I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time. Since his passing, I have continued to think about Muhammad Ali from time to time.
What an exceptional person and beautiful spirit he was. What a gift we had.
In a year it seems that we are losing some of our cultural greats (David Bowie and Prince obviously come to mind), Muhammad’s passing seems particularly poignant to me. Not just because of who he was, or what he achieved physically, but for everything he stood for – and just how proudly, and solidly, he stood for his beliefs in the face of incredible opposition.
The truth is that it’s a pleasure for me to pick apart the birth charts of big personalities like Muhammad Ali, particularly as this relates to the asteroids. Unlike in other posts, I’ve also gone to the extra effort here to look at the transit charts for some of the more important dates of his life (his name change, becoming an Olympic gold medallist and beating Sonny Liston, to name a few). The asteroids are always with us, and these dates show just how spooky the asteroids are in transit.
The Birth Chart & Asteroids of Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay): DOB 17th January, 1942 at 6:35 pm in Louisville, Kentucky, USA
THE BIRTH CHART
At first look you can see the amount of tension in Muhammad Ali’s chart along the 1st, 7th and 10th Houses (self, open enemies, career): a few T-Squares, indications of conflict, piled up on top of each other. And just peeking through is a beautiful grand trine, the fairy godmother of astrological pattern aspects, illuminating his 2nd, 6th and 10th Houses (money, work, career). This already tells us a lot before we get into the rest of the chart.
It’s absolutely no surprise that Muhammad Ali is a 6th House Sun, being that his work (and his health, for that matter) was such a key part of his life. The Sun being in Capricorn reveals a personality that can reach the highest heights and then retreat into the deepest depths. Anyone familiar with Muhammad Ali’s story knows this is true: he’s been both the king and the pariah of boxing. At times on top of the world, and at others, very much shut out from it.
This is all part of the Capricorn mystique and power.
Just like their animal, the sea-goat, a Capricorn can somehow magically end up places that no one thought possible, and at moment’s notice, retreat below view.
In the words of Muhammad Ali himself, a Capricorn mission statement if there ever was one: “No one starts out on top. You have to work your way up. Some mountains are higher than others, some roads steeper than the next. There are hardships and setbacks, but you can’t let them stop you. Even on the steepest road, you must not turn back. You must keep going up. In order to reach the top of the mountain, you have to climb every rock.”
With Saturn as the ruler of his Sun, it’s also no surprise to find this planet placed in his 10th House, which indicates the obstacles Muhammad Ali faced with his career as well as the level of discipline he brought to his craft. His Mars is also there, in Taurus. This I might not have expected, as Mars speaks a bit about our level of ‘fight’, and in Taurus, Mars is weakened. For a boxer I would have expected to see a ‘punchier’ (pun very much intended) Mars sign like Aries.
Typically, a Mars in Taurus person makes love, not war; I’d reckon that Ali didn’t really love to fight, as much as he loved to win (hello, Leo Ascendant).
On the other hand, Taurus rules the throat…and who could deny the power, passion, and punch (Mars) of Muhammad Ali’s words? He had only to open his mouth and the world stopped to listen. And what a performance it was! Packed with Leonine bravado and innovative, quirky rhymes (Mercury in Aquarius), Muhammad Ali entranced us. He seemed like magic, otherworldly.
And for anyone worried about their natal retrograde planets: Muhammad Ali had 6.
You’ll be fine.
Now let’s check out a very crowded part of Muhammad Ali’s chart: the 7th House. Amongst other things, and because the ancients obviously had a sense of humour, the 7th House rules marriage, contractual partners of all kinds and…open enemies. Most certainly, Muhammad Ali didn’t lack enemies, in or out of the ring. The US government spied on him, banned him from boxing, and he fell in and out of favour as he changed his name and religion. Muhammad Ali also very famously poked fun at his boxing rivals via his takedown couplets:
“I think Terrell will catch hell at the sound of the bell.
He’s going around saying that he’s a championship-fighter,
but when he meets me he’ll fall 20 pound lighter.
He thinks that he’s the real heavyweight champ
but when he meets me, he’ll just be a tramp
Now I’m not sayin’ just to be funny, but I’m fightin’ Ernie because he needs the money.”
Equally fascinating are the asteroids in Muhammad Ali’s chart.
For starters, he’s got Icarus (speed, risk, falls from grace) and Industria (discipline, hard work) right next to his Capricorn Sun in the 6th House of work and health. Most interesting here is Icarus. While many of us remember the ill-fated flight of Icarus, the rest of the myth is just as compelling. Icarus is in prison with his father. At first he is terrified to escape, but as soon as he sets flight, he is overwhelmed by the visceral experience of freedom. Distracted, and forgetful of his father’s warning, he flies ever closer to the Sun – which melts his wings and leads to his demise.
An Icarus person loves risk and speed, and rebels against social confinement.
