A thematic comparison of Apollo 11 NASA Astronauts, Ordained Priests and Lay Brothers © ~ Dru Ish, July 2011
Fundamental to everyday life for humans in the 21st century is group involvement. This is demonstrated by our involvement in team sports, online groups, the people we work with, affiliations with animal rights and religious groups, our families and social network. As logical, controlled and advanced as humans attempt to be, we are still, after many thousands of years of evolution, driven by an instinctual drive to relate and gather, needing to be a part of something whether it represents us or something greater than us. Our ancestors formed groups for survival, protection, ease, amusement and common interest. The reasons for forming groups potentially remains as varied as it was hundreds of thousands of years ago as we still bring the same needs and drives to our modern day setting. There is a need to belong that fuels human existence, despite the fact that human existence or survival is not paramount for life itself to continue.
The nature and intent of groups vary as can their outcomes, depending on the dynamics of the combined participants. According to Bernadette Brady in “Human Groups – Notes on Family based on Jigsaw V2,” the dynamic of a groups’ participants can undermine or support its intention and outcome. By tallying the total of number of zodiacal signs present in each group members’ birth chart (Planets, Luminaries and Nodal points in their respective signs on the day of birth of each group member), it is possible to see themes that present within that group. The theme and mythology of the zodiacal sign can have expression in the group dynamic and thus illustrate strengths, weaknesses and potential patterns, as well as indicate whether the dynamic of the group supports its intent.
This essay will seek to find themes represented by the predominant zodiacal sign of twenty participants within three groups: three NASA Astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission, nine Ordained Priests and eight Lay Brothers of the same congregation. It will compare any similarities or differences that present in Planet (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) and Luminary (Sun, Moon) combinations, as well as comparisons or differences in the Planet, Luminary or Node (the intersection points of the Moons orbit with the ecliptic) (Brady, Gunzburg, Nodes 2010) that receives the greatest number of aspects in the culmination of gathered birth data within the groups. Individual birth data was collated, divided into three respective groups and tallied up to gather results (See Appendix I).
These twenty participants were chosen for their contribution to the same combined task (no other Astronauts, Priests or Lay Brothers were included based on profession alone). The Astronauts travelled to the Moon together on the Apollo 11 mission, being the first humans to set foot on any planetary body in our solar system other than Earth, in 1969. The Ordained Priests underwent five years of Novitiate Formation together, took life long vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, continued into the Scholasticat (Seminary) where Philosophy, Theology, Liturgy, the Bible and Latin were studied for eight years. All nine Priests were Ordained within the same week, in July 1960. The Lay Brothers were of the same Order and present in the community at the same time as the Ordained Priests. Their training comprised of five years Novitiate Formation, also taking life long vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and continued service to the community and congregation, until death or dispensation received. They engaged in similar studies and training as the Ordained Priests, yet ultimately chose an alternate outcome.
In conducting such a study, consistent data is paramount for conclusive evidence. If only birth date and place are known, as is the case with seventeen of the twenty participants in this study (the remaining three having their birth times recorded), then some conclusive data may be incorrect. For those whose birth time is not recorded, 12:00pm on their day of birth was chosen. A Luminary such as the Moon, moving 12.17 degrees per day, may be in the previous sign or have moved into the following sign at the actual time of birth. Therefor, choosing an arbitrary birth time may alter data connected to that particular Luminary. Further study could be conducted by changing the birth time of each participant, but would result in similar incongruities for the lack of accurate birth times (taking the birth time closer to midnight previously, or into the coming day). No out of sign aspects, lunation cycles, specific house placements or aspects to angles were considered due to the absence of birth times.
Examples of how an unconfirmed birth time may impact results can be found in the five charts of Fr Joseph, Br Damien, Br Joseph, Br Michael, Michael Collins whom all have the Moon in early degrees of a sign at 12:00pm on their day of birth (birth charts cannot be displayed due to privacy reasons).
