Understanding the Death of a Diva – Whitney Houston

by Marilyn J. Muir, LPMAFA

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Like so many people across the nation and the world, I was stunned by this week’s death of a diva. Whitney Houston dead at 48, so talented, so tragic, so young. Fame carries a terrible price tag for many, forever changing the person, their lives and their relationships. I loved her voice, her gift, and her intrinsic beauty. I had been saddened by her troubles. There is that price tag again. 

Once my shock leveled out, I did what astrologers do and I constructed her birth chart to see what I could learn. I added the chart for her current stage in life: secondary progressions, threw in primary radix directions for good measure, and also looked at the transits and eclipses… all the traditional techniques. Then I added one more lesser-used technique: diurnals, which I find valuable when fine-tuning a chart. Then I went to work on what I had assembled, and in the background played her voice and listened to the tributes by those who loved her.

Whitney was born August 9, 1963 at 8:55 PM EDT in Newark, New Jersey, an AA Rodden database source, birth record. Some of her chart was expansive and quite beautiful, Pisces rising would indicate an artistic gift such as her voice and her ethereal beauty. Having a natal Sun/Venus conjunction in Leo definitely helped with beauty, artistry, stage presence and drama. Her Moon/Jupiter conjunction helped her see life as a glass half full, gave her a desire to seek a positive outcome, and made her philosophical or religious in nature (with Jupiter co-ruler of her ascendant). With all that positivity, what happened?

Pisces rising is also co-ruled by Neptune in the 8th house of destiny. While Neptune offers talent and spirituality, it can also bring in delusion, escapism, and disappointment. Her lovely Sun/Venus conjunction is closely opposed by Saturn, a hard taskmaster, driven to succeed while unsure she was worthy of success or of being accepted, all three squared by Neptune, denoting the talent, the inspiration, and the deceiver. As if that were not enough, Uranus, Mercury and Pluto in Virgo are conjunct her descendant, the point of committed relationships and partnerships. While not part of the Virgo stellium, Mars is also in that partnership house. Three malefics (Uranus, Pluto and Mars) influenced her partnership role – unique, electric, dynamic, explosive, volatile, possessive, manipulative, power and control issues were the norm for her.

Many astrologers have and will offer their readings of Whitney’s life. I did the research work for this article because I was interested in understanding her sudden death. What happened? What made it occur that day? As of this writing, the circumstances are mysterious, and the cause not known. Initial police information indicated she died in a bathtub and had water in her lungs. Because of her troubled past but not necessarily actual fact, unsubstantiated media talk about drugs or alcohol was the buzz. For a reportedly rehabilitated addict, drugs and alcohol could have been a deadly mixture.  As I am not a forensic astrologer, I choose not to predict those results. I will leave that to the toxicology report and the findings of the medical examiner. Wild speculation should never be presented as fact and that includes the purported death photos. I saw one with black clothing and one with white clothing, so which is factual?

This article is not intended to deal with deaths in general, but with this death in particular. It is an essay to help us understand the connections between Whitney’s natal and current astrological charts for her death. Astrologically, was Uranus involved with shock and surprise? Was Neptune involved with water, drugs or alcohol and the mystery surrounding both her life and her death? Where do we look astrologically for that understanding?

  • Start with the natal and progress it to the date of her death. That should be the first layer of your search. Look first at progressed to natal and also progressed to progressed. Progressions reveal the growing, changing, experiencing human, evolving throughout their life.
  • Layer two will be the primary directions and I prefer the Radix method or mean motion; each year in the life moves each natal position in the chart forward 59’8”. I find this technique particularly useful for timing events.

Those techniques bring us close to the event. What can we use to fine-tune that reading to the day of the event? I use the diurnal chart which is cast by using the natal birth information changing only the date itself, replacing that date with the event date*. The diurnal becomes the personal chart for that day.

