by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pope Watch 2013

The Sistine Chapel (where the Cardinals will be voting on a new Pope) sits
in the foreground with the dome of St. Peter's Basilica behind
(photo credit: Yair Haklai, October 2009)

Whether or not you're interested in who the Pope is, the election of a Pope has a lot to tell us about how astrology works. Not that it's something most  astrologers get to work on in real time all that often. Indeed, Pope Benedict's retirement was a giant surprise - such a thing hadn't happened in some 700 years.

And the bigger question may be whether that's a sign of the times and changes in the Catholic Church we will see playing out in years to come. Astrologically, that question would depend on coming up with some chart for the founding of the 'Vatican Church' as we know it in today's world. That data would go back in most likelihood to the days of Emperor Constantine and the 3rd century...but I haven't found the date yet. (It may take writing a Bishop or Cardinal, and they're busy at the moment.)

Certainly there are many who think that the Catholic Church needs to change. But will it? When will that happen?

Stand by...I'll let you know what I find when I find it.

But that said, there is something to be said for the influence of any given Pope on the direction the Catholic Church takes and the speed with which it moves. So once the trumpet sounded for a Papal Conclave, astrologers hither and yon did begin delving into the 'who's going to be the next pope?' question.

I got an email from an astrologer friend of mine who decided to use a small collection of asteroids to frame their guess. The list (at least that which was mentioned in the email) includes Pappos (for pope), Vaticana (as a reference to the Vatican) and national asteroids (there are a lot of them, choose your country!) standing for the nationality of the Cardinals and thus the pope to be chosen.

I'll cut to the chase here: this astrologer is betting is that Scherer will be the man - or pope, depending on how you want to put it.

Italy's Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica) at night
(photo credit: Eugene Pivovarov, September 2009)

Proving that there are many ways through the forest of celestial objects out there, my thought was to start with the basic conversation we hear is being held in 'circles Catholic.' That conversation seems to be falling into two separate chalices - those who are most concerned with the Catholic church as a body of traditions which have arisen out of a doctrine considered eternal and unchanging, and those who want the Church to "live in the modern world" and deal with not just the world's problems, but the real world problems in the Church.

That breaks down to be pretty much traditionalists (read: conservatives) versus progressives (or realists) which in the world of current Catholicism seems to have become two camps known as the Romans (those members of the clergy who are work at the Vatican) and the Reformists - who tend to come more from, and work in the realm outside the Vatican.

What this comes down to astrologically is one of the great and eternal conversations: that of Sagittarius versus Pisces....religion as a body of teachings and ritual versus spiritualism and the spirit of belief or faith. 

Both signs are ruled by Jupiter, though Pisces is a dual-ruler sign where Jupiter is the 'choice' signature and Neptunian precepts teach us (through ecstatic joy or the disillusion of disappointment) where we have been right or wrong.

That Piscean lesson is based on expectation versus reality...which in the religious realm has a great deal to do with our ability to separate our belief (however it may be framed) in Existence, Creation or Divinity (whatever you call it) versus the reality of human life and human beings as innately mortal, imperfect beings.

So the question is a 'duality of dualities': the teachings and growth of understanding - the Jupiter/Sagittarian side of religion...and the acceptance of mortal life, personal wisdom and limits of human capacity, that being the Jupiter-Neptune/Pisces challenge.  

Knowing all this, we come to the chart of the Conclave. 

First day of the Vatican Conclave
Vatican City, Italy -  4:30 p.m. (CET/-1) - March 12, 2013

The time used for erecting this horoscope was that given by the Vatican as part of the 'standard procedure' used in papal elections. On the first day of a Conclave, the Cardinals will enter the Sistine Chapel at 4:30 in the afternoon. If no agreement on a new pope is reached, all subsequent days of that Conclave will have two 'voting sessions,' one of which begins at 9:30 in the morning, and the second of which begins at 4 in the afternoon. 

