|If you’ve got to die, the age of 84 is a good time to do it. After 84 years, the first trans-Saturnian planet Uranus returns to its original position, rounding off a complete heavenly cycle. It is as if you have managed to encapsulate in your life the lessons of Uranus – consciousness, revolution, liberation and internationalism. I remember meeting astrologer Alexander Ruperti (Note 1) when he gave a lecture at a congress in Prague , 84 years and still completely fresh and uncompromisingly original in his ideas. He seemed in perfect health, but died shortly after, his life a testimony to that planet most commonly associated with astrology, Uranus.
The life of pope John Paul II – born Karol Wojtyla – was similarly encapsulated by an 84-year Uranus cycle, and he was a man who played an extremely powerful role in the revolutionary changes affecting the world in the second half of the twentieth century. His encouragement of Solidarity in his native Poland accelerated changes that were the beginning of the end for that arch enemy of Christianity – Communism. Pope John Paul was born at an eclipse, and buried on an eclipse, and his shadow stretched far over the countries of the world. As the most travelled pope in history, he was instrumental in converting millions of people in Asia , Africa and South America to the catholic faith.
Though there is some disagreement about the exact time of his birth, the pope said on several occasions that is was at about 5 p.m. , which places Mars retrograde in Libra exactly on the Ascendant, and the eclipse on the cusp of the 8th house, strongly emphasizing struggle and transformation – and also putting the focus on sexuality. It is possible that the fact that Mars is in exile and retrograde, is not unrelated to pope John Paul II’s message of sexual restraint. He certainly raised some eyebrows when a couple of years after becoming pope he remarked in St Peter’s Square that a man would commit: “adultery in the heart” if he looked at his wife lustfully. (Note 2) Obviously even men would now have to close their eyes and think of England . The pope later qualified his remark – after an outcry of public opinion – by saying that sexual arousal could be ethical. Whew!
Progressed Mars went retrograde during the first 12 years of his life, and basically conjoined his Ascendant within a degree for over 30 years. This was not a pope who just preached peace and harmony – this was a fighter, and a man who was willing to struggle for justice and was quite comfortable with confrontation. In those first 30 years he saw the Nazi occupation of Poland , and subsequently the Soviet occupation. His mother died at the age of 8 and his father during World War II. Violence and trauma became a part of his life. Initially, as a priest in Poland, the communist rulers did not see Karol Wojtyla as a threat to their system, and with Mars in Libra he probably kept a low profile. Just after his progressed Mars moved into Scorpio, he became pope, and his true power became evident.
There are a number of key factors in Karol Wojtyla’s chart, which show the potential for him to become powerful, apart from the position of Mars. Firstly he is born at the time of the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction. These two planets meet every 13 years, and represent the start of a cycle, where the highest human aspirations are propagated. Pope John Paul II died when Jupiter in Libra was exactly trine Neptune in Aquarius, an apt expression of the outpouring of religious devotion at his death. The 1920 conjunction in Leo is a perfect expression for the pomp and glory of the Catholic Church and the Vatican , which became his home for the last 26 years of his life.
Jupiter/Neptune constellates by square with Pope John Paul II’s Venus in Taurus exactly conjunct the lunar nodes, and this is the key to his mission and nature. A Taurus himself, and with ruling planet Venus in Taurus, it is obvious that the role of this pope was the guardianship of the traditional values of the church. There is no doubt too that with Venus conjoining the South Node – and exactly on the “avatar” degree of 15° of fixed signs – his message was also one of love. True to his Taurean nature, though, he never budged on major issues like the unacceptability of contraception, gay relationships, and female ordination. In the last years of his life dissident Catholic theologians were dismissed or excommunicated and liberal cardinals and bishops were replaced.
This was his job, and he did it well. As birth control unleashed a wave of promiscuity in the last half of the 20th century, the moral authority of the church went into decline. Pope John Paul II actually reversed this, at least in the Third World , and actually managed to attract many young people through his uncompromising stance.
