John Calvin: Religious Reformer

John Calvin: Theologian and Religious Reformer
July 20, 1509, NS Noyon, France. (Source—according to Marc Penfield, an old book which stated that Calvin had Uranus rising.
According to LMR, Wemyss gives a speculative time of “forenoon” in MA 7/32.
Rudhyar gives a speculative time of 1:27 PM.) Died, May 27, 1564, OS, Switzerland.

(Sun, Mars, Venus in Cancer; Proposed Ascendant, Pisces; Moon, Taurus; Jupiter, Sagittarius; Saturn, Virgo; Uranus rising in Aries; Pluto in Sagittarius at the proposed MC; Neptune in Aquarius)

john-calvin-44John Calvin (born Jean Cauvin), was one of the most prominent and powerful leaders of the Protestant Reformation, which was initiated by Martin Luther. Expressing through a temperament utterly in contrast to the bold, rough and colorful, Luther, Calvin, a reticent, logical, controlled and controlling man, systematized the fundamental principles of the Reformation in his massive and authoritative Institutes of the Christian Religion, considered to be one of the most influential theological works of all time.

John Calvin was a highly respected though controversial figure even within much of the Protestant Movement. While there can be no question of his dedication, his sincerity of faith, his religious passion, and his impressive intellectual abilities, his thought was thoroughly permeated by a humorless severity which can only be judged as repressive of the human spirit and, indeed, led to a string of persecutions which must be considered tyrannical by any humane standard. Though an irrevocably committed and tireless worker on behalf of the Christian Faith (as he conceived that Faith), he eventually became willing to humiliate, abuse, exile, torture and even execute those who disagreed with his theological formulations. It is reported in The Catholic Encyclopedia (which can be considered reliable in this regard, despite its obvious anti-Protestant bias) that between the years of 1550 and 1555, as Calvin struggled to achieve unquestioned supremacy as head of the Genevan theocracy, there were fifty-eight sentences of death and seventy-six of exile, besides numerous committals of the most eminent citizens to prison.

Calvin’s center of temporal and spiritual power was the Geneva, Switzerland of the middle sixteenth century. Although the population of this city did not, as a whole and at first, embrace him eagerly (at one point even banishing him and his closest religious companions), his growing stature as a Protestant Theologian made it possible within a few years to overcome this opposition and establish himself in Geneva as an unquestioned authority, not only in all matters which pertained to the religious life, but in governmental functions as well—for Calvin was an astute lawyer as well as a divine. Under Calvin’s autocratic supervision, Geneva became a rigid theocracy; some called it “the Rome of the Protestant World”. Church and State were indissolubly united. Freedoms were limited. Citizens were obliged to conform to Calvin’s strict and militant version of a proper Christian way of life. Calvin’s word became the law. At length it was judged a crime, severely punishable, even to question the correctness of his writings and interpretations, let alone actually oppose the many statutes to which they gave birth. The formerly persecuted reformer of Christianity had become the self-justifying persecutor.

John Calvin is often regarded as a humanist, for his emphasis on classical learning and his desire to address himself to the evils of his times. He thought of himself as a biblical theologian in accordance with the Reformation slogan scriptura sola. He was prepared to follow Scripture even when it surpassed the limits of human understanding, trusting to the Holy Spirit to inspire faith in its promises. He sought to appeal rhetorically to the human heart rather than to compel agreement, at least in the traditional manner of systematic theologians, by demonstrating dogmatic truths. He was, however, authoritative in his argument and, through force of rhetoric and argument, did seek to compel agreement. By temperament, he had little sympathy with Medieval Scholasticism though, when it served him, as it did in the matter of defending the doctrine of Predestination, he could reason as well as any scholastic.

His emphasis was as much upon this world as upon the next. He was utilitarian in temperament, friendly to commercial, capitalistic interests and the growth of urban life, and no rejecter of material progress, though, personally, he cared little for conventional wealth. With salvation securely and (for the “Elect”) comfortingly determined by the Doctrine of Predestination, he could focus on how the Christian life was to be lived in this world. Humanists are concerned with increasing the quality of human life, thinking it more important than preoccupation with remote, other-worldly considerations. In a similar vein, Calvin, too, emphasized how this life should be lived, but his attitude was conservative and distrustful of human nature, and he sought meticulously to supervise every aspect of the conduct of Genevans (and, later, other Protestants), enforcing their conformity to theocratic principles and laws which, in his own thought, he had established as irrefutably correct, even sacrosanct.

John Calvin’s influence on the practice of the Christian Religion has been immense, and many to this day consider it a salutary influence. His thought was eagerly accepted in England (initially by John Knox of Scotland who broke with Anglicanism), and impulsed the Puritan Movement which was so influential a force in the daily life and culture of the early American Colonies. Religious practice in America inherited this Puritanism, which influenced, and still influences, a significant number of religious sects, for Calvinism, in its many guises and modifications, is still surprisingly powerful today. Modern Christian fundamentalism owes much to Calvin’s strict formulations concerning the proper way to think about the nature and practice Christianity.

The tense, anxiety-ridden psychology of John Calvin naturally pervades his theology and the religious attitudes which have derived from it. Calvin’s upright, serious and humorless demeanor is reflected in a grim and often joyless practice of the Christian Faith. His conviction of the unassailable correctness of his formulation of Christian Doctrine has bred in his followers an attitude of intolerance towards other religions, and notably towards divergent approaches within the Christian Faith (especially to Catholicism—against which the early leaders of the Protestant Reformation revolted).

Calvin’s cold logic (cold, despite his volatile and potentially fierce and vindictive emotional nature) made his acceptance of the Doctrine of Predestination inevitable. His mind corroborated its correctness, and his will gave assent, even though he recognized that it would be seen as unfair and even repugnant by many. The version of Predestination which he advocated was  unusually severe and apparently heartless, for Almighty God was seen as the sole Arbiter of who would be “saved” and who would be “damned” (“Double Predestination”, it was called), and there was nothing any human being could do to change “God’s Will” in the matter. Those who were destined by God to be “saved”, were known as the “Elect”; often their worldly position and financial success served to indicate who they were. Their prominence proved their merit. Can we see in this the workings of an unconscious materialism associated with the Taurus Moon?

Like so many Protestants of the era (following Luther’s example), Calvin saw salvation (more than service) as man’s greatest concern, and was convinced that it was to be achieved “by faith alone” rather than through works. Man was justified by his faith, and so unworthy, that he could not hope to earn salvation, which was predestined, or not, in any case. While a social conscience was enjoined upon the faithful, helping one’s fellowman was seen as a Christian duty, a part of good Christian conduct, rather than a spontaneous joy based upon warmth of fellow feeling and the heart. Yet is must be said that Calvin was said by some to have a “talent for friendship”, an ability to preach and read from Scripture empathically, and his relationship with his wife was judged to be warm. No doubt he displayed his warmer more humane qualities to the “faithful” (i.e., to those he could trust to agree with his mental formulations).

Calvin, as strong in his own way as any Pope, ‘reigned’ in a theocratic social order governed by Protestant absolutism. Many of the faithful, however, did not judge him harshly because, towards them, he was not as harsh. Indeed, as he saw it, and demonstrated convincingly to many, he cared for the welfare of their souls, and worked indefatigably towards that end.

His special hatred (for, really, it was nothing less) was reserved for those who disagreed with his rigidly instituted theological conclusions—especially for heretics (i.e., those who disagreed strenuously and, worse for them, had good reason for doing so.) The most infamous persecution for which Calvin was responsible was the trial and subsequent burning alive of the noted theologian, mathematician, scientist and biblicist, Michael Servetus, whose martyrdom was the impulse which sparked the founding of the Unitarian Movement and fanned the flames of freedom in the hearts and minds of thousands in subsequent centuries.

