Italians have never needed much encouragement to believe in a wisdom of the stars, but if you want to prove astrology to the average layperson today, arguably the best and easiest way is via the new study of asteroids. One scarcely needs to know or understand astrology to absorb their evidence. Asteroids truly help describe not just persons but even the characteristics and concerns of nations and peoples.
I will demonstrate this through the fascinating case of modern Italy which became a republic after being a kingdom on 10th June 1946 (at 6 pm in Rome) thus finally realizing earlier nationalist aims begun by Mazzini in the nineteenth century. Italy is an ideal test case because it has an abundance of asteroids that can be applied to its pattern and famous figures. But in a few paragraphs I shall first set the scene by briefly describing salient features of the nation’s chart from the traditional standpoint that emphasizes planets and houses and against whose pattern the asteroids appear and interact with such great descriptive accuracy against chance.
Italy’s sun resides in the sign of Gemini, the Twins and division. This reflects how ever since Romulus and Remus there has been something of a civil war or at least competition taking place through the Italian peninsula. City has been against city, north against south, the Papal states against the rest. Even Italian art is a story of many rivalries between artists. But Gemini is also the sign of language and the late achieved Italian nationhood would entail imposition of a single language upon the peninsula’s numerous dialects. Even before nationhood, the country’s Renaissance was itself very much a linguistic revolution dependent upon the discovery and translation of ancient texts. Nationhood finally settled upon a language, one based on the Florentine employed by the Gemini poet, Dante. Gemini is also the sign of the hands and no country in the world has more by way of a language of signs through the hands.
The national sun is conjuncted by the natural ruler of futuristic Aquarius, Uranus, a pointer to independence even to the point of anarchy, originality and the periodic flashes of a Renaissance type genius. The national sun is in the eighth house of secrets and the hidden, of sex, death – Italy loves big funerals and has drivers with something of a death wish! – shared resources and debts. Italy is full of secrets and has been home to a variety of secret societies and financial scandals. Yet most things will surface and become visible eventually. With the sun and all the planets in the upper half of the birth pattern, the nation is essentially extravert, ideas and feelings are demonstrated and shown.
Self-image, image before the world, national mythos and the body of the people will nonetheless all be described by the first house with its rising/ascendant sign. This is Scorpio, typically the sign of sex, death, mysteries, the occult (Renaissance magus Marsilio Ficino was a Scorpio) and mega power. Positively this has something to do with Italians feeling themselves to be inheritors of the Roman empire which bore its power across the world beneath the eagle of Scorpio. Italy celebrates the traditional birth of Rome under opposite sign, Taurus, but the long lasting empire was of the Taurus/Scorpio axis.
Scorpio rises at 17 degrees to define the first house, but the national moon representing emotions, home, women and mothers falls behind the ascendant angle at 4 Scorpio somewhat obscured in the twelfth house of dreams, films, loss, the unconscious and mysticism. With the moon here, home has something private and absolute about it and might actually be lost (as through massive emigration and natural disaster) while women could be seen as the great mystery and/or a notable sex object especially in this also films-associated sector.
The most personal emotions run deep and strong and could at worst be vengeful (the Italian vengeance drama is celebrated) and despite popular ideas about Latin temperament, Italians are not wholly spontaneous – Italian watcher John Hooper even writes of “the people who don’t dance”, (they don’t just jump up and down like Spaniards to express joy, they prefer a little more dignity and calculated effects). Scorpionic Italy can be serious and it’s obviously the Italy of Mafia and ecclesiastical mysteries, the shadowy and at times coarser and angrier side of an otherwise physically and temperamentally bright and polite society, indeed so bright many might doubt intense Scorpio could ever possibly rise and assume the defining role it does.
