Saturn in Sagittarius

Saturn in Sagittarius infrared rings

Saturn’s rings in infrared courtesy of NASA

Saturn in Sagittarius

On December 23, 2014 following a Solstice New Moon, the demanding task-master Saturn entered the shifting, fiery, and focused sign of Sagittarius.  This new transit of Saturn in Sagittarius has resonance with the Solstice, as Saturn will not leave Sagittarius for good until the Capricorn Solstice of 2017.  Saturn holds together the structure of our consciousness within our skeletal system on a personal level, and on a collective level coordinates the innumerable ingredients that form our consensus reality, or the predominant agreements that define what we mean by “reality.”  Saturn has a palpable impact on our lives by transit, and we can immediately feel the impact following its ingress into a new sign through personal experiences and collective events.  For example, both the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical Parisian newspaper that sparked the “Je suis Charlie” movement around freedom of expression, and the publicity surrounding the plan of Pope Francis to present an encyclical on climate change that will urge action are signs reflecting the shift of Saturn into Sagittarius.

Yet to claim I know that these recent events are connected with Saturn shifting into Sagittarius from a tropical zodiac perspective brings up the potential shadow of Saturn in Sagittarius reflected by a rigid belief that “I know.”  In the recent massacre in Paris, dogmatic religious beliefs led the perpetrators to believe that they “knew” that their violent terrorism was justified, just as in 1956 when Saturn was previously in Sagittarius the racist beliefs of White Southerners in the United States led them to believe that their violent terrorism against Black Southerners protesting for equal rights was justified.  Cultivating a perspective that we “do not know” with Saturn in Sagittarius will help us open our mind to direct experience of the moment that is less conditioned by our previous beliefs and cultural understanding.

“Not knowing” also connects with how Carl Jung’s idea of archetypes has been integrated into astrology, in that although Jung saw archetypes as being archaic patterns connected to the farthest reaches of time, he also defined the concept of archetypes as a manifestation of archaic patterns that are forever changing.  It is worth remembering that when Jung described the meaning of archetypes, he said that we can never actually consciously “know” them, we can only deduce their meaning as reflected in such things as stories, symbols, and images.  Astrology or any other methodology of belief we utilize to help us navigate our reality can lead us astray when what we believe we know becomes so crystallized that our fixation on our own perspective causes us to be in denial of our actual reality.  While this is one potential pitfall of Saturn in Sagittarius, at the same time Saturn in Sagittarius brings the potential to deepen our understanding of reality through focused exploration of a belief system, practice, or subject matter.

Saturn in Sagittarius centaur

Fresco by Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi (1520)

Bearing in mind that our current transit of Saturn through Sagittarius is within a different astrological climate and collective milieu than previous Saturn in Sagittarius transits, we can draw upon archetypal understanding of Sagittarius to give us a perspective upon potential matters Saturn will concretize in our life.  The two most common images associated with Sagittarius are the Archer and the Centaur, and both cast their shadow over astrological analysis of Saturn’s time in this mutable fire sign.  The archer embodies the active, focused, and disciplined side of Sagittarius, as we will be called upon to take action on our visions that arose to our awareness during Saturn’s time in Scorpio.  To be successful we will need to apply the determined concentration of an archer keyed into a target, and in Sagittarius we will want this goal to be deeply resonant with the purpose and meaning we are currently finding in our life experience.

In the centaur we find unity beyond the duality of animalistic instincts and human rationalism, and connection with Creation and Nature.  As a result Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius is timely in addressing collective crises involving the quality of life in our water, in our air, and in the plants, animals, and life inhabiting our Earth.  In the figure of the evolved centaur Chiron, we find union with the medicine of creation and everything in our surroundings.  Chiron cultivated wholistic practices to create greater energetic balance, such as herbalism, astrology, meditation, and the martial arts.  During Saturn’s time in Sagittarius, we will have an opportunity to sharpen our skills and knowledge in daily practice, study, or exploration of a structured belief system that brings us greater understanding into not only the nature of our reality, but into our daily action and movement.  We also may come into conflict with others studying the same general subjects of focus from a different perspective of belief, especially in fields such as Astrology, Economics, Politics, and Religion that have a high level of theoretical underpinnings.  Ideally, by keeping an open mind in our dialogues with others, instead of defensively debating without listening to the other perspective, we can gain a sharper focus into the depths under sourcing our beliefs through cultivating thoughtful conversations with people holding vastly different perspectives.

