Father Joseph Damien: Missionary to Lepers

Father Joseph Damien: Catholic Missionary to the Leper Colony at Molokai, Hawaii.
January 3, 1840, Tremelo, Belgium, 12:30 PM, LMT.
(Source: Speculative from Marc Penfield; and from “Le Verseau, April, 1945)
Chart speculatively adjusted to 12:25:48 PM, MDR. Died, April 15, 1888, Molokai, Hawaii.

(Proposed Ascendant, Taurus; Proposed MC and Sun in Capricorn; Moon in Sagittarius with Mercury conjunct Saturn in Sagittarius; Mars conjunct Neptune in Aquarius; Jupiter in Scorpio; Uranus in Pisces; Pluto in Aries)

damien_c2Father Damien (the Belgian Roman Catholic Priest, Joseph de Veuster) was a man who gave his life to the care of lepers in a colony at Molokai, Hawaii. He lived a life inspired by selflessness and sacrifice and his work, like that of Mother Teresa and Albert Schweitzer, stands as a radiant example to all who wish to follow in the footsteps of the Christ—“the Man for others”. The name, “Damien”, reminds of the historical Damien, friend of Pythias. Damien was a friend so loyal and so loving, that he rejoiced in the opportunity to offer his own life for the life of his friend.

Moved by the horrendous plight of the lepers of Molokai island, Father Damien (who had gone to Hawaii in 1864 for more normal pastoral work with the islanders) responded when his bishop asked if there might be any priest who would minister to the needs of the lepers. In 1873, at his own request, he was sent to the lepers’ colony on Molokai, where he labored (initially with very little help or support) until his death from leprosy.

Father Damien was a vigorous, zealous robust man, and he labored intensively and without respite to improve the quality of the lepers’ religious, cultural and ordinary life. A remarkably practical and even earthy person, he threw himself tirelessly (and often, ingeniously) into this work. He made flutes for the fingerless, held races with children that had only stumps for feet and had holes cut in the floor of St. Philomena to allow the sick to spit on the ground. He spoke the Hawaiian language. Assisted by patients, he built houses—by 1888, it is said that he and those he supervised were responsible for constructing 374 buildings on Molokai). He constructed a water system and planted trees. He also organized schools, bands, and choirs. He provided medical care for the living and buried the dead. He expanded St. Philomena Catholic Church. Not a “retiring” personality, Damien did not hesitate to badger the Hawaiian government and his church for more resources. These efforts attracted worldwide attention, resulting in a heightened awareness of the disease and the plight of its victims.

For Father Damien, his labors at Molokai were undertaken with an attitude of great trust:

“As for me, since I am coming to the leprosy settlement, I have confided to Our Lord, His Holy Mother and St. Joseph the matter of health.”

When, at length he contracted disease (reports stated that he constantly touched and comforted the lepers to meet their physical, psychological and spiritual needs, paying little attention to sanitary considerations), he thanked God, and continued his work with as much vigor as his progressively debilitating condition would allow. He refused to excuse himself from the onerous duties he had undertaken. He accepted his fate with full faith and died contented that he had performed his duty.

The name and work of Father Damien was relatively unknown during his life-time. Shortly after his death, on April 15, 1888, he was, (for unworthy political and religious reasons) accused of immorality (sexual misconduct) and his character maligned in various ways by a certain Reverend Dr. Hyde, a Protestant divine. At that time there was no established consensus about the true cause of leprosy, and it was theorized by some, that the disease was sexually transmitted—a theory proven false even in Father Damien’s day but still current and accepted by those less informed. The famous author, Robert Louis Stevenson, came to the aid of his reputation by writing an “open letter” which addressed in the strongest terms Dr. Hyde’s accusations, and bringing Father Damien to the attention of thousands who had not yet heard of his heroic service. An investigation conducted shortly after his death, exonerated Father Damien of any such misconduct.

Stevenson’s letter is an excellent source of information about Father Damien—the man. Several other sources are purely laudatory, and fail to understand the human side of this remarkable priest. While Stevenson justifiably regards Father Damien as a true hero and outstanding human being, but he does not overlook his faults, yet somehow even his imperfections (as Stevenson presents them) do credit to the man—and vilify in a manner only just, the meanness of heart of his leading critic. It is amusing to realize that the name of the Reverend Dr. Hyde was the source of the infamous character “Mr. Hyde” in Stevenson’s classic tale—Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde.

A few quotations from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Open Letter to Mr. Hyde” will reveal what no encyclopedia or academic article contains.

Now, more than a hundred years after his sacrificial death—it is said that he refused treatment for the leprosy he had contracted because it would have necessitated leaving the lepers under his care—he has been declared “blessed” by the Catholic Church, and is in the process of being declared a saint.

From the occultist’s point of view, the following statement by Stevenson says aloud, what the Tibetan Master suggests, and what student’s of Father Damien’s life have concluded—that in his most recent incarnation he was passing through the fourth degree, the “great renunciation”. It is of great interest that Stevenson, who was not a student of Theosophy (as far as the author knows), used exactly the words by which occultists designate this most demanding initiation. In the following except, Stevenson, who visited the place for one week, compares the relative cleanliness of the present Molokai Village with the condition of the place when Father Damien first arrived:

“And observe: that which I saw and suffered from was a settlement purged, bettered, beautified; the new village built, the hospital and the Bishop-Home excellently arranged; the sisters, the poctor, and the missionaries, all indefatigable in their noble tasks. It was a different place when Damien came there and made this great renunciation [bolding, MDR] and slept that first night under a tree amidst his rotting brethren: alone with pestilence; and looking forward (with what courage, with what pitiful sinkings of dread, God only knows) to a lifetime of dressing sores and stumps.”

Stevenson, even at that early date, predicted that one hundred years from that time, Father Damien would be made a saint—and so it has been.

Father Damien was already dead when Stevenson came to Molokai in search of the real Father Damien—the character, the man. He talked with many people who knew Damien personally, many of them Protestants who were not numbered among his friends. The following diary excerpt frankly remarks on certain of Father Damien’s qualities.

“Damien is dead and already somewhat ungratefully remembered in the field of his labours and sufferings. ‘He was a good man, but very officious,’ says one. Another tells me he had fallen (as other priests so easily do) into something of the ways and habits of thought of a Kanaka; but he had the wit to recognise the fact, and the good sense to laugh at ‘[over]’ it. A plain man it seems he was; I cannot find he was a popular.”

The following diary excerpt is the most frank assessment of all, demonstrating that a “saint” need not fulfill the usual, naïve conception of a saint.