The seeming contradiction of a national brightness hiding an also essential dark is due to the exact aspect of a genial Jupiter at 17 Libra to the 17 degree Scorpio ascendant angle. Added to which the national Jupiter is in a robust fortunate trine aspect to the 19 Gemini national Sun. Jupiter in Libra aspecting both ascendant and sun and from the eleventh sector of friends, hopes and wishes, bespeaks style, refinement, optimism, the arts, l’amore, a disinclination to fight, elements of dolce vita, a certain will to be happily idle (dolce fa niente) and both to establish and ignore many laws. Italian-American Heritage month falls in Libra’s month, October. This Libran Jupiter is definitely a major key to at any rate the most visible and popular side of Italian character and culture.
By contrast, it’s not the eighth house that carries the sun nor the eleventh that carries Jupiter but the ninth house of beliefs and religion which contains Jupiter’s opposite: serious Saturn. It’s a planet without natural affinity for the house (Jupiter is the ninth’s natural affinity). Its position bespeaks especially Catholicism as bastion of order and tradition not to say some ongoing national difficulties with, even cynicism around, an often politicized religion which via the Great Mother sign of Cancer inclines to Marian devotion. Catholicism is Roman Catholicism, and anticipating the concern here with the asteroids, it is noticeable that Saturn aspects Romulus, builder of Rome’s first temple. Only because Jupiter (whose highest octave is religious and philosophical) is so strong in the national chart does Italy work with the Saturnian nature of the predominant faith to the extent it does.
The ninth house always covers aspects of a nation’s legal profile, especially its judges. Saturn here points to the notoriously slow dealings of the national legal system and its relative ineffectiveness in punishment of crime, a situation helped by the mentioned Jupiter in Libra, sign of laws, which in its negative expression can simply inflate the number of legal dealings at the same time as it may indulgently permit too many loopholes. Close to Saturn from just inside the previous eighth sector, Venus’ conjunction to Saturn signals various things, including that love/eros in Italy is related to a few mama mia complexes (the phenomenon of mammoni sons) rather as in Israel Venus in Cancer bespeaks some yiddishe momma issues. However, three planets in Cancer including quick witted, inventive Mercury and within conjunction of a world point (0 Cancer) and then with even Essen (Ger.food) in the sign, clearly announces the importance of food and dining for the entire culture and its world fame besides.
Finally I note that the celebrated drama and grandeur of Italy, the tendency where possible to build a palace rather than a house, a cathedral rather than a church, is linked to a Leonine factor. Both Mars and Pluto fall in Leo in the ninth house, Mars being within conjunction of a destiny, reputation and leadership related Midheaven angle also in Leo – big building Mussolini was a Leo – and conjunct the fixed star Regulus, a bestower of honours and fame. More could be said, but this is enough to supply the main features of the chart in traditional, planetary terms.
SEEING THROUGH THE ASTEROID WINDOW
Although as in striking instances given presently a national chart will recapitulate a cultural past, obviously it describes what is developing at the time of birth. For Italy this was the nation’s new expression in 1946 as a republic; any asteroids in the first house of image and mythos are therefore significant for that. The chart affirms the republican ideal whose chief founder and exponent was if anyone Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872). Accordingly asteroid Mazzini rises in the first house at O Sagittarius, sign of theories and ideals and he is followed at 6 degrees by Unitas the principle beloved of nationalist theory. This pair have been preceded at 23 Scorpio by Verdi, whose operas early functioned as a national unifier. His chorus of the Hebrew Slaves in Nabucco, rapidly became an anthem for the national independence and unification movement now finding new expression. But Italians are anyway a people who sing – of freedom, love or whatever. Asteroid Chant (Fr. Song) rises behind Verdi at 5 Sagittarius close to the Unitas the nation desires and from where it makes almost to the minute perfect aspect to a 5 degree Libran Neptune, ruler of anything musical. In short, it’s a signature for a people of opera in their past, present and future. Monteverdi with whom opera seriously begins, rises just within the first at 15 Sagittarius.
