Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe released

In the midst of another week of unbearable news from Ukraine, a miracle happened.  Nazanin Zhagari-Ratcliffe, who had been detained in Iran, most of that time in prison, was allowed to come home and be reunited with her daughter and husband.  Heartwarming photos ensued of the three of them together again.  At a time when Ukrainian families are being torn apart, we should frame these photos in our hearts to remind us that reunion is possible.

Birth Chart

The birth date now accepted for Nazanin is 26th December 1978, though we do not have a birth time for her.  She has Sun in the sign of Capricorn, known for qualities of endurance (but can also be the scapegoat).  Her Sun conjoins Mars, giving her a warrior spirit.  She is also a healer, with the Sun exactly trine Chiron.  She certainly had to employ her inner healer in her six years under arrest.  Moon in Scorpio, will have given her extra emotional grit and determination.  In confinement, the Moon conjunct Uranus, will have given her a highly developed imagination to explore her inner mind: Terry Waite, one of the Beirut hostages, had the Moon opposite Uranus in his chart.  Another of the Beirut hostages, John McCarthy, had the Moon sextile Uranus.  Nazanin has a widely travelled, intelligent, trine between Mercury and Jupiter (also giving her a facility for languages), but conversely Mercury closely square Saturn, possibly indicative of some mental confinement.  Her Mercury conjunct Neptune shows a mind tuned into the collective unconscious.  And Venus exactly conjunct Uranus is magnetic, but with some separation in relationships.  Venus conjunct the Moon (in a triple conjunction with Uranus) and closely sextile North Node, reflects her much loved status in the hearts of the public, together with the poignancy of her relationship with her child.  Mars trine Saturn is capable of discipline.  An interesting feature of her chart is her Saturn conjunct the North Node and square to Neptune, which you can see in the fate that befell her: that of a victim (Saturn) of deception and cruelty, taken by stealth (Neptune) and locked into a karmic battle (Nodal Axis).  Her freedom reminds us that karmic sentences come to an end, though I am not suggesting she deserved her fate.  In setting up pre-incarnational contracts, some people may take on what seem like impossible missions or causes.  The books by Robert Schwartz (such as “Your Soul’s Plan” and “Your Soul’s Gift”) illustrate this very well. And with 5 planetary aspects to the North Node, a strong predestination is implied. She is a heroine, whatever way you look at it.  Katie Holmes, born 18 December the same year (eight days before Nazanin), also has Saturn conjunct the North Node square Neptune, and while her suffering is not comparable, she got trapped within the Scientology movement and a difficult marriage for six years (her incarceration being more psychological than literal).


Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was born in Tehran, and studied English Literature at the University of Tehran, subsequently becoming an English teacher.  She took a scholarship to the U.K. in 2007, where she met Richard Ratcliffe.  They were married in 2009, and Gabriella was born on 11th June 2014.

Nazanin worked for Thomson Reuters Foundation, and, with dual British-Iranian citizenship, travelled to Iran in 2016 so that her parents could see Gabriella. On their way home on 3rd April Nazanin was arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, accused of plotting to overthrown the Iranian regime (a false charge).  Astrologically, she was experiencing a Nodal Return, i.e. the North Node had returned to its natal position, which can be a time of karmic stocktaking, but in this case was extraordinarily harsh.  She was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in September of that year.

During the six years, her husband Richard worked tirelessly for her release, and they both undertook hunger strikes from time to time.  Both the Guardian and the Independent newspapers this week urged us not to forget Boris Johnson’s role in worsening Nazanin’s situation, when he was made British Foreign Secretary in the government of Theresa May. Zoe Williams in the Guardian wrote: “Perhaps his incompetence as foreign secretary is just a sidebar to that fact, but it’s the detail we will remember whenever we think of his time in public office, and even as we rejoice in her return”.  On 1st November 2017, Johnson made the following statement: “When we look at what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing, she was simply teaching people journalism, as I understand it, at the very limit.” – a false statement.  She was not a journalist, but the Iranian government used this statement to tighten the screw.  Ironically, the Mercury trine Jupiter in her birthchart means she would have made a good journalist!  At this point she would not be freed for another five years, to the utter despair of her family and the general public watching on.