The Guru is another strong association we have with Sagittarius, and Chiron was the guru of not only the centaurs, but countless humans who came to him at a pivotal stage of their hero’s journey.  When learning from guru sources, whether in an actual person or in a body of knowledge, we will want to remain rooted in our direct experience instead of over-consumed by the experience of the guru source.  The more we ground our learning into our daily life, we will glean the message most essential for us on a personal level, and this message then will become something we can offer to others in our community.  Yet, remembering the shadow side of Sagittarius, there is also the potential to become self-absorbed when digesting profound belief systems, with the danger of becoming so narcissistic in our integration of knowledge that we begin to unleash dogmatic diatribes or self-righteous preaching to others in our environment.  Ambition can overcome us in Sagittarius through overconsumption with desires for personal recognition, burning desire for whatever we desire, with self-centered awareness of the impact of personal action on others in the surrounding environment.  Unfortunately, where dogmatism and violent extremist behavior intersect, Saturn in Sagittarius will bring us face to face with with explosive traumatic events in the collective propagated by terrorists as well as heads of state.

Excess of all sorts can be found in the shadow of Sagittarius, a sign ruled by Jupiter.  Jupiter is also known as a guru and teacher, a storyteller whose narratives reveal our underlying nature.  Just as we can become excessively self-righteous, we can also become excessively self-critical, and Saturn in Sagittarius also carries a message for those who have been fearfully holding themselves back from their full actualization in the world around them.  Astrologer Liz Greene in her classic Saturn: a New Look at an Old Devil analyzed that a fear of failure is vital to overcome when Jupiter and Saturn are working together in our birth chart, because it can take courage to follow the intuitive guidance of Jupiter when its visionary quality calls us to leave the comfort zone of our consensus cultural conditioning.  If we allow our Saturn side to inhibit our Jupiter side, we can play it safe working a job that meets our basic survival needs yet does not serve the needs of our deeper Self that our Jupiter side can sense.  Sagittarius is a sign of vision, and Saturn here brings opportunity to take concrete action to structure our life around transformative impulses that transition us away from where we have been previously repressing ourselves through a limitation of belief:

Jupiter’s function in a psychological sense seems to be connected with the intuition and the faculty of creative imagination or visualisation. It is this intuitive faculty which responds to the meaning of a symbol and which makes us capable of apprehending the basic meaning or “soul” of an experience or a person without prior analysis. The direct experience of the inner world of meaning establishes the quality which we term faith; it is not built on any deductive reasoning nor on any practical experience, and it is not- contrary to the usual definition of the word- belief in the sense that it is a wish for something to be true. The man who has genuine faith has it because he knows, in an intuitive and non-rational way, that there is meaning and purpose to his experience and that it will unfold according to a pattern which contains intrinsic wisdom and purpose . . . The contact of Jupiter with Saturn appears to suggest the psychological necessity of transforming this faith into practical living so that the individual can live out what he intuitively senses to be the purpose of his life.    –Liz Greene, p. 122-123, Saturn: a New Look at an Old Devil

