ANOTHER fascinating chapter in the White House’s long history of association with the paranormal came to an end on 6 March, 2016, with the death of Nancy Reagan, America’s First Lady from 1981 to 1989.
Nancy’s use of astrologers during Ronald Reagan’s presidency caused a storm of controversy when it was made public by a senior aide with a grudge against Nancy. It has also been revealed that Reagan family members, daughter Maureen and her husband Dennis Revel, have encountered the White House ghost – thought to be that of Abraham Lincoln – during their stays.
And following his passing in 2004, Nancy said she not only saw her husband’s ghost in the White House corridors but also often spoke to him at night.
Speaking to Bob Colacello for Vanity Fair at her Bel Air, California, home in 2009 she expressed her grief at losing him after 52 years of marriage. “I miss Ronnie a lot, an awful lot.”
She added: “It sounds strange, but . . . I see Ronnie. At nighttime, if I wake up, I think Ronnie’s there, and I start to talk to him. It’s not important what I say. But the fact is, I do think he’s there. And I see him.”
Stepson Michael Reagan used Facebook on the day she died to share this message: “I am saddened by the passing of my stepmother Nancy Reagan ... she is once again with the man she loved. God Bless.”
Nancy’s love for her husband and determination to protect him led to her use of astrologers to offer advice on all manner of topics relating to his presidency. It is believed that Jeane Dixon, famous for predicting the assassination of President Kennedy, was advising the couple in the early days of Reagan’s first term in office.
But she had also met astrologer Joan Quigley in the 1970s when the two appeared on The Merv Griffin Show. [Griffin was mentioned recently in these columns as the TV talk show host who introduced British medium Lisa Williams to American audiences (PN October 2015).]
Following the assassination attempt on Reagan’s life in March 1981, Nancy asked Quigley if the attack could have been predicted and possibly prevented if her husband’s birth chart had been consulted. When Quigley gave an affirmative response, Nancy enlisted her help.
|White House astrologer Joan Quigley
(Photo: PA/Eric Risberg)
President Reagan was aware of this arrangement. Though he may not have participated in setting up the astrological advice service, he clearly allowed it to influence some decisions taken in the White House. These varied from the time and date on which certain events took place to a change of view on working with Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Reagans’ dependence on Quigley’s advice resulted in two or three phone calls a day and the installation of private phone lines for her at the White House and the Camp David presidential retreat.
This arrangement remained a closely guarded secret until Reagan fired one of his closest advisers, chief of staff, Donald T. Regan, in 1987 at Nancy’s instigation. A year later, his memoir revealed the celestial influence that had infiltrated the White House.
He claimed that an astrologer was paid a $3,000 (£2,075) monthly retainer for her astrological assistance that included setting the time for summit meetings, presidential press conferences,, State of the Union addresses and other important events, such as Ronald Reagan’s cancer surgery in 1985. And without her giving an OK, the presidential plane, Air Force One, did not take off.
It seems that the cloak of secrecy around these activities was so strong that the former chief of staff did not know her name when he wrote his book in 1988, a year after his dismissal, describing her simply as “a woman in San Francisco”.
Once the revelation became public knowledge, Nancy Reagan never contacted Joan Quigley again. She did, however, attempt to play down the importance of astrology in her own book, My Turn: the Memoirs of Nancy Reagan (1989), in which she described Quigley as “warm and compassionate”.
She revealed, instead, that her husband had indulged her interest in astroloy, saying: “If it makes you feel better, go ahead and do it. But be careful. It might look a little bit odd if it ever came out.
Quigley told a different story, however, when she published her own memoirs in 1990. She maintained that Ronald Reagan was as keen as his wife to know what the stars had in store for him, habitually asking Nancy, “What does Joan say?”. Quigley emphasised the point by using it as the title of her book.
In fact, Reagan was no stranger to astrologers when he took on the presidency. In his 1965 autobiography, Where’s the Rest of Me?, he admitted that he and Carroll Righter, who was known as “the astrologer to the stars”, were friends and he and Nancy read his newspaper column regularly.
Another astrologer, Joyce Jillson, who was also an actress, claimed that after the assassination attempt on President Reagan’s life his campaign aides had invited her to advise on who would be the most suitable running mate in the 1980 election.
Of the vice-presidential candidates, she said she recommended George Bush, Snr, on the grounds that “George Bush, a Gemini, was the most compatible with Reagan, an Aquarian.”
President Reagan’s response was to insist “no policy or decision in my mind has ever been influenced by astrology”.