by Boots Hart, CAP

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Two Popes: Francis I and Benedict XVI


(Left) Pope Benedict XVI during a May 2007 visit to Sao Paulo, Brazil (photo credit: Fabio Pozzebom, Agencia Brasil) - (Right) Pope Francis in March 2013 (courtesy of the Presidency of the Nation of Argentina)

To start with, a thought which came to me after the papal election: when Pope Benedict XVI announced his decision to step down, Jupiter was conjunct Aldebaran in Gemini. To be precise here, Pope Benedict stepped down just before Jupiter hit Aldebaran (though granted, Jupiter was well within orb of said fixed star). But that Jupiter was in an exact conjunction with Aldebaran when, on March 13th, the College of Cardinals elected Pope Francis.

And that is – without metaphysical question - a celestial statement about Papal integrity, inclusive of the College of Cardinals (in the sense of their being a channel or conduit for greater universal function) voting for there to be greater integrity in the Catholic Church and in work/works done by the Catholic Church.

But beyond that of course, is the fact that Pope Benedict hasn’t died. And though he’s reportedly going into total seclusion to pursue religious studies, no one would be surprised if these two Popes arrange here and there to meet up for tea and pastries.

Two living popes. How very Gemini, don’t you think?

And if they do have tea now and again, who could blame them? Being Pope is a calling, yes. But it’s probably also a pretty tough job. So maybe the Vatican chefs can come up with a new pastry for such occasions. They could call them popeovers – as in I’m having the other Pope over for tea.

Jokes aside (no, I couldn’t resist) it’s far more than that. In the difference of their orientations, Benedict and Francis express Gemini’s two very famous stars, Castor and Pollux.

Maybe you remember their story.

It’s the mortal versus immortal part of this being referred to. Castor was mortal, Pollux immortal. Pope Benedict is very focused on spiritual (immortal) doctrine, while Pope Francis experiences spirituality by living a very ‘mortal among mortals’ human life. In spite of Vatican traditions, Pope Francis is already demonstrating that he really feels part of the human, mortal condition. And that he’s willing to touch and talk to and be touched by every kind of fellow human.

One really simple way to see this in the horoscopes of these two men is to look at them merely in abstract, in terms of emphasis. So here’s the chart of Pope Benedict…

Pope Benedict XVI (born: Joseph Alois Ratzinger)
April 16 1927 -  4:05 a.m. (CET/-1) - Marktl, Germany

…and here’s Pope Francis:

Pope Francis I (born:  Jorge Mario Bergoglio)
December 17, 1936 - 9:00 p.m. (ADT/+3) - Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you just look at the groupings of planets in their charts, you’ll see Pope Benedict has a whole group of planets in the first quadrant of the chart (houses one, two and three) – including his Sun. When we see these kinds of  chart ‘weightings’ we know this is where a lot of that person’s energy ‘lives.’ So Pope Benedict ‘feels’ himself being alive and living on this Earth.

His 'work’ – as in all charts – is generally typified by Saturn. And Pope Benedict’s Saturn is in Sagittarius, the sign of doctrine and religion (the ‘rules’ and ‘laws’ of religion) and in the 9th house. So it’s not shocking that he’s into doctrine. According to his horoscope, he needs to “elevate” (9th house) his understanding. And maybe that’s all about having such a clear concept of life and existence here in the material, Earthly realm.

Pope Francis on the other hand, has a large grouping of planets (again, including his Sun) in the 6th house, a house all about the work to be done as part of life. Where Pope Benedict’s Sun is in Aries (consciousness of Self) Pope Francis’ Sun is in Sagittarius – which as a comparison gives us another way to think about this ‘Gemini pairing’ of these two living popes. Maybe Pope Benedict focuses on the ideas of immortal doctrine because he has such a consciousness of being so very mortal. Maybe his drive is to educate his immortal (Pollux) self because his (Castor) mortal self is so evident to him. Against this, Pope Francis’ Sagittarius Sun in the 6th house enables him to see the Sagittarian possibilities for mankind, and how only through everyday honest labor which shirks not the untidy or ‘dirtied’ parts of life (6th house) can we hope to approach that ideal.

Gemini is in eternal opposition to Sagittarius: they complete each other with Gemini being the innately personal side of the question (my thoughts, my understanding, my choice) and Sagittarius always being about application and how well things work. And when they don't work, why that is and what we need to learn or do so that things are right. And though to be sure on the Gemini side Castor and Pollux represent many versions of the Gemini ‘search’ for (Sagittarius) how to make life work, when we speak of religion, then it becomes clear that this polarity is about the (Sagittarian) ‘teachings’ which have come down to us to (Gemini) learn…and just as vitally, a process in which we choose to learn (Gemini) to be people better able to function successfully (Sagittarius) in this world.