Even so, the rising Scorpio that defines the first house surely puts its stamp on the whole by the way it contains asteroid UmbertoEco, author of the complex murder mystery, The Name of the Rose rising at 28 Scorpio (and even in trine to asteroid Rosa in the eighth house of death!). Below him, still just within the first house and reflecting an image some have of Italy less as home of the cheerful enthusiast than the radical cynic or even nay-saying melancholic behind the smiles, is a conjunction of Renaissance philosopher Machiavelli with tragic, Romantic era atheist poet Leopardi at 12 and 13 Sagittarius respectively.
As stressed, modern Italian identity is unusually based upon discovery and imposition of a language. Language and writing are related to the third house whose affinity is with the third sign, Gemini. It’s surely against chance that we find in precisely this house asteroid Manzoni whose classic novel The Betrothed, virtually established what form Italian must assume, namely an updated version of the Florentine Tuscan dialect employed by Dante. Dante’s crucial move to use the vernacular rather than Latin was anticipated by St Francis of Assisi who wrote poetry in Umbrian. If Francis can stand for St Francis (and he likely should since there is no other asteroid could be used and he widely conjuncts Clara besides), then Francis is just within the third house at 27 of original Aquarius . From there he also opposes the Midheaven of any national leadership which for such an anti-establishment figure seems correct.
There are two other points of relevance in this third house. Though late developed, Italian is one of the Romance languages whose roots are in Latin. So we find asteroid Roman is strong and pointing to novelty at 0 Aquarius in this house of language. Interestingly too its cusp is conjuncted by Pinocchio, a book which though now internationally famous as a child’s fairytale, some consider to be something of an adult’s fairytale that portrays important elements of the national character.
Sometimes obviously, sometimes subtly, national pictures will recapitulate cultures and character (a principle wonderfully exemplified in the chart for modern Israel whose Solomon is conjuncted by The Part of Wisdom). For Italy what may be the most striking case is how asteroids Dante and Vergilius form conjunction in the eighth house at 25 Gemini. The conjunction is remarkable seeing that, as is well known, Dante employed Virgil as his literary model and spiritual mentor who conducts him through Hell and Purgatory, Virgil’s Aeneid itself having conducted its readers to Hades. Both poets fall in the eighth house which can cover for any debt, death, hell and transformation issues. Yet neither asteroids are in the house of national language with Manzoni. But again, and remarkably against chance, at 25 degrees they are making exact quincunx aspect (150 degree ) to Manzoni and a meaning of that aspect is “adjustments must be made”. Precisely adjustments are what Manzoni would deliver in forming modern Italian out of the tradition of Dante.
Due to the great amount of information available, for brevity’s sake I shall select and divide up material into three sections 1) politics and the land, 2) art and creativity 3) Philosophy, Faith and Values.
POLITICS AND THE LAND.
The enduring division of Italy along with its mafia and secretive side is well reflected in the way Puglia (a major underdeveloped region of the south at 18 Virgo is in direct stress square aspect to the national sun. In rather the same way Sicilia (Sicily) at 4 Leo is in exact stress square to the nation’s Scorpio moon. This suggests the island’s long history and cultural identity is at risk of being undermined by hidden forces, not least because at 27 Scorpio, Palermo, a major centre of Mafia, makes stress square to the Midheaven of leadership and destiny – the government can be beholden to hidden forces! Italy’s Gemini sun “rules” the Leo destiny/career/leadership Midheaven, but Gemini itself being a mutable sign, this potentially encourages frequent changes in government and leadership following 1946. Although no asteroid for South exists, the long standing North/South tension seems reflected in the way that asteroid Nord (North) at 17 Taurus exactly opposes the national ascendant, in some respects an opposition to the general interest, the body of the people at large.