A close study of Calvin’s thought and behavior towards Servetus, both before and subsequent to his capture in Geneva, reveals pride, malice and envy in all their ugliness. Calvin proved himself true to the unpleasant fanatical tendencies of the sixth Ray of Devotion and Idealism, for this energy tends to produce those who, while seeing their friends and those who agree with them as ‘angels’, see their enemies as very much the reverse. Servetus, a Christo-centric scholar, free-thinker, physician and intellectual of high caliber, was demonized in the most contemptible manner. Calvin, for all his mental logic and clarity of thought, was no psychologist—his persecutory approach to Servetus revealing the most ignorant form of psychological projection, which he disguised  from himself as service to the “glory of Christ”.

It is probable that Calvin, in an earlier exchange of letters between them, had felt himself humiliated by the brilliance of Servetus’ mind, and, using religion as his cloak, sought the last full measure of revenge. Years before Servetus’ execution, Calvin uttered these menacing words to his friend and fellow reformer Farel: “If he [Servetus] comes here and I have any authority, I will never let him leave the place alive”. Servetus has dared to criticize (in marginal glosses), Calvin’s by then ‘unassailable’ “Institutes of the Christian Religion”. Calvin took his faith seriously—seriously enough to murder (through the use and abuse of the law) those who dared to think and speak thoughts in opposition to his own.

Calvin was severely criticized for his merciless treatment of the ‘heretic’, Servetus, and wrote, in self-defense, a remorseless justification of his action one year following the execution. Many in high places sided with his point of view. In any case, though Calvin had his enemies, his position in Geneva was secure and could not be effectively challenged; his spiritual and temporal authority only grew—though his more liberal opponents gained much momentum from his self-righteous intolerance.

Calvin remained increasingly influential until his death. He wrote voluminously to his Protestant allies throughout Europe. As well, thousands of sermons (many, extemporaneously delivered and recorded) are extant; he incessantly carried out pastoral duties connected with Church life—baptisms, weddings  and funerals—constantly preaching and offering spiritual advice. He also counseled a number of European rulers on the proper approach to the religious life, for his opinion was much in demand and desire to spread Protestantism was great As a result of his ceaseless activity on behalf of the Church and because of his draining engagement in many controversies and theological disputes, he wore himself out and died at no very advanced age.

John Calvin’s goal was to strengthen the cause of Protestantism throughout Europe and establish Geneva as the leading center of the Protestant Reformation. Above all he sought to spread the new gospel (in the formulation of which he had played so decisive and extensive a part) as widely and successfully as possible. He succeeded well, leaving his mark indelibly upon the development of Christianity (in Europe and, in fact, throughout the world). His influence was felt not only in the sixteenth century, but, significantly, for three and half centuries to follow. He was a powerful agent for the reformation of the many notable abuses of the Catholic Church, but seemed not to have learned that a reformer must not fall victim to the very worst of the abuses he seeks to counter—especially, in Calvin’s case, the abuse of power.

Choosing John Calvin’’s Astrological Chart

The astrological chart for John Calvin is speculative. An “old book” states that he had Uranus rising. Maurice Wemyss believes he was born in the “forenoon”—a rather indefinite term. A time of 10:00 AM is offered as a possibility by Lois Rodden. This time would place Uranus relatively near the Ascendant, but the question would remain, “Did Calvin have Aries or Pisces rising?” A mere fifteen minutes later, the Ascendant would have changed to Aries, yet, despite Calvin’s sometimes fiery temperament, and the severe headaches to which he was constantly prone (a physical problem associated with Aries), there are a number of factors to contra-indicate Aries as his Ascendant, foremost among which were his cold, reticent, and (apparently) humanly unapproachable demeanor. An individual with an Aries Ascendant would normally be possessed of far less reserve.

A study of Calvin’s physiognomy (from the few images available) reveals a relatively long, narrow face with depressed cheek-bones. A certain flattening of the face beneath the eyes is a physiognomical characteristic associated with the influence of the sign Pisces. For this reason, for reasons related to astrological timing, and for his close identification with certain leading characteristics of this sign, Pisces has been chosen as the Ascendant, and efforts have made to rectify the chart, using 10:00 AM as a starting point, but concentrating on times slightly preceding 10:00 AM.

Dane Rudhyar, an astrologer of accomplishment, has rectified Calvin’s chart to 1:27 PM, which yields Scorpio on the Ascendant. There can be no doubt that Calvin had a somewhat Scorpionic, Plutonic appearance. Physiognomically, a chart rectified for 9:53:45 AM gives the third decanate of Pisces rising—the decanate ruled by Scorpio. This Rising Sign and this decanate, satisfy both the Piscean and Scorpionic appearance, and retain Pluto as a very powerful planet (perhaps more powerful than in the Scorpio rising chart, as Pluto is the esoteric ruler of Pisces, and is found prominently near the MC in the Pisces rising chart). It is said that he had “piercing eyes”—a testimony to the Scorpionic sub-influence and also to his very evident sixth and first rays.

Pains have been taken to confirm the plausibility of this chart with a few minutes short of 22 degrees of Pisces rising. As will be demonstrated, the chart works well. An interesting side light arises from considering the nature of the Sabian Symbol for the 22nd degree: “A Prophet Carrying Tablets of the New Law is Walking Down the Slopes of Mount Sinai”. The keyword is “Mandate”. While it is not advisable to choose a rising degree simply on the basis of its symbolism, it will be discovered that the degree indicated works out very well in terms of astrological cycles, as well as symbolically.

Another degree of Pisces, the 25th, is tempting to consider—“The Purification of the Priesthood”, but it can be questioned whether it works out as well mathematically—using progressions, directions, transits and eclipses—and even whether it is as appropriate symbolically, though Calvin did rebel against the corruption of the Catholic priesthood.

To reinforce the coincidence of the degree of the “Prophet” from Mount Sinai, and the mathematical correspondences, we also have the conjunction of the proposed Ascendant with the star Scheat, which, though often considered a negative and unfortunate star, is associated with brilliance of mind, and with the daring to think or do the impossible—potentially, involving the sacrifice of self or others. Whether we approve of what Calvin did or the manner in which he did it, he certainly accomplished a significant work through the power of his daring thought. Many were sacrificed, himself included (through overwork in the service of his fanatical world-view). The presence of this star on the proposed Ascendant seems to lend the power of irresistible fate to his accomplishments.

Propositions Concerning John Calvin’s Ray Structure

The Ray of the Soul: All evidence reinforces the hypothesis that John Calvin, as a soul, was focused upon the sixth Ray of Devotion and Idealism. The reasons are as follows:

1.     His life was totally preoccupied with the relationship between man and God. He was “single-minded” to an unusually degree, bending all factors to the service of the Faith.

2.     He was set and narrow in his ways—characteristics of the sixth ray.

3.     His was the psychology of polarization—Good and Evil; God Transcendent and fallen man; the faithful and the heretics; the saved and the damned.

4.     Though outwardly cool (even cold—though pleasant enough to his close associates) he was inwardly violent. This worked out in the repressions and persecutions for which he was responsible. The sixth ray is, as mediated through Mars, a ray of violence.

5.     He was a man of passion, His mind was precise and logical (with strong fifth ray elements in it), but his heart (or should one say—his solar plexus) was highly charged. One of his chosen symbols was a hand reaching forth from a heart. In 1529 he underwent the kind of conversion or awakening experience, which is typical of those upon the sixth ray.

6.     He was a great debater, seeking to enforce his point of view on a variety of disputants. He sought to demonstrate to them the error of their ways. He was militant in his defense of the “True Faith”, and merciless in his pursuit of those who had fallen into doctrinal error—i.e., ‘heretics’.

7.     He loved the ideal so well, that he was willing to ignore the usual human and humane considerations when dealing with people, insisting that the ideal (not the personal) must triumph.

