The Triple Conjunction of Jupiter, Neptune and Chiron
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With the triple conjunction of Jupiter, Neptune and Chiron at present squaring my natal moon in Taurus, I’ve had a strong personal interest in investigating its significance. A breakthrough came when I attended the Astrology and Healing seminar at the Astrological Lodge of London in June, where Melanie Reinhart was speaking. She had checked the frequency of this conjunction over the last thousand years, and to her surprise discovered it had only happened three times – 1114 in Virgo, 1881 in Taurus and 1945 in Libra - and concluded that the extreme elliptical orbit of Chiron must be the explanation. I was then more keen than ever to unravel its themes, its rarity making it a very special event. So I went to bed mulling over what the dates 1115, 1881 and 1945 had in common, and in my sleep the answer came – the re-emergence of ancient wisdom!
In 1099 the Norman knight Hugh de Payens, together with eight other knights who had just returned from the first crusade, requested the right to create a base at the Temple in Jerusalem to protect Christian pilgrims. This was granted by the Pope, however the knights had a hidden agenda. They were interested in the treasure rumoured to lie buried beneath the Temple, and, as soon as they’d moved in, began excavating beneath their quarters. This was around the year 1115.
And it seems they were successful. What they found was not gold and jewels but something far more precious – a cache of ancient scrolls that scholars today presume was buried there shortly before the temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 66. The manuscripts included a number of apocryphal gospels not contained in the New Testament deriving from the Essenes, as well as scrolls containing ancient mathematical and geometrical knowledge, sea maps of the Phoenicians, and works by Plato and Hermes Trismegistus.
The scrolls were taken to a priest named Lambert of St Omer to be translated. We know this happened before 1120 because a drawing survives, dating from that year, showing information contained in the Heavenly Jerusalem Scroll that was couched in symbols later to be used by the Freemasons. Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight, who investigated the links between the Templars and Freemasonry, have no doubt that this scroll was found under the temple in Jerusalem.(1) Another copy of the Heavenly Jerusalem manuscript was discovered eight hundred years later in that famous cave beside the Dead Sea.
Hugh de Payens and his knights soon realised they were in possession of highly inflammable material that threatened the theological edifice of the Church. Because the scrolls contained Gnostic teachings that contradicted the central tenet of Christianity - that Jesus died on the cross to save our souls. They even suggested he was not a historical figure at all, but a mythical, sacrificial god-man like Osiris or Mithras, or the fertility gods of the nature religions.(2) The scrolls were political dynamite!
The Nag Hammadi library was discovered in 1945 in a cave near the Essene town of Qumran on the Dead Sea – note the date! (In some places April 1947 is given for their discovery, but this is when they fell into the hands of the authorities.) Being now familiar with some of the contents of these manuscripts, we can guess the contents of that first cache discovered by the Templars. Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy believe that the Essenes, a Jewish Gnostic sect, active between 134 BCE and the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, hid the manuscripts at both sites. Their book Jesus and the Goddess (3) makes a case for Christianity deriving from Gnostic beliefs and practices as late as the third century, whereas the Church has taught that Gnosticism was an aberrant, heretical branch of early Christianity. So the triple conjunction of 1114 could have coincided with the first re-emergence of what is known as ‘the perennial philosophy’, and the conjunction of 1945 with a second re-emergence following the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.
What the knights found beneath the temple profoundly changed their lives, and produced in many a spiritual awakening. As a result they formed the Templar brotherhood in 1119. Many started living in monastic communities with strict ascetic rules, reminiscent of the ancient Pythagorean communities, and they founded churches and hospitals. The Hospitallers were a branch of their order, the first Hospitaller infirmary having been established near the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to care for sick and injured pilgrims. (Chiron, we remember, is part of the equation.) And the brotherhood also became very rich very suddenly, suggesting that they may have used their secret knowledge to blackmail the Pope and the Church.
However, although at first they prospered, they were playing a dangerous game. Their rituals diverged from official Christian forms of worship, and their beliefs were blasphemous. For example they practised rituals involving the death and resurrection of initiates, and are said to have worshipped the Earth Goddess and Nature’s fertility gods, as in the ancient mystery schools of Egypt and Greece. So did they manage to keep their heresies secret, or were these goings-on tolerated by the Church out of a fear that the Templars would divulge the secrets of the scrolls?
By the end of the 13th century, however, their knowledge had became powerless to protect them further, and Philip of France banded together with Pope Clement V to wipe them them. The massacre occurred in 1305. Their properties were confiscated and their Grand Master, Jaques Moloy, was crucified. But the perennial wisdom of the Gnostics lived on to re-emerge in the 17th century, and inspire the formation of the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross and the Freemasons - both groups appropriated Templar symbols. In 1615, under a Jupiter-Neptune conjunction in Virgo, trine Chiron in Capricorn, a pamphlet was published calling on people to join the Rosicrucians., which was followed by The Chemical Wedding’ – a 17th century bestseller. A Rosicrucian fever broke out all over Europe, and hundreds joined the movement (the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction signifies religious euphoria). Like the Templars 500 years earlier, many experienced spiritual conversion and renewal. The Freemason brotherhood began to gain popularity later in the 1640’s, and they also required their initiates to experience rituals of death and rebirth in Gnostic fashion.
And so we come to the triple conjunction of 1881, which again brought an expansion of spiritual experience. Knowledge of Hinduism and Buddhism, and mystical Eastern philosophy, was being publicised in the West by the theosophists. The date of the triple conjunction, 1881, lies between the publication of Blavatsky’s Isis Unveiled in 1877, and her The Secret Doctrine in 1888, in which she describes an ancient wisdom tradition underlying all the world religions – in other words Gnosticism. Incidentally in 1881 the first Vatican archives were opened to scholars for the first time.