Saturn in Sagittarius will test our personal truth, bringing experiences that will challenge whether or not the vision we believe embodies our authenticity is taking us on a journey for a holy grail or a false grail.  The self-absorbed side of Sagittarius can also lead us to become encaved in isolation while taking in new forms of knowledge that bring us a satisfying sense that we are undergoing a significant process of individuation, and yet at the same time a realization that we have become detached from our surrounding community.  The polarity of Gemini to Sagittarius brings a movement to communicate the visionary Sagittarian ideas back into our collective, with a Mercurial sense of how to express our new insights in a medium of expression that can be understood by others, bridging our new vision with the prevailing one.  As easy as it is to write this or read this in a sentence, it is much more challenging to put into practice, and each lunar month this dynamic of Saturn in Sagittarius will be triggered by the Moon passing through the opposite degree of Gemini, as well as in April – June 2015 when Venus, Mars, Mercury, and the Sun pass through Gemini in opposition to Saturn in Sagittarius.

Saturn in Sagittarius ultraviolet rings

Saturn’s rings in ultraviolet courtesy of NASA

The mutable and expansive nature of Sagittarius is vital to comprehend when discerning how the current transit of Saturn in Sagittarius fits inside a different astrological context than past transits.  Saturn in Sagittarius has already entered a square aspect with Neptune in Pisces, and will eventually also move into a square aspect with Chiron in Pisces:  both of these are last quarter squares signifying as Dane Rudhyar taught, a crisis in consciousness. Jupiter will also become mutable in 2015 when it enters Virgo, eventually leading to a last quarter square between Jupiter in Virgo and Saturn in Sagittarius.  As the lunar nodes will also shift in 2015 into the South Node of the Moon occupying Pisces, and the North Node of the Moon occupying Virgo, the ingress of Saturn into Sagittarius marks the beginning of a new transitionary time of mutability that could feel chaotic at times within the falling apart of the familiar.

A Sagittarius Saturn in square to a Pisces Neptune initiates our entrance into this mutable time portal of decomposition that could lead to disillusionment, and many astrologers feel this intense Saturn-Neptune aspect could encase a sobering, leadening restraint around our personal dreams.  There remains potential within this aspect to build and structure significant steps along a path leading to our cherished vision, but in general this will be a time of gaining deeper awareness into the meaning behind our vision.  The last quarter square, the phase that Saturn in Sagittarius will experience with Neptune in Pisces, Chiron in Pisces, and Jupiter in Virgo, is a crisis of thought in which our old beliefs are called into question as we realize our old values and life structures no longer align with our evolving consciousness.  While this can be a time of deconstruction, destructuring, and deconditioning, we can also realize what aspects of our old belief and value system holds authentic truth to sustain as a point of focus. Saturn will move back into Scorpio during the Summer of the Northern Hemisphere and Winter of the Southern Hemisphere, and ideally this will re-connect us with one of the most important themes of Saturn in Scorpio:  honesty.  Sagittarius can have issues with dishonesty, and so we can keep in mind that one of the best remedies to help keep us honest is a staunch commitment to utilizing self-reflection to avoid being in denial.

Since Saturn in Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign, it will prod us into being actively engaged with the obstacles and challenges associated with the first quarter square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries, and all the deep shattering of personal and societal systems that have come with it.  In March 2015, Saturn in Sagittarius will station retrograde within a week of the final of the seven squares between Pluto and Uranus, after which we will finally move beyond the demarcation of their first quarter square.  Saturn asks us to be accountable for our choices that align with our goals, and while Sagittarius is an ambitious sign of determination, it’s mutable nature will allow our vision to shift in accordance with the manner in which our sense of personal truth evolves in the face of coming experiences. The inherent quality of our vision, and whether it is essentially about our own self-interest or serves the true needs of our surroundings, is key.  The fiery nature of Sagittarius brings a more inspirational, courageous, and creative initiative to Saturn, yet this same quality has the negative potential of selfishness, opportunism, and a lack of awareness of how our actions impact others.  Remembering the sextile between Sagittarius with Aquarius and Libra, it will be helpful to utilize objectifying self-reflection to be present with how well we are listening to the needs of our many relationships and how well we are responding.

