The Indigenous Healing Journey
From July 24-29, 2022, Pope Francis made a historic visit to Canada. It was hoped and expected that His Holiness would apologize for the horrors and abuses endured by generations of Indigenous children in Indian Residential Schools.
If there is to be reconciliation, first there must be truth.
~ Timothy B. Tyson
A Bit of Background
From July 24-29, 2022, Pope Francis made a historic visit to Canada. His presence was requested by groups of Indigenous people seeking a healing process with the Roman Catholic Church. In response, it was hoped and expected that His Holiness would apologize for the horrors and abuses endured by generations of Indigenous children in Indian Residential Schools, most of which were operated by or on behalf of the Catholic Church (as well as other denominations).
Indian Residential Schools in Canada began in the early 1800s, and the last of these schools closed as recently as 1997 (just 25 years ago!) First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were forcibly removed from their families, and many of them were never able to return. Generations of trauma were inflicted on these children, wounding them on personal, cultural, familial, sexual, and other levels. Indigenous people continue to struggle valiantly from that damage through their very long-term healing journey.
The transits around the Pope's visit interact with Canada's chart in fascinating ways. There are several possible charts for Canada as a country. The most commonly used chart is for when Confederation came into effect on July 1, 1867, which is the date celebrated as Canada Day. This chart (July 1, 1867, 12:00 AM LMT, Ottawa, Canada) has many powerful astrological connections with the Pope's visit.
Transits to Canada's Chart
Canada was born under the Sun trine stationary Jupiter, and this is also a prominent transit throughout the Pope's visit. Canada's Jupiter is tightly trine its Cancer n-Sun (natal Sun) which also happens to be exactly conjunct n-Uranus. And while Pope Francis was here, the Leo t-Sun (transiting Sun) was trine t-Jupiter. In both cases, Jupiter is within 3-4 days of an exact retrograde-station.
The strength of Canada's n-Jupiter points to the prominent religious influence within Canada's vision of what it was to become and the subsequent role of the Church in Canada's decisions and policies.
The stationary t-Jupiter activates a key element of Canada's optimistic identity, rousing much optimism and celebration about the visit. On the other hand, t-Jupiter is stationing exactly square Canada's n-Sun. This suggests the potential for disagreement, disappointment, skepticism and mixed perceptions. As I write this, there are already rather different views about how successful the visit has been.
Less than a week before the visit, t-Chiron stationed conjunct Canada's n-Ascendant on July 19th (technically just half-a-degree shy of being exact). This points to a need to confront and bring healing to old wounds. In fact, it's a perfect time to reach toward reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and both the Church and Canada as a whole.
t-Chiron zigzags across Canada's n-Ascendant until 2024; exact dates are April 23, 2023, Oct. 28, 2023, and Feb. 23, 2024. This long-term process is bound to continue opening up some volatile mixed feelings. The fact that Chiron is backing off the Ascendant suggests that the Pope's visit is only a beginning, raising issues and motivation that will be unpacked and cultivated over the next 2 years.
In general, Chiron is known as "the Wounded Healer" and "the wound that cannot (fully) heal." (This is from the mythology of Chiron.) Chiron's effect is not simply a problem to be fixed – past events that created the problem cannot be undone. The damage that resulted must be tended to and healed, even though the scars and memories of those wounds can never be completely erased.
The lesson is to learn and evolve from the past, while doing what you can to repair the harm and transform suffering. In a way it echoes the Serenity Prayer, in that we must change what we can, accept what we can't, and keep fine-tuning our ability to tell the difference.
In 2008, Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission was entrusted to "facilitate reconciliation among former students, their families, their communities and all Canadians." Thus, the Commission collected and documented the stories, experiences and abuses suffered by Canada's Indigenous people while in the Indian Residential Schools.
