by Marilyn J. Muir, LPMAFA
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On September 9, 2015 a rare birth, one in 2.5 million, occurred… twins were born, conjoined at the tops of their heads. Twins are relatively common, conjoined twins are much rarer, and those conjoined at their heads, termed craniopagus are very rare. All sorts of problems occur with those conjoined, at times sharing limbs, organs or their blood supplies. Those born with cranium and brain connections can be even more difficult to separate. Such separation can mean the loss of one or both twins. Forty percent are stillborn, with one-third of the survivors liable to die within 24 hours. If not separated by two years old, head conjoined twins may not survive; it is an eighty percent risk. Even if successfully separated, one or both or the twins could develop complications.
The mid-term ultrasound turned a joyous pregnancy into a world-shaping drama for the parents. The mother was carefully watched and preparations were made for the birth. On the day the hospital preparations were completed and the staff was on scene, the mother went into labor and was rushed from Brainwood, Illinois to RUSH NCIU Chicago for the C-section delivery. As one delivery, Anias and Jadon McDonald were born at 11:11 PM, joining their parents, Nicole and Christian McDonald, and older brother, Aza, on an incredible journey. With their faith leading them, the family functioned quite well, different from usual child rearing, but steadily moving towards the inevitable. One twin seemed to be more active and healthy, and the other had a harder time of it. Each had a unique personality, loved and treasured as an individual, as the family moved towards the difficult conclusion leading to separation. I am a parent and grandparent. The decision-making process must have been enormous, but was led by their faith.
Three operations preceded the main surgery for the purpose of growing the extra tissue necessary to divide the two baby boys into individual lives. The hospital, doctors and medical teams were selected, and the parents relocated to New York City. On October 13, 2016 at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, New York, Neurosurgeon, Dr. James Goodrich, and his medical teams performed a miracle and separated Anias and Jadon successfully. Once separated, each boy had much more to endure as repairs of their individual bodies were performed by separate medical teams. As of November 16, 2016,the boys seem to be holding their own…only time will tell.
Astrologically what can we see that may help explain the birth and the separation? As astrologers, how do we look at a single unusual birth that required that two conjoined entities be given a second chance at individual existence? What follows will be highly speculative as I have not traveled this astrological path before. The boys were born at 11:11 PM on September 9, 2015 in Chicago, IL, birth time supplied by the Mother. The boys were separated on October 13, 2016, with extensive timed detail reported by multiple news sources. There were also three surgeries prior to the separation operation, each of which had high impact on the babies; however, I could not locate those dates in the news stories I accessed. We will start with the shared natal chart.
The midheaven is 21 Aquarius 37 opposed by Mars 20 Leo 36 both widely square Saturn in the sixth house at 29 Scorpio 29. The goal or mission of that unusual birth is shaped by opposition to surgery or the surgeon and challenged by the co-ruler of the midheaven in the sixth of illness or disease. Health-wise, this is a fixed or chronic T-square.
The Ascendant/Descendant axis 17 Gemini/Sagittarius 14 is squared by the Sun 17 Virgo 09, a mutable (adjust, adapt, compromise) T-square. How do we account for one continuous body containing two distinct babies? Chart ruler Gemini’s glyph is the twins, multi-faceted. Of course, most twins have separate charts and each can be studied individually. One technique for twins is to look at the Ascendant as one twin and the Descendant as the other. Some twins are very different as to individual personalities and lives. My sister-in-law is a twin, and she and her sister were very close but quite different in personality and experience. The Sun in the health sign of Virgo challenges both cusps from the foundational fourth house, which also represents the end of the matter or grave for this natal chart.