The triple conjunction of 1945, as we have seen, manifested in the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, which was as threatening to the Vatican as the Templar’s earlier find. In The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception(4), Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh claim the Vatican held back 75% of the manuscripts from the cache for over forty years, and called this ‘the academic scandal par excellence of the twentieth century’ .
The period around 1945 also coincided with C.G. Jung’s promotion of Gnosticism through his publications on alchemy. He had been interested in the Gnostics since 1916, when he channelled his Seven Sermons to the Dead(5). from the 2nd century Gnostic Basilides – or so he claims. It was his prediction that the feminine form of Gnostic wisdom, called Sophia, would re-enter modern Western culture by way of depth-psychology. In 1944, he published his major work Psychology and Alchemy(6) in which he describes the transmutational process by which the impure soul (lead) becomes the perfected soul (gold), and presents it as a metaphor for individuation. Following in the Gnostic tradition, Jung saw spirituality as a process of inner transformation - a journey to meet the Self and at the same time to meet the Divine. As in Buddhism the goal of spiritual practices was therefore not to be ‘saved’ and to go to heaven, but to become a Buddha or Christ.
So what can we say about the 2009 triple conjunction? The powerful teachings of conventional Christianity, that have moulded the spiritual life of the West for 2000 years, seem to be losing their hold on the collective psyche. Churches are being sold off, and congregations are falling in Britain and western Europe at a rate unimaginable in 1945. And as the narrow, intolerant form Christianity declines, its Gnostic roots are revealed, and we see the perennial wisdom re-emerging. It informs the teaching of the Indian mystic Osho (1931-1989) which has brought experiences of spiritual transformation to thousands of people in countries all over the world.(7)And it is found in the teaching of Eckart Tolle, which is very close to that of Osho. He was invited onto Oprah Winfrey’s TV show in 2008, and in a series of broadcasts explained his teachings, and gave viewers an taste of meditation. Several million people all over the world tuned into this series via skype.
In the last ten years there has been a spate of popular books and TV programmes that challenge conventional Christianity. For example Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code,(8) which contains the heretical view that Jesus did not die on the cross but fled to France with his bride Mary Magdalene, sold 60.5 million copies. It has provoked wide interest in the feminine side of Christianity - the Gnostic Sophia - as well as in Templar churches such as Rosslyn, and the mystical dimension of geometry as evidenced in the pentagram layout of the landscape around Rennes-le-Chateau. Most of the books I reference at the end of this article were written in the last ten years for a mass readership. They are sold at stations and on airport book stalls, and have created a fascination in the wider population for heretical religious ideas and theories about ancient mysteries.
So the collective spiritual revisioning is happening again in 2009. However, there is a darker side to the conjunction of Jupiter, Neptune and Chiron, as revelation and awakening seems to go hand in hand with wide-scale human suffering. The Peasant’s Crusade, that preceded the 1115 conjunction, was triggered by an epidemic of religious fervour that led 80,000 people to leave their homes mostly ill prepared, to march to the Holy Land. Most of them were massacred by the Turks, or died by the roadside of starvation and exposure. And the spiritual awakening of the Templars led to their cruel extermination. It was in 1881, after most of the native American population had been massacred, that Chief Sitting Bull finally surrendered to the American forces. At the same time the First Boer War was raging in South Africa. And then the year 1945 was a time of immense suffering in Europe. The second world war came to an end with the destruction of all the major German cities, leaving huge refugee problems that continued long after the cessation of hostilities. And in 1945 the Nazi concentration camps were opened up, and the world was presented with the first horrific images of the terrible suffering of their inmates
When we think of our present triple conjunction in connection with mass suffering, we note that it was preceded by 9:11 and the war in Iraq which has taken an enormous death toll. And at present there are huge refugee problems in Pakistan, and in Somalia where a human tragedy is unfolding. Hundreds are dying of starvation in makeshift refugee camps, and the supplies sent by relief organisations are being siphoned off and sold by unscrupulous traders.
Thus mass suffering, which is Neptune subject matter, can be magnified by Jupiter to national disaster scale. However, when Chiron, the wounded healer, joins them in a triple conjunction, a well of compassion opens up. Chiron inspired the building of the Hospitaller infirmaries following the 1115 conjunction, and in 1881 the American Red Cross was founded to offer disaster relief to populations in urgent need of medical care and supplies. This was the forerunner of the British Red Cross, founded in 1905. In 1945 when Labour won the general election, Atlee was voted into power on the promise of the establishment of a National Health Service, free to all. This was consequently established in 1948. However, in 2009 we are facing a major crisis in our National Health system, and a revisioning is urgently needed.
So under the present triple conjunction we see a dramatic shift taking place in collective spiritual attitudes, and the re- emergence of ancient spiritual wisdom. This, however, is accompanied by the suffering caused by the threatened collapse of the world economy, and a loss of confidence in major institutions and in the integrity of those who govern us. What will the aftermath of the 2009 triple conjunction bring? These are momentous times indeed.
Phoebe Wyss 2009
(1) Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight The Hiram Key 1996
(2) Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy The Jesus Mysteries 1999
(3) Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy Jesus and the Goddess: the Secret Teachings of the Original Christians 2002
(4) Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception 1991
(5) C.G. Jung Seven Sermons to the Dead 1916
(6) C.G.Jung Psychology and Alchemy 1944
(7) See www.osho.com
(8) Dan Brown The Da Vinci Code 2003
Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent The Temple and the Lodge 1992
Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail 1996