Birth 6 February, 1945. Died May 11, 1981
“Freedom and justice must stand for all,” went one of Bob Marley’s favourite aphorisms, and a quarter century after his death, Jamaica’s most famous son is still a byword for social justice and equal rights.
Appropriately, Marley was born under Aquarius, the sign of the revolutionary, social campaigner and forward thinker. Though the name and symbolism of Aquarius suggest this is a water sign, its element is air, the realm of ideas, and an Aquarius was originally a Roman engineer who ensured that water flowed for all the citizens of the city, rich and poor alike.
The importance of community is strong in the thinking of many famous Aquarians; US presidents Abraham Lincoln and F.D. Roosevelt for example. In music Aquarius’ campaigning spirit is found in Peter Gabriel and Yoko Ono, both of whom typify Aquarius’ willingness to walk out of step with everyone else and champion causes – world music in Gabriel’s case, women’s rights in Yoko’s. Aquarians are often ahead of everyone else in their thinking.
One clue to the identity of Aquarius is that their opposite and complementary sign is Leo.
Inside every conscience-struck Aquarius is a show-off Leo trying to get out, and many are just as fixated on their manes as any Lion. That was certainly true of Marley, who initially became almost as famous for his dreadlocks as his music. It is striking, too, that Marley’s identity was so entwined with that of Rasta godhead and Ethiopian emperor Hailie Selassie (‘The Conquering Lion’) who was born a Leo, and Jamaica, which gained its independence under Leo (on 6/8/1962).
Bob Marley’s birth chart has many correspondences with the horoscopes of both Selassie and Jamaica.*2.
Marley’s birth chart reveals a well-rounded personality, with planets in all four elements; earth, water, fire and air. Sagittarius, the sign of the explorer and moralist, is on the all important Ascendant, showing a larger than life personality. A Moon in passionate Scorpio indicates an intense emotional life. That the Moon – associated with childhood and mother – is in the secretive twelfth house suggests a mystery surrounding Marley’s parentage; both his missing father (a white army officer) and his temporary but alarming separation from his mother as an infant.
The warrior planet Mars, rising in Capricorn, shows the combative nature that helped Marley climb from the ghetto, and that he was no stranger to a fight (he also played a mean football match). Perhaps most striking is that Jupiter, planet of the big idea and grand vision, is up near the top of his horoscope, showing someone whose beliefs will be lived out in the public gaze. Neptune, planet of the natural mystic is nearby, in strong aspect with several other planets. *3
The poverty of Marley’s early life – first in Jamaica’s rural backwaters, later in Trenchtown, one of Kingston’s toughest ghettos – is not emphasised in Bob’s horoscope. Indeed, though Bob felt great compassion for Jamaica’s dirt poor ‘sufferers’, he never let his humble circumstances hold him back. A star with The Wailers before he was out of his teens, Bob always knew he was destined for great things.
As one of The Wailers, alongside Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingstone, Bob made his name in the mid-Sixties, though it was 1969 that saw them emerge as artists who changed the shape of reggae music on the recordings they made with Lee Perry, sides that still rank among Marley’s best work – ‘Kaya’, ‘Small Axe’ and ‘Soul Rebel’ and others that Bob re-recorded later. Equally importantly, this was when Bob discovered Rastafari as his faith – appropriately, when the mystic planet Neptune was at its strongest in Bob’s horoscope *4.
Shortly afterwards, in 1971, Marley signed to Island Records and his international career truly began*5. Though the first two Wailers albums for Island (Catch A Fire and Burning) were well received, it was Natty Dread, in 1974, which would make Marley the third world’s first superstar. The breakthrough coincided with his ‘Saturn return’, which, as so often, marks a decisive shift away from the past which one has inhabited in one’s twenties. The past is left behind and a new, more mature individual emerges. So it was with Marley. The trio of Wailers disbanded and Marley became a star in his own right, with the Wailers name adopted for his backing band.6
Not everyone was happy that Marley had achieved such fame, and that he was using his wealth and stardom to change things; preaching the cause of Rastafari to his new, international audience, and trying to bring about a more peaceful society back home in Jamaica – playing the role of Aquarius in short. On December 3, 1976, an attempt was made on Marley’s life at his home in Kingston. Bob was shot, and several others hurt – an event mirrored in the imagery of his horoscope by the planet Mars.*7
Though no-one suspected it at the time, Marley had less than five years to live. They were triumphant years, as Bob lived out the gifts shown in his horoscope, but the singer’s decision to leave a malignant toe untreated (this was an old football injury) led to cancer spreading throughout his body.
It is facile to say that the illness and Bob’s subsequent death were in any ‘fated’ – clearly they were not, as Marley could have had the toe amputated. His horoscope at the time of his death is nonetheless striking, as Saturn, in its role as lord of karma, passed across Chiron, signifier of health and healing. *8 At the time of his passing Jupiter, the planet of freedom and glory that had seen Bob travel the world and achieve fame beyond anything dreamt of for a poor Jamaican boy, was back where it had been at the start of his life. Robert Nesta Marley was going home.
1. Marley’s birth time is from his mother, Cedella.
2. For example: Bob’s Sun opposite Jamaica’s Sun. Bob’s Venus opposite Jamaica’s Venus Bob’s Mercury opposite Selassie’s Sun./ Bob’s Jupiter conjunct Selassie’s Saturn.
3. Neptune conjunct Chiron, opposite Venus and square Saturn in an exact t-square.
4 Transit Neptune conjunct natal Moon, March and November 1968
5 Transit Neptune, Jupiter and Mars all on the natal ascendant, January 1971.
6 Saturn returned to its natal position twice in 1973 and for a final time in May 1974.
7. Transit Mars and Saturn opposite natal Uranus.
8. Transit Saturn conjunct natal Chiron exact. Transit Uranus was conjunct natal Moon.