Dear Friend and Reader:
Just as the fathers of the Roman Catholic Church were getting ready to elect a new pope, The Independent, a respected U.K. newspaper, reported that the Vatican had purchased a €23 million ($30 million) share of a Roman apartment block that houses the Europa Multiclub, reputed to be Europe’s most famous gay sauna.
The newspaper published an article Monday stating that the Vatican had purchased the property in 2008, including the club and 19 Vatican apartments, many of which house priests. One of the church’s top cardinals, Ivan Dias, head of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, lives in a 12-room apartment “yards from the ground floor entrance to the steamy flesh pot,” the newspaper said. Dias voted in Wednesday’s papal election.
It’s as if the church has denied sex so vocally and for so long, the association is now impossible to miss. From what I’m learning about the Catholic leadership’s philosophy of sex, male homosexuality is considered so dangerous because it’s an allegedly impossible temptation to resist. I guess that idea would extend all the way to the Vatican’s real estate investment team.
Visiting the club’s website, I learned that EMC is connected to “the largest gay Italian organization, working to uphold the civil rights of homosexuals, in particular their right to demonstrate their personal identity. We stand up against every form of racism and prejudice. EMC pays particular attention in advising members on both their physical and mental health. We also distribute information about sexual health. At EMC we want you to be yourself and respect others.”
The Independent mused over whether Cardinal Dias, the church’s chief of recruitment, “has popped downstairs to give spiritual guidance to the clients of the Europa Multiclub, given his belief that gays and lesbians can be cured of their ‘unnatural tendencies’ through the ‘sacrament of penance’.”
Or maybe he just visits his neighbors to collect the rent, then stays for a smoothie, steam bath and massage once in a while. What’s funnier, the investment is a tax write-off for the Vatican. “There was further embarrassment for the Holy See when the press observed that thanks to generous tax breaks it received from the last Berlusconi government, the church will have avoided hefty payments to the Italian state,” The Independentreported. “The properties are recognized as part of the Holy City.”
As I sit here, I am trying to fit this into my concept of the universe. If I were writing this in a fiction story, I would be rather pleased with myself for coming up with something so ironic. But this is not irony; irony is a literary device. This is the universe talking. And what the universe is saying is that there’s a fabulous gay bathhouse right on Vatican property.
Meanwhile, Catholics and many other people have been scrubbing the Internet to find out what the new pope is about. Will he be the person who brings healing to the church? Will he be able to deal with the labyrinth of corruption, sexual scandal and financial scandal that the church has become? Will he hang out at the Europa Multiclub?
What does it mean that the church now has a South American pope, the first from the New World and the first Jesuit? The Jesuits are often believed to be the more intellectual, philosophical faction of Catholicism, but are also known as the Pope’s Marines, who will obey under any circumstances. Is Pope Francis a sign of the New Age, or the New World Order? Does it mean anything that he’s named himself after one of the most venerated saints, Francis of Assisi?
Was he complicit in a state-sponsored terrorist war against Argentinian civilians in the 1970s, in which 22,000 people were ‘disappeared’?
Before we go too far with these questions, I would caution against putting faith in any one person to guide the church out of its millennia-long self-made disaster, or at all. I’m leery of anyone being the ‘spiritual leader’ to more than a billion people, regardless of the ideology involved. Said in modern terms, this is called giving away one’s power. And, once you support the pope, you support whatever the pope supports or is complicit in; that collective karma becomes your personal karma.
I feel the same way about political leaders. We invest far too much energy into how the president might make a difference, and not nearly enough into how we might do so. Then most people blame politicians for the world’s problems.
Refresher: Jesus Cliff Notes
The Roman Catholic Church claims to be based on the teachings of Jesus. The essence of the teachings of Jesus is that God is found within ourselves. That was his single most significant theological and perhaps metaphysical contribution: that what became known as the Holy Spirit is within everyone. That’s another way to say that Jesus taught that God speaks to anyone who will listen, not just to the pope.