“Of Damien I begin to have an idea. He seems to have been a man of the peasant class, certainly of the peasant type: shrewd, ignorant and bigoted, yet with an open mind, and capable of receiving and digesting a reproof if it were bluntly administered; superbly generous in the least thing as well as in the greatest, and as ready to give his last shirt (although not without human grumbling) as he had been to sacrifice his life; essentially indiscreet and officious, which made him a troublesome colleague; domineering in all his ways, which made him incurably unpopular with the Kanakas, but yet destitute of real authority, so that his boys laughed at him and he must carry out his wishes by the means of bribes. He learned to have a mania for doctoring; and set up the Kanakas against the remedies of his regular rivals: perhaps (if anything matter at all in the treatment of such a disease) the worst thing that he did, and certainly the easiest. The best and worst of the man appear very plainly in his dealings with Mr. Chapman’s money; he had originally laid it out ‘[intended to lay it out]’ entirely for the benefit of Catholics, and even so not wisely; but after a long, plain talk, he admitted his error fully and revised the list. The sad state of the boys’ home is in part the result of his lack of control; in part, of his own slovenly ways and false ideas of hygiene. Brother officials used to call it ‘Damien’s Chinatown.’ ‘Well,’ they would say, ‘your Chinatown keeps growing.’ And he would laugh with perfect good-nature, and adhere to his errors with perfect obstinacy. So much I have gathered of truth about this plain, noble human brother and father of ours; his imperfections are the traits of his face, by which we know him for our fellow; his martyrdom and his example nothing can lessen or annul; and only a person here on the spot can properly appreciate their greatness.”

Here we really see the man in such a way that the interpretation will make more sense, for in it can be found a number of the less virtuous qualities, as well as those which are superb.

There was not much left of the Reverend Dr. Hyde once Robert Louis Stevenson was through with him. Stevenson certainly demonstrated the presence of Scorpio in his own chart! No where is Stevenson better in his defense of Damien than when he admits the failings of his hero and compares them to the qualities of Damien’s ungenerous critic Dr. Hyde. Again, we learn much about Father Damien from this defense. Stevenson takes Hyde’s criticism point for point and rebuts it. Hyde had said that Damien was “coarse”, “dirty”, “headstrong”, “bigoted”, that he “was not sent to Molokai, but went there without orders”. To all of these Stevenson admits and finds the virtue within each quality. When, however, the Reverent Dr. Hyde stooped to say that Damien “had no hand in the reforms” on Molokai, and “was not pure in his relations with women”, Stevenson unloosed a barrage of truth and vindication which cannot have but caused the deepest shame to Damien’s detractor.

One or two resounding lines will convey the impression. Addressing the accusation that Damien had no hand in the reforms, Stevenson writes:

“It was his part, by one striking act of martyrdom, to direct all men’s eyes on that distressful country. At a blow, and with the price of his life, he made the place illustrious and public. And that, if you will consider largely, was the one reform needful; pregnant of all that should succeed. It brought money; it brought (best individual addition of them all) the sisters; it brought supervision, for public opinion and public interest landed with the man at Kalawao. If ever any man brought reforms, and died to bring them, it was he. There is not a clean cup or towel in the Bishop-Home, but dirty Damien washed it.”

Addressing the accusation that Father Damien was sexually immoral, Stevenson writes: “But I must not even seem to deceive you. This scandal, when I read it in your letter, was not new to me. I had heard it once before; and I must tell you how. There came to Samoa a man from Honolulu; he, in a public-house on the beach, volunteered the statement that Damien had “contracted the disease from having connection with the female lepers”; and I find a joy in telling you how the report was welcomed in a public-house. A man sprang to his feet; I am not at liberty to give his name, but from what I heard I doubt if you would care to have him to dinner in Beretania Street. “You miserable little ——-” (here is a word I dare not print, it would so shock your ears). “You miserable little ——,” he cried, “if the story were a thousand times true, can’t you see you are a million times a lower —– for daring to repeat it?” I wish it could be told of you that when the report reached you in your house, perhaps after family worship, you had found in your soul enough holy anger to receive it with the same expressions; ay, even with that one which I dare not print; it would not need to have been blotted away, like Uncle Toby’s oath, by the tears of the recording angel; it would have been counted to you for your brightest righteousness.

But you have deliberately chosen the part of the man from Honolulu, and you have played it with improvements of your own. The man from Honolulu – miserable, leering creature – communicated the tale to a rude knot of beach-combing drinkers in a public-house, where (I will so far agree with your temperance opinions) man is not always at his noblest; and the man from Honolulu had himself been drinking – drinking, we may charitably fancy, to excess. It was to your ‘Dear Brother, the Reverend H. B. Gage,’ that you chose to communicate the sickening story; and the blue ribbon which adorns your portly bosom forbids me to allow you the extenuating plea that you were drunk when it was done. Your ‘dear brother’ – a brother indeed – made haste to deliver up your letter (as a means of grace, perhaps) to the religious papers; where, after many months, I found and read and wondered at it; and whence I have now reproduced it for the wonder of others. And you and your dear brother have, by this cycle of operations, built up a contrast very edifying to examine in detail. The man whom you would not care to have to dinner, on the one side; on the other, the Reverend Dr. Hyde and the Reverend H. B. Gage: the Apia bar- room, the Honolulu manse.”

It is clear that Father Damien, like H.P. Blavatsky, on different rays, but both, arguably, passing through the fourth degree, had their slanderers and detractors. False accusation seems to be one of the best means of ensuring that knowledge of the good works and character of initiates spreads to the awareness of those who will become inspired by that knowledge. Slander assures recognition.

The Rays of Father Damien

The Ray of the Soul: When one considers the courage of Father Damien, his single-minded devotion, his commitment to the lepers of Molokai and to the colony, his zeal, persistence and total self-sacrifice, the sixth ray of devotion and idealism recommends itself as the most likely choice of soul ray. He seems, very much, to have been a disciple of the Master Jesus. The second ray is clearly in the background, and Father Damien did, indeed (as many on the sixth ray must) “learn the invocation of a Saviour”. (EP II 171—Law of Repulse, R6) There is an advanced point upon the Path at which time, the soul refocuses itself from a Ray of Attribute to a Ray of Aspect—for instance, from the sixth ray to the second ray. This refocusing seems to have been in process for Father Damien. In this case, we could say that he was refocusing the ray of the soul upon the probable ray of the monad.    When we consider the manner of his sacrifice and the place upon the Path at which he stood, we can with justification say that he chose the course of “self-immolation”—the method by which those upon the sixth ray soul destroy the causal body.

Astrological Conduits for the Sixth Ray: Conduits for the sixth ray energy are many and powerful. Both Sagittarius and Pisces are tenanted—Sagittarius by the stellium of Moon, Mercury and Saturn, as well as the asteroids Ceres and Pallas Athene, and Pisces by Uranus, squaring the Sagittarius stellium. As for Virgo, the third of the signs/constellations that distribute the sixth ray, it holds the South Node, indicating a past focus. From a planetary perspective there is a tremendous conduit for the sixth ray in the conjunction of sixth ray Mars and sixth ray Neptune in Aquarius at the top of the chart. This conjunction in the sign of “universal love” and group consciousness, was instrumental in ensuring the great and generous sacrifice for the sake of the “group”—the lepers of Molokai

The Ray of the Monad: As the monad is the “unknown quantity” for every individual, we can assess it with no great certainty and, in fact, with great possibility of error. One thing can be said, however, that at Father Damien’s stage of evolution—the life of one who was proposedly living through the “Great Renunciation”—the ray of the monad would be effective. Of the three possibilities for the major or primary ray of the monad, the second ray (Love-Wisdom) seems to the most probable. Though he had much of the first ray in his nature and though he was not considered unintelligent, his progress seems to be leading him towards development as a “Lord of Compassion”—just as are Master Jesus and Master Serapis. The third ray is not especially detectible and the first ray appears secondary. Only a profound love of the Christ and of one’s fellow human beings could motivate an individual to make so great a renunciation. We note the same spirit of renunciation in the life of Albert Schweitzer, another Capricorn individual, who gave up the benefits of European culture, and the great recognition of his many academic and artistic accomplishments, to go to Africa (Lambarene) as a physician to the natives who lived in that region of Africa.

