While being born into a loving family nest often sets one up well in life, it doesn’t offer protection from the pain of loss and grief. In fact, it often makes loss that much worse. Lisa Marie Presley had oodles of both. The only daughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, from day one she was the centre of their worlds, but this close proximity also meant she felt the presence of death close to her well before her father’s passing. It was an ominous cloud that continued to accompany her throughout life.
Astrologers looking at her chart in retrospect, wondering how one might have predicted her (early) death, will not find it showing up in transits. Chiron sextiling the Sun is not strong enough to take one out. Her progressed Moon transiting the 8th house, or Mercury retrograding through her 6th, won’t cut it either. Not even all of these as a combined effect is enough to foretell death. The warning signs that she was going to be encumbered with health challenges and difficulties in 2022-23 can be seen in her Solar Return chart, and her family history.
A Solar Return chart offers a snapshot of the year ahead. Taken from each birthday when the Sun returns to the same zodiacal position as at one’s birth, the chart offers themes and timing points of potential events throughout the year. Sadly, Lisa Marie wasn’t strong enough to overcome the pressure expressed in her 2022 Solar Return chart and she died January 12, 2023, aged 54. She leaves behind three daughters; Riley, twins Harper and Finley, and her mother, Priscilla. Her son, Benjamin (27), died in 2020.
Disclaimer: This is not an instruction on how to predict death. While there is a Length of Life technique that can be applied, this example is simply illustrating factors that indicate hardship occurring concurrently across Solar Return charts, transits and family patterns. Should these same patterns be replicated in another chart, death may be an eventual result, but it is not a given. It is not recommended to find these, or similar patterns, and suggest that one may die in a particular year without sufficient knowledge of how the length of life technique works. Proceed with personal responsibility and caution.
While Lisa Marie was an accomplished songwriter and performer, her whole existence was enshrined within the legacy of her father. Elvis has become mythic. The millions of visitors to Graceland each year continue to expand this man’s life and story. While alive, he was known for what he brought to life, while Lisa Marie was better known for what was taken from her.
When Riley Keough watched the recent Elvis biopic with her mother, she reported that in the first five minutes she was aware she was witnessing generational trauma. Early death and heart complications appear to be a source of family tragedy for the Presley’s. Elvis’s older twin brother, Jessie, was still born, leaving Elvis with a inconsolable longing throughout life. Elvis’s mother died of a heart attack aged 46 (Elvis was 23). Elvis himself lived a full, but short life, dying from heart problems (cardiac arrhythmia) when he was 42, in 1977. Lisa Marie’s only son, Benjamin took his own life in 2020, and she herself died aged 54, with the coroner report having been deferred at the time of writing. Reports suggest cardiac arrest.
Following the death of Lisa Marie’s son, Benjamin in 2020, Riley Keough underwent training to be a death doula, and Lisa Marie held grief circles in her California home, attempting to turn her pain into purpose.
Lisa~Marie and the Angel of Death
Throughout her life, Lisa Marie was open about the struggle of being born under her father’s enormous shadow, leading her to substance abuse and repeated failed marriages. Taking her first breath when fiery Leo was rising, a sign associated with pride, warmth and fierce protection over those it loves, Lisa Marie channelled her Leonine flare into her music and children, posting to Instagram in 2019 a photo of her and her four children, captioned “Mama Lion with cubs”. With the Sun placed in the antagonising 7th house, Lisa Marie’s desire to shine and be seen in her own right was over-shadowed by others, and the loss of others, in her lifetime. (Sun in Aquarius, detriment, 7th house).
If living under her father’s shadow wasn’t enough, the angel of death, Saturn, held the keys to Lisa Marie’s house of partnership, too. In the sign of its fall (Saturn in Aries, 9th house), ruling the Sun in detriment in the 7th house, the odds were stacked against her for a long lasting, mutually nourishing relationship. Instead, Lisa Marie married four times in her short life: Danny Keough (1988-1994). Michael Jackson (1994-1996). Nicolas Cage (2002-2004) and Michael Lockwood (2006-2021). Disappointment, being let down and relationships losing steam are all potential characteristics of a debilitated Saturn guiding partnership. It was likely difficult for her to sustain commitment, instead striking out to be on her own (Saturn in Mars ruled Aries).