8.     His method of was one imposition. When the sixth and first rays are combined (and it is likely that strong elements of the first ray existed in Calvin’s personality), the factor of imposition is at its strongest and most dangerous.

9.     His great emphasis was upon salvation—i.e., relief from sin and this world. Characteristically of those upon the sixth ray, he believed in salvation through faith alone and Divine Grace.

10. Unlike those upon the second ray, his mistrust of human nature (and, no doubt of himself) caused him to emphasize God Transcendent, and the Fatherhood of God rather than God Immanent.

11. For Calvin, there was an impassible chasm between man and God. One could span the chasm only through the mediation of Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God. We see in Calvin’s view of the innate powerlessness of man, the workings of the sixth ray which inclines to see all Goodness, Truth and Beauty as outside the human sphere—at least after the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden.

12. He never allowed himself a holiday. One wonders at the karmic factors for which he was (albeit, unconsciously) atoning.

The astrological factors conveying the sixth ray are powerful, offering strong entry for these militant soul energies. All three of the sixth ray signs/constellations are tenanted and the planets in these signs are prominent. Pisces is the proposed Rising Sign, strengthening Calvin’s emphasis on Divine Grace, faith, and the sinfulness and powerlessness of man unaided. Both rulers of Pisces, visionary Jupiter exoterically, and radical Pluto esoterically, are placed in the strongest of the sixth ray signs, Sagittarius. Jupiter, placed in Sagittarius, is in its own sign orthodoxly and in a house, H9, in which it is dignified. Pluto, certainly relevant in the case of a disciple such as Calvin, is elevated—the most elevated planet, and is conjunct Jupiter and also the North Node in Sagittarius—pointing the way towards the acquisition of experience. Saturn, exceedingly important in the chart of this man-of-the-law, is in the sixth ray sign Virgo and is, in this proposed chart, exactly on the Descendant. The Vertex, or ‘Point of Fate’ is also in Virgo, interestingly in the same degree as the proposed Mercury of Calvin’s doctrinal nemesis, Michael Servetus (using the earlier of the two proposed Servetus charts).

Calvin’s Sun is in the water sign, Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon and Neptune. Since Calvin was certainly an Initiate of the Threshold (who, it may be fairly said, did not succeed in passing two {or, maybe, three} of the “temptations in the wilderness”, and who, most probably, had not even passed the second initiation), his preliminary initiate status renders Neptune, the esoteric ruler of the Cancerian Sun, even more important than it otherwise would be—and it would be important anyway. For Neptune is a distributor of the sixth ray (the soul ray proposed for Calvin), and a special ruler of the sign Pisces. Neptune is, as well, widely opposed to Calvin’s Sun in Cancer. The factor of transcendence (salvation, release, escape) was consistently in view, even though his respect for worldly matters was considerable, in some respect due to two prominent earth signs—Taurus, holding the Moon and Virgo, holding Saturn and the Vertex.

Mars, in the sign of its fall, Cancer (the same sign as Calvin’s Sun) must also be considered as potent. Further, Mars is in the house of its fall as well. Calvin is said to have had a “hot temper”. As Mars rules and solar plexus (and as Cancer also has much to do with this chakra of concentrated emotion), his emotionality and defensiveness (no matter how well regulated and suppressed) can well be imagined. One might think that Mars would be even more powerful if Calvin had Aries rising, but a number of characteristics contra-indicate Aries as the Ascendant (including Calvin’s much documented reticence and his fundamental lack of ‘spiritual confidence’). Although an Aries Ascendant might go some way in explaining the headaches from which Calvin is said to have constantly suffered, we have to note that Mars is a distributor of the sixth ray, and would be accented because of Calvin’s proposed sixth ray soul. Further, the rather close square between violent Mars and erratic Uranus (in Aries) would account for Calvin’s emotional explosions and the high tension under which he seems to have lived—unrelieved by merriment and gaiety, though not unrelieved by sex, a love of which his Taurus Moon may well indicate.

In concluding our thoughts about the justifications and conduits for the sixth ray, there seemed to be so much that Calvin shut out of his life so he could concentrate upon his great religious passion—the establishment of the Kingdom of the Christ. This capacity to ignore, despise and repudiate that which does not pertain to one’s leading interests is a well-known characteristic of the sixth ray—aided and abetted in this case by the grim sentinel, Saturn, standing watch at the seventh house where the “other” is encountered.

The Ray of the Personality: In his personality nature John Calvin was reticent, determined, controlled and controlling, reserved but implacable, centralizing power within himself. He was an enforcer of the “law”—upon others and, given the prominent position of Saturn, upon himself. Two rays, in some combination, stand out as characteristic of his personality function—the first ray and the seventh.

John Calvin was a driving force in the reformation of Christianity. It seems that he was able to subject himself (and others) to relentless, unrelieved pressure. Two of the constellations/signs associated with the first ray are tenanted. First, there is Aries, and it holds an important ‘tenant’—Uranus, the planet of ‘reformation’ and, on many occasions, of dictatorial will. Uranus is usually considered a seventh ray planet (and in Calvin’s case, it should be), but it also, essentially, carries much of the first ray (monadically) and is considered the “home of electric fire”. The “old book”, from which what little information we have about Calvin’s horoscope is derived, states that he had Uranus rising. That this essentially first ray planet is rising in the sign which brings in more of the first ray than any other sign, is tremendously significant in Calvin’s case. Even if he did not have Aries rising, he proposedly had the planet of reformation and reorganization (Uranus) in the sign of initiative and imposition (Aries). He was an irresistible force for the imposition of a new order, or at least, what he conceived to be a new order, which allowed a return (Cancer) to an originally intended order based upon complete and literal faithfulness to the Bible.

The second tenanted first ray sign/constellation is Leo, which holds Mercury, orthodox ruler of the third house of concrete thought and the seventh house of the law. One of the effects of Mercury in first ray Leo was to give Calvin an inflated self-assurance concerning the correctness of his thoughts and opinions, and a bold, positive manner in stating them. One has only to read a little of his Institutes of the Christian Religion to understand the forcefulness of his expression. This position naturally conditioned his mind as well.

When thinking about the first ray influence in this chart, the elevated Pluto becomes extremely important. It is placed in Sagittarius (the sign of the “burning ground”) and is square (widely) both the Ascendant/Descendant and Saturn (accounting for his tendency to purge and purify). Pluto is a Shamballically related planet and is a planet of compulsion and elimination. Calvin’s attitude towards his enemies was not charitable; he simply sought to eliminate them, one way or another. He conceived his enemies to be “enemies of the Faith”. We note that Pluto is in the ninth house, which governs one’s world view, philosophy or faith.

Prominent Saturn also has a strong first ray component. Calvin, a successful lawyer (Saturn at the seventh house cusp) even before he came to Geneva, saw himself as the judge of that which was theologically correct. The combination of a prominent Pluto and Saturn, plus prominent Aries assured him of the justifiability of imposition—a word much associated with the first ray.

When considering the first ray, we should not overlook the Sun (with Venus and Mercury) in the fifth house—Leo’s house (archetypally). The fifth house relates to the centralization of power (and the Cancer Sun enables one to hold on to it). Through the fifth house, personality is expressed in full force. The characteristic dynamic is often the exercise of a dominating authority through the force of one’s personal power. In Calvin’s view, he was simply representing the Faith in which he so completely believed; from a more penetrating psychological perspective, it can be seen that he thought quite a bit of himself as defender of the Faith (Mars in Cancer).

The highly ordered, organizing (and sometimes, re-organizing) seventh ray can also be readily seen as a component of his personality. The sign Cancer holds the Sun, and it is, partially, a seventh ray sign/constellation. The seventh ray is, in some respects, a conservative ray, protective of the form. This was very much so for Calvin, who was protective and extremely defensive of the form of Christianity, which he conceived as theologically and biblically correct.