Astrological Conduits for the Second Ray: While one can speak only tentatively of the manner in which the ray of the monad might be represented in the chart, there are some interesting possibilities presented here. The only strictly second ray sign is Pisces, and it does hold transformative Uranus which is in exact trine to the angular second ray Jupiter (orthodox ruler of Pisces—a second ray planet ruling a second ray sign).

The second ray of Jupiter is very prominent due to its angularity (at the Descendant), and due to the fact that, at Damien’s stage of evolution, the sixth ray focus will be in process of transfer to the second. We must also note the importance of second ray Jupiter in close (harmonious) sextile to the inherently second ray Sun, increasing both faith and optimism, and essential contentment with one’s fate—no matter how horrendous it might appear to the uninspired observer.   Monadically, Neptune (the planet of universal compassion) is upon the second ray. The importance of Neptune as a conduit for the sixth ray has already been noted. The “monadic point” in the chart (effective only in the charts of those who are highly developed spiritually) is found opposite the Sun Sign. If the influence of the monad can be detected in the life, this is only place to look. For Father Damien, the monadic point is placed in Cancer (conjunct Chiron). The monad would work through the sign Cancer—in relation to the masses. Father Damien was involved in the healing of the corrupted lunar nature ruled by the lunar sign, Cancer. The esoteric and hierarchical ruler of Cancer is Neptune, placed with Mars in the eleventh house ashramic service and brotherhood. Second ray Neptune is square to second ray Jupiter—the square calling for something concrete to the manifested on behalf of the heart—represented by the second ray of both planets. Monadically, this Neptune is truly significant, and relates Damien strongly to the selfless, Christ-impulse, making him, like the Christ, a “man for others”.

The Ray of the Personality: Father Damien was strong, robust and domineering. There was about him a great directness. A number of his personal attitudes made him unpopular with the residents of Hawaii. His immediate superiors considered him a demanding and difficult person. In the service of his definite mission, he probably was so. He needed that great strength if there was to be any hope of success, for the obstacles ranged against him would cause lesser men to quail, despair and retreat. Even Father Damien was victim of “black thoughts” and great loneliness, which he begged his superiors to relieve by sending him help (and companionship).  Only a first ray personality seems a suitable choice. He was self-willed, head-strong, frequently overbearing, and extremely obstinate, (though, according to Robert Louis Stevenson’s report, cheerful and good-natured in his stubborn refusal to do as others wished him to do). We can see the power inherent in the proposed combination of a sixth ray soul and first ray personality (like that of John Calvin, but with an entirely different effect. Perhaps a fundamental difference in the monadic ray—a possible third or first for Calvin, and a possible second for Damien, indicates a fundamental difference in their psychology and approach, even though their ray structure may be similar. Their astrology, however, is very different.)

Astrological Conduits for the First Ray: Of the three first ray signs, Capricorn holding his Sun, and Aries, holding Pluto, which is square to the Sun, are both very important. This square shows that his life would be a life of sacrifice, renunciation, deep transformation and death. Indeed, death was his constant companion. We note that Pluto is in H-12 (esoterically, its own house) and that it is closely square the MC. Pluto is the planet which  Father Damien’s decision to go to Hawaii (he never returned—alive, though his remains were later brought to Europe), was Plutonic, and during the years in which it was being made, transiting Pluto was crossing the proposed Taurus MC.     In terms of the ease of expression of the first ray, we find sometimes first ray Saturn (in Sagittarius) in exact trine to Pluto in Aries. The first ray flowed through Father Damien and supported the straight and narrow path which defined his mission (Saturn in Sagittarius). One first ray indicator which is certainly important is Vulcan, both the esoteric and hierarchical ruler of the Taurus Ascendant. Vulcan is theorized as being within eight degrees of the Sun, which, in Damien’s chart, would place it in Capricorn, a partially first ray sign. The Sun is already placed in the ‘missionary’ ninth house, and Vulcan’s powerful placement here would add to the strength of that mission and the unwavering responsibility with which it was carried out. There is also the possibility that a Vulcan/Pluto square exists, which would contribute mightily to the presence of the first ray in the chart. There are probably methods to ascertain whether this is so for those who may be interested in following this line of inquiry.

The Ray of the Mind: Father Damien was not an intellectual (though is reported that he was not considered unintelligent, and had learned his Latin well from his brother, a fellow priest). He was not a student or scholar of the fifth ray type, nor a metaphysician upon the third, nor was he, apparently, indecisive, impractical and intent upon compromise and harmony, as are frequently seen upon the fourth ray. Again the direct, often offensive, first ray seems the logical choice for the mind. (This is different from the case of Albert Schweitzer, whose scholarly, technical mind was almost certainly on the fifth ray. Had Damien’s mind been on the fifth ray, he might have been more cautious, in general, and, in particular, have paid more attention to ensuring sanitary conditions—as regards his own person, especially.) Damien, however, was quick, blunt and plain-spoken, and probably made a number of enemies (even within his own Church) due to his directness. Stevenson remarks that he was “capable of receiving a reproof if it was bluntly administered”—a mark of respect for the first ray in conversation. He was a man in a hurry—there was so much to do for so many—and he had little time for niceties.

Astrological Support for the First Ray Mind: If the ray of the mind is the first, it certainly has significant astrological support, for Mercury, one of the major planets of the mind, is conjuncted by Saturn (with its strong first ray component and its generic relation to the concrete mind), closely trined by first ray Pluto, and squared by Uranus (which has its own fair measure of the first ray). The Saturn/Mercury conjunction (and the definite Pluto influence) would certainly contribute to the “black thoughts” with which Father Damien was, justifiably, afflicted). Mercury is also in the eighth house, where Plutonic issues must be confronted. Venus, the other planet closely connected to the mind (because of its inherent fifth ray nature) and important because it is the exoteric ruler of the Ascendant, is also related to Pluto because placed in Scorpio. Thus, first ray Pluto is connected to both of the usual mental indicators.

The Ray of the Astral Nature: This was probably variable, though initially, and mostly, the sixth ray of devotion and idealism. Father Damien was a one-pointed man with a mission. We can imagine him moving at high speed from one responsibility to another, driven by necessity and with no thought of the impact of his actions upon himself, personally. The tensity of the sixth ray was present. He was said to be narrow in his beliefs and even bigoted—another way of saying that he believed in his faith entirely. The major indications point to a devoted sixth ray focus, though relieved by moments of genuine warmth, profound generosity and good-naturedness—evidences of a primary second ray of Love-Wisdom.    Astrological Support for the Sixth Ray Astral Nature: The elevated Mars and Neptune conjunction in the sign Aquarius (associated with the fluctuation of mind and mood) is a significant reinforcement for the sixth ray. The square between Jupiter and Mars/Neptune would contribute to the zealous enthusiasms which are characteristic of the sixth ray emotional nature.