Choice of Groups and Expectations
The Astronauts were initially chosen as a group due to a personal interest in their specific mission; the historical significance as well as the impact on human awareness that the Apollo 11 mission brought in seeing the first humans land on the Moon. The Ordained Priests were chosen due to curiosity about my father’s life as an Ordained Priest. In finding out about his life and fellow Priests, I was given birth information for eight Lay Brothers within the same Order.
The Astronauts’ birth data was sourced from the internet (www.astrologos.co.uk and www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/collins-m.html). The Ordained Priests birth data was supplied by an historian who researched the specific congregation, and the Lay Brothers birth data was compiled from two sources; a personal ‘Birthday Book’ belonging to one of the Ordained Priests stating names, dates of birth as well as home town; and a living Lay Brother.
Initially, there was no intended theme I was hoping to find in combining these three groups. However, a common theme presented itself: each group is serving humanity by reaching for something that transcends our known, physical world. Within each group this is sought after through dedication, sacrifice, hard work and a ritualistic practice in their daily work.
Astronauts physically leave the Earth, observing and obtaining specimens for scientific study that advances knowledge of our physical world and expands our understanding of the universe we live in. The NASA Astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission were the first humans to land on the Moon in 1969, stretching human awareness of our own capabilities and imagined potential at that time, to physically incorporate the solar system our planet (Earth) is a part of. It was the first time humans were given the opportunity to see themselves as living on a rock hanging in space, as seen from the Moon, allowing mass perceptions of life itself to alter and to further probe the question that both science and religion endeavour to answer, “Why are we here?”
The Ordained Priests and Lay Brothers both serve humanity via life paths that pertain to the intangible aspects of life; faith, redemption, prayer and a belief in the presence of God. Their contribution to society is that of a guide, or Tribal Elder, a counselor and confidante, often being seen as the bridge between humanity and God; their sacrifice of worldly possessions, a monastic lifestyle and commitment to vows and understanding of ritual placing them in an exalted position.
Considering the mandatory piloting experience, higher education, and physical and mental standards that are required for participation in a NASA space program, as well as the demands of the job: a continual presence of life-threatening situations, working and living in small spaces, and extended periods away from family and loved ones, a prerequisite of equanimity, clear thinking and dedication appear paramount for Astronauts. Similarly, the Priests and Lay Brothers also spend a substantial amount of their training in isolation and silence, undertaking higher learning and committing to life-long vows.
The similarities and differences stated above lead to the presumption that hard work, dedication and leadership may present themselves through a predominance of Saturn and/or Capricorn in the birth charts of the Astronauts, as well as a predominance of Uranus due to its representation of the intellect, change without emotion and modern technology (Brady, Gunzburg – Planet And Aspect Kit 6-8).
It was anticipated that the Priests may also show a predominance of Saturn, as well as Neptune, due to their dedication, hard work, and sacrifice for spiritual pursuits. The Lay Brothers potentially may display a predominance of more social aspects such as a predominance of Libra, or Venus-Neptune.
The predominant zodiacal sign in the collated data of the Astronauts (the zodiacal sign most frequented by a Planet, Luminary or Node in all of the Astronauts’ birth charts) is equally divided between three signs; Aries, Cancer and Capricorn (each present five times). The Planets, Luminaries and Nodes with predominant aspects to one another are Jupiter-Uranus and Saturn-Neptune (both sharing three aspects respectively). The Planets, Luminaries and Nodes with the greatest number of aspects received is also Jupiter and Uranus (both individually receiving eleven aspects).
The highest ranking zodiacal signs in the Astronauts’ data were all cardinal signs: Aries, Cancer and Capricorn. Cardinal signs share a common theme within group dynamics where by they are driven by a sense of survival. Without the presence of cardinal motivation, there would be death and the cessation of the tribe or group, and potentially the species. It is an assertive energy that takes action toward survival.
Aries, being one of the cardinal signs symbolizes, according to Bernadette Brady (Brady. Human Groups 1-2), a motivation amongst the Astronauts, an understanding of survival through a drive towards a goal, a chase to capture and achieve. This can potentially lead the group toward competitiveness amongst themselves and in a constant search for “peak experiences” (Brady. Human Groups 1-2). These tendencies can be seen as combative, at best they can be seen as warriors with a sense of risk, assertiveness, and highly motivated and challenge oriented (Brady. The Zodiac).