The natal chart ruler is Mercury 13 Libra 16 opposed Uranus 19 Aries 43 retrograde, widely square Pluto 13 Capricorn 02 retrograde. Mercury appears to be separating from the Pluto aspect and applying to the Uranus aspect. Usually any separating aspect indicates that the action indicated by the aspect has already occurred in experience prior to birth. An applying aspect indicates that the action represented has not already occurred but should occur in the future of that moment. I say appears because I have noticed that when a transiting planet is involved in an aspect, the spread of its direct/retrograde/re-direct degrees can still be active when any part of the aspect is still active. Translation:
Mercury is traveling at about 36 minutes per day, slower than average. The aspect between Mercury and Pluto occurred that same day. Pluto has gone past that position direct, retrograded back to 13:02 and will turn direct again and activate that position during the following year. That aspect is not finished. Uranus and Pluto have been in square for many years but Uranus, while retrograding back towards Pluto or Mercury, will never reach 13 degrees in this part of its orbit. Direct Mercury is the final controller of that pattern. This is a long-range pattern with a somewhat slow-moving activator. This will take many years to play itself out as a cardinal (acute) T-square (crisis).
That is two T-squares showing at the moment of birth, involving all four angles and six of ten planets natally, major controlling aspects!
One more challenging aspect. IF one twin is represented by the Ascendant and the other twin by the Descendant, we should look at the ruler of the Descendant as well. 17 Sagittarius 14 is ruled by Jupiter 6 Virgo 27 in the fourth opposed by Neptune 8 Pisces 10 retrograde in the tenth, a mutually applying (now to future) aspect, with the retrograde Neptune covering a span of degrees in its direct/retrograde/re-direct travel. Again an opposition, with Neptune’s gift of confusion and possible deformity in the tenth of mission and Jupiter in the house of foundation, end of matter, or grave. The potential of the Ascendant/Descendant axis squaring this opposition is substantially past. I do not see it as a future activation. There is no square to those positions.
We have shown activation to the four angles and eight of the ten bodies. The only positions not involved at this point are the Moon/Venus conjunction and the Nodes. The Moon/Venus conjunction can point out the obvious love and devotion of this family. The nodes do not fit into any of the previously mentioned hard aspect patterns, which I think is highly unusual. Hmmm.
Before we decide all is just terrible, know that there are sextiles and trines supporting the life of these babies. Nothing is all good or all bad. They are alive and have been thriving despite the difficulties, but they do have a difficult chart with Pluto in the eighth of catastrophe and surgery, ruling the sixth house of disease and illness which is occupied by Saturn 29 Scorpio 29, opposition the fixed star Pleiades, “something to weep about.”
Progressions I see the Moon, as the fastest moving body, activating first Venus, then Mars and then the activation of the fourth/tenth angle, giving the unfolding process for these babies. In the time between birth and the separation surgery, the progressing Moon arrived at 26 Leo 17, just past the square to the fixed star Caput Algol. “Death by decapitation” or the modern version, “losing one’s head” are traditional interpretations. It would have triggered both natal and progressed Mars and the natal and progressed fourth/tenth cusps in its travel, and is applying to the square to natal and progressed Saturn. I do believe we can see the three surgeries in between birth and the separation surgery in the aspects already completed. I have a concern for the health and well-being of Jadon and Anias as the Moon completes the square to natal and progressed Saturn up to and including January/February of 2017.
The progressed chart Midheaven is 22 Aquarius 43, already passed by the opposition from the progressing Moon, again part of the three prior surgeries. Progressed Mars is 21 Leo 18 closely opposition the natal midheaven, the now. Venus has barely moved, not contributing to the current activity, love of family protection continues.
Progressed Sun 18 Virgo 13 is still tightly square the progressed Ascendant/ Descendant cusps 18 Gemini/Sagittarius 20.
Progressed Mercury is still applying to the mutable T-square with Pluto and Uranus, about 1 degree past the square to Pluto, which is still retrograde. Mercury by progression at 36’ per year (day for a year) will take about 11 to 12 years to complete that opposition, whether or not Uranus goes direct by progression. These children have a long healing process.
The progressing Ascendant/Descendant axis square the progressing Sun will maintain this challenging aspect for some time with the Sun moving slightly slower than the angle. That would indicate challenge between their inherent vitality and concept of self (Sun) and their ability to cope with their environment and experience (Ascendant). There is nothing easy about this birth and its ongoing evolution!
