Born to Play the Role: The Godfather

The Godfather is one of the most revered movie trilogies in American culture.  It consistently appears on every critics’ top five list and the sequel was the first to win the Academy award for best picture.  While the popularity and success of these movies guaranteed fame for just about everyone involved, it had the largest impact on the careers of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.[1]  It made icons out of all three, driving Pacino and De Niro into prominence and cementing Brando’s reputation as a star.  Since these movies represented a “break-through” for each actor, it makes sense to analyze their natal charts for any synchronicities with their characters.

Marlon Brando – Vito Corleone

BrandoGenerally speaking, a godparent is an individual who assists in a child’s upbringing and can become a legal guardian in the event of the parents’ death.  Historically, a godparent was responsible for the child’s religious education and instruction.  The Mafia adopted this title and applied it to any particularly high-ranking crime boss.  Understanding these distinctions is a pre-requisite to clarifying why Brando’s chart contains no planetary bodies within the 10th house of reputation or career, but is instead focused on the 4th house of family.

Brando chart Sun-Moon T-square Apex

As stated in many previous articles, the Sun and Moon are the two most important bodies of any chart as they represent the core of the personality (the ego and emotions), but it should also be noted that the Sun and Moon are general symbols for the father and mother as well.[2]  From a psychological perspective, with both bodies in conjunction in the 4th house, we have an individual whose primary reason for existence centers around the family and from a symbolic perspective Don Corleone is the “alpha and omega” (Sun, Moon) of his “family”.  This emphasis is underscored by their trine to the ruler of the 4th house, Jupiter, while placed at the apex of a t-square involving Mars and Pluto.  Jupiter, Neptune and the 9th house have been historically associated with religion, spirituality and higher truths so their aspectual involvement hints at the religious connotations traditionally affiliated with a Godfather.  Specifically, Jupiter’s 1st house placement denotes an individual who projects (1st house) forward an image of a good, religious (Jupiter) man whose strongest concerns are his connections to family (4th rulership) and Vito made this explicit with the following:

“Any man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”

On the other hand, hard aspects between Mars and Pluto are an astrological signature for violence and their opposition across the houses of personal resources (2nd) and the resources of others (8th) presents an archetypal picture of an individual who is the head of a family that balances (opposition) aggression (Mars) and power (Pluto) in order to make money (2nd house) by taking it from others (8th house).[3]

Al Pacino – Michael Corleone

Pacino1Al Pacino’s chart tends to fit the more traditional astrological picture of an organizational leader and this manifests as Michael’s desire to “legitimize” his father’s “business”.[4]  This subtle distinction in leadership style is critical because while Michael viewed the organization as a “business”, his father viewed it as an extended “family” and these individual perspectives are echoed through the dynamics of each chart.[5]

Pacino chart

Pluto Rising

The most immediately noticeable characteristic is Pluto’s presence at the Ascendant ofPacino2 the chart.  The first house represents the image we project out to the rest of the world.  As a result, manifestation of archetypal dynamics associated with this house tend to be highly visible.  Pluto represents the archetype of power and positioned at the cusp (Ascendant) of the 1st house is an astrological signature of an individual who owns some degree of personal power.  These individuals have an intense, penetrating quality about them and this first impression is unmistakable.  In portraying Michael Corleone, Pacino imbued the character with these dynamics, capturing the power that Michael owned despite the fact that he inherited the role.  Additionally, Pluto’s placement on the 12th house side of the Ascendant reflects how Michael’s power comes from areas or activities that are hidden or behind the scenes, the underworld of organized crime.

It should also be noted that the asteroid, Pallas Athene, is actually closer to the Ascendant.  Pallas’ association with strategic thinking is reflected in Michael’s ability to outwit the web of enemies plotting against him.  Michael’s strategic nature is one of the more immediately noticeable characteristics.