The Apollo 11 mission that the Astronauts undertook was a unique mission in the history of humankind. This may well have kept them enthused about reaching this “peak,” yet may have left them feeling deflated if other missions or life events post this were not as fulfilling (should they continued functioning together as a group), as has been documented by one of the Astronauts, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr (Abraham. Aldrin 59-60). This experience may also keep them united throughout their lives, as the theme of Cancer (the second cardinal sign, and equal in number to Aries) would suggest. They may feel that due to this event they are emotionally connected to each other and share a loyalty and an emotional bond that is unshakable throughout time (Brady – Human Groups 5). The theme of Cancer also represents an innate nurturance for the younger members of the tribe; this perhaps expressed by the potential and willing sacrifice of their own lives for the betterment of generations to follow. This sacrifice is an innate clause in their profession.
Capricorn is the third Cardinal sign expressed in the Astronauts’ results, representing respect, authority and wisdom (Brady. The Zodiac). Capricorn represents the journey of the Tribal Elder in that it innately understanding rhythms, timing and cycles of life, has a natural affinity with authority and carries a requirement of respect (Brady. The Zodiac). The expression of Capricorn in group dynamics is immensely practical; asserting action in a practical way.
Being a successful mission, in that they successfully landed on the Moon, obtained specimens, and returned to earth as healthy individuals allows a positive expression of all three cardinal signs. They achieved their goal; they made the chase, carried out the hunt and caught their prey, returning to Earth as pioneers (Aries) and members worthy of respect (Capricorn). Due to this shared experience that only these three people can really know about, they form family-like emotional bonds, that keep them tied to each other for life (Cancer), for better or worse – be it via telephone calls to each other, or when they are mentioned, they are spoken of in unison – neither more great than the other. Bonded in life through this journey.
Outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) when in aspect to one another in any sign, are involved in cycles that indicate generational themes; the quality of the planet is not expressed through individuals, more through the entire generation born under that placement. Individually, Jupiter and Uranus received the greatest number of aspects in all three birth charts of the Astronauts (Jupiter eleven, Uranus eleven). Aspects between Jupiter and Uranus also had the greatest number of all possible connections between Planets, Luminaries and Nodes (three aspects: one sextile, two squares). Jupiter-Uranus connections can indicate a level of risk taking, an expansion of barriers and excessive energy (Brady, Gunzburg. Delineation 25 ). At the time of this mission (July 1969), Jupiter and Uranus were in conjunction (within 8 degrees of each other) in the sky; this mission not only expressed the generational Jupiter-Uranus of the Astronauts, but it also expressed the Jupiter-Uranus of the time of the mission; new frontiers being sought while stretching the boundaries of the known world.
Saturn-Neptune, also had the highest number of aspect connections between Planets, Luminaries and Nodes (three trines) for the Astronauts, indicating a generational theme of people who need to physically manifest their spiritual beliefs in their daily life, fearing the loss of established structures and so bringing the intangible into a physical, reachable form (Brady, Gunzburg. Delineation 27). Those born into the Saturn-Neptune thirty six year cycle have the ability to express something which evokes emotion amongst the masses (Greene 140). In conducting this mission, the Astronauts left Earth to venture to the Moon for the first time to bring back physical specimens from a once unreachable place in a controlled manner, involving the entire population on Earth via a television broadcast, evoking emotion and wonder, and making the unreachable tangible.
As well as generational statements, the Astronauts also displayed relatively high numbers of aspects between the personal planet Mercury, and Luminary, the Sun (two conjunctions), suggesting that communication and learning is linked with their identity. When a Planet or Luminary remains solitary (unaspected by any other body in the birth chart), it can express in the individuals life as shifts in personality that come and go inconsistently (Tutorial, 2009). The Moon was the only Planet or Luminary unaspected in the Astronauts gathered data, suggesting that they may find their emotions harder to access, therefor leading them to rely on the mind and intellect.