There is no asteroid for Milan unless Mediolanum, its Latin name, but this happens to be both in semi-sextile aspect (often deemed a financial aspect) to Nord from 18 Aries and in opportunity sextile aspect to the native sun. So Milan can drive the necessary economic machine but not necessarily to the benefit of the South. At the same time Milan/Mediolanum is perennially a, or the, major creative hub of Italy in arts, science, industry and also religion – even western Christianity as exemplified by Roman Catholicism was largely formed by Ss Augustine and Ambrose working in ancient Milan in the century after the Edict of Milan had made Christianity legal. Suitably Augustinus at 19 Leo in the religion house sextiles the national sun at 19 Gemini and trines Mediolanum at 18 Aries a sign of Augustine’s enduring influence on attitudes and policies.
The fourth sector of any chart is the place of origins, ancestors, home and its territory, the land itself. Italy’s origins house contains Italia at 0 of oceanic Pisces. This seems relevant to being a largely sea-girt peninsula much of whose traditional wealth derived from sea trade. Within the same house is Roma at 13 Pisces, an indication Italy is the descendant of imperial Rome. (The great classicist Petrarch called his homeland of many warring states Italia simply because the Romans once called the peninsula by that name). The more specifically Christian legacy is represented by San Pedro at 23 Pisces. Here St Peter is not simply a forefather in faith but one who gives his name to an actual piece of land as far as St Peter’s basilica and the related Vatican territory is concerned and so, unsurprisingly, San Pedro trines the crucial religion house Saturn, a suggestion of Papal states or property. With Aquarius (accidents, surprises) on the fourth cusp exactly opposed from fiery Leo by Vesuvius (itself loosely conjunct Etna), some disposition to natural disaster seems to attach to the land and at any time Italy might come to an end it would likely be through fire, quake and volcano.
ART AND CREATIVITY.
Anything to do with the arts, especially visual arts, is associated with Venus. There is accordingly significance in the fact that Venus at 21 Cancer (the chief sign for painting) at the end of the eighth house is bracketed by Saturn at 23 Cancer in the ninth of Religion and Vaticana in the eighth of shared resources at 19 Cancer. What all this means is that the artists and their art will have a special relation to the church as patron and also to the ancient classical world (Saturn) drawing upon its traditions and ideals. Since however the eighth is the house of eros, it follows sex, or at least the sensuous, will colour the arts in everything from the way that the artist’s mistress might portray a Madonna or the baroque style engage sensation.
Creativity itself is generally of the fifth house so it seems relevant that within it at 19 Aries is asteroid Imago with its implication – despite Dante, Verdi et al including the novelist Moravia whose asteroid falls on this degree, – for the supremacy of the visual in Italian creative endeavour.
There are obviously lacunae, but many names in Italian art and music have their asteroid. One would need a very thorough knowledge of art and biography to interpret each position, some are clearer than others. Asteroid Bernini at 6 of original Aquarius connected by trine to Neptune (any dreams) at 5 Libra marks the sculptor who more than any other realized the beauty of motion and dream in marble. Michelangelo, all of sculptor, painter, poet and architect, is in the house of destiny and reputation as undoubtedly one of Italy’s most completely iconic figures at 14 Virgo from where he connects by trine – just – to another Renaissance genius, Leonardo at 16 Capricorn. The latter’s rather unexpected sign and position (second house) likely reflects the heavy scientific input (Capricorn) to his work and his concern with money and pay for his work (second house). In terms of real connection however, through their work on St Peter’s it is notable that Michelangelo connects to High Renaissance architect Bramante by semi-sextile (a meetings/connections aspect) at 13 Leo.
If Italian painting may be said to begin with Cimabue and Giotto, then that seems reflected in the way that at 0 and 11 of Gemini respectively this pair introduced some of the realism, humanism and expression of this mutable sign away from the pure fixity of the Byzantine art of icon and mosaic which has more natural affinity with the previous sign of “fixed” Taurus.
