Lots of opinions
As many as there are minds
But only one truth?
copyright Francis Barker 2020
copyright Francis Barker 2020
Today marks 502 years since the German monk, Martin Luther, one of the prime movers in the Reformation of Christianity, apparently nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg church of All Saints.
In those days the Electorate of Saxony, in which the city of Wittenberg lay, was part of the sprawling Holy Roman Empire, of which, what we now know as Germany, was wholly contained, though it was not a unified country but a hotchpotch collection of smaller states and city states.
Martin Luther, who had long agonised about his own faith, was dismayed by the growing sale of indulgences, and especially the spread of this practice to his homeland of Germany.
For a tidy sum, an indulgence could reduce or cancel your time in purgatory. The funds from the sale of indulgences were to be used for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
This may have been the final straw which led Luther to publicly portray his strong misgivings about the religion in which he was so deeply immersed.
The stone which Martin Luther dropped into the lake of faith that day has continued to ripple ever since – an action which was demonstrably epoch making.
copyright Francis Barker 2019
The Gothic fan vaulting at the east end of the cathedral is remarkable.
The cathedral also has three notable shrines to saints. The one above is Saint Oswald’s chapel, an old English saint, whose remains (reputedly an arm) were brought here.
There is also a shrine to Saint Benedict with a beautiful wood carving at the entrance. Peterborough Cathedral is in fact the Abbey church of the former Benedictine Abbey, dissolved by Henry VIII when he became head of the Church of England.
Most interestingly, there is a shrine to three old English (Anglo-Saxon) saints, Kyneburgha, Kyneswitha (spelling varies) and Tibba, unusual but fascinating names of a largely forgotten era.
The spacious choir has some wonderful wood carving.
words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019
The long nave is quite stunning, with a beautiful roof and with a modern golden image of Christ suspended high as a focal point.
The cathedral is dominated by Norman and early English architecture, with numerous examples of Norman arches, such as these interlacing examples above.
The cathedral is also notable for its association with two famous queens.
The first was Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England when she was married to Henry VIII. Catherine was buried here in 1536 and her tomb is still something of a shrine to her memory, with pomegranates very prominent as her symbol because the fruit appears on her badge. Pomegranates are an ancient symbol for fecundity and regeneration.
Catherine certainly suffered much during her husband’s long and protracted break with Rome, in which she was the innocent victim, her only crime it would seem was not being able to produce a living male heir for Henry to perpetuate the Tudor dynasty. This was how she was treated after being completely dutiful to the king, but Henry had to have his way. Her motto, which translates as ‘humble and loyal’, is a phrase she very much lived up to.
The second queen associated with Peterborough Cathedral is Mary Queen of Scots.
Mary inherited the Scottish throne after only a few days of being born, thrusting her into a world of political intrigue and shenanigans which she was never able to control.
She essentially became a pawn of more powerful rulers and some despicable characters. However, in 1559 she duly became Queen Consort to Francis II of France, solidifying Scotland’s long alliance with France.
Sadly within 18 months the young kind died prematurely. Had he lived, Mary’s life would have turned out entirely differently. As it was, she became a teenage widow and a long series of political and personal disasters ensued when she returned to Scotland. Eventually she fled to England and came under Elizabeth’s control.
After many years’ imprisonment in England, during which the still substantial Catholic faction within England with aid from Spain continually conspired to depose Elizabeth and put Mary on the English throne, she was finally executed at nearby Fotheringhay Castle in 1587.
She was initially buried in Peterborough Cathedral, but her son, James I of England, had her remains transferred to Westminster Abbey in London.
words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019
He could not be called a true politician in the modern sense of the word, but proceeded always with extreme caution and wisdom. Perhaps this is how he, and Elizabeth, usually avoided danger.
So what made him tick, astrologically speaking?
I was not at all surprised to find that this very careful and deliberate man had Capricorn rising. Not only that, his ruling planet, Saturn, is found in Capricorn (its own sign) in house 1 (approach/personality), in good aspect to a Sun in Libra in house 10 (career) and also to Venus in Virgo (love of detail, method) in house 9 (higher mind).
So here we see a courteous, though cautious, calculating, highly responsible and dutiful person but with also a high degree of ambition, with the patience and prudence to reach the top, regardless of time. He did indeed reach the top, both politically and academically, being also a principal individual at Cambridge university.
Not only that, his Moon also in Libra in house 10 indicates his natural, innate sense of courtesy and diplomacy, put to good use in his career.
He would tend to see both sides of any argument to the nth degree and come the most reasoned, conservative solution possible, in an attempt not to offend anyone.
I am quite sure that at times he would have come across as a tiresome person, and if Shakespeare is to be believed, where in the play ‘Hamlet’ the character of Polonius is thought by some to be a kind of caricature of Cecil, then the ‘tedium’ of his personality might have become quite legendary or notorious at Elizabeth’s court.
Saturn’s difficult aspect to Mercury in house 10 might have only added even more weight to the mental caution (fussiness), a primary trait of Polonius, exhibited throughout the play ‘Hamlet’.
His Moon is also square Mars in Cancer in house 7, indicating that diplomatic and marital affairs were often difficult and emotional to deal with and would have caused much emotional disturbance for him.
So if his well developed house 10 implies success in his political and diplomatic ambitions, Jupiter close to his midheaven puts the seal on this, aided by supportive aspects from Venus and Mars.
