Cave Diving Series – Part 1 – Aerolito Cave Incident with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone
Lately, thanks to a YouTube rabbit hole, I’ve become fascinated with cave diving. From the sidelines, I now know about open circuit systems versus rebreathers, about safety stops, nitrogen narcosis and hypoxia, “it’s fins, not flippers!” and so on. If I ever had an inkling before, I now more than ever have no desire whatsoever to ever go cave diving.
Fine, okay! Almost none.
There are so many dangers associated with cave diving, that to me, it doesn’t seem worth the risk. But, to some people, it absolutely is. I’ve watched dozens of videos by now that demonstrate the full range of scenarios – fatal disasters and recoveries of bodies, to heroic, seemingly impossible rescues.
So, of course, I wanted to look at the astrology of this. Both natally – what are the characteristics in peoples’ charts that draw them to this venture – as well as transits for individuals in these events, tragic and fortunate – and event charts themselves. One of the oddly nice aspects about cave diving is that because there is such a high level of precision called for, there are often very accurate times recorded, which is gold for the astrologer.
So, let’s begin this cave diving series.
I’m beginning with this story because it was one of the first cave diving incidents I watched, and it was a riveting one, at that. The cave diver is quite a famous MMA fighter and UFC champion – although I, apparently living under a rock, have never followed any of that world, so I had no idea who Donald Cerrone was. He has recounted his story at least a couple of times, so I heard the story from multiple perspectives, including his own. (Videos will be linked at the end.)
This is the biwheel of the incident and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s birth chart. It is an unknown birth time, and I don’t have a launch time for the dive, either. They began in the morning, so I just arbitrarily chose 9 am. It’s okay not to have the exact times – we just won’t look at the houses or rely as heavily on Cerrone’s moon.
A quick synopsis of the event: Donald Cerrone, his wife and infant son were in Cozumel, Mexico. Donald and his friend decide to go cave diving at Aerolito Cave (Donald never discloses his friend’s name) in the south harbor of Cozumel. The friend was getting a bit older and both Donald and his wife had concerns over the friend’s physical capabilities for the dive. Out of an abundance of caution, and at his wife’s hesitance, Donald brought along an extra air tank, and reassured her that he would return.
At some point in the dive, the jump line (a guide line laid down in underwater caves) gets tangled around the friend. He panics and kicks up silt, which in a small confined space, makes visibility impossible. One of the rules of cave diving is, if a diver is panicking and at risk of dragging you down as well, you save yourself, basically. It’s better to have one person get out and survive than to lose everyone. (Please forgive me if I oversimplify for brevity’s sake.)
Donald holds back from the panicking friend and is safe, but he decides to go back and help his friend. As he goes back into the silted-out cave, now Donald becomes disoriented and panics. He hits his head at the top of the cave ceiling, and this helps recenter himself. After feeling his way around the cave with no success, he swims in the direction of the compass heading to the exit and begins hitting walls. He panics again. Donald finds the main line to get out, and picks a direction to swim in, but it turns out to be the wrong way. Again, he panics. So again, he turns around, but finds himself panicking yet again. By the way, the friend is nowhere to be found.
What is striking about this is that Donald Cerrone is an MMA fighter. He describes himself as an adrenaline junkie. This man is used to high-intensity situations, and to quick recalculations. Yet even here, this situation drives him to panic multiple times. I have a theory about this that we will address when analyzing the transits.
Back to the story. Donald in his state of panic basically begins to plan how he is going to die, there in that cave. Do I write on my notepad to my wife and son? What do I say?
But then, something snaps Donald out of this thought process. He gets mad at himself! He says to himself, what are you doing?! You are a fighter! You figure this out!
Donald begins looking for his way out again. After another moment of panic, he remembers there was a crack running along the ceiling. As he’s crawling upside-down on the cave ceiling, he finds the crack, and follows it out to the light above.
As it turns out, the friend is waiting for Donald at the water’s edge. The friend says to Donald, “We’re never diving together again, are we?” Donald says, “No.”
In all of these cave diving incidents, good or bad, I’m curious to see what planets were at play. Why was Donald lucky this day? What helped him survive?
Let’s look at Donald Cerrone’s natal chart. (Without a birth time, I’m just using a Zero Aries chart for noon.)
The first thing I notice is that he is born on a Tuesday, a Mars day. You cannot get a more Aries person – Sun-Mercury conjunction in Aries, Mars in Aries. His Moon oppose Mars also makes him a fighter. (Plus or minus a few degrees for the unknown Moon placement, I would say is still in orb for the opposition). There is Saturn out-of-sign conjunction to Pluto. There can be the tendency to fight authority, to seek being powerful. If he can harness this Saturn-Pluto conjunction he can be very powerful – as he definitely proved with his fighting career. If he’s out of balance, this can be explosive. The seeking of power is even more pronounced with Saturn in Scorpio. All of this, opposed to Mars in Aries. This man is a fighter!
