Oh My Stars

beliefnet matthew currie astrology nelson mandelaNelson Mandela (born July 18, 1918, time unknown but probably in the afternoon, Umtata, South Africa) has died at the age of 95. He, like millions of others, lived with a system that treated the majority of its people with brutal unfairness. More than any other individual, he helped change that.

There will be a lot of places on the Internet and in the news that will do a better and more eloquent job of describing why Nelson Mandela was important, what tremendous odds he faced, and how he made life better for millions. My main goal here is to ask what we as followers of astrology can best learn from his birth chart, his life, and how the one translated into the other.

His story was one of struggle, and when we look at the will to fight against the prevailing forces in life, we look at Mars. Nelson Mandela had Mars in Libra, which is often considered to be a “debilitated” placement — too interested in compromise to be effective. Yet for all of the odds against him, and even with that Mars placement, Mandela did in fact make South Africa a more peaceful place… through resistance, through courage, and at one point in his life, as an advocate of violence.


There was once at time, not that long ago yet before many of you will remember, when one of the largest countries in Africa did not allow the majority of its citizens many of their most basic rights. In 1948 South Africa, a country already dealing with a lot of racial oppression took a turn for the worse with the implementation of apartheid: a legal system designed to permanently entrench the legal and political superiority of a minority group at the expense of the majority. In fiction, such circumstances call for a hero, a liberator, a rebel with a cause. In the case of South Africa many of those arose, but none so famously as Nelson Mandela.

He was a Freedom Fighter, but let’s not forget either that one man’s “freedom fighter” is another man’s “terrorist,” and there were plenty of people who called Mandela that too in his time.There were times in the past where The United States and Britain labelled him as such: he was on the US Terrorist Watch List until 2008, and  Margaret Thatcher once described his political party, the African National Congress as a “typical terrorist organization.”  And let’s be honest with ourselves with this: we all know how Mandela struggled for freedom, but sometimes it’s convenient to forget that “struggle” is a synonym for “fight,” and that fights usually end in blood.

Yes. There were times in his relative youth when Nelson was not always an advocate of the most peaceful path to freedom. But of course, many of the same people who will call him a terrorist now are the same people who yearly celebrate the violent overthrow of British rule over the American Colonies. And despite the oppression the American Colonists experienced at the time, it take a leap of the imagination greater than I can muster to compare it to what Blacks in South Africa faced — told where to lived and what jobs they could do based simply on having accidentally been born in the same land their ancestors came from, eventually resulting in the absurdity of all Black South Africans being legally considered citizens of “Bantustans” rather than the actual country they lived in: a mind-boggling legal sleight of hand guaranteed to keep political power out of their hands. And voting? Forget that. 

Confronted with such outrage, what do you do? Do you accommodate it? Co-operate? Ignore it? Carve out a personal corner or relative tranquility in a sea of lunacy? Or do you fight it any way you can?

Nelson Mandela fought. And when we fight, we are using our Mars. His was a strong one, despite being in a “bad” Sign for it — Libra. Furthermore, it was squared by Jupiter and Pluto, so if we didn’t know the man it would be easy to see a tendency to violence, or to see the revolutionary without considering the necessity of his revolt. Under different circumstances, we could easily imagine someone with a Jupiter-Pluto conjunction square their Mars — someone who spent 27 years (an entire Saturn cycle) in prison — as simply “a criminal.”

And of course, technically… he was a criminal. But if the laws being broken are unjust, then a criminal becomes a hero. Nelson Mandela found a way to make all his perfectly-justified rage not only work for him, but ultimately used that rage to make his country a better place, and to become a symbol of hope for oppressed people everywhere. The convicted saboteur went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

That, I believe, is the big astrological lesson Nelson Mandela teaches us: all potential for harm can ultimately be used for something good, if we choose to do so. We don’t need someone like Nelson Mandela to be our savior or our angel… we need him to be a reminder that we too can make even the worst of circumstances better if we choose to do so, if we stick to our principles, and are unafraid to do so.

What are you doing with your Mars?

(More about the wise use of problematic Mars placements — and how it relates to our current astrological conditions — HERE: “Mars, Mandela, And Gandhi: Use Your Weapons Wisely”)


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