Religion and Spirituality
Christmas Day and Hanukah coincide this year, and so I thought I would put together some thoughts about religion and spirituality in the birth chart. I try to honour all religions. God created all people on this earth, regardless of what religion they were born under. The mystical branches of all religions, based on the direct experience of their founders, are largely united in their perceptions. And in this day and age, there is a high proportion of atheism, agnosticism and humanism, which I think can be psychologically healthy and independent, providing it is based on a good set of ethics and values. In past lives, we have partaken in several religions, depending on the time and place of our births.
Religion in the birth chart is a province of Sagittarius and its ruler Jupiter. A high degree of this sign and/or planet in the birth chart can indicate a strongly religious outlook, a belief in the power of prayer, and of positive thinking. Sagittarius is an active sign, and prayer is talking to God. Sagittarius and Jupiter can be prominent in the charts of those who may not believe in conventional religion, but are instead very philosophically inclined. The Sagittarian may be a Seeker after Truth, and not necessarily focussed on religion. Humanity’s experience of religious thought and feeling goes right back to ancient times, in various forms.
Spirituality is something we all have, being the connection with our Soul, and the spiritual world. Some are more aware of their connection than others, and some have more belief in it, and some have more need of it. Spirituality in the birth chart is a province of Pisces and its ruler Neptune. A high degree of this sign and/or planet in the birth chart can indicate a mystical or spiritual outlook, and conjure up past lives in monastic settings or sages in Himalayan caves. Pisces is a passive sign, and meditation is listening to God. Neptune and Pisces have rulership of the collective unconscious, and access to all knowledge, hence many Pisceans have a breathtaking level of genius and talent. Christianity is particularly associated with Pisces (with the symbolism of the fish), and the Age of Pisces. The New Age vogue for Angelology is distinctly Piscean/Neptunian, connecting as it does with the power of the divine in our lives. In biblical times, the relation with the Angels was one of passive awe and wonder (Piscean). In the Aquarian Age, the emphasis is more on working with the Angels (Aquarius is an active sign).
Religion and Spirituality in the Birth Chart
Other factors in the birth chart help to paint a picture of a person’s inner life. The 9th House is associated with Sagittarius and Jupiter, and represents religion among other areas of life. So for example, if Uranus is present in the 9th House there may be a religious conversion at some point in the life, as in the example of Cat Stevens. The 12th House is associated with Pisces and Neptune, and represents cloistered institutions such as monasteries, and spiritual retreats. Thus a preponderance of planets in the 12th House may indicate a need to withdraw from society for a period of time in order to fully connect with one’s spiritual sources.
The whole of the birth chart represents different areas and interactions of the psyche, e.g. Capricorn can bring strictness and discipline to religious practice. But there is in particular another important area which impinges on religion, spirituality, and mental health. Psychology in the birth chart is a province of Scorpio and its ruler Pluto, and Psychology in itself is a relatively new science, as birthed by Sigmund Freud, although ancient cultures had their own ways of evaluating character and personality (Astrology being one!). The planet (or dwarf planet) Pluto was only discovered in 1930, and prior to that Scorpio was ruled by Mars. I find that the cusp of Scorpio and Sagittarius in the birth chart is an important point, representing as it does the intersection between Psychology (Scorpio) and Philosophy (Jupiter). How we feel about ourselves, and the meaning of our life (Scorpio/Pluto) is very relevant to how we see life and truth (Sagittarius/Jupiter), and the two together carry a lot of responsibility for our mental outlook and mental health.
Interactions between Jupiter and Neptune
Religion and spirituality constitute a vast subject, and one I find fascinating. Jupiter is the form of religion, and Neptune the formlessness. I hope to explore more areas of this in future blogs, but today I will look at the connections between Jupiter and Neptune in the birth chart, which often indicate how comfortable a person is with these areas of the life and Soul. Not everyone has these two planets connected in their charts, but I will focus on some of these connections, using famous examples as illustrations. There are so many ways in which religion and spirituality manifest, and I have included some atheists.