The Ordained Priests
The predominant zodiacal sign in the collated data of the nine Ordained Priests is Cancer (present sixteen times). The Planets, Luminaries and Nodes with predominant aspects to one another are Moon-Jupiter and Saturn-Uranus (both sharing seven aspects, respectively). The Planet, Luminary and Node with the greatest number of aspects is the Moon (receiving thirty five aspects).
The Ordained Priests as a group, share a similar theme to the Astronauts in that the predominant zodiacal sign expressed in the culmination of their birth charts is also Cancer. Again, this can indicate that the Ordained Priests feel an emotional, family-like bond with each other throughout their lifetimes, no matter where they are posted, yet may experience a struggle between the safeness of the group and the journey toward their own distinction (Brady. Human Groups 5-6). They may also express a concern with the generations that follow them; the Astronauts applying this through science, the Ordained Priests extending empathy, compassion and solace to the community in their daily service.
The farther away from the Sun a planet is, the slower its rotation and therefor, the longer it remains in one sign. Pluto, the furthest planet from the Sun, for example, can stay in one sign for anywhere between fifteen to thirty years. Like the Astronauts, all of the Priests were born when Pluto was in Cancer (a specific generation born between 1912 & 1939), indicating a major contribution to the high number of Cancer in their results.
The Planet, Luminary or Node with the greatest number of aspects in the culmination of the Priests birth charts is the Moon (receiving thirty five). Astrologically, the Moon represents the body, oral needs, emotions, feelings, our daily rhythm, cycles and basic needs (Brady, Gunzburg. Planet and Aspect Kit 3). It can also represent the mother/mothering, nurturing needs, how we respond to nurturance and where we find fulfillment. In this instance it may indicate that those drawn into the Priesthood (at this time) have a strong maternal, caring instinct and emotional needs to give and to be validated; finding this nourishment in their duties as a Priest.
Human emotions can play a key role in decision-making and therefor influence which information we seek. Aspects between the Moon and Jupiter had the equal greatest number of all possible connections between Planets, Luminaries and Nodes within the Priests’ group (seven aspects: one conjunction, one sextile, three squares, two trines). Jupiter-Moon combinations can speak of emotions influencing the way one learns. It can represent a mother/mothering figure or a Grandfather who influenced learning (Astro Logos Tutorial 2009). This can indicate that seven of the nine Ordained Priests shared a love of learning, and that emotions, or potentially their mothers, played a large part in their decision to embark on eight years of study & learning in a monastic setting.
Alongside the aspects between the Moon and Jupiter, Saturn-Uranus shared the greatest number of all possible connections between Planets, Luminaries and Nodes within the Priests’ group (seven aspects: one sextile, two squares, four trines). Saturn-Uranus, also having a generational expression (being part of a forty-five year cycle), indicates a theme of frustration and rebellion that leads to slowly changing old ways and systems that are in place with “patience and perseverance” (Brady, Gunzburg. Delineation 27), and manifesting a creative, intuitive vision (Greene 130-131), contrasting with the Astronauts who had a predominance of Saturn-Neptune; the generation who “fear the loss of established structures in society” (Brady, Gunzburg. Delineation 27).
Taking on a role that conveys the word of God, the Ordained Priests have as much of a relationship with silence and the intangible as they do communication. Coinciding with the generational combinations, the Ordained Priests also displayed high numbers of connections between the personal planets Mercury and Venus (five aspects: four conjunctions, one sextile), suggesting that a love of communicating may be synonymous amongst the group, as well as the Moon aspecting Venus (four aspects: one sextile, one square, one trine, one opposition) indicating that there may also be a predominance of emotions involved when relating. Their choice to take life long vows of poverty, chastity and obedience may be unthinkable to some, yet the Ordained Priests displayed in their results Mars as the dominant unaspected planet, potentially indicating that issues with chastity and obedience may come and go in an unpredictable manner, as may their drive and motivation.