The meaning of Saturn’s transit in Sagittarius changes generationally, yet there is a common thread through differing cosmic climates as can be seen in a list of famous individuals born at different times with Saturn in Sagittarius:  pop stars Madonna and Lady Gaga, civil rights leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, the shadowy Osama Bin Laden and Heinrich Himmler (leading figure of Nazi Germany), and bringers of light Anne Frank and Teresa of Avila.  Charles Darwin, a man whose theoretical scientific research helped to fundamentally change the way the general human populace views reality, was also born with a Saturn in Sagittarius conjunct Neptune in Sagittarius and his Ascendant in Sagittarius.  One theme of Saturn’s time in Sagittarius that will be strong in the coming years will be the connection of Sagittarius with personal truth and law, in particular the interplay between natural law and human-made law.  There was a compelling synchronicity that as Saturn entered Sagittarius this past month it was conjunct the Themis asteroid #24, as Themis is a daughter of Gaia and the Titaness of natural law, divine order, justice, and custom.  One battleground we will obviously see debates raging over law, legislation, and our natural environment will be climate change, and so it is fascinating that at the same time that Saturn entered Sagittarius it became widely publicized that Pope Francis would be forthcoming with an encyclical urging action that would be distributed throughout the global Catholic network of priests.

Pope Francis and Saturn in Sagittarius

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is an insightful figure to think about in connection with our current transit of Saturn in Sagittarius, and indeed he was born with his Sun conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Sagittarius.  While he inherently takes the role as a leader of a dogmatic religion into every environment he enters, he also has evolved the vision underlying the way in which his papal role interacts on the global stage.  First and foremost, he is our first Pope Francis, evoking the figure of Saint Francis who was an instrument of Spirit on behalf of the poor, the outcast, and the natural world.  Saint Francis never took vows of chastity or demanded conformity to all of the regulated rules of the Christian Church, and also was open to women taking on equal roles of spiritual authority.  Saint Francis lived a life of poverty and only asked to love Nature and for each to love and know God according to their own capacity.  The choice of Pope Francis to actively encourage action on climate change evokes the love of Saint Francis for creation, and is a use of his spiritual authority on behalf of nature and humanity.

Pope Francis has also re-focused the attention of the papacy on people living in poverty around the world, and he has made a constant effort to put humans first from a perspective that humans are part of creation and are not meant to be instruments of some industrial machine.  In a Christmas speech he criticized the existential schizophrenia of a Vatican he sees as being filled with gossip and rivalry, with priests hiding behind papers as part of a mechanism instead of opening up with human sensitivity to others.  Pope Francis was also instrumental in the process of President Obama opening up diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, and he also seems to be intent on breaking through places of crystallized, dogmatic separation between world leaders.

One of Saturn’s three trips through Sagittarius in the 20th Century was between the years of 1956 to 1958, and at this time another leader who became the voice of those oppressed and in poverty arose in prominence, Dr. Martin Luther King.  Martin Luther King was born with a Saturn in Sagittarius and experienced an extraordinary Saturn return that began during the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, leading to his home being burned down by Southern racists at the end of January 1956 with Saturn at the early degrees of Sagittarius. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, sparking the extraordinary Montgomery Bus Boycotts, Saturn was at the end of its transit of Scorpio.  There is some resonance here with our own recent time of Saturn closing out a transit of Scorpio, with a number of protest movements arising around issues of oppression.  What made the Montgomery Bus Boycotts so incredible was the amount of collective commitment and creative strategizing that was employed to shut down the system.

Martin Luther King and Saturn in Sagittarius

Martin Luther King during the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956

The year of 1956 when Saturn entered Sagittarius around January 13 has some similarities with Saturn’s transit in 2015, as just like this year Saturn stationed retrograde in March 1956 and then moved back into Scorpio again for a few months.  During Saturn’s initial time in Sagittarius the Montgomery activists faced a strong pushback from the legal system, including Martin Luther King being ordered to pay a fine or serve time in jail around the time Saturn stationed in March.  King’s decision to serve time in jail helped propel the movement further through media coverage, and by November 1956 when Saturn had returned again to Sagittarius the Supreme Court outlawed segregation on bus lines.

