Originally published Jan. 14, 2011 | Link to original
Dear Friend and Reader:
In the wake of the shootings in Tucson nearly one week ago, the focus of the discussion is on the political causes and implications of the incident. There are many, though what’s also clear is that there are issues below the issue, such as the deep frustration, rage and mistrust that would lead to a nationwide spike in sales of Glock 9mm pistols this week — the same kind used by suspect Jared Lee Loughner.
I understand there are legitimate uses for guns. I have a friend who lives alone in a cabin in the hills of Oregon; I’m happy she has a loaded rifle on hand. Her usual weapon of choice is lighting firecrackers to frighten off bears who come around at night to steal the apples from her tree (I’ve never personally seen this, but I would love to). Every July 4, she stocks up for the rest of the year.
However, many people who are obsessed with guns feel frustrated and powerless. For them, possessing a gun provides a sense of power. This may have narratives attached to it, ranging from fantasies of vigilante justice to thinking you could defend yourself against an intruder if necessary. There is some psychology here. The fantasy of defending oneself against an intruder requires the notion of someone against whom to defend. Until it actually manifests (which it does not, usually), that is a projection of power and aggression onto an imaginary other, which in the fantasy puts one in the position of powerlessness (without the weapon), and thus justifies the weapon. Most of these people need therapy, not target practice.
Estimates of how many American households have weapons and participate in these delusions range from a third to one-half. Meanwhile, plenty of Americans really do have fantasies of defending themselves against the rogue United States government. That is amusing.
The gun thing typically seems designed to fulfill some gaping emotional inadequacy. I speak from some experience. All of my immediate male relatives had or have handguns. In addition to being possessed by a good bit of paranoia, all are or were some combination of emotionally, creatively or sexually frustrated, which manifests as feeling deeply powerless. The gun is compensatory. Meanwhile, many of these powerless-feeling people who have firearms are just itching to use them, with little thought of the consequences. My grandfather intentionally shot himself with one of his.
As the conversation around the Tucson shootings develops, there certainly seems to be a hopeless loop of projection, attack and fear. A lot of us see an opportunity for healing, and others see an opportunity to foster even more aggressive mania. At times the whole scene seems to be descending into a nightmare scenario. And there is plenty else going on in the world to raise concern — the worst flooding in Australia’s history in Brisbane, more mysterious wildlife deaths and the occasional news bulletin about the ice caps melting. Many people you would not suspect (including plenty in national politics) are believers in the End Times and/or the Apocalypse. They project their fear of individual death onto the collective; they imagine the death of the whole world.
However, there is something beneath the surface of this mess, indicated in the charts for Saturday’s shooting. What’s being proffered as a political conflict has another dimension. Let’s start with the event chart, which I will address briefly before getting into the two more illustrative charts — those of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and her would-be assassin, Jared Lee Loughner.
Of necessity, since this is a chart interpretation, I’ll be using more astrological references than usual. I will include an astrology lesson. Try to follow along. There is a discussion area with this article in case you have questions.
Event: Arizona Shooting
Anything with a time and place can get a chart. This chart is for a single incident, but it’s also a collective event that has relevance for a whole country and in many ways, the world. The energy of this event has rippled out; the chart is relevant to the degree the event is relevant, and I would say a good bit more.
Jared Loughner arrived at the “Congress on Your Corner” meeting and opened fire at 10:10 am on Saturday, Jan. 8. The time is obtained from a sheriff’s press conference I heard, and there is not a conflicting time given anywhere (most media say “just after 10 am”).
I want to point out two things right away, made noteworthy by the planetary placements and the degrees involved. First look on the left side of the wheel.
See that crescent shaped thing that looks like the Moon? That’s the Moon. The slightly heavier horizontal line right above the Moon is the ascendant (sometimes called rising sign; the line gives its exact location within the sign). The Moon is exactly rising. Indeed it is rising to one arc minute (1/60th of a degree!) — look at those numbers. Moon is 7 degrees 6 minutes; ascendant is 7 degrees 5 minutes. The ascendant moves very fast; this conjunction is truly remarkable. The ascendant represents the primary issue of the chart, and with the Moon in Pisces, it’s emotional and spiritual. There is also the potential for all the delusion and instability that can come with a powerfully-placed Pisces Moon. The Pisces Moon rising gives the chart the feeling of a world apart; a separate sphere of fantasy.