Interestingly, when the final report was released in December 2015, t-Uranus was exactly conjunct Canada's n-Ascendant, and t-Chiron was exactly conjunct the n-South Node. These transits speak of a need for radical change which can enable Canada to move beyond those old wounds. This massive, multi-part report included 96 calls to action (PDF). It has been hoped that the Pope's current visit could fulfil the items related to church issues, particularly #58 which specifies an apology from the Pope delivered to Residential School survivors on Canadian soil.
t-Chiron is also conjunct Canada's n-Neptune during the Pope's visit, pointing to a spiritual dimension both in the wounds being opened up and in the necessary healing. t-Neptune is also tightly conjunct n-Chiron creating a double-mirrored effect reminiscent of almost a kind of mutual reception, except by transit rather than by sign. This implies that Canada is having to face and reckon with old wounds committed within its borders, as they become more transparent and visible. In the same way, we're seeing the damage that's been caused from trying to keep those wounds secret or obscured in the background.
Chiron (natal and transiting) and Neptune (natal and transiting) are in Canada's 12th house. The 12th house is one of the "secret" houses where a "multitude of sins" can remain hidden. It's also known as the house of "self-undoing" where we find the self-inflicted cause of problematic patterns.
For decade after decade, the abuses perpetrated by Indian Residential Schools have been an open yet obscured secret – publicly known yet ignored, discounted or avoided; hiding in plain sight. The recent discoveries of thousands of marked and unmarked graves, suspected or confirmed, on the grounds of dozens of these schools have brought the stark reality of these atrocities into the mainstream awareness of Canadians.
With t-Chiron starting the process of making its way out of Canada's 12th house, the secrets therein can no longer be denied.
Another Neptune influence is that during Pope Francis' visit, Solar Arc d-Neptune (directed Neptune) is exactly conjunct Canada's n-North Node (July 6, 2022). This suggests "it's time" to rise to the challenge of these issues to embrace a more virtuous, moral and compassionate stance. Solar Arcs have a long shelf-life, 1 to 1½ years or more before and after when it becomes exact. In my experience, Solar Arcs often coincide with a time of confronting difficult issues and themes which relate to the planets/points involved – they are not usually fun or easy-going.
The vast majority of the discoveries of graves at the Residential Schools have taken place since May 2021, while the Chiron and Neptune transits, as well as d-Neptune conjunct n-Node, were coming into orb. So it seems very fitting that the Pope's visit and his apology has taken place as some of these transits become exact.
Pope Francis' The visit has brought into focus the question that both Canada and the Church in Canada must face and grapple with going forward. Namely: what ideals and moral values are we prepared to embrace in order to become the best we can be? What should/will that look like? And how are we prepared to make that happen?
Astrology of the Pope's Visit
When the Pope landed in Edmonton, Canada (Sunday, July 24, 2022), t-Venus was exactly conjunct Canada's n-Sun, n-Uranus and n-IC, all in Cancer – it speaks of a mission intended to bring peace and harmony, "truth and reconciliation." The t-Moon was also conjunct n-Venus in Gemini in Canada's 3rd house.
Pope Francis began his homily of apology on Monday, July 25th at exactly 11:08 AM MDT (UT-7:00) in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada (52°49.6′N, 113°27.1′W). This event took place under a transiting Lunar Return (t-Moon conjunct n-Moon), as the t-Moon was culminating at the t-Midheaven.
In mundane astrology, the Moon represents the people or the masses. This indicates how the event was intended for the benefit of the people involved (former students of Indian Residential Schools), not simply a showcase event for the Pope.
In addition, the Gemini t-Moon was high Out of Bounds by declination, reflecting how the event concerned subjects and issues that were well beyond the normal range of discussion, including sensitive controversy.
In addition, the t-Moon was at 29° Gemini as he began to speak. (The Moon didn't move into Cancer until 45 minutes later. In fact, I think that was within seconds of when His Holiness first said "I'm sorry.") A 29-degree planet is at a transition point between what was and what will be or could be. In this case, it reflects the idea that the Pope's message hopes to bring closure to the past in some way. It signifies the end of a long process of bringing awareness and communication around these issues.