The Lay Brothers
The predominant zodiacal sign in the collated data of the seven Lay Brothers is Leo and Virgo (each present fourteen times). The Planets, Luminaries and Nodes with predominant number of aspects to one another are Venus-Neptune, Mars-Neptune and Saturn-Pluto (all sharing five aspects respectively). The Planet, Luminary or Node with the greatest number of aspects is Neptune (receiving thirty aspects).
Unlike the Astronauts and Ordained Priests, the Lay Brothers’ predominant zodiacal signs are of a differing nature. Virgo, being a mutable earth sign, is flexible, practical, tangible and down to earth with an innate understanding of improvement and perfection. Virgo has a love of words “with a deep unconscious connection to religious practice and the recording of it.” (Brady. The Zodiac). Mutability is adaptable in its expression and represents an information processing system that instinctively understands data and how to best utilise it (Brady. The Zodiac).
According to Bernadette Brady (Brady. Human Groups 8-10), having a predominance of Virgo within a group emphasises precision of language and correct procedure, accuracy and an emphasis on judgement, both receiving and casting, as a way to seeking perfection and fulfillment ( Brady. Human Groups 9). There may be a consistent theme of worry and anxiety within the group, and coinciding with their love of words and information, research may be prevalent in the groups’ activities (Brady. Human Groups 9). Fortunately for the Lay Brothers, part of the intent of this group is to study sacred text, to serve the community through the teachings of this text and assist the Ordained Priests who ultimately are the authority on “the word,” thus allowing a positive expression of the predominant Virgo.
The challenge for a group with such a dynamic is one of amalgamating the unreliable field of emotion and human interactions with their reliable, instinctual eye for detail and correctness. In so doing, this group can mature to incorporate precision and their purified way so that it benefits all members of the group and their relationships.
Also presenting as the dominant zodiacal sign in equal numbers for the Lay Brothers is the fixed sign of Leo. Fixed signs, by nature, are predictable, reliable, useful, steadfast, and practical (Brady. The Zodiac). According to Bernadette Brady ( Brady. Human Groups 6-8) a group that has Leo as it’s strongest sign can deal with issues around individual ego, pride, identity, personal achievement and arrogance. The more ostentatious qualities may act as a front, concealing a wound that can lead the group into isolation. It can, in it’s best expression, express as genuine love for themselves and each other that if extended to others in the community, aids in healing the wound within the group, guiding them toward inclusion, rather than isolation. The challenge for a group with a predominance of Leo lies in the individuals’ ability to see things from anothers’ view point. Although they have come together as a group, their personal ambitions may take precedence over caring for each other.
Consolidating the joint resources of love, generosity, an eye for precision and the useful, adaptable practicality of both fixed fire, Leo and mutable earth, Virgo, this group has the opportunity to direct its energy toward perfecting the model of a family comprised of healthy, well rounded individuals for the betterment of the community they serve, and the individual members of the group.
All three groups entertain wonder, mystery and sacrifice in the daily duties of their professions. The Planet, Luminary or Node that receives the greatest number of aspects in the culmination of the Lay Brothers birth charts is Neptune (receiving thirty), astrologically representing faith, loss, creativity, addiction, sacrifice, illusion, mysticism, fantasy and a desire for oneness (Brady, Gunzburg. Planet and Aspect Kit 7). Having such a strong Neptunian presence in the group may indicate that the Lay Brothers, or those that are drawn toward this brotherhood, as apposed to the journey of becoming an Ordained Priest or a layperson, collectively have a desire for oneness, and an inclination toward issues around faith, mysticism and creativity. Neptune also rated highly in aspects to the Nodal axis of the Lay Brothers (two conjunctions, one square), further indicating that Neptunian activities may be considered “a calling” for these Lay Brothers.
Contrasting with the Astronauts, the Ordained Priests and Lay Brothers group data both displayed relatively high numbers of generational planetary combinations, as well as personal planetary combinations. The planets in connection with one another that rated highly among the Lay Brothers are: Venus-Neptune, Mars-Neptune and Saturn-Pluto (all sharing five hits between them, respectively).