Second. Look at the dark almost-vertical line. That’s called the meridian. Follow that right to the top of the chart, or the midheaven. There’s a bright green thing up there, which is a little planet — that’s Pholus. This is a Chiron-like body that was the second-ever discovered centaur planet. In this chart, it’s the top item — right in the beginning of the 10th house (to the left of the bold line). This is the government angle, in a chart where one theme is the government. Pholus is about things that are released without the ability to put them back, such as a release of pressure. Its key phrase is “small cause, big effect.”
We definitely had a release of pressure apparently directed toward the government in this incident, and there is no putting it back. Pholus has references to alcohol, and its placement up there is also about being drunk with power. Both Jared Loughner and the federal government, particularly Congress, can be described this way. Indeed, new members who arrive in Washington are quickly indoctrinated in a fraternity-like atmosphere of doing flaming shots of power, and this parallels the dysfunctions of alcoholism we see displayed all the time in the shenanigans of Congress.
Yet the problem indicated by the chart, with the Pisces Moon square this powerfully placed Pholus, is that as far as this event is concerned, the whole thing is dunked, steeped and fully soaked in delusion. Delusion is an inability to discern what is real from what is not. And it means that one problem can masquerade for another.
In a murder chart, one of the first things to look for is the motive. Because the 8th is the house of the cause of death, that’s where we look for the motive. The Moon is in the 1st house, so count eight houses, anticlockwise, to arrive at the 8th. The sign Libra and the planet Saturn are involved.
The 8th is about surrender, the power of ‘the other’ and it contains illustrations of and ideas about orgasm. Saturn represents a blockage. Saturn in Libra suggests the blockage comes as part of a relational issue, not merely a sexual one. This is a sexually frustrated chart. To me this represents the world-famous sexual frustrations of the American people, a country which terrorizes its children with abstinence indoctrination, telling them that if they have sex they will be like a chewed up and spit out piece of candy. In public school programs across the nation, sex is equated with immorality, disease and lack of desirability.
Dr. Wilhelm Reich, one of the most brilliant psychological and political theorists of the 20th century, suggested that mass sexual repression in a society is harvested by the political system. The bottled-up passion and frustration (generally, contained by implanted moral impulses) are converted into the feeling of mystical longing. (This is why so many desperately horny people spend so much time voraciously reading books about spirituality).
Libra is associated with Venus. Venus appears in Sagittarius — that’s a nice illustration of sexuality (Venus) converted into a mystical longing (Sagittarius). This is in the 9th house of spirituality (top of the chart, right side). But Sagittarius is also the 10th sign from the ascendant — so it counts again as the 10th house — the government. Sexual repression has become mystical longing, which has in turn converted again to an uncontainable burst of rage at the government (Pholus).
Truly, I think we need to come to terms with Dr. Reich’s idea that sexual repression is converted by the psyche into mystical longing, which is then acted out politically — usually, as he puts it, in the obsession with a charismatic leader. We tend to be proud of our sexual repression in the United States; we worship virgins and prosecute the king for having a tryst. We need to understand that our obsession with sexual purity has many consequences, both personal and political.
I recognize that Jared Loughner is mentally ill. Dr. Reich associated most psychosis with frustrated sexual energy running wild in the psyche. But if I may, here is an obvious question. Do you think he would have been more or less likely to have done this, had he been in a fulfilling sexual relationship? When you’re 22, you have a lot of sexual energy to vent. It has to go somewhere.
Natal Charts of Loughner and Giffords
One thing about this whole event is that it’s dominated by the centaur planets. This is a group of small bodies that started to appear with the discovery of Chiron in 1977. The second discovery was Pholus, in 1992 (mentioned above). The third was Nessus, discovered in 1993. The bold links take you to articles about them I wrote for Small World Stories, the 2008 annual edition. Centaurs represent an edgy kind of energy that feels vulnerable, is associated with deep emotions, experiences of wounding and healing, and psychic qualities with which most people are distinctly uncomfortable.
Let’s look at Loughner’s first — starting with a sample of the chart, the part with his Sun and Moon. Notice that he has a lot of planets and points concentrated in Virgo. Note the yellow circle with the dot — that is the Sun. Loughner has a planet closely conjunct the Sun — the light blue glyph, which represents centaur Nessus.
Perhaps the edgiest of all the centaurs, Nessus is about the cycle of karma. Stories involving Nessus come full circle. It’s all about cause and effect, boomerang style. The karma might not be instant, but it’s dependable. With Nessus there are implications of potentially inappropriate sexual contact, and often it’s an indication of sexual abuse coupled with psychological abuse. Sun-Nessus can represent a deeply wounded expressive principle, a father with some serious issues, and a compromise placed on one’s male side. When there is a centaur present like this, we have the option to turn the injury into an experience of healing and authentic power, or to act it out in toxic ways over and over again our whole lives.
