Urania's Well: Astrology for Changing Times

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The Astrology of the Aurora Shootings

The massacre in Colorado speaks with heartbreaking clarity about the issues of sudden, mass violence that will continue to be raised during the two years of the Uranus-Pluto square. The astrology — both of the event, and of the shooter — is chillingly accurate.

In my post here for the current week, I said:

“It’s the beginning of what may prove to be a challenging week, because Mars is in a square aspect to Pluto and oppose Uranus all week, exact on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, and the Cancer (New) Moon promises a highly emotional climate."


“This is a big invitation to changes (cue David Bowie), and with Mars involved, we are likely to see aggressive, “take-no-prisoners” behavior, short tempers, and egos in full bloom, particularly from or directed at those with personal planets in the early-middle degrees of Cardinal signs.”

We don’t know James Holmes’ time of birth, so we do not know his Ascendant or Midheaven, nor do we know the important house-rulerships, but we can still get a lot of information from the planets. His birth date is December 13, 1987, in San Diego, CA. I’ll unpack some of the astrology, but bold the important points, for those of you who are not interested in the astrological details.

 Holmes has several planetary placements in Cardinal signs. Natally, he has a Venus-Jupiter square in Capricorn-Aries, at 19 degrees, within a wide aspect to the current transit of Pluto square Uranus, in the same signs. Tellingly, he also has Neptune at 7 degrees of Capricorn, very tightly aspected by transiting Pluto-Uranus, and transiting Mars, the planet of violence and warfare, in Libra, squaring his Neptune and triggering the other transits.

While Neptune is not a personal planet, it may be highlighted in Holmes’ chart if it is in aspect to an angle (Ascendent or Midheaven). (An outer planet closely in aspect to an angle will make the transpersonal very personal in a individual’s chart.) One thing is clear even without the birth time,  and that is that Holmes’ Neptune is unaspected by any planets. This lack of aspects emphasizes a planet in a natal chart, and suggests that the planet will “run away” with a chart, as Noel Tyl has noted. Neptune is the planet of martyrdom, and is known for bringing delusions. It is also the planet of fantasy, and, with Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury, of idealism. So already we see indications of delusions, misplaced idealism and a possible martyr complex in the tight Venus-Jupiter square and the unaspected Neptune, all being triggered by current transits.

But let’s back up a minute, and look at his Sun and Moon, two critical planets in any chart. His Sun is in Sagittarius, and is clustered into a conjunction with three other planets — Mercury, Saturn and Uranus. All four planets are opposed by Chiron. The Moon is probably in Virgo, but may be in 0 or 1 degree of Libra, if he was born late in the evening. Either way, Mars was certainly transiting conjunct his Moon and square his Mercury, Sun, Saturn, Uranus and Chiron during the weeks he was preparing and purchasing supplies.

Sagittarius, ruled by expansive Jupiter, is the Mutable Fire sign, and is another indicator of idealism in this chart, especially since it is conjunct Mercury. Sagittarians are usually considered to be rather carefree, but this man’s Sun is under considerable pressure from the Saturn-Uranus conjunction, which is quite possibly square a Virgo Moon, as well. Freedom is an issue of great importance to Sagittarians, which would be emphasized for Holmes by the presence of Saturn (restriction) and Uranus (more freedom!) closely conjunct his Sun. If this stellium (grouping of planets) is, indeed, squared by a Virgo Moon, it will give a very critical and judgmental cast to his mind. The Moon is also likely conjunct the South Node, which suggests a big influence of a mother who he probably perceived as critical. The signature of a scientist is clear from the planets involved in the Sagittarian stellium, and difficult emotional issues are suggested by the Moon’s probable square to the stellium, and conjunction with the South Node. The Nodal axis is definitely square the stellium, bringing mother issues to the forefront. From this, we have a picture of a disturbed, probably brilliant man, who is under considerable emotional pressure, and whose inner landscape is heavily influenced by his experience of his mother.

But where does the violence come in? The conjunction of Mars and Pluto in Scorpio is one of the clearest indicators of violence — either as victim or perpetrator — in a chart. And, no, of course not everyone with this aspect in their chart is going to be violent or a victim, but you will invariably see prominent issues of power and control in the life of someone with this placement. There will also be — almost certainly, unless there are major mitigating influences in the rest of the chart, which there are not in this case — an extremely strong sexual drive. Really. It doesn’t get any more intense. Something that strong is not easy to repress — and if it cannot find an outlet, violence is not an unlikely response to the pressure.

I suspect that, when the psychologists are finished with him, we’ll find that the man who did this is brilliant and delusional, with a deep need to have his opinions heard, strong, idealistic notions of freedom and social justice, a very twisted relationship to authority of any kind, and a martyr complex. However he may intellectually justify his actions — and he almost certainly will intellectually justify them in great detail, at least to himself — his actions will have an underlying, probably unconscious basis in a need to assert his importance, to be recognized, and to make a statement to his mother, and probably all women, about his worth and power. Clearly, empathy is in short supply.

This is just a quick overview of Holmes' chart. If you are a student of astrology, go ahead and cast the chart for yourself. There's a lot to be learned there.

I was going to go into the astrology of the time of the shooting, but I think I’ll save that for the Magickal Monday update, which I’ll be writing later today.

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Tagged in: astrology

Diotima Mantineia began studying astrology in 1968, taking classes from Zoltan Mason in New York City. For the next 22 years, she practiced astrology only for herself and her friends, continuing her studies while watching an increasingly humanistic, psychologically oriented, modern astrology blossom through the work of leading astrologers such as Noel Tyl, Liz Greene, Rob Hand, Marion March, Stephen Arroyo and Howard Sasportas. In 1986, Diotima began her study of Wicca and started reading Tarot, discovering that she is a gifted intuitive. In 1991, she began practicing both astrology and Tarot professionally. She majored in plant and soil science both in college and grad school, and grows much of her own food and "materia magica" on her land in the mountains of western North Carolina. Diotima’s personal spiritual path is rooted in the Western mystery traditions, the principles of Yoga, and a profound connection with the natural world. Wicca gives structure to her spiritual journey, and she utilizes shamanic practices for healing and to live in harmony with Nature. Over 15 years of studying Chinese martial arts has given her a deep appreciation of Taoist thought which has strongly influenced her magical and personal philosophy. You can find her at www.uraniaswell.com


  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard Sunday, 22 July 2012

    Extraordinary. Thank you for this. Your clear and concise explanation gives me a lot of food for thought. (Yes, sorry--that sounds like a spam comment. It has already been a long day in my little world.)

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