At writing, it is already known that the first vote of the Cardinals produced no election of a new pope. But since this chart does at some level hold for the whole of the election process, we can use this chart to think through some of what would seem integral to the process.

This is a diurnal chart, meaning it's 'Sun-ruled,' or an intellectually informed 'structural' effort - an interesting commentary for a spiritual institution, perhaps. And since as according to Vatican traditions all papal elections are initiated during the daytime (i.e., when the Sun is in the sky, that being the determining factor between a diurnal and nocturnal or Moon-ruled chart) that means that with the exception of second-ballot, second session votes, most popes are elected as a matter of thought, not 'instinct.' 

However, with the Sun in Pisces, we do have an 'automatic' note of what is the wisest course forward being put into this mix.

Evidently, popes are generally not elected on the first day of any Conclave - at least not in modern times. And this does leave open the question of how many popes may have been elected after sundown on any day of whatever particular Conclave...and what the trend away from 'first vote election' of popes says about the Church in general. That would require a chart for the Church itself, which as I say, I'll continue to look into. In the meantime (and more to our focus), this chart shows us Jupiter-Vesta-Black Moon Lilith-Ceres in Gemini and intercepted in the 10th house of this chart is a clear and lovely description of the workings of this Conclave being done behind 'closed doors' and how the eyes of the (10th house) world are not being able to watch. 

But behind those closed doors, not just the Sun in Pisces, but Venus, Chiron, Mercury and Neptune in Pisces, with Neptune conjunct Mercury and Mercury in retrograde.

Mercury will go direct on Sunday, March 17th. Seeing that the 'average' number of days in a Conclave is 5 days, with this one starting on the 12th we shouldn't be surprised if a new Pope is named as Mercury goes direct. If so, this would mean the next Pope will embody or deal with some combination of the following during this tenure as Pope:

1. Deep spirituality
2. Spirituality used merely as a guise
3. Faith in our own willingness to experience our human vulnerabilities

With Mars having entered Aries by the time this conclave begins and sitting conjunct the Moon (which is in turn conjunct Uranus) in the 8th house, this chart is a perfect picture of the exact sort of dichotomy reflected in the 'Romans versus Reformers' discussion. There is bound to be a strong resistance on the part of some Cardinals to changing anything about the Church. Just as fervently, other Cardinals will be adamant that the Church exists in a real world and therefore must care about 'real world business' - a quotient the last pope (Benedict, a scholarly sort) wasn't overly skilled with, people say.

Beyond this, that Mars-Moon-Uranus in degrees zero through 7 of Aries in the 8th house are a perfect picture of the financial and sexual scandals which continue to plague the Church. With Niobe (pride) in conjunction with Uranus, we know that the pride OF the Church as well as the pride of people in their Church has, and continues to be shaken.

2 Virgo on the Ascendant of this chart speaks to the 'work of the Church.' With the ruler of Virgo (Mercury) in retrograde, this is being thought through and quite possibly under revision. Then again, with Neptune at 3 Pisces and thus sitting right atop the 2 Pisces Descendant, there is a 'face of deception' which is being presented to the people of the world. Is this just about the 'closed door' nature of the Conclave? Or is this the Church facing the corruption that so clearly represents the 'lie' being told by the Church (and members thereof) to themselves about being of service to God and humanity?

As an astrologer, Neptune's conjunction of Fomalhaut at this time, with all the havoc of Church sex abuse scandals an ever-ongoing matter, could not be more apt. Or more telling. That Mercury in conjunction to Neptune is where 'the great belief' becomes 'the great lie' - or vice versa - is here mitigated or regulated by Fomalhaut, the Royal Star which says success can only be achieved where your aims are not corrupt, corrupted or corruptive.