If Cancer represents the more conservative side of the seventh ray (aided by Saturn, which is the Lord of the seventh plane, cosmically considered, and is positioned on the cusp of the seventh house), then Aries represents its more radical, re-organization side. Since sometime seventh ray Aries holds seventh ray Uranus, this combination impels towards a new order.

It is probable that (given Calvin’s proposed sixth ray soul), the first ray is more likely the major personality ray, with the seventh as an important subray. It is hard to imagine him as the driving force he was without the first ray quite prominent in his make-up.

The Ray of the Lower Mind: Two rays stand out as most likely—the first and the fifth. Calvin has planets in all the fifth ray signs/constellations—Leo, Sagittarius and Aquarius, and planets in two of the first ray signs. His bold and impressive writing style and his insistence upon being right (Mercury in first ray Leo), make the first ray, more probably, the major ray. A driving and impressive force runs through the words of his Institutes. The impression that one gathers is imposition of the ‘truth’. Of course, he cites the evidence (as he interprets it) from the Bible, and can argue well. There is plentiful use of fifth ray logic, but one has the impression that it is skewed by bias.

It is principally the fourth ray of compromise, of equability and fair-mindedness, and of the appreciation of art and beauty which seems to be missing. We have no sense of a divided mentality impartially viewing the various options. What is presented is certainty and certainty again—determined in part by a passion-driven logic, and reinforced by the zeal of the sixth ray—the fifth ray in service of the convinced sixth ray and disciplinary first ray.

The combination of the first and fifth rays (Mercury, the planet of mind is placed in first ray/fifth ray Leo, very close to the fifth house by Placidus), made of Calvin a formidable debater. He knew his Bible extremely well (the studential fifth ray) and could marshal forceful (first ray) arguments. (It can be questioned whether he knew his Bible quite as well as Servetus, whom he mercilessly eliminated.) One can see that he invested all his passion in the outcome of theological disputes—hardly the mind to examine all the evidence (as the fifth ray would do were it dominant) and weigh it fairly under the influence of the fourth. The third ray is also not much present. Calvin had little use for the “Schoolmen” and scholastics in general, finding them lost in vague, complicated and inconsequential considerations.

It should be said that Calvin had a powerful mind and was a product of two nations (France and Switzerland) in which the fifth ray is prominent. He was very much a product of the fifth subrace of the fifth rootrace—the Teutonic. This term must not be limited in its application to the Germanic peoples. Although his emotions were capable of vehemence, wrath and even violence, he was very much focused in his concrete mind. In that focus lay much of his problem as a separative human being, and elitist—for what is the Doctrine of the “Elect of God” but spiritual elitism of the most separative and ‘damning’ variety.

Whether or not we consider the fifth ray to be the major ray of the concrete mind, we must recognize Calvin as the product of a culture which increasingly emphasized the fifth ray. It is said that he was not especially interested in the science of his day, which contra-indicates the fifth ray, but the literalism of his biblicism, his refusal to speculatively exceed what was concretely written in the Bible, and the keen discrimination which he used to make his impassioned points—all these point to the strong presence of the fifth ray (albeit in the service of religious passion).

The Ray of the Emotional Nature: Given Calvin’s passionate and fiery internal nature (despite his outer reserve) the sixth ray seems the logical choice when seeking to designate the ray of the astral vehicle. The planet Mars (square erratic Uranus) is a key; Mars is placed in the sign Cancer which has so much to do with the solar plexus and the emotional nature. Mars can also be reasonably associated with the Scorpio decanate of the proposed Pisces Ascendant. Mars is placed in the fourth house (archetypally related to Cancer and the emotional life). From these indications, it is likely that Calvin (though seemingly impersonal) reacted to many situations personally. Among those who knew him more intimately, he had the reputation for being hot-tempered. It is also clear that he lived at a high level of tension—even tenseness. He was hardly a relaxed individual; rather he was driven and driving. All these qualities contra-indicate a second ray astral nature, as does his unforgiving attitude towards heretics (however much he preached forgiveness from the pulpit). As in the case of so many preachers and those influenced by the sixth ray, flagrant hypocrisy is always a danger.

The Ray of the Etheric/Physical Nature: The few existing images of Calvin reveal him as a person of some degree of physical refinement. The principal of order was certainly important to him, and he sought to impose it upon all aspects of life in Geneva. Obedience to God (and, psychologically considered, of others to himself) was important to him. Although Calvin was a great re-organizer of the Christian Religion, he expected Christians to conform to the new order. He, the rebel against the old order, expected rigid conformity to the new—largely devised by himself. There was much of the seventh ray in his nature, and he carried it down (often in minute detail) to the physical plane. Saturn in Virgo is meticulous.

The Proposed Ray Chart for John Calvin:

Soul: Sixth Ray
Personality: First Ray with Seventh Subray
Lower Mind: First Ray with Fifth Subray
Emotional Nature: Sixth Ray
Physical Etheric Nature: Seventh Ray

Some Highlights of the Astrological Chart Proposed

1.     John Calvin’s Sun was in Cancer. This influence contributed to Calvin’s deep conservatism, distrust of human nature, and innate fear and anxiety for his own (spiritual) survival (which secretly, it can be reasonably hypothesized) motivated so much of his repressive, controlling behavior. Cancer is also the sign of defensiveness and insularity. Calvin sought to expel from Geneva all theological ‘contaminants’; the edicts he sponsored made of it a city apart—in his eyes a model theocracy. From a psychological perspective, it could be said that he was “defending his territory”. Cancer governs the lunar lords—the four elementals of the personality. Calvin paid much attention to these and their correct regulation and management. He sought to bring lunar life under Saturnian law. Saturn/Jehovah seemed closer to him than the God of Love (though he spoke much of love).       Perhaps his family life provided for him some degree of relief from the many pressures of his work. It is said that his relations with his wife were extremely warm and affectionate. We do find Venus in Cancer in the fifth house, and one level of interpretation would indicate the expression of love within the home setting. This Venus is trine to the proposed Pisces Ascending degree and sextile to faithful Saturn. It is clear that what displays of affection there were, would more likely be seen behind closed doors than in public.

2.     There is a mantram associated with Cancer: “The Blind Unit is Lost”. It pertains, for the most part, to human beings of small development in the early days of human evolution, but on a much higher turn of the spiral, it explains much of Calvin’s psychology. Calvin was convinced that human beings—without the grace of God Who intervened in human life through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ—were both blind and lost, in fact, totally helpless and incapable of escaping damnation. Beneath Calvin’s mentally self-assured manner was a deep feeling of insecurity (and guilt) common to those strongly influenced by the sign, Cancer. Survival is always an issue to the Cancerian; in a spiritual sense, it was certainly an all-consuming issue to John Calvin.

3.     The exoteric ruler of the Sun in Cancer is the Moon, which is placed in H2 in Taurus—the sign and house of its exaltation. We note that the Moon is almost exactly sextile to Venus (of which it is the orthodox dispositor). This aspect points to a softer side of Calvin’s nature. It is said that in private life he was “cheerful and sensitive”—not overbearing. The private sphere is ruled by the Moon, and, it would seem, Venus mellowed his approach to this dimension of life. We see a very definite split between his psychological approaches in public and private. Probably, though it would be difficult to ascertain, the Venus/Moon relationship contributed to a love of feminine beauty (though it would hardly be a point for the austere head of a militant theocracy to emphasize). Actually, we find Venus and the Moon in mutual disposition—each the orthodox dispositor of the other. Calvin’s attitude towards women was moderate rather than repressive. Unlike some of his sources of theological inspiration, he was not one of those who argued that women should be subordinate to men. Note that Saturn (sometimes repressive) is sextile to Venus, as is the Moon. Calvin (though a man of thought) was, it appear, essentially a man of feeling who used thought to defend his deeper sensitivities. His quarrel was not with women, but rather with men who were his theological opponents.

