Although Pope Benedict XVI had talked about retiring with advancing age and declining health, people seemed surprised when he announced his decision to leave the papacy earlier this month. Are there indications in his chart that could have alerted us to his impeding departure?
The pope’s generally accepted birth data is 16 April 1927 at 4:15 AM in Marktl, Germany. His recent primary directions are quite interesting. Using the Placidus key of one degree equals one year after birth, his Placidus semi-arc primaries (direct and converse, with and without latitude) are as follows:
In the primary directions we see that at the start of 2102 a directed square of Mars was stressing his MC. Mars in his natal 1st house rules his head and his vitality. In March of 2012 he fell and hurt his head on his trip to Mexico, one of the factors that influenced his decision to resign. In June of 2012 his primary directed ASC came to his MC, bringing together his concerns about bodily integrity (ASC) and his career ambitions (MC). It is likely that around this time he finalized his decision to leave the papacy. In September of 2012, Mercury (ruler of the 4th of his end of life) by converse primary directed came to oppose the MC (career matters). No doubt by September he was thinking about the prospect of death and how he would spend his final days if he remained in the papacy.
In May of 2013 (after his retirement) primary directed Saturn comes to his ASC. Saturn rules his 12th of seclusion and confinement and occupies his 9th of church matters. He plans to spend his remaining days “hidden from the world,” meditating and praying in a convent. How well his stated plans match the ruler of his 12th house coming by primary direction to his natal Ascendant!
In June of 2013 the opposition of the MC comes to the Moon, which rules his 5th of love affairs and occupies his 7th of lawsuits. The natal Moon squares natal Pluto which conjoins the cusp of the 5th, suggesting the pope will be well acquainted the the darker side of sexuality. The church’s sex scandals are likely to continue to dog Benedict’s days long after his retirement to the seclusion of a convent.
If we consider his solar return for this period, we see that the sun occupies the 7th house of lawsuits in his non-precessed return and the 4th house of endings and conditions at the end of life in the precessed return.
Non-precessed solar return 2012-2013:
In the non-precessed SR currently in effect a retrograde Saturn in the 1st house suggests health problems, especially as it opposes his SR and natal Sun. The SR Moon rules the MC (the papacy) and occupies the 4th house of endings. The SR Moon conjoins the cusp of his natal 12th house of retirement and seclusion. The 12th house has also been associated with scandals and secret enemies. With the solar return Moon ruling the 10th of public office and conjoining his natal 12th of scandal, this was the year of the pope’s butler “Vatileaks” scandal. (In his natal chart the Moon occupies the 7th house of lawsuits and resides in Libra, the scales of justice.)
Benedict’s non-precessed solar return also corresponds to his Mercury return, which lays stress on retirement and final endings because Mercury rules his 4th cusp of the end of his days. Thus, the solar return year 2012-2013 becomes a period when he thinks very seriously about how he will spend the rest of his life.
In the precessed solar return for this same period, retrograde Saturn occupies his 10th house (the papacy) bringing extreme stress to his work life. His natal MC falls in the 1st house of this precessed return, again laying emphasis on the effect of his career (MC) on his vitality (ASC).
Much more could be said about these factors but these are the features that immediately stood out.
Addendum: I decided to look at his converse solar return as well. The converse precession-corrected return is quite telling:
The angles of his natal chart repeat in this return, indicating a highly significant year. Solar return Saturn, which rules his 12th of seclusion and scandal, opposes natal Pluto (major transformation) in the 5th house of love affairs (the pedophile priest scandal). Return Saturn also squares his natal Moon in the 7th of lawsuits. The natal Moon is closely square Pluto in his birth chart, as if he were destined from birth to be involved with the legal implications (Moon in 7th in Libra) of the darker side of human sexuality (Pluto in Cancer in the 5th). Pluto is the modern ruler of his solar return 9th of church affairs.
Return Mercury, which rules the 4th house of endings, closely conjoins natal Uranus (sudden endings and changes in conditions at the end of life). His natal MC (the papacy in his case) closely square return Uranus (sudden disruptions), which occupies the 1st house of vitality and bodily integrity.