I also notice his Jupiter conjunct Uranus in Sagittarius. The image of the cowboy (Sagittarius) is literally conflated (Jupiter) into his nickname. He is fiery, unstable, always on an adventure. You can definitely see this is part of the adrenaline junkie character. And this is all trine his Aries planets! This guy is non-stop. Lots of fire, definitely a risk-taker.
Now let’s get more into the cave diving, and interestingly, the fear of drowning he has. Neptune is at 29˚Sagittarius. Neptune, the god of the oceans, is at the anaretic degree. Not only is this a critical degree; it’s conjunct the South Node. Energy and life force can literally drain out of the South Node via the route of Neptune. Or, at least, produce a fear of such.
But how does Donald deal with this fear? He dives right into it (trine Mars). He fights. He somehow mitigates this fear by being active and assertive with it. Then we get back to the Saturn-Pluto conjunction, loosely conjunct the Moon (being conservative with the Moon placement). There is a drive to dive down into the deep, into the underworld of Pluto. Cave diving!
Not only do we see from Donald’s chart what draws him to cave diving, but we see what was a key characteristic that allowed Donald to survive: he’s a fighter.
Now, let’s go back to the incident date and the transits occurring for Donald Cerrone.
Setting the stage, the transit Moon was in Scorpio. This would definitely draw a person to water and to literally dive to deeper places. But it would also add intensity to any experience. Transit Moon and transit Jupiter were together, intensifying this majorly! With such huge emotional intensity, no wonder Donald had such huge emotional reactions. Also for his friend.
Now let’s add on top of that, transit Moon and Jupiter were also trine to transit Neptune exactly. Totally inundated with water.
Transit Mercury retrograde didn’t help the situation, either. Adds confusion.
Now, looking at the transits again to Donald’s chart… transit Saturn was conjunct his Neptune. Constrictions over his Neptune could potentially produce drowning. Transit Pluto was loosely square his Mars – the underworld closed in on him. Transit Mars was actually retrograde at the time, approaching a square to his Mars. Donald might be lucky, perhaps, that transit Mars wasn’t moving direct. But that argument could be made either way. Transit Uranus was opposed his Saturn-Pluto – a freak accident challenging his power.
Those were the challenging aspects. What was helping Donald?
Transit Sun trined his Mars exactly. That’s why he got out when he fought — using his Mars. Transit Sun also trined his natal Sun by sign, supporting his life force.
Transit Mercury, though retrograde, was trining is Mercury and Sun. So while he did panic, he was able to calm himself down enough to get out. That takes mental focus and discipline (Mercury). Additionally, the transit North Node was nearby to transit Mercury, therefore, also adding energy to his Sun and Mercury, and arguably all of his Aries signature.
This is why I love astrology: you can’t make this stuff up.
Without even knowing who Donald Cerrone was, I could look up his chart and see what qualities are most prominent. These strongest aspects of himself were, on that particular incident date, fueled and elevated enough to support him above all of the challenging aspects.
In any event, it’s usually not just one transit that triggers an event, although it can be. An astrologer looks for repeating themes. For Donald Cerrone, there was a repeating themes of constrictions and opposing forces upon him, compounded by the water element, and the fact that, this was all happening underwater.
Side bar: throughout these cave diving investigations, I’m compiling the planetary scenarios that might contribute to dangerous scenarios. Here, were could clearly see, the Moon-Jupiter in Scorpio trine Neptune in Pisces was definitely one.
It’s a miracle both men made it out alive. I, for one, am deeply impressed by the strong Aries fighter in Donald Cerrone. It may get him into trouble, but it definitely saved his life.
Videos referenced below for the Aerolito Cave Incident, as well as another interview of a different cave diving incident Donald Cerrone had (4, 5).
- Scary Interesting. (2022, Apr 07). Cave Exploring Gone Wrong: The Aerolito Cave Incident. https://youtu.be/YR_Zp1t9kWQ
- Joe Rogan (JRE Clips). (2018, Aug 29). Donald Cerrone Almost Died Dave-Diving – Joe Rogan Experience. https://youtu.be/or92IMcLoIc
- Dive Talk. (2021, Apr 05). Divers React to Donald Cerrone Almost Died Cave Diving. https://youtu.be/4yO0iV4YcvI
- Dive Talk. (2021, Oct 01). Donald Cerrone’s “Out of Air” Story. https://youtu.be/oh6CfY1b2ls
- ESPN MMA. (2019, Jan 17). Donald Cerrone on Near-Death Experiences, Conor McGregor, Quest for Title, More | ESPN MMA. https://youtu.be/hGTWiRaLnhA