From what I have read, Jesus taught a form of charity that did not involve stockpiling tons of gold. From what we know of him, he valued peace and respect for humanity that did not involve making deals with fascists, getting tax breaks from slimy politicians, waging crusades or raising massive armies to go to war with people of other religions.
There is nothing in the teachings of Jesus that could vaguely be construed to endorse the burning of herbalists, midwives or women who allegedly ‘gave’ a man an erection (these were among the definitions of witch as it was used during the Inquisition).
Above all we know that Jesus abhorred hypocrisy. One of his most famous quotes, as passed on by the church itself, is “Let he who has no sin cast the first stone.” When we consider the problems with the church, we need to look at how it has persisted in being the very antithesis of the simple teachings of Jesus.
There’s a problem, though: most people don’t know the difference between God and religion. Indeed, that distinction has been conflated by religion itself, to create confusion. And a great many people who go to church do so because the church has convinced them they’ll go to hell if they do not. The church is loaded with piety, but also thrives on superstitious mystical terror that it controls with the whole concept of absolution — from a definition of sin that it created.
Pope Francis Election Chart
At 7:06 pm Wednesday, white smoke appeared from the famous chimney from which the cardinals send their signals to the world. The chart reveals that a lot is about to happen, and potentially at a surprising pace with strange turns in the story. It offers us a few interesting puzzles to put together, and tells tales of intrigue that are suitable for the situation we’re describing.
The thing that leaps out about this chart is that Uranus is on the 7th house cusp. You can see it lurking right on the western horizon — that blue H on the right side of the chart, above the horizontal line. (That’s the 7th cusp and the western horizon — a highly sensitive zone in the chart representing relationships and the environment.) Uranus is about rapid changes and developments. It’s associated with breakthroughs, inventions, discoveries and revolutions, though mainly it says expect the unexpected. And here, it’s sitting on one of the chart’s most sensitive angles.
Uranus can bring a shock to the known order of things. It does not fit the image of a party-line conservative taking office. There may have been some kind of coup involved, or there may be one brewing.
Nearly all the commentary I read suggested the church would be looking for a younger, more dynamic leader to recreate its image and take it through its time of crisis. What the cardinals chose was the guy who lost to Ratzinger in 2005, who is now 76 years old. He has lived all of his adult life with just one lung.
Another giant factor: the Sun is square Ceres, which can represent a colossal struggle over nurturing and resources — though this aspect plays directly into the political intrigue that I’m about to describe. On the most basic level, though, Ceres is about mothers and daughters and the struggles of all women. Big Mr. Sun has to encounter this emotional level of reality, and the church’s treatment of women will be an unavoidable factor during this phase of church history. I’ll return to this aspect later in the article.
In the background is the fact that Mercury is about to station direct on Sunday. This election happened in the last few days of Mercury retrograde in Pisces. That fact alone suggests that something is lurking in the wings, about to come out into the open. Mercury changing directions often comes with the experience of the truth coming out.
Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo. One way to understand the meaning of a planet in a chart is to look where you find the signs it’s connected with. In a chart, signs are associated with houses, which are the most practical level of astrology. The houses describe the topic area and often the physical location of events indicated in the chart. If you know your rising sign, you know the sign associated with your 1st house, so you have a sense of how important the connection between a sign and a house is. It works that way for all the houses.
In this chart, Gemini rules the 9th house. By that I mean that the 9th house cusp intersects the sign Gemini. (Look for the Gemini symbol along the outermost wheel and that is where the 9th house begins.) The 9th house is where we find information about the church and its leaders, according to every old astrology book ever written and most new ones.
Jupiter is up there, who seems to give us a picture of the new pope himself, the presumed benefactor who has two distinct sides (a Gemini factor). Mercury rules Gemini, so Mercury and Jupiter work as one system. They occupy one another’s signs (Jupiter is the traditional ruler of Pisces).