Natally, Saturn rules Lisa Marie's 6th house of bad fortune, illness and disease, the 7th house of partnerships, and the idle 8th house of death and anguish, all from the 9th house, in Aries. Tightly hugging the cusp of the 6th house sits Venus in Saturn ruled Capricorn. Her Aquarian Sun illuminates the setting place, while Mercury guards the 8th house door at 0* Pisces, co-present with Mars conjunct the Moon at 18* & 21* Pisces. This hyper-sensitive Moon is translating light from Mars to Pluto. All this to say that life was likely not easy, and death may actually have come as a relief.
Lisa Marie’s 2022 Solar Return
There are numerous ways to approach Solar Return charts. An astrologer looking at Lisa Marie’s year ahead in 2022 would be foolish, or unprofessional, to not caution her about health issues, drug addiction, and heart problems, considering there was the added impact of hereditary factors. Passing just 20 days prior to her own birthday, and four days after her father’s 88th birthday, Lisa Marie was still in range of her 2022 Solar Return.
While difficult natal placements are constant life companions, there are certain times when their impact is activated, or more prominent. Through ages 53 and 54 (her 2021 & 2022 birthdays), Saturn was more active than usual for Lisa Marie. On her 54th birthday, Saturn became her Time Lord, or her guiding light, for the second year in a row. The problem with Saturn is that it’s not much of a guiding light. Traditionally it’s described as dim and unfortunate.
Of Saturn, Al Bruni says, “Saturn is extremely cold and dry. The greater malefic…disagreeable and astringent, offensively acid and stinking,” He goes on to say that Saturn rules places like barren mountains, underground canals and deserts full of wild beasts. Lilly says Saturn is, “not very bright or glorious, nor does he twinkle or sparkle, but is of Pale, Wan or Leaden, Ashy colour, slow in motion.”
Saturn is not an abundant, bright, generous gift-giver. It is a barren energy that inhibits the life force, restricts growth and traditionally is the significator of death. This does not mean everyone who passes through a Saturn ruled year will die, but depending on your natal chart, Saturn ruled years can be significantly challenging, and memorable for their magnitude of difficulty. Knowing that Lisa Marie was born with a challenging Saturn placement sets her up for greater difficulty in Saturn ruled years.
On her 54th birthday in 2022, the significator of death (Saturn) was still passing over her Sun, the symbol of life and vitality (ruling her 1st house), within a 3 degree orb. She was not yet free of the Saturnian shadow that had been cast since 2018 (Saturn square Saturn, Saturn conjunct Venus). Ruling both her 6th and 8th houses, this conjunction was still worryingly close, as well as being part of a repetition of planetary placements that aligned when her father died (see below).
Neptune, ruling drugs, distortion and the potential for addiction sat at the same degree as her susceptible Pisces Moon, both at 21 degrees. With the Moon as gatekeeper of the 12th house, this alignment is a solid forewarning for anyone with a history of addiction and drug use to be mindful all year. All of Lisa Marie’s natal 8th house planets had a lot to say at her last birthday. Mercury was retrograde, conjunct Pluto in her 6th house, while Mars sat too close for comfort at the gate of the 6th house. Exalted, this raises the question of how good do you want a bad planet to be? While the dignity of exaltation suggests Mars may be functioning better than usual, the placement at the 6th house suggests otherwise.
When viewing her Solar Return as a stand alone chart, the Sun-Saturn conjunction falls on the cusp of the SR 6th house of illness and accidents, with the closing balsamic Moon close behind; a strong warning sign of health issues, or more precisely, the significator of life moving toward the significator of death via the route of illness, or medical issues involving the heart.