The Ray of the Etheric-Physical Nature: Stevenson tells us that Father Damien has “slovenly ways” and “false ideas of hygiene”. His body was powerful and robust. Clearly, it was not upon the seventh ray. It was more likely a third ray body, active, and full of endurance (influenced by Taurus), with a significant first ray coloring coming from the proposed ray of the personality, and from the influence of Vulcan—which, more than Venus, would be counted the ruler of his Taurus Ascendant.

Astrological Support for the Robust Physical Nature: A powerfully Vulcanian Taurus is rising, conferring a strong, earthy nature, supported by the Sun in the Taurus decanate of Capricorn—in which Vulcan, too, may be placed, for Father Damien was a great builder—a gift of Vulcan, Taurus and Capricorn. Orthodoxly, the Ascendant indicates the physical body, and Mars (which, planetarily also represents the physical body) is closely square the Ascendant. Mars is strong and vigorous, and in conditioned by both the third and first rays (at various levels of its own energy system). Suffice it to say, that Damien’s vigor is increased by this square, but Neptune is also square, indicating his eventual susceptibility.

The Choice of Horoscope for Father Damien

The chart used for Father Damien is speculative, but corresponds well to the nature of his character and the events of his life. The speculative approximate time is offered by Marc Penfield as 12:30 PM. It is quite close. Using this time puts the 12th degree of Taurus on the Ascendant. If one gives some credence to the value of the Sabian Symbols, the symbol for the 12th degree is far less appropriate than the 10th degree (the last minute of which occurs at 12:25:48 PM. The 12th degree reads: “A YOUNG COUPLE IS WINDOW SHOPPING”. Keynote: “The fascination of the youthful ego with the products of its culture”. “THE SOCIALIZATION OF DESIRES”. The 10th degree (which is equally good in relation to timing and often better) reads: “A RED CROSS NURSE”. Keynote: “The compassionate linking of all men”. “CONSECRATION TO HUMANITY”. There could hardly be a symbol more appropriate. Given that births often occur somewhat before a recorded time, a time of 12:30 PM, exactly, is unlikely. One can find ways in which the 12:30 chart works for certain transits and eclipses, and indeed, many astrological timers work for both charts, but in the majority of cases, the timers for the slightly earlier chart work slightly better, and there is the question of the significance of the rising degree.

Probably, there will be some fair-minded astrologers who, in all good conscience, would opt for the later degree. Not much would be lost if exactly 2:30 chosen. Only the rising decanate and its ruler would change (the earlier time giving Saturn and the later time, Mercury), and the symbols of the degrees of the angles. As tempting as it is to give great weight to the Sabian Symbols in the matter of rectification (and some weight should be given), equal or greater weight must be given to the progressions and directions of and to the angles. In any case, it can with reason be said that both charts are very close to what appears to be the truth of Father Damien, and both can be interpreted esoterically with equal facility. It is the esoteric interpretation which is of particular importance when considering the chart of one who is in the process of taking the fourth initiation—the “Great Renunciation”

Some Specific Features of Father Damien’s Astrological Chart

1.     Father Damien’s Sun sign is Capricorn. Capricorn is the sign of the initiate, The hypothesis proposed, is that he entered this incarnation as an initiate of the third degree, well accustomed to the practice of sacrifice. The Capricorn Sun is proposedly placed in the ninth house where long journeys, questions and missions are undertaken. We can say that Damien’s life was a great quest, and that he followed his quest with the ‘missionary zeal’ befitting his sixth ray soul. The square of Pluto to the Sun forced sacrifice and death. The Sun also sits almost exactly at the midpoint of the beneficently reconstructive trine between Uranus and Jupiter (two planets which feature prominently at the fifth degree). The Sun/Jupiter aspect conferred largesse and great generosity; the Sun/Uranus aspect conferred the ability to act independently and bring a great improvement (“a better way”) to the lives of the lepers of Molokai. The Sun (in the Taurus decanate of Capricorn) is also trine to the Taurus Ascendant, bringing the capacity to align the personality and its objectives easily with the forward-looking demands of the soul, indicated at the Ascendant. The ninth house is the house of philosophy and higher mind, but in Father Damien’s case, it was the house of faith.

The orthodox and esoteric ruler of the Capricorn Sun is Saturn in Sagittarius—the sign of quests, journeys, crusades and missions; it is predominantly a sixth ray sign. This Saturn position steadied his footsteps along his chosen path—the path of sacrifice, transformation and redemption—indicated by the eighth house position of Saturn. The Sabian Symbol for the degree of the Sun is compelling: “A FIRE WORSHIPER MEDITATES ON THE ULTIMATE REALITIES OF EXISTENCE”—a symbol most apt for an individual undergoing the destruction of the causal body and the resignation of his will to the higher will (of God). The Keynote is: “The subjective quest for ultimates beyond the interplay of life and death processes”. “THE WILL TO TRANSCENDENCE”. We cannot know the subjective life of Father Damien, but we can imagine its extraordinary intensity—its fire—given the extraordinary self-chosen tasks of his outer life.

2.     The proposed Ascendant is Taurus, either the first (Taurean) decanate or the second (Virgo) decanate. There are reasonable justifications for either. If one seeks to discriminate between these decanates by consulting the planetary rulers (respectively, according to the Tibetan, Saturn and Mercury—for the disciple or initiate), we find that Saturn and Mercury are conjunct within three or so degrees in the same sign, Sagittarius. So we cannot easily separate their influences.       Venus, of course, is important—more because it is the hierarchical ruler of Capricorn (his Sun Sign) and therefore a legitimate ruler for initiates, than because it is the orthodox ruler of Taurus (and, apparently of the first decanate—though not according to the Tibetan, Who often assigns unexpected decanate rulers. Father Damien was a man for whom the esoteric and hierarchical ruler of Taurus (namely Vulcan) was equally as important as Venus. The relationship between Vulcan as esoteric and hierarchical ruler of the Ascendant and Venus as hierarchical ruler of the Sun would be important, but cannot presently be discerned because we cannot with certainty, determine the position of Vulcan, except that, according to the most acceptable theory, it would have to be in Capricorn in this case. Venus is Scorpio (the latter degrees, ruled, some say, by Pluto) and Vulcan in Capricorn. These are indications relating to the light. The light and love of the soul is brought to a very dark place (Scorpio—in its last degrees) and Vulcan (the blazing light of transfiguration) is placed in the sign of transfiguration. Because Father Damien knew the inner light in his own subjective experience, he was able to carry it to one of thee darkest and most forsaken places on the Earth.

If Capricorn is a sign associated archetypally with the third initiation (though all five of the first five initiations are related to it), then Taurus is related to the fourth. Its ruler Vulcan brings upon the initiate the depths of isolation (for Vulcan is a first ray planet). Vulcan is also a, hypothetically, a fourth ray planet (in relation to its highest or monadic aspect—closely identified with our Sun, which is of the fourth order). The fourth initiation is taken on the fourth ray, and the destructive first ray is inescapably important as well. We can see why Vulcan and its sign/constellation would be one of the influences important at this degree. Krishnamurti, who was also undergoing the fourth degree (on a different ray and in a different way) was born in Taurus (not under Taurus, as Father Damien). Krishnamurti also had a powerful presence of Aquarius and Sagittarius in his chart.