Mercury is about to station direct, carrying a lot of information with it — the information that’s about to come out. Could this also mean that the church itself is about to move forward in its thinking? A number of factors suggest so, but this is not described as a gentle or voluntary process.
There is one other sign ruled by Mercury, which is Virgo — and Virgo rules the 12th house of this particular chart. The 12th is the house (in nearly any chart) where we find what is hidden, concealed or denied.
Using a selection of 25 planets and points, we find nothing occupying Virgo; we must look directly to Mercury. Mercury about to station direct suggests that plenty is about to emerge. It may seem exaggerated, or too wild to be true (Mercury square Jupiter) though the chances are, it will all be true, and there’s plenty more we won’t find out about because it will be concealed by fog. Still, what we do learn and witness will be impressive.
Mercury is in the 6th house of healing. Once it stations direct, it will make a conjunction to Chiron, also associated with healing — and major turning points and dramatic moments of clarity. It looks like there is some kind of purge that occurs, even if it’s unintentional. It’s as if someone or something spills the beans, and some unusual version of the truth keeps coming out.
One of the most interesting points in this chart is the Moon. The Moon is a significant point in every chart, however it carries some extra influence here for a few reasons — one being that Cancer is on the midheaven of this chart. The midheaven is the 10th house cusp, and that is the house that deals with the affairs of state. The Moon describes the pope as a political leader rather than as a spiritual leader. Based on a deal made with Mussolini in the buildup to World War II, the Vatican was given status as a “city-state,” that is, as the world’s smallest independent country. The pope serves as its king. What happens with the 10th house and with the Moon describes what happens to the new pope in his specific role as king.
We find the Moon in Aries. It’s exactly conjunct a centaur planet that’s not shown in the chart — Pelion. It’s also square a centaur not shown in the chart, Crantor. And it’s also square an important asteroid — the fifth ever discovered, Astraea, which is associated with justice. So the Moon is surrounded by this group of points. Pelion was not a centaur in mythology, but rather is the mountain in Greece where the centaurs are said to have made their home base.
You could look at this a few ways. One is that the church needs to return to its core values, its spiritual home. To me it looks more like the pope is presiding over an extremely unruly bunch of underbosses in what is called the curia, or Vatican bureaucracy, who look like a nest of centaurs. This is Italy we are talking about. It is known for what I shall politely call its own special style of leadership and governance.
Crantor is one discovery I was unfamiliar with, so I called my friend Philip Sedgwick, a kind of divining oracle at delineating newly discovered planets. [You can sign up for his witty free newsletter from his website.]
“Crantor has a Scorpio/Cancer vibe,” he said in a phone call Thursday. “It’s about fostering and nurturing but if one does not participate in the nurturing, what happens to them is that they can get thrown under the bus. It’s coercive, with the feeling of ‘you’re with us or you’re against us’. Are you part of the home team, or the bad team?”
Let’s take a second look at the Sun square Ceres. During our conversation, Sedgwick said he was reading a book about Ceres, which presents her as a far more complex archetype than we usually think. Ceres is like the guardian of boundaries — “she who stands between and she who bears the laws between.” She is a kind of mediator. There’s also the theme of sexual purity (which he said in this context really means fidelity to one partner or a ‘one-man woman’). And it relates to that space where the spirits of the dead are exposed to the light of the living — which immediately reminded me of the sexual abuse victims over the centuries looking for justice and recourse.
“This aspect is about the nature of the conflicts that the pope has to deal with, such as the lines that might need to be crossed,” Sedgwick said. Those lines include whose toes he would have to step on in order to get control — and the possibility that this might be impossible.
This pope has a significant political problem on his hands. But it gets more interesting than this. In this chart, there is a conjunction in Aries — the asteroid Pallas Athene is closely conjunct the famous Pluto-like planet Eris. Pallas is about law and politics; Eris follows no rules whatsoever, and when she breaks the rules, it’s by stealth and subterfuge.