Let’s consider the rest of the grouping. See the three points with the numbers 13 and 14 next to them? That is a very close conjunction. Those are (from right to left) the Black Moon Lilith, the Moon and the South Node. These all involve lunar energy; they represent how he experiences his mother, his core or child personality, and how he relates to women in general. He has dark visions of who women are; he experiences them as oppressive, dark, mysterious in a way that seems incomprehensible. Because this is on the South Node, it involves his own past life history, and speaks about his treatment of or by women, or a recent past life as a woman that is influencing him now. He is dragging this around like a large trunk full of emotional baggage, and he projects it outward as a truly sinister vision. The closer he gets to a woman, the more he will distrust her. I am sure he’s never had a close female friend. It’s very possible he’s never had sex because his distrust of women runs so deep.
Meanwhile, he is running male biology through a deeply feminine sign — Virgo. This is difficult. The Virgo presence is emphasized by the fact that he was born the day of a solar eclipse in Virgo, conjunct Nessus. He often feels female, but profoundly distrusts anything feminine. The eclipse blows this into monstrous proportions. I promise you that no matter what his family’s press release says, they understand exactly why this happened.
Loughner has two other points worth considering, not shown in the small graphic. One is Chiron in early Cancer, indicating more injury to his feminine side, obviously unaddressed, and under constant transits lately from the cardinal cross T-square that you read about here nearly every week last year.
Last, he has Venus in Leo. He has another vision of his feminine side, and of women, that is proud, and sees itself as a queen (Venus conjunct Juno). So on the one hand he has this dark emotional-level experience of women and his own feminine side; then he aggrandizes them beyond any hope of recognition, and the Juno conjunction indicates that part of his aggrandizement is a sense that women are inherently controlling (this is a Juno factor; she and her Greek counterpart Hera were the supreme bitch of mythology).
Now here is a section of Gabrielle Giffords’ chart — the part with her Sun. It’s obviously simpler than Loughner’s, but notice what she has as well — a Sun-Nessus conjunction. Not only that, her Sun-Nessus conjunction is square Loughner’s to within a degree or two — both are in the mid-mutable signs, indicating a square. This is a relationship — any aspect is a relationship — and it’s a right angle; a tense one.
When I was a young astrology student, one of my teachers, David Arner, told me about a study done where astrologers were given anonymous pairs of charts for murderer and victim. They could not discern who was who with any consistency. With their common Sun-Nessus conjunctions, we have the first of several striking similarities between the charts of Giffords and Loughner.
Let’s look at one other. It is even more remarkable. It involves a nearly identical configuration in both charts that involves Mars, Chiron and Eris.
By way of introduction, all three of these are involved with warfare. Mars, of course, is the god of war. He represents energy, desire, passion and aggression. Chiron was a mentor to the great warrior-heroes of ancient Greece — among them Heracles and Jason. Chiron taught battlefield medicine, archery and other skills of war. Eris, the brother of Mars, was more the type to operate through subterfuge.
As an astrological factor, Chiron is about raising awareness, the healing journey, injury that focuses healing and growth, ‘shamanic’ wounding, warrior emphasis and mentorship. Chiron typically has a crisis around its placement, which will either be associated with a gathering of strength and power when it’s processed consciously, or create a spiral down effect with a descent into futility when it is ignored.
Eris is about the postmodern identity crisis — the idea that we have no idea who we are, and need three business cards to describe what we do; the ability to shapeshift or take many forms; the provocation of chaos, initiated from the inside out (inner chaos that can spread to the environment); the castaway woman; a disowned feminine side in men, and an alienated feminine side in women. Remember that when Eris was named in 2006, she upset the known order of the solar system, unseated Pluto as a planet and helped create the class of ‘dwarf planets’.
In the charts of both Loughner and Giffords, these three points are in a similar aspect in the same place in both charts.
In Loughner’s chart, to the above and to the right, Mars is conjunct Eris. It’s a slightly wide conjunction — but it’s in full effect. This is in Aries, and it feels angry, aggressive and like he cannot focus his masculine energy. Mars in Aries can lack confidence, and make up for it by doing macho things to help create the aura or sensation of masculinity. Mars is retrograde, which tends to create pent up energy and inflame the insecurity associated with a tense Mars placement. The square of Mars to Chiron can have a sense of being blocked — unless someone works to consciously integrate the square, in which case it will become a building block of integrity. Clearly this is a setup prone to outbursts of aggression.