However, Jupiter is also closely opposed by Uranus hovering around the nadir (bottom angle) of the chart, indicating, I am sure, some of the horrific decisions and sudden changes he had to make working with his queen, namely dealing with the ups and downs regarding Mary Queen of Scots, her eventual execution, the Spanish Armada, and all the secrecy, intrigue and espionage involved throughout her tumultuous reign. His home and family life would also have been deeply affected.
Nevertheless, the good aspects from this tight opposition to Venus in Virgo in house 9, I am sure, would have led him to find an easy release of this tension and upheaval through greater involvement in his love of detail and efficiency, something in which he excelled.
*If you are interested in getting your own astrological report, or would like one created for a loved one or a friend, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019
She became Queen after the attempt to install the unfortunate Protestant Lady Jane Grey on the throne failed.
Mary proceeded to turn England back to the Catholic faith, a religion which was, however, still very much ingrained in most of English society, particularly in the shires and in the north.
What does her birth chart reveal?
We must remember, especially in the days of absolute monarchism, that the ruler’s influence was all pervasive and so their personality (birth chart) would have imposed itself upon the character of the country.
When she was born Capricorn was rising with Mars and Pluto close by on either side of the ascending degree.
In many ways, this symbolises her reputation as ‘Bloody Mary’, Mars (representing fire) rising in Capricorn suggests a powerfully autocratic and rather conservative personality and with Pluto working in tandem, she wasn’t afraid of implementing drastic changes, even if they were ‘reactionary’ in nature, namely the burning of over 300 Protestant martyrs.
What we must remember is that even though her father Henry VIII broke with the church of Rome, he remained essentially a Catholic.
Her brother’s rule over the ensuing six years did see a full blown attempt to make England a Protestant country – but it was only six years. As said earlier, most of the country would have probably welcomed a reversion to the old faith, at least at the beginning of her reign.
Mary’s ruling planet was Saturn and was found in Sagittarius (sign of religion) in house 12 (inner life), in good aspect to a Mercury (mind) Neptune (spirituality) conjunction in Aquarius.
Mary had this sense of spiritual sensitivity ingrained within her mentality and obviously had a very intimate connection to the numinous, quite clearly inherited from her mother, Catherine of Aragon, the former queen.
To strongly underline this, she was a Sun Piscean too, with Venus also in that sign in house 3 (also mind). She was highly sensitive and impressionable with an instinctive love of deeper, spiritual, ritualistic things which she liked to talk about and to simply be around.
However, most importantly, she was born at the exact time of the full Moon, which was found in Virgo in house 9. Here is an essential dichotomy in her nature.
Her deeply spiritual essence was at odds with her naturally fastidious manner, a strong tendency to be critical and to analyse.
This must have made her a very difficult person to deal with at times and this must have contributed to her increasing unpopularity among her underlings and the people at large at the reign went on.
One of the most controversial things she did was to marry King Philip II of Spain, another staunchly Catholic monarch ten years her junior, which brought England very strongly under the influence of this great emerging world power.
Many thought that this would undermine England’s independence, but Mary would have seen this a natural consequence of the marriage, which, had she lived another fifteen years, might well have guaranteed England’s future under what she would see as the wing of Catholicism.
Looking at Mary’s house 7 of marriage, she has an exalted Jupiter (but retrograde) in Cancer in good aspect to the tension created by her Sun and Moon opposition. This hints at good opportunities through marriage and alliance.
Here we can perhaps see symbolised a way out of her predicament of being one of the first female monarchs, with Jupiter representing an opportunity through marriage not only to secure her throne because of her apparent inability to deal with the situation she was in, but to also produce a Catholic heir and secure the faith within the country.
Sadly for her, none of this came to fruition. With Jupiter retrograde, she was only ever likely to ‘succeed’ inwardly in some more roundabout or spiritually satisfying way, not in the grand manner of marrying the most powerful man in the world at that time.
Her reign lasted just five years and with the accession of her canny sister, Elizabeth, England began the long, slow road to becoming a truly protestant nation.
copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019
Today in 1610, King Henry the Fourth of France was assassinated.
Henri, although baptised as a Catholic, was brought up as a Protestant. Due to the inflammatory religious situation in France and his background, he was at times considered an enemy by both Catholics and Protestants alike. As a result, there were many previous assassination attempts.
Despite often being unpopular during his reign, he was nevertheless considered a successful king, in economic, cultural, military and diplomatic terms, but only achieved his current status as a great king posthumously, when a virtual cult arose in his memory.
He was assassinated on May 14 1610 by a fanatic called Ravaillac in the Rue de la Ferronnerie, Paris.
I am not a Catholic, yet, somehow our culture seemed to be somewhat lessened by their disappearance during the Reformation.
I think we lost more than just colour and ceremony in our lives at the time; these events seriously hastened in the modern materialistic world, which despite its obvious benefits, has stripped us of all our innocence now.
Just like the monasteries, creators and supporters of communities, were dissolved and stripped of all their wealth which was then reduced to its base monetary value, we too over time seem to have been stripped to the core, spiritually.
That’s how I feel. I’m not saying I wish to convert – there are reasons why I would not – but we need to reclaim something from our past, to move one step back, if you will, before we can go two forward.
Sure it was a long time ago, I’ve never known anything different from bare stone and whitewashed walls – but just think how colourful our English churches once were, how rich the lives of the faithful must have been.
copyright Leo F. Tanner 2019