This is yet another image of the Vatican in political chaos — and soon the Moon, ruler of the 10th house of executive power and pope-as-king, goes over that conjunction. Eris can be about sabotage or revenge that could come “in the form of someone who didn’t get elected dropping something almost unbearable onto the new pope’s lap,” Sedgwick proposed.
When the Moon reaches Pallas/Eris, it also makes a trine to a familiar centaur called Pholus — the small cause with the big effect; the runaway reaction. This describes a scenario where once things get going they are not going to stop, or a situation that’s about to run out of control.
Speaking of Pholus, I will point out one thing from the natal chart of the new Pope Francis. He has a conjunction of Mercury and Pholus in Capricorn. Soon, transiting Pluto will go over that conjunction — which is similar to what is currently happening to Rupert Murdoch.
The only reason I am reluctant to say this is because it could sound like wishful thinking. But this chart looks like the Vatican is about to become a paparazzi wet dream. It looks like the House that St. Peter built could become the new News Corp. They had better resist the urge to hire a top-shelf publicity agency and instead start telling the truth — because someone is watching, someone whose name has been called this week.
Now, as for that name. Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose to be the first of 266 popes to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi. (This is the first time the name Francis has been used by any pope.) When approached sincerely, St. Francis gets results. He also speaks his mind. When the tourist trade got a little too busy in his hometown, there was an earthquake, which cooled things down.
One of the most venerated saints, Francis is a big one to live up to. For one thing, he was friendly to critters and women. That is pretty special here on Earth. He is the Roman Catholic’s patron saint of the environment and of animals. He’s one of the patron saints of Italy. He preached to the birds. He had a super cool girlfriend, Santa Ciara (St. Claire). (The story of their relationship is told in the film Brother Sun, Sister Moon.)
St. Francis was not an ordained priest. After giving up the wealth he inherited from his father, he became a friar who spent most of his time out in the world. He told his followers that they should remain itinerant, that is, that they should stay on the road, and not settle down into a monastery.
What would St. Francis do if he became pope? Well, he wouldn’t want to be pope — he didn’t want to be the leader of his own order, and refused to do so. However, if he had the job, he would probably start by liquidating all the Vatican gold, and draining its bank accounts, and feeding the poor. It would make no sense to him for the church to have vast wealth stashed in vaults and accounts while people are starving.
He would put the Vatican into humbler digs, so it could reduce its carbon footprint. The Vatican would use its status as a country to become a leading voice for ecological responsibility and warding off global warming. He would get rid of those ridiculous red outfits and have church leaders in more down-to-earth, practical and cheaper clothes. Dogs, cats and bunny rabbits would be running wild in the halls of the papal offices. There would be a pigeon coop on every roof. The Vatican would look like one of those Jehovah’s Witness paintings where all the animals are living in peace and harmony with humans. The Vatican cafeteria would become vegetarian.
There would be no 12-room apartments for cardinals (those would go to sheep, goats and llamas), nor would there be housekeepers or butlers. Everything would be scaled down to humble proportions. St. Francis would probably tell most of the curia to put on their walking shoes and get out among the people. He would not tolerate anyone in vestments doing harm to children.
Most of all, he would have faith that the mess of the Roman Catholic Church could be cleaned up, along with the considerable damage that the church has done to the people of the world. Said he, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Late Pisces Birthdays
If you have a Pisces birthday in the neighborhood, this year is a turning point in how you make decisions. You are learning to trust your intuition. You are also learning that while your intellect cannot see around all corners, it’s worth respecting and paying attention to it. This is a time when you may learn that “all is not what it seems,” and have that be a positive message. The prevailing Pisces theme of the inner relationship is developed in this week’s charts — that is, how your relationship to yourself is the basis of all other relationships. I say this because Virgo is the sign that represents partners for you, and its ruler, Mercury, is in your own sign. This is another way of saying, be close to yourself and that will invite others close to you. People think they are craving relationships and on one level that is true. Many people are figuring out that what they want just as much, or more, is to not be alienated from themselves. You have the capacity to express this and set the example, and to weave an energy field around yourself where it’s safe for others to be who they are. And that is likely to draw them closer to you, facilitating a space for authentic intimacy that’s based on inner harmony. — By Eric Francis.