The Moon in Taurus would provide the resources needed to build the social order Calvin envisioned. Though, personally, he cared little for wealth, he would  never be in want. The Protestant Ethic, which he was so instrumental in shaping has been theorized as largely responsible for the rise of modern capitalism. The large sextile configuration from the Ascendant to the Moon, to Venus to Saturn and the Descendent, made Calvin friendly to these forces. He did not consider the material world (and, symbolically, women) his enemy as had so many in the Church. Calvin’s attitude to towards “this world” was utilitarian and practical. The Moon in Taurus in its own house certainly contributed to this attitude. Further, it helped him build and consolidate his organization. If the Ascendant represents the soul objective for a particular incarnation, we can see that the Moon in sextile to the Ascendant, provided substantial support to his more spiritual aims.  For the advanced individual, mentally polarized (and Calvin could be judged as such) the Moon is said to veil Uranus. The Moon in Taurus is the builder of the form, and Calvin, the “reformer” needed definite forms through which to carry out his contribution to the Reformation. It could also be inferred that the Moon veiled, to some extent, the planet Vulcan, especially since it is placed in Taurus, the esoteric home of Vulcan. This veiling would be a considerable contribution to the power to build and build strongly—forging political and social relationships with those in power. A veiling of Neptune by the Moon is less likely—Calvin’s relationship to the form was not Neptunian.

4.   The Pisces Ascendant, co-ruled by Jupiter, Pluto and, in a special manner by Neptune, is very important in Calvin’s life. The Pisces influence made the subject of faith of the utmost importance. The dominant theme of his inner life was the question of salvation. His great purpose was to preach (and institute) a doctrine that would contribute to the salvation of those souls who were predestined to be saved. Calvin’s deeper motives were Piscean, in keeping with the values of the Piscean Age (already threatened by an increasingly scientific and objective attitude. Pisces is archetypally the sign of faith, and the principle of salvation and justification by faith was cardinal to Calvin’s theology.

Really, so many of Calvin’s attitudes were thoroughly Piscean. The five hundred year overlap period of the Age of Aquarius had not yet begun, though presentiments of it could be felt in the more progressive humanism of the period. Sir Francis Bacon (interestingly, born with both the Sun and Ascendant in Aquarius) was only three years old at the time of Calvin’s death. Bacon sounded the seventh ray, Aquarian note, ringing “the bell which called the wits together”—a bell which would become the death knell of the Piscean Age. Calvin’s period of history saw that last great expression of unadulterated Pisceanism.

Calvin’s insistence on the preeminence of faith over reason, of obedience over individualism, of sin over self-respect, and of the complete dependence of man upon God and Jesus Christ for salvation is entirely Piscean. Calvin’s powerful influence abides today, even as human society is making the transition into the Aquarian Age. Through his Institutes he stated the Piscean case so strongly that his influence can be judged as retrogressive to the advancement of human consciousness. Many today are still plagued by Calvin’s disempowering spiritual legacy. All power is given to God and to “His only begotten Son”. In his own right, the human being is seen as hopeless and feeble—hardly a conception to promote in human beings the ability to work out their own salvation by right of their own soul power.

The Tibetan Teacher speaks with real directness on the kinds of doctrines propagated by theologians such as Calvin:

“That man, as usual, distorted and misinterpreted thee teaching and the truth, and that it fell, as does all else at present, under the glamour and illusion of the astral plane, plus the Piscean influence, is true. Man’s thought dominated and distorted the ideal and produced such a damnable doctrine as the elect of God, the chosen of the Lord, or the sole people to benefit by the sacrifice and death of the great Son of God, and who pass, due to the merits of that vicarious death, into a state of bliss in heaven, simply because of an emotional choice, which ignores millions of those who have made no such choice, nor had the opportunity to do so”.” (EP II: pp.88-89)

As we evaluate the influence of John Calvin we must, therefore, see him as one who reinforced the old, even though, nominally, he was a leading representative of what has been called the “Reformation”. That the Reformation was sorely needed is certain. Some reformers however, fell into abuses equally as heinous as the ones against which they rebelled.

5.     Jupiter as the orthodox ruler of the Pisces Ascendant is a planet of real importance in Calvin’s chart, for it made of him a theologian. It is placed in the ninth house where philosophy and theology are focused. Calvin attempted to wrap his mind around the entirety of the Christian Faith, and expanded voluminously, through seemingly endless commentaries and sermons, on the Bible and all facets of Christian life. Calvin’s massive correspondence can be attributed in part to this powerful position of Jupiter, trine as it is to his authoritative Mercury in Leo—Mercury the planet of communication.

6.     More important than Jupiter is Pluto, the esoteric ruler of Pisces, also placed in the ninth house of religious thought. For Calvin, theology was, literally, a matter of life and death. Certainly, he was Plutonic in his approach to theology. Death and damnation were ever near, both for unbelievers and for those who believed incorrectly. He proved on a number of occasions that he believed heresy to be a crime deservedly punishable by death (Pluto, H9); as history demonstrate, he acted without mercy on his convictions in this regard.  Because of this Pluto position, the grim specter of death hovers over Calvin’s tireless efforts to ensure salvation for the “Elect”—and for himself. Pluto, “Lord of the Underworld”, represents the “Devil”, who is already ready to capture and destroy and unwary soul. One can sense that Calvin felt the presence of the “Great Adversary” intimately—and, was afraid of him. Saturn, another first ray planet, prominently placed, is yet another representative of the “Devil”. Occultists know Saturn as the “Dweller on the Threshold”—especially when He is placed at the seventh house cusp—the place of “open enemies”. Pluto is the “Dweller” as well, dragging to the surface of consciousness all that a man would rather not see of himself and, therefore, unconsciously projects upon others. Pluto and Saturn, two planets of death are unusually significant in Calvin’s psychological dynamics. Having no understanding of the “unconscious”, and believing thoroughly in the perfidious machinations of the “Devil”, it was to be expected that Calvin felt himself as a man besieged by evil. Humanity was equally besieged. Evil was always uncomfortably near and all-powerful against the helpless. It is well known that both Cancer and Pisces (signs of susceptibility) contribute to the formation of inferiority complexes. It can be reasonably hypothesized that Calvin felt himself helpless before evil, and needed a way to escape, a way to guarantee his own survival. His theology and his quest for absolute control of himself and his environment were a response to this deep-seated fear.

7.     Neptune is also a ruler of Pisces, and it is placed in the group sign Aquarius in the eleventh house (Placidus) on the cusp of the twelfth. Neptune is the great planet of faith and transcendence. It opposes Calvin’s Sun in Cancer (which it esoterically rules) making it of real importance—additionally so since it is a major planet of the sixth ray governing Calvin’s soul. Neptune in the 11th/12th makes of Calvin a religious utopian. Probably few living in Calvin’s Geneva thought of it as utopia (especially those who openly disagreed with him), but it seems reasonable to think that he was attempting to establish (Sun in Cancer and the seventh ray) a kind of utopia on Earth. One man’s utopia is another man’s hell, and so it proved to be. Calvin was a man with a dream (Neptune). His ideals were lofty; their goal were the bliss and rapture of the heavenly life—and eternity of ecstasy. It is therefore shocking to realize how at variance with his higher purposes were Calvin’s harsh and punitive methods.

8.     We note an impressive kite formation between Uranus, Neptune, Jupiter and Mercury. Uranus, Jupiter and Mercury are configured in a grand trine in fire signs. How words poured from Calvin’s pen (Jupiter-Mercury) and what great changes (Uranus) they brought about. With such a configuration he would be ready on any occasion to pronounce (confidently and with electrifying authority) on any theological or religious subject. Then add Neptune—the planet of faith, vision, imagination and transcendent realization. We have in these four planets the configuration of the inspired theologian. These four confer inspired, fervent, expansive thought about an entirely new (“reformed”) way of living. Certainly Calvin was in awe before the glory of God, and gave inspiring utterance to his realizations.  Saturn and Pluto, however, are quite different planets, and introduced the dimensions of death and suffering—the pains, trials and terrors of the journey towards God.