10th House Sun

With the Sun’s correlation to the ego and the 10th house representing positions of authority this chart provides another astrological signature for an individual who defines themselves through the high position they hold.  These dynamics are further accentuated with the Sun’s rulership of the Ascendant (echoing Pluto) and tight conjunction to Saturn, the planetary body traditionally viewed as an archetype of authority.  Viewed together, there is little doubt that this chart is for an individual with a high degree of personal power in a position of power and authority.

The Sun and Saturn are also the rulers of the 1st and 7th houses, a polarity across the chart axis representing the natural opposition between the self (1st) and others (7th).  The 7th house is particularly interesting because of an historic interpretation that alternatively views this house as an area also representing open enemies.  Additionally, any planetary body in conjunction with the Sun is considered combust,[6] a condition that weakens or debilitates its strength.  So, if we delineate this conjunction as an encounter between the self and its enemies then we can also conclude that the self is overpowering them due to their close proximity.  Or, as Michael famously stated:

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”[7]

This is the strongest theme of the chart and is repeated in the t-square involving Venus-Mars-Moon-Neptune.  Venus-Mars conjunctions are ubiquitous signatures for relationships and their placement within the 11th house of friends and associates is particularly revealing because the conjunction is intercepted.[8]  This dynamic is often viewed as if the bodies are trapped or contained and reflects Michael’s need to keep a tight leash on his acquaintances.  The motivation for this control is reflected in the Moon’s oppositional aspect from the 5th house of play, games or, more specifically, gambling.  It represents Michael’s exploration (Sagittarius Moon) of Las Vegas as a potential business opportunity balanced with his acquaintances who are kept under tight scrutiny.  All of these dynamics find their apex in Neptune.

Apex Neptune

While outer planetary bodies (i.e. Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) are not assigned any type of rulership according to traditional astrological methodologies, it is acknowledged that these bodies can operate or function better or worse depending on the affiliated sign.  Neptune represents the archetypes of fantasy, images, imagination, spiritualty and any other non-physical states of consciousness.  As a sign, Virgo represents a quality that is scrutinizing, discriminating, has a high attention to detail and desires accuracy and precision.  As a result, it is obvious that Neptune is not comfortable in the sign of Virgo due to the clash between the sign’s qualities and Neptune’s basic function.  Additionally, Neptune has the added debility of retrogradation as well as challenging aspects (i.e square) from both ends of the base oppositional polarity.  This means that the archetypes associated with this particular Neptune have a tendency to manifest dysfunctionally.  These dysfunctions can include deception, illusion, confusion and weakness.  Neptune’s placement within the 3rd house of communication manifests as Michael’s ability to keep the people around him guessing as to his true intentions, but a more resonant delineation can be deduced from this house’s other area of jurisdiction, siblings.  With this correlation, Neptune’s deception manifests through Michael’s sibling, Fredo, who betrays Michael by secretly assisting his opponents/enemies.[9]

Other Major Chart Connections

The recurring themes involving the distinctions between Vito and Michael are summarized best by Jupiter.  Again, Jupiter is the strongest indicator of the concept of a Godfather due to its astrological association with religious concepts and traditions.  With Brando, Jupiter’s 1st house placement ensured that Vito’s ownership of this role would be an integral part of his personality, but Pacino’s 10th house placement reflected Michael’s understanding that this role was a badge of authority and reputation.  In essence, Vito viewed himself as a Godfather in a truer sense of the role, while Michael saw the mask for what is was, a means to power.

Additionally, Brando’s 5th house (children) Mercury tightly conjuncts Pacino’s 10th house Jupiter while Pacino’s Midheaven (MC – 10th cusp) is tightly conjunct the cusp of Brando’s 5th house of children.  These improbable connections confirm Michael as the heir to the Godfather role and highlight his rise to prominence (10th) as a result of his relationship (5th – child) with his father, Vito.