Overall, like Michelangelo and Leonardo, leading Italian artists tend to take the middle degrees of a sign from around 13 to 18: Leopardi 13 Sagittarius, Vivaldi 14 Gemini, Monteverdi 15 Sagittarius, Puccini 16 Aries, Fellini 17 Cancer, Botticelli 18 Aries. If they don’t there’s some reason like the brilliant but unfortunate Tasso at 24 of shocking Aquarius in the writing house opposite Mars, an aspect involved with the misfortunes of his madness and painful dealings with authorities. Rebel and virtual criminal Caravaggio at 9 Taurus is almost predictably in exact stress square to the power and religion factor of Pluto at 9 Leo in the religion house. Raphaela (originally asteroids were registered in female form) conjuncts the leadership Midheaven itself conjunct the star of fame, Regulus. This has to reflect not just Raphael’s extreme popularity internationally (reproductions of his Sistine Madonna in so many Catholic homes), but the unusually easy favour he enjoyed as an artist with precisely the papacy and leaders. (No asteroid I know of for Italy or elsewhere covers for Pope or Papacy unless at 17 Aquarius for Italy and 19 Capricorn for the Vatican it’s possibly the father asteroid Abbe, a matter that may become clearer over the next couple of years as Italy and Vatican undergo distinct challenges).
Still more descriptive is Petrarca’s 23 Aries in the creative fifth house in tense square to Catholicism’s Saturn at 23 in the religious/philosophical ninth. This suggests the poet’s controversial Christian humanist theory against late medieval religion that Christianity in some respects continues and fulfils the classical world, a theory that helped facilitate the Renaissance synthesis. By contrast Petrarca trines Ungaretti at 23 Sagittarius. In the last century Ungaretti reformed Italian poetry (towards Modernism) as Petrarch in his generation helped reform poetry through especially the Sonnet form.
It could be harder to understand why Pavarotti (in stress square to Verdi !) and Paganini are in the “religious” sector, but as that house also covers principles (philosophy) this may be pointing to questions Pavarotti’s personal life and career raised (including as regards the commercialization of opera), while the dissolute Paganini was always seen as evil and believed to have sold his soul to the devil, a question for religion, certainly. An odd ball heretic philosopher who likewise raised questions for religion, Giordano Bruno, makes his way into the ninth via the Giordano asteroid. Paganini was heterosexual, but if so many notable culture heroes like Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, Donatello and more recently such as Visconti, Versace, Zeffirelli and Pasolini have been gay this must be referred to the national sun conjunct Uranus. A symbol at one level of intellectual brilliance and difference at another, Uranus often points to homosexuality. The Renaissance was born in the exceptionally gay-friendly Florence while only today more information is emerging about the practice of same-sex marriages in Renaissance Rome. Definitely Italy is not to be described through Casanova (though for better or worse he is so iconic he does make it like Michelangelo to the tenth sector of national reputation).
What is most distinctive about Italian art of all kinds is a certain urge towards the ideal and beautiful. This is supported by especially two factors. First that asteroid Bella (beautiful) at 16 Gemini is conjunct the national Uranus (its genius, the exceptional) at 17 (and more loosely the sun at 19) and then trine Jupiter at 17 of Libra, the often artistic sign of good form and balance. La bella figura is what Italy and Italians seek to present. They will also speak la bella lingua. Beauty rules and also poetry, or at least the poetizing of things because Poesia at 28 plus of Pisces is within conjunction of the 0 degree Aries (a world point) cusp of the fifth house of general creativity (and any love affairs….and yes, Italy does have Amor in the house!). This is beauty that can go international and which in modern times would spawn a major fashion industry. However, the Bella word and concept unusually defines the ethics of Italy almost replacing the ethical with the aesthetic judgement. E bello, (it’s beautiful/lovely) also means it’s good within a language where bueno (good) as in buongiorno is not that strong. And this leads to the final and most complex issue of what Italians really think and believe. It’s a fascinating subject in which my observations are influenced by two notable recent studies, John Hooper’s The Italians and Tobias Jones’ The Dark Heart of Italy (broadcaster and journalist Jones is a Scorpio with his sun conjunct Italy’s moon –he can tell you a few things!).