As I mentioned before, he has Chiron in Cancer — and it’s square Mars. Mars square Chiron has two basic levels. One is that it can block the action of Mars, creating deep frustration (which will seize the emotions, via Cancer); or (if you work with rather than against it) it can represent a mighty building block in the psyche, and a foundation for true integrity. With Eris present, there will have to be a lot of integration work done to weave the sense of a fractured psyche that Eris often represents.
Now let’s look at Giffords’ chart. She has a Chiron-Eris conjunction. I covered this aspect in an earlier article called Dancing With Discord. This was active at the time of the feminist revival through the early 1970s — it’s the ‘Women’s Lib’ aspect. We have Chiron activating the energy of Eris and funneling it in a warrior-like way, with the potential for both wounding and healing. The feminism of that era did a lot of both, though it did in fact get some constructive results.
Now let’s look at how the two charts connect. Loughner has his Mars conjunct Giffords’ Chiron. Giffords has her Mars conjunct Loughner’s Chiron. So they have the same square, in the same position, only with the sign placements reversed.
You could say they provoke one another’s male sides, with Giffords’ Mars in Cancer conjunct the extremely sensitive Chiron in Loughner’s chart (which stirs up his sense of being hurt by women, starting with his mother). And Loughner’s Mars in Aries is conjunct Giffords’ Chiron. He projects his rage and hurt at her head — in Aries. He strikes her on the left side of the brain — the logic/reasoning side associated with masculine consciousness.
Eris moves so slowly that it’s in Aries in the configuration in both charts. In the life of Giffords, she is able to overcome society’s many handicaps on women and aspire to a position of authentic influence. In the life of Loughner, where it is unaddressed and unutilized, it manifests as fragmentation and chaos. Eris is a new factor in astrology — but not in our consciousness. For many years, as technology and industrialization have persisted, we have dealt with the fragmentation that Eris represents, and the need to perceive ourselves as a unified whole. Working with Eris we can assemble the pieces.
Attempting to Assassinate his Inner Woman
These aspects point to many similarities and an energetic relationship between Loughner and Giffords. They also suggest to me that Loughner was attacking a representation of his own inner woman. At the same time he lived with deep distrust and probably open hatred for women, he also envied and admired Giffords, whom he saw as a kindred spirit and representation of his own potential. In his own way, he was in love with her, and through her wanted to love the feminine in himself — though hating both.
To me this was primarily an act of gender rage, not motivated by authentic political feelings. In a sense it was rape with a bullet, but also a form of inner suicide projected outward. He turned to a gun to fill a hole left by his emotional inadequacies and sexual needs. The pressure of denying his own self became too much — he felt he had to project it outward. Much like jealousy works, when one cannot control something, or own it, one strives to kill it. Jealousy is a form of spiritual murder, and this is an extreme example.
So far as I can tell, this was not a political assassination attempt. It’s clear enough that Loughner didn’t really understand politics, but he was certainly pulled and twisted by his struggle with his own masculinity, and tormented by the mystery of his inner feminine, along with his significant emotional confusion. This inner battle left him feeling paralyzed, much like many women are paralyzed by their own inner struggle to have any sense of their power in a world that seems to keep taking it away.
Giffords for her part was doing a great job expressing her power in a male-dominated world. She managed to rise above this struggle and find her way to a place of strength and equality. She was also a beautiful (and unavailable) woman with whom Loughner was obsessed, apparently for more than three years. Her very existence made him feel insecure, and he did not avail himself of, or have available, any mode of healing that insecurity. I believe he lacked the emotional capacity to long for her companionship or sexual attention, at the same time he was enraged by their absence.
None of this is new or novel, but here we have a fairly clear example of how sexual themes, including gender, gender bias and the need to make contact with both polarities to live a sane and balanced life, can manifest in a way that is violent and projected into the political sphere. And all of this describes what is perhaps the most significant aspect of the emotional healing process on which we need to embark — our sexual nature, which needs to be acknowledged, made contact with and allowed to express itself.
The people who foster sexual repression as part of school programs know that their actions have political implications. I would imagine they were not quite expecting this.
Make no mistake — what I’m describing is a collective sexual injury that, more or less, we all possess but don’t necessarily own consciously. It will cause more problems the longer it’s left untended and dressed as a moral issue, infecting one generation after the next. And it can be a source of profound social progress if we can make some basic admissions about ourselves and commit to a healing process. Part of that involves embracing our internal opposite gender polarity and therefore embracing ourselves as a whole person.
We will all be happier, if we can do that.
Yours & truly,
Additional research: Christine Farber, Amanda Painter