There remains the possibility that some of the investigations conducted by the U.S. federal government into the police killing of black men that dominated the headlines during 2014 will also lead to federal intervention through the legal system.  What is clear is that there is clear resonance between the rise of Martin Luther King into prominence when Saturn entered Sagittarius in 1956 with today’s transit, as well as the fact that events in Selma, Alabama that Martin Luther King was actively engaged in during the time of the Pluto and Uranus conjunction in 1965 have now been released as a major Hollywood film at this current time of the Pluto and Uranus square and Saturn again in Sagittarius.  King’s courageous, impassioned leadership combined with his role as a religious authority has clear connection to Saturn in Sagittarius, and his ability to stir up a collective torrent of debate over beliefs while remaining constant with a message of love in the face of hatred holds a powerful lesson that remains significant today to learn from:

If we are arrested every day, if we are exploited every day, if we are trampled over every day, don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight, we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.

— Dr. Martin Luther King in a speech during the Montgomery bus boycotts

A further interesting connection with the figure and life of Martin Luther King and the upcoming mutable astrology time period is that Dr. King had a mutable t-square in his chart, with Mars in Gemini (2nd House) opposite Saturn in Sagittarius (8th House) with both in square to the Moon in Pisces (11th House).  Martin Luther King was able to use this intense mutable aspect in his chart to be a powerful storyteller and speaker who could communicate a message embodying deep meaning while being understood by a wide populace.  In our current upcoming transit, we can all learn from King’s ability to take decisive action when the time calls for action, and to communicate a heart-centered message of love while creating opportunities for discussion on societal issues that need to be addressed and not covered up or ignored.

The next period with Saturn in Sagittarius was between the years of 1986 and 1988, and during the entire transit Saturn was approaching a conjunction with Uranus that happened at the very end of Sagittarius.  There were once again strong African American voices in American culture in this period, for example with Jesse Jackson running for President, but most dominant in popular culture was the pre-eminence of Hip Hop in American popular music.  Two groups arose to celebrity status during the transit of Saturn in Sagittarius that exemplified it’s themes:  Public Enemy, whose 1987 album had the Sagittarian title Yo! Bum Rush the Show, and N.W.A. who released Straight Outta Compton at the end of Saturn’s transit in Sagittarius and made famous the Sagittarian line, “You are about to witness the strength of street knowledge.”

However, collectively the most major shift that occurred during this time was in Eastern Europe as the movements that led to widespread revolution in the region and later epochal events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic took place.  While these later events occurred during Saturn’s transit of Capricorn, there were pivotal developments that made them possible during the transit of Saturn in Sagittarius such as Perestroika in the Soviet Union.  For example in Poland, a country that used the political innovation of “Round Table agreements” to facilitate a democracy that would give them greater independence, there were a series of crucial strikes that happened in 1988 with Saturn in Sagittarius that were essential.  Similarly, our current transit of Sagittarius will bring opportunities for collective movements that could lead to huge structural and systematic changes in four or five years.

Saturn in Sagittarius and Capricorn

Zodiac frieze from Venice, Italy (1530-40) courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

Saturn in Sagittarius is currently in a balsamic phase with Pluto in Capricorn, and so we are in a time of clearing, re-seeding, and re-visioning in their cycle until the beginning of 2020 when Saturn becomes conjunct Pluto at 23 degrees of Capricorn.  Jupiter will also be in Capricorn in 2020, and around the Capricorn Solstice on December 21, 2020, the next conjunction in the Saturn and Jupiter cycle will occur at 00º29′ Aquarius.  As a result Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius is a key transition to this incredibly important 2020 time period.