Taurus is important for many reasons in Damien’s chart. It relates to the buddhic plane (of which buddhas are representative). It is a great carrier of the light, a giver of prana, health and the “treasures of heaven”. Taurus is also an earth sign and under many conditions, practical, earthy and full of will (sometimes self-will). Father Damien’s life was not a life of abstraction. He was faced with the most concrete demands and whatever spirituality was his had to be manifested in a way that made a tangible difference in the lives of people who were suffering horribly. Taurus confers the ability to touch the earth and be grounded; Capricorn (for all its loftiness) also does so. Father Damien’s work was in the matter of humanity. He was one of those above whom “the mark of the Saviour” appeared as he “toil[ed] in Pisces”. The Moon is exalted in Taurus, and it was in the lunar realm that Father Damien had to focus—a realm ruled by the number four, the same number as the initiation for which he was, proposedly, a candidate. The number four can be most concrete. The fourth degree initiate must prove concretely, and before all humanity, what he or she is internally. Father Damien did this, and his earth signs helped him do so.

Taurus is also a sign of tactility, of contact. There was no possibility of separation or separativeness for Father Damien. He could not hold himself apart from the lepers. His psychology demanded that he touch them, which he did for all manner of benevolent reasons. This Taurean need to touch may have been one of the outer reasons why he finally contracted the disease. Taurus is also a great builder. Father Damien reconstructed the lives of the residents of the colony—spiritually and tangibly, building (with his assistants) hundreds of buildings. This attitude of the builder (a quality of the second ray) points to the importance of Taurus, the second sign, and of the Capricorn Sun in the second or Taurean decanate. He did not leave Kalawao (the actual name of the colony) as he found it, but totally reconstructed. Uranus, the planet of reconstruction is in redemptive Pisces (reconstruction for redemptive purposes) and sextile the Taurus Ascendant. Taurus, it should be remembered, is a sign of acquisition, under the influence of which the wherewithal needed for any condition is sought. Father Damien constantly importuned the authorities to more effectively heed the needs of the unfortunates, and he, himself, spend his later life meeting those needs. He became for them, a source of supply, serving the destitute and impoverished on many levels.

3.     We find the Moon placed in Sagittarius with Mercury, Saturn, Pallas and Ceres. Nurturing Ceres is conjunct the Moon. This is the sign of one who takes nurturance as his mission. The Sagittarian Moon clearly contributed to Damien’s missionary zeal, and to his fundamentally high spirits (regardless of his Capricornian realism, and the dark thoughts which occasionally arose). It is interesting to see that the adventuring, missionary Sagittarian Moon is the orthodox ruler of the fourth house of “home”, almost guaranteeing that for Father Damien, “home” would become other than the place where he was born—distantly other. The Moon is also trine his Part of Fortune (where energy flows smoothly and happily). He was doing what he was suited (and destined) to do. In the Placidus system, and in this proposed chart, the missionary qualities of the Sagittarian Moon are strengthened by being placed in the house allied with Sagittarius—the ninth. Through this position, Damien’s high-minded idealism could work, making it possible for him to follow his vision, wherever it might lead.

There is a very close semi-sextile between the Moon and Venus contributing to geniality and good-naturedness, despite the fact that he was a genuinely difficult character with those who cared more themselves than for the needs of others. This semi-sextile also facilitates the manner in which the  light and love of the soul represented by Venus could flow through the fourfold lunar nature, represented by the Moon. When we speak of the Moon, we speak of the fourth ray, and the inherent conflict between soul and personality, or between spirit and matter. We have already seen how important is the number four for Father Damien and in the chart of an initiate of the fourth degree. The fourth ray sign/constellations are strongly represented with fourth ray Taurus Ascending, fourth ray Scorpio holding both Jupiter and Venus (two planets of soul abundance), and fourth ray Sagittarius holding the Moon, Mercury and Saturn—all in all, six major astrological indicators in fourth ray signs, as well as three of the larger asteroids. Certainly every initiate passing through the fourth degree is possessed of the ‘gift’ of conflict and struggle. Father Damien’s life shows him fighting for the lepers, and contending with many on their behalf. Just as the fifth ray will be found pervasively for those in process of taking the third initiation, so will the fourth ray for those taking the fourth degree.

4.     Mercury in Sagittarius, gave a mind convinced of the value of faith, and Saturn further confirmed this conviction. As well, Mercury in Sagittarius gave providence and foresight—much needed when overseeing the care for so many desperate people. The 20th degree of Sagittarius in which Mercury is placed is extremely interesting in view of Damien’s practical responsibilities on behalf of the colony. “IN AN OLD-FASHIONED NORTHERN VILLAGE MEN CUT THE ICE OF A FROZEN POND FORF USE DURING THE SUMMER”. Keynote” The foresighted use of natural resources to supply future human need.” Keywords: “ASSURING SUPPLY”.     Considerable ray one is proposed for the mind. One-pointed Sagittarius can promote this, as also the Pluto trine to Mercury. Damien’ shrewdness and practicality are reinforced by the conjunction of Mercury with practical, economical Saturn. This combination may also cause a limitation within the mind or a kind of willful ignorance which comes for focusing on only those matters one chooses. Some have called him “ignorant”; rather, it could be said, that he chose to entertain only certain thoughts and considerations. The Saturn/Mercury conjunction made it impossible for him to doubt his faith, though it certainly could contribute, as well, to depression.

5.     Father Damian came to Molokai as an emissary of the soul and of the Christ. Venus, representing the Solar Angel, and the Christ as “Son of the Morning”, is placed in the seventh house, where it is strong. Damien’s, despite his rough and sometimes coarse manner, offered from his heart a pure form of altruism (Venus in the seventh house). Of course, in Scorpio—one of the signs of its detriment—Venus can suffer much. There were not many beauties connected with the human condition on Molokai, however beautiful the island may now be regarded. He was surrounded by ugliness and repulsiveness—there are few diseases capable of producing more horrific results on the physical appearance of the human being. But his mission was to bring light and love (Venus) into hell (Scorpio) and this he accomplished.

6.     Mars is powerful, squaring the Ascendant/Descendant, and thus bringing trouble and contention to his relationships. Mars in Aquarius strengthens the idealism and can make of one a kind of revolutionary. Certainly, Father Damien, revolutionized the lives of hundreds of afflicted individuals, giving them hope where, before his arrival, there had been mostly despair. The established order did not always take kindly to his initiatives—even within his own Church, where opposition was often difficult. With Uranus in Pisces, it can be seen how he would be perceived as a revolutionary (Uranus) within the Piscean Catholic Church.  Mars in Aquarius gave him the ability to stir the group, to move the group, and to spread his influence forcefully. It probably also contributed to a degree of nervous energy and nervous intensity. This position constitutes one a fighter on behalf of the group—a forceful group advocate, idealistically motivated (see also Neptune conjunct Mars). The Sabian Symbol for this important planet is telling: “DURING A SILENT HOUR, A MAN RECEIVES A NEW INSPIRATION WHICH MAY CHANGE HIS LIFE”. Keynote: The need to rely upon inner inspiration and guidance at the start of new developments.” Keyword: “OVERSHADOWING”. We can well imagine the intensity of Father Damien’s inner life, and how his decisions must have been taken as a result of deep inner prayer and communion with the energy of the soul (and perhaps of his proposed Master, Jesus, working under the Christ Energy).

