In terms of faith and religion, the solstitial sign Capricorn is associated with ancient traditions, pagan faiths, and earth worship. With Jupiter approaching its first conjunction with Pluto since the conjunction on the galactic center in 2007 and its first conjunction in Capricorn since 1771, the spectacle yesterday of Pope Francis delivering a special Urbi et Orbi blessing from Rome, one of the centers of classical antiquity, seemed to me most timely. Unlike Saturn and Jupiter, there were no temples to worship the god Pluto in Ancient Rome. If a person wanted to invoke Pluto, they would go to some wild place and find an opening into the earth, and there beat the ground with the palms of their hands, and quite literally invoke him, call him up from his realm deep within the earth. Pluto really is an ancient chthonic force which entices us to exit the temple and to venerate nature instead.
So, on Friday 27 March at 6pm, CET, Pope Francis delivered his blessing to the world, and asked the faithful to pray for the health and well being of those afflicted by corona, and called upon Jesus to give us faith and take away our fears. He also offered indulgences to members of the faith working with the sick and needy. Indulgences, now that’s a word we don’t often hear these days – but one that was certainly very popular before the reformation. In fact, in the early 16th century, funds to build St. Peters Basilica – the very place the Pope addressed us from yesterday – were raised through the sale of indulgences. Indulgences, or the idea that a person could buy their way out of hell and purgatory, was repulsive to Martin Luther. The sale of indulgences was one of the ninety five accusations Luther leveled at the Catholic Church when he nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, an act which lit a fire that would set Europe ablaze and change the course of world history. The Reformation – many historian believe – set us on a path that led directly to the Enlightenment, to secularization and ultimately, to quote Max Weber to ‘the disenchantment of the world’.
So the circle is round. In the horoscope for that event, way back in 1517, Saturn is on the galactic center and is approaching conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn. (click on the horoscope for a sharper image)
Whenever I enter a Church, or bear witness to an act of religious devotion, a sense of reverence comes over me and I experience a deep sense of both loss and longing, for what once was mine but no longer is in the same ‘old’ way. My grandfather was a lay preacher and faith runs through the veins of my mother’s family. But I – Capricorn black sheep that I am – felt impelled to leave Eden and discovered it is difficult to gain re-entry. Yet, the ancient language of supplication and prayer, the smell of burning incense, the sounds, the collective sense of veneration resonates very deeply with me. Despite all the criticism of the Church, its pagan rooted, symbolic acts, are not lost on me.
In times of trouble or affliction, I believe prayer can be a very powerful source of comfort for sure – and the Pope’s speech yesterday resonated so strongly with the current planetary picture it was bang on target. He talked about the thick darkness that has descended, and the fear that many are experiencing. How much more Saturn/Pluto can you get ? Yet he asks us to have faith – this is Jupiter – big time. “The storm, said the Pope, exposes “our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules” and lays bare “all those attempts to anesthetize ourselves”. What is revealed, he said, is “our belonging as brothers and sisters”, our common humanity.” I think the last sentence here in particular – is very Jupiterian. I think that one of the key challenges for us with Jupiter now in its sign of detriment, Capricorn, is how we who live in secular societies – will find meaning- when dealing with such a severe collective crisis.
The horoscope below, is set for 6 pm in Rome. Interesting that the Sun in sign of exaltation is setting during the course of the blessing. The North Node will be crossing the midheaven, which seems to recognize the idea of us all being part of a larger human community. The blessing lasted an hour – and a very dignified Venus ruled the ascendant – who remained together with the Moon in sign of exaltation – in the 8th house throughout.