However, let’s not forget Uranus, the next planet beyond Saturn and important player in Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius.  Saturn in Sagittarius will form a trine with Uranus in Aries in 2016, and in 2015 Jupiter in Leo will be trine to Uranus in Aries on March 3 and on June 22.  As a result in the next six months the Jupiter and Uranus cycle can help us unlock the Saturn gates of our consciousness to more expansive perspectives, and then later in August 2015 when we hit the last quarter square between Jupiter in Leo and a stationing direct Saturn in Scorpio, we will face challenges and even crises forcing us to critically examine what in our life needs to be discarded and let go and what is essential to keep as we begin to focus on what we will utilize in seeding our future.

We end with a few quotes from Anne Frank, who was born with Saturn in Sagittarius:

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”

“There is an urge and rage in people to destroy, to kill, to murder, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.”

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.”

©2015 Gray Crawford Astrology, All Rights Reserved

Saint Francis: by way of Neptune and Uranus


On March 13, 2013 the story of Saint Francis re-entered mass consciousness with the birthing of Pope Francis.  No matter your opinion regarding the political scandal and gossip concerning the Vatican and the Catholic Church, the horrific accusations and coverings up of sexual abuse amongst priests and other acts of oppression, the choice of the precedent shattering name Pope Francis has brought Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) back into collective consciousness on a massive scale, and there are important insights to be gained from paying attention to him.

Addressing the media for the first time on March 16, 2013, Pope Francis said he chose to evoke Saint Francis of Assisi with his name because he was “the man of poverty, of peace” and that he wants “a poor church for the poor”².  In his installation Mass on March 19, the atmosphere was described by media as electric and he transformed the papacy priorities with calls for protecting the environment and helping the most disenfranchised in our communities, pledging that he will serve “the poorest, the weakest, the least important” and that “amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others”³.  These themes, like much of the life of Saint Francis, link with the archetypes of Uranus and Neptune.

In relation to Uranus, Saint Francis of Assisi led a life of intense individuation, dissolving an identity of privilege in which he enthusiastically joined the crusades as a Knight, metamorphosing through intense contact and communication with nature and creatures of nature, like birds.  He was a radical who honored Natural Law more so than the human-made laws of the status quo, for example encouraging women to take leadership roles and organize communities in Spirit.  He had Neptunian visions of the Holy Spirit in his inner space, while in his explorations of the outer space around him he found God in a tree, or in the apprearance of a rabbit.  He integrated his Neptune connection with divinity into Uranus work of shifting the consciousness of those around him, being a Spiritual warrior who could battle the elements and build a church and spiritual community from the ground up with his own resources.

Saint Francis is perhaps most special because of his “tender beholding of aspects of Nature as living beings,” as described by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  He is the Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment, and his connection with a new Pope and hope amongst the Church to re-connect with younger generations is fitting because Saint Francis came into his personal power during an opposition between Uranus and Neptune, and the generation coming of age at this time (born between 1988 and 1998) all have a conjunction of Uranus and Neptune in their natal birth charts.  I teach in a program in which all of my students have been born so far between 1991 and 1996 with this conjunction, and a notable amount of them have dreams and career goals related to working with animals, healing and protecting animals.  Many of my students hope to become veterinarians, and many also hope to travel to specific regions of the world to protect specific species of animals (New Zealand or Australia for example).

Saint Francis embodied the archetypes of Uranus and Neptune not just because there was an opposition between Uranus and Neptune when his work and disciples were really catching on, but through his intention of being an instrument of Spirit, his communal activism on behalf of the poor and outcast, and in his refusal to join the organized Christian church.  Though the Pope eventually gave him approval, he never actually became a “priest,” never took vows of chastity or demanded all of the regulated rules of the Christian Church upon his followers.  He only asked to love God, love Nature, and asked each to love and know God according to their own capacity.  He saw the connection between birds, animals, the natural world, and God- he didn’t see the duality of separateness, and intended to live from this belief.  He was communal and collective in his spirituality, choosing to live a life of poverty and live by natural law and  the true message of Jesus of Nazareth.  Indeed, there was a collective Uranus-Aquarius nature to the Franciscan order he developed, the brotherhood and sisterhood of his followers willing to live in poverty and serve others and find their own spiritual understanding.  Radical for the times, he broke away from traditional norms regarding women, helping women form their own spiritual order and find a place within his spiritual following. In Cosmos and Psyche Richard Tarnas analyzed the link between the life of Saint Francis and the orbital cycle of Uranus and Neptune:

