This chart and the story behind it is something of an astrologer’s chestnut. Roy C. Sullivan was a ranger at Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, USA, and he is in the Guinness Book of Records for having been struck by lightning seven times. The stormy local weather conditions and the outdoor nature of his work were factors in his bad luck, but the likelihood of being struck even once is millions to one, while for seven the odds against become truly astronomical.
“I have never been a fearful man”, Sullivan told the press, after being struck for the third time in 1972. “But I have to tell you the truth. When I hear it thunder now, I feel a little shaky.” He was struck that year - number four - while on duty at Shenandoah. Though only ten percent of people struck by lightning are actually killed by it, the experience is extremely painful, apparently far worse than a regular electric shock or scalding.
Astrologically we look to the Eighth house for accidents and to the Ninth house of fortune (for an Act of God). Roy’s ninth house contains a notably weak and debilitated Saturn across the Nodal axis, opposite a close Ketu-Moon conjunction. His Navamsha chart is strong, however, showing this modern-day Job had great faith which was severely and repeatedly tested. ““I have tried to lead a good life. I don’t believe God is after me,” he reasoned. “If he was, the first bolt would have been enough…. Best I can figure is that I have some chemical, some mineral, in my body that draws lightning. I just wish I knew.”
Roy Sullivan 7th February 1912, 19:00, Stanardsville, Virginia.
Jupiter is Roy’s Eighth house lord, placed in Scorpio/ Jyestha, in mutual aspect with powerful ninth-house ruler Mars. Jyeshta’s presiding devata is Indra, wielder of the thunderbolt, and its symbol is the umbrella: Roy survived each of his strikes, a perverse type of protection. Fourth house Jupiter shows the strikes happening around Roy’s home environment; twice while either in his car or after getting out as he escaped a storm and looked on from a supposedly safe distance (echoes of the mythical Appointment in Samara). “Naturally,” Sullivan said, “people avoid me. I was walking with the chief ranger one day and lightning struck way off and he said ‘I’ll see you later, Roy.’
Roy Sullivan D9
His first strike happened in 1942 during Jupiter-Venus dasha, with both planets being aspected by his overbearing Mars. The next six strikes occurred between 1969-77, in Mercury dasha, with Mercury placed in the sixth house with chart ruler Sun and closely conjunct Uranus. The latter is such an obvious symbol that it argues for the outer planet(s) being a factor in dasha interpretation – worth investigating.
The story has a tragic twist. In 1983, aged 71, Roy died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, having apparently been crossed in love – his Venus is in the 5th, aspected by impulsive Mars and obsessive Rahu. An afflicted Moon and Mercury are symbols for an unbalanced mind, and rather as wars are said to be ‘mistakes of the intellect’, so with suicide we find, ‘a permanent solution to a temporary problem’. In addition to Moon-Ketu, Roy’s Mercury is aspected by Saturn, and his death occurred in Mercury-Saturn dasha, with this pair being the maraka planets for Leo ascendant.