John Calvin

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2003

Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Iimages and Physiognomic Interpretations

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John Calvin - Theologian and Religious Reformer

(Sun, Mars, Venus in Cancer; Proposed Ascendant, Pisces; Moon, Taurus; Jupiter, Sagittarius; Saturn, Virgo; Uranus rising in Aries; Pluto in Sagittarius at the proposed MC; Neptune in Aquarius)      

John Calvin (born Jean Cauvin), was one of the most prominent and powerful leaders of the Protestant Reformation, which was initiated by Martin Luther. Expressing through a temperament utterly in contrast to the bold, rough and colorful, Luther, Calvin, a reticent, logical, controlled and controlling man, systematized the fundamental principles of the Reformation in his massive and authoritative Institutes of the Christian Religion, considered to be one of the most influential theological works of all time.

John Calvin was a highly respected though controversial figure even within much of the Protestant Movement. While there can be no question of his dedication, his sincerity of faith, his religious passion, and his impressive intellectual abilities, his thought was thoroughly permeated by a humorless severity which can only be judged as repressive of the human spirit and, indeed, led to a string of persecutions which must be considered tyrannical by any humane standard.

Though an irrevocably committed and tireless worker on behalf of the Christian Faith (as he conceived that Faith), he eventually became willing to humiliate, abuse, exile, torture and even execute those who disagreed with his theological formulations. It is reported in The Catholic Encyclopedia (which can be considered reliable in this regard, despite its obvious anti-Protestant bias) that between the years of 1550 and 1555, as Calvin struggled to achieve unquestioned supremacy as head of the Genevan theocracy, there were fifty-eight sentences of death and seventy-six of exile, besides numerous committals of the most eminent citizens to prison.

Calvin’s center of temporal and spiritual power was the Geneva, Switzerland of the middle sixteenth century. Although the population of this city did not, as a whole and at first, embrace him eagerly (at one point even banishing him and his closest religious companions), his growing stature as a Protestant Theologian made it possible within a few years to overcome this opposition and establish himself in Geneva as an unquestioned authority, not only in all matters which pertained to the religious life, but in governmental functions as well—for Calvin was an astute lawyer as well as a divine.

Under Calvin’s autocratic supervision, Geneva became a rigid theocracy; some called it “the Rome of the Protestant World”. Church and State were indissolubly united. Freedoms were limited. Citizens were obliged to conform to Calvin’s strict and militant version of a proper Christian way of life. Calvin’s word became the law. At length it was judged a crime, severely punishable, even to question the correctness of his writings and interpretations, let alone actually oppose the many statutes to which they gave birth. The formerly persecuted reformer of Christianity had become the self-justifying persecutor.

John Calvin is often regarded as a humanist, for his emphasis on classical learning and his desire to address himself to the evils of his times. He thought of himself as a biblical theologian in accordance with the Reformation slogan scriptura sola. He was prepared to follow Scripture even when it surpassed the limits of human understanding, trusting to the Holy Spirit to inspire faith in its promises. He sought to appeal rhetorically to the human heart rather than to compel agreement, at least in the traditional manner of systematic theologians, by demonstrating dogmatic truths. He was, however, authoritative in his argument and, through force of rhetoric and argument, did seek to compel agreement.

By temperament, he had little sympathy with Medieval Scholasticism though, when it served him, as it did in the matter of defending the doctrine of Predestination, he could reason as well as any scholastic. His emphasis was as much upon this world as upon the next. He was utilitarian in temperament, friendly to commercial, capitalistic interests and the growth of urban life, and no rejecter of material progress, though, personally, he cared little for conventional wealth. With salvation securely and (for the “Elect”) comfortingly determined by the Doctrine of Predestination, he could focus on how the Christian life was to be lived in this world.Humanists are concerned with increasing the quality of human life, thinking it more important than preoccupation with remote, other-worldly considerations.

In a similar vein, Calvin, too, emphasized how this life should be lived, but his attitude was conservative and distrustful of human nature, and he sought meticulously to supervise every aspect of the conduct of Genevans (and, later, other Protestants), enforcing their conformity to theocratic principles and laws which, in his own thought, he had established as irrefutably correct, even sacrosanct.

John Calvin’s influence on the practice of the Christian Religion has been immense, and many to this day consider it a salutary influence. His thought was eagerly accepted in England (initially by John Knox of Scotland who broke with Anglicanism), and impulsed the Puritan Movement which was so influential a force in the daily life and culture of the early American Colonies. Religious practice in America inherited this Puritanism, which influenced, and still influences, a significant number of religious sects, for Calvinism, in its many guises and modifications, is still surprisingly powerful today. Modern Christian fundamentalism owes much to Calvin’s strict formulations concerning the proper way to think about the nature and practice Christianity.

The tense, anxiety-ridden psychology of John Calvin naturally pervades his theology and the religious attitudes which have derived from it. Calvin’s upright, serious and humorless demeanor is reflected in a grim and often joyless practice of the Christian Faith. His conviction of the unassailable correctness of his formulation of Christian Doctrine has bred in his followers an attitude of intolerance towards other religions, and notably towards divergent approaches within the Christian Faith (especially to Catholicism—against which the early leaders of the Protestant Reformation revolted).

Calvin’s cold logic (cold, despite his volatile and potentially fierce and vindictive emotional nature) made his acceptance of the Doctrine of Predestination inevitable. His mind corroborated its correctness, and his will gave assent, even though he recognized that it would be seen as unfair and even repugnant by many. The version of Predestination which he advocated was  unusually severe and apparently heartless, for Almighty God was seen as the sole Arbiter of who would be “saved” and who would be “damned” (“Double Predestination”, it was called), and there was nothing any human being could do to change “God’s Will” in the matter. Those who were destined by God to be “saved”, were known as the “Elect”; often their worldly position and financial success served to indicate who they were. Their prominence proved their merit. Can we see in this the workings of an unconscious materialism associated with the Taurus Moon?

Like so many Protestants of the era (following Luther’s example), Calvin saw salvation (more than service) as man’s greatest concern, and was convinced that it was to be achieved “by faith alone” rather than through works. Man was justified by his faith, and so unworthy, that he could not hope to earn salvation, which was predestined, or not, in any case. While a social conscience was enjoined upon the faithful, helping one’s fellowman was seen as a Christian duty, a part of good Christian conduct, rather than a spontaneous joy based upon warmth of fellow feeling and the heart.

Yet is must be said that Calvin was said by some to have a “talent for friendship”, an ability to preach and read from Scripture empathically, and his relationship with his wife was judged to be warm. No doubt he displayed his warmer more humane qualities to the “faithful” (i.e., to those he could trust to agree with his mental formulations).

Calvin, as strong in his own way as any Pope, ‘reigned’ in a theocratic social order governed by Protestant absolutism. Many of the faithful, however, did not judge him harshly because, towards them, he was not as harsh. Indeed, as he saw it, and demonstrated convincingly to many, he cared for the welfare of their souls, and worked indefatigably towards that end.

His special hatred (for, really, it was nothing less) was reserved for those who disagreed with his rigidly instituted theological conclusions — especially for heretics (i.e., those who disagreed strenuously and, worse for them, had good reason for doing so.) The most infamous persecution for which Calvin was responsible was the trial and subsequent burning alive of the noted theologian, mathematician, scientist and biblicist, Michael Servetus, whose martyrdom was the impulse which sparked the founding of the Unitarian Movement and fanned the flames of freedom in the hearts and minds of thousands in subsequent centuries.

A close study of Calvin’s thought and behavior towards Servetus, both before and subsequent to his capture in Geneva, reveals pride, malice and envy in all their ugliness. Calvin proved himself true to the unpleasant fanatical tendencies of the sixth Ray of Devotion and Idealism, for this energy tends to produce those who, while seeing their friends and those who agree with them as ‘angels’, see their enemies as very much the reverse.

Servetus, a Christo-centric scholar, free-thinker, physician and intellectual of high caliber, was demonized in the most contemptible manner. Calvin, for all his mental logic and clarity of thought, was no psychologist—his persecutory approach to Servetus revealing the most ignorant form of psychological projection, which he disguised  from himself as service to the “glory of Christ”.

It is probable that Calvin, in an earlier exchange of letters between them, had felt himself humiliated by the brilliance of Servetus’ mind, and, using religion as his cloak, sought the last full measure of revenge. Years before Servetus’ execution, Calvin uttered these menacing words to his friend and fellow reformer Farel: “If he [Servetus] comes here and I have any authority, I will never let him leave the place alive”. Servetus has dared to criticize (in marginal glosses), Calvin’s by then ‘unassailable’ “Institutes of the Christian Religion”. Calvin took his faith seriously—seriously enough to murder (through the use and abuse of the law) those who dared to think and speak thoughts in opposition to his own.

Calvin was severely criticized for his merciless treatment of the ‘heretic’, Servetus, and wrote, in self-defense, a remorseless justification of his action one year following the execution. Many in high places sided with his point of view. In any case, though Calvin had his enemies, his position in Geneva was secure and could not be effectively challenged; his spiritual and temporal authority only grew—though his more liberal opponents gained much momentum from his self-righteous intolerance.

Calvin remained increasingly influential until his death. He wrote voluminously to his Protestant allies throughout Europe. As well, thousands of sermons (many, extemporaneously delivered and recorded) are extant; he incessantly carried out pastoral duties connected with Church life—baptisms, weddings and funerals—constantly preaching and offering spiritual advice.

He also counseled a number of European rulers on the proper approach to the religious life, for his opinion was much in demand, and the desire to spread Protestantism was great. As a result of his ceaseless activity on behalf of the Church and because of his draining engagement in many controversies and theological disputes, he wore himself out and died at no very advanced age.

John Calvin’s goal was to strengthen the cause of Protestantism throughout Europe and establish Geneva as the leading center of the Protestant Reformation. Above all he sought to spread the new gospel (in the formulation of which he had played so decisive and extensive a part) as widely and successfully as possible.

He succeeded well, leaving his mark indelibly upon the development of Christianity (in Europe and, in fact, throughout the world). His influence was felt not only in the sixteenth century, but, significantly, for three and half centuries to follow. He was a powerful agent for the reformation of the many notable abuses of the Catholic Church, but seemed not to have learned that a reformer must not fall victim to the very worst of the abuses he seeks to counter—especially, in Calvin’s case, the abuse of power.


 Choosing John Calvin’s Astrological Chart

The astrological chart for John Calvin is speculative. An “old book” states that he had Uranus rising. Maurice Wemyss believes he was born in the “forenoon”—a rather indefinite term. A time of 10:00 AM is offered as a possibility by Lois Rodden. This time would place Uranus relatively near the Ascendant, but the question would remain, “Did Calvin have Aries or Pisces rising?”

A mere fifteen minutes later, the Ascendant would have changed to Aries, yet, despite Calvin’s sometimes fiery temperament, and the severe headaches to which he was constantly prone (a physical problem associated with Aries), there are a number of factors to contra-indicate Aries as his Ascendant, foremost among which were his cold, reticent, and (apparently) humanly unapproachable demeanor. An individual with an Aries Ascendant would normally be possessed of far less reserve.

A study of Calvin’s physiognomy (from the few iimages available) reveals a relatively long, narrow face with depressed cheek-bones. A certain flattening of the face beneath the eyes is a physiognomical characteristic associated with the influence of the sign Pisces. For this reason, for reasons related to astrological timing, and for his close identification with certain leading characteristics of this sign, Pisces has been chosen as the Ascendant, and efforts have been made to rectify the chart, using 10:00 AM as a starting point, but concentrating on times slightly preceding 10:00 AM.

Dane Rudhyar, an astrologer of accomplishment, has rectified Calvin’s chart to 1:27 PM, which yields Scorpio on the Ascendant. There can be no doubt that Calvin had a Scorpionic, Plutonic appearance. Physiognomically, a chart rectified for 9:53:45 AM gives the third decanate of Pisces rising—the decanate ruled by Scorpio.

This Rising Sign and this decanate, satisfy both the Piscean and Scorpionic appearance, and retain Pluto as a very powerful planet (perhaps more powerful than in the Scorpio rising chart, as Pluto is the esoteric ruler of Pisces, and is found prominently near the MC in the Pisces rising chart). It is said that he had “piercing eyes”—a testimony to the Scorpionic sub-influence and also to his very evident sixth and first rays.

Pains have been taken to confirm the plausibility of this chart with a few minutes short of 22 degrees of Pisces rising. As will be demonstrated, the chart works well. An interesting side light arises from considering the nature of the Sabian Symbol for the 22nd degree: “A Prophet Carrying Tablets of the New Law is Walking Down the Slopes of Mount Sinai”. The keyword is “Mandate”. While it is not advisable to choose a rising degree simply on the basis of its symbolism, it will be discovered that the degree indicated works out very well in terms of astrological cycles, as well as symbolically.

Another degree of Pisces, the 25th, is tempting to consider—“The Purification of the Priesthood”, but it can be questioned whether it works out as well mathematically —using progressions, directions, transits and eclipses—and even whether it is as appropriate symbolically, though Calvin did rebel against the corruption of the Catholic priesthood.

To reinforce the coincidence of the degree of the “Prophet” from Mount Sinai, and the mathematical correspondences, we also have the conjunction of the proposed Ascendant with the star Scheat, which, though often considered a negative and unfortunate star, is associated with brilliance of mind, and with the daring to think or do the impossible — potentially, involving the sacrifice of self or others.

Whether we approve of what Calvin did or the manner in which he did it, he certainly accomplished a significant work through the power of his daring thought. Many were sacrificed, himself included (through overwork in the service of his fanatical world-view). The presence of this star on the proposed Ascendant seems to lend the power of irresistible fate to his accomplishments.

Propositions Concerning John Calvin’s Ray Structure

The Ray of the Soul

All evidence reinforces the hypothesis that John Calvin, as a soul, was focused upon the sixth Ray of Devotion and Idealism. The reasons are as follows:

1.     His life was totally preoccupied with the relationship between man and God. He was “single-minded” to an unusual degree, bending all factors to the service of the Faith.

2.     He was set and narrow in his ways—characteristics of the sixth ray.

3.     His was the psychology of polarization—Good and Evil; God Transcendent and fallen man; the faithful and the heretics; the saved and the damned.

4.     Though outwardly cool (even cold—though pleasant enough to his close associates) he was inwardly violent. This worked out in the repressions and persecutions for which he was responsible. The sixth ray is, as mediated through Mars, a ray of violence.

5.     He was a man of passion.  His mind was precise and logical (with strong fifth ray elements in it), but his heart (or should one say—his solar plexus) was highly charged. One of his chosen symbols was a hand reaching forth from a heart. In 1529 he underwent the kind of conversion or awakening experience, which is typical of those upon the sixth ray.

6.     He was a great debater, seeking to enforce his point of view on a variety of disputants. He sought to demonstrate to them the error of their ways. He was militant in his defense of the “True Faith”, and merciless in his pursuit of those who had fallen into doctrinal error—i.e., ‘heretics’.

7.     He loved the ideal so well, that he was willing to ignore the usual human and humane considerations when dealing with people, insisting that the ideal (not the personal) must triumph.

8.     His method of was one of imposition. When the sixth and first rays are combined (and it is likely that strong elements of the first ray existed in Calvin’s personality), the factor of imposition is at its strongest and most dangerous.

9.     His great emphasis was upon salvation—i.e., relief from sin and this world. Characteristically of those upon the sixth ray, he believed in salvation through faith alone and Divine Grace.

10. Unlike those upon the second ray, his mistrust of human nature (and, no doubt of himself) caused him to emphasize God Transcendent, and the Fatherhood of God, rather than God Immanent.

11. For Calvin, there was an impassible chasm between man and God. One could span the chasm only through the mediation of Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God. We see in Calvin’s view of the innate powerlessness of man, the workings of the sixth ray which inclines to see all Goodness, Truth and Beauty as outside the human sphere—at least after the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden.

12. He never allowed himself a holiday. One wonders at the karmic factors for which he was (albeit, unconsciously) atoning.

The astrological factors conveying the sixth ray are powerful, offering strong entry for these militant soul energies. All three of the sixth ray signs/constellations are tenanted and the planets in these signs are prominent.

Pisces is the proposed Rising Sign, strengthening Calvin’s emphasis on Divine Grace, faith, and the sinfulness and powerlessness of man unaided. Both rulers of Pisces, visionary Jupiter exoterically, and radical Pluto esoterically, are placed in the strongest of the sixth ray signs, Sagittarius. Jupiter, placed in Sagittarius, is in its own sign orthodoxly and in a house, H9, in which it is dignified. Pluto, certainly relevant in the case of a disciple such as Calvin, is elevated—the most elevated planet, and is conjunct Jupiter and also the North Node in Sagittarius—pointing the way towards the acquisition of experience. Saturn, exceedingly important in the chart of this man-of-the-law, is in the sixth ray sign Virgo and is, in this proposed chart, exactly on the Descendant. The Vertex, or ‘Point of Fate’ is also in Virgo, interestingly in the same degree as the proposed Mercury of Calvin’s doctrinal nemesis, Michael Servetus (using the earlier of the two proposed Servetus charts).

Calvin’s Sun is in the water sign, Cancer, which is ruled by the Moon and Neptune. Since Calvin was certainly an Initiate of the Threshold (who, it may be fairly said, did not succeed in passing two {or, maybe, three} of the “temptations in the wilderness”, and who, most probably, had not even passed the second initiation), his preliminary initiate status renders Neptune, the esoteric ruler of the Cancerian Sun, even more important than it otherwise would be—and it would be important anyway.

For Neptune is a distributor of the sixth ray (the soul ray proposed for Calvin), and a special ruler of the sign Pisces. Neptune is, as well, widely opposed to Calvin’s Sun in Cancer. The factor of transcendence (salvation, release, escape) was consistently in view, even though his respect for worldly matters was considerable, in some respect due to two prominent earth signs—Taurus, holding the Moon and Virgo, holding Saturn and the Vertex.

Mars, in the sign of its fall, Cancer (the same sign as Calvin’s Sun) must also be considered as potent. Further, Mars is in the house of its fall as well. Calvin is said to have had a “hot temper”. As Mars rules the solar plexus (and as Cancer also has much to do with this chakra of concentrated emotion), his emotionality and defensiveness (no matter how well regulated and suppressed) can well be imagined.

One might think that Mars would be even more powerful if Calvin had Aries rising, but a number of characteristics contra-indicate Aries as the Ascendant (including Calvin’s much documented reticence and his fundamental lack of ‘spiritual confidence’). Although an Aries Ascendant might go some way in explaining the headaches from which Calvin is said to have constantly suffered, we have to note that Mars is a distributor of the sixth ray, and would be accented because of Calvin’s proposed sixth ray soul.

Further, the rather close square between violent Mars and erratic Uranus (in Aries) would account for Calvin’s emotional explosions and the high tension under which he seems to have lived—unrelieved by merriment and gaiety, though not unrelieved by sex, a love of which his Taurus Moon may well indicate.

In concluding our thoughts about the justifications and conduits for the sixth ray, there seemed to be so much that Calvin shut out of his life so he could concentrate upon his great religious passion—the establishment of the Kingdom of the Christ.

This capacity to ignore, despise and repudiate that which does not pertain to one’s leading interests is a well-known characteristic of the sixth ray—aided and abetted in this case by the grim sentinel, Saturn, standing watch at the seventh house where the “other” is encountered.


The Ray of the Personality

In his personality nature John Calvin was reticent, determined, controlled and controlling, reserved but implacable, centralizing power within himself. He was an enforcer of the “law”—upon others and, given the prominent position of Saturn, upon himself. Two rays, in some combination, stand out as characteristic of his personality function—the first ray and the seventh.

John Calvin was a driving force in the reformation of Christianity. It seems that he was able to subject himself (and others) to relentless, unrelieved pressure. Two of the constellations/signs associated with the first ray are tenanted.

First, there is Aries, and it holds an important ‘tenant’—Uranus, the planet of ‘reformation’ and, on many occasions, of dictatorial will. Uranus is usually considered a seventh ray planet (and in Calvin’s case, it should be), but it also, essentially, carries much of the first ray (monadically) and is considered the “home of electric fire”. The “old book”, from which what little information we have about Calvin’s horoscope is derived, states that he had Uranus rising.

That this essentially first ray planet is rising in the sign which brings in more of the first ray than any other sign, is tremendously significant in Calvin’s case. Even if he did not have Aries rising, he proposedly had the planet of reformation and reorganization (Uranus) in the sign of initiative and imposition (Aries). He was an irresistible force for the imposition of a new order, or at least, what he conceived to be a new order, which allowed a return (Cancer) to an originally intended order based upon complete and literal faithfulness to the Bible.

The second tenanted first ray sign/constellation is Leo, which holds Mercury, orthodox ruler of the third house of concrete thought and the seventh house of the law. One of the effects of Mercury in first ray Leo was to give Calvin an inflated self-assurance concerning the correctness of his thoughts and opinions, and a bold, positive manner in stating them. One has only to read a little of his Institutes of the Christian Religion to understand the forcefulness of his expression. This position naturally conditioned his mind as well.

When thinking about the first ray influence in this chart, the elevated Pluto becomes extremely important. It is placed in Sagittarius (the sign of the “burning ground”) and is square (widely) both the Ascendant/Descendant and Saturn (accounting for his tendency to purge and purify). Pluto is a Shamballically related planet and is a planet of compulsion and elimination.

*Calvin’s attitude towards his enemies was not charitable; he simply sought to eliminate them, one way or another. He conceived his enemies to be “enemies of the Faith”. We note that Pluto is in the ninth house, which governs one’s world view, philosophy or faith.

Prominent Saturn also has a strong first ray component. Calvin, a successful lawyer (Saturn at the seventh house cusp) even before he came to Geneva, saw himself as the judge of that which was theologically correct. The combination of a prominent Pluto and Saturn, plus prominent Aries assured him of the justifiability of imposition—a word much associated with the first ray.

When considering the first ray, we should not overlook the Sun (with Venus and Mercury) in the fifth house—Leo’s house (archetypally). The fifth house relates to the centralization of power (and the Cancer Sun enables one to hold on to it). Through the fifth house, personality is expressed in full force.

The characteristic dynamic is often the exercise of a dominating authority through the force of one’s personal power. In Calvin’s view, he was simply representing the Faith in which he so completely believed; from a more penetrating psychological perspective, it can be seen that he thought quite a bit of himself as defender of the Faith (Mars in Cancer).

The highly ordered, organizing (and sometimes, re-organizing) seventh ray can also be readily seen as a component of his personality. The sign Cancer holds the Sun, and it is, partially, a seventh ray sign/constellation. The seventh ray is, in some respects, a conservative ray, protective of the form. This was very much so for Calvin, who was protective and extremely defensive of the form of Christianity, which he conceived as theologically and biblically correct.

If Cancer represents the more conservative side of the seventh ray (aided by Saturn, which is the Lord of the seventh plane, cosmically considered, and is positioned on the cusp of the seventh house), then Aries represents its more radical, re-organization side. Since sometime seventh ray Aries holds seventh ray Uranus, this combination impels towards a new order.

It is probable that (given Calvin’s proposed sixth ray soul), the first ray is more likely the major personality ray, with the seventh as an important subray. It is hard to imagine him as the driving force he was without the first ray quite prominent in his make-up.

The Ray of the Lower Mind

Two rays stand out as most likely—the first and the fifth. Calvin has planets in all the fifth ray signs/constellations—Leo, Sagittarius and Aquarius, and planets in two of the first ray signs. His bold and impressive writing style and his insistence upon being right (Mercury in first ray Leo), make the first ray, more probably, the major ray. A driving and impressive force runs through the words of his Institutes. The impression that one gathers is imposition of the ‘truth’. Of course, he cites the evidence (as he interprets it) from the Bible, and can argue well. There is plentiful use of fifth ray logic, but one has the impression that it is skewed by bias.

It is principally the fourth ray of compromise, of equability and fair-mindedness, and of the appreciation of art and beauty which seems to be missing. We have no sense of a divided mentality impartially viewing the various options. What is presented is certainty and certainty again — determined in part by a passion-driven logic, and reinforced by the zeal of the sixth ray—the fifth ray in service of the convinced sixth ray and disciplinary first ray.

The combination of the first and fifth rays (Mercury, the planet of mind is placed in first ray/fifth ray Leo, very close to the fifth house by Placidus), made of Calvin a formidable debater. He knew his Bible extremely well (the studential fifth ray) and could marshal forceful (first ray) arguments. (It can be questioned whether he knew his Bible quite as well as Servetus, whom he mercilessly eliminated.)

One can see that he invested all his passion in the outcome of theological disputes—hardly the mind to examine all the evidence (as the fifth ray would do were it dominant) and weigh it fairly under the influence of the fourth. The third ray is also not much present. Calvin had little use for the “Schoolmen” and scholastics in general, finding them lost in vague, complicated and inconsequential considerations.

It should be said that Calvin had a powerful mind and was a product of two nations (France and Switzerland) in which the fifth ray is prominent. He was very much a product of the fifth subrace of the fifth rootrace—the Teutonic. This term must not be limited in its application to the Germanic peoples. Although his emotions were capable of vehemence, wrath and even violence, he was very much focused in his concrete mind. In that focus lay much of his problem as a separative human being, and elitist—for what is the Doctrine of the “Elect of God” but spiritual elitism of the most separative and ‘damning’ variety.

Whether or not we consider the fifth ray to be the major ray of the concrete mind, we must recognize Calvin as the product of a culture which increasingly emphasized the fifth ray. It is said that he was not especially interested in the science of his day, which contra-indicates the fifth ray, but the literalism of his biblicism, his refusal to speculatively exceed what was concretely written in the Bible, and the keen discrimination which he used to make his impassioned points—all these point to the strong presence of the fifth ray (albeit in the service of religious passion).


The Ray of the Emotional Nature

Given Calvin’s passionate and fiery internal nature (despite his outer reserve) the sixth ray seems the logical choice when seeking to designate the ray of the astral vehicle. The planet Mars (square erratic Uranus) is a key; Mars is placed in the sign Cancer which has so much to do with the solar plexus and the emotional nature. Mars can also be reasonably associated with the Scorpio decanate of the proposed Pisces Ascendant. Mars is placed in the fourth house (archetypally related to Cancer and the emotional life).

From these indications, it is likely that Calvin (though seemingly impersonal) reacted to many situations personally. Among those who knew him more intimately, he had the reputation for being hot-tempered. It is also clear that he lived at a high level of tension—even tenseness. He was hardly a relaxed individual; rather he was driven and driving. All these qualities contra-indicate a second ray astral nature, as does his unforgiving attitude towards heretics (however much he preached forgiveness from the pulpit). As in the case of so many preachers and those influenced by the sixth ray, flagrant hypocrisy is always a danger.

The Ray of the Etheric/Physical Nature

The few existing iimages of Calvin reveal him as a person of some degree of physical refinement. The principal of order was certainly important to him, and he sought to impose it upon all aspects of life in Geneva. Obedience to God (and, psychologically considered, of others to himself) was important to him. Although Calvin was a great re-organizer of the Christian Religion, he expected Christians to conform to the new order. He, the rebel against the old order, expected rigid conformity to the new—largely devised by himself. There was much of the seventh ray in his nature, and he carried it down (often in minute detail) to the physical plane. Saturn in Virgo is meticulous.


The Proposed Ray Chart for John Calvin

Soul:                              Sixth Ray

Personality:                    First Ray with Seventh Subray

Lower Mind:                       First Ray with Fifth Subray
Emotional Nature:
                 Sixth Ray
Physical Etheric Nature:
       Seventh Ray


Some Highlights of the Astrological Chart Proposed

1.     John Calvin’s Sun was in Cancer. This influence contributed to Calvin’s deep conservatism, distrust of human nature, and innate fear and anxiety for his own (spiritual) survival (which secretly, it can be reasonably hypothesized) motivated so much of his repressive, controlling behavior. Cancer is also the sign of defensiveness and insularity.

Calvin sought to expel from Geneva all theological ‘contaminants’; the edicts he sponsored made of it a city apart—in his eyes a model theocracy. From a psychological perspective, it could be said that he was “defending his territory”.  Cancer governs the lunar lords—the four elementals of the personality. Calvin paid much attention to these and their correct regulation and management. He sought to bring lunar life under Saturnian law. Saturn/Jehovah seemed closer to him than the God of Love (though he spoke much of love).      

Perhaps his family life provided for him some degree of relief from the many pressures of his work. It is said that his relations with his wife were extremely warm and affectionate. We do find Venus in Cancer in the fifth house, and one level of interpretation would indicate the expression of love within the home setting. This Venus is trine to the proposed Pisces Ascending degree and sextile to faithful Saturn. It is clear that what displays of affection there were, would more likely be seen behind closed doors than in public.

2.     There is a mantram associated with Cancer: “The Blind Unit is Lost”. It pertains, for the most part, to human beings of small development in the early days of human evolution, but on a much higher turn of the spiral, it explains much of Calvin’s psychology. Calvin was convinced that human beings—without the grace of God Who intervened in human life through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ—were both blind and lost, in fact, totally helpless and incapable of escaping damnation. Beneath Calvin’s mentally self-assured manner was a deep feeling of insecurity (and guilt) common to those strongly influenced by the sign, Cancer. Survival is always an issue to the Cancerian; in a spiritual sense, it was certainly an all-consuming issue to John Calvin.

3.     The exoteric ruler of the Sun in Cancer is the Moon, which is placed in H2 in Taurus—the sign and house of its exaltation. We note that the Moon is almost exactly sextile to Venus (of which it is the orthodox dispositor). This aspect points to a softer side of Calvin’s nature. It is said that in private life he was “cheerful and sensitive”—not overbearing. The private sphere is ruled by the Moon, and, it would seem, Venus mellowed his approach to this dimension of life.

We see a very definite split between his psychological approaches in public and private. Probably, though it would be difficult to ascertain, the Venus/Moon relationship contributed to a love of feminine beauty (though it would hardly be a point for the austere head of a militant theocracy to emphasize). Actually, we find Venus and the Moon in mutual disposition—each the orthodox dispositor of the other.

Calvin’s attitude towards women was moderate rather than repressive. Unlike some of his sources of theological inspiration, he was not one of those who argued that women should be subordinate to men. Note that Saturn (sometimes repressive) is sextile to Venus, as is the Moon. Calvin (though a man of thought) was, it appears, essentially a man of feeling who used thought to defend his deeper sensitivities. His quarrel was not with women, but rather with men who were his theological opponents.  

The Moon in Taurus would provide the resources needed to build the social order Calvin envisioned. Though, personally, he cared little for wealth, he would  never be in want. The Protestant Ethic, which he was so instrumental in shaping, has been theorized as largely responsible for the rise of modern capitalism. The large sextile configuration from the Ascendant to the Moon, to Venus to Saturn and the Descendent, made Calvin friendly to these forces. He did not consider the material world (and, symbolically, women) his enemy as had so many in the Church. Calvin’s attitude towards “this world” was utilitarian and practical.

The Moon in Taurus in its own house certainly contributed to this attitude. Further, it helped him build and consolidate his organization. If the Ascendant represents the soul objective for a particular incarnation, we can see that the Moon in sextile to the Ascendant, provided substantial support to his more spiritual aims. 

For the advanced individual, mentally polarized (and Calvin could be judged as such), the Moon is said to veil Uranus. The Moon in Taurus is the builder of the form, and Calvin, the “reformer” needed definite forms through which to carry out his contribution to the Reformation. It could also be inferred that the Moon veiled, to some extent, the planet Vulcan, especially since it is placed in Taurus, the esoteric home of Vulcan. This veiling would be a considerable contribution to the power to build and build strongly—forging political and social relationships with those in power. A veiling of Neptune by the Moon is less likely—Calvin’s relationship to the form was not Neptunian.

4.   The Pisces Ascendant, co-ruled by Jupiter, Pluto and, in a special manner by Neptune, is very important in Calvin’s life. The Pisces influence made the subject of faith of the utmost importance. The dominant theme of his inner life was the question of salvation.

His great purpose was to preach (and institute) a doctrine that would contribute to the salvation of those souls who were predestined to be saved.  Calvin’s deeper motives were Piscean, in keeping with the values of the Piscean Age (already threatened by an increasingly scientific and objective attitude). Pisces is archetypally the sign of faith, and the principle of salvation and justification by faith was cardinal to Calvin’s theology.   

Really, so many of Calvin’s attitudes were thoroughly Piscean. The five hundred year overlap period of the Age of Aquarius had not yet begun, though presentiments of it could be felt in the more progressive humanism of the period. Sir Francis Bacon (interestingly, born with both the Sun and Ascendant in Aquarius) was only three years old at the time of Calvin’s death. Bacon sounded the seventh ray, Aquarian note, ringing “the bell which called the wits together”—a bell which would become the death knell of the Piscean Age. Calvin’s period of history saw that last great expression of unadulterated Pisceanism.  

Calvin’s insistence on the preeminence of faith over reason, of obedience over individualism, of sin over self-respect, and of the complete dependence of man upon God and Jesus Christ for salvation is entirely Piscean. Calvin’s powerful influence abides today, even as human society is making the transition into the Aquarian Age. Through his Institutes he stated the Piscean case so strongly that his influence can be judged as retrogressive to the advancement of human consciousness.

Many today are still plagued by Calvin’s disempowering spiritual legacy. All power is given to God and to “His only begotten Son”. In his own right, the human being is seen as hopeless and feeble—hardly a conception to promote in human beings the ability to work out their own salvation by right of their own soul power.      

The Tibetan Teacher speaks with real directness on the kinds of doctrines propagated by theologians such as Calvin:   “That man, as usual, distorted and misinterpreted the teaching and the truth, and that it fell, as does all else at present, under the glamour and illusion of the astral plane, plus the Piscean influence, is true. Man’s thought dominated and distorted the ideal and produced such a damnable doctrine as the elect of God, the chosen of the Lord, or the sole people to benefit by the sacrifice and death of the great Son of God, and who pass, due to the merits of that vicarious death, into a state of bliss in heaven, simply because of an emotional choice, which ignores millions of those who have made no such choice, nor had the opportunity to do so”. (EP II: pp.88-89)

As we evaluate the influence of John Calvin we must, therefore, see him as one who reinforced the old, even though, nominally, he was a leading representative of what has been called the “Reformation”. That the Reformation was sorely needed is certain. Some reformers, however, fell into abuses equally as heinous as the ones against which they rebelled.

5.     Jupiter as the orthodox ruler of the Pisces Ascendant is a planet of real importance in Calvin’s chart, for it made of him a theologian. It is placed in the ninth house where philosophy and theology are focused. Calvin attempted to wrap his mind around the entirety of the Christian Faith, and expanded voluminously, through seemingly endless commentaries and sermons, on the Bible and all facets of Christian life. Calvin’s massive correspondence can be attributed in part to this powerful position of Jupiter, trine as it is to his authoritative Mercury in Leo—Mercury the planet of communication.

6.     More important than Jupiter is Pluto, the esoteric ruler of Pisces, also placed in the ninth house of religious thought. For Calvin, theology was, literally, a matter of life and death. Certainly, he was Plutonic in his approach to theology. Death and damnation were ever near, both for unbelievers and for those who believed incorrectly. He proved on a number of occasions that he believed heresy to be a crime deservedly punishable by death (Pluto, H9); as history demonstrated, he acted without mercy on his convictions in this regard. 

Because of this Pluto position, the grim specter of death hovers over Calvin’s tireless efforts to ensure salvation for the “Elect”—and for himself. Pluto, “Lord of the Underworld”, represents the “Devil”, who is always ready to capture and destroy an unwary soul. One can sense that Calvin felt the presence of the “Great Adversary” intimately—and, was afraid of him. Saturn, another first ray planet, prominently placed, is yet another representative of the “Devil”. Occultists know Saturn as the “Dweller on the Threshold”—especially when He is placed at the seventh house cusp—the place of “open enemies”. Pluto is the “Dweller” as well, dragging to the surface of consciousness all that a man would rather not see of himself and, therefore, unconsciously projects upon others. 

Pluto and Saturn, two planets of death, are unusually significant in Calvin’s psychological dynamics. Having no understanding of the “unconscious”, and believing thoroughly in the perfidious machinations of the “Devil”, it was to be expected that Calvin felt himself as a man besieged by evil. Humanity was equally besieged. Evil was always uncomfortably near and all-powerful against the helpless. It is well known that both Cancer and Pisces (signs of susceptibility) contribute to the formation of inferiority complexes. It can be reasonably hypothesized that Calvin felt himself helpless before evil, and needed a way to escape, a way to guarantee his own survival. His theology and his quest for absolute control of himself and his environment were a response to this deep-seated fear.

7.     Neptune is also a ruler of Pisces, and it is placed in the group sign Aquarius in the eleventh house (Placidus) on the cusp of the twelfth. Neptune is the great planet of faith and transcendence. It opposes Calvin’s Sun in Cancer (which it esoterically rules) making it of real importance — additionally so since it is a major planet of the sixth ray governing Calvin’s soul. Neptune in the 11th/12th makes of Calvin a religious utopian.

Probably few living in Calvin’s Geneva thought of it as utopia (especially those who openly disagreed with him), but it seems reasonable to think that he was attempting to establish (Sun in Cancer and the seventh ray) a kind of utopia on Earth. One man’s utopia is another man’s hell, and so it proved to be. Calvin was a man with a dream (Neptune). His ideals were lofty; their goal was the bliss and rapture of the heavenly life—and eternity of ecstasy. It is therefore shocking to realize how at variance with his higher purposes were Calvin’s harsh and punitive methods.

8.     We note an impressive kite formation between Uranus, Neptune, Jupiter and Mercury. Uranus, Jupiter and Mercury are configured in a grand trine in fire signs. How words poured from Calvin’s pen (Jupiter-Mercury) and what great changes (Uranus) they brought about.

With such a configuration he would be ready on any occasion to pronounce (confidently and with electrifying authority) on any theological or religious subject. Then add Neptune—the planet of faith, vision, imagination and transcendent realization. We have in these four planets the configuration of the inspired theologian. These four confer inspired, fervent, expansive thought about an entirely new (“reformed”) way of living. Certainly Calvin was in awe before the glory of God, and gave inspiring utterance to his realizations.  Saturn and Pluto, however, are quite different planets, and introduced the dimensions of death and suffering—the pains, trials and terrors of the journey towards God.

9.     Another meaning of Neptune in Aquarius is that of a “spiritual community”—a “community of faith”. Calvin’s Geneva was certainly that—at least in his estimation. The prominent Saturn ensured that it was also a community of religious law.

10. Upon Venus comment has already been offered. When Venus is in the sign Cancer, the Tibetan tells us that it “tends to make the mind the servant of the personality”. So many theologians with an excessive respect for the Old Testament, seem to prefer the welfare of the lunar vehicles to the welfare of the true soul (the Solar Angel—with which they have little familiarity, and which they distrust or even fear).

Calvin may, at times, have known religious exaltation; he does report decisive religious experiences that confirmed for him his spiritual path. Yet, strangely, he over-emphasizes man’s inability to know God except through scriptural revelation. He is not a true mystic; Saturn is too strong. He is, it would seem, a victim of cleavage between the soul and the personality, and that cleavage is reinforced by his powerful, analytical mind.

Thus, fifth ray Venus, may indeed, in his case, be the “servant of the personality”. Venus is also a planet of the Christ, and (as the Solar Angel) can be considered the redeemer of the three personality vehicles. But one must trust in the power of the soul if this is to occur. One must realize that, immanent within man, the soul resides and that, as a result of this immanence, man is good, and can (to a significant degree) be the source of his own good. Surely such a realization would have been antithetical to Calvin’s theology—guaranteeing that it would remain and be perpetuated as a theology of cleavage.

11. The position of Ceres (the nurturer) in Pisces and, as well, in the twelfth house archetypally ruled by Pisces, would incline Calvin to “care for the souls” of his “flock”. This is a sensitive position, and another of the softening influences in a chart notable for predominating harsh influences.     

The conjunction of dedicated Vesta with affiliative Juno, both in Virgo, the sign of purity, and opposed to Ceres, brings in much of the second ray, and shows him as committed to his marriage, his partners and all those who truly tried to perfect themselves in the Christian Faith.

12. Mars is placed in defensive Cancer and has already been referenced. This position would make emotional control difficult for Calvin, but he was certainly possessed of the means to enforce such a control upon himself as well as others. Mars in Cancer (considering the Saturn and Pluto positions) would conduce to a “siege mentality”—an attitude of vigilant defensiveness. Under this influence, Calvin would become a true “defender of the Faith”, and a member of the “Church Militant”. When he committed crimes against humanity (as surely he did), he would justify such as necessary for the defense of Christianity. He would thus easily ignore his more personal (and hateful) motivations.

13. Calvin’s prominent Saturn has been much discussed. That it is placed in Virgo is tremendously important. It would endow him with what has been described as a “morbid Christian conscience” and incline him to see natural human happiness as almost an offense against the solemnity required by God of all true Christians. No fault would be too small to examine. Everyone would be seen as deficient in character. The slightest infraction would be worthy of punishment. Saturn at the cusp of the seventh in exacting Virgo, represents the stern judge as well as the “Last Judgment” which he so much (however unconsciously) feared.   

The position of Saturn no doubt contributed to Calvin’s reputation as remote, austere and unapproachable—removed from normal or natural human sociability. It would make him a man apart—except in the execution of his duty. It is said that he never allowed himself a holiday. This is a pointed testimony to the power of his Saturnian, sixth ray nature.      

Saturn in Virgo at the cusp of the seventh house would also contribute mightily to his distrust of human nature and of his own (for no doubt, his sexual impulses were strong—Moon in Taurus in H2, sextile Venus). Cleavage is the great problem in Calvinism, and this position, more than any other, exacerbates the psychology of cleavage.  

With so prominent a Saturn (and such insistence on the efficacy of faith rather than works), it can be understood that Calvin was haunted by doubt concerning his own salvation. His view of the human condition was gloomy. Two constantly used metaphors present his unhappy assessment. Earthly life is seen as an abyss in which human beings have lost their way and as a labyrinth from which they cannot possibly escape without the aid of God and the Savior.  

Calvin was not a man filled with joy—except perhaps when filled with a vision of God’s Transcendence. Saturn can be a depressive influence, inclining one to be fearful of spontaneous happiness, which would be seen as evidence of impiety. After all, why should man, a “miserable sinner”, be happy about anything except his salvation? Saturn ensured that pessimism concerning man’s nature pervaded Calvin’s theology.

More importantly, Saturn reinforces the cleavage between soul and personality. The theory that man would be hopelessly lost were it not for the intervention of God through Jesus Christ is accepted as true by those who have no true soul experience, and who feel (albeit unconsciously) estranged (Saturn) from the source of divinity within themselves (the presence of which they, of course, deny). When the light, love and power of the soul are experienced as innate within the human heart and mind, such a theology of Calvinism (based upon the distrust of man’s essential divinity) becomes impossible.

Through an analysis of Calvin’s theology, we can understand somewhat where he stood upon the spiritual Path, and the integrations and fusions, which he had yet to accomplish. As it was, he punished many for his lack of soul-infusion.

14. It is interesting that Chiron is placed in Libra and in the seventh house (Placidus) as well. Calvin sought to be a guide and mentor (Chiron) to the religio-socio-political process. In the process of enforcing his guidance upon many of those who were naturally reluctant to accept it, he wounded  (Chiron again) many, and, if truth be known, misled them (though this judgment is rendered from the perspective of the Ageless Wisdom Teaching).

15. When we consider the influence of the “Fixed Stars” in Calvin’s life, we notice immediately the close conjunction of the Moon to Algol (within ten minutes of arc). Algol severs the head from the body—literally and figuratively. Calvin’s theologically-motivated persecutions resulted in the death of some of his doctrinal enemies. This much is obvious.

However, he seems in a way to have severed his own head from his heart, allowing the force of his logic to lead him into the acceptance and propagation of heartless doctrines which ensured the damnation of all but a select few.

16. Mars is closely conjunct the star Canopus, inclining Calvin to become an educator and guide. Sirius is also within a degree of Mars. It becomes apparent that Calvin was willing to use force (Mars) to ensure that others followed his guidance. When we remember the fiery nature of Mars, and that Sirius is known as “the Scorcher”, we can realize the force which Michael Servetus confronted when, per misadventure, he appeared in Geneva. Mars also opposed Vega—a planet associated with music, art and beauty. The implications are clear.

17. Jupiter conjuncts Rigel—another educational influence. Calvin was a great educator (or shall we say, “indoctrinator”). He was willing to share (impose) his theology widely.

18. Pluto has many aspects with stars. One of the closest conjunctions is with Bellatrix, conferring the power to attack through a sharp tongue. According to Bernadette Brady, it promises success through confrontation with the shadow. There was certainly confrontation, but as the shadow was unrecognized, it can be questioned whether there was success.  Capella is also conjunct Pluto conferring rapid response, and Phact, as well, giving the tendency to venture into “uncharted waters”. The close contra-parallel with Regulus adds to Calvin’s lethal (Pluto) control complex (Regulus)

19. The nodal axis touches Alcyone closely. Alcyone is involved in cases of judgment, inclining one to be (says Brady) “mystical but judgmental”. There is also a question in all contacts with the Pleiades concerning the accuracy of one’s vision.

20. The strongest stellar aspect (if the proposed chart is correct) is the conjunction of Scheat with the Pisces Ascendant. The power of this connection has been discussed  above. It would give Calvin great respect for his own ideas and innovations but very little respect for free-thinking of others — Saturn opposes.

21. Some of the Uranian planets make interesting aspects. One of the “black moons” is conjunct Calvin’s Venus. Repetitive Admetus is within two degrees of his Mercury in Leo. The expansive, communicative planet Apollon is conjunct both Pluto and his North Node in Sagittarius. In accordance with the influence of Apollon, his Institutes were widely propagated during the four centuries after his death.

22. Among the “Undiscovered Planets”, of the orbits of which we can by no means be certain, Morya, a planet of great power and emphasis, is closely conjunct Uranus in Aries (the initiator of a new order).


Some Questions of Astrological Timing

1.     In 1529 Calvin is said to have undergone a “sudden conversion” to the spiritual life. Throughout much of the year 1529, we find Neptune (the planet of faith and belief) hovering at the very degree of the Ascendant, which it does not quite reach. Perhaps the birth occurred only slightly earlier. This conjunction would be decisive for a sixth ray soul who would emphasize salvation through faith alone.

As well, Chiron (the planetoid of guidance) was also conjuncting the Ascendant. Under these influences, Calvin could easily have conceived a new and spiritual direction for his life. Significantly, the progressed Moon in Aquarius was, during the months when both Neptune and Chiron were closest to the progressed Ascendant, conjuncting both natal and progressed Neptune—thus, a double Neptune influence was operative—one through transits and the other through progressions.    

Significantly, T-Uranus was crossing the N-IC at the time the T-Neptune and T-Chiron were conjuncting the Ascendant. A religious conversion changes the entire foundation of one’s life, and causes a reassessment of the nature of one’s personal security. Uranus at the fourth house cusp would  have this effect.   

If the Neptune/Ascendant conjunction is considered simultaneously with the transit of Uranus at the fourth house cusp, we see a strong confirmation for a chart with Pisces rising, and moreover, a degree closer to the one proposed. Other evidence will be offered, however, to support the proposed chart.

2.     Calvin’s father died in 1531—a year in which T-Pluto was opposing his Cancer Sun, and the P-Moon had entered Pisces (a sign of loss and relinquishment). There was also a solar eclipse on N-Uranus, the orthodox ruler of H12 (the house of relinquishment). T-Saturn was also opposing Jupiter, the ruler of H10, so often associated with the father. If the death occurred later in the year, T-Saturn would be conjuncting the fourth house cusp, a house also associated with the father. (The fourth and tenth houses can be seen to indicate father and mother interchangeably).

3.     When Calvin experienced a growing rebellion against conservative theology, T-Uranus was conjuncting N-Mars, just as it was during certain months of the year his father died. There was a solar eclipse that year on or near his Saturn (conservatism) and the Descendant.

4.     Another source reports a religious conversion in the year 1533. It is possible that two such experiences occurred—one in 1529 and the other in 1533. Perhaps the first inclined towards the spiritual life and the second towards participation in the Reformation, per se.

The indicators for the 1529 religious experience are stronger in every way. During 1533, Jupiter was transiting the MC in Sagittarius, a sign very important for Calvin’s religious perspective. Calvin, thus, had just experienced a Jupiter return. Further, the P-Moon was early in the year moving from Pisces into Aries, and, while T-Jupiter was at the MC, P-Moon was conjuncting N-Uranus (another indicator of sudden change of conviction).

5.     Calvin’s famous Institutes of the Christian Religion was completed in 1536. A lunar eclipse included both his MC and IC both in that year and immediately before. There was a solar eclipse on his Mars (for in many ways, he sounded the battle cry with the publication of this book rebelling against Papal authority). Of real importance for his role as a reformer (and rebel) was the conjunction of N-Uranus with his Sun in Cancer during 1536. We remember the importance of Uranus rising in Calvin’s chart. When, in 1534, he had begun the task of systematizing Protestant thought, there had been a solar eclipse exactly on his Sun in Cancer.

6.     In 1536, Calvin was persuaded by Guillaume Farel (who was to become his long-time co-worker) to dedicate himself to the work of the Reformation in Geneva. We remember that the Reformation, if anything, was a Uranian movement, and Uranus was on Calvin’s Sun that year. His acceptance of the responsibility is indicated by T-Saturn conjunct the P-Sun during certain months that same year.

7.     When the Genevans, unable to accept the austerity of Calvin’s and Farel’s proposed reforms, banished them from the city in 1538, T-Saturn, very appropriately, was at the seventh house cusp (society) and Calvin was having his first Saturn Return. There had also been a solar eclipse on Calvin’s Moon, indicating that his place of residence was in question. P-Mars, significantly, was making a conjunction to Calvin’s natal Sun, indicating trouble and disturbance, as well as, probably, a renewed militancy as a result of the experience of banishment.

8.     Following the banishment from Geneva, Calvin went to Basel and Strasbourg, where he spent three fruitful years preaching and writing. His P-Moon had entered Gemini and was in the third house of traveling and writing. T-Jupiter was, at first, there as well, but crossed into H4 (home) indicating his better reception in these cities, and at length conjuncted his Sun, indicating success. His Saturn Return continued (offering stability instead of upset). He learned much about Church administration and organization (Saturnian factors) during this period. Uranus was conjuncting his natal Mercury in Leo, giving new ideas which he could put at the disposal of the Reformation.

9.     In 1540 Calvin married Idelette de Bure, the widow of a man he had converted from Anabaptism. The marriage proved to be a happy one, described in the Encyclopedia Britannica as “extremely warm”.   During this year, transiting Jupiter was conjuncting the natal Sun and one month later T-Venus was conjuncting the progressed conjunction of the Sun and Venus while T-Juno was crossing both the seventh house cusp (marriage) and progressed Mercury (ruler of the seventh house).

The involvement of the Virgo seventh house cusp and its ruler, points again, to the accuracy of a chart in which Pisces is the Rising Sign.  Idelette’s death occurred in 1549. During that year T-Saturn was opposing Calvin’s N-Sun. T-Uranus was hovering near the Descendant and conjuncting the N-Vertex (point of fate). The P-Moon was in late Libra approaching and later conjuncting the P-Vertex also in late Libra and moving rapidly towards Scorpio. The progressed MC in Aquarius was conjuncting both natal and progressed Neptune, indicating perhaps what has been described as his display of inordinate grief at his wife’s passing. Fundamentally, we must remember that Calvin, essentially on the sixth ray, was a man of emotion.

10. By 1541 the Genevans (under leadership more sympathetic to Calvin’s cause and methods) welcomed him back, whereupon he immediately set himself to the task of constructing a theocracy—a government based on the subordination of the state to the Church.  The indicators for this period are truly impressive and some of them quite convincing of the relative correctness of the proposed chart.

During the year 1541, promotive Jupiter conjuncts the progressed Sun in Leo, then moves steadily towards the seventh house cusp, symbolizing his renewed welcome and the cooperative attitude available for the institution of his reforms. There is also a lunar eclipse conjuncting the Ascendant/Descendant axis, again indicating his acceptance; he was perceived differently than before. The progressed Moon is close to natal Venus, again indicating acceptance and harmony. Calvin was finding a true home. Most impressive of all, and strongly confirmatory of the relative accuracy of the proposed chart, the progressed IC moves to an exact conjunction of the natal Sun in Cancer. Fewer indicators could be more powerful than this for showing the establishment of an individual, solidly and powerfully, in the place where he could flourish. On this basis of this aspect alone, one could feel reasonably confident of the chart’s accuracy.

11. In the year or two which followed his reacceptance in Geneva, the P-Moon moved into Leo as did P-Mars, conferring upon him renewed power and authority. T-Saturn was square the N-Sun, indicating the demanding tasks which he undertook as he sought to establish ecclesiastical discipline in all walks of life. There was a re-codification of Genevan laws and the city’s constitution. A thoroughgoing systematization of life was underway.

12. During this time it is to be noted that the progressed Mars was moving in concert with the progressed MC and IC, showing Calvin investing a tremendous amount of militant energy into the restructuring of his home base. This constant conjunction and opposition of P-Mars in relation to the P-MC/IC is another confirmation of the accuracy of the chart.

13. Over the years, Calvin was involved in many controversies. Chief among them were his violent opposition to the Anabaptists, his disagreement with Lutherans over the Lord’s Supper, resulting in the separation of the Evangelical Church into Lutheran and Reformed churches.

He also wrote extensively on all manner of theological and practical matters relating to the manifestation of his theology. For a period of about ten years, P-Mars moved in opposition to the P-MC and conjunct the P-IC, and so he fought to establish his perspective on Protestantism. As well, the P-Ascendant had moved into Gemini—hence, his verbal outpouring.

14. One of his battles—his condemnation of the anti-Trinitarian view of Michael Servetus ended notoriously in the burning of Servetus as a heretic. The proposed chart for Servetus is remarkable for its terminal indications.

As for Calvin, both his progressed Moon and transiting Mars were in Sagittarius (with its reputation for sixth ray fanaticism). T-Vesta was conjuncting T-Mars on the day of the execution, symbolically adding fuel to the flames. Transiting Saturn was also opposed to his progressed Sun in Virgo. The progressed Ascendant had reached a conjunction with the N-South Node and fiery progressed Mars in proud Leo was conjuncting his self-assured Mercury in Leo. Calvin was sure of the rectitude of the brutal procedures against Servetus.

Clearly, there was some manner of ‘karmic score’ to settle. T-Saturn was transiting through the twelfth house in Pisces, and during Servetus’ trial, T-Pluto was opposing Calvin’s Juno—he was in the process of ridding himself of a karmic ‘partner’. That he was supported and even encouraged in his lethal vindictiveness is indicated by T-Jupiter at the Virgo Descendant. Many Genevans wanted him to go even further than he did. Calvin sought execution through beheading. Those around him insisted on death by burning, and Calvin, much to his shame, acquiesced.

15. Two eclipses occurred during this period: a lunar eclipse involving Calvin’s progressed MC/IC in Aquarius/Leo, and more importantly, an exact solar eclipse on his Sun in Cancer. Solar eclipses are always tremendously significant. They can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in their effects, but always momentous. Often people will die after a solar eclipse of their Sun, or they become elevated in some manner. For Calvin, the ‘light went out’, and his reputation as a divine was forever tarnished by this particular act scarcely-disguised personal hatred.

16. The astrological influences operative at his death are interesting. It is said that he died of a variety of ailments; essentially, he was worn out by the constant demands on his life and his overly-conscientious response to his duties and responsibilities. His death occurred on May 27, 1564.   Transiting Saturn had conjuncted his N-Sun one month before.

There was a lunar eclipse exactly on the degree of Pluto (planet of death) one day before the death. Transiting Pluto in Pisces was squaring natal Pluto, and so the Pluto eclipse in Sagittarius/Gemini involved both positions of Pluto. Shortly after, within two weeks, there was a solar eclipse on his N-IC. The IC means, among other things, “the end of life”. The releasing power of transiting Jupiter is seen in its exact opposition to N-Neptune (co-ruler of the Ascendant). T-Uranus was exactly trine its own natal position setting off a grand-trine in fire, to which T-Jupiter (in the fifth degree of Leo as T-Uranus was in the fifth degree of Sagittarius) contributed. This combination was liberating.



John Calvin was a formidable influence in the history of Christianity. While he was powerful and extraordinarily influential during, and well beyond, his era, it is hard to judge him as a “great” man. One senses a prominent cleavage in his nature, and, speaking in terms familiar to the esotericist, a lack of integration between the lunar and solar dimensions of his energy system. His was the psychology of ‘banishment’, of separation from God. Probably he had very little deep mystical experience of the kind familiar, for instance, to St. Francis of Assisi. Calvin’s great exertions can be seen as a furious attempt to bridge the cleavage between soul and personality, or as he would probably describe it, between God and man.

Calvin was clearly a disciple but, from what is generally understood about his life and nature, he could not with justification be called a true initiate. He had not the breadth nor the love. When we think of the persecutory St. Paul before his conversion on the Road to Damascus, we see much of John Calvin. Calvin, trapped in his powerful theological mind, longed for the true light of the soul but had not yet achieved it. Not content with regulating his own life and ensuring that it measured up to the necessary standard, he, as so many powerful individuals upon the sixth ray are wont to do, insisted on regulating the life of others as well.

In the Ageless Wisdom Teaching we learn that the second degree initiate must demonstrate an important freedom which Calvin did not.      

“Those preparing for the second initiation have to demonstrate their freedom from the slavery of ideas, from a fanatical reaction to any truth or spiritual leader, and from the control of their aspiration which—through the intensity of its application—would sacrifice time, people and life itself to the call of the Initiatory—or rather, to be correct, to what they believe to be His call” (R&I 127)

If we substitute God and Jesus Christ for the term “Initiator”, we see fairly represented a picture of the major dynamics of John Calvin’s life, and his failures. Therefore, indeed, it can be questioned whether he passed the second degree. If, however, he had not passed the “Purification”, he was certainly engaged in the process pertaining to that degree, and he forced that process upon all those over whom he had power.

At the second initiation, Venus, Jupiter and Neptune emerge with potency, and must overcome the fanaticism of Mars and Pluto. The second degree involves what has been called the “death of the desire nature”; the astral body dies to its usual personal cravings, and the disciple desires nothing else but the fulfillment of the Plan. One can see Calvin’s very direct approach to putting desire to death—through suppression rather than through understanding and love.

Certainly, however, Jupiter and Neptune (in sextile and representing the heart and mystical longing) were active in his life. He felt himself inspired and was, to many, a source of inspiration. Yet it cannot easily be said that true love (the buddhic energy) permeated the astral body (as is necessary to some significant extent for the second degree initiate).

Those close to him and loved by him would surely disagree with this assessment, but his many enemies would roundly concur. The transition had not been made between the violence of Mars and Pluto to the loving serenity of Jupiter, Neptune and Venus (all of which carry so much second ray influence).

Most sixth ray souls will make a transition onto the second ray. Perhaps the period given to the struggles of the second degree is a point at which this transition may begin. Two disciples in the Tibetan’s group of students were attempting to make this transfer from the sixth to the second ray (as a soul focus). One of them was in the arduous process of attempting to take the second degree.

Probably Calvin’s closest co-workers and his intimates would have seen whatever emergence of the second ray was occurring, but, for the most part, the world did not. The obstacles to the emergence of the second ray (and thus, the obstacle to the taking of the second initiation) were doubt, separatism and, plainly put, fear. Saturn stood as the “Dweller on the Threshold” at the seventh house cusp, and, in the opinion of this author, was not passed.

Of course hundreds of years have passed since the incarnation of that particular soul John Calvin, and much may have been rectified in succeeding incarnations. Certainly St. Paul (at first a lethal fanatic in the service of the Jewish Temple) made a rapid transition into the realization and application of love. History and his writings document this. 

Within a few centuries he had become a high initiate (some say, the Neo-Platonist, Iamblichus) and subsequently a Master of the Wisdom. The soul will guide the personality towards realization and release—if not in a given incarnation, then in incarnations to come. So we cannot know where the soul that manifested as John Calvin now stands in the development of love-wisdom.

We can judge, however, that in the incarnation in question, he certainly had not passed the “Three Temptations” (met between the second and third initiations). If “the Flesh” presented no inordinate problem, “the World” and “the Devil” (pride) certainly did. Had Calvin relinquished his well-controlled, ‘rational’ fanaticism, and had he overcome the unconscious desire for worldly power and the proud love of his own theological formulations (judged, at length, to be infallibly correct and unassailable), the Geneva of the mid-sixteenth century would have had an entirely more benevolent culture, and Protestantism would have followed a path less suppressive of human nature and humane values—a path more in keeping with the true Teachings of the Christ.


A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would ilent.
(Mars in Cancer. Mercury in Leo.)

All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.
(Pisces Ascendant.)

Augustine does not disagree with this when he teaches that it is a faculty of the reason and the will to choose good with the assistance of grace; evil, when grace is absent.

Every one of us is, even from his mother's womb, a master craftsman of idols.

For there is no one so great or mighty that he can avoid the misery that will rise up against him when he resists and strives against God.

God preordained, for his own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation.

God tolerates even our stammering, and pardons our ignorance whenever something inadvertently escapes us - as, indeed, without this mercy there would be no freedom to pray.

However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and thoughts.
(Jupiter conjunct North Node.)

I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of bowels.
(Mercury in Leo. Pluto in Sagittarius conjunct MC.)

Is it faith to understand nothing, and merely submit your convictions implicitly to the people.
(Saturn in Virgo conjunct Descendant.)

Knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ.

Man with all his shrewdness is as stupid about understanding by himself the mysteries of God, as an ass is incapable of understanding musical harmony.

Man's mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.

No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own unbelief.

Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.

The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.

There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.

There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to majoice.
(Sun in 5th house.)

We must remember that Satan has his miracles, too.

Yet consider now, whether women are not quite past sense and reason, when they want to rule over men.
(Venus & Mars conjunct in Cancer in 4th house.)

You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.

"At this day . . . the earth sustains on her bosom many monster minds, minds which are not afraid to employ the seed of Deity deposited in human nature as a means of suppressing the name of God. Can anything be more detestable than this madness in man, who, finding God a hundred times both in his body and his soul, makes his excellence in this respect a pretext for denying that there is a God He will not say that chance has made him different from the brutes; . . . but, substituting Nature as the architect of the universe, he suppresses the name of God."

"Assuredly there is but one way in which to achieve what is not merely difficult but utterly against human nature: to love those who hate us, to repay their evil deeds with benefits, to return blessings for reproaches. It is that we remember not to consider men's evil intention but to look upon the image of God in them, which cancels and effaces their transgressions, and with its beauty and dignity allures us to love and embrace them.
(Pisces Ascendant.)

"Nobody seriously believes the universe was made by God without being persuaded that He takes care of His works."

Wherever we find the Word of God surely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to the institution of Christ, there, it is not to be doubted, is a church of God.

Each eye can have its vision separately; but when we are looking at anything… our vision, which in itself is divided, joins up and unites in order to give itself as a whole to the object that is put before it.

"For Scripture is the school of the Holy Spirit, in which, as nothing is omitted that is both necessary and useful to know, so nothing is taught but what is expedient to know. Therefore we must guard against depriving believers of anything disclosed about predestination in Scripture, lest we seem either wickedly to defraud them of the blessing of their God or to accuse and scoff at the Holy Spirit for having published what it is in any way profitable to suppress."

"The sum is, that the worship of God must be spiritual, in order that it may correspond with His nature. For although Moses only speaks of idolatry, yet there is no doubt but that by synecdoche, as in all the rest of the law, he condemns all fictitious services which men in their ingenuity have invented."

Christ is the most perfect image of God, into which we are so renewed as to bear the image of God, in knowledge, purity, righteousness, and true holiness."

"The Fanaticism which discards the Scripture, under the pretense of resorting to immediate revelations is subversive of every principle of Christianity. For when they boast extravagantly of the Spirit, the tendency is always to bury the Word of God so they may make room for their own faith."
(Saturn in Virgo trine Taurus Moon.)

"Without Christ, sciences in every department are vain....The man who knows not God is vain, though he should be conversant with every branch of learning. Nay more, we may affirm this too with truth, that these choice gifts of God -- expertness of mind, acuteness of judgment, liberal sciences, and acquaintance with languages, are in a manner profaned in every instance in which they fall to the lot of wicked men."

Let us not cease to do the utmost, that we may incessantly go forward in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair of the smallness of our accomplishments"

Though Satan instills his poison, and fans the flames of our corrupt desires within us, we are yet not carried by any external force to the commission of sin, but our own flesh entices us, and we willingly yield to its allurements"

"It behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results"

"For though we very truly hear that the kingdom of God will be filled with splendor, joy, happiness and glory, yet when these things are spoken of, they remain utterly remote from our perception, and as it were, wrapped in obscurities, until that day."

"Original sin, therefore, appears to be a hereditary, depravity and corruption of our nature, diffused through all the parts of the soul, rendering us obnoxious to the divine wrath…"

If we reflect that the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, we will be careful, as we should avoid offering insult to him, not to reject or condemn truth wherever it appears. In despising the gifts, we insult the Giver....But shall we deem anything to be noble and praiseworthy, without tracing it to the hand of God Far from us be such ingratitude.

All the arts come from God and are to be respected as divine inventions.


John Calvin

This man, undoubtedly the greatest of Protestant divines, and perhaps, after St. Augustine, the most perseveringly followed by his disciples of any Western writer on theology, was born at Noyon in Picardy, France, 10 July, 1509, and died at Geneva, 1564. A generation divided him from Luther, whom he never met. By birth, education, and temper these two protagonists of the reforming movement were strongly contrasted. Luther was a Saxon peasant, his father a miner; Calvin sprang from the French middle-class, and his father, an attorney, had purchased the freedom of the City of Noyon, where he practised civil and canon law. Luther entered the Order of Augustinian Hermits, took a monk's vows, was made a priest and incurred much odium by marrying a nun. Calvin never was ordained in the Catholic Church; his training was chiefly in law and the humanities; he took no vows.

Luther's eloquence made him popular by its force, humour, rudeness, and vulgar style. Calvin spoke to the learned at all times, even when preaching before multitudes. His manner is classical; he reasons on system; he has little humour; instead of striking with a cudgel he uses the weapons of a deadly logic and persuades by a teacher's authority, not by a demagogue's calling of names. He writes French as well as Luther writes German, and like him has been reckoned a pioneer in the modern development of his native tongue.

Lastly, if we term the doctor of Wittenberg a mystic, we may sum up Calvin as a scholastic; he gives articulate expression to the principles which Luther had stormily thrown out upon the world in his vehement pamphleteering; and the "Institutes" as they were left by their author have remained ever since the standard of orthodox Protestant belief in all the Churches known as "Reformed." His French disciples called their sect "the religion"; such it has proved to be outside thworld. The family name, spelt in many ways, was Cauvin latinized according to the custom of the age as Calvinus.

For some unknown reason the Reformer is commonly called Maître Jean C. His mother, Jeanne Le Franc, born in the Diocese of Cambrai, is mentioned as "beautiful and devout"; she took her little son to various shrines and brought him up a good Catholic. On the father's side, his ancestors were seafaring men. His grandfather settled at Pont l'Evêque near Paris, and had two sons who became locksmiths; the third was Gerard, who turned procurator at Noyon, and there his four sons and two daughters saw the light. He lived in the Place au Blé (Cornmarket). Noyon, a bishop's see, had long been a fief of the powerful old family of Hangest, who treated it as their personal property. But an everlasting quarrel, in which the city took part, went on between the bishop and the chapter.

Charles de Hangest, nephew of the too well-known Georges d'Amboise, Archbishop of Rouen, surrendered the bishopric in 1525 to his own nephew John, becoming his vicar-general. John kept up the battle with his canons until the Parliament of Paris intervened, upon which he went to Rome, and at last died in Paris in 1577. This prelate had Protestant kinsfolk; he is charged with having fostered heresy which in those years was beginning to raise its head among the French. Clerical dissensions, at all events, allowed the new doctrines a promising field; and the Calvins were more or less infected by the 1530.

Gerard's four sons were made clerics and held benefices at a tender age. The Reformer was given one when a boy of twelve, he became Curé of Saint-Martin de Marteville in the Vermandois in 1527, and of Pont l'Eveque in 1529. Three of the boys attended the local Collège des Capettes, and there John proved himself an apt scholar. But his people were intimate with greater folk, the de Montmor, a branch of the line of Hangest, which led to his accompanying some of their children to Paris in 1523, when his mother was probably dead and his father had married again. The latter died in 1531, under excommunication from the chapter for not sending in his accounts.

The old man's illness, not his lack of honesty, was, we are told, the cause. Yet his son Charles, nettled by the censure, drew towards the Protestant doctrines. He was accused in 1534 of denying the Catholic dogma of the Eucharist, and died out of the Church in 1536; his body was publicly gibbeted as that usant. Meanwhile, young John was going through his own trials at the University of Paris, the dean or syndic of which, Noel Bédier, had stood up against Erasmus and bore hard upon Le Fèvre d'Etaples (Stapulensis), celebrated for his translation of the Bible into French. Calvin, a "martinet", or oppidan, in the Collèege de la Marche, made this man's acquaintance (he was from Picardy) and may have glanced into his Latin commentary on St. Paul, dated 1512, which Doumergue considers the first Protestant book emanating from a French pen.

Another influence tending the same way was that of Corderius, Calvin's tutor, to whom he dedicated afterwards his annotation of I Thessalonians, remarking, "if there be any good thing in what I have published, I owe it to you". Corderius had an excellent Latin style, his life was austere, and his "Colloquies" earned him enduring fame. But he fell under suspicion of heresy, and by Calvin's aid took refuge in Geneva, where he died September 1564.

A third herald of the "New Learning" was George Cop, physician to Francis I, in whose house Calvin found a welcome and gave ear to the religious discussions which Cop favoured. And a fourth was Pierre-Robert d'Olivet of Noyon, who also translated the Scriptures, our youthful man of letters, his nephew, writing (in 1535) a Latin preface to the Old Testament and a French one -- his first appearance as a native author -- to the ament. By 1527, when no more than eighteen, Calvin's educatlon was complete in its main lines. He had learned to be a humanist and a reformer.

The "sudden conversion" to a spiritual life in 1529, of which he speaks, must not be taken quite literally. He had never been an ardent Catholic; but the stories told at one time of his ill-regulated conduct have no foundation; and by a very natural process he went over to the side on which his family were taking their stand. In 1528 he inscribed himself at Orléans as a law student, made friends with Francis Daniel, and then went for a year to Bourges, where he began preaching in private.

Margaret d'Angoulême, sister of Francis I, and Duchess of Berry, was living there with many heterodox Germt her. He is found again at Paris in 1531. Wolmar had taught him Greek at Bourges; from Vatable he learned Hebrew; and he entertained some relations with the erudite Budaeus. About this date he printed a commentary on Seneca's "De Clementiâ". It was merely an exercise in scholarship, having no political significance. Francis I was, indeed, handling Protestants severely, and Calvin, now Doctor of Law at Orléans, composed, so the story runs, an oration on Christian philosophy which Nicholas Cop delivered on All Saints' Day, 1532, both writer and speaker having to take instant flight from pursuit by the royal inquisitors.

This legend has been rejected by modern critics. Calvin spent some time, however, with Canon du Tillet at Angoulême under a feigned designation. In May, 1534, he went to Noyon, gave up his benefice, and, it is said, was imprisoned. But he got away to Nerac in Bearn, the residence of the Duchess Margaret, and there again encountered Le Fèvre, whose French Bible had been condemned by the Sorbonne to the flames. His next visit to Paris fell out during a violent campaign of the Lutherans against the Mass, which brought on reprisals, Etienne de la Forge and others were burnt in the Place de Grève; and Calvin accompanied by du Tillet, escaped -- though not without adventures -- to Metz and Strasburg. In the latter city Bucer reigned supreme.

The leading reformers dictated laws from the pulpit to their adherents, and this journey proved a decisive one for the French humanist, who, though by nature timid and shy, committed himself to a war on paper with his own sovereign. The famous letter to Francis I is dated 23 August, 1535. It served as a prologue to the "Institutes", of which the first edition came out in March, 1536, not in French but in Latin. Calvin's apology for lecturing the king was, that placards denouncing the Protestants as rebels had been posted up all over the realm. Francis I did not read these pages, but if he had done so he would have discovered in them a plea, not for toleration, which the Reformer utterly scorned, but for doing away with Catholicism in favour of the new gospel. There could be only one true Church, said the young theologian, therefore kings ought to make an utter end of popery. (For an account of the "Institutes" see CALVINISM.)

The second edition belongs to 1539, the first French translation to 1541; the final Latin, as revised by its author, is of 1559; but that in common use, dated 1560, has additions by his disciples. "It was more God's work than mine", said Calvin, who took for his motto "Omnia ad Dei gloriam", and in allusion to the change he had undergone in 1529 assumed for his device a hand stretched out from a heart. A much disputed chapter in Calvin's biography is the visit which he was long thought to have paid at Ferraro to the Protestant Duchess Renée, daughter of Louis XII. Many stories clustered about his journey, now given up by the best-informed writers.

All we know for certain is that the Reformer, after settling his family affairs and bringing over two of his brothers and sisters to the views he had adopted undertook, in consequence of the war between Charles V and Francis I, to reach Bale by way of Geneva, in July, 1536. At Geneva the Swiss preacher Fare, then looking for help in his propaganda, besought him with such vehemence to stay and teach theology that, as Calvin himself relates, he was terrified into submission. We are not accustomed to fancy the austere prophet so easily frightened. But as a student and recluse new to public responsibilities, he may well have hesitated before plunging into the troubled waters of Geneva, then at their stormiest period. No portrait of him belonging to this time is extant. Later he is represented as of middle height, with bent shoulders, piercing eyes, and a large forehead; his hair was of an auburn tinge.

Study and fasting occasioned the severe headaches from which he suffered continually. In private life he was cheerful but sensitive, not to say overbearing, his friends treated him with delicate consideration. His habits were simple; he cared nothing for wealth, and he never allowed himself a holiday. His correspondence, of which 4271 letters remain, turns chiefly on doctrinal subjects.

Yet his strong, reserved character told on all with whom he came in contact; Geneva submitted to his theocratic rule, and the Reformed Churches accepted his teaching as though it welible. Such was the stranger whom Farel recommended to his fellow Protestants, "this Frenchman", chosen to lecture on the Bible in a city divided against itself. Geneva had about 15,000 inhabitants. Its bishop had long been its prince limited, however, by popular privileges. The vidomne, or mayor, was the Count of Savoy, and to his family the bishopric seemed a property which, from 1450, they bestowed on their younger children.

John of Savoy, illegitimate son of the previous bishop, sold his rights to the duke, who was head of the clan, and died in 1519 at Pignerol. Jean de la Baume, last of its ecclesiastical princes, abandoned the city, which received Protestant teachers from Berne in 1519 and from Fribourg in 1526. In 1527 the arms of Savoy were torn down; in 1530 the Catholic party underwent defeat, and Geneva became independent. It had two councils, but the final verdict on public measures rested with the people. These appointed Farel, a convert of Le Fevre, as their preacher in 1534.

A discussion between the two Churches from 30 May to 24 June, 1535 ended in victory for the Protestants. The altars were desecrated, the sacred iimages broken, the Mass done away with. Bernese troops entered and "the Gospel" was accepted, 21 May, 1536. This implied persecution of Catholics by the councils which acted both as Church and State. Priests were thrown into prison; citizens were fined for not attending sermons. At Zürich, Basle, and Berne the same laws were established. Toleration did not enter into the idea time. But though Calvin had not introduced this legislation, it was mainly by his influence that in January, 1537 the "articles" were voted which insisted on communion four times a year, set spies on delinquents, established a moral censorship, and punished the unruly with excommunication. There was to be a children's catechism, which he drew up; it ranks among his best writings.

The city now broke into "jurants" and "nonjurors" for many would not swear to the "articles"; indeed, they never were completely accepted. Questions had arisen with Berne touching points that Calvin judged to be indifferent. He made a figure in the debates at Lausanne defending the freedom of Geneva. But disorders ensued at home, where recusancy was yet rife; in 1538 the council exiled Farel, Calvin, and the blind evangelist, Couraud.

The Reformer went to Strasburg, became the guest of Capito and Bucer, and in 1539 was explaining the New Testament to French refugees at fifty two florins a year. Cardinal Sadolet had addressed an open letter to the Genevans, which their exile now answered. Sadolet urged that schism was a crime; Calvin replied that the Roman Church was corrupt. He gained applause by his keen debating powers at Hagenau, Worms, and Ratisbon. But he complains of his poverty and ill-health, which did not prevent him from marrying at this time Idelette de Bure, the widow of an Anabaptist whom he had converted. Nothing more is known of this lady, except that she brought him a son who died almost at birth in 1542, and that her own death took 1549.

After some negotiation Ami Perrin, commissioner for Geneva, persuaded Calvin to return. He did so, not very willingly, on 13 September, 1541. His entry was modest enough. The church constitution now recognized "pastors, doctors, elders, deacons" but supreme power was given to the magistrate. Ministers had the spiritual weapon of God's word; the consistory never, as such, wielded the secular arm Preachers, led by Calvin, and the councils, instigated by his opponents, came frequently into collision. Yet the ordinances of 1541 were maintained; the clergy, assisted by lay elders, governed despotically and in detail the actions of every citizen. A presbyterian Sparta might be seen at Geneva; it set an example to later Puritans, who did all in their power to imitate its discipline.

The pattern held up was that of the Old Testament, although Christians were supposed to enjoy Gospel liberty. In November, 1552, the Council declared that Calvin's "Institutes" were a "holy doctrine which no man might speak against." Thus the State issued dogmatic decrees, the force of which had been anticipated earlier, as when Jacques Gouet was imprisoned on charges of impiety in June, 1547, and after severe torture was beheaded in July.

Some of the accusations brought against the unhappy young man were frivolous, others doubtful. What share, if any, Calvin took in this judgment is not easy to ascertain. The execution of however must be laid at his door; it has given greater offence by far than the banishment of Castellio or the penalties inflicted on Bolsec -- moderate men opposed to extreme views in discipline and doctrine, who fell under suspicion as reactionary. The Reformer did not shrink from his self-appointed task.

Within five years fifty-eight sentences of death and seventy-six of exile, besides numerous committals of the most eminent citizens to prison, took place in Geneva. The iron yoke could not be shaken off. In 1555, under Ami Perrin, a sort of revolt was attempted. No blood was shed, but Perrin lost the day, and Calvin's theocrmphed. "I am more deeply scandalized", wrote Gibbon "at the single execution of Servetus than at the hecatombs which have blazed in the autos-da-fé of Spain and Portugal". He ascribes the enmity of Calvin to personal malice and perhaps envy. The facts of the case are pretty well ascertained. Born in 1511, perhaps at Tudela, Michael Served y Reves studied at Toulouse and was present in Bologna at the coronation of Charles V. He travelled in Germany and brought out in 1531 at Hagenau his treatise "De Trinitatis Erroribus", a strong Unitarian work which made much commotion among the more orthodox Reformers.

He met Calvin and disputed with him at Paris in 1534, became corrector of the press at Lyons; gave attention to medicine, discovered the lesser circulation of the blood, and entered into a fatal correspondence with the dictator of Geneva touching a new volume "Christianismi Restitutio," which he intended to publish. In 1546 the exchange of letters ceased. The Reformer called Servetus arrogant (he had dared to criticize the "Institutes" in marginal glosses), and uttered the significant menace, "If he comes here and I have any authority, I will never let him leave the place alive." The "Restitutio" appeared in 1553. Calvin at once had its author delated to the Dominican inquisitor Ory at Lyons, sending on to him the man's letters of 1545-46 and these glosses. Hereupon the Spaniard was imprisoned at Vienne, but he escaped by friendly connivance, and was burnt there only in effigy.

Some extraordinary fascination drew him to Geneva, from which he intended to pass the Alps. He arrived on 13 August, 1553. The next day Calvin, who had remarked him at the sermon, got his critic arrested, the preacher's own secretary coming forward to accuse him. Calvin drew up forty articles of charge under three heads, concerning the nature of God, infant baptism, and the attack which Servetus had ventured on his own teaching. The council hesitated before taking a deadly decision, but the dictator, reinforced by Farel, drove them on. In prison the culprit suffered much and loudly complained. The Bernese and other Swiss voted for some indefinite penalty.

But to Calvin his power in Geneva seemed lost, while the stigma of heresy; as he insisted, would cling to all Protestants if this innovator were not put to death. "Let the world see" Bullinger counselled him, "that Geneva wills the glory of" Accordingly, sentence was pronounced 26 October, 1553, of burning at the stake. "Tomorrow he dies," wrote Calvin to Farel.

When the deed was done, the Reformer alleged that he had been anxious to mitigate the punishment, but of this fact no record appears in the documents. He disputed with Servetus on the day of execution and saw the end. A defence and apology next year received the adhesion of the Genevan ministers. Melanchthon, who had taken deep umbrage at the blasphemies of the Spanish Unitarian, strongly approved in well-known words. But a group that included Castellio published at Basle in 1554 a pamphlet with the title, "Should heretics be persecuted " It is considered the first plea for toleration in modern times.

Beza replied by an argument for the affirmative, couched in violent terms; and Calvin, whose favorite disciple he was, translated it into French in 1559. The dialogue, "Vaticanus", written against the "Pope of Geneva" by Castellio, did not get into print until 1612. Freedom of opinion, as Gibbon remarks, "was the consequence rather than the design of the Refo" Another victim to his fiery zeal was Gentile, one of an Italian sect in Geneva, which also numbered among its adherents Alciati and Gribaldo. As more or less Unitarian in their views, they were required to sign a confession drawn up by Calvin in 1558.

Gentile subscribed it reluctantly, but in the upshot he was condemned and imprisoned as a perjurer. He escaped only to be twice incarcerated at Berne, where in 1566, he was beheaded. Calvin's impassioned polemic against these Italians betrays fear of the Socinianism which was to lay waste his vineyard. Politically he leaned on the French refugees, now abounding in the city, and more than equal in energy -- if not in numbers -- to the older native factions.

Opposition died out. His continual preaching, represented by 2300 sermons extant in the manuscripts and a vast correspondence, gave to the Reformer an influence without example in his closing years. He wrote to Edward VI, helped in revising the Book of Common Prayer, and intervened between the rival English parties abroad during the Marian period. In the Huguenot troubles he sided with the more moderate. His censure of the conspiracy of Amboise in 1560 does him honour. One great literary institution founded by him, the College, afterwards the University, of Geneva, flourished exceedingly.

The students were mostly French. When Beza was rector it had nearly 1500 students of various g Geneva now sent out pastors to the French congregations and was looked upon as the Protestant Rome. Through Knox, "the Scottish champion of the Swiss Reformation", who had been preacher to the exiles in that city, his native land accepted the discipline of the Presbytery and the doctrine of predestination as expounded in Calvin's "Institutes".

The Puritans in England were also descendants of the French theologian. His dislike of theatres, dancing and the amenities of society was fully shared by them. The town on Lake Leman was described as without crime and destitute of amusements. Calvin declaimed against the "Libertines", but there is no evidence that any such people had a footing inside its walls The cold, hard, but upright disposition characteristic of the Reformed Churches, less genial than that derived from Luther, is due entirely to their founder himself. Its essence is a concentrated pride, a love of disputation, a scorn of opponents.

The only art that it tolerates is music, and that not instrumental. It will have no Christian feasts in its calendar, and it is austere to the verge of Manichaean hatred of the body. When dogma fails the Calvinist, he becomes, as in the instance of Carlyle, almost a pure Stoic. "At Geneva, as for a time in Scotland," says J. A. Froude, "moral sins were treated as crimes to be punished by the magistrate." The Bible was a code of law, administered by the clergy. Down to his dying day Calvin preached and taught. By no means an aged man, he was worn out in these frequent controversies.

On 25 April, 1564, he made his will, leaving 225 French crowns, of which he bequeathed ten to his college, ten to the poor, and the remainder to his nephews and nieces. His last letter was addressed to Farel. He was buried without pomp, in a spot which is not now ascertainable. In the year 1900 a monument of expiation was erected to Servetus in the Place Champel. Geneva has long since ceased to be the head of Calvinism. It is a rallying point for Free Thought, Socialist propaganda, and Nihilist conspiracies. But in history it stands out as the Sparta of the Reformed churches, and Calvin is its Lycurgus.

His Youth John Calvin was born in 1509 Jean Cauvin or Calvus, second son of a minor lawyer, Gérard, in the employ of the Lord of Noyon in the region of Picardy (northern France). We have no details of his early youth--only the mention that he early served the noble family of Hangest de Montmor and was educated for an ecclesiastical career. In 1521 he received a position with the chaplaincy in the cathedral of Noyon.

Two years later he traveled to Paris with the Hangests to undertake study at the Collège de la Marche under the direction of Mathurin Cordier. Here he was quickly recognized for his skills in logical presentation. Here also he established friendships with Nicholas and Michael Cop, sons of the king's personal physician; with a relative of his own, Olivétan (Pierre Robert) who was working on a translation of the Bible into French; and with the sons of the Hangests, espClaude.

The End of a Career Tracke Church

In 1527 he became a curé and seemed destined to begin a brilliant move upward in an ecclesiastical career. But his father, Gérard, not desiring that his son should take up the full priesthood, instead pressed his son to take up the more profitable career as lawyer. In part Gérard Cauvin was also motivated by the knowledge that he was slipping from favor among the ecclesiastical circles of Noyon and his son's ecclesiastical career might thus itself be in jeopardy. Furthermore, the Protestant Reformation was at that point well underway--and John, who (with the encouragement of Olivétan) had been drawn into scriptural debates about the true character of the church, was beginning to have doubts of his own about the Roman church.

In 1528 John thus journeyed to Orleans to begin law studies under the highly esteemed jurist, Pierre Taisan de l;toile. From Law tmanities Actually the young John found himself more attracted to the broader realm of humanism--which along with the Protestant Reformation was percolating through intellectual circles in Northern Europe at that time. Thus in 1529 he moved to Bourges to study the humanities under Andrea Alciati.

A year later one of Calvin's friends from Orleans, Melchior Wolmar, joined him in Bourges. It was Wolmar that taught Calvin Greek, and opened up to him the study of the New Testament in the Greek. But his father's death in 1531 again changed Calvin's course--for he moved back to Paris, and into an environment of intellectual upheaval. Classic latin scholastic study was rapidly being overthrown by broader investigations into other classic languages, the humanities, and wide-ranging socio-political speculation. In Paris Calvin continued his studies of Greek--and now took up the study of Hebrew. Also, in 1532 Calvin first demonstrated his writing skills--in publishing a commentary on Seneca'mentia. Being Drawn into the Ref Debates

The period 1532-1534 was a major turning point theologically for Calvin. He experience a personal conversion in his Christian faith--though we do not know the exact nature of that conversion. It was also a time he was on the move--from Paris, to Orleans, to Noyon, back to Paris--moves that seemed to give him a clearer sense of a call to a place of leadership within the Reformation movement. It was also a time of growing Protestant sentiments in Paris--due in part to the humanist influence there of Margaret of Angoulême, sister of French ncis I. The Catholic party in Paris was not likely to take such developments lying down. When during this time Calvin's old friend Nicolas Cop was elected rector of the University of Paris and delivered an innaugural address that was tinged with Protestant sentiments, he was ordered to appear before the Parliament of Paris. Cop sensed his danger and fled to Basle in Switzerland.

Calvin was understood to have been influential in the preparation of that address and an order was issued that he be seized. Calvin fled to Noyon and remained there until proceedings were dropped against him. He then returned to Paris for a period, until he was invited in early 1534 to Angoulême by Louis du Tiller, a canon of the c there. Calvin's Split with n Church It was during this period in Angoulême that Calvin began research which ultimately undergirded his Institutes of the Christian Religion. He was deeply interested in the reform of the Christian religion--sensing that this was going to be his call in life. But the question remained: was he going to try to reform the Roman church from within, or was he going to join the reform movement of the independent Protestants In early May of 1534 he announced his decision by resigning his old position of curé of Noyon and rector of Pont l'Évêque.

Soon thereafter he was arrested and imprisoned briefly on two separate occasions--though nothing came of either arrest, the case against him not being sufficiently strong. Thereafter he continued his movements among such cities as Paris, Orleans and Poitiers. In Poitiers he performed his first eucharist (holy communion) in the new Evangelical chFrance. As the Reformation was a time of breakdown of the old Catholic unity of Christian Europe, it was also the time of emergence of new Christian theological groupings. One of the more radical of these new groupings were the Anabaptists. Calvin was just as interested in addressing their theologies as he was the old church's Thus during this time he began another work entitled Psychopannychia, addressing the Anabaptist belief in the slumber of the human soul after death. This work brought attention to Calvin within the community of Reformers.

But it also brought more attention from the Catholic authorities as well. So it was that Calvin decided to leave France with his friend from Angoulême, Louis du Tiller, to join the community of Protestant refo Basle. The First Edition of the Institutes of the ChReligion Now in Switzerland, Calvin took up a new challenge in 1535: to write a treatise on the reformers' theology, the Institutes of the Christian Religion, a work designed to persuade French King Francis I that the reformers' beliefs were in fact more authentically Christian than those of the Roman Church. Francis had seemed to be willing to show some degree of tolerance of the Lutheran branch of the Reformation. Calvin thus hoped to persuade him to extend that toleration to the French and Swiss Reformers. But it was politics, not theology, that had decided Francis' policy. Francis was tolerant of the German Reformation only because it had the support of the princes of Northern Germany--and he needed their support in his contest for power with the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

Thus in the end, Calvin failed to achieve the purpose for which he ostensibly had written the Institutes. Nonetheless, its clear statement on the beliefs of the reformers immediately made it a major theological rallying point for the Reformers of France and Switzerland--and moved Calvin into a position of leadership withivement. G536-1538

Calvin made a return trip to France to close out his life in that country with the intention of then returning to Switzerland to settle permanently in Basle--or Western Germany at Strasbourg, where the Swiss Reformation had been accepted. But because of a war between Francis I and Charles V, Calvin was forced to detour Eastern France and come into Switzerland by moving up the Rhone River from Lyons. But in then entering Switerland at Geneva, William (Guillaume) Farel, who had recently brought the reformed movement to that city, pounced on Calvin as a God-given opportunity to offer leadership to the movement in that city.

That was hardly on Calvin's agenda. But Farel was so adamant in his entreaties that Calvin agreed to stay--at lea while. In Geneva the momentum behind acceptance of the reformed movement was vastly more political than religious--and Calvin thus had his work cut out for him in bringing the citizens around to a true consent in their hearts with the ideas that he now lived for. The citizens had accepted the movement mostly as a means of providing justification for revolt against the Duke of Savoy, whose rule over the city was widely unpopular.

It was now Calvin's purpose to bring them to a true understanding of the issues challenging the world of Christianity. From his pulpit at St. Peter's Cathedral, Calvin began to preach from the letters of the Paul. But Calvin had an even more ambitious plan to bring the Genevans to full alignment with the reformation. He (with Farel) compiled a statement of faith of 21 articles--and had the citizens in groups of 10 study and swear alliegance to these 21 articles as an undergirding for the building of a new Christian religious-moral order in Geneva.

Also, to further strengthen the underpining of this Christian commonwealth, Calvin set up schools in the city and designed a school curriculum which included strong doses of religious-moruction. This was a time of political and doctrinal turmoil in Europe. Leadership within the reformed movement was fluid--as were its basic ideas. Reformers could be as hostile to each other as to the Catholic church. It was inevitable that Calvin should be drawn into this conflict (he had, after all on several occasions led the attack against the Anabaptists.) Calvin himself was accused by Pierre Caroli, leader of the reform movement in nearby Lausanne, of being an Arian or Unitarian--and a Sabellian or Modalist. Thus in 1537 Calvin had to defend himself before a synod in Berne Switzerland--where he was eventually vindicated and Caroli was banishedusanne. In the meantime, Calvin's theocratic austerity imposed over the free-spirited Genevois grew increasingly resented by voices among the latter.

Calvin was uncompromising in his insistence on these "Christian" standards--and a blow-up finally occurred when Calvin tried to discipline the citizens by witholding communion on Easter Sunday. In the explosion, Calvin and his patron Farel were expelled from Geneva. They appealed their cause to a synod in Zurich, offering to grant the Genevans a more traditional communion liturgy--which was a matter claimed by Calvin to be adiaphora or of actual indifference to him, provided that Calvin's opponents did not try to make the matter one of importance.

At the same time, Calvin pressed for synod approval of a number of administrative procedures designed to tighten the polity or ecclesiastical order among pastors and in the design of the worship se At first Calvin's position was accepted by the synod. But the opposition of the Bernese party was such that things moved against him--and a second banishment was issued. Farel and Calvin thus moved on--Calvin eventually to Strasbourg and Farechatel.

Almost in the same measure that the Genevan years were very difficult for Calvin, the Strasbourg years were easy--yet still very productive. Here Calvin met and married in 1540 widow Idelette de Bure, which proved for Calvin to be a very blessed union--though their only child born in 1542 lived only a few days and though Idelette herself died in 1549. These were busy times for Calvin--writing, speaking and serving as type of Protestant diplomat at various gatherings.

During his Strasbourg years he rewrote and expanded the Institutes. He also compiled a commentary on Paul's letter to the Romans. In 1539 he, along with Bucer from Strasbourg, attended a conference sponsored by Emperor Charles V--who was trying to formulate some kind of Christian reunion between Catholics and Protestants. Calvin also attended the diets of Hagenau, Worms and Regensburg.

John Calvin (July 10, 1509 – May 27, 1564) was a prominent Christian theologian during the Protestant Reformation and is the namesake of the system of Christian theology called Calvinism. He was born Jean Chauvin (or Cauvin) in Noyon, Picardie, France, and French was his mother tongue; Calvin derives from the Latin version of his name, Calvinus. Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses in 1517, when Calvin was 8 years old.

Young John CalvinCalvin's father, an attorney, sent him to the University of Paris to study humanities and law. By 1532, he was a Doctor of Law at Orléans. His first published work was an edition of the Roman philosopher Seneca's De clementia, accompanied by a thorough commentary.

In 1536, he settled in Geneva, halted in the path of an intended journey to Basel by the personal persuasion of the reformer William Farel. He pastored in Strasbourg from 1538 until 1541, before returning to Geneva. He would live there until his death in 1564.

John Calvin sought marriage to affirm his approval of marriage over celibacy. He asked friends to help him find a woman who was "modest, obliging, not haughty, not extravagant, patient, and solicitous for my health." In 1539, he married Idelette de Bure, a widow of a converted Anabaptist in Strasbourg. Idelette had a son and daughter from the previous marriage. Only the daughter moved with her to Geneva. In 1542, the Calvins had a son who died after only two weeks. Idelette Calvin died in 1549. Calvin wrote that she was a helper in ministry, never stood in his way, never troubled him about her children, and had a greatness of spirit.

Writings by Calvin Calvin published several revisions of his Institutes of the Christian Religion — a seminal work in Christian theology that is still read today — in Latin in 1536 (at the age of 26) and then in his native French in 1541, with the definitive editions appearing in 1559 and 1560, respectively.

He also produced many volumes of commentary on most of the books of the Bible. For the Old Testament (referring to the Protestant organization of books), he published commentaries for all books except the histories after Joshua (though he did publish his sermons on the First Samuel) and the Wisdom literature other than the Book of Psalms. For the New Testament, he omitted only the brief 2nd and 3rd Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation.

(Some have suggested that Calvin questioned the canonicity of the Book of Revelation, but his citation of it as authoritative in his other writings casts doubt on that theory.) These commentaries, too, have proved to be of lasting value to students of the Bible, and they are still in print after over 400 years.

In the eighth volume of Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church, the historian quotes Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (after whom the anti-Calvinistic movement Arminianism was named) with regard to the value of Calvin's writings:

Next to the study of the Scriptures which I earnestly inculcate, I exhort my pupils to peruse Calvin’s Commentaries, which I extol in loftier terms than Helmich himself (a Dutch divine, 1551–1608); for I affirm that he excels beyond comparison in the interpretation of Scripture, and that his commentaries ought to be more highly valued than all that is handed down to us by the library of the fathers; so that I acknowledge him to have possessed above most others, or rather above all other men, what may be called an eminent spirit of prophecy. His Institutes ought to be studied after the (Heidelberg) Catechism, as containing a fuller explanation, but with discrimination, like the writings of all men. While Luther was most greatly influenced by Augustine and William of Ockham, Calvin knew Thomas Aquinas better, and his writing on predestination, for example, show that influence. Engaved from the original oil painting in the University Library of Geneva, this is considered Calvin's best likeness.

As much as Calvin's practice in Geneva, his publications spread his ideas of a correctly reformed church to many parts of Europe. Calvinism became the theological system of the majority in Scotland, the Netherlands, and parts of Germany and was influential in France, Hungary (especially in Transylvania) and Poland.

Most settlers in the American Mid-Atlantic and New England were Calvinists, including the Puritans and Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam (New York). Dutch Calvinist settlers were also the first successful European colonizers of South Africa, beginning in the 17th century, who became known as Boers or Afrikaners.

Sierra Leone was largely colonised by Calvinist settlers from Nova Scotia, who were largely Black Loyalists, African Americans who had fought for the British during the American War of Independence. John Marrant had organised a congregation there under the auspices of the Huntingdon Connection.

Some of the largest Calvinist communions were started by 19th and 20th century missionaries; especially large are those in Korea and Nigeria.

Usury and Capitalism

One school of thought about Calvinism long has been that it represented a revolt against the medieval condemnation of usury, and implicitly profit, helping to set the stage for the development of capitalism in northern Europe. Such a connection was advanced in influential works by R.H. Tawney and by Max Weber.

Calvin expressed himself on usury in a letter to a friend, Oekolampadius. In this letter, he criticized the use of certain passages of scripture invoked by people opposed to the charging of interest -- he re-interpreted some of these passages, and suggested that others of them had been rendered irrelevant by changed conditions.

He also dismissed the argument (based upon the writings of Aristotle) that it is wrong to charge interest for money because money itself is barren. He said that the walls and the roof of a house are barren, too, but it is permissible to charge someone for allowing him to use them. In the same way, money can be made fruitful.

He also said, though, that money should be lent to people in dire need without hope of interest.

John CalvinJohn Calvin had been travelling to Strasbourg during the time of the Ottoman wars and passed through the cantons of Switzerland. While in Geneva William Farel asked Calvin to help him with the cause of the church. Calvin wrote of Farel's request "I felt as if God from heaven had laid his mighty hand upon me to stop me in my course". Together with Farel, Calvin attempted to institute a number of changes to the city's governance and religious life. They drew up a catechism and a confession of faith, which they insisted all citizens must affirm.

The city council refused to adopt Calvin and Farel's creed, and in January 1538 denied them the power to excommunicate, a power they saw as critical to their work. The pair responded with a blanket denial of the Lord's Supper to all Genevans at Easter services. For this the city council expelled them from the city. Farel travelled to Neuchâtel, Calvin to Strasbourg. For three years Calvin served as a lecturer and pastor to a church of French Huguenots in Strasbourg.

It was during his exile that Calvin married Idelette de Bure. He also came under the influence of Martin Bucer, who advocated a system of political and ecclesiastical structure along New Testament lines. He continued to follow developments in Geneva, and when Jacopo Sadoleto, a Catholic cardinal, penned an open letter to the city council inviting Geneva to return to the mother church, Calvin's response on behalf of embattled Genevan Protestants helped him to regain the respect he had lost. A number of Calvin's supporters having won election to the Geneva city council, he was invited back to the city in 1541.

Upon his return, armed with the authority to craft the institutional form of the church, Calvin began his program of reform. He established four categories of ministry, with distinct roles and powers:

Doctors held an office of theological scholarship and teaching for the edification of the people and the training of other ministers. Pastors were to preach, to administer the sacraments, and to exercise pastoral discipline, teaching and admonish people. Deacons oversaw institutional charity, including hospitals and anti-poverty programs. Elders were 12 laymen whose task was to serve as a kind of moral police force, mostly issuing warnings, but referring offenders to the Consistory essary. Critics often look to the Consistory as the emblem of Calvin's theocratic rule.

The Consistory was an ecclesiastical court consisting of the elders and pastors, charged with maintaining order in the church and among its members. Offenses ranged from propounding false doctrine to moral infractions, such as wild dancing and bawdy singing. Typical punishments were mild--an offender might be required to attend public sermons or catechism classes. It is important to bear in mind the broader geopolitical context of this institution before passing judgment.

Protestants in the 16th century were particularly vulnerable to the Catholic charge that they were innovators in doctrine, and that such innovation led inevitably to moral decay and, ultimately, the dissolution of society itself. Calvin was keen to establish the moral legitimacy of the church reformed according to his program, but also to promote the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Recently discovered documentation of Consistory proceedings shows that body's concern for domestic life, and women in particular.

For the first time men's infidelity was punished as harshly as that of women, and the Consistory showed absolutely no tolerance for spousal abuse. The role of the Consistory was complex. It helped to transform Geneva into the city described by Scottish reformer John Knox as "the most perfect school of Christ." Calvin moved quickly and brutally to suppress Genevans who questioned his authority. The most notable episodes are the cases of Pierre Ameaux and Jacques Gruet.

Calvin was reluctant to ordain Genevans, preferring to choose pastors from the stream of French immigrants pouring into the city for the express purpose of supporting Calvin's program of reform. When Pierre Ameaux complained about this practice, Calvin took it as an attack on his authority as a minister, and he persuaded the city council to require Ameaux to walk through the town dressed in a hair shirt and begging for mercy in the public squares. Jacques Gruet sided with some of the old Genevan families, who resented the power and methods of the Consistory. He was implicated in an incident in which someone had placed a placard in one of the city's churches, reading: "When too much has been endured revenge is taken." Calvin consented to the torture and beheading of Gruet, who was accused of colluding in a French plot to invade the city.

In 1553, Calvin approved of the execution by burning of Michael Servetus for heresy. In 1559 Calvin founded a school for training children as well as a hospital for the indigent.

Calvin's health began to fail when he suffered migraines, lung hemorrhages, gout and kidney stones. At times, he was carried to the pulpit. Calvin also had his detractors. He was threatened and abused. Calvin would spend his private moments on Lake Geneva and read scripture while drinking red wine. Towards the end Calvin said to his friends who were worried about his daily regimen of work, "What! Would you have the Lord find me idle when He comes."

John Calvin died in Geneva on May 27, 1564. He was buried in the Cimetière des Rois under a tombstone marked simply with the initials "J.C", partially honoring his request that he be buried in an unknown place, without witnesses or ceremony.



A (also see above.) study of Calvin’s physiognomy reveals a relatively long, narrow face with depressed cheek-bones. A certain flattening of the face beneath the eyes is a physiognomical characteristic associated with the influence of the sign Pisces.

For this reason, for reasons related to astrological timing, and for his close identification with certain leading characteristics of this sign, Pisces has been chosen as the Ascendant, and efforts have been made to rectify the chart, using 10:00 AM as a starting point, but concentrating on times slightly pre0:00 AM.


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