Venus-Neptune connections can indicate a naivety and confusion of boundaries in interpersonal relationships, a need for integrity when relating, yet also can transform love on a personal level to that of the unconscious, collective level (Brady, Gunzburg. Planet and Aspect Kit 7 and 18). Turning their personal love into devotion toward God is one outlet for this combination, seeking to manifest their ideal of love and oneness through faith and religion.
Mars-Neptune combinations can indicate a loss of energy, drive and focus on a personal level, but these individuals can also harness a great deal of energy directed toward ventures that are metaphysical in nature (Brady, Gunzburg. Planet and Aspect Kit 19). This combination could possibly be detrimental to a football team or a group that required continuous output of physical energy, however for the Lay Brothers, they may find it beneficial in their daily service, directing their energy, motivation and drive to their spiritual pursuits and service to the Congregation and community.
Saturn-Pluto connections are another generational combination (occurring as part of a thirty three year cycle). Those born amongst this cycle may find themselves to be very sensitive to violence and find that life’s path involves episodes of delving into a period of frustration and struggle for personal growth to occur (Greene 141). As individuals they may express tendencies toward drama and intense behaviour (Brady, Gunzburg. Delineation 28), nevertheless, dealing with the public in a myriad of ways, these Lay Brothers could find a positive expression for this combination; dealing with other people’s crisis and being of selfless service. If there were a lack of drama and avenues for the Lay Brothers to release this energy, this combination could potentially turn against them and manifest as drama, violence, rage and/or frustration within the group.
A substantial amount of the training and necessary skills required to perform the duties of both the Lay Brothers and Astronauts involves in-depth study and an ability to think and communicate objectively and clearly. Like the Astronauts, the Lay Brothers revealed a relatively high number of connections between personal planet Mercury and the Sun (four conjunctions), again indicating that communication is inherent in the identity of many of the groups individuals, potentially modelled by their fathers or farther figures.
Each of the three groups participating in this study embrace in their respective fields dedication, discipline, sacrifice, service, higher learning and a quest toward potentially intangible aspects of life. How they approach this end is unique to each group, yet all three evoke quintessential life questions pertaining to the meaning and purpose of life itself; the Apollo 11 mission seeming to land on that metaphorical bridge that both links and separates science and religion, the Ordained Priests and Lay Brothers dedicating their entire lives to believing in God as a reality, and penetrating the mysteries of life that science fails to certify.
The Astronauts and Ordained Priests both displayed a predominance of cardinal energy in their combined group data, suggesting that their work is carried out with the awareness that life contains death, and that action is paramount for their goals to be accomplished. In contrast, the Astronauts displayed the Moon as the predominant unaspected Planet/Luminary where as the Ordained Priests displayed this as their Planet/Luminary receiving the highest number of aspects. This may illustrate that The Ordained Priests are engaged on the emotional level, and the Astronauts, as a group, may find this harder to access consistently, being more inclined to seek to expand through the intellect, with Uranus and Jupiter presenting strongly.
The Lay Brothers presented an alternate expression to that of the Astronauts and Ordained Priests, displaying a predominance of fixed and mutable signs, indicating an adaptable, yet reliable way of facing the groups challenges of perfecting the balance between individual aspirations and the emotional well being of its participants (Brady Human Groups. 7). The Lay Brothers and Astronauts, alike, displayed connections between personal planet Mercury and the Sun, showing a similarity in the association between their identity and communication, having been potentially modelled by their fathers/farther figures.
All results collated demonstrate clearly the potential diversity that is possible in such a study. Each group has challenges and obstacles to face, due to the resulting dynamics of individual group members. Each group, in this particular study, appear to present themes that support their initial intent. It would be potentially impossible to gather two or more people to carry out an objective without any challenges and conflicts of interest. Having such a tool, as astrology, to navigate a groups potential can only serve the individuals, as well as aid in producing best case scenario results for the group.
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- Brady, Bernadette. Human Groups – Notes on Family based on Jigsaw V2. www.astrologos.co.uk/moodle/moodle/course/view.php?id=15 – accessed May, June, July 2011.
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