How Paris Became the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
This letter-to-the-editor originally appeared in American Astrology Magazine in 1998
The death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in the early morning hours of August 31 1997 at Paris, France, has sent thousands of astrologers scurrying to her horoscope (1) to look for the astrological corollaries of the tragedy. The most compelling ones appear in mundo, that is, from an equatorial point of view rather than the ecliptic. When Diana went to Paris, several transiting bodies at once came into partile relationships with her natal planets that were less potent at her residence in England. She had resided in England at a latitude only 2 and 2/3° higher than Paris, but the difference was critical. In particular, as might well be expected for terminus vitae by accident or violence, transiting Mars was well represented.
While Mars itself was not rising or in one of the traditional angles associated with the horizon or meridian at the time of the accident, it was very close to the precise mundo square aspect with natal Uranus. This class of aspects doesn't require that the planets that comprise it actually be simultaneously anglular to operate; it is enough that they were or will be during the course of the day in question. At the time of the accident (12:35 AM Paris time) the right ascension (hereafter RA) and declination of transiting Mars were such that it would have risen at the parallel through Paris when the meridian held 9h 46m 19s of sidereal time. Diana's ex-precessed (3) natal Uranus culminated when the Paris meridian held RA 9h 45m 36s. Forty three seconds of sidereal time is less than 1/5° (one fifth of a degree). The precise mundo square, exact to the second, had occurred 3 and 1⁄2 hours before the accident but the scene wasn't then set for it to operate. Transiting Mars at the time of the accident was also quite close to her natal Neptune (14° Libra), almost 1 and 1⁄2° beyond it in ecliptic longitude; but because her natal Neptune had more than 1 and 3⁄4° of north celestial latitude, transiting Mars, itself with more than 3⁄4° of north celestial latitude, was actually much closer to her natal Neptune (than appeared to be the case in longitude) when they had twice passed through the meridan together during the previous twenty four hours. In fact Mars had been precisely conjunct Diana's natal Neptune in right ascension only 17 hours before the accident. At the time of the accident transiting Mars had RA 14h 31m 10s while ex-precessed natal Neptune had RA 14h 29m 22s, which separation is less than 1⁄2°. It is also plain that transiting Neptune was closely configured with the princess' natal Saturn, and again the contact is somewhat closer in mundo than zodiaco.
While there are other factors in play, this writer judges none of them to be more important than, 1) transiting Mars to natal Uranus, because that combination often suggests if other factors support, accident, risk taking, trouble with mechanical devices and trauma; 2) transiting Mars to natal Neptune becasuse that combination suggests, if other factors support, being subject to the will of others, particularly their bad judgment, as well as being victimized, hounded or pursued as a would-be or de facto victim; 3) transiting Neptune to the natal Saturn because that combination suggests, if other factors support, not only literally lack of restraint or something to hold onto (she was not wearing a seat belt) but that the things people depend upon not to change, the basic stability of their circumstances, do change like the proverbial rug that is pulled out from under someone's sense of security. It suggests being undermined; so then, it can fairly be said that she was not responsible for her own death except perhaps in some convoluted philosophical sense.
These three transits were very close at the time of the crash and her death shortly thereafter from severe trauma to the chest and loss of blood. There were three more factors which served to time the tragedy: first, Diana's sidereal lunar return which began on August 18, 1997 at Paris, has 6° Libra rising with lunar Mars in 7° Libra. That by itself is an ominous portent but millions of people have lunar returns every month with angular Mars without being killed. What is obvious in hindsight is that transiting Mars would be closely square the meridian of the lunar return when it became involved in mundo with her natal Uranus-Moon-Venus T square. That suggests more than general distress, an argument or altercation, indeed, more than scheduled surgery in view of the other factors in play. Transiting Mars came to within 1⁄2° of the precise square to the lunar return meridian late in the evening of August 30, 1997. Second, at the time of the accident which has been given as both 12:35 a.m. and 12:37 a.m. Paris time, natal Neptune and transiting Mars were at the vertex for Paris. The vertex is the intersection of the prime vertical and the ecliptic in the west. It represents the point on the ecliptic which is due west. (The vertex and the descendant are therefore coincident at the equinoxes. The vertex is fully invested with the power of an angle [i.e. the horizon or meridian] however, at all times of the year.) For 12:35 a.m. August 31, 1997, the vertex at Paris was 14° Libra 44'; Diana's natal Neptune was 14° Libra 26'; transiting Mars was at 15° Libra 46'. For 12:37 a.m. the Paris vertex was 15° Libra 08'. Those planets, one as promittor and the other as significator, amplify helplessness, injury, the circumstance of being trapped and paradoxically, often things glamourous yet lugubrious, depending on the type of support. Finally, the coup de grâce which ended the entire drama and raised it to the level of the pre-eminent spectacle in the western world was served up by transiting Pluto. Transiting Pluto had been apparently well away from the sort of bone crunching proximity which transiting Mars and Neptune had applied to the princess' natal planets. While the square from transiting Pluto to natal Pluto was in play (transiting Pluto had 8* Scorpio 12' square Diana's natal Pluto at 11° Leo 51'), it was not nearly close enough to exact the terrible toll that Mars and Neptune did.
