Note that some sources say the first signs of a fire appeared around 6:20-6:25 pm local time. These times would put the first or second degree of Libra on the Ascendant of the event. This is even more striking! The twelfth-part of Mars rising conjunct the antiscia of Mercury would coincide with the first awareness of the fire.
Notre-Dame de Paris
Notre-Dame de Paris is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. This Catholic cathedral is a marvel of French Gothic architecture from the High Middle Ages. Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, was set at the cathedral. Hugo’s novel planted the cathedral vividly in the imagination. In our times, it is the most visited monument in Paris.
Unfortunately, on the 15th of April, 2019, just before 6:50 pm local time, it caught on fire. The cathedral was significantly damaged. It lost its spire and two-thirds of its roof in the blaze.
Transits at the Start of the Fire
Astrologers have puzzled over the indications coinciding with the events, pouring over the transits coinciding with the event. Here, I’ll be examining the transits from the start of the blaze using traditional factors.
In traditional astrology, major events are not signaled through the strength of the transits involved. One should examine developments from a hierarchy of mundane charts centered on ingresses and lunations preceding the event. Additionally, one would also want to examine the chart of the building’s founding (if known).
Moon-Mars Square at the Mars Hour of a Moon Day
In the matter of any fire, an astrologer should first look to Mars. Mars is traditionally the “hot” malefic symbolizing fiery destruction and violence. Additionally, it is the Moon which holds the key for the final timing of important earthly events.
In Hellenistic astrology, the Moon applies to a planet when she is within her daily motion from exactly aspecting it (about 13 degrees). The fire happened as the Moon was directly applying to Mars (about 6 degrees). The aspect is a square which is itself an aspect of the nature of Mars, eventful, tense, and overly energized. Mars is in the superior position – a superior square is said to “dominate” or “overcome” the inferior planet. Therefore, the Moon applies to a Mars that dominates her.
Mars is in an air sign. the Mars-air combination is symbolic of fire itself (gaseous destructive heat). It is in a dualistic sign which is unpredictable. Mars is in the bound of Jupiter, planet of religion, and opposes Jupiter by sign. It is very symbolic of the fire that the Moon should apply to a Mars oriented toward air, unpredictability, and opposition to Jupiter.
Moon Day, Mars Hour
The planetary ruler of the day of the event was the Moon, highlighting its configurations for the day. Interestingly, the ruler of the hour was Mars. The Moon-Mars square was highlighted.
I’ve addressed the importance of planetary days and hours as time lords in Hellenistic astrology in a previous article.
Mars on the Bull’s Eye
The fire started with Mars at 10 Gemini conjunct the fixed star Aldebaran. Aldebaran is literally the star that marks the bull’s eye of the constellation Taurus. Anonymous of 379 noted that this star is of the nature of Mars (destruction/fire) and Venus (arts/beauty).
When Mars reached 10 Gemini, something else happened as well. Mars and Saturn became equidistant from the starting point of the zodiac, 0 Aries. Mars at 10 Gemini is 70 degrees from 0 Aries, as is Saturn at 20 Capricorn. These are degrees of equal ascension, also known as contra-antiscia.
Contra-antiscia is an important traditional planetary configuration on par with degree-based aspects. I have discussed contra-antiscia’s history in an article on traditional symmetrical configurations. When one uses a chart of antiscia positions, contra-antiscia shows up as an opposition between the planets.
The contra-antiscia of Mars and Saturn involves both malefics, fiery violence (Mars) and unfortunate collapse (Saturn). It also involves the lunar nodes, as Saturn was transiting on the South Node at the time. The nodes are the points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and Moon, where the eclipses take place. As they are the eclipsing points, they were traditionally viewed as malefic and powerful.
Sun-Moon and Venus-Ascendant Antiscia
You may have noticed some additional interesting configurations by antiscia in the chart above. At the time of the start of the blaze the Moon conjoined the antiscion of the Sun, while the Ascendant conjoined the antiscion of Venus. These connections highlight publicity and importance (Sun and Moon) as well as the involvement of a work of beauty (Venus).
Twelfth-Parts of Mars and Saturn
We’ve seen the very important role played by antiscia positions. Another subtle but very significant factor is the twelfth-part positions of the planets. The twelfth-parts are subdivisions of each sign into 12 micro-signs. They have been used since Babylonian times. For some Hellenistic astrologers they were regarded as a necessity for accurate chart examination. I regard them as so important that I find them mentally when I look at any chart.
The fire started just as the Moon conjoined the twelfth-part of Saturn (at 4 Virgo). Additionally, the twelfth-part of Mars is in Libra, so its rising was something of an ignition point. Some have reported to me that the fire actually started at about 6:25 pm which is when 2 Libra (twelfth-part of Mars) was right on the Ascendant. Additionally, see the antiscia chart above, as 2 Libra is also the antiscia of Mercury. The Moon’s own twelfth-part was also in Libra, opposing the Sun in Aries.
Transits are rather ephemeral. One should not attempt to predict mundane events on the basis of transits at any given moment. This is because transits realize a potential promised in more important root charts, including foundation charts, ingresses, and lunations. Nevertheless, the transits of the moment of a major event tend to be vividly symbolic, as we find here.
The transits at the time of the Notre-Dame fire highlight the important role played by Mars and the Moon. They also highlight the significance of fixed stars, antiscia, and twelfth-parts. These are traditional factors too often overlooked, especially in transit analysis today.