On the day Lisa Marie died, Mercury, also a tenant in the house of death, was weakened in its thrice yearly retrograde passage, transiting though her 6th house of illness and accidents, suggesting that she likely had some messages about her health, or reoccurring health issues presenting prior to her passing. In true Mercury style, her last public appearance was at the Golden Globes two days before she died being interviewed by Billy Bush. She was clearly struggling and not well, holding onto the arm of a gracious Jerry Schilling for support.
The MC in her Solar Return chart was placed at 9* Gemini. Having malefic Mars placed within her natal house of death, the recent Mars retrograde phase brought her 8th house significations out into public view. A harsh square from transiting Mars to itself in the 8th is a painful passage, one she became familiar with at her father’s death. As Mars stationed direct on January 12th, 2023 on her solar return MC, Lisa Marie cut ties with life.
Elvis’s Solar Return 1977
In 1977, the year Elvis died, his Solar Return was also active around 8th house and addiction issues. Considering he was also moving through his nodal square (Natal nodes 1* Aquarius / Leo, SR Nodes 0* Scorpio / Taurus), marking a particularly challenging time, Elvis was likely aware as he turned 42 that he had to make some serious life changes or face consequences.
The SR Moon, ruling his natal 8th house of death, was applying to the natural significator of hardship and endings, Saturn, within his natal 8th house. Neptune was transiting his Ascendant, suggesting it was a year of significant personal change, and Pluto (Lord of the Underworld), natally in the 8th house, was making a harsh partile square to his 8th house cusp from 14 degrees Libra to 14* Cancer, while passing over his debilitated Mars ruling the 12th house of loss and endings. On the day he died, this Pluto Mars conjunction perfected.
Lisa Marie turned 9 this year, and her Solar Return displayed a difficult Saturn-Sun opposition, an iteration of the Sun-Saturn conjunction in her final 2022 Solar Return. The Moon was high on the SR MC in Cancer, one degree from her natal 12th house cusp, and the South Node was crossing her natal MC, suggesting some loss or unfortunate circumstances involving the father. Like 2022, her 1977 Solar Return was showing a difficult year ahead.
When Elvis was pronounced dead at 3.30pm on August 16, 1977, similar themes appear to when Lisa Marie passed. Mars was in Gemini making a harsh square to itself in her 8th house, and the Moon was in Virgo, opposing her natal Pisces Moon-Mars conjunction in the 8th house.
The Sun-Saturn opposition that was a forewarning in her Solar Return chart for that year had progressed to a conjunction in Leo, one of the more difficult placements for Saturn. Opposing her Sun in Aquarius, this over shadowing of the Sun by Saturn drew life and vitality from her via the death of her father. In 2007 when Saturn returned to this placement in Leo, Lisa Marie recorded a duet with her late father, “In the Ghetto,” a song about Saturnian themes of systemic oppression, poverty and loss.
These tragic Saturn themes run roughshod throughout Lisa Marie’s life. Her late son, Benjamin Keough, was born as Saturn was transiting her Sun in 1992. He died on a day when Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn all opposed the Sun in Cancer; a repeating signature of loss for this family.
Laid to rest at Graceland
While Graceland was home to Elvis and his family, it is now more of a shrine and Presley cemetery. Lisa-Marie had her last Solar Return on the Aquarius New Moon in 2022, and this year she was laid to rest in a private ceremony at Graceland as the Moon renewed itself again in Aquarius. As Saturn moves into Pisces this year, it will no doubt be a difficult year for her 14 year old twin daughters who will experience their first Saturn opposition in this passage.
May the troubles of mortal life not follow her into the other world, and may the family she leaves behind be released from the repetition of this family tragedy.
Following are some snaps from my trip to Graceland in 2019:
Al Biruni. The book of instruction in the elements of the Art of Astrology. 2006. The Astrology Centre of America
Lilly, William. Christian Astrology. 1647 / 2004. Astrology Classics