  Constellation Gemini, with fixed stars
Castor and Pollux as the 'head' of each twin

In this quest, the 6th house – the natural ‘t-square’ point we have to ‘get over’ or ‘get past’ in our life is represented by the 6th house. Naturally ‘colored’ by Virgoan ideas, the sign on the 6th house and where Virgo falls in our charts tell us how we will (or won’t)  go about making this effort.

In Pope Benedict’s chart, the 6th house is Leo – a fiery sign all about the ability to ‘see how things could be’ which often tests us through our willingness to deal with our native and very mortal disappointment when real life doesn’t life up to that ideal.

In Pope Benedict’s chart, Leo on the 6th is his seeing that he has work to do to become more of the ideal – that last part being greatly about the Sun being ruler of Leo. And since Pope Benedict’s Sun is intercepted in the first house of self or awareness of one’s self, that interception (with all  the rest of his Aries signatures, including Uranus) we know he feels he has work to do. That he has to change on the inside, as pictured by the intercepted Aries Sun and Uranus) so that he can become more of the (Leo 6th house) servant of the Divine and of better service in this world.

That Pope Benedict is a man more inclined to scripture than living in a small apartment and taking the bus to work is also pretty clear in this chart. Spirituality being Pisces in nature, his 14 Pisces rising conjunct Achernar is a heartfelt symbol of ‘continuous challenges or continuing to challenge one’s self’ which with Neptune, as outcome ruler of Pisces being in the 6th gives us a pretty ‘hands off’ quality in the work realm. Add to that how this Neptune is in Leo and we know that there is an esoteric quality to the work Benedict would do, and with this 24 Leo Neptune in a near-perfect trine to the Sun with Regulus positioned at 29 Leo and exactly conjunct Psyche (“the mind”) Pope Benedict sees the work of the human mind as a form of work in this world which indeed brings us closer to Spirit.

Of course there is an aspect of this Leo Neptune in the 6th (plus Regulus/Psyche) which isn’t so very pretty. One of the meanings of the 6th house is ‘employees.’ And when you’re the head of any organization (in this case, the Vatican) those are your employees. That same ‘hands off’ and see with the Leo Neptune would, whether it’s financial issues with regards to the operations of the Vatican or the world-wide rash of sex abuse among priests be something which Pope Benedict would have a problem with. And on this level, his Psyche/Regulus (particularly ruled by an intercepted Aries Sun in the 1st) gives us a clarity about his inability to punish others in the ‘but there for the Grace of God go I’ sense.

Survivors of abuse – whether perpetrated by priests or otherwise are not likely to feel as generous about the matter. But that which seemed to get echoed by various Church representatives and Cardinals, namely that forgiveness should be universal, would seem very much in keeping with Pope Benedict’s chart. And if we believe that great spiritual maxim that everything happens as it should and that unbeknownst to us the universe is unfolding as it should then such things have happened in Pope Benedict's life to test and educate him and that as difficult as it may seem, those who have been challenged and those who have perpetrated such atrocities have each been exposed to their own 'hellish purgatory' through which they too will ultimately learn.

Or not learn, yes.

In comparison, Pope Francis is a man very different from Pope Benedict. His challenges are shaped differently. With his chart laid out with such a strong 6th house ‘doing the work in this world’ structure, it’s also interesting to note how the signs Gemini and Sagittarius are laid across his 12th/6th house axis. With his Sun squarely between the North Node (“what I should do”) and the Galactic Center (‘that which we must give in order to receive or BE received in and by this world’…and theoretically, the next) Pope Francis is pictured as a man well able to feel the presence of Spirit in his everyday world.

In fact, that may well be where he feels it most. In the work (and works) he does, he feels himself testing his own ability to do that which is truly needed to make this world a better, more (6th house) healthy and functional world. How to do that, and how not to be overwhelmed by what it will take to even begin to do that is more the nature of Pope Francis' problem.

If you're someone who theorizes like Pope Benedict, it would be one thing - you think the problem through then lay out a plan. But if you're Pope Francis and your every instinct is to do the work...? How do you do it all? How do you chose what is most important? How do you get past the ache in your heart and your certainty of understanding that so much else needs and is crying out to be done?