9.     Another meaning of Neptune in Aquarius is that of a “spiritual community”—a “community of faith”. Calvin’s Geneva was certainly that—at least in his estimation. The prominent Saturn ensured that it was also a community of religious law.

10. Upon Venus comment has already been offered. When Venus is in the sign Cancer, the Tibetan tells us that it “tends to make the mind the servant of the personality”. So many theologians with an excessive respect for the Old Testament, seem to prefer the welfare of the lunar vehicles to the welfare of the true soul (the Solar Angel—with which they have little familiarity, and which they distrust or even fear). Calvin may, at times, have known religious exaltation; he does report decisive religious experiences that confirmed for him his spiritual path. Yet, strangely, he over-emphasizes man’s inability to know God except through scriptural revelation. He is not a true mystic; Saturn is too strong. He is, it would seem, a victim of cleavage between the soul and the personality, and that cleavage is reinforced by his powerful, analytical mind. Thus, fifth ray Venus, may indeed, in his case, be the “servant of the personality”. Venus, is also a planet of the Christ, and (as the Solar Angel) can be considered the redeemer of the three personality vehicles. But one must trust in the power of the soul if this is to occur. One must realize that, immanent within man, the soul resides and that, as a result of this immanence, man is good, and can (to a significant degree) be the source of his own good. Surely such a realization would have been antithetical to Calvin’s theology—guaranteeing that it would remain and be perpetuated as a theology of cleavage.

11. The position of Ceres (the nurturer) in Pisces and, as well, in the twelfth house archetypally ruled by Pisces, would incline Calvin to “care for the souls” of his “flock”. This is a sensitive position, and another of the softening influences in a chart notable for predominating harsh influences.      The conjunction of dedicated Vesta with affiliative Juno, both in Virgo, the sign of purity, and opposed to Ceres, brings in much of the second ray, and shows him as committed to his marriage, his partners and all those who truly tried to perfect themselves in the Christian Faith.

12. Mars is placed in defensive Cancer and has already been referenced. This position would make emotional control difficult for Calvin, but he was certainly possessed of the means to enforce such a control upon himself as well as others. Mars in Cancer (considering the Saturn and Pluto positions) would conduce to a “siege mentality”—an attitude of vigilant defensiveness. Under this influence, Calvin would become a true “defender of the Faith”, and a member of the “Church Militant”. When he committed crimes against humanity (as surely he did), he would justify such as necessary for the defense of Christianity. He would thus easily ignore his more personal (and hateful) motivations.

13. Calvin’s prominent Saturn has been much discussed. That it is placed in Virgo is tremendously important. It would endow him with what has been described as a “morbid Christian conscience” and incline him to see natural human happiness as almost an offense against the solemnity required by God of all true Christians. No fault would be too small to examine. Everyone would be seen as deficient in character. The slightest infraction would be worthy of punishment. Saturn at the cusp of the seventh in exacting Virgo, represents the stern judge as well as the “Last Judgment” which he so much (however unconsciously) feared.    The position of Saturn no doubt contributed to Calvin’s reputation as remote, austere and unapproachable—removed from normal or natural human sociability. It would make him a man apart—except in the execution of his duty. It is said that he never allowed himself a holiday. This is a pointed testimony to the power of his Saturnian, sixth ray nature.       Saturn in Virgo at the cusp of the seventh house would also contribute mightily to his distrust of human nature and of his own (for no doubt, his sexual impulses were strong—Moon in Taurus in H2, sextile Venus). Cleavage is the great problem in Calvinism, and this position, more than any other, exacerbates the psychology of cleavage. With so prominent a Saturn (and such insistence on the efficacy of faith rather than works), it can be understood that Calvin was haunted by doubt concerning his own salvation. His view of the human condition was gloomy. Two constantly used metaphors present his unhappy assessment. Earthly life is seen as an abyss in which human beings have lost their way and as a labyrinth from which they cannot possibly escape without the aid of God and the Savior.   Calvin was not a man filled with joy—except perhaps when filled with a vision of God’s Transcendence. Saturn can be a depressive influence, inclining one to be fearful of spontaneous happiness, which would be seen as evidence of impiety. After all, why should man, a “miserable sinner” be happy about anything except his salvation? Saturn ensured that pessimism concerning man’s nature pervaded Calvin’s theology. More importantly, Saturn reinforces the cleavage between soul and personality. The theory that man would be hopelessly lost were it not for the intervention of God through Jesus Christ is accepted as true by those who have no true soul experience, and who feel (albeit unconsciously) estranged (Saturn) from the source of divinity within themselves (the presence of which they, of course, deny). When the light, love and power of the soul are experienced as innate within the human heart and mind, such a theology of Calvinism (based upon the distrust of man’s essential divinity) becomes impossible. Through an analysis of Calvin’s theology, we can understand somewhat where he stood upon the spiritual Path, and the integrations and fusions, which he had yet to accomplish. As it was, he punished many for his lack of soul-infusion.

14. It is interesting that Chiron is placed in Libra and in the seventh house (Placidus) as well. Calvin sought to be a guide and mentor (Chiron) to the religio-socio-political process. In the process of enforcing his guidance upon many of those who were naturally reluctant to accept it, he wounded  (Chiron again) many, and, if truth be known, misled them (though this judgment is rendered from the perspective of the Ageless Wisdom Teaching)

15. When we consider the influence of the “Fixed Stars” in Calvin’s life, we notice immediately the close conjunction of the Moon to Algol (within ten minutes of arc). Algol severs the head from the body—literally and figuratively. Calvin’s theologically-motivated persecutions resulted in the death of some of his doctrinal enemies. This much is obvious. However, he seems in a way to have severed his own head from his heart, allowing the force of his logic to lead him into the acceptance and propagation of heartless doctrines which ensured the damnation of all but a select few.

16. Mars is closely conjunct the star Canopus, inclining Calvin to become an educator and guide . Sirius is also within a degree of Mars. It becomes apparent that Calvin was willing to use force (Mars) to ensure that others followed his guidance. When we remember the fiery nature of Mars, and that Sirius is knows as “the Scorcher”, we can realize the force which Michael Servetus confronted when, per misadventure, he appeared in Geneva. Mars also opposed Vega—a planet associated with music, art and beauty. The implications are clear.

17. Jupiter conjuncts Rigel—another educational influence. Calvin was a great educator (or shall we say, “indoctrinator”). He was willing to share (impose) his theology widely.

18. Pluto has many aspects with stars. One of the closest conjunctions is with Bellatrix, conferring the power to attack through a sharp tongue. According to Bernadette Brady, it promises success through confrontation with the shadow. There was certainly confrontation, but as the shadow was unrecognized, it can be questioned whether there was success. Capella is also conjunct Pluto conferring rapid response, and Phact, as well, giving the tendency to venture into “uncharted waters”. The close contra-parallel with Regulus, adds to Calvin’s lethal (Pluto) control complex (Regulus)

19. The nodal axis touches Alcyone closely. Alcyone is involved in cases of judgment, inclining one to be (says Brady) “mystical but judgmental”. There is also a question in all contacts with the Pleiades concerning the accuracy of one’s vision.

20. The strongest stellar aspect (if the proposed chart is correct) is the conjunction of Scheat with the Pisces Ascendant. The power of this connection has been discussed  above. It would give Calvin great respect for his own ideas and innovations but very little respect for free-thinking of others—Saturn opposes.

