Insofar as the astrology of spirituality is concerned, I’ve already demonstrated that by examining the significators of spirituality in a nativity, we can determine a spiritual style that enables us better to engage with the native in terms of describing matters of ultimate concern. To remind those keeping score at home, the primary significators we should take into account to determine this are the house and sign placement of Jupiter, the Moon, and the 9th house cusp and its ruler—from there, we simply apply the basic rules of delineation, that is, looking at the position, condition, motion, and relationships of those three significators. Easy-peasy, right?
As always though, nativities are quite the animal, and I realized that a person’s religiosity or spirituality may either shift over time or they, like St Paul, might find themselves knocked off their high horse. With that in mind I began to wonder whether we might be able to determine some kind of signification of spiritual “transformations” in the chart, whether in the nativity or via progressions or profections. By “transformation” I mean sudden moments in the native’s life where they have some kind of experience of the transcendent that will not leave them after the experience is over. We might call this a mystical experience, or perhaps a conversion.
Even then, a distinction must be made between a mystical experience, a conversion that happens as a result of enthusiastic fervor, or a conversion that happens as a result of someone being logicked into their present religious tradition (which is a curious feature of Western modalities of protestant Christianity, and one which I have a certain amount of animus towards). We might also include near death experiences (NDEs) or other mind-bending psychic or psionic phenomena in this large umbrella category, since such things fall in the demesne of things ruled by the ninth house.
NB: I have a suspicion that many modern astrologers prefer to put ~spiritual transformation~ in the twelfth house. I will do no such thing, because the twelfth house is that which is not visible to the native, and furthermore it’s the joy of Saturn, which is one of the significators of rationalism. I think there’s more to be said here but let’s just leave it at that for now.
This chart belongs to a native who reported that, in the summer of 2018 while traveling abroad, they had a near death experience that resulted in something of a spiritual transformation, by which the native meant that they had a newfound sense of identity and purpose as a result of undergoing this trial. The native’s narrative reminded me of the phenomenon of “shaman sickness,” wherein those who are undergoing some form of shamanic initiation go through a debilitating physiological and spiritual illness en route to their awakening as someone who has a foot in either world.
We see first the prominently placed Sun/Mercury cazimi. It’s just over five degrees above the ascendant, but I am going to lean on Lilly and call this a first-house Sun/Mercury cazimi. This is the inferior cazimi as well, as Mercury is retrograde, and therefore is at the very beginning of his cycle and is being symbolically reborn in the heart of the Sun. I imagine there’s something of Mercury cazimi in Capricorn that is richly iconographic of Mercury’s role as psychopomp, since here he is, being reborn in the house of the dead (Capricorn) and closely connected to the focal point of the native’s chart. We also need to note that the Moon’s very next aspect, beyond crossing the Part of Fortune, is her application to the trine of Mercury, having separated from the trine of Venus prior to entering Taurus. Yet there’s quite a bit of distance between the Moon and her perfection of Mercury—when she closes that gap, she’ll be just a few degrees shy of the 4th house cusp.
Mercury also rules the fifth and eighth houses in this chart, and Jupiter is placed in the eighth. Jupiter himself is in Libra, not terrifically dignified but strengthened mightily by his mutual sign reception with Venus, who rules the fourth (the ancestors and the grave) as well as our main house under consideration, the 9th. Jupiter and Venus support each other in accomplishing what it is they desire to make happen. Likewise, Jupiter applies to Saturn by sextile, which is also received (in this instance by exaltation), so this eighth house Jupiter has quite a bit of support both from his exchange with Venus and the willingness Saturn has to listen to him—and as a planet placed in the eighth house, Jupiter needs all the help he can get.
Yet we must consider that Venus, our 9th ruler here, is placed at the cusp of the 12th house. It’s likely that the native will experience their spirituality as needing to go beyond the everyday and will find that particular path as isolating as it is beautifully fulfilling. Added on to Jupiter’s placement in the house associated with death and debt, it’s a fair guess that death will be something significant in this native’s experience of spirituality. I’m not saying that the native necessarily needs to be a funeral director or get used to being around death, but their relationship with mortality is certainly going to be a direct route into spiritual growth for them.
With all that in view, let’s look at the fact that the native had a near death experience in the summer of 2018 that resulted in a newfound spiritual awakening. I’m interested in seeing whether we might have been able to predict that from the nativity, or whether it was a result of ever-present chaos. So! Let’s look at the solar return, the profection year, the transits, and the secondary progressions to determine if there’s any signification that might have clued us into what manifested for this individual.
