Before getting into the heart of the new pope's astrological chart, I respectfully say that I do not wish to offend anyone. And I apologize in advance to any Roman Catholic reading this piece who may feel that astrology is something best avoided. I ask only that you keep an open mind and remember that the wise men who first honored the baby Jesus were led by a star.

Joseph Ratzinger was born on April 16, 1927 at 4:15 A.M. in Marktl, Germany in the heart of Bavaria. A complex man born on a full moon, Pope Benedict XVI was born with the Sun in Aries, the Moon in Libra and Jupiter in Pisces rising. His powerful chart is riddled with contradictions: On the one hand, the chart reveals a highly personal and sometimes uncontainable sense of piety; on the other, there are signs that this is a man who adheres to rigid religious orthodoxy. His astrological chart indicates that his life is a most unusual mix of spiritual ambition and unstoppable will. Aries is the sign of the warrior. It is ruled by militant Mars, the driven and physically charged planet of aggression and war. And quite a Mars our new pope has here! At 29½º Gemini and out of bounds, Joseph Ratzinger's energy as a youth must have been hard, if not impossible, to contain. By way of explanation, "out of bounds" planets (planets beyond 23½º of declination) behave in a way that exceeds the normal range of behavior typical for that planet. As his ruling planet and at the critical "my way or the highway" 29th degree, Mars (with its unrelenting inner urgency) plays an important role in his chart and describes someone who would have indulged with abandon his more aggressive nature in youth and been insistent, forceful, and successful at getting his way as an adult. While today Pope Benedict XVI describes himself as "God's humble servant," his chart reveals a person who may have spent many early years not knowing who he really was. He has Jupiter in "blinding" Pisces in the ("I AM") first house of the self, and his pioneering Aries Sun is intercepted-hard to reach, experience or know-in the second house ("What am I really worth? What is of true value to me?"). This suggests, on the one hand, a high level of personal ambition and even self-importance; and on the other, a deep and profound connection to the "world soul," universal heart, and a spirituality independent of any organized religion.Further contradictions in his chart make one curious as to how he has integrated his gigantic (Jupiter) sense of piety and compassion (Pisces), aggressive nature (Aries), tendency to manipulate others to his will (Mars square Mercury in the 1st), and religious orthodoxy (Saturn in Sagittarius in the 9th) in such a way as to balance them.The synastry (astrological chemistry) between his chart and that of Pope John Paul II is astounding. It shows Pope Benedict XVI as being quite comfortable and content as the steady support, working behind the scenes as lieutenant. Their charts together provide an amazing study in compatibility and devotion.But in March of this year, powerful Pluto in the sign of religion (Sagittarius) reached the top of Cardinal Ratzinger's chart and brought about the transformation that it always does: in this case, literally a rise to power. The question is: How will the new Pope Benedict XVI use his power? Though he has been quoted as advocating the separation of church and state, he signed a missive last year urging Catholic churches in the U.S. not to allow anyone who is pro-choice to receive the sacrament of communion and went much further by urging Catholics not to support the "Catholic politician's" presidential run."
Since 1995, Pluto has been in Sagittarius, the sign of religion, politics, and philosophy. In the last ten years, we have witnessed Pluto's influence in that sign-many formerly hidden incidents of sexual abuse of children and teenagers by clerics have come to light, and fundamentalism in all religions of the world has grown. As Pluto travels through the last degrees of Sagittarius-between now and 2008-the current climate of religious zeal and fervor will reach a crescendo, and it is fascinating that the newly elected and very orthodox pope begins his reign as Pluto transits these last critical degrees.Saturn in Sagittarius in the 9th HousePope Benedict XVI has Saturn in Sagittarius in the 9th house of religion. It is his highest elevated planet (the planet highest in the sky at the time of his birth) and is therefore very important. In this 9th house position, the stern planet is even more strict than usual. Saturn is the planet of structure, limitation, and karma. In the sign of Sagittarius, Saturn expresses itself with rigorous adherence to dogma and religious orthodoxy with little room for flexibility, "creative" interpretation, or tolerance for any deviations. Astrologer, author, and Jungian analyst Dr. Liz Greene describes Saturn's role in religion in her book "The Outer Planets and Their Cycles: The Astrology of the Collective." She says, "The religious spirit is not necessarily reflected by Saturn, but the dogma of religion is, because it is the formal container in which the mystical vision is enclosed." Dr. Greene goes on to describe Saturn in the 9th: "Planets in the ninth describe what powers and attributes we give to the divine. Saturn in the ninth is an Old Testament God, who upholds principles such as justice, law, humility, correct behavior, and good works. Saturn in the ninth is terribly sensitive to the formal side of religion with its codes of behavior." Religious rigidity defines Benedict XVI. He expects the same of others, but it could be the very thing that undermines his effectiveness completely. Later this year in November, Uranus, the planet known for breaking things apart, will station at just under seven degrees of Pisces forming a tense and harsh square to Benedict's Saturn. His rigid positions will be heavily challenged. This will be a time of great testing for him.Then the issue of health is likely to take center stage in his chart. In November-December 2006, Saturn will hover around his 6th house Neptune in Leo (the 6th house rules health) suggesting possible heart problems. What's more daunting and indicative of a shorter reign is that his progressed Sun is a scant 3-3½ years away from hitting Pluto, the planet of death and rebirth. At that same time (in 2008) transiting Pluto will be opposing his ruling planet, Mars. In the chart of a younger person, you might say, "Well, this will be a difficult time," but this is the chart of someone who by then will be in his 80's. While Pope Benedict XVI may have a relatively short reign, his influence could be quite potent. There is the possibility for some surprising behavior from him. The moment of his election showed some promise and warmth: Lucky Jupiter in fair and cooperative Libra was rising, and the Moon and Venus were in a favorable trine aspect, indicating better than average relations between this pope and women.

His true power may stem from the way in which he has come to compassionately know, hopefully accept, understand, and outgrow his contradictions as he helps millions of his followers navigate contradictions of their own.

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