Robert De Niro – Young Vito Corleone

De Niro played the role of the younger Vito Corleone in the Godfather sequel that chronicled Vito’s origin.  The bi-wheel chart below provides a comparison of Brando (outer wheel) and De Niro (inner wheel).[10]

De Niro chart

As a younger version of Vito, there are numerous connections between the charts of Brando-De NiroBrando and De Niro.  The first aligns De Niro’s Ascendant-Descendant axis with the oppositional polarity between Mars-Pluto at the base of Brando’s T-square.  The violence hinted at in Brando’s chart is reflected more personally in De Niro’s and highlights Vito’s core balancing act of family (Cancer) and career or reputation (Capricorn).  This connection foreshadows the violence that would eventually become part of this balancing act.

The second connection inversely aligns De Niro’s other axis, the IC-MC (4th-10th house cusps) polarity, with Brando’s IC-MC axis.  This powerful statement infers that younger Vito’s reputation would evolve into the older Vito’s position within a type of “family”.  Brando’s 4th house stellium transposed within De Niro’s 10th is a huge indicator of younger Vito’s eventual maturity (10th).

The third connection involves De Niro’s 11th house ruler, Venus.  In addition to friends and acquaintances, the 11th house represents an individual’s hopes, wishes and dreams for the future.  Venus is placed on the cusp of the 4th house and tightly conjunct the ruler of the 4th, Mercury.  This echoes Brando’s 4th house emphasis, again foreshadowing Vito’s future.

But Vito’s evolution is most powerfully represented by Jupiter tightly conjunct both Pluto (the archetype of power) and the North Node within De Niro’s 2nd house.  The North Node is representative of an individual’s evolutionary destiny and Jupiter is our indicator of a Godfather.[11]  These dynamics represent the most relevant connection between the two charts for this conjunction is forming a trine aspect to the focal point of Brando’s chart, the Sun-Moon conjunction.  With the 2nd house representing talents and resources, De Niro’s chart infers that Vito’s talents as a young man will benefit (trine) him as eventually becomes the head (De Niro 10th) of his organizational family (Brando 4th).

Wrap Up

At this point you might be swirling a bit and that is understandable.  Some delineations can become so complex that balancing all the dynamics, symbolism and archetypes can feel like mentally spinning 16 plates at once.  The complexity of analyzing and deciphering charts with a high degree of interrelated destiny can’t be understated, but the satisfaction from piecing together the puzzle and seeing the whole picture is mind blowing.  That’s what makes these charts so much fun.  They challenge you.  I encourage anyone to practice with these charts here and see what else you might be able to dig up.

More to come….

[1] Of particular significance, Brando and De Niro both won the Academy Award for best actor.

[2] Saturn is also recognized as an astrological significator of the father, but only because Saturn represents the archetype of authority.

[3] It shouldn’t be ignored that both Mars and Pluto are co-rulers (traditional and modern) of Brando’s 12th house of “behind the scenes activities”.  Also, the 8th house is also known as the house of death.

[4] It should be noted that Michael wasn’t initially interested in being involved with his father’s enterprise, but the nodal axis across Pacino’s 4th-10th house axis made this evolution his destiny.

[5] This also represents an astrological maxim that each individual’s “truth” will be shown in the chart.  Natal charts may not show the absolute truth of a native’s life, but a truth according to how the individual perceives it.  Sometimes the two support each other, but it is important to remember that sometimes they don’t.

[6] With the exception of Mars.

[7] While Michael cited his father as the teacher of this lesson, it is significant that Michael was the one who brought this lesson to fruition.

[8] Interception is a condition where a planetary body is completely “contained” within a house.  Here, the sign of Gemini of located within the middle of the 11th while the signs of Taurus and Cancer are on the cusps of the 11th and 12th, respectively.

[9] The retrogradation highlights that this deception was “under review” or an area of focus that was highly internalized.  Michael suspected that deception from coming from his brother, Fredo.

[10] The signs and degrees on the house cusps correspond to De Niro’s chart as well.

[11] Pluto is also the ruler of De Niro’s 5th house of children and tightly conjunct Pacino’s Ascendant, providing another connection between Vito, Michael and the role of the Godfather.

One thought on “Born to Play the Role: The Godfather

  1. Pingback: Born to Play the Role: Keanu Reeves/Neo | Electric Storm Astrology

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