The square aspect from Mars (and Neptune) to Jupiter, contributed to ambition—not for himself, but for what could be done for the residents of the colony. No doubt he wanted to make a “big difference” and was often stopped by harsh reality. This aspect would also contribute to a somewhat careless, improvident attitude—overly hopeful, careless of detail, too expansive, and was probably responsible for a number of missteps. From an esoteric perspective we can see in this square a strong dynamic operative between the solar plexus center (represented by Mars and Neptune) and the heart center (represented by Jupiter and Neptune). The battle would be one between zeal and love, between the sixth ray and the more encompassing second ray into which the sixth ray was being translated.

7.     Jupiter in Scorpio is a planet of great importance—strongly angular. A generous planet in the house of altruism This position serves as a testimony to how much heart (Jupiter rules the heart) Father Damien invested in those he ‘met’—those under his care. Dedicated Vesta, also in Scorpio, is conjunct Jupiter and the seventh house cusp.  He met the world as one who uplifts, enlarges, and brings new opportunity. Scorpio is a sign of transformation, of the conquest of negativity, and Jupiter gave the hope and optimism that this could be accomplished. Father Damien was not a “fair weather friend”. He entered into the depths—in fact was devoted to facing the worst and lifting it into the Christ Energy which Jupiter represents. This is the Jupiter position of someone who would give you the “shirt off his back”, though not without a little grumbling, as Stevenson suggested.

The Sabian Degree for the Jupiter position (the 14th degree of Scorpio)  is significant: “TELEPHONE LINEMEN AT WORK INSTALLING NEW CONNECTIONS”. Keynote: “The need to establish new channels of communication”. Keyword: “THE WILL TO ASSOCIATION or COMPREHENSION”. We see Father Damien entering fully, enthusiastically, redemptively, abundantly into the lives of his charges. We see him meeting them openly with no other motive than that their lives should be bettered. The Jupiter position connects Damien closely to the Hierarchy and its motivation. In a way, Hierarchy, is a great ‘Body of Redemption’, entering a dark place (Scorpio) for purposes of giving and uplifting. The Scorpio position of Jupiter also shows that he was surrounded constantly by death—much death. It makes of him the true priest seeing to the welfare of his flock—all aspects of their welfare—spiritual and material. As well, it makes him the teacher undertaking the spiritual education of those in his care.

8.     Of Saturn in Sagittarius we have already spoken. It represents the treading of the “strait and narrow path”—completely dedicated, undeviating, one-pointed discipleship. In the eighth house of death and rebirth, it meant the facing of all those difficult situations while steadfastly retaining one’s faith and purpose. Saturn’s degree is inspiring: “AN EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE DRAWS A LARGE CROWD”. Keynote: The culturally stimulated longing for group participation in a process of rebirth”. Keyword: “REBIRTH”. Father Damien there was no escape into insignificance or futility. He was held by his overpowering sense of duty and commitment. One can only imagine how many have stepped upon the Path and wavered less because of his example.

9.     Uranus is in Pisces in the Placidus twelfth house. What is a saint? What is a holy man? Father Damien shattered many misconceptions. The kind of “saint” he became was not the kind people expect when they think of the term. With Uranus in the twelfth, the redemptive mission is undertaken in a new way—unconventionally and effectively.  The Keyword for the 14th degree of Pisces is “PROTECTIVE SHIELDING”. The Keynote: “The use of intelligence and mental subtlety as a protection against storms and trials”. Here is Father Damien’s ingenuity at work, as he devised new ways to regenerate lives.

10. Neptune has been discussed. For Father Damien, it is transcendental influence. It allowed him to spread the influence of the Christ/Jesus through his unfortunate group and, eventually, both during and after his life, through the world. Neptune in Aquarius is the Christ-Energy redeeming all, beyond any notion of boundaries.       Aquarius is a sign very much connected with the fourth initiation—the sign  in which many take their last compulsory incarnation. This sign has much to do with Damien’s group work. With Neptune it speaks of the more abundant life of the spirit which is freely available to pour forth on all through grace—at least in the realm of motive, this influence was operative. The horrific reality of life within a leper colony belong more to Pluto and Saturn, than to Neptune, but the freely flowing compassionate love for all, impersonally, is the gift of this position, and, as already stated, can be understood as having a monadic significance.

11. Of Pluto there is no more need to speak. It rises exactly on the Anti-Vertex, where will is at its freest. If the Vertex is fate, then the Anti-Vertex is unconditioned freedom. We have the planet of death at the point of unconditioned freedom. Father Damien freely choose renunciation and death to work with the dying. This planet is of immense importance in his life and contributed significantly to his initiatory opportunities.

12. Now we must speak of Chiron—all alone at the base of the chart. None of the normally used planets is below the horizon, and among the asteroids, only Vesta, which is so close to the Descendant as to be considered at one with it. Chiron’s position is, therefore, remarkable—solitary as the handle in a “bucket” pattern. Chiron is the “wounded healer”, the guide, the mentor, inspirer, teacher. Chiron and its position shows the healing mission of Father Damien more than any other indicator. Opposing the Sun and trining transformational Uranus and committed Vesta (and benevolent Jupiter), Chiron is the reason why the world knows who Father Damien is. The entirety of the chart focuses through this planet, placed in the sign of the human “mass”—Cancer. It is the substance of the “mass”—the lunar substance which, unguided by the light of the soul, is the source of disease. Whoever takes the fourth degree is confronted with humanity itself, its desperate condition, and one’s ties to humanity’s lunar nature. Father Damien’s mission was part of the healing of this planet, and especially of its unredeemed lunar substance.

Like Chiron, he “went his own way”, and blazed a new trail. He learned from deep experience about the ravages of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy). He went through everything his ‘patients’ had to suffer. His experience as a ‘healer’ was direct and earned. One can only imagine where it will lead in lives to come. The “wounding” process administered by Chiron was, with the Pluto’s gift of deep regeneration and purgation, an invaluable contributor to Father Damien’s “great renunciation”.    The position of the heliocentric earth, as it relates to the “monadic point”, must be considered in relation to Chiron. Let us say that the monad was, indeed, active in Father Damien’s life. The monad is the “highest” and Cancer, archetypally found at the base of the chart, represents all that is “lowest”. Spirit (monad) seeks to express itself in matter. The “highest” seeks to work through the “lowest”. We can conceive that Father Damien’s monadic mission was deeply involved with healing (Chiron) of the masses (Cancer and the Earth). We cannot say whether Father Damien is upon the Path of Earth Service; such knowledge is too high, too inaccessible for us. But were he upon that first and most humble Path, his experiences on Molokai Island would be a brilliant beginning. It impresses the author that the Monad of Love was involved in setting a great example before the world. The Path of Earth Service demands an understanding of “Identification”. It is a supremely non-separative Path, calling for patience, humility and profound self-forgetfulness. From the monadic perspective (and it is the monad which treads these greater Paths), it would seek that Father Damien had achieved much, in embryo, as a healer of the planet. Interestingly, the Trans-Neptunian planet, Apollon, is conjunct Chiron, ensuring that the world would hear of Father Damien and his mission. Apollon publishes, multiplies, informs and spreads—in this case, information, related to the third house in which Chiron is placed. We shall see how Chiron is involved with the progressed Ascendant when Father Damien, himself, contracted the disease.

