Tuesday, April 16, 2019

“We will rebuild…” – the Astrology of the Notre Dame fire

Subduing this fire was an heroic task for Paris firefighters.
“I tell you solemnly tonight: We will rebuild this cathedral…Notre Dame of Paris is our history…the epicenter of our lives. It’s the many books, the paintings, those that belong to all French men and French women, even those who’ve never come.” –French President Emanuel Macron, 4/15/2019

“How could Notre-Dame be burning? How could Notre-Dame, which had survived for eight centuries—survived plague and wars of religion, survived the French Revolution, survived the Nazis—be falling?”—Rachel Donadio, The Atlantic, 4/15/2019
“Notre Dame must rise again.” –David Leonhardt, NYTimes.com, 4/16/2019

Yesterday’s shocking news from Paris was doubly horrifying: first, because a world treasure like the Church of Notre Dame—or as David Leonhardt put it this morning, “La Cathédrale de l’Humanité”—was devastatingly damaged by a fire that took nine hours to extinguish; second, because we couldn’t help but feel the gut-wrenching trauma heaped upon the citizens of France with this fire. I daresay there are no words for the loss they must be feeling. 

News coverage captured in the background—perhaps without even intending to—the wrenching sound of sobbing, as the people of Paris looked on, watching pieces of their “Lady of Paris” plummet to the ground in flames. The damage was being characterized as “cataclysmic,” the loss of “a thousand years of history,” according to one report, and the prevailing mood among onlookers was “overwhelming sadness.” 

Periodically, groups of onlookers would begin praying or singing together, although some individuals were described as being traumatized, in actual states of shock, unable to speak. Despite the major positive of there being no loss of life, it was a somber, somber day for France. 

There is some hope, after all, however. After hours of fighting the fire, which apparently caught on to and consumed the cathedral’s medieval wooden interior structures, officials proclaimed that major parts of the structure were saved—the outer stone walls, the front façade, and the bell towers, most importantly. That the fire spared the bell towers is great news, considering the iconic role the bells of Notre Dame have played in literature (especially in Victor Hugo’s classical novels) and in historical events, such as Napoleon Bonaparte’s coronation and France’s liberation from the Nazis at the end of WWII. 

The bells of Notre Dame will toll again!

Those bells have tolled out good times and bad for the French people--and even for us Americans, in response to the tragedies of September 11, 2001, and I can’t even imagine how horrifying their destruction would have been. 
It will likely be a long time before we hear results from the investigation the French government opened up immediately regarding the fire’s cause, but we can be certain that we haven’t heard the last of this heart-wrenching event. French President Emanuel Macron has certainly been handed a shocking challenge, and we might imagine that a good part of his legacy will be determined by how he responds. His statement last evening was both eloquent and sensitive, and it reflected a deep determination to rebuild Notre Dame, and to rebuild it with the help of the best experts from around the world. 

So what we know today is still very preliminary, although CNN does report that the first emergency call came in from Notre Dame at 6:20 p.m., local Paris time, with the early flames coming from the cathedral’s attic first visible at 6:40 p.m. That, at least, gives us enough data for a timed chart, which should give us some early astrological perspective on this heart-wrenching event. In consideration of that, I’ve cast the chart below for 6:20 p.m., which puts some key placements on the Descendant, as we might expect for an event like this. 

Chart #1: Notre Dame Fire, April 15, 2019, 6:20 p.m. DST, Paris, France. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. 

Cardinal “Zero”-point angles, Libra-Aries ASC-DSC. The zero-points of any Cardinal sign are considered “world points” because they typically pack a global, humanity-scale punch, and that’s certainly what we have here—an entire event chart built around a zero-point superstructure. How appropriate for a fire in which nearly the entire wooden superstructure of the cathedral was destroyed—with Aries on the 7th house of allies and adversaries. 

It’s also visually stunning that Aries Chiron conjoins watery Pisces Mercury across that DSC divide on the 6th house side and fiery Aries Vesta on the other, 7th house side. The judicious use of water (Pisces) to quench the flames soon became a notable issue, as French officials responded to Trump’s clumsy tweeted suggestion that “flying water tankers” should be used. From the Washington Post:
“The French agency in charge of emergency management on Monday shot down President Trump’s suggestion that ‘flying water tankers’ could help put out the blaze at Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral, noting that water bombing could cause the entire building to collapse.”
Thankfully, the White House followed up with a more empathetic call to President Macron that offered American assistance in the rebuilding effort, and Press Secretary Sarah Sanders gave a compassionate statement of support.  Let’s take the positives where we can find them!

Parisians stood shocked and grief-stricken by the sight of Notre Dame burning.