Example 8.a: Solar Return & Profection
The native turned 61 years old on 10 January 2018. The near-death experience occurred around Sunday, June 24th, 2018 while the native was on a trip in the Mediterranean. This means that the native was in a 2nd house profection year, which in the native’s case means that it is a Jupiter year. In the Solar return, Jupiter is in Scorpio near the 11th house cusp, with the Moon applying to the conjunction to Jupiter (by way of the trine of Neptune). Of course, one of the major transits in 2018 was Jupiter’s retrogression and trine to Neptune prior to stationing direct and applying to the sextile of Pluto. Right off the bat, we’ve got a lot of Jupiter-type things happening, and Jupiter’s natal position in the eighth house is going to draw eighth house significations into the native’s subjective experience of the unfolding year, inclusive of the transits to Neptune and Pluto.
Example 8.b: Transits at time of NDE
At the time of the native’s near-death experience, a number of things were happening: first, we see that Neptune had, at this point, crossed over the natal 2nd cusp, which, because it’s a 2nd house profection year, is functioning symbolically as the native’s ascendant. Let’s begin by considering that Venus in Leo as the natal 9th ruler is applying to the square of time lord Jupiter in the 9th by transit. Again: Venus is the natal 4th ruler. Because this aspect is between benefics, we wouldn’t expect it to be as deathly as we might otherwise surmise. But is a square between Venus and Jupiter enough to presage a brush with death? I’m not convinced.
Those of us who practice traditional astrology tend to treat all three outer planets as functional malefics if we use them at all, and Neptune is no different. Likewise, we have Pluto, who has been floating back and forth over the natal Sun and Mercury cazimi for several years now, applying to the conjunction of that same cazimi.
We also have Jupiter separating from the trine of Neptune by transit, himself also retrograde and in the 9th. With Neptune dissolving the symbolic ascendant for the year and the time lord engaging with that outer malefic by trine while Pluto is throwing gasoline on the fire of the natal Sun/Mercury cazimi, this looks like a pileup that will signify some kind of spiritual engagement with dissolution of the body and energetic intensity (which, frankly, describes what we might expect a classic NDE to look like). But I’m still not sure if the stack of testimonies we have now would lead us to be able to predict something like what the native endured. So, let’s look at the secondary progressions as well, just for kicks.
Example 8.c: Secondary Progressions at time of NDE
The main thing that draws my attention in the secondary progression chart is the secondary progression of the natal eighth ruler Mercury to the cusp of the 2nd house, which, of course, is functioning symbolically as the ascendant during this year of the native’s life. Mercury in Pisces is… not so great. (“O Death, be not proud!”) A brush with death seems symbolically apt here, but to be frank I’m not actually sure if there’s a precedent for using profections and secondary progressions simultaneously in delineating a single testimony to an event that’s happening in the native’s life. Big if true, in other words.
We also see that the Midheaven degree is coming up quickly on the natal Mercury/Sun cazimi, and since the MC is in a sign of short ascension at the time of this event by secondary progression, this will conjoin and complete within the year, I imagine. The native’s public persona is being significantly colored by importing the significations of the Mercury/Sun cazimi by secondary progression—that is, what I spoke to before, viz. Mercury’s moment of rebirth, becomes part of how this individual’s life story impacts the world around them and how they are seen by others. I would also note that the Moon’s relationship to Saturn in the secondary progressed chart is significant insofar as Saturn is the ruler of the native’s 12th and 1st houses; there’s something here that we might want to put a pin in for further exploration, but I don’t think it’s as significant in terms of the present conversation.
What this exploration has shown is that deeply transformative spiritual or transpersonal experiences can be demonstrated through predictive techniques applied to the natal chart, and the astute practitioner will be able to look at such factors and say, “oh, hey, keep an eye out in June.” I’m not confident that a practioner would be able to say that the form of such an experience would necessarily be a near-death experience, and frankly, I would like to have seen more support for such an event through transits involving the fourth and eighth rulers more clearly, but the secondary progression remains significant.
I’m honestly interested, too, if the practice of looking at progressions to the profected ascendant is a defensible practice—there remains work yet to be done, as ever. I’ll be back soon with another judgment of a similar experience to continue to build out the factors we might consider in order to arrive at predictions of Damascus Road experiences such as the one this native underwent. That said, I’m content leaving a certain amount of agency to the wiles of chaos—and, I suppose, to the Divine itself. The bigger purpose here, I think, is to be able to see something like this coming down the pipe and grease the cogs so that the native doesn’t get completely blown away by it. Some of us are better equipped to handle these kinds of events than others, and I suppose that we’d employ a judgment on similar astrological factors to determine how well a person might be able to adapt to the wisdom such crises render.
Featured image by Viviana Rishe via Unsplash