How is the diurnal read? I use the diurnal as the base and lay out the natal and the progressed chart around the outside so I can see all the chart connections simultaneously and easily. Helpful hint: If you cast a tri-wheel by hand, use different colors for the diurnal, progressions and natal for visual clarity. Since death is considered a relatively malefic event, we will look at hard aspects only: conjunction, opposition and square. Remember, the personal diurnal positions are the transiting positions for the event itself; i.e., diurnal equals personal transit.

Whitney died at 3:55 PM on February 11, 2012 in the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. What specific parts of the natal chart should be active for this event? We should zero in on her physical body: the Ascendant and ruler, plus any planets occupying the 1st house plus we should consider the 8th house of death: the cusp, its ruler and 8th house occupants if any.

Whitney’s natal Ascendant was 8 Pisces 25, co-ruled by Jupiter at 19 Aries 28R and Neptune at 12 Scorpio 57. Both Aries and Scorpio are Mars-ruled, assertive and at times volatile signs. Jupiter as a chart ruler can indicate a person who goes over the top and Whitney certainly was a rock diva with all that encompasses – larger than life. However, a retrograde ruler can also show the flip side of that Jupiter, with negative excess and over the top behavior. That certainly describes her life as well. What else?

The Moon at 17 Ari 05 is conjunct ruler Jupiter, both in the natal first house. She was well-loved and accepted by the public. The 8th house is 24 Lib 47, ruled by Venus at 11 Leo 12 with co-ruler Neptune occupying the 8th house as well. The 8th house carries with it a destiny connotation. Those are the natal positions and planets on which to focus. What was triggered by progressed motion?


Progressed Saturn at 16 Aqu 56 had retrograded back to trigger or activate her natal Sun/Venus/Saturn/Neptune fixed T-square. Neptune is a chart co-ruler residing in the 8th house of death and Venus is the ruler of the 8th house of death.  Neptune can easily be denote baths, water, drugs, alcohol, and mystery.

Prog Lunar Nodes at 17 Can/Cap 12 squared her natal Moon very tightly. Note the Nodes squared their natural ruler. Lunar Nodes figure frequently in deaths and endings.

Prog Mar at 10 Sco 15, which rules the signs of both her chart co-rulers, squared her natal Venus within 1 degree. Again, Venus is the ruler of her 8th house of death.

Prog Ura at 7 Vir 26, which opposed her Ascendant (physical presence) at birth, was even tighter by its progressed position (about 1˚). Uranus can easily be defined as surprises and headlines.  Also, Uranus figures frequently in falls.

Prog Asc is at 24 Tau 45 conjunct malefic fixed star Caput Algol at 25 Tau indicating a physical threat, to say nothing of the “losing her head” metaphor for that fixed star. Considered the most evil fixed star in the zodiac, her physical presence was endangered by entering the space of Caput Algol.

Directions (year for a day analogy, radix motion is 59’8” per year, (only 3 positions listed)

Radix Dir Moon at 4 Gem 49 is slightly past the square to natal Uranus at 4 Vir 27, which opposed her natal Ascendant (physical presence).

Radix Dir Jupiter at 7 Gem 14, the natal chart ruler, is about 1 degree to the square of the natal Ascendant.

Radix Dir Saturn at 7 Ari 43 is closely opposed natal Mars at 8 Lib 30, natural ruler of both Aries and Scorpio, the signs of both natal chart rulers. Saturn opposed Mars can indicate a definite energy drain and diminished energy, as well as lessons delivered to or by her assertive, aggressive nature. This can be a self-undoing aspect relating to discipline and responsibility for her self-assertive actions. She would pay for what she initiated.

Before we go any further, recognize that Primary Directions are applied only to natal positions. Why? The measure is tied to the natal placements as the starting points, but is an artificial motion that does not lend itself to aspect direct to direct, direct with progressions, or direct with transits, the diurnal positions. Direct to natal is the only aspect possibility.