PHILOSOPHY, FAITH AND VALUES.
The chart shows two forms of Italian philosophy. With Philosophia conjunct the Italian sun, arguably the core philosophy may be simply the Italian way of life itself. Formal philosophy however is represented by ThomasAquinas at 19 Cancer exact conjunct Vaticana which last still pronounces under that philosopher’s influence which in some respects means under the influence of Aristotle too. The universe of Dante is set out and judged following certain ethical principles of Aristotle which don’t in all cases correspond to either biblical or common sense. Aquinas also had a strong line on beauty but associated it rather with the intellect and recognition of harmonies than the senses as such. Dante would famously declare “beauty awakens the soul to act” . If what’s good is assessed against what looks good, (or even measured against abstract reason and the intellect), can what’s right be quite known? The spirit which is unique to humans as opposed to the soul (biblical nephesh which even animals possess in order to exist), may need more than beauty. Warning signals against recourse to the easy subjective aesthetic judgement is supplied in the way that Italy’s Lucifer (the devil as light) at 17 Cancer makes exact semi-sextile, a meeting aspect, to precisely Bella and exact easy trine to the imagination-defining ascendant.
A hint that Italy might actually be somewhat confused about good and evil is offered by the conjunction in the philosophy sign Sagittarius of asteroids Goode at I degree and Veritas at 2 degrees, with Malus (Bad) at 1 degree. Conjunctions are very for or against something, a mark of harmony or conflict depending – here it’s clearly conflict (in the way that Plato and Boccaccio conjunct at 29 Cancer are like reason against instinct, gay against straight etc!). Further confirmation of some conflict and confusion is given by the way Christen (Ger. Christians) at 8 Leo in the religion house makes easy trine to Malin (the devil as darkness)) at 8 of religion/philosophy sign Sagittarius. Apart from the fact that this likely reflects how it is in Italy exorcism has been revived and is more taught and used among Catholics in Italy than anywhere, it also implies it might be easy to deceive Christians about what’s right and wrong in and out of religion. Like Pinocchio’s nose which grows with every lie, untruth is perhaps one of the greatest problems for Italy compounded as it is, to follow Hooper, by a tendency towards free flowing fantasy, not necessarily malicious but which can make up reality as it goes. The same kind of extravagance can cast so many veils over the facts you may never quite get to the bottom of any major scandal or crimes as Jones demonstrates – even history with its facts is called storia in Italian!
The crucial influence of untruth whether deliberate or more fanciful, seems shown by asteroid Lie conjunct Christian strong on the descendant angle directly opposing the rising – the body of people, their image and mythos. Since conjunctions are very harmonious or conflicted, this could mean either there are too many Christians who lie, or more likely that from the seventh house of war and peace the Lie is the great enemy of national life so that Christians need to fight its power, though they will put themselves against the body social if they do so, much as those who fight the Mafia have their problems.
What do Italians really believe? It’s an intriguing question. Hooper cites statistics which reveal Padre Pio (no asteroid) is vastly more prayed to than Jesus and even the traditionally favoured Virgin. Maria at 20 Cancer conjuncts Venus at 21 and thus she haunts the imagination through numerous images everywhere displayed and sold throughout Italy. Years of life in Italy persuade Jones that Italians are so concerned with the saints, relation to God hardly exists. It’s almost too democratic! If so, again our data provide some clues how and why this situation comes about. With asteroid Credo in pragmatic, conservative Capricorn in opposition to the Venus/Saturn conjunction associated here with Catholicism, it looks as though Italians are liable to be challenged by and will sustain a love/hate relation to Catholicism, but we can go a bit further…..