Jupiter conjunct Neptune
This combination brings religion and spirituality together like a sacred prayer, and usually denotes success in this field. However, if your Jupiter or your Neptune awareness is not well developed, there can be confusion in such matters, or over-imagination. The conjunction occurs roughly every 13 years, and if you were born in 1945, 1958, 1971, 1984, 1997, or 2009 the chances are that you may have it.
Pope John Paul II
This Pope (who held the position between 1978 and 2005) had the conjunction 2 degrees apart in Leo in the 10th House, a very powerful placing. I still keep a photo of him with the Dalai Lama on my mantelpiece, as a symbol of universal religious unity. The two of them met eight times, and John Paul II said of Buddhism:
“In particular I express my highest regard for the followers of Buddhism, the majority religion in Sri Lanka, with its … four great values of … loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity; with its ten transcendental virtues and the joys of the Sangha expressed so beautifully in the Theragathas. I ardently hope that my visit will serve to strengthen the goodwill between us, and that it will reassure everyone of the Catholic Church’s desire for interreligious dialogue and cooperation in building a more just and fraternal world. To everyone I extend the hand of friendship, recalling the splendid words of the Dhammapada ‘Better than a thousand useless words is one single word that gives peace….’ ”
Pope John XXIII
This Sagittarian Pope had the conjunction in Taurus, and became Pope in October 1958 when the conjunction was in the opposite sign from his natal conjunction, Scorpio.
If you would like to delve into the charts of Popes in more detail, Astrologer Peter Morrell’s link here will provide further food for thought:
Doreen Virtue, whose works adorn every Mind-Body-Spirit section of a bookshop, became an Angelologist after a carjacking in 1995 in which a voice from the Angels saved her life.
She was born in 1958, and has the conjunction across the cusp of two signs.
This comedian was one of the first female celebrities to come out as gay in the U.S., and overcame a long period of rejection from the public before her career was rejuvenated. These days she hosts the very successful Ellen Show, where giveaways (often material goods) are a regular feature, but also recognizing those who do good works. As well as spreading the joy of comedy, she needed the strength of that Jupiter-Neptune conjunction to become such a social pioneer (Sun in Aquarius). She was raised as a Christian Scientist, and although it is thought she is probably an atheist, the imprinting from Christian Science can give great strength and mental independence (our war reporter John Simpson was also raised as a Christian Scientist, and he has Jupiter semi-sextile Neptune).
Jupiter trine Neptune
The trine between these two planets is a most positive force, and easier to work with than the conjunction. There is “space” for religion and spirituality to breathe in their own right, and come together in harmony.
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King embodies the breadth of vision of this trine. A proponent of Gandhi’s non-violent resistance, he made some of the greatest speeches ever spoken. His oratory is shown in his chart by Mercury on the Midheaven in the 9th House of Religion, but it expresses the passion of Jupiter exactly trine Neptune:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Another iconic figure who had the trine, Che Guevara was an atheist, but he was evangelistic about Marxism. He believed in mankind, freedom and brotherhood.
“A religion without a goddess is halfway to atheism.”
Dion Fortune was an Occultist and British Qabalist, who claimed to work with the Ascended Masters, including the “Master Jesus”. She established a Fraternity in the Western mystery tradition, but also drew on oriental religions. After her death, the Fraternity was renamed the Society of the Inner Light. Her trine was composed of Jupiter in Aquarius and Neptune in Gemini.
The legendary Piscean mystic Edgar Cayce was a devout Christian, whose unconscious mind in trance one day began to give people life readings based on health conditions, and then past life readings. He also saw into the future. He was a little conflicted about his gift, as he worried if it contravened his religious beliefs. His trine was composed of Jupiter in Capricorn trine Neptune in Taurus.
St. Francis of Assisi
Patron Saint of Animals, St. Francis of Assisi (1181 – 1226) had the trine in Air signs, with Jupiter in Gemini and Neptune in Aquarius.
Jupiter sextile Neptune
The sextile is also positive and allows religion and spirituality to work together well, but is not quite as powerful as the trine.
