One of the many wonderful things about astrology is that it provides a structure of understanding that covers the vast complexity and variety of human character and experience.
There may only be 10 planets and 12 signs and houses but the fact that each planet has completely different orbits means that every combination made is unique, never to be repeated.
Not only does astrology enable us to understand all these different expressions of humanity, it also gives us a genuine opportunity to see them all as both important and equal. This is an achievement that no other subject can possibly match.
Without astrology we are just left with an analysis of human behaviour that is basically down to goodies or baddies.
People might well say that it would be a dull old world if we were all the same, but their assessments fairly quickly veer down the path of right or wrong. And in the end this notion of right or wrong seems to fit pretty neatly into those whose views and behaviour agree or disagree with their own.
This assignation of good and bad is not just applied to people that we have first hand experience of, it works throughout history.
We are all quite prepared to hold conveniently packaged opinions about whether a figure from the past was a right or wrong ‘un, usually based on a couple of facts that we’ve picked up about them.
The period between 1066 and 1485 is a pretty dead one for the average person’s knowledge of English history. Between the Norman Conquest and when the Tudors started chopping up their wives, nothing much happened, its was just full of Plantagenets.
However the one thing that everyone would agree on was that King John was a classic baddie.
We are certain of this despite the research that suggests that John was pretty mild compared with all the other Plantagenets who ruled for 300 odd years. In fact his brother and predecessor Richard was a violent psychopath who spent his whole reign ignoring his own country and murdering people on mass throughout Europe and the Middle East because he was convinced it would get him into heaven.
It could well be that future Islamic terrorists picked up this idea from their 12th century tormentor. But would Richard be seen as the cause of the modern day ISIS ? Unlikely because he had a Leo Ascendant, Richard was seen as the Lionheart.
What we do all know was that younger brother John was a greedy, vicious king who taxed all his subjects, both rich and poor until they squealed. We know this because we’ve all seen the Robin Hood films.
Of course at the time there were no offshore tax havens to be exploited, so even the wealthy barons, who were the 13th century version of Starbucks, had to comply. Not like our current enlightened times when its only the poor that have to pay tax.
King John’s approach to the monarchy’s absolute power was a simple one, you either use it or lose it.
So the results of John trying to squeeze the country dry were inevitable, the good barons Amazon and Google forced him to sign the Magna Carta, the first legal document in history that placed limits on the power of the monarch.
So what would astrology have to say about all this ?
One of the interesting things about a person’s chart is that it not only describes their essential character but also how they will be seen by others and even portrayed throughout history.
It is true that some signs get a much worse press than others. Much in the way that Richard’s Leo Ascendant would allow him to get away with mass murder but still be seen as a ‘ good ‘ king, John’s Capricorn Sun would automatically have him down as a baddie.
Even with the Sun conjunct Neptune, he is more likely to be seen as deluded or deranged than spiritual because of his Sun sign. There is also something particular abut the 10th degree of Capricorn that even persuaded J K Rowling to choose it as the birthdate for Lord Voldemort – see Harry Potter and the Mutable Grand Cross.
Of course Capricorn Research exists mainly to undermine such Sun sign stereotyping. In fact so much more of the mood and behaviour of a character is gleaned from an understanding of the placings of the Moon and Mars in their chart. King John had a particularly difficult combination.
We all know that Capricorns, even if not all baddies are inclined to have a materialistic view of things. This does not always mean they are obsessed with money and status, but if they have the Moon in Taurus as well that tends to add to this picture.
The one sign that is most devoted to money is Taurus, and the Moon in a chart indicates the direction we will go in order to feel more secure.
John’s Moon is in Taurus in the 11th house of political ideals, so its understandable that his fundamental principle would be to extract as much money from everyone as physically possible.
This Moon is in extremely close opposition ( about half a degree ) to Mars in Scorpio, which adds a vicious and ruthless streak and a determination to get his own way no matter how low he had to sink.
Mars is also in the 5th house which may go some way to explaining the little known fact that John was a lecherous bastard as well. Besides making them cough up all the readies, a major reason for the barons bringing him to account was that he had affairs with most of their wives.
So its this opposition between the Moon and Mars that accounts for most of John’s behaviour and subsequent press. But perhaps the most interesting thing is that this opposition projects onto a T Square.
As regular readers know, the T Square is Capricorn Research’s favourite aspect pattern.
It may well be that the Sun, Moon and Ascendant will give you a great insight into a person’s character, but the direction that they have to go in life will be shown by the apex planet of a T Square if there is one. And its often that this direction will describe the achievements that they make in life, even if these are ones that are forced on them rather than intended.
The two planets in opposition will show the tensions that generate the energy needed, but the apex planet will show what this energy will produce.