21. Some of the Uranian planets make interesting aspects. One of the “black moons” in conjunct Calvin’s Venus. Repetitive Admetus is within two degrees of his Mercury in Leo. The expansive, communicative planet Apollon is conjunct both Pluto and his North Node in Sagittarius. In accordance with the influence of Apollon, his Institutes were widely propagated during the four centuries after his death.

22. Among the “Undiscovered Planets”, of the orbits of which we can by no means by certain, Morya, a planet of great power and emphasis is closely conjunct Uranus in Aries (the initiator of a new order).

Some Questions of Astrological Timing

1.     In 1529 Calvin is said to have undergone a “sudden conversion” to the spiritual life. Throughout much of the year 1529, we find Neptune (the planet of faith and belief) hovering at the very degree of the Ascendant, which it does not quite reach. Perhaps the birth occurred only slightly earlier. This conjunction would be decisive for a sixth ray soul who would emphasize salvation through faith alone. As well, Chiron (the planetoid of guidance) was also conjuncting the Ascendant. Under these influences, Calvin could easily have conceived a new and spiritual direction for his life. Significantly, the progressed Moon in Aquarius was, during the months when both Neptune and Chiron were closest to the progressed Ascendant, conjuncting both natal and progressed Neptune—thus, a double Neptune influence was operative—one through transits and the other through progressions.     Significantly, T-Uranus was crossing the N-IC at the time the T-Neptune and T-Chiron were conjuncting the Ascendant. A religious conversion changes the entire foundation of one’s life, and causes of reassessment of the nature of one’s personal security. Uranus at the fourth house cusp would  have this effect.    If the Neptune/Ascendant conjunction is considered simultaneously with the transit of Uranus at the fourth house cusp, we see a strong confirmation for a chart with Pisces rising, and moreover, a degree close to the one proposed. Other evidence will be offered, however, to support the proposed chart.

2.     Calvin’s father died in 1531—a year in which T-Pluto was opposing his Cancer Sun, and the P-Moon had entered Pisces (a sign of loss and relinquishment). There was also a solar eclipse on N-Uranus, the orthodox ruler of H12 (the house of relinquishment). T-Saturn was also opposing Jupiter, the ruler of H10, so often associated with the father. If the death occurred later in the year, T-Saturn would be conjuncting the fourth house cusp, a house also associated with the father. (The fourth and tenth houses can be seen to indicate father and mother interchangeably).

3.     When Calvin experienced a growing rebellion against conservative theology, T-Uranus was conjuncting N-Mars, just as it was during certain months of the year his father died. There was a solar eclipse that year on near his Saturn (conservatism) and the Descendant.

4.     Another source reports a religious conversion in the year 1533. It is possible that two such experiences occurred—one in 1529 and the other in 1533. Perhaps the first inclined towards the spiritual life and the second towards participation in the Reformation, per se. The indicators for the 1529 religious experience are stronger in every way. During 1533, Jupiter was transiting the MC in Sagittarius, a sign very important for Calvin’s religious perspective. Calvin, thus, had just experienced a Jupiter return. Further, the P-Moon was early in the year moving from Pisces into Aries, and, while T-Jupiter was at the MC, P-Moon was conjuncting N-Uranus (another indicator of sudden change of conviction).

5.     Calvin’s famous Institutes of the Christian Religion was completed in 1536. A lunar eclipse included both his MC and IC both in that year and immediately before. There was a solar eclipse on his Mars (for in many ways, he sounded the battle cry with the publication of this book rebelling against Papal authority. Of real importance for his role as a reformer (and rebel) was the conjunction of N-Uranus with his Sun in Cancer during 1536. We remember the importance of Uranus rising in Calvin’s chart. When, in 1534, he had begun the task of systematizing Protestant thought, there had been a solar eclipse exactly on his Sun in Cancer.

6.     In 1536, Calvin was persuaded by Guillaume Farel (to become his long-time co-worker) to dedicate himself to the work of the Reformation in Geneva. We remember that the Reformation, if anything, was a Uranian movement, and Uranus was on Calvin’s Sun that year. His acceptance of the responsibility is indicated by T-Saturn conjunct the P-Sun during certain months that same year.

7.     When the Genevans, unable to accept the austerity of Calvin’s and Farel’s proposed reforms, banished them from the city in 1538, T-Saturn, very appropriately, was at the seventh house cusp (society) and Calvin was having his first Saturn Return. There had also been a solar eclipse on Calvin’s Moon, indicating that this place of residence was in question. P-Mars, significantly, was making a conjunction to Calvin’s natal Sun, indicating trouble and disturbance, as well as, probably, a renewed militancy as a result of the experience of banishment.

8.     Following the banishment from Geneva, Calvin went to Basel and Strasbourg, where he spent three fruitful years preaching and writing. His P-Moon had entered Gemini and was in the third house of traveling and writing. T-Jupiter was, at first, there as well, but crossed into H4 (home) indicating his better reception in these cities, and at length conjuncted his Sun, indicating success. His Saturn Return continued (offering stability instead of upset). He learned much about Church administration and organization (Saturnian factors) during this period. Uranus was conjuncting his natal Mercury in Leo, giving new ideas which he could put at the disposal of the Reformation.

9.     In 1540 Calvin married Idelette de Bure, the widow of a man he had converted from Anabaptism. The marriage proved to be a happy one, described in the Encyclopedia Britannica as “extremely warm”.   During this year, transiting Jupiter was conjuncting the natal Sun and one month later T-Venus was conjuncting the progressed conjunction of the Sun and Venus while T-Juno was crossing both the seventh house cusp (marriage) and progressed Mercury (ruler of the seventh house). The involvement of the Virgo seventh house cusp and its ruler, points again, to the accuracy of a chart in which Pisces is the Rising Sign. Idelette’s death occurred in 1549. During that year T-Saturn was opposing Calvin’s N-Sun. T-Uranus was hovering near the Descendant and conjuncting the N-Vertex (point of fate). The P-Moon was in late Libra approaching and later conjuncting the P-Vertex also in late Libra and moving rapidly towards Scorpio. The progressed MC in Aquarius was conjuncting both natal and progressed Neptune, indicating perhaps what has been described as his display of inordinate grief at his wife’s passing. Fundamentally, we must remember that Calvin, essentially on the sixth ray, was a man of emotion.

10. By 1541 the Genevans (under leadership more sympathetic to Calvin’s cause and methods) welcomed him back, whereupon he immediately set himself to the task of constructing a theocracy—a government based on the subordination of the state to the Church.  The indicators for this period are truly impressive and some of them quite convincing of the relative correctness of the proposed chart. During the year 1541, promotive Jupiter conjuncts the progressed Sun in Leo, then moves steadily towards the seventh house cusp, symbolizing his renewed welcome and the cooperative attitude available for the institution of his reforms. There is also a lunar eclipse conjuncting the Ascendant/Descendant axis, again indicating his acceptance; he was perceived differently than before. The progressed Moon is close to natal Venus, again indicating acceptance and harmony. Calvin was finding a true home. Most impressive of all, and strongly confirmatory of the relative accuracy of the proposed chart, the progressed IC moves to an exact conjunction of the natal Sun in Cancer. Fewer indicators could be more powerful than this for showing the establishment of an individual, solidly and powerfully, in the place where he could flourish. On this basis of this aspect alone, one could feel reasonably confident of the chart’s accuracy.

11. In the year or two which followed his reacceptance in Geneva, the P-Moon moved into Leo as did P-Mars, conferring upon him renewed power and authority. T-Saturn was square the N-Sun, indicating the demanding tasks which he undertook as he sought to establish ecclesiastical discipline in all walks of life. There was a re-codification of Genevan laws and the city’s constitution. A thoroughgoing systematization of life was underway.

12. During this time it is to be noted that the progressed Mars was moving in concert with the progressed MC and IC, showing Calvin investing a tremendous amount of militant energy into the restructuring of his home base. This constant conjunction and opposition of P-Mars in relation to the P-MC/IC is another confirmation of the accuracy of the chart.

