[original post 04/08/2005] I’m writing this a few hours before the funeral of Pope John Paul II. There is some question about his birth time. The date and place of his birth are well known; AstroDataBank now have the time as 17.30 with an A rating (“from memory”), giving various quotes from the Pope himself saying it was between 5 and 6 pm. A 5 pm chart has the Ascendant in late Virgo.
Any time after 17.05 has a Libra Ascendant.
Determining exactly when someone was born is called “Rectifying a chart” and is a long complicated affair; we will look at few of the issues here.
First, we can guess which chart is more likely – this is always easier when the person is older and has lived most or all of their life, and the promise of the chart has been carried out.
#1. On purely statistical grounds most of the charts are Libra rising, so that’s the most likely.
#2. The Virgo rising chart Ascendant is 29 degrees, which is weak. It is unlikely, tho not impossible, Wojtyla would have become Pope with a weak ascendant. A Virgo rising chart would have Mercury as its chart lord, which is in Aries in the 8th house, again not a strong public placement. In fact the Virgo rising chart has no strong “career” placements, except perhaps the Sun & Moon in the 9th house, which is good for public relations (politicians often have Moon in the 9th).
#3. The Libra rising chart is ruled by Venus in the 7th, a stronger placement. Ruler of the first in the seventh house indicates someone concerned with partners or other people generally. (And whatever you thought of his church policies, John Paul II was certainly a “man of the people” who loved his flock and was a great pastor). Venus in the 7th however is not good for marriage. It is also cojunct Ketu, the south node of the Moon, a karmic indicator… this person would either marry someone foreign, strange or spiritual (as John Lennon did), or not marry at all… or we could see this as “marrying the church.”
#4. In the Libra rising chart Mars is in the 12th house, a typical placement for someone who prays or mediates a lot or in some way sublimates their Mars energies. In the Virgo rising chart Mars would be right on the Ascendant. Although John Paul was certainly healthy and even athletic at times, he did not come over quite as punchily as people with Mars on the Ascendant do. This point however, is a matter of judgment and other astrologers might disagree.
#5. Most important, Jupiter – which represents priests and religion – is exalted in Cancer, a very strong placement. In the Libra rising chart Jupiter is in the 10th house, creating one of the Mahapurush “great people” yogas (such as we saw for the Dalai Lama). With Jupiter this is called Hamsa Yoga, and is a highly appropriate configuration for a famous “high priest” figure. Since we know Wojtyla became Pope, we can reasonably look for some indication of that in his chart. In the Virgo chart this yoga does not occur.
From these considerations I would favor any chart after about 17.15 with a Libra Ascendant.To rectify a chart properly one also looks at significant events in a person’s life, especially those that are not entirely under their control, such as accidents. You can also look at important events like moving house (or being elected Pope!).
We’ll look at the two charts for the time he was shot by a would-be assassin in 1981, and his death a few days ago. The bullet that shot him also stopped his watch, so the exact time is known.
And of course, his death time has recently been published.
Assuming these times are accurate, and the charts cast accurately (something one often needs to doublecheck what with timezones and daylight savings time)… it’s interesting that they both have Libra ascendants!
However, the important thing is how the planets fall in the Pope’s birthchart. Assuming John Paul’s chart has a Libra Ascendant, both events have Jupiter in the Pope’s 12th house. The houses concerning health and sickness are chiefly the 6th and 8th, the houses of death the 8th and 12th. The shooting chart has transiting Moon, Jupiter & Saturn in the Pope’s 12th house, and Venus – which we take to be his chart lord – transiting his 8th. It also has Mars in his 7th, which can signify an enemy. The time of death chart has Jupiter with Ketu in his 12th house, and a bunch of planets in his 6th house of health & sickness. These alone would not make it a death chart but we must always to take into account the circumstances of the person. What would be a recoverable situation for a younger stronger person is more fatal for an older one.
Notice also that Venus – the probable chart ruler – is combust and within a degree of the Sun in the death chart. Although Venus likes, and is strong in Pisces, it is here both combust and between two malefics. It’s worth noting ancient Greek astrologers had the idea that when a planet becomes combust within one degree of the Sun it has a special status called cazimi – “in the heart of the Sun”. Combust is simply weak, cazimi is strong but other-worldly. A cazimi planet becomes invisible in the material world, but its true soul shines out in the other world – perhaps a good religious metaphor for death.