Asteroid Theotes (God or Divinity) is caught in one of those conflicted conjunctions, this time at 13 Sagittarius with virtual and actual atheists Machiavelli and Leopardi; but from the struggles of this bed of doubt it makes a trine to Isa (Ar. Jesus) at 14 of regal Leo in the religion house. It’s a connection which would support all and any Christ the King type images. Otherwise, and influenced by ubiquitous images of crucifixion and pietà, Jesus gets associated almost more with death than life. Indeed, what regularly functions as the Christ asteroid, namely Christa (traditionally most asteroids have been registered in feminine form), is found conjunct Requiem in the death house in the sign of the mother, Cancer – clearly a signature for the widespread pietà and Stabat Mater images! Despite this and suggestively, the asteroid Spirit does conjunct Christa possibly reflecting traditions like that of Gioacchino da Fiore who looked towards a Christian age of the Spirit.
I subscribe and for empirical reasons to the view that in their highest octaves the three outer “generational” and “spiritual” planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) symbolize the persons of the Trinity in any strictly religious frame of reference with Pluto symbol of the Creator/Father. Suitably for a Catholic nation, Pluto in the religion house stands in one sense for God. And since Pluto is also Italy’s chart ruler (because Scorpio rises) God rules or at least haunts the people’s mind as ultimate Plutonic power or fate. But Pluto does not connect with Theotes, rather it’s conjunct two asteroids, Fantasia and Aristoteles (though that is meaningful as I will indicate). In similar non-connection, neither Jesus nor even Maria feature as notable figures in terms of actual salvation – asteroid Salavat (Ar. Salvation) at 4 Leo is unrelated whether to Jesus or Mary and is in stress square to the national moon. Relations with God are liable to be left to the mystics; and given Amor in the fifth of love affairs in aspect to the Plutonic deity symbol, this love can finish unusually sensuous as in the case of Blessed John of Verna who kept kissing and being kissed by Jesus or Angela of Foligno whom the Holy Spirit assured her she was more sweet to him than any in the vale of Spoleto!
Harmonious with the bureaucratized nature of Italy, the intercessor figure tends to be one to whom one takes petitions rather than relates more spiritually. Despite the suggestively spiritual Logos conjunct the verbalizing national sun, Italians are more a people of the image (Imago) than the book. Religious cultures of the book are more inclined to approach faith in terms of paradox and the interaction of persons and minds following narrative account of salvation history. Noticeably, one of the two bible asteroids Biblioran (Old Testament) from 19 Sagittarius opposes the national sun and Logos.
If today the saints still assume importance and are even what the national religion is largely about, it is not simply because they are the natural extension of a traditional Marian devotion. It’s rather more because common images of God render their involvement almost imperative. With God conjunct Fantasia, deity can receive some of that fantasia highlighted by Hooper. There can be all manner of popular speculation on the character of the divine; however and more officially, the image of deity remains essentially that of Dante via Aristotle, i.e. the Unmoved Mover with which the Paradiso ends. Dante’s God is “love”, but with it he scarcely any prophetic, biblical or paternal deity to oversee or interact with history or know “every sparrow that falls”. That’s more for his servants the saints! And Dante’s souls, saintly or otherwise, are such free agents it is effectively they, not God, who choose, and very largely work out, their own salvation, without any suggestion of Pauline predestination involved. Ironically it’s the classicist Petrarch who is in some respects more Christian than Dante, God being addressed by him as Father.
There is so much material to detail and interpret where Italy’s chart is concerned that one must leave it incomplete; but it is appropriate to do so where Dante leaves the Paradiso, with a declaration before ultimate mystery and pointing to the stars. Except that in this instance we could cite the biblical statement. “The night skies utter knowledge” (Ps 19:2). It has never been very clear what this means, but while scientists and even religious authorities unite for their different reasons to dismiss astrology as any proper study, I suggest that especially the new micro-astrology of asteroids brings us nearer to understanding what night skies uttering knowledge is likely to mean.