Having just gone retrograde at 11 Scorpio, Saturn is still at 11 Scorpio and here in the 3rd house, a sign that consensus must be reached and that there is a thoughtful and communicative 3rd house process which is going on which in true Scorpio manner is bent on 'drilling down' to core values. But there may be a lot of resistance along the way. The good news (at least the hopeful news) for everyone here is that Deucalion is sitting at 12 Scorpio, very much conjunct Saturn. This tells us that this papal election is about the Church finding 'the moral way' (Deucalion) and that doing just that will take work (Saturn) and sacrifice or 'limits with chops attached' to reach.

With this Saturn/Deucalion in trine to Chiron/Kalypso in Pisces, we are assured that the Catholic clergy knows the Church has a deep vulnerability which is written clearly as it's love for itself being stronger than its love for other human beings in this world. Being that Saturn is in dual-ruled Scorpio, this fuels resistance to change in the sense that there will be some members of the assembly who fear the loss of power and influence 'coming clean' would require. That we know from the first ruler of Scorpio being Mars, and we see Mars positioned in the 8th house (of power, finance and sexuality) and with the Moon...a Moon which points to women, families and finance.

Oh yes...and nuns. That's a whole other topic, but one you shouldn't be surprised if you hear about going forward. 

With the outcome ruler of Scorpio being Pluto, Pluto's position in this chart at 11 Capricorn with multi-faceted Facies conjunct Industria in the 5th house says that the Church face many interruptions of its 'current work' or 'how it likes to work' to change what really needs changing. Pluto in the 5th does speak to the question of clergy being allowed to have families, and the exact sextile between Pluto and Saturn speaks of a 'fear' about that very question. There is a very real and very human question about whether the Catholic Church could be the institution it is and has come to be if priest and nuns did marry. After all, don't married people put their families first? Isn't that what having children requires of people?

And yet...if you go to the 'resisting change' side of this (using Saturn to try and 'stop' Pluto) then Pluto acts out - and there will be more sex abuse.

Humans are sexual beings. If you bar sexuality, then what kind of people - especially in this day and age - are going to enter the priesthood?

The Torre Giovanni (Tower of Saint John) and the Leonine wall inside the Vatican gardens
(photo credit: Gugganij, July 2011)

Such are the questions which confront the Catholic Church. They're plainly stated in the opening chart of this Conclave.

But what about the additional sessions which will follow? Here are the charts for those Conclave 'chapters' for the next five days:

 Papal Conclave - March 13, 2013 - Morning session

   Papal Conclave - March 13, 2013 - Afternoon session

  Papal Conclave - March 14, 2013 - Morning session

 Papal Conclave - March 14, 2013 - Afternoon session

  Papal Conclave - March 15, 2013 - Morning session

  Papal Conclave - March 15, 2013 - Afternoon session

 Papal Conclave - March 16, 2013 - Morning session

Papal Conclave - March 16, 2013 - Afternoon session

Papal Conclave - March 17, 2013 - Morning session

 Papal Conclave - March 17, 2013 - Afternoon session

Maybe you read horoscopes. Maybe you don't. Whichever is the case, what's easy enough to see is that the morning charts are all 'weighted' (more planets) on the left side of the chart where the afternoon charts are more on the right side of the chart. Also, though as the days go along the afternoon charts 'rise' towards the top of the chart (a position known as the "Midheaven" which is the most worldly and/or aspirational) the morning charts don't push more down towards the lower part of the chart.

What this says is that as the week goes on, the 'worldly' aspect of the afternoon voting sessions becomes more obvious. You may think of that as 'who the Church is in the world' or 'what the Church's work is in the world' and both will be true. But what may be more interesting to think about is how the left-versus-right qualities evidence. The left side of the chart is proactive. The right side of the chart is responsive and - to this conversation, more 'traditional' or built on experience.

So if you're someone who wants a pope to change things, you might well want to be hoping for a pope who gets voted for in the morning.

Then we get to the Moon. Through the afternoon of the 14th, the Moon will be in Aries. After that it will be in Taurus moving from Taurus into Gemini on March 17th, all of which is typical of the Moon, which give or take some time zone stuff changes signs every two days.