I feel that Icarus’ themes match up to Muhammad Ali’s life story quite well: imprisoned by his ‘father’ (the USA as the ‘father’ imprisoning his people; inheriting a ’slave’s name’), Icarus takes the leap (changes his name to Muhammad Ali, nets a surprise win against Sonny Liston), and gets too close to the Sun (refuses to serve in the Army) and falls to his death (the infamous boxing ban and fall from public approval).
It could be said that Muhammad Ali repeated the Icarus theme when he kept resisting retirement, which eventually lead to another fall – the development of Parkinson’s disease (incidentally, the asteroid ‘Parkinsons’ is present in the 12th House of illness; in 1984, it was opposing Neptune in the 6th House of health).
How’s this for a beaut: he’s got asteroid ‘Fama’ (fame) exact his Ascendant.
And Toro (the fighter) in the 6th House trines his North Node (destiny).
Interestingly, the asteroid ‘Clay’ (there are no name asteroids for Cassius, Muhammad or Ali) is in his 1st House at 23 degrees, quite near to his Ascendant. On the day that Muhammad Ali changed his name, asteroid Clay was opposed by his natal Hidalgo (revolutionary activism), conjunct his Moon; Pluto (transformation, control) was approaching a conjunction to his natal North Node. Asteroid Hidalgo was also transiting the 3rd House of communication. In the chart above, you can also see that Hidalgo squares (conflicts) with his North Node, indicative of the tension that his activism brought to his life’s path.
His North Node asteroids are interesting enough on their own. He’s got the hypothetical planets Cupido (family, small groups), Apollon (‘many irons in the fire’), and Olympiada (Olympics). For an Olympian that had four wives and 9 children…I’d say that’s about right.
Other Interesting Highlights
1 ) September 5, 1960 – Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) receives an Olympic gold medal.
This is cool: Toro (the fighter) is conjunct asteroid ‘Gold’: literally, a gold-medal fighter. Transiting and natal north nodes (destiny) are exact and conjunct the asteroid Olympiada. Transiting Uranus (the unexpected) is conjunct transiting Olympiada on asteroid ‘Clay’. This last part is interesting as Ali often spoke of this as a turning point for him; soon after he found Islam, and starts on the road to separating himself from ‘Clay’ and forming his new identity.
2 ) May 25, 1965 – Muhammad Ali has a re-match with Sonny Liston.
A few days later, there is a solar eclipse on Muhammad Ali’s natal Jupiter in the 11th House – an indication of the notoriety he would gain from these fights. Once again, the North Node features heavily: Pluto (transformation), Mars (the fight) and Fama (fame) are on top of his North Node, and they all beautifully trine Toro (the fighter) in the 6th House of work.
3 ) April 28, 1967 – Muhammad Ali refuses to fight in the Vietnam War.
Asteroid Karma opposes the Sun. Only one month earlier, a Lunar Eclipse (endings) occurred in Muhammad Ali’s 10th House of career, right on top of his Mars (fight). Hidalgo (activism), Neptune (mysticism), asteroid Champion, Vesta (spiritual service, dedication) are tightly conjoined in Scorpio, and intense, deep, penetrating sign, opposing Uranus in the 11th. Ali becomes a spiritual, revolutionary Champion, but this also creates a break from his fight and the public.
4 ) June 20, 1967 – Muhammad Ali is convicted of evasion and sentenced to prison.
Nessus (abuse of power) is conjunct Jupiter (law, amongst other things) in the 11th House. Mercury (communication, contracts) is in the 12th House of incarceration and suffering. Asteroid Achilles opposes Saturn, his ruling planet, in the 10th House of his career. Transiting asteroid Karma is exactly on his Ascendant. His natal Venus ($$$) is conjunct Chiron (pain).
5 ) March 18, 1971 – Ali loses the “Fight of the Century” against Joe Frazier.
This didn’t end too well for Ali and there are plenty of reasons why: transiting Saturn squares his 10th House Saturn (restriction, humiliation, rejection), and opposes asteroid Astraea (staying until the bitter end, which is how the fight happened: they went 15 rounds). Asteroid ‘Frazier’ is in the 12th House of hidden enemies, opposing asteroid ‘Champion’ and squaring Fama (fame), creating a T-Square. Transiting asteroid ‘Achilles’ is on top of Frazier.
6 ) June 28, 1971 – Muhammad Ali’s conviction is overturned.
Most interesting here is that in February 1971, there was a lunar eclipse on his Ascendant, ending a phase of how he is seen. In early August there was a lunar eclipse directly on his Mercury (contracts, communications), severing the old court decision, and later in August there was a solar eclipse on his Venus, which sparked his greater re-entry into boxing, and à la Venus, making money again.
7 ) October 30, 1974 – Ali wins “The Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman.
This is another highly fated moment in Muhammad Ali’s life. The transiting North Node conjoins asteroid ‘George’ as well as asteroid ‘Africa’ (the match was held in Zaire). Asteroid George is in the 12th House of hidden enemies, squaring and opposing the natal and transiting Toro (the fighter). Transiting Karma is conjunct to natal Karma. Ali’s natal Mars opposes transiting Mars, showing the intensity of the fight.