In a long, proud history of hundreds of White House Christmas parties, White House Easter egg rolls in three different centuries, and even a few White House Passover seders, Nancy Reagan added something more unusual: a White House astrologer.
The first lady, who died Sunday and was laid to rest Friday at the Reagan Presidential Library, became known (thanks to a staffer’s tell-all book toward the end of her husband’s presidency) for her faith in what was written in the stars.
Critics scoffed, and the evangelical pastors who were some of Ronald Reagan’s strongest supporters had harsh words. “It’s obviously troubling to think of national leadership being influenced by superstition,” the Rev. Robert P. Dugan Jr. of the National Association of Evangelicals said to The Post in 1988. “It seems so medieval.” One local megachurch leader went so far as to call astrologers agents of Satan.
But some pointed out that many Americans do believe in lucky and unlucky dates, which is what Nancy Reagan wanted to hear about when she called her astrologer to help plan her husband’s schedule. Even more Americans love reading their horoscopes, even if they don’t take every word on faith.
“It is bold for pundits of flickering intellectual wattage to sneer at ancient masters of encyclopedic knowledge who led important advances not only in science but in the human heart,” Post columnist Henry Mitchell wrote, urging more respect for Nancy Reagan’s choice of adviser. “There is no great difference between pawing through astrological charts and poking about in the Book of Revelation. … There can be a religious dimension that is worthy and noble in both.”
The astrologer herself, Joan Quigley, stood up for the validity and value of her work. Here is Cynthia Gorney’s portrait of Quigley from the time that her role in the White House was revealed — Ronald Reagan’s extraordinary astrological profile and all.