BBC.com reports this morning that the Pope told reporters, “This is a voyage marked by sadness…We will witness the worst humanitarian disaster since the Second World War….And we are also going to a cemetery, the sea. So many people never arrived.”
Politicians and religious leaders probably have more than a few things in common, but one major thing leaps to mind with today’s news: both types of leaders are expected to “walk their talk.” This regrettably rare occurrence doesn’t require much explanation because we know it when we see it—and it always leaves an impression. The impression, I would argue, is like entering the less-traveled corridors of the “Saturn-Neptune-Chiron Zone” (cue eerie music!).
Such is the case with Pope Francis I—the Roman Catholic leader who has demonstrated the depth of his commitment to humanitarian and environmental imperatives from day one of his papacy (3/13/2013). The nearly 80-year old Pope—known affectionately as Papa Pancho— has had a busy travel schedule promoting these causes since then, as well. His latest visit was this morning—a short, but memorable one to Lesbos, Greece, where the Pope was joined by Eastern Orthodox Church leaders to visit thousands of migrants seeking asylum in Europe from war-torn and crisis-ridden countries. Lesbos is only one of several encampments where migrants have been stranded in squalid, often inhumane circumstances.
This crisis is not a new concern for the pontiff—his first official visit as Pope was in 2013 to Lampedusa, an Italian island that has also been a landing point for hundreds of thousands of migrants. BBC.com reports this morning that the Pope told reporters, “This is a voyage marked by sadness…We will witness the worst humanitarian disaster since the Second World War….And we are also going to a cemetery, the sea. So many people never arrived.”
The main message the Pope conveyed to the refugees themselves was “Do not lose hope. The greatest gift we can offer to one another is love.” The visit was marked by many heart-breaking and emotional moments. It’s not difficult to see that Saturn, Neptune and Chiron—key planets (Chiron a dwarf planet)—are transiting significant points in the pontiff’s natal chart as we speak. (More on that soon).
Pope Francis and the Orthodox leaders signed a joint declaration “urging the international community to protect human lives and extend temporary asylum to those in need.” Even though the Vatican claims no criticism is intended, the controversial EU-Turkey deal that has started deporting migrants who have reached European shores (many in Lesbos), in exchange for migrants now held in Turkey, is clearly on the leaders’ mind with this action.
The Pope then proceeded to “walk his talk” with a most tangible gesture: he returned home on his Vatican aircraft with 12 Syrian refugees—three Muslim families with six children between them, whom he invited to live in Vatican apartments prepared for them. Clearly the pontiff understands that spiritual sentiments—even those based in the deepest empathy (Neptune-Chiron)—fall short unless they are made “real” (Saturn) in this way.
A keyword phrase that says it all
Saturn, Neptune and Chiron are clearly key players in the Pope’s quest. Even his comment that there is a “cemetery, the sea” speaks to this difficult combination of energies with brilliant precision—with Neptune and Chiron in Pisces, ruling the seas. As with any thorny mix, however, there is a path of transcendence available to live out the higher potentials of these energies. The solution demanded by the migrant situation reads like an astrological keyword phrase: Compassion and healing love (Neptune-Chiron) directed at the material lives (Saturn) of the stranded and victimized (Neptune-Chiron).
The Pope and his Eastern Orthodox colleagues are calling attention to this crisis in their own ways: the Pope handles the situation with a softer, more Neptunian touch, while Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of the Orthodox Christian Church, reassured the migrants with a more Saturnian message: “The world has not forgotten you. The world will be judged by the way it has treated you.” Considering how incompatible Saturn's judgment and Neptune's compassion seem to be on the surface, their energies are clearly and deeply interdependent in situations like this. Chiron may well be the key to unlocking the enigma of Saturn-Neptune dynamics.
Let’s first examine how these points figure into the Pope’s nativity. A more thorough analysis of his chart appears in my September 25th post on this site, but let’s review the pertinent highlights here. Interestingly, they’re mostly contained in one powerful configuration:
Chart 1. Natal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (future Pope Francis I), December 17, 1936, 9:00 p.m., DST, Buenos Aires, Argentina (chart rated AA: BC in hand).
Grand Square: Saturn (Pisces) opposes Neptune (Virgo); this axis is squared by Nodal axis conjoined Sun (Sagittarius) opposite Chiron (Gemini).
Sensitive Cancer rises in this chart, with the Moon and Neptune co-ruling; here we see that dramatic mutable energies fall in the Pope's mutable houses, stretching across the 3-9 and 6-12 axes. Clearly, the Pope radiates the higher potential of these often challenging houses with his strong belief (9) in the call to serve (6) the “least of these” (3) with compassion (12).
The strong Sun-Chiron-Nodal axis convergence here (Sun within 2° of the Galactic Center at 27°Sagittarius) speaks to the Pope’s spiritual calling and his capacity for empathy and healing love. Chiron expert Martin Lass notes that the GC is thought to represent “Truth, consciousness and Love, beyond the confines of the solar system,” pointing out that its position in the Sagittarius constellation is connected to the mythical story of Chiron, “immortalized as a star” in that constellation. Fulfilling the transcendent possibilities of this placement is a lifetime project, however.