Other Factors

Time allows the mention of only a few other factors of interest among many.

1.     The frustrations of repetitive Admetus conjunct the two planets of idealism, Mars and Neptune. The grinding reality of everyday life in the leper colony had to be opposed by an unceasing idealism.

2.     There are a number of “fixed star” positions of note. Zubenel-Genubi, the star of “positive social reform” is conjunct Jupiter in Scorpio, adding testimony to Damien’s effect as a benevolent reformer of human society—a reformation which occurred by courageously dealing with the “dregs” of society—the outcasts, the lepers.

3.     The spontaneous Moon (proposedly veiling Neptune—the planet of the Christ) has a number of stellar aspects, from Acumen (enduring attacks successfully), Alpheratz (moving with speed), Betelgeuse (good fortune through abundance and largesse of heart), and Polaris (never forgetting one’s sense of direction).

4.     The Sun is involved with Canopus and Sirius—in opposition. These are stars of education, guidance and initiation—the two visually brightest stars in our local heavens. The opposition shows Damien working in the “dark” so that the greater light promised by these amazing luminaries, might come.

5.     Saturn is contraparallel Zosma showing the sacrifices of the Path and the hardships to be undergone.

6.     Perhaps, most interesting are the stellar aspects to Chiron—for Damien, that all-important planet. Chiron is exactly to the minute of arc parallel Aldebaran, the star of integrity—in Damien’s case, an integrity maintained (though slanderers did their worst). Chiron also is conjunct Alhena—to have a mission. It opposes Facies, which is considered a malevolent and at best, difficult star, having a deadly effect. Damien’s ‘life-healing-power’ (not of a trained physician, but of a close affiliate with Hierarchy and its healing energy), confronted a mass of human evil, which had precipitated as this dread disease. Master Morya hints at the karma of leprosy, associating it with all that is filthy and degraded—a final outworking of a very heavy karma.

7.     There are a number of parallels of declination of note—the Ascendant with Jupiter, Chiron contraparallel Venus; Vesta, the North Node and Pluto; the Sun with nurturing Ceres, and the Moon at an extremely high declination. Damien’s confrontation was with what we might figuratively call, ‘the terminal illness of the Moon’—the worst that can befall humanity’s lunar nature. To face this is the ultimate redemptive task.

Some Factors of Astrological Timing

It is in consulting the cycles for transits, progressions, directions and eclipses that we can see if the charts proposed seem valid in terms of the actualities of the life.

1.     Joseph de Veuster took the habit under the religious name, “Brother Damien”, on February 2, 1858. The progressed Moon had recently moved into self-disciplining and abstemious Virgo, T-Jupiter was just about to cross the Taurus Ascendant, the Sun had the year before progressed into Aquarius, the sign of true friendship, and the progressed Ascendant and Descendant were squaring the Nodal Axis. If the birth were a little earlier, the square would be more exact, but then other eclipses would not be quite as exact. On September 7, 1857, less than six months before taking the habit, there had been a lunar eclipse on the Nodal Axis. This is a fated decision.

2.     Brother Damien was admitted to the religious profession on October 7, 1860. Transiting Uranus is conjuncting his progressed Ascendant in Gemini. There was a lunar eclipsed on August 1, 1860, conjunct the progressed MC/IC in Aquarius. If the birth were a little later, the conjunction would be more exact, but it is still just a degree away. T-Pluto, a planet having so much to do with the nature of renunciation and abnegation, is hovering near the Ascendant. Two months later, on December 28, 1860, there is a lunar eclipse involving the exact degree of his natal Chiron. His mission was already taking shape.

3.      In 1863 he asked to set sail for Hawaii in place of his brother who was too ill to go. On December 6th of 1862, there had been a lunar eclipse involving both his progressed Ascendant in Gemini and natal Saturn. On December 21st of 1862, there was a solar eclipse only three degrees from his Moon. His Moon rules the Cancer IC. He was about to take a long journey.

4.     Probably in October of 1863, he set sail for Hawaii—a voyage that was to take five months.  Transiting Chiron was conjuncting his North Node. The progressed Moon was in Scorpio conjuncting, during the voyage, both natal Jupiter and progressed Jupiter. Jupiter is a planet of travel and orthodoxly rules for Damien, the ninth house of “long journeys”. There was a solar eclipse exactly opposed to Venus in Scorpio, on May 17, 1863. Venus is the orthodox ruler of the Taurus Ascendant. T-Pluto has passed the proposed Ascendant, but during the voyage, is less than a degree away at times. Brother Damien was cutting his ties to all he knew, and beginning an entirely new life (and identity—Pluto at the Ascendant). It is clear the Pluto transiting the Ascendant was decisive for changing Brother Damien’s life. The astrologer must decide whether a late tenth degree Ascendant or a twelfth degree Ascendant seems more suitable. Just at the sea voyage was beginning, there was a solar eclipse on November 11, 1863, conjuncting both natal and progressed Jupiter—a planet indicated as vitally concerned with travel and with hope.   During the voyage, the progressed Ascendant was exactly opposed natal Saturn, and remained in close orb when Brother Damien arrived and was ordained as a priest. He was confronting great responsibility.

5.     Brother Damien arrived in Hawaii on March 19, 1864 and was ordained a priest either on May 21 or May 24, 1864. The progressed Ascendant opposing Saturn is most important in this formal consecration. A time of birth just a little earlier, would see the progressed Ascendant exactly opposed Saturn, but the time proposed 12:25:48, sees the P-Ascendant only about half a degree from exact. We are quite close here. When he arrived in Hawaii and was shortly made a priest, the progressed MC in Aquarius was conjunct both the natal and progressed Neptune. This is a strong indicator. His career was in spiritual service of the Christ/Jesus, and this voyage was decisive in advancing that career.    In the same month as the ordination, there was a solar eclipse on his Ascendant—closer if the 12:30 PM time is used for birth, but still close enough with 12:25:48 PM. The focus was on his identity—who he was becoming as a soul, indicating by the first house.   Interestingly, T-Chiron was conjuncting both natal and progressed Uranus in Pisces at this time. His unusual work as a healer was foreshadowed. Also, transiting Saturn was conjuncting the N-Vertex. This further indicated responsibility—and fate.

6.     The years which followed were important, but less eventful in terms of Father Damien’s reputation than the years following May of 1873.