His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet is one of the most patently spiritual current inhabitants of the planet. He is said to be an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, and as a young boy picked out some artifacts belonging to his predecessor. He spreads light, joy and compassion wherever he goes!
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
Sagittarian Caroline Lucas, Co-Leader of the Green Party, is one of the most ethical and conscientious M.P.s serving in the House of Commons. Her book “Honourable Friends?” exposes the horrors she found there in her first five years as an M.P. She may not be conventionally religious but her efforts on behalf of the planet reveal an evolved soul.
“Am I religious…? The spiritual dimension of life is very important, but it doesn’t necessarily mean… I like to take bits out of different religions, so I can’t say I am just one religion. I value very much many things from many different religions. I believe in some divine organisation which I couldn’t give very much more flesh to, and I think that those aspects of life that can’t be explained but are to do with a spiritual dimension are incredibly important.
I think that green politics is moral, because we care deeply about our impact not only on other people in other parts of the world but also on future generations; but it’s not a sort of hair-shirt moralism. It’s based on some clear moral principles – and that is one of the things that attract me to it.”
The current Archbishop of Canterbury has the sextile exact in his chart, and came late to the ministry, after a career in the oil industry (which is ruled by Neptune). He has spoken out against austerity measures and their effect on the poor, and urged for the understanding of the religious motivation behind Islamic extremism. He has referred to himself as a “spiritual magpie”.
“If we want to see things changed, it starts with prayer. It starts with a new spirit of prayer, using all the traditions, ancient and modern. When it comes, it will be linked to what has gone before, but it will look different – because it is a new renewal for new times.
Jupiter square Neptune
In the square between these two planets, spirituality and religion may not co-exist comfortably, and again may produce confusion, unless the person is highly evolved. Alternatively, the dissonance may be so great that religion is rejected entirely.
Who knows what the adult Anne Frank would have thought about life and religion? Sadly we only have the thoughts in a diary of a young girl:
“People who have a religion should be glad, for not everyone has the gift of believing in heavenly things. You don’t necessarily even have to be afraid of punishment after death; purgatory, hell, and heaven are things that a lot of people can’t accept, but still a religion, it doesn’t matter which, keeps a person on the right path. It isn’t the fear of God but the upholding of one’s own honor and conscience.”
Chris Griscom, founder of the Light Institute at Galisteo, New Mexico, is one of the proponents of the Light Body in the New Age, and I am often quoting her wisdom. When a square is resolved, the consciousness can enter new dimensions, and Chris wrote her book “Ecstasy is a New Frequency” from such a perspective. It is one of the books I would take with me if I were on a desert island.
She says: ” It is our great challenge at this time to allow the unmanifest nature of our true beings to be present with our physical realities, so that our form becomes truly the form of God.”
Piscean Professor Brian Cox, an ever-present cosmologist on our television screens, and one time pop star, also has the square, but in his case the conflict between Jupiter and Neptune has resulted in an outright rejection of religion, believing very strongly in the power of logic. He is also a harsh critic of Astrology.
“I honestly don’t think about religion until someone asks me about it.”
Vincent van Gogh
In Vincent van Gogh’s psyche, the square between Jupiter and Neptune may have been one of his greatest inner conflicts. He was a Christian, the son of a minister, but had many spiritual crises throughout his life. He was devout, and experienced spiritual inspiration.
Jupiter opposite Neptune
The opposition of Jupiter and Neptune is also difficult, but easier to negotiate than the square, as they can be combined through the polarity of the signs they inhabit. They can bring people together, and help mediate between religions.
Novelist Margaret Atwood is a Humanist, which is one way of resolving this opposition. She has the Writer Archetype (Mercury conjunct Venus) exact in her chart. She is also a poet (Neptune/Pisces). Her Sun trines Jupiter and exactly sextiles Neptune. In 1987 she was named Humanist of the Year.