Another major theme in his chart is the exact opposition between Saturn and Uranus, which is squared by the Moon in Gemini. This T-square suggest the country he was born in, torn by the implacable forces of East and West, just as it also symbolizes the capacity to unify opposites and build a bridge from the old to the new. It is the enormous forces of this opposition that appeared to coincide with both great pain and great change in Karol Wojtyla’s life. At his mother’s death when he was 8, his Sun progressed to square both planets. Later, when his ruler Venus reached 5° Gemini and squared the opposition, the Nazi invasion of Poland meant his university was closed, and he had to work in a stone quarry. If the 5 p.m. birth time is correct, he became bishop in Kracow when his progressed MC conjoined Saturn in 1958, and he was shot when his progressed Ascendant squared Saturn and Uranus in 1981.
As head of the Catholic Church, the opposition between Saturn and Uranus showed the enormous stresses between the old and new… the need to modernize and the need to preserve. As could be expected with a Gemini Moon, pope John Paul II was a prolific writer – he was the author of a least six best-sellers, and hundreds of articles and essays. Saturn in Virgo demands an attention to detail and dogma. Where is was necessary the pope created transformation – Pluto is both trine Uranus and sextile Saturn – and where necessary he resisted change. He was prepared to make radical moves, being the first pope to worship in a mosque and a synagogue. He met with Arafat eight times, causing political uproar, and at the same time he mended relations with Israel , re-establishing diplomatic ties with the Vatican in 1994.
The movement of progressed Mercury can be seen as the trigger for many of the key developments in Karol Wojtyla’s life. It conjoined the progressed sun age 8 at the time of his mother’s death. During World War II when Mercury conjoined Pluto, he secretly studied to be a priest. At this time he had two near fatal accidents, one involving a tram and the other a runaway truck, which left him with a damaged shoulder for life. By the 1970’s Mercury began to slow up, preparing to retrograde, and just 43 minutes of arc from Jupiter it stops – and it is at this time he becomes pope. The years 1971-1982 are characterized by the progressed conjunction of Mercury with Neptune, the sublime meeting of the rational with the irrational, of man with God. In a sense this can be seen as the time when God speaks through his agent on Earth – the pope.
God’s message was rather heavy at the start, and as retrograde Mercury conjoined Neptune for the second time, Pope John Paul II was shot in St Peter’s Square on May 13th 1981 (when Pluto transit conjoined his Mars/Ascendant) – he nearly became a martyr. The pope visited his assassin in jail two years later and forgave him.
Mercury retrograded through Leo, entering Cancer in 1997, where it turned direct in 2000, which was the time when the pope made a public confession of the sins of the Catholic Church over the previous 2000 years, which included such things as the Inquisition, forced conversions to Christianity etc. When Mercury, now direct, entered Leo again, the pope passed away.
The pope died just prior to the eclipse in Aries, when the Sun and Venus were in precise conjunction at 13° Aries. With the light and love of Venus subsumed by the greater power of God, Pope John Paul II passed into another sphere. The Moon’s South Node was now at 22 degrees Libra, precisely on the pope’s Mars/Ascendant, whilst Saturn in Cancer was square the Ascendant/Descendant axis. A few days later – when hundreds of thousands of people congregated in St Peter’s square for the funeral – the Moon joined the Sun and Venus, and as they travelled through the heavens and encountered the North Node of the Moon, the light of the Sun flickered and was extinguished… just as it did at his birth.
The eclipse chart for the burial of the pope could also be considered as the start horoscope for the conclave of cardinals, and may therefore provide a clue to the future pope. Eclipse chart for Rome : 8.04.2005 22.33 Rome AS 22.52 SC
Most notable in this chart is the emphasis in Aries, with Mars disposing of all planets in the chart. Mars in Aquarius shows the international nature of the papal funeral, with vast TV screens both in Rome and in major Catholic centres in the world. The conjunction of Mars with Neptune , and its strong trine to Jupiter should indicate the next pope, who with this astrological signature could hardly be European. Interestingly the shadow of the eclipse raced across the surface of the Earth from New Zealand and ended in Venezuela , after passing through Costa Rica , Panama and Columbia . The most prominent Cardinal from that area is Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos from Colombia . Hoyos, born on 4th July 1929 , has, interestingly, an exact Mars/Neptune conjunction on the fixed star Regulus at 29 Leo. However, at age 75 he is getting on. It would not be so good for the Catholic Church to repeat the disaster of Pope John Paul I, who died just one month after coming into office, thus paving the way for John Paul II immediately after.
Adrian Ross Duncan 14th April 2005