13. Over the years, Calvin was involved in many controversies. Chief among them were his violent opposition to the Anabaptists, his disagreement with Lutherans over the Lord’s Supper, resulting in the separation of the Evangelical Church into Lutheran and Reformed churches. He also wrote extensively on all manner of theological and practical matters relating to the manifestation of his theology. For a period of about ten years, P-Mars moved in opposition to the P-MC and conjunct the P-IC, and so he fought to establish his perspective on Protestantism. As well, the P-Ascendant had moved into Gemini—hence, his verbal outpouring.

14. One of his battles—his condemnation of the anti-Trinitarian view of Michael Servetus ended notoriously in the burning of Servetus as a heretic. The proposed chart for Servetus is remarkable for its terminal indications. As for Calvin, both is progressed Moon and transiting Mars were in Sagittarius (with its reputation for sixth ray fanaticism). T-Vesta was conjuncting T-Mars on the day of the execution, symbolically adding fuel to the flames. Transiting Saturn was also opposed to his progressed Sun in Virgo. The progressed Ascendant had reached a conjunction with the N-South Node and fiery progressed Mars in proud Leo was conjuncting his self-assured Mercury in Leo. Calvin was sure of the rectitude of the brutal procedures against Servetus. Clearly, there was some manner of ‘karmic score’ to settle. T-Saturn was transiting through the twelfth house in Pisces, and during Servetus’ trial, T-Pluto was opposing Calvin’s Juno—he was in the process of ridding himself of a karmic ‘partner’. That he was supported and even encouraged in his lethal vindictiveness is indicated by T-Jupiter at the Virgo Descendant. Many Genevans wanted him to go even further than he did. Calvin sought execution through beheading. Those around him insisted on death by burning, and Calvin, much to his shame, acquiesced.

15. Two eclipses occurred during this period: a lunar eclipse involving Calvin’s progressed MC/IC in Aquarius/Leo, and more importantly, an exact solar eclipse on his Sun in Cancer. Solar eclipses are always tremendously significant. They can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in their effects, but always momentous. Often people will die after a solar eclipse of their Sun, or they become elevated in some manner. For Calvin, the ‘light went out’, and his reputation as a divine was forever tarnished by this particular act scarcely-disguised personal hatred.

16. The astrological influences operative at his death are interesting. It is said that he died of a variety of ailments; essentially, he was worn out by the constant demands of his life and his overly-conscientious response to his duties and responsibilities. His death occurred on May 27, 1564.   Transiting Saturn had conjuncted his N-Sun one month before. There was a lunar eclipse exactly on the degree of Pluto (planet of death) one day before the death. Transiting Pluto in Pisces was squaring natal Pluto, and so the Pluto eclipse in Sagittarius/Gemini involved both positions of Pluto. Shortly after, within two weeks, there was a solar eclipse on his N-IC. The IC means, among other things, “the end of life”. The releasing power of transiting Jupiter is seen in its exact opposition to N-Neptune (co-ruler of the Ascendant). T-Uranus was exactly trine its own natal position setting off a grand-trine in fire, to which T-Jupiter (in the fifth degree of Leo as T-Uranus was in the fifth degree of Sagittarius) contributed. This combination was liberating.


John Calvin was a formidable influence in the history of Christianity. While he was powerful and extraordinarily influential during, and well beyond, his era, it is hard to judge him as a “great” man. One senses a prominent cleavage in his nature, and, speaking in terms familiar to the esotericist, a lack of integration between the lunar and solar dimensions of his energy system. His was the psychology of ‘banishment’, of separation from God. Probably he had very little deep mystical experience of the kind familiar, for instance, to St. Francis of Assisi. Calvin’s great exertions can be seen as a furious attempt to bridge the cleavage between soul and personality, or as he would probably describe it, between God and man.

Calvin was clearly a disciple but, from what is generally understood about his life and nature, he could not with justification be called a true initiate. He had not the breadth nor the love. When we think of the persecutory St. Paul before his conversion on the Road to Damascus, we see much of John Calvin. Calvin, trapped in his powerful theological mind, longed for the true light of the soul but had not yet achieved it. Not content with regulating his own life and ensuring that it measured up to the necessary standard, he, as so many powerful individuals upon the sixth ray are wont to do, insisted on regulating the life of others as well.

In the Ageless Wisdom Teaching we learn that the second degree initiate must demonstrate an important freedom which Calvin did not.       “Those preparing for the second initiation have to demonstrate their freedom from the slavery of ideas, from a fanatical reaction to any truth or spiritual leader, and from the control of their aspiration which—through the intensity of its application—would sacrifice time, people and life itself to the call of the Initiatory—or rather, to be correct, to what they believe to be His call” (R&I 127)

If we substitute God and Jesus Christ for the term “Initiator”, we see fairly represented a picture of the major dynamics of John Calvin’s life, and his failures. Therefore, indeed, it can be questioned whether he passed the second degree. If, however, he had not passed the “Purification”, he was certainly engaged in the process pertaining to that degree, and he forced that process upon all those over whom he had power.

At the second initiation, Venus, Jupiter and Neptune emerge with potency, and must overcome the fanaticism of Mars and Pluto. The second degree involves what has been called the “death of the desire nature”; the astral body dies to its usual personal cravings, and the disciple desires nothing else but the fulfillment of the Plan. One can see Calvin’s very direct approach to putting desire to death—through suppression rather than through understanding and love.

Certainly, however, Jupiter and Neptune (in sextile and representing the heart and mystical longing) were active in his life. He felt himself inspired and was to many a source of inspiration. Yet it cannot easily be said that true love (the buddhic energy) permeated the astral body (as is necessary to some significant extent for the second degree initiate). Those close to him and loved by him would surely disagree with this assessment, but his many enemies would roundly concur. The transition had not been made between the violence of Mars and Pluto to the loving serenity of Jupiter, Neptune and Venus (all of which carry so much second ray influence).

Most sixth ray souls will make a transition onto the second ray. Perhaps the period given to the struggles of the second degree is a point at which this transition may begin. Two disciples in the Tibetan’s group of students were attempting to make this transfer from the sixth to the second ray (as a soul focus). One of them was in the arduous process of attempting to take the second degree.

Probably Calvin’s closest co-workers and his intimates would have seen whatever emergence of the second ray was occurring, but, for the most part, the world did not. The obstacles to the emergence of the second ray (and thus, the obstacle to the taking of the second initiation) were doubt, separatism and, plainly put, fear. Saturn stood as the “Dweller on the Threshold” at the seventh house cusp, and, in the opinion of this author, was not passed.

Of course hundreds of years have passed since the incarnation of that particular soul John Calvin, and much may have been rectified in succeeding incarnations. Certainly St. Paul (at first a lethal fanatic in the service of the Jewish Temple) made a rapid transition into the realization and application of love. History and his writings document this.  Within a few centuries he had become a high initiate (some say, the Neo-Platonist, Iamblichus) and subsequently a Master of the Wisdom. The soul will guide the personality towards realization and release—if not in a given incarnation, then in incarnations to come. So we cannot know where the soul that manifested as John Calvin now stands in the development of love-wisdom.

We can judge, however, that in the incarnation in question, he certainly had not passed the “Three Temptations” (met between the second and third initiations). If “the Flesh” presented no inordinate problem, “the World” and “the Devil” (pride) certainly did. Had Calvin relinquished his well-controlled, ‘rational’ fanaticism, and had he overcome the unconscious desire for worldly power and the proud love of his own theological formulations (judged, at length to be infallibly correct and unassailable), the Geneva of the mid-sixteenth century would have had an entirely more benevolent culture, and Protestantism would have followed a path less suppressive of human nature and humane values—a path more in keeping with the true Teachings of the Christ.

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