On the other hand, a 29° planet can also indicate that the matter is stuck or blocked and cannot move forward. In Horary astrology, it is often read that the matter has gone as far as it can go and that nothing further can be done. In this case, at the very least it points to a choice that must be made – move forward into something new or hang back with the old, or decide where and how to balance a mixture of both.
It had been fervently hoped that the Pope's apology and message would include more than just heartfelt words. There was a need for it to result in clear actions and policy changes that would move the process of healing forward in substantial ways. Indigenous leaders and Residential School survivors wanted to hear the Pope speak to certain sensitive issues (echoed astrologically by the Neptune-Chiron interchanges). Unfortunately, many of these statements were not included or clarified in the Pope's apology.
Nevertheless, the Pope's "penitential pilgrimage" (as he has called his visit) had just begun. The very fact that he travelled half-way around the world to deliver a heartfelt apology in person is huge and unprecedented. In his speech on Monday, he emphasized that this healing journey is one that must unfold over time, travelled together between the Church and Canada's Indigenous people.
Impact on Canada
There is more astrologically that points to a deeper impact on Canada as a country. Transiting Mars, Uranus and the Node are all huddled together in mid-Taurus, reaching their closest proximity within less than 1° at 18 Taurus from July 31 to August 1 (using True Node, or July 27 to August 1 using the Mean Node).
This Mars-Uranus-Node alignment is not a casual triple conjunction – it's actually quite rare (from 15 to 100+ years apart!) and it can be quite volatile. Mars goes for action, preferably fast, courageous and assertive. Uranus goes for shaking things up, ideally in a way that makes room for potent change to burst forth. The North Node says "follow me and learn something new."
The triple conjunction is closely conjunct n-Pluto in Canada's Confederation chart, as well as opposing n-Saturn during the Pope's visit. t-Mars remains within an 8° orb of n-Pluto for about 3½ weeks (July 16 to Aug. 9, 2022), and the t-Node is there for about a year (March 2022 to Feb. 2023).
However, Uranus is a much slower-moving planet with a further-reaching impact – his conjunction to n-Pluto remains within an 8° orb from March 2021 to May 2024. The reality of unmarked graves on the grounds of former Residential Schools hit the media in May 2021 like a freight train, with the discovery of 200+ possible unmarked children's graves at the former Kamloops Residential School. In addition, 12 more sites across Canada are also being investigated and have been called "the tip of the iceberg." The symbolism of the astrology is clearly present – t-Uranus, the planet of shocking revelations, conjunct n-Pluto, the planet of death and secrets.
Pluto is also a significator of sexual abuse. Many Residential School children suffered this atrocity, and it was hoped that Pope Francis would acknowledge and apologize for this along with other types of abuse. It took until Thursday, the day of the New Moon in Leo before the Pope finally said the words and addressed this issue in particular.
The Leo New Moon has t-Mercury opposite t-Saturn, so it makes sense that his message to Indigenous people in Canada seems to be unfolding gradually. What actions exactly will be taken as a result of his visit remain to be seen.
One of the key actions sought is for him to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery, a 15th century policy that "established a spiritual, political, and legal justification for colonization and seizure of land not inhabited by Christians." (Upstander Project) The Discovery Doctrine has a centuries-long shadow of implications, effects, consequences and justification, and its retraction has been implored by many over the centuries, as well as Indigenous people in Canada. Although many apologies have been issued by Popes over the years, the Doctrine has never been rescinded, which can only be done by the Pope.
Much has been accomplished by Pope Francis' visit. Much more still remains to be done that will bring satisfaction to the requests and needs of Canadian First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. This is an ongoing process. It will be interesting to see what comes of future passes of these and other transits as this journey continues.
© 2022-07-28 Wendy Guy, all rights reserved. Astrological diagrams by Wendy Guy.