More clarity about the possible reason she was being detained emerged in February 2018 when Richard Ratcliffe revealed that the U.K. owed Iran £400m dating back to 1971 when the Shah of Iran ordered military equipment, an order which was not fulfilled, due to regime change.  Apparently, Nazanin herself had been told about this, but it was subsequently denied as the reason for her detention by the Iranian government.  This in effect made Nazanin a bargaining chip.  Now that this was a known factor, the solution was clear, but it took another four years for her to be released.

In that time, three further Foreign Secretaries were left to tackle the issue.  First, Jeremy Hunt, who took an interest in her case and managed to secure diplomatic protection for her in March 2019, which meant that it was a matter for resolution by the two governments rather than a consular matter.  Theresa May was replaced as Prime Minister by Boris Johnson, who did not seem to make her case a priority, and brushed aside any idea that he had made her situation worse.

Jeremy Hunt left with the Theresa May government, and yet another Foreign Minister came and went (Dominic Raab).

Nazanin’s daughter Gabriella was returned to England to be with her father on 11th October 2019 in order to attend schooling.  In a major change to her life, the South Node was transiting her natal Pluto.

The onset of the pandemic in 2020 allowed Nazanin to return to her parents’ home, and she was placed under house arrest in March.

Then in September 2021 the Foreign Office changed hands again; it was over to Liz Truss.  Liz has enjoyed this elevated post, and by and large has seemed ineffectual (for example when meeting Sergei Lavrov), but she made it a priority to meet with Iranian officials early in her tenure in this post, on 23rd September 2021.

Release and Reunion

On Wednesday this week Liz Truss announced that the debt had been paid, and was ring-fenced for humanitarian use.  The travel ban was lifted for Nazanin, her passport was returned to her, and her plane landed at RAF Brize Norton at 1 a.m. on Thursday 17th March.  Another prisoner of dual nationality Anoosheh Ashoori was travelling with her, and there is a question mark over the release of another prisoner Morad Tahbaz.  Nazanin’s transits are tricky for this adjustment period, but Richard has a Jupiter Return (a great release), and Gabriella has three wonderful trines at present.  The trauma of all that Nazanin endured will take a lot of processing, and family life will be part of her healing.  Terry Waite has advised her she should take her time over her self-healing.  It is still wondrous to see those family photos in reunion, and we should expect no more than that of her.

“The British government has to build bridges with Iran if it wants to end its reliance on Russia as an energy source.  Hurdles that were previously insurmountable have suddenly evaporated.”

~ Zoe Williams, in the Guardian


This afternoon the Sun enters Aries, the beginning of the astrological year, aka the Spring Equinox.  There are definite signs that Spring has sprung in the U.K.: the daffodils have been out for a while, and the magnolias trees are shining brightly. For the population generally, if your energy has been a little low lately, you may feel yourself reviving.  It’s time to sprinkle that packet of wildflowers you have been saving for this moment…

Tomorrow, Monday (21st) Mercury conjoins Jupiter at 18 degrees Pisces early in the morning, which favours journalism, learning and education, communication and good news, sales and transport.  Aside from that, there should be plenty of enjoyment and philosophical awareness around.

Mars also sextiles Chiron tomorrow, which can bring about a rebalancing of energies.  Wilful types may see that their way of doing things is not working in a group situation (it may work for them on their own), and invite some healing input from others.  Healing actions and efforts can thrive under this aspect.

The energies are a little more awkward on Tuesday (22nd), with a square from Uranus to Mars.  This can be explosive or brittle.  So it is advisable to chill out, and urge others to do so, and hope the message radiates.  This square can also be accident-prone, so if you are out riding your bike, make sure your helmet is firmly held on.  There may be some escalation of aggression in the invasion of Ukraine.

We have another conjunction on Wednesday (23rd), this time between Mercury and Neptune at 23 degrees Pisces.  This may give you a taster of the big conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune in Pisces on 12th April.  You may get some advance information on it!  This conjunction can link you mentally with your spiritual sources, and provide the inspiration much needed at this time. It is a good time to ask for guidance, though you may have to sift reality from illusion, even in the guidance you receive.

The mental outlook is more balanced, and deeper on Saturday (26th), with a sextile between Mercury and Pluto.  Mercury in harmony with Pluto in this way can produce profound thought and communication, honouring the gravity of a situation if necessary, and enabling meaningful debate to occur.

The week in bullet points:

  • Today – Happy Astrological New Year!
  • Tomorrow – bright ideas and travel; healing energies
  • Tuesday – energy volatile
  • Wednesday – spiritual and sensitive communication
  • Saturday – profound thought and communication