Ecliptic longitude, however, tells only half the story. A more complete view of the horoscope is gained when it is taken out of the "flat" dimension of mere celestial longitude and viewed as well from the perspective of right ascension and declination. Seen this way, it is clear that Diana was under assault from transiting Pluto as well. For the coordinates of her residence in England at the time of her death (4:00 a.m. Paris time, 3:00 a.m. BST, 2:00 a.m. GMT August 31, 1997), transiting Pluto's RA and declination allowed it to rise when the mid-heaven held 10h 57m 01s of sidereal time, but at the parallel through Paris, transiting Pluto rose there at death with a sidereal time of 10h 53m 03s. Diana's ex-precessed natal Pluto appeared in the mid-heaven with a sidereal time of 10h 53m 05s. The precise geographic coordinates of the hospital where she died may produce second to second agreement between transiting and natal Pluto, but the point is that pressure resolves into denoument for good or ill when Pluto aspects its natal place. The result is unequivocal, irrevocable and absolute which is why it is to be hoped that good aspects are also in play when transiting Pluto to natal Pluto becomes a partile aspect in mundo or zodiaco. Usually someone is cut off from what their circumstances have been up until such a time; people typically face the world on their own unencumbered by the baggage of the past, and just as a snake is vulnerable for a while when it sheds its skin, so too is the native generally utterly subject to circumstance when Pluto squares its natal place.
That Diana was special is undeniable. The first clue is that she was born with Spica (α Virginis) a little more than a degree in RA from the M.C. Vivian Robson says of it:
"If rising or culminating. Unbounded good fortune, riches, happiness, ecclesiastical preferment, unexpected honour or advancement beyond native's hopes or capacity." (4)
Clearly she did not enjoy domestic happiness except ephemerally due to the T square of Uranus- Moon-Venus, but Spica and to a significant extent the natal Sun trine Neptune, were symbolic of being dropped into extraordinary circumstances which were attended by great wealth and a stature that caused her to outshine all other English women of her day. To her great credit, unlike most people who merely sit back and enjoy good fortune when it comes to them, or worse, act like it is their due, she used her celebrity to good purpose to advance worthy causes. It is very characteristic of Sun trine Neptune to be associated with charity, to be an angel of mercy (other things not considered), to give solace, comfort and attention to those in need. It is also highly characteristic of Aquarius, which was the placement of her natal Moon, to have the so-called common touch—a demeaning term which may be properly seen as a genuinely humanitarian touch, and to act in a refreshingly honest and straightforward manner.
The second major clue that Diana would have a unique role in life is that her natal Sun is applying to the conjunction of Sirius (α Canis Majoris) in right ascension only 1/3° from the precise contact. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky and is well known to give de facto or de jure regal status. Ebertin says of it:
From time immemorial it was known as the "Royal One," but it is also known as violent. Well connected it promises fame, honours, riches. On the ascendant and with Mars combined Sirius can be quite dangerous. Pushing ahead with too much ambition is then seen, resulting in dangers by injuries or by attempts on the native's life. According to tradition, Sirius will give a "famous" death with honours beyond the grave, if positioned in the 8th house....Sirius in conjunction with the Sun and well placed in the cosmogram will be found to be the case in numerous important and famous personalities. (5)
Diana did not have the Sun and Sirius in the 8th house, except in the whole sign house system of India that pays scant attention to the precise degree of the horizon, which in the West determines house placement, but her fame, honor, riches and the nature of her funeral cannot be denied.
In the end, she has to be seen as a sweet, decent person but one with fighting spirit and a total lack of pretense which is unnerving to the establishment and poseurs in general.
© Kenneth Bowser, 1998
1. July 1, 1961 at 7:45 PM BST; Sandringham, England. (52°N50' - 0°E31')
2. Sidereal longitudes used throughout. To get corresponding tropical longitudes subtract 5° 47' 59" from sidereal longitudes and add 30°. Ayanamsa is Fagan-Allen.
3. Right ascension and declination being tropical coordinates must be brought up to date for someone of Diana's age especially for precision work.
4. Vivian Robson, The Fixed Stars And Constellations In Astrology (New York: Samuel Weiser Inc., 1969), 211.
5. Reinhold Ebertin, Fixed Stars And Their Interpretation (Aalen, Germany: Ebertin- Verlag, 1971), 38-39.