature, and she’s worked on campaigns since her youth. With degrees in English and fine arts, she brings a literary mind and a penchant for archetype and myth to her views of politics and astrology.
“We use the planets as archetypes,” Clow explains. “They’re metaphors for a particular type of energy.”
She studies astrological charts as documentation of the alignment of planets and constellations at the exact moment of birth. “The natal chart is a beginning. It’s a moment in time. The beginning of the life of a human, or the life of a nation,” she explains.
After completing a chart, students talk about the candidates with near-intimate familiarity, as if they had known them for years.
“After we looked at Edwards’ chart,” Weertman says, “There was a more favorable opinion of him.”
The John Edwards portrayed by the media as an artfully articulate former trial lawyer with a pretty face impresses this group with his theoretically predicted, but otherwise unobserved personal warmth.
“His outwardness, and his communicative abilities are his Gemini traits, which is how the world sees him,” says Weertman, “But after learning of his Cancer side, you get the sense that one-on-one, he’s a softer, gentler person than you see in public.
“The Cancer makes a more feminine energy there, he’s more in-touch with our culture’s femininity,” she says.
While Edwards’s chart suggested a mild side, Clinton’s chart reveals less appealing tendencies.
“Hillary’s chart shows the potential for abuses with power,” Weertman says. “Scorpio people come into this life with issues of power and the use and abuse of power.”
Clow’s group has yet to study John McCain’s chart, and has been activelydigging for Barrack Obama’s exact time of birth. Obama’s August 4, 1961 Honolulu birthday is public knowledge, but without the exact time anchoring his chart, Clow says astrologers can only speculate, leaving them on shaky ground.
Beyond the candidate profiles, Clow and her colleagues also take readings on the nation and its astrological trajectory, and they see a message similar to the one they hear from the candidates: Americans need change.
“Our country is in a majorsea change right now,” Clow says, explaining that as Pluto enters Capricorn, she sees a time of great fear, emerging truth, and fundamental transformation.
“Pluto is the planet of the most intense fear, and intense awareness of that fear of death which leads to rebirth,” she says. “It was discovered in 1930 as Hitler was conducting the first public holocaust.”
Skeptics may view these supposed insights as wacky, illegitimate, or even disreputable. But it’s difficult to say whether they’re any better off trying to squeeze precious drops of truth from the empty promises, mindless slogans, and consultant-driven expressions of personality offered as alternatives. Who can claim possession of knowledge, when everything seems so unreal?