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, March 15, 2013 #942 | By Genevieve Hathaway
Aries (March 20-April 19) — Recently, your 12th house has been a very busy place with many planets moving through, including your ruler Mars. This may have come with the feeling of a piece of yourself being just out of reach, or you may not have felt like you were firing on all cylinders. Now, as both the Sun and Mars ingress your sign, you’re coming into contact with this part of yourself that has been hard to access. Pushing up from within you is a renewed sense of your potential to accomplish your goals and take action on your vision. You are getting clear on something you’ve wanted that in the past seemed unattainable, yet will all of a sudden appear possible. In this moment of clarity move forward and take action with intention. The key to manifesting what you want is belief that it can be done. I suggest you not let anyone convince you otherwise. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Much has been shifting behind the scenes regarding your network of colleagues and important relationships. Something involving who you allow into this circle of important people was previously in your blind spot or hard to see — it is now visible to you. You are getting clear on your previous patterns of selecting your network: where those habits came from and whether that process of selection is serving you now. Your astrology at the moment indicates your network is more than just a collection of people who have been in your life for a long time. Rather, it’s a support system of your choosing. When weighing who to keep in your network, who to let go of, and who to add, I propose considering the influence each person has on how you feel about who you are. Do they support your sense of self-esteem? Ultimately, it’s not the number of people in your network that bring the greatest support; rather, it’s the quality of those relationships. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Over the past few weeks you’ve been through a reassessment of your career: a re-evaluation that was more about what you are most called to do and to give back to the world, rather than simply earning a paycheck. Often our society pushes the idea that what brings us passion and meaning and what we do to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads are two different things. You are now formulating an idea of how to integrate the two, developing a concept of what you do for work as an extension of your deepest self. You may be feeling a lot of pressure to make some quick adjustments to your career. I suggest pausing to lay out a plan of the steps you wish to take; this will help you move with focused intention. A few strategic steps will move you further than large sweeping changes. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You are navigating an internal breakthrough that at times has come with the sensation of something peeling apart inside you. I suggest not getting distracted by any feeling of discomfort during this process. Any guilt, shame or fear you experience is a big neon arrow pointing you to take that fork in the road and explore where the material came from. What you are working through is the influence religious ideas and philosophies have on you, particularly on your attitudes and emotional patterns. The astrology at the moment indicates information coming in from your mother’s life and the influence religion had on her. Look at her life and then continue on up the maternal line. Even simple questions will get you quite far. A good starting point is asking what everyone in the family knew, but no one talked about. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Your agreements lately have required some extra negotiating. At times this has felt frustrating, like the negotiations were stuck on the same unresolved issue. In fact, you and the other party were fine-tuning the details like a woodworker dedicatedly and repeatedly sanding and reworking the legs of a strong table. The repeated refinishing actually enhances the solid structure of the table, which can carry a heavy load for a long time. A strong foundation provides a lasting quality. As Mercury stations direct next week, new information will help you finalize the agreement you’ve been working on. Proceed with patience as you reassess where you’ve been with the contract and the moves necessary to complete the final steps. Ultimately, the work you are putting into the agreement is building commitment and understanding between both parties that will be of tremendous benefit to all involved. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — The area of your chart involving relationships is located in Pisces. This implies that satisfying relationships for you include flexibility, creativity and great emotional depth. At the moment, you are looking to receive more of these traits from a close partner. I suggest starting with an honest conversation with yourself about your most important relationship needs, and which needs truly must be met for you to be happy. As you get clear on the importance of these needs in a partnership it will be easier to communicate them to a partner and easier to draw the metaphorical line in the sand if they aren’t met. In any conversations, I would recommend sticking to larger ideas rather than nitpicking the details. Hold space for a partner to do the same. What is on offer is a restructuring that helps you build partnerships in line with your most authentic desires. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Your current astrology is highlighting the importance of nurturing and caring for your soul and spiritual side as essential to maintaining a healthy body, mind and emotional state. Think of this in terms of something you know very well — balance. If one aspect is left undernourished then the other areas aren’t as strong. Lately, Mercury has being doing the backstroke through the area of your chart that’s focused on health, helping you discover connections between feeding and caring for your inner self and how you feel on a daily basis. The next question is what do you do with this new information? As Mercury changes direction and begins to move forward, continue to devote equal time to taking care of all aspects of you — mind, body, emotions and soul. An abundance of physical energy and strong health is available to you. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Pressure is building as you push against what seems like an internal impasse regarding your creativity and the joy you take in that inner spark. Something is shaking loose from within you, a realization about situations early in childhood that affected how you connect with your creativity. You have plenty of resources in your art and pleasure angle, but at the moment you are re-evaluating your basic approach to how you value and nourish your creative self. There is a sense in your chart of a no-going-back moment, like the facade gets stripped away and you can no longer pretend to be something that you are not. I suggest you take the plunge and show everyone the ‘real’ you. What for you may feel like a vulnerable position will actually be seen by those around you as strength. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — The area of your chart involving art, daring and sex is about to get a dose of energy and passion. Think of it as an active volcano pushing forth streams of hot, molten lava — it’s intense, fierce and beautiful. Over the next few weeks as Mars, the Sun and Venus all join Uranus and Eris in Aries, I suggest carving out extra time for the projects you feel most passionate about. Channel your renewed sense of daring and vision into what your inner compass points to as your strongest calling. You have enough stretch in one aspect of a project to take a few big leaps and risks. Focus and intent will help you remain grounded, channeling the large amount of energy that is at your disposal. You are coming into contact with your potential in a tangible and real form. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Often our mental patterns are influenced at an early age by our family’s dynamics and their mental habits. You’ve recently been revisiting how your family influenced how you think of and respond to your experiences. Connect the dots on how a key habit affected you, then take the step to acknowledge that you can change that pattern. As you make contact with this new understanding, it may come with the feeling that much of what you believed is unraveling. If it feels like you are losing control, I suggest you move with the flow. You are in fact letting go of a number of illusions that no longer serve you. You are in a potent moment of being able to harness the power of your mind to shape how you experience existence. Ultimately, how you think is one of the areas of life you do have complete control over. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Self-esteem has continued to be a theme in your life for some time now. If there is any aspect of yourself to spend the time on to get right, this is it. How you feel about being ‘you’ is your greatest resource and essential to shaping your outer world. At times this exploration of your concept of self-esteem has come with plenty of deeply personal and emotional energy as you tapped into a piece of yourself that is raw and real. Over the next week, a realization will shift your perspective on your self-worth even further. Think of it as an illusion dissolving to reveal a new way to access a stronger sense of self-esteem. It’s like you find an unlocked door that you didn’t know existed, which takes you directly to your inner core of being. I suggest you make this re-orientation on your feeling of self-esteem one of your top priorities. You are at the very end of what has been a long, yet ultimately rewarding process. The work you are doing is building an inner strength that will carry you for a very long time. — by Genevieve Hathaway.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — With all the high-powered astrology in Pisces lately, your internal world at times may have felt like a major international airport during peak hours — one busy, almost hectic place. So much was shifting and moving through, you didn’t necessarily have time to take stock of all of the changes. What you are experiencing is making contact with your sense of being solid in the world. You are making contact with ‘you’. Some old, deep barriers have been breaking down, putting you in touch with part of your emotional and psychic body that you haven’t reached in a few lifetimes. To feel solid you first need to know what a solid ‘you’ looks like — hold it in your hands and feel the edges, smooth surfaces, fine details and blemishes. As you come to know these new sides of yourself, it will pave the way for you to consistently feel like you’ve arrived in an existence with space held open for you. — by Genevieve Hathaway.