Gemini on the 12th house, with Chiron conjunct Bellatrix (‘the difficult idea’) and the ease of the South Node pictures Francis as a man who finds it entirely possible to think (Gemini) about difficult things and life’s most difficult challenges (12th house), so many of which are painfully challenging. Chiron (‘our personal vulnerabilities’) being conjunct the North Node speak of Pope Francis as a man willing not to just own up to his own issues, but those of others.

Nebula IC-443, which is in Gemini, went supernova somewhere between
5,000 and 10,000 years ago, leaving us this rather spectacular image
(photo credit: NASA-JPL, Caltech, WISE team, December 2010)

On one hand this is a very ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ sort of configuration – and I’m sure Pope Francis often thinks is something close to these terms. And with the 12th house being the house not just of spirituality but of fantasies and secrets which originate in emotionality, Pope Francis is likely to think through the mortal-immortal (Castor-Pollux) problems of celibacy in the priesthood, women in the priesthood and the causes of sexual abuse particularly as that pertains to the Church not just as a body of teachings, but as a life choice.

It’s also worth noting that the Mercury which rules this 12th house is in Capricorn, the primal sign of Saturn’s rulership. This being a man whose Saturn is in Pisces and the 8th house, Pope Francis’ mission, his life’s work is all about being with people and understanding the greatness of Creation through the vastness of human life and variable experience.

Pope Francis will feel for us all, just as with his Saturn in opposition to his Virgo Neptune he hopes we will feel for him and the limits imposed on him by his mortality.

He honors that. His Neptune in the 2nd house conjunct Sisyphus tells us he sees vindictiveness as a flaw, even when on those occasions it rises in himself as a ‘killing of self’ through the frailty of mortality. This goes to Virgo as a sign which is often critical in the ‘criticism’ sense when its greater worth is self-regulation. Wherever we see Virgo, we see this temptation to do injury to our efforts (or even being) at some level through “pointing” criticism at others or trying to shifting our responsibility to someone for something we have or haven't done.

Virgo embodies critical thinking, yes. But the positive here isn't about anything which is injurious on the emotional level, which would be very much the negative side of Pisces, Virgo’s polarity sign. Virgo asks that we ‘critique the process’ and often our own work. That's where the critical energy is supposed to be aimed - not at ourselves as shame, not at others as blame. It's supposed to go into perfecting the process and making it more effective, efficient and clearly defined.

With Virgo – a Mercury ruled sign – on Pope Francis’ 3rd house of mentality and at a degree (27 Virgo) high enough to indicate he is in consistent interaction and always willing to hear others and the thoughts they may have on his thoughts, Pope Francis is not described in his horoscope as strict in the domineering sense.
But with a Pisces Saturn opposition Virgo Neptune, this is a man willing to draw the Saturn line for those who are being marginalized.

This is also the description of Pope Francis’ evident humility and his preference for “everyday” life. 

Wherever we see Neptune in a chart we see some sort of lack of ego or ego-involvement. In Pope Benedict’s chart, the most unfortunate part of this would be Neptune’s position in Leo and that showing up in the 6th house as not just the willful (Leo) acts of Vatican employees (the Curia, et al) but also priests as that has impacted the ‘health’ of various children, teens, and indeed, the ‘health’ of the Catholic Church.

With Pope Francis’ Neptune being in Virgo, we get a totally different notice. This combination has Neptune speaking to Virgoan work which nourishes his sense of satisfaction and at some level the human spirit through ‘selfless’ (Neptune) ‘works’ (Virgo).

The whole idea of work is further emphasized by Leo being on the cusp of Pope Francis’ 2nd house. Leo being a ‘visionary’ fire sign which is always challenged by that difference between the ideal and the reality, to have the ruler of the 2nd positioned in the 6th gives Pope Francis the spirit do his very best.

But to finish up with this Gemini concept, which is really what I wanted to talk about today, we need to go back to Mercury. Mercury rules Pope Francis’ 12th and 3rd houses: the house of spirituality and feelings which connect us to others and to the All…and the house of mentality.

This man doesn't just think, he thinks about feelings. He will also not be afraid to speak with feeling or talk about his feelings - or the emotional difficulties of others in this world. He’s a man who will think through problems in private and discuss what it takes to make difficult choices in public.

This is the first of at least two or three posts on Pope Francis and I’m pretty sure that over the next few months you’ll see a couple of other posts on the astrology of Catholicism in a more general sense.