So how to understand an extremely close T Square that is based on a ruthless, money obsessed Moon in Taurus opposite Mars in Scorpio but projects onto an exact noble and idealistic Venus / Jupiter conjunction in Aquarius ?
We simply come back to the one fact that every school kid knows about King John, that he was forced to sign the Magna Carta.
The famous clauses of Magna Carta are “No free man is to be arrested, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any other way ruined, nor will we go against him or send against him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.” And, “to no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or justice.”
Jupiter has strong connections with the law and Aquarius obviously with equality, so the Venus / Jupiter conjunction in this sign is clearly the signing of the Magna Carta.
The T Square says it all really. Historians will generally fall over themselves to come up with a view of the past that noone else has previously thought of, but in John’s case there is a strong general consensus.
Richard’s adopting the Attila the Hun approach to international diplomacy meant that England owned most of France and his kingdom stretched as far as the Pyrenees by the time he died. This was obviously enough to endow the Lionheart with his heroic and all round ‘ good king ‘ status in perpetuity.
John, being a useless Capricorn, managed to lose about 80 % of these lands within a decade or so. The general agreement was that it was this humiliation and the overwhelming desire to get some of France back that forced John to tax his subjects to the hilt. Equally this was what gave the barons the leverage to make him sign the Magna Carta.
Its all so beautifully described in the T Square. Mars’ opposition to the Moon would point to his failure as a military leader.
The opposition points to an apex Venus / Jupiter in the 8th house, which is the place of other people’s money, so its the desire to raise taxes due to military incompetence that forces him to sign the Magna Carta.
So where do transits fit into all of this ? The peak of John’s reign really came at the end of it.
After a disastrous French campaign where he was forced to sign a peace treaty formalising his territorial losses, he returned to England to meet serious opposition from the barons in 1215. They organised an “Army of God” and marched on London, taking the capital as well as Lincoln and Exeter. This forced John in June of that year to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede near Windsor.
At the time the most important clauses were the ones that guaranteed the freedom of the English Church and the city of London and placed heavy limits on the king’s ability to exploit his feudal prerogatives and extort his barons.
A council of twenty-five barons would be created to monitor and ensure John’s future adherence to the charter, whilst the rebel army would stand down and London would be surrendered to the king.
Neither John nor the rebel barons seriously attempted to implement the peace accord. The barons knew that council would be unacceptable to John and that he would challenge the legality of the charter so they refused to surrender London as agreed.
John appealed to the Pope for help, who excommunicated the rebel barons. The failure of the agreement led to a civil war.
In 1216 the barons invited Prince Louis of France to lead them. Louis had a claim to the English throne through marriage. Louis landed in England in May 1216 and by the end of the summer held the whole of the south east.
In September 1216 in an attempt to regain East Anglia, John contracted dysentery and most of his belongings, including the Crown Jewels, were lost in quicksand as he crossed one of the tidal estuaries which empties into the Wash.
John died as a result of his illnesses in October 1216.
Pluto made its only transit of John’s life to his T Square in 1215 – 16, creating a Grand Cross opposing Venus / Jupiter in Aquarius with the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 and square to his Moon in Taurus / Mars in Scorpio opposition with the civil war and his death.
Regular readers of these articles would not be surprised at all, in fact they would demand such a transit.
What about the Magna Carta itself. As we celebrate its 800th anniversary we recognise that it still appears in the top ten events of English history and is widely heralded as a ‘good thing’.
From John’s chart we have seen that it has an Aquarian flavour so we would expect to see something of that in the chart for the signing itself.
We don’t have a time for the signing but in the absence of that a noon chart generally works very well.
Interestingly we have the Sun, Moon, Ascendant, Venus and Uranus in the very first degree of their signs with the Moon, Uranus and Ascendant in the first few minutes.
The chart is obviously pointing to a completely new era in history.
The Sun at the Midheaven in Cancer obviously refers to John.
The Moon refers to the barons who had rebelled ( in Aquarius ) and taken large parts of John’s own country ( 4th house ).
The aspect between the Sun and Moon, an exact inconjunction shows the tension between them.
The Magna Carta itself has to be the revolutionary Uranus in the peaceful but legal sign of Libra, exactly conjunct the Ascendant.
The fact that Uranus casts an exact and difficult square to the Sun for John but a harmonious flowing trine to the Moon for the barons, showed who came out of it best.
Astrology is simple, there’s no need to make it complicated. Just reflect on the symbols in a sensible manner and all will be revealed.
So what do we make of it all ? Was John as is generally thought a ” bad ” king and the Magna Carta a ” good ” thing ?
The answer must be neither, they were both simply what was required by history at the time.