WASHINGTON — San Francisco astrologer Joan Quigley, hoping to head off any contrary claim in Nancy Reagan's forthcoming memoir, this week confirmed previous reports that she provided continuous guidance to Ronald and Nancy Reagan for seven of their eight years in Washington.
She said her "mathematical and scientific" analysis of the former President's astrological charts, relayed to Mrs. Reagan in frequent telephone conversations, influenced the timing of presidential speeches, the takeoffs and landings of Air Force One and former President Reagan's midterm change of heart about the Evil Empire, no less.
The President, Quigley said, was well aware of her role, and often said to his wife, before making a decision, "What does Joan think?"
If Mrs. Reagan now were to deny her role, Quigley said, it would be "like buying a Picasso and putting it in your living room and putting adhesive tape over the signature."
Someone who has read "My Turn," the Nancy Reagan memoir Random House is keeping under wraps until its November publication, said that Quigley has little to worry about. The source said Quigley is mentioned often, in a positive light, and as a friend and confidante of the former First Lady, not just as her astrologer.
Although Quigley would not specify the amount she charged the Reagans for her services, she said she was paid a "fixed monthly sum," confidentially through the former First Lady's good friend Betsy Bloomingdale. Bloomingdale could not be reached for comment.
"I was really doing the work of a team of astrologers," Quigley said, but "when I raised my other clients' (fees), I didn't raise the Reagans'. I felt a patriotic responsibility to do my best job."
The influence of an astrologer, later identified as Quigley, on the Reagan White House was first disclosed by former chief of staff Donald Regan in his 1988 book, "For the Record." At the time, the President flatly denied that he had ever acted on the basis of astrological guidance, though reports of his taste for it have circulated since his days as governor of California.
Stands by Denial
Reached at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where the former President is recuperating from surgery, spokesman Mark Weinberg said, "President Reagan stands by his denial."
"I kept my silence for seven years," Quigley declared in a telephone interview. Her recollection is that when Regan's revelations broke in May, 1988, Mrs. Reagan phoned to ask her not to speak to the news media. "Just put up your hand like the President does," Quigley says Mrs. Reagan told her. In June, 1988, after Quigley refused to heed Mrs. Reagan's request, she never heard from the First Lady again.
But now, Quigley said, her relationship with the Reagans is "a matter of history."
It is also, apparently, a matter of business.
In May, 1987, when she was looking for a publisher for a new book, Quigley said, she told Mrs. Reagan that "it would help me a lot if you would mention after you get out of office that I had been your astrologer." According to Quigley, Mrs. Reagan replied, "Of course I will."
But subsequently, Quigley said, "she kept distancing herself from her promise." Mrs. Reagan, she said, told her in February, 1988, "We'll mention the astrology, but not you"--a retreat that prompted Quigley's remark about the Picasso.
Another Book in Works
Quigley's thirst for acknowledgment as a presidential astrologer has moved her to begin writing another book, "about my Reagan years." Working title: "What Does Joan Think?"
The earlier work, for which she sought the Reagans' endorsement, is called "Astrology and the New Age," which she described as "a summary of everything I've done in my whole life as an astrologer from a philosophical standpoint."
Neither book, Quigley said, has yet found a publisher. But the desire to reserve her choicest revelations for the Reagan-years memoir caused Quigley to demur repeatedly when asked this week to elaborate on assertions about her impact on affairs of state.
"I fixed up the Bitburg thing," she declared at one point in the conversation, "but I won't go into it because I go into it in the book."
She spoke confidentially with Reagan himself at a White House dinner in 1985, she said later, but "I won't go into it. I'll put that in the book, too."
She was willing to describe "the most important thing I did" during the seven years--to bring Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev together in Geneva for the first time: "At that time, both Reagans were subscribing to the 'Evil Empire' thing . . . they were saying how tough and awful the Russian leaders were. But I said, 'He's a different kind of Soviet leader, he's intelligent, he's open to new ideas. You can reason with him and deal with him successfully.' "