All free-thinkers should remember Giordano Bruno, the Italian-born philosopher who was executed by the Church for ‘heresy’ – ie: he denied the virginity of Mary, called Jesus a magician, said the Holy Ghost was a woman/the world soul and believed in reincarnation, along with a host of other dangerous concepts.
He was born at Nola, a town in Naples adjacent to Mt Vesuvius, in Jan/Feb 1548. Neptune was at 29 Aries, a month away from being in Taurus, Saturn trine Uranus and Pluto was in Aquarius.
Saturn and Uranus in harmony reflect his genius-level scholarship and inventive acumen – he invented an an entire system of memory enhancement, for example.
Describing him as a “lonely, bookish boy” his biographer Ingrid Rowlands explains that at 14, he was sent away to riotous, sensual Naples – then the fifth largest city in the world – to be educated.
She sees him as “a solitary teenager plunged suddenly into urban chaos. This experience, she says, taught him survival skills, which he would need in his life. It may also have been the source of what would later be his governing image of the universe: fullness, infinitude.”
Becoming a monk at the age of 17, he swiftly scored attention for both his scholarly aptitude and open mind. The latter was not an asset in that era.
I know everyone we enthuse over centuries later can be effortlessly described as ‘ahead of their time.’ But Giordano Bruno stood out.
“Every soul and spirit hath a certain continuity with the spirit of the universe, so that it must be understood to exist and to be included not only there where it liveth and feeleth, but it is also by its essence and substance diffused through immensity…anything we take in the universe, because it has in itself that which is all in all, includes in it’s own way the entire soul of the world, which is entirely in any part of it.”
He wrote that “innumerable suns exists, innumerable Earths revolve around these suns similar to the way the seven planets revolve around our Sun. Living beings inhabit these worlds.”
In The Song of Circe, he quotes the sorceress as paying homage to the Sun-God:
“Apollo, author of poetry, quiver bearer, bowman, of the powerful arrows, Pythian, laurel-crowned, prophetic, shepherd, seer, priest, and physician. Brilliant, rosy, long-haired, beautiful-locked, blond, bright, placid, bard, singer, teller of truth. . . . Reveal, I pray, your lions, your lynxes, goats, baboons, seagulls, calves, snakes, elephants. . . . The turtle, butterfish, tuna, ray, whale, and all your other creatures of that kind.”
All this drew the ire of the Inquisition and on his Saturn Return, aged 28, Bruno fled Italy for safer havens. He enjoyed a riotious 15 or so years, penning provocative literature, learning, developing his innovative memory techniques and getting into public debates with the great thinkers of the day. He may have been banned from a university or two but he had cultural clout and some powerful patrons. He was free – so what happened?
In early 1591, he made the disastrous decision to return to his native Italy. There was a general vibe that the Inquisition was less frenetic at that point and he’d been invited by a wealthy aristocrat named Giovanni Mocenigo to come to Venice and personally coach him in his memory methods.
Saturn and Uranus were square one another and respectively square/opposite Giordano Bruno’s natal Uranus. Pluto was in Aries square his natal Saturn and possibly conjunct his Sun. It was not a good time to be overly trusting. But perhaps wowed by the aristocrat’s flattery, palatial palazzo and/or the prospect of widespread acceptance in his home country, he returned and everything went to merde.
After a few months, Mocenigo accused him of holding back on the ‘true secrets’ of the memory method – perhaps as he was making poor progress due to stupidity or maybe because Giordano Bruno was a genius but not a teacher. Then, horrifically, the aristocrat locked him in the attic and summoned the Inquisition.
Tried first in Venice and then Rome, Giordano spent the rest his life in prison or in court. He was heartbreakingly eloquent in his own defense, but to no avail. After having been found ‘guilty of heresy,’ the Pope ordered him to be burned at the stake at dawn on February 16 1600 and sent out an empire-wide edict for his writings to be destroyed.
Brave to the end, the philosophers response – transcribed at the time – has become iconic: “Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it.”
The astrology was sombre, sharp and appropriate for such an awful day: Saturn in Libra opposed Uranus in Aries (conjunct Giordano’s natal Neptune), with both of them square the Moon’s Nodes in Capricorn-Cancer. The Sun was rising at 28 Aquarius, opposite Neptune in Leo. Mars Retrograde and Mercury Retrograde were opposite one another, also squaring the Nodes.
It reflects an atrocity that stood out, even in an era that specialized in brutal religious repression. The one ‘friendly’ alignment in that astro was that the Sun trined Saturn and sextiled the Galactic Center on the Midheaven. Think: radical relevance far beyond the bigotry and hate that harmed him.
While it’s heart-breaking to think of his end – I am not repeating the ghastly details but they’re online – the Church did not succeed in silencing Giordano Bruno or even destroying his words.
Preserved by people who risked their own lives to hide them for a more enlightened age, they’re still in print even now – there are dozens on Amazon alone.
And in 1889, on June 9 with Neptune nearing a rare conjunction with Pluto and in spite of lobbying from the then Pope and Vatican – a statue of Giordano Bruno was erected on the exact spot where the Church murdered him: the inscription says “To Bruno, the age he predicted created this monument, here where the stake burned.”