The Diurnal Chart

The diurnal illustrates most of the rest of the story. Again, diurnals are the personally-based transits of the day so when you are reading diurnal positions you are also reading transits.  Ordinarily you set the diurnal for the day of the event. *But because Whitney was born at 8:55 pm and she died several hours earlier than that time (3:55 PM), I set diurnals for both the day of and the day prior to the event just to see which diurnal made the most sense. Wow! The day prior told the story much more clearly. The day of seemed to be after the fact. When reading diurnals, watch for clusters involving the angles of not only the diurnals but of all the charts involved. Remember, diurnals are the transits as experienced in a specific, personal chart and life – in this instance, Whitney’s.

Diu Mars 21 Vir 00R conjunct the Diu Ascendant at 22 Vir 09 triggers all four diurnal angles with hard aspects (i.e., diu MC 20 Gem 54) along with prog Mercury 20 Vir 49R and the natal MC at 18 Sag 23. Mars can indicate violence and, as we illustrated previously, personal assertion. If Whitney acted on an irrational impulse, she could have hurt herself.

Diu day prior Moon at 3 Lib 01 conjunct the prog Sun at 3 Lib 42 and opposes diu Venus/Uranus at 3 Ari 17 and 2 Ari 13, respectively. Again, natal Uranus opposes the natal Ascendant (physical presence). Venus is the natal death ruler.

Nat Moon/Jupiter 17 Ari 05 and 19 Ari 29, respectively, is conj prog Jupiter 15 Ari 53R and the diurnal 8th house death house cusp 17 Ari 30, all square the prog lunar nodes at 17 Can/Cap 12. This ties the physical body to the death activation with the typical involvement of the lunar nodes in deaths or endings.

Diu Lunar Nodes 11 Sag/Gem 25 square the Virgo cluster of natal Mercury 10 Vir 15 and Pluto 11 Vir 01, progressed Pluto at 12 Vir 41 and opposed the natal Ascendant at 8 Pis 25. Poor decisions complicated by compulsive/obsessive behavior directly affected the physical presence (Ascendant).

Progressions are accounted for, directions are accounted for, and transits are accounted for. All that is left to examine are the eclipses prior to the event. There were six eclipses in 2011, a busy year. There were no 2012 eclipses in play at the date of death. Note: I allow only 5˚ of orb for eclipses.

The solar eclipse of January 4th and the lunar eclipse of June 15th did not make close hard aspects to the natal chart so I have not listed them.

The solar eclipse of June 1st at 11 Gem 02 closely squared natal and progressed Pluto and widely the natal Ascendant. Solar eclipses are of short duration (10’ or less) but seem to have longer-ranged effect for months. Natal Pluto opposed the natal Ascendant so that was a trigger to a potential threat to the physical presence.

The solar eclipse of July 1 at 9 Can 12 squared natal Mars, which has been very involved in this event. Mars is a 7th house planet and is the natural ruler of the two co-ruler’s signs.

The solar eclipse of November 25th at 2 Sag 37 squared natal Uranus which again opposed Whitney’s physical presence (Ascendant). This could imply something sudden, an accident, a fall, totally unexpected and with a propensity to create headlines.

The lunar eclipse of December 10th at 18 Gem 11 closely opposed her natal Midheaven from the 4th house of the grave and end of life. Eclipses tend to repeat themselves in nineteen-year patterns. She lived through prior activations, yet with so many other activations, this eclipse was eerily prophetic.

One last observation. Whitney had a malefic 7th house of partnerships, both personal and business. With the triggering from the 7th to the Ascendant, did a threat exist from that partnership role to her as an individual? Whitney had just successfully completed a business association with her involvement with the movie Sparkle, yet to be released.

This is a teaching article. It is important to use the live events and information we can access to learn and develop our astrological skills. This event was a death, but it should not be used as a model for all deaths. Exploring any event in depth develops the tools to examine other events.

We cannot help Whitney. She is beyond our sphere of influence. We can use this tragic event to teach ourselves. This is my gift to Whitney to say thank her for her incredible voice. The gifts we are blessed with are for the benefit of all and her gift was truly amazing! I sincerely want her to rest in peace.

First published on AFA Today’s Astrologer v74#3, May 2012, republished with slight editing.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.