7.     On May 10 1873, Father Damien, at his own request and with the sanction of his Bishop, arrived at the settlement as its resident priest.P –Moon was in Pisces, indicating he was answering the Bishop’s call through self-sacrifice. When he arrived at Molokai, the P-Moon was exactly conjunct P-Uranus, and had been conj N-Uranus when he was deciding. It was still conjunct N-Uranus.  Importantly for his work as healer, T-Chiron exactly conjunct N-Pluto. His task was to minister to and heal, as best he could, the most deep-seated and deadly of physical conditions. Very importantly, progressed Mars in Pisces was exactly on the progressed North Node. With the religious zeal characteristic of Mars and Pisces, he was undertaking that which he must, if his soul were to grow. As well, and also very importantly, the progressed Ascendant in Gemini was opposing his natal Moon in Sagittarius. A birth a little later and the opposition would be more exact, but it is still within less than a degree. Speaking of deep seriousness, progressed Saturn is closely conjunct natal Mercury, though this was characteristic of many years. It is fascinating to see that transiting Saturn is exactly conjunct progressed Mercury as well. It must have been a more serious, sobering moment. There is also a lunar eclipse exactly conjunct progressed Vesta. His commitment is firm.

8.     In 1882, he began to experience pain in his left leg and his feet, yet he still had not contracted the disease after ten years. The disease was, however, beginning. The P-MC entered into Pisces early in that year. Transiting Saturn was crossing his Ascendant—indicating the beginning of a new period. Most importantly, the progressed Ascendant in Cancer was starting is conjunction of progressed Chiron. Progressed Mars was conjuncting natal Uranus. Big changes were beginning, involving the nervous system. The progressed Moon had entered Cancer and was moving through the fourth house of the chart. A condition involving fate, karma and the form was precipitating. At the end of 1882, there was a solar eclipse opposing progressed Jupiter.

9.     By 1883, Father Damien had lost the feeling in his leg and redness appeared on his foot. He had contracted leprosy. Again there was a solar eclipse on the Ascendant, just as there had been when he first arrived in Hawaii. This occurred on May 6, 1883. A karmic cycle was completing.

10. We note that at this time, as the disease is beginning, the progressed Ascendant is involved with both the progressed and natal Chiron. Father Damien’s role as the “wounded healer” is developing.

11.  His mother died apparently in 1885. He had written home telling he had the disease. It is said that the mother died of a heart attack as she opened the letter. Transiting Saturn is opposing its own natal position that year and later in the year, opposing natal Moon—represented the mother. A bit later in 1885 (the date of the mother’s death is not given), the transiting Moon was crossing the progressed Ascendant and also natal and progressed Chiron. As well, on March 16, 1885, there is a solar eclipse in Pisces squaring the natal Moon in Sagittarius. This square is also indicative of the advancing condition of the disease during that year. Leprous lesions appeared on his ear and his eyebrows fell off. The transiting Saturn position involving the progressed Ascendant and progressed and natal Chiron also indicated a worsening of his condition.

12. Hundreds of people, hearing about the plight of Fr. Damien, offered to come to help him. One such person was Ira Barnes Dutton, who had fought in the American Civil War, separated from his wife, had been a heavy drinker, and who still wanted to come.  He had entered the Catholic Church and desired to do penance for the rest of his life. He was of considerable help to Father Damien. His arrival appears to have occurred in 1885. Progressing Juno was crossing the Ascendant of the proposed chart.

13. The years that followed were very difficult, but Father Damien refused to stop his service. T-Saturn was near the base of the chart, imposing its penalties.

14. Father Damien was bedridden on Mar. 23, 1889 and on Mar. 30, 1889 he made a general confession and renewed his vows. On April 1st, he received Holy Viaticum and on April 2, he received Extreme Unction. He died at 8:00 AM on April 15, 1889. On January 1, 1889 there was a solar eclipse within less than a degree of his Capricorn Sun. Solar eclipses on the Sun are always fateful. T-Jupiter, bringing release, was near Sun. Importantly, Father Damien’s death occurred on an exact Chiron return, with T-Chiron less that 10 minutes of arc from the natal Chiron position. He was indeed the “wounded healer” and died exactly at the conclusion of one Chiron cycle. Eclipses are influential both before and after a given event. It is no surprise to see a solar eclipse exactly on Father Damien’s natal Chiron on June 28, 1889, two months after he died.

15. In 1936 his body was removed in great state from Molokai to Antwerp. This, is most interesting, as transiting Uranus was conjuncting the proposed Ascendant, and there were two lunar eclipses that year—one involving the exact degree of his Capricorn Sun and the other involving the exact degree of his all important Chiron. The chart was still working.

16. About one hundred years after his death (for the chart continues to ‘work’) he was beatified by Pope John Paul II, a preliminary step toward sainthood as declared by the Church.  This occurred in the summer of 1995.  Again we see a solar eclipse at the Ascendant, this time quite exact, at 8Taurus56. We remember that such eclipses occurred when he first arrived in Hawaii, and when it was confirmed that he had leprosy.

17. These later events, concerning Father Damien’s reputation, relate very well to the proposed chart. Indeed, if the degree of the Ascendant is not exact, it is very close.


Father Damien’s life has not been analyzed exhaustively. So much of his life process was internal, and too little in known. But enough has been given to show the manner in which his proposed rays and proposed astrological chart elucidate the major themes of his life and support the idea that he was in individual passing through the fourth initiation—the “great renunciation”.

It is not always that we can use esoteric and hierarchical rulers with confidence, because we are not sure of the true spiritual status of the individual concerned. But when the Tibetan pointed to the great difference between the death of a Father Damien and the death of a Hitler, He was making an important statement about the spiritual value of Father Damien.

We see in this great though humble man and out-picturing of profound sacrifice; we see the life demonstration of a member of the Hierarchy of Love and Light, for all fourth degree initiates (though not full Masters) are members of the Hierarchy. We see an example that brings reality to the many words we read about the truly spiritual life.

Perhaps the student of Father Damien’s life will be both inspired and horrified. To sacrifice and renounce so completely is shocking to the usual personality-centered individual, and even to those who are learning somewhat of soul culture. Father Damien’s life was a great challenge to us all—to see whether we can follow through on our training, and drain the “cup of karma” to its dregs, while, simultaneously offering the gift of our life to humanity.

Lives lived through or beyond the fourth degree—the life of the Dalai Lama, Krishnamurti, Yogananda, Vivekananda, Mother Teresa, and Father Damien and others that will be found here and there throughout the pages of this book—are extraordinary. This level of accomplishment lies far beyond the capabilities of most, because the degree of love required is far greater than animates the hearts of most spiritually inclined individuals. Yet, once the sounding note is recognized, the inevitability of renunciation presents itself. Then, it is only a matter of time, will and, mostly, an intensity of love—no matter what the major ray of the individual.

To study Father Damien’s life is astrologically illumining, because the planets supposedly associated with the fourth degree are indeed profoundly related to his life process. We can see them in action. We can understand the trials they present, and the rewards they bring.  Astrology is far from just an academic study. It is meant to help us live more spiritually, beautifully and scientifically. Perhaps, something of its value will emerge as we study as closely as possible the lives of great initiates and their astrological charts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *