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Free at Last - The Astrology of Nelson Mandela’s Release

The imprisonment of Nelson Mandela for 27 years by the South African government was not just a personal story. It also assumed a transpersonal dimension as Mandela became the focal point for the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa and around the world.

The dramatic moment that he walked to freedom on 11 February 1990 was watched on television by millions of people worldwide.

When an extraordinary event occurs - particularly one of international importance - it is usually a reflection of very unusual or striking events in the heavens as shown by the chart erected for the time and place of

Mandela spare.png

Nelson Mandela Release

4.16 p.m. EET (-2), 11 February 1990

Paarl, South Africa, 33S45, 018E56

the event. Mandela’s release is no exception.

In an event chart such as this the principal figure in the drama is shown by the ascendant, the planetary ruler of the ascendant and the Moon. 

Here, Mandela is shown by Gemini on the ascendant, Mercury - the ruler of Gemini - and the Moon.

Gemini is on the cusp of the twelfth house as well as the first house showing a close identification of the subject matter ruled by these houses. This is very descriptive since one of the things ruled by the twelfth house is prisons. Mandela (first house) is therefore closely connected with the prison(s) in which he has been held for so long.

Mercury, the ruler of the Gemini ascendant, is in the last degree of Capricorn, a sign which shows a long hard struggle. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, a planet naturally associated with boundaries and containment, one expression of which would be a prison. The last degree of a sign indicates an ending of some sort, in this case a prison sentence. Mercury now emerges from this earthy atmosphere into the air sign, Aquarius, in which it has much greater freedom to move.


Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie after his release from 27 year’s imprisonment.

Jupiter, a planet which symbolises expansion, is placed close to the ascendant in the first house bidding welcome to Mandela as the size of his world increases. Jupiter is also retrograde (it appears to be moving backward in the sky) so it is effectively showing Mandela’s re-entry to the world rather than something completely new.

Jupiter is also the ruler of Sagittarius which is on the cusp of the seventh house of partnerships and Winnie Mandela, the second wife of Nelson Mandela, was

accordingly at the prison to meet him on his release.

Modern astrologers ascribe the values of universal love and peace to Neptune which is almost exactly trine to the Moon, Mandela’s co-ruler.

The tenth house of the chart which rules the government and those in authority has Aries on the cusp. Aries is a martial sign and its ruler, Mars, has just separated from a conjunction with Uranus, the modern planetary ruler of freedom and sudden change. This is indicative of the relatively sudden and surprising decision taken by the authorities to release Mandela.

Such a significant event as release from prison after 27 years is bound to show up in relation to the natal chart of the person concerned. Mandela’s release occurred on his sixth Jupiter Return at the age of 72 - i.e. Jupiter had returned to the place where it had been when he was born for the sixth time in his life.

This generally signals a new phase of growth and was particularly important for Mandela as Jupiter ruled his ascendant, Sagittarius, the zodiac sign on the eastern horizon when he was born. Jupiter was at 1  10’ Sagittarius when he was born and 1  06’ when he was released.

This aspect, as can be seen from the above explanation, occurs only once every twelve years.

One of the techniques astrologers use for forecasting future trends is what are called Directed Solar Arcs for each planet. Symbolically, each planet is moved at the same speed as the sun travels for each year of life.

Nelson Mandela

2.54 p.m. EET (-2), 18 July 1918,

Mvezo, Umtata, South Africa 31S35, 028E47




So, if Mandela was released at the age of 72 and the sun travels approximately one degree of the zodiac each year, each of the planets is moved forward approximately 72 degrees and significant aspects are noted to show the astrological weather for his 72nd year.

There are special tables and computer programmes which help the astrologer to make this calculation this quickly and accurately.

Remarkably, the Directed Solar Moon on the day of Mandela’s release was at 29  21’ Capricorn - just two minutes of one degree away from Mercury’s position when the prison doors were opened.

The Directed Solar Mars in Mandela’s natal chart (and ruler of the tenth house in the chart at the time of his release) is  placed at 21  40’ Sagittarius very close to both his natal Ascendant of 23  43’ and natal North Node at 20  31’.

Solar Directed Chart of Nelson Mandela’s natal chart at the time of his release.







The significance of this is that the North Node shows the place to which we potentially grow, or perhaps even our fate, while the Ascendant show the physical body through which we express ourselves. The tenth house shows leadership and authority so the combination of these points in the natal chart and the release chart seem to be indicating Mandela’s future position as  the leader of South Africa.

Another interesting piece of symbolism comes from using the progressed positions of the planets. This technique moves the positions of the planets and the  Ascendant (as well as other points) by one day for every year of life. Drawing Mandela’s progressed chart for the moment of his release we find the ascending degree is 25  Aquarius – just one degree away from the position of Uranus when he was born, emphasising the theme of freedom and release.

You can read more about the basic techniques of prediction including progressions and directions by clicking here.



Progressed Chart of Nelson Mandela’s natal chart at the time of his release.

Remarkable events in the world always seem to reflect remarkable planetary maps – everything needs to be in place to create the right astrological configuration. The timing of the universe in this case was – as usual – impeccable.




© Jonathon Clark 2015-2021

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