Jupiter (Rx, Sagittarius) widely conjoins IC (Capricorn) and squares Neptune-Venus-Mercury-DSC (Pisces-Aries). Even in retrograde condition, this fiery Jupiter could be one culprit in this scenario, ruling Sagittarius and co-ruling Neptune (Pisces) at the same time it squares that point. Jupiter’s impulse for rapid expansion could have promoted carelessness in some work being done on the structure. Even so, there's another, less tangible way of viewing all this, too. As many observers seemed to feel, the fire had symbolic (Jupiter-Neptune) weight for our times.

From David Leonhardt again:

“In a time of turmoil for the larger Church, the destruction means something acute for Catholics, writes National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis. ‘To many Catholics, it feels as if the Church is on fire in a sense already. And now we are watching it blaze,’ she writes.”
Jupiter is more than capable of melding physical reality with metaphorical points—it might even revel in the opportunity to do so! It’s worth pointing out here that Jupiter rules the 3rd and 6th houses (the 6th, with Neptune)—perhaps accounting for the eerie way in which local Parisians just out for a stroll that evening (3rd house)—some even taking a river tour at the time—became up-close witnesses to this horror. 

The well-occupied Pisces 6th house reflects the potential involvement of workers in a religious institution that is regarded as a living symbol of the highest aspirations of humanity (Pisces Venus-Neptune). Notre Dame is largely considered the masterpiece of the medieval Gothic era of architecture, and raising humanity’s aspirations to new levels was its mission. 

As for those working on the ongoing renovations (hence the scaffolding outside),  it’s fortunate indeed that none of them were hurt in the blaze. Along with these workers, this 6th house also reflects the critical and heroic role that France’s firemen (armed with Piscean water hoses) played in this event. The Cosmos does paint a picture, doesn’t it?

Water had to be used very carefully to minimize the destruction.

Uranus (Taurus) widely conjoins Sun (Aries), which conjoins Eris (Aries); Sun-Eris trine Jupiter (Rx, Sagittarius). The trines we see here span the 7th-4th house (Aries-Sagittarius), which befits a shocking, fiery event, if not an enemy attack (7th). Needless to say, this leaves many possibilities open: the “enemy” could turn out to have been a hapless worker who was careless with a cigarette, or a welder who let sparks fly a little too close to dry materials—or someone totally removed and unaware who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Trines allow energy to flow freely, and Jupiter’s retrograde condition could denote that energy was redirected in a way that didn’t help the situation. Could the fire have been contained earlier if only…? CNN did report that the first wave of firefighting crews were slowed down getting to the site because of rush-hour traffic, so who knows? 

It’s an unfathomable prospect, but the aspects we see here could also denote something malicious and/or intentional about the fire, although there’s no early evidence to that effect, and I hope there never will be. Wouldn’t we all prefer to think this was all just a horrendous accident? An early official report that emerged today, in fact, suggests that terrorism and arson are being ruled out as causes--I hope they're absolutely correct. As mentioned above, Jupiter co-rules the 6th house of workers here with Neptune (Pisces), which it widely squares, so it’s quite possible that the fire was triggered by one or more careless workers. 

The fated character of that possibility is supported by Jupiter’s quincunx to North Node (Cancer). With Neptune involved here (also trine No. Node), however, it may also be difficult to get to the truth.

As Jesus's mother, Mary is the "Lady" celebrated as "Notre Dame"

Chiron conjoins DSC and Vesta (all Aries); these three points quincunx Moon (Virgo). The symbolism here denotes wounding (Chiron) by an enemy (DSC), directed at a sacred home (Vesta), and it’s is quite apt. Asteroids expert Demetra George names a number of religion-related keywords for Vesta, including clerical figures themselves and “altars and ceremonial objects, altar flames and hearth fires.”[1] The cathedral was a working church—and according to reports, it was about to be closed down at 6:45 pm for Mass preparations when the fire became visible. 

That, and the fact that major Holy Week preparations would have been in full swing this week might make us wonder if the accidental misuse of lit candles, incense ashes or other ceremonial objects could have sparked the fire. Votive candles lit by visitors were apparently still lit after the firefighters completed their work—amazing! 

The quincunx from Chiron-Vesta-DSC to the Virgo Moon suggests a gut-wrenching wound inflicted on the French people. With this Moon also ruling and sextile to the Cancer MC, we can appreciate that the cathedral is a “maternal” figure of sorts for the French people (“Our Lady”)—the painful void that would be left if she was simply razed to the ground is hard to imagine. This maternal relationship takes on a spiritual tone with the French people, obviously, and that is reinforced here by Ceres, in Sagittarius signifying a maternal figure who “may help others to develop a philosophy or belief system that gives meaning to their lives.”[2] 

Judging from the universal horror expressed about this event, it’s probably safe to say that no one needs to be particularly “religious” or even Catholic to feel this maternal significance of Notre Dame—like Ceres, she represents much more than a set of beliefs. 

T-Square: Mars (Gemini) rules the 7th house from the 9th and opposes Ceres (Sagittarius); this axis squares Neptune (Pisces). We’ve seen above how appropriate this Ceres placement is for the situation, yet here we have both a call to action and an unfortunate overlay of suspicion in regards to the event. Already there are reports of "conspiracy theories" proliferating online in response to this event, which kind of goes with the Neptunian territory. Again, we really don’t think authorities will find any malicious intent or insidious enemy attack at the heart of this event--and so far they concur--but a Mars-Neptune square can raise suspicions and bolster "trolls," especially with Mars ruling the Aries 7th and Neptune trine/sextile the Nodal axis (Cancer-Capricorn). Neptune also sextiles Saturn-conjunct-Pluto and So. Node (Capricorn).  

Needless to say, the authorities (Saturn-Pluto) will thoroughly consider such possibilities before simply dismissing them. Attacking iconic structures for the sake of making a point has been done many times—9/11/2001 and the World Trade towers come to mind most recently—Saturn opposed Pluto for that event. So uncovering the truth will be key here, and the Saturn-Neptune sextile may hold out hope for that. 
France has had its share of terrorist attacks in the past several years, but let’s pin our hopes here on the fact that Mars isn’t at its strongest in Gemini and the square to Neptune is pretty wide. 

It’s notable that the French people have already sprung into action to gather funds for what will be an incredibly costly rebuilding project—perhaps the call to action carried by the t-square is the main point, after all, but time will tell. 

Officials are saying that it will be 3 years at least before the Cathedral re-opens.

Final thoughts

Exploring a significant event of this magnitude with the tools of mundane astrology always raises questions about how the event fits into the broader scheme of global events and trends: they all hinge upon the same set of planetary dynamics, after all. And it doesn’t take much rummaging around in the news to discover that these are volatile times: serious storms abound, which Jupiter square Neptune could be stimulating during oppressive feeling Saturn-Pluto times. Such "storms" could be geopolitical, as well--Sudan's leader was just forcibly deposed, the agony continues in Venezuela, Israel's attempt at a lunar landing crashed on the heels of a controversial election, and the list goes on.

Politically, the U.S. is both frazzled to a crisp and tremendously stagnant all at the same time—Attorney General and Trump booster William Barr will finally grace us with his version of the Mueller report this week (we’ll see how credible any of it is, given his redactions), while Trump gets more and more anxious and agitated. When that happens he typically lashes out at the Dems, which is what he’s been doing: hammering so-called “sanctuary cities” with threats, and attacking Representative Ilhan Omar—one of two Muslim women we now have in Congress.

It’s hard to defend some of the clumsy, ill-timed remarks Omar has made over her short tenure in Congress, but the recent ones Trump decided to pick on sounded (taken out of context) like she was downplaying the horrors of the 9/11 attacks. In response, Trump apparently turned to his radical right-wing buddies in the press (namely, the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post) to vilify her and hold her up as the visual poster child for 9/11. One commentator wisely observed that he is trying to paint her as the face of the Democratic party for upcoming elections. It’s going to be a long, long election campaign. 

On the plus side, more idealistic Dems have officially launched their presidential campaigns—notably, “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg and Cory Booker—and both, IMHO, express the higher Sagittarius-Pisces energies in play these days. More on them—and many other candidates—in future posts, for sure. 

So thankfully, we can end this on a cautiously optimistic note: those who feed off destruction, darkness and pain will always find their chances, but they are the backwards-looking opportunists who always bring themselves down in the end because time marches on. They test our resilience—we have to truly admire the resilience of our friends in France today—but there’s a light at the end of this Saturn-Pluto tunnel. I’m encouraged by the outpouring of service-oriented young people who want to serve and do right by the People—we need to encourage this generational shift to fresh, new leadership now. 

Meanwhile, it’s still true that we’re experiencing a sort of “end-times” with all the waning planetary cycles holding sway right now—events on the ground certainly reflect all that—but those waning energies will be completing their function of “draining the swamp” in the next year and a half, and a new set of much lighter dynamics should then allow us to move forward. As with Notre Dame, there will be a resurrection that comes out of all this—not a bad message to take from Holy Week, whether Christian or not!

Bottom line, we have a ways to go and probably many more challenges to confront before then, but hope springs eternal!

Vive la France!  

France has seen and outlived far worse--with the world's help, this too shall pass!

Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. 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.

She is also available to read individual charts—contact her at: robertsonraye@gmail.com.

© Raye Robertson 2019. All rights reserved. 

[1] Demetra George and Douglas Bloch, Asteroid Goddesses: The Mythology, Psychology, and Astrology of the Re-emerging Feminine, Red Wheel/Weiser, 2003 ed., Newburyport, MA, p. 134.
[2] Ibid, p. 66.

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