(For the purposes of this post we're guessing that the 'standard length' of five days total will not be exceeded during this election. If it is, I'll post again on what we know at that point.)

Moon in Aries asks the Church what it is. What is the Church about? What are its goals in this world? Moon in Aries also focus on the quality of physical life, which would tend to emphasize the real world issues of real world people.

The Moon in Taurus is about values and what creates that 'safe' feeling when we're secure in knowing all is stable - that we know we can survive another day. (Or in the life of the Church, maybe another hundred years - or at least through the reign of the next Pope.) Moon in Taurus is more protective than the Moon in Aries, which would seem to emphasize more conservative positions.

But how that is expressed in these charts varies. The afternoon charts mostly have the Moon in the 9th house no matter what signs it's in, though the chart for the 13th has it still in the 8th house and the horoscope for the 17th has it in the 10th. The Moon in 9 is several things. It speaks strongly to the teachings of the Church in a ritual form - the letter rather than the spirit of the thing. Yet in Aries this would be 'what we should do' where in Taurus it would be more like 'what we have been taught we should be'...and then there's the Moon in Gemini of March 17th, which would place and emphasis on 'doing our job better' on a level which looks to teaching and education.

Interestingly however, the morning charts for the 14th, 15th and 16th have the Moon in the 12th house with those for the 15th and 16th (the Moon in Taurus) having the Moon intercepted in that 12th house. These charts probably represent the most 'liturgical' and conservative sessions of all, the moments when the Conclave veers more towards internalized doctrine with less of a focus on worldly matters.

Most people who think the Church needs to change would call this 'more of the same' and not like it very much. If you're one of the people in this collective, your feelings would probably echo more with Conclave doings on the mornings of the 13th, 14th or 17th, should it go on that long.

Yet it's not that the Church isn't aware that changes of some kind need to be made. Throughout this Conclave, Pallas (dispassionate wisdom) will be conjunct Eris, the idea that things happen to shake us up in ways we never suspected (or believed) could possibly happen. Remembering that in these circles someone in the 60s is considered rather young, this reminds us that many (if not most) of those in the College of Cardinals were born in the 1930s and 40s, marking them as members of Pluto in Cancer (for whom the world has pretty much changed entirely) or Pluto in Leo, a group of people who adapt slowly, but ultimately well...though that may be harder when you're part of an institution as resistant to change as the Catholic Church.

Among others, a small child marvels at the beauty of sunlight
streaming in through the windows of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
(photo credit: James Bromberg August 2003)

In the overall sense, this progression of charts strikes me as an ongoing discussion - which the Conclave probably is. With various views being expressed going in (hence the black smoke for the initial vote) there is likely to be an initial bend towards conservatism (the 'Romans' side of the equation) which after several days becomes somewhat more 'Reformist.'

So we'll see. Once a new Pope is elected we will know when during this process two-thirds of the Cardinals were able to agree on one name and what that name is. We will look to his chart and see where it fits into the greater picture. Granted, we will only know what his tenure as Pope will produce in time, but by and large, the administration headed up by any given Pope tends to be a great deal like the Pope which heads it.

In the meantime, we do know one thing: this Conclave is being conducted during Mercury's moving into its station to go direct. Given that we allow a metaphysical two-day before, two-day after 'station allowance' for any such event, that means that any Pope elected between March 15th and March 19th will bear the 'mark' of Mercury's upcoming 5 Pisces station. If that degree is not obviously active in the next Pope's chart, we will know that this point is sensitive for some other reason, and figure out what that is.

But still, the basics apply. To be electing a Pope under a Mercury retrograde in Pisces as Mercury comes into conjunction with Neptune asks that any such choice be made based on our having faith in the reality we live with, and the life to be lived in the here and now. Scripture can be hugely inspirational, but rituals do not create reality: humans do.

And to be human is to be mortal, a fact which stresses our own need for compassion and acceptance that our life can only be as good or as safe or as moral as that life we help others achieve for themselves.  

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