This is a capacity that develops very deliberately, in fact, from working (Saturn) on one’s native and acquired woundedness (Chiron) to strengthen weaknesses, illusions and faith (Neptune).
Interestingly, the Pope’s own father escaped the Mussolini regime in Italy by emigrating to Argentina in 1929, so he grew up knowing about the pain migrants experience.
Other key moments in the Pope’s pastoral career have also tracked with Chiron transits: in 1950, the period preceding his decision to enter the seminary in 1955, Chiron transited opposite his North Node. By his ordination as a Jesuit in December, 1969, Chiron had transited to 2°+Aries in his 9th house of religious belief, passing over his Saturn (triggering his entire grand square) and closely squaring his Capricorn Jupiter. An astrologer analyzing this passage for the future pontiff might have noted that he had important work to do in the world. This is certainly clear in the following biwheel between the Pope’s election by the College of Cardinals and his nativity:
Biwheel: (inner wheel) Natal, Pope Francis I (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio), December 17, 1936, 9:00 p.m., DST, Buenos Aires, Argentina; (outer wheel) Papal Election, Pope Francis I, 3/13/2013, 12:00 p.m. ST (time unknown), Vatican City, Italy.
Election Stellium (Neptune-Mercury-Chiron-Venus-Sun in Pisces) clusters around Natal Saturn (Pisces), triggering entire Natal Grand Square (see Chart 1 discussion); Election Saturn Rx (Scorpio) trines Election Neptune-Mercury-Chiron.
Clearly, this Pope’s election was a matter of destiny and mission, and it was perhaps a welcome sign that all is not lost during these so-called “Mutable middle years.” Who would dispute that there’s a crying need in today’s world for the lighter side of these unstable mutable energies? Chiron’s prominent role here speaks to the urgent need for healing in the Roman Church itself, still reeling from its pedophile priest crisis.
An added note about Neptune’s relationship with Chiron: Chiron expert Martin Lass points out how the 1960’s mantra “Make love, not war” reflected the series of Chiron-Neptune trines that occurred between 1963-1968. The Pope’s natal chart features the square between these points (with Saturn chiming in as well), reflecting that he was born during one era of war and is now reaching his 80th year during an even longer era of war, with no end in sight. Chiron has been transiting with Pisces Neptune square Saturn for some time now and is still within orb. Is it any wonder that in his role as universal pastor (Sun-Galactic Center conjunction) that the Pope’s chief message is about hope and love in the midst of desperate times?
Election Mars-Uranus (Aries) squares Natal Jupiter (Capricorn); Election Uranus squares Natal Mercury and Election Pluto (Capricorn).
This powerful combination reflects the strength of character required by the Pope’s role in today’s world. The healing discussed above requires not only compassion and empathy, but the strength to take unpopular—even shocking—action where warranted. In stark contrast to his predecessor, Pope Francis models the simple, humble life of his namesake St. Francis Assisi. No palatial Vatican living quarters; no sumptuous vestments, no gold papal ring, no papal limousine. Disposing his Sagittarius Sun, the Pope’s Jupiter radiates quiet strength in Capricorn.
Energized by the election Aries points, with Uranus also square election Pluto-natal Mercury, the new pontiff was emboldened to take on the broad issues of our day in his teaching encyclicals (Jupiter-Mercury), and to exercise the “right use of power” at the heart of this configuration. Granted, many people disagree with Church doctrine on a number of issues, but it’s hard to disagree with the humble, graceful way in which the Pope wields influence in surprising places, including a joint session of the U.S. Congress, a sit-down meeting with Cuba’s Fidel Castro and now, with the stranded migrants on Lesbos. The right use of power is a quality badly needed in our leaders today—perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Pope did a brief stint as a nightclub bouncer in his young adult years!
Cracking the enigma
I referred earlier to Chiron perhaps being the missing key to reconciling tense Saturn-Neptune energies. Clearly, to reconcile Saturn and Neptune we must consider the higher implications (Neptune) of our material lives (Saturn), and Chiron's reversible wounding/healing dynamic can help. Being made of the “stuff of stars,” our material lives are something we share with all on this planet, and with the Universe, for that matter, so the right use of Saturn’s barriers and borders—like the right use of Neptunian power and compassion—is a delicate balancing act that tips one way or another, depending upon the choices we make to inflict or heal the wounds (Chiron) inherent in this material life. Chiron’s remaining years in Pisces (to early April 2018) promise to keep these choices on our minds.
 Martin Lass, Musings of a Rogue Comet: Chiron, Planet of Healing. Galactic Publications, Nyack, NY, 2001, p. 275.
 Lass, p. 211.
Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former university English instructor. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. Several of her articles on these topics have been featured in The Mountain Astrologer and other publications over the years. Raye can be contacted by comment here, or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Raye Robertson 2016. All rights reserved.