A remarkable man, who has written autobiographical works about his ministry, Andrew White is known as the Vicar of Baghdad. He has brought together people of all faiths (including Arabs and Israelis), and spent many years mediating in dangerous conditions (necessitating 35 Iraqi bodyguards). He was born in 1964, a year when Jupiter was opposite Neptune, though we do not have a birth date for him. He has headed up the International Centre for Reconciliation.
Here is another author, who has the opposition. His themes have been mysticism and Christianity, and include the titles “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons”. It is almost as though he is trying to resolve certain issues through his writing and research. He describes himself as being on a “constant spiritual journey”.
The late David Frost, broadcaster, interviewer and satirist, had the opposition between Jupiter and Neptune. In his early career he gave the impression of being quite cynical but became more open about his Christian faith as time went on. After his death, Rory Bremner commented: “…there was Methodism in his madness: his upbringing meant he hated wasting time. He was struck by a quote from Camus that Bobby Kennedy shared with him – ‘in the last interview before he was assassinated’ – about the need to make a contribution to lessen suffering, ‘for if we do not, then who will?’ It’s the closest he came to religion. Someone once asked Carina if her husband was religious. ‘Absolutely,’ she replied. ‘He thinks he’s God.’ ”
Author Douglas Adams created a Cosmology of his own, in his work “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” but was a “devout atheist”. The idea for his magnum opus came to him while lying drunk in a field in Austria gazing at the stars. It is classified as comedy science fiction, and describes what his particular imagination came up with from his opposition of Jupiter in Aries and Neptune in Libra. The power of this opposition is enhanced in his chart by a trine between Pluto and Jupiter, and a sextile between Pluto and Neptune.
“Religion… has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever… If someone votes for a party that you don’t agree with, you’re free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it. But on the other hand if somebody says ‘I must [not] move a light switch on a Saturday’, you say, ‘I respect that’… Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn’t be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn’t be.”
Do we create God and the Universe in our own image?
David Attenborough truly is a living legend, and I do hope he goes on making his wonderful films on behalf of the planet. It is no surprise to find this expansive combination of Jupiter and Neptune in his chart. He describes himself as agnostic, and maybe he doesn’t need religion as he is well and truly “doing his bit” for the planet.
Sagittarian Giles Fraser is an interesting example of Jupiter opposite Neptune at work, having started life as half Jewish, but now writes a weekly column on Christianity in the Guardian. He rose to fame at the height of the Occupy Movement when he was Canon Chancellor at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and resigned rather than have to turf out the protestors. His regular column is interesting in that he often tries to draw parallels between Judaism and Christianity, thus trying to resolve the dichotomy between them. His opposition is exact, with Jupiter in Taurus, and Neptune in Scorpio.
On this special Holy day, I wish you All Love and the presence of the divine in your lives.
There’s a bumper bundle of aspects this week, and four favourable aspects today, Christmas Day, making it extra special! As there are so many, I will skip lightly through some of them, but there are three very major aspects and I will give them the attention they deserve.
Today (Sunday, 25th December) started at 00.21 Hrs with a trine of great magnitude, Saturn trine Uranus. You may have benefited from this in the run up to Christmas, seeing a bigger plan at work. Saturn represents tradition and Uranus represents innovation, so both can be combined with success, and it especially supports big plans. So this favours the bridging of the old and new generations in the family today, but in your life generally if you are in the middle of a big project, it may all be coming together nicely like an engineering miracle. You may have felt some real progress in your work, for instance, right up to the last minute. A very constructive aspect to start the day, start the week, and begin the Christmas celebrations. Those in the U.S. will experience this on Christmas Eve, and in Australia the day will be under way with a swing first thing.
Christmas lunch will be a superb affair, with Venus trine Jupiter at 13.23 Hrs in the U.K. This represents good feasting, good drinking, and song! A good social atmosphere, and perhaps a special celebration of a recent success. There will be plenty of good humour in the air. It is a good time for romantic proposals, too, in case anyone is wondering whether to pop the question along with the Champagne corks.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, Venus sextile Uranus comes along mid-afternoon (16.35 Hrs in the U.K.). This brings extra excitement and sparkles to the proceedings. It brings surprises, the unwrapping of the element of the unexpected. And there may be unexpected meetings, perhaps a welcome guest turns up uninvited. Charades may be more enjoyable than usual.
