Like many others around the globe the astrological community today mourns the death of former First Lady Nancy Reagan at 94, but wonders about what might have been.
In addition to style, charm and grace, Mrs. Reagan brought astrology into the White House – and not for fun and parlor games. In a tell-all book, former White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan said the President didn’t make a meaningful move without first consulting the First Lady’s astrologer.
“Virtually every move and decision the Reagans made during my time as chief of staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who drew up horoscopes to make certain the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise,” he wrote in his book, For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington.
Prior to serving in government Donald Regan was CEO for Merrill Lynch and later served as Treasury Secretary in the Reagan Administration. His book published in 1988, a year after he left the Reagan White House.
“The astrologer set the time for summit meetings, presidential debates, the President’s 1985 cancer surgery, State of the Union messages and more. Without an okay from the astrologer Air Force One did not take off,” he reported.
The President’s San Francisco astrologer was later identified as the late Joan Quigley. She had worked on one of the President’s campaigns for Governor in California but didn’t begin surreptitiously advising the President until after his brush with death at the hands of a would-be assassin in March, 1981.
Apparently, the astrologer was able to assure the First Lady that astrology could help the First Family avoid incidents like this in the future. Mrs. Reagan, in turn, convinced “Ronnie.”
Donald Regan said the relationship between the Reagans and their astrologer “was the administration’s most closely guarded secret.” Covered-up was the fact that Mrs. Reagan set up private phone lines for Quigley at the White House and the Presidential retreat at Camp David, and was on the line to the astrologer two to three times per day on average.
The astrologer was paid $3,000 a month for her professional services. For America, this turned out to be an exceptional bargain.
When the news the Reagans consulted an astrologer broke the response was predictable. Religious leaders condemned astrology as a “devil’s tool” and members of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) railed at the idea that government decisions were “informed by fantasy.”
Among the more vocal critics was celebrity astronomer Carl Sagan. He complained that “some portion of the decision-making that influences the future of our civilization was plainly in the hands of charlatans.”
Obviously, the Reagans were wise enough to recognize the American public wasn’t ready for serious astrology and later attempted to gloss over their decision to rely on astrological insights. However, in hindsight, it can be argued that the administration’s fortunes prospered and the former President Reagan, his image unsullied, continues to be lionized by the conservative political establishment.
An editorial on the Astrology News Service (ANS) website offered this summation:
“The denials of a master politician aside, the President’s second term went so incredibly well even his detractors had to admit his timing was impeccable. So much so that when he left office he was being called the Teflon President. None of the ‘bad’ stuff stuck, not even the fact he heeded the advice of an astrologer and used this information to help guide the nation during a tumultuous period of American History.”