My apologies for how long its taken to get this far - which is to say, to this next post on Pope Francis. As in many of your lives I’m sure, a lot has been going on in mine. (You, me, Pope Francis, Pope Benedict, the Church…everyone has a lot of changes going on!) These posts do want writing, but they also evoke in me a desire to think them through...which may be the metaphysical reflection of the man whose chart I'm writing about.

Yes, such things do apply. When we like people because they inspire us to feel one way or we 'feel their essence' as a particular pro or con, if we check, that's always their chart connecting to ours - the synastry or astro- cartography between horoscopes.

So while I can't say I'm "like" Pope Francis or of his caliber at all, he has a very complex chart which is taking a lot of thinking through and which will take a lot of blog space to talk about. Which ultimately is why I've decided to share these thoughts in several posts.

Besides, there are ongoing things which need thinking through, too.  Apart from general life and books and such which need attending to, we’re also moving into ‘eclipse season.’ So though I might want to write ‘papal posts’ (as we might call them) my commitment to others things has to take priority. 

As a friend of mine put it to me: a girl only has so many words a day she can write. He’s right. And that’s my mortality showing.

And at some level, so it is with all of us.

The interior of Notre Dame d'Amiens, Somme, Picardie, France
(photo credit: Tango7174, September 2008)

So to close here, I think it’s important that we recognize that Pope Francis’ Descendant is at 10 Capricorn and that his Mercury – the ruler of his “Castor-Pollux Factor” and those 12th and 3rd houses (not to mention that touchingly vital Neptune in the 2nd) is at 11 Capricorn.

11 Capricorn is the degree that Pluto is in right now…Yes, with the Descendant being (among other things) the ‘stage’ from which we speak to others in the world, Pluto conjuncting Pope Francis’ Mercury is the obvious signal of his becoming Pope and the ‘spokesperson’ – the world leader and speaker for the Catholic Church.

Being Pope is this man’s life Purpose. That we know not just from Pluto rising up over the Pope’s 10 Capricorn Descendant as he was elected, and not just by 11 Capricorn being the degree at which Pluto will go retrograde at in a couple of weeks (i.e., during April).

We also know this because Alhena, the Star of Purpose, which though at 8 Cancer is also part of the constellation Gemini, and thus always bound up with the Gemini idea of choice and making life choices.

In Pope Francis' chart, Alhena is in the entirely potent position of being just behind Pope Francis’ 10 Cancer Ascendant. And with Alhena are MakeMake and Huya, two dwarf planets (which should make them as powerful as Pluto, remember) which emphasize teaching from what you have learned the hard way (Huya) and creating or ‘raising up’ something new or ‘anew’ (MakeMake) out of fertile waters.

Going back to the Pope’s Mercury, his Mercury is at 11 Capricorn, a degree which is known for keeping secrets and power which is ‘held in secret’ and used for the good of others…or sometimes, the ‘not so good’ of others. Lore suggests that this is one of the Capricorn degrees which very much depends on the state and status of Saturn as ruler of Capricorn, which takes us back to the Pope’s Saturn-opposition-Neptune, which so far we’ve seen him operate (along with transiting Pluto conjuncting Mercury) for doing as he thinks right, despite long-standing Vatican traditions.

Long-standing is a statement of time - Saturn is time. And 'traditions,' though often Cancer in the ‘cultural heritage’ sense are more of a Capricorn thing when you talk about the ‘traditions’ of pomp and ceremony and all such thinks of that ilk. And the Catholic Church is nothing if not long on pomp and ceremony!

But standing with this Capricorn Mercury is a trio which may explain a bit more about the Pope’s thinking – or at least his internal ‘alignment.’ Those points are Pholus, Scheherazade and House, all of which are also at 11 Capricorn and therefore “fused” and part of Pope Francis’ Mercury mentality.

Pholus is that little thing which can kill us…or, conversely which can save us. House is the feeling of ‘being at home with’ and Scheherazade is ‘the story of a life’ (or lifetime, or many lives).

Considering that the Saturn which rules this Mercury is in Pisces and conjunct fixed star Achernar, this would seem to conjugate as there are so many places where we can go astray, and hurt or harm ourselves or our cause. And yet, there are just as many by which we can find our way back to that which is good, which we know in our hearts and souls is worthwhile and worthy of the ongoing effort to make something better of ourselves, so that we can do better in this world, and by doing that, create a world which not only inspires the best in all mankind, but which comes closer to living up to the potential and intention of our Creator.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Embroidered Easter Eggs by master folk artist Inna Forostyuk
of the Luhansky region in the Ukrane (Qypchak, 2009)

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