I also cast the personal diurnal for the date of the surgery. Since the natal birth was 11:11 PM, I would examine both the day of and the day prior to birth for diurnal data. The only positions that change dramatically are the angles and the Moon. The diurnal Ascendant for the thirteenth is 18 Cancer 10 square the natal, progressed and diurnal Uranus. The diurnal Moon for the twelfth (24-hour period for start of surgery) is 8 Pisces 59 conjunct natal, progressed and diurnal Neptune and the diurnal South Node, square diurnal Saturn. The diurnal Moon for the thirteenth (24-hour period for completion of surgery on the fourteenth) is 23 Pisces 19 with the diurnal midheaven 28 Pisces 05; Moon travel would conjunct that midheaven the same day. Planets on the diurnal angles activate the chart. Also, diurnal Pluto was within three degrees of the diurnal Descendant.
Remember that Hmmm? Wondering where the Nodes were? They are conjunct diurnal Neptune.
Did the Solar Eclipse prior to the separation surgery on Sep 1, 2016 at 9 Virgo 21 set the stage for the surgery? It triggered the .natal and progressed diurnal/event Jupiter/Neptune opposition and Neptune/South Node square Saturn.
I found several times for the pivotal moments for the surgery itself:
- Children wheeled from their room into surgery: 7:12 AM EDT (again October 13, 2016, Bronx, NY)
- The surgical start was 9:39 AM EDT (first incision)
- The neurosurgeon performed the last stitch separating the two: 2:11 AM EDT October 14, 2016. At that point, each child was cared for by separate teams. To me, this is a possible chart of re-birth as the one became two, but for which twin or both?
As I worked on this, the telling chart for the beginning was when the twins were removed from their parents at 7:12 AM with the Ascendant at 21 Libra 00 conjunct the Sun at 20 Lib 33 in the twelfth and Uranus in opposition at 22 Aries 35 retrograde (applying) in the seventh, all square the Mars/Pluto conjunction at 10 Capricorn 52 to 15:00. Remember the natal Uranus 19 Aries 43 retrograde? Plus, that Mars was square Mercury at 10 Libra conjunct Jupiter at 7 Libra 19, in the twelfth house of hospitals and institutions. At that time, the Moon was at 13 Pisces 08 conjunct the South Node at 12 Pisces 14 retrograde and Neptune 9 Pisces 37 retrograde, square Saturn at 12 Sagittarius 37. Major stress aspects.
The last stitch chart gives 22 Leo 15 rising… amazing. The natal fourth cusp is 21 Leo 37 and the progressed fourth cusp is 22 Leo 43. Add that to progressed Mars at 21 Leo 18 and I do think we have found our triggers. The last stitch Midheaven is 14 Taurus 32, ruled by Venus. Natal Venus was 14 Taurus 40 with progressed Venus only 11’ later. Last stitch Venus was at 25 Scorpio 07, opposition fixed star Caput Algol “losing one’s head” or a very positive “decapitation” outcome.
Charts for Jadon and Anias McDonald, conjoined twins:
Natal: Sep 9, 2015, 11:11 PM CDT, Chicago, IL
Naibod Progressed to: Oct 13, 2016, day of surgery
Diurnals for Oct 12, surgery began this 24-hour period and
Oct 13 surgery continued and ended this 24-hour period
Moved from hospital room to surgical unit Oct 13, 2016, 7:12 AM EDT, Bronx, NY
Surgical start: Oct 13, 2016, 9:39 AM EDT, Bronx, NY
Last stitch ending separation: Oct 14, 2016, 2:11 AM EDT, Bronx, NY
Solar Eclipse: Today’s Astrologer vol 78#8, Aug 2016
General reference page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjoined_twins
Published in AFA Today’s Astrologer Dec 2016, vol 78#13, republished with slight editing.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.