Christmas may be anything you want it to be this year, there are enough aspects to suit every taste. If you are on your own, maybe you will find the solitude soothing, some do. But all compassion and hearts go out to those who are lonely or grieving, such as the elderly who may be without relatives. The final aspect of the day, Venus sextile Saturn, occurs at tea time (18.33 Hrs) though you’ll probably still be too full to tackle turkey or Quorn sandwiches by then. It is a more sober, but still a positive force. It speaks of loyalty, memories of absent friends or relatives, and serious but loving reflections on the year, the current state of things, and prospects and plans. It is an aspect of sincere hugs, and sympathy.
On to Boxing Day, Monday 26th December (in case you are losing your bearings by now…). The day begins with two karmic aspects: Mars conjunct the South Node, which may bring up conflict, and old warrior karma. Then the Sun trines the North Node, which is a much brighter prospect, and may bring karmic rewards or late Christmas gifts, and the opportunity to balance karma and bring out your creativity.
Coming up to teatime on Boxing Day, Jupiter opposes Uranus, which is a big aspect, and may be tricky. The element of the unexpected may not work to your advantage, though there may be a silver lining to be found. Christmas is not known for being a time for pranks, but this aspect may bring out the prankster in someone in your circle. Adventurousness and enterprise may not seem entirely appropriate. Be on your mettle, because this is not a lightweight aspect. However, bear in mind that Saturn from Sagittarius is currently sextile with Jupiter in Libra, and that may constitute a steady and balancing background force to any unwanted surprises.
On Tuesday (27th) very early in the morning Mercury sextiles Neptune. If you are going to have a spiritual moment over the holiday season, this could be it. You may wake from a numinous dream, glimpsing the meaning of life around 4.19 a.m. …
Then spring up at 8.07 a.m. when the Sun sextiles Mars, ready for action, for whatever you have planned for that day. It is not a day for lounging, nursing your hangover, or taking it easy – it is real carpe diem stuff. A day to be seized with gusto!
Wednesday (28th) brings sparkling mental energy, with the Sun conjunct Mercury. It is a good day to focus on your chosen projects, perhaps a new activity suggested by a surprise gift over Christmas. As this conjunction occurs in Capricorn, it is also good for planning, making schedules, lists and strategies.
Mercury sextiles Mars late in the day, injecting even more mental energy. You may have a late night, inspired by a second wind (no double entendre intended). Enthusiasm, energy and precision characterize your late night activity. However, don’t overdo it.
In the early hours of Thursday (29th) the third major aspect arrives: Saturn square Chiron. This one indicates that health matters need attention, so take good care of yourself, and keep an eye on those who might have been overdoing things yesterday. If you have elderly relatives for instance, they may be feeling fragile at this time. For such, it may be a good day for complete rest.
For others, who feel on top of things, it may be a day of renewal with a New Moon at 7 degrees Capricorn occurring at 6.53 a.m. You will feel the benefit according to which House it falls in your birth chart, but generally it favours politics, administration, and forward planning (such as career initiatives).
The day is enhanced further by Uranus turning direct, so higher consciousness can flow more easily than it has of late. Technology and electricity, Astrology and telepathy all benefit from the more straightforward transmission of Uranus. Group work is also heightened.
All this, and one more aspect to round the week off nicely: Sun sextile Neptune, which comes on Friday 30th. This is another spiritual aspect, inspired and creative. Icing on the cake. It occurs late in the day, so the day may pick up on the theme as it progresses.
It’s a full week of cosmic learning to prepare us for the year ahead.
A Merry Christmas to All my Readers, and Non-Readers!
The week in bullet points:
- Today (Christmas Day) – full on gifts from the Universe
- Tomorrow (Boxing Day) – karmic and tricky
- Tuesday – spiritual and active
- Wednesday – mentally focussed and energized
- Thursday – some difficulty, new beginnings and turnarounds
- Friday – spirituality and creativity combine