The…Uranus-Neptune opposition of 1214-30 coincided with the widespread evangelical awakening led by Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic and the rapid dissemination throughout Europe of the Franciscan and Dominican orders. Here the characteristic archetypal themes of the Uranus-Neptune cycle were visible not only in the decisive spiritual quickening of the era but also in the Franciscans’ and Dominicans’ innovative dissolving of the boundaries between the lay world and the religious, bringing the dynamism of the Christian faith out of the cloister and into the world; in the more democratic forms of government within these religious orders that affirmed greater individual autonomy; in Francis’s sense of universal compassion that extended to a mystical participation in nature as an expression of divinity, subverting traditional Christian tendencies towards a dualism of spirit and nature… (p. 367)

Franco Zeffirelli’s portrait of Saint Francis, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, shows Francis growing up in wealth and privilege, crusading off to war, and then experiencing a mental break in which he questions the entire power paradigm underlying the reality surrounding him since birth, leading him to connect with the natural world, Spirit, God, and the true life and work of Jesus of Nazareth, even experiencing ecstatic visions.  The film poetically illustrates how he dedicated himself to a life of  poverty and serving those in poverty and those cast out as lepers and other exiles, connecting with animals as well, and emphatically refusing the trappings of wealth and power associated with the organized Christian Church. In the climatic scene in which Francis meets the Pope in person, he catalyzes the Pope to re-connect with his core sense of spiritual self through mere contact.  The film was released in 1972 and has an aesthetic informed by the counterculture movements of the 1960s, showing the radical spirituality of this Saint who really was radical and a threat to the established order. The scene below is from his early process of breaking from his past to connect with Spirit:

As in the scene above, Brother Sun Sister Moon portrays a deepening relationship between Clare and Francis, eventually immortalized by the Chuch as St. Clare and St. Francis.   Later in the film, Clare is called to join Francis in his work and calls out to him:  “I am not seeking to be understood, I want to understand!  I am not asking to be loved, I want to love!” This line reflects one of the major themes of the famous “Prayer of St. Francis” which is attributed to St. Francis, but according to historical records was not actually written by St. Francis (although it does encapsulate the major themes of his life and work)¹.

One of the most famous prayers/poems that Saint Francis actually did write is the “Canticle of the Sun,” written when he was recovering from an intense illness in a cottage built by his dear friend Saint Clare.  The poem evokes Uranus and Neptune through lyrically describing elements of nature and spirituality as a community of beings he has a personal relationship with. The following translation of it is by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who noted that the “ancient word canticle means to sing,” and so this poem was written in a rhythm meant to be chanted:

To Creator:
the Great Elder of Highest Good–
You’re so deserving of our tender thanks…
You’re so easy to recognize,
and so deserving of fragrant bouquets,
so made happy by our blessings
and offerings of beauty
to You.

In you alone, Great Elder,
are all our offerings held by You
in all right ways.
No unawakened human mouth
yet knows how to pronounce
the depths of your name.

Be thanked our dear Creator,
through all your creatures…

especially through *my lord Brother Sun,*
who brings illumination.
And thank you,
for You give us Light
through him.

*Brother Sun* is beautiful
and radiant in all his fiery magnitude!
Of You, in your highest altitude,
*Brother Sun* bears your likeness.

Thank you too, through *Sister Moon and the Stars*;
In the heavens you have made them flashing,
so dear to us, and engaging with us.

Thank you dear Elder,
through *Brothers Wind and Air,*
and *Clouds and Storms, and all the Weather*
through which You
offer Your creatures shelter, food, and livelihood.

Thank you also, through *Sister Water;*
for she is so helpful to many
and so without vanity, so precious to us,
and unsullied from first source.

Thank you Creator, through *Brother Fire,*
whom You give to blaze light into the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful,
and commanding and unafraid.

Thank you too, through our *sister Mother Earth,*
who nourishes us and shapes us,
and creates endless fruits
with colored flowers and herbs***.

Thank You Creator
through those who forgive others
out of Love for You,
and thank You also
through those who endure
sickness and trial.
Content are those who endure in peace,
for by You, Creator, they will be garlanded.

Thank You too, through our Sister, *Death of the Body,*
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Distress comes to those who die separated
from Creator…

Fittingly enough, the times during which Pope Benedict resigned and Pope Francis ascended have been dominated by archetypal themes of Neptune and Uranus.  On February 11, 2013 when the resignation of Pope Benedict was announced, there was a conjunction between Mercury, Mars, Neptune, Chiron, and the Moon in Pisces.  It didn’t take much of a leap of an astrologer’s imagination to connect this intense stellium of Piscean energy with the presence of the Holy Spirit in this shocking decision and announcement.  In addition to this Neptune archetypal link, there was also a Uranian omen in the form of this striking sign from nature on this day as St. Peter’s Basilica was literally struck from above:

St. Peter's lightning

In the following month, during much projection and prediction among pundits regarding exactly what the Cardinals would choose to do and exactly whom they would choose to anoint as the new Pope, there was an intense wave of Pisces energy with the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Chiron, Neptune, and the Moon moving through Pisces.  Mercury in particular stationed retrograde conjunct Mars and then moved backward to form conjunctions for the second time with the Sun, Chiron, and Venus.  All of this Pisces energy evoked the Neptune archetype of Saint Francis.

Interestingly, by the time the Cardinals finally made their decision the Uranus archetype of Saint Francis was activated, as  Mars had just broken through into Aries and was moving into a conjunction with Uranus, evoking the initiating Uranus archetype of Saint Francis of Assisi.  The chart for the announcement of Pope Francis has a balsamic conjunction of Uranus and Mars in Aries conjunct the Descendant- an electric drive that is in service through a relationship with the World.  There is an Aries Mars-Uranus drive of Pope Francis to individuate his role from past papacy privileges by making choices like choosing a name without precedent and riding the city bus to be with the people instead of an isolated luxury transport.

The Neptune archetype can be seen through the karmic release and resolution signified by the balsamic Mars-Uranus, the Sun and Venus conjunct in Pisces, and Neptune in Pisces conjunct Mercury retrograde and Chiron in Pisces at the time of the selection of Pope Francis.   It has been noted that as a Jesuit he could perhaps “think differently” and there are signs in the announcement chart that indicate an intention to transform some of the set patterns of perspective from the papacy (Pisces Chiron-Mercury-Neptune in trine to Scorpio Saturn retrograde in 2nd), while at the same time there are signs he could stubbornly cling to some of the old dogmatic papacy beliefs that critics of the Church have felt have been oppressive toward women, among others (Pisces Sun-Venus square Gemini Ceres-Lilith-Vesta in 9th; Gemini Jupiter-Vesta in 9th square Pisces Chiron-Mercury-Neptune in 5th).  Yet at the same time, these same symbols, plus the potent Uranus energy, reflect a purpose he could have to individuate the Papal role in a true role of service to the People through creatively actualizing his Pisces Mercury-Neptune faith, and many of his early statements reflect this intention:

“Let us never forget that authentic power is service . . . and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love:  the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.”  — Pope Francis³

 Just as the selection of the Pope is supposed to be guided by the Holy Spirit, there does seem to be an energy of Divine Intervention about the selection of this new Pope who brings the symbol of Saint